Brexit Update


My response to Eastleigh MP Mims Davies’ latest Brexit Update:

On the 15th January, the Withdrawal Agreement was put before the House of Commons.

Ideally it would have been put before the House of Commons last year but the Prime Minister wasted yet more time.

This Agreement would:

Respect the referendum taking back control of our laws, our money and our borders and allowing us to trade with our friends and allies around the world.

We already have control of our laws, our money, and our borders. We already trade with our friends and allies around the world. It doesn’t even respect the promises made in the referendum.

Safeguard our economy, with large local employers like GE Aviation and Prysmian supporting the deal.

Leaving with a withdrawal agreement is certainly better than the alternative however, despite the impact to local businesses like GE Aviation and Prysmian, you have stated that you would support a disorderly exit.

Offer a compromise around which we can begin to heal our political divisions.

This agreement is far from a compromise. Despite her historic defeat, the Prime Minister has still failed to genuinely reach out to other parties to form a consensus on the way forward, preferring to capitulate to the usual suspects in her own party. She continually manages to deepen political divisions, not heal them.

Retain close diplomatic links to the EU while paving the way for a new trade relationship with our closest neighbours.

If only the UK could agree on what new trade relationship we want. Ideally one that avoids a hard border.

And avoid both the dangers of No Deal or No Brexit.

Please explain the dangers of no Brexit.

Nonetheless, Parliament, primarily down to MPs looking to frustrate this process and stop us from leaving the EU altogether, voted this Deal down.

This is clearly false. Parliament has now voted for exactly the same deal with the exception of the Northern Irish backstop. So it looks more like MPs want to frustrate the agreed provisions to ensure no hard border in the event that a future relationship cannot be agreed.

This outcome helps no-one, gets us no further forward & means that the deadlock continues for communities, businesses & jobs.

Tonight’s vote gets us no further forward either. The Prime Minister has essentially voted against her own deal with the EU. With 59 days to go, we are just one step closer to a disorderly exit, which communities and businesses are ill-prepared for.

That’s why I am actively supporting our focus on key next steps in the House of Commons which must come together & work out a way forward for ALL as the 29th March closes in.

What are you actively doing? Who are you actively working with? It doesn’t seem to be enough based on this evening’s debate.

Over and above everything is that there is no reason why we couldn’t leave the EU on the 29th March, and I absolutely do not want to see a long, drawn out extension of Article 50, a view that I have shared with the Prime Minister.

You would barely have had enough time to pass all the necessary legislation if MPs had supported the withdrawal agreement but they haven’t.

For those who back no deal, I do understand this sentiment. Many have said that they feel that the UK should leave the EU on the 29th March on WTO rules.

Leaving without a withdrawal agreement is the only outcome that doesn’t require something to change. WTO rules only cover a fraction of what we will need to be in place for the country to continue operating in 59 days time.

However, as we continue to celebrate record high employment in the UK, with The Resolution Foundation saying:

“low-income households, disadvantaged groups and traditionally low employment urban areas are benefitting most from Britain’s jobs boom.”

As a Member of Parliament, I have a responsibility to listen to local employers large and small across our area – such as Southampton Airport who I visited last Friday, and Proteum who I visited the week before. Both have shown me that, while they are taking a pragmatic approach to Brexit, leaving the EU without a deal would affect LOCAL jobs.

It will. Leaving with a deal is also likely to affect local jobs but we won’t know for sure how until we have negotiated a future relationship with the EU.

Some have said that they feel people were not ‘informed’ ahead of the referendum, and that therefore their vote to leave should not count. To those people I say that every home in the country was sent a pamphlet by the Government making VERY clear what leaving the EU could mean, and regardless, 52.5% of those that voted in the referendum in Eastleigh, voted to leave the EU. The turnout in that election was one of the highest recorded in any election in our constituency at 78.2%.

There were plenty of issues with the 2016 referendum, which I am sure will be discussed at length for many years, but it would be risible to suggest that a majority of people eligible to vote then would have expected either the deal the Prime Minister negotiated, or the consequences of a disorderly exit.

Others have said that they feel that there should be a second referendum. The vast majority of those pushing this option would privately prefer that we never left the EU, and the so called ‘Peoples Vote’ campaign is nothing more than a disingenuous ploy to reverse the result of the referendum.

I reluctantly support a referendum on the final deal, for a few reasons:

  • The current deadlock in Parliament
  • The inability of MPs to function effectively with the dangerous idea of a unified ‘will of the people’ from the 2016 referendum hanging over them
  • The gulf between what was promised in 2016 and what is now on offer

It may even provide the much needed space to begin to heal the divide which threatens to rip the country apart.

I very publicly assure you that I will be campaigning to remain in the EU in the unlikely event that there is another referendum.

But very quickly, let’s look at the political alternatives.

Labour Continue to fail to present their own Brexit plan, with many of their MPs continuing to support remaining in the EU and, unlike Union Leaders, Party Leaders and leading MPs, the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn continues to refuse a meeting with the Prime Minister.

It would be nice if more of their MPs supported the wishes of their membership, but the Prime Minister has not made any serious attempts to work with other parties on a real compromise.

Lib Dems Have made clear that they wish to use a Second Referendum to ignore the result of the referendum and reverse the decision of 17.4 million voted for.

Arguably you want to use the 2016 referendum to ignore the wishes of voters in 2019. Does the current Parliament get to bind future Parliaments in the same way?

UKIP Have demonstrated how their plan would have no regard for safeguarding jobs or our economy, nor heal our nations divisions.

No argument there, although I fear the Conservative party is closer to UKIP than ever before.

In contrast, I am absolutely committed to delivering on the result of the EU Referendum and ensuring that we leave the European Union in a smooth and orderly way – and getting on with it – and that will be my continued mission. I have made VERY clear that I would not support a long, drawn out extension to Article 50, and while I would prefer to avoid leaving on WTO rules, I would support this, over the extension of Article 50, which would just lead to even more uncertainty and frustrate this process even further.

Unfortunately this is the clearest indication yet of your reckless disregard for the damage a disorderly exit will inflict on Eastleigh and the UK. I sincerely hope you will reconsider in the next 59 days.

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Twenty years!


It hardly seems possible but I celebrated 20 years at IBM today! Here’s me foolishly thinking that I’d be staying for up to four years while I work out what I really want to do…

…and now I work just up the stairs from where that photo was taken. I’ve gone far!

Twenty years is a long time but I’ve done a few things on the way, so it hasn’t been at all dull!

MQSeries

I started out in technical support on a machine/OS I’d never heard of, asking such questions as, ‘Where is the design that describes what this command should do?’ Much mirth!
Later I worked in test when I discovered that ‘temporary’ generally means several years… maybe decades… probably still there actually… sorry!

Message Broker

…or whatever it happened to be called in any particular week.

Here I learned that a solution can take on a life of its own, becoming only tenuously related to, or even completely detached from, the problem it was meant to be solving. (If only someone had come up with design thinking sooner!)

Master Data Management

Lots of Master Data Management- almost 10 years of that alone!

Product information management, user interface generators (still gutted this one didn’t make it), model driven development, sketchy thingy, the MDM Developers community and probably more. There was definitely some virtual universe community in there as well.

Plus a really nice office with a window seat! And rats, and floods…

Watson

A tiny amount of Watson! Despite being barely a year, most of that time seemed to involve moving desks! Also the only time I really didn’t want to move on but serendipity led to…

Blockchain

An actual open source project this time, which is something completely new for me! And blockchain which I still think is one of the most interesting technologies to come along in… well, in the last 20 years!

And then

I doubt I’ll be in Hursley for another 20 years, so who knows. Having said that, I never intended to be there by now either!

It has been a privilege to have worked with so many amazing people who together made most of those 20 years an absolute pleasure. There really are too many to list without an Oscar speech but I will just mention two: Mark Phillips, who was a bit of a role model right from the start, and Patrick Wagstrom who you should jump at the chance to work with if you ever get the opportunity!

Epic referendum fail


 

Arg. I had been mostly managing to avoid looking directly at the referendum, unfortunately a ‘myth buster’ and some ‘facts’ dropped through the door today.

FACT: Adding ‘FACT:’ in front of anything you like doesn’t make it a fact!

I know, life would be so much more fun if that did work…

Sadly there has been a distinct lack of facts from both sides of the debate. If I’m being charitable, that could be because the whole thing is a massive unknown. The substitute has not exactly been constructive though.

Perhaps it would have been better not to have the referendum at all? Our recent track record of referendums hasn’t exactly been stellar, and the EU referendum in particular is even more problematic. Perhaps we could all agree to stop having referendums whatever the result is this time. Or would we need a referendum to decide that?!

I did at least spot a couple of more interesting looking articles during the predictably depressing campaign:

Plus this discussion on twitter:

I know that the EU is far from perfect but unless I hear any compelling reason otherwise, I think I’ll be voting remain on Thursday. There are probably pros and cons for either choice but ultimately where you draw borders is so completely arbitrary that I’d personally prefer to live in a larger area that allows free movement of people, than a smaller one. I don’t want to live in a gated community for similar reasons!

I also tend to agree with Ben Goldacre’s reasons.

Having said all that, the real issue of the whole campaign is, why isn’t the official leave site on a .uk domain, and why isn’t the official remain site on an .eu domain?

Update: Uh oh…

 

 

Indoor camping


I’m currently camping on the living room floor while the last two rooms upstairs get a 60 minute week long several week makeover!

Since we moved in we’ve been using the en-suite as a cupboard, partly because the shower leaked. It did make a pretty good cupboard though so clearing everything out took a while. The rest of the house is now full to bursting, even with full loads to the charity shop and tip! Need less junk! After enough flights of stairs to qualify for a Redwood Forest, Ferris Wheel and Lighthouse badge, it was finally all empty…

This is the first major work we’ve done inside the house since having children so we planned carefully. Here are the blueprints at a 1:1 scale…

(No prizes for guessing who added the extra stickers.)

Partly thanks to an amazingly helpful local planning department, we had an extra window after day one. And no walls.

By the end of day two first fix plumbing is done, and the new and improved walls were beginning to take shape. (The existing walls upstairs are literally just a thin sandwich of plasterboard and paper. Quality.)

At the end of day three first fix electrics are in, the walls were back properly and the bonus window is looking like a fantastic idea.

The plastering started on day four and by the end of day six we have one less artex ceiling, fewer holes in the floor, the door back. Even the new shower tray fitted, which was a bit of a relief!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The whole job was meant to take five days but unsurprising it’s overrunning. It hasn’t helped that the floor under the old shower has rotted through. This time next week, it’ll all be done though, hopefully!

Update: Hooray, it’s all done! (14th April)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now I just need to do a spot of painting…

 

Open Data Camp Day 1


If I don’t post a few notes from today’s Open Data Camp now, I never will, so here are a few things I scribbled down- it could be worse, I could have posted a PDF containing photos of the the actual scribbles!

So out of this choice

odcamp-sessions

…I picked, Open Data for Elections, Open Addresses, Data Literacy, Designing Laws using Open Data, and Augmented Reality for Walkers.

Open Data for Elections

I’ve been following @floppy‘s crazy plan to get elected for a while, so this was the easiest decision of the day: what drives someone to embrace the gory inner workings of democracy like this?

Falling turnout it would seem, and concern for a functioning democracy.

The first step of his journey was the Open Politics Manifesto, which I’ve so far failed to edit- must try harder.

Perhaps more interesting was how this, and use of open data, fits into a political platform as a service. It would be nice to have the opportunity to see a few additions to the usual suspects at the ballot box, and Eastleigh got a rare chance to see what that could be like with a by election. Perhaps open data services for candidates could tip he balance enough to encourage more people to stand.

Things that sounded interesting:

  • Democracy Club
  • OpenCorporates
  • Data Packages
  • Open data certificates (food hygiene certificates for data?)
  • Candidates get one free leaflet delivery by Royal Mail- I wonder how big they expect those leaflets to be!

Open Addresses

@floppy and @giacecco introduced the (huge) problems they need to overcome to rebuild a large data set without polluting that data with any sources with intellectual property restrictions. Open Addresses still have a long way to go and there were comments about how long Open Street Map has been around, and it still has gaps.

They have some fun ideas about crowd sourcing address data (high vis jacket required) and there are some interesting philosophical questions around consent for addresses to be added.

It will be interesting to see whether Open Addresses can get enough data to provide real value, and what services they build.

Data Literacy

Mark and Laura led a discussion around data literacy founded in the observation that competent people, with all the skills you could reasonably expect them to have, still struggle with handling data sets.

Who needs to be data literate? Data scientists? Data professionals? Everyone?

Data plumbers? There were some analogies with actual plumbers! You might not be a plumber but it’s useful to know something about it.

If we live in a data driven society, we should know how to ask the right questions. Need domain expertise and technical expertise.

Things that sounded interesting:

Designing Laws using Open Data

@johnlsheridan pointed out that the least interesting thing to do with legislation is to publish it and went on to share some fascinating insights into the building blocks of statute law. It sounds like the slippery language used in legislation boils down to a small number of design patterns built with simple building blocks, such as a duty along with a claim right, and so on.

Knowing these building blocks makes it easier to get the gist of what laws are trying to achieve, helps navigate statutes, and could give policy makers a more reliable way to effect a goal.

For example, it’s easier to make sense of the legislation covering supply of gas, and it’s possible to identify where there may be problems. The gas regulator has a duty to protect the interests of consumers by promoting competition, but that’s a weak duty without a clear claim right to enforce it.

John also demonstrated a tool – http://ngrams.elasticbeanstalk.com – exploring how the language used in legislation has changed over time, for example how the use of “shall” has declined and been replaced by “is to be”.

Augmented Reality for Walkers

My choice of Android tablet was largely based on what might work reasonably well for maps and augmented reality, so I seized this opportunity!

Nick Whitelegg described the Hikar Android app he’s been working on, which is intended to help hikers follow paths by overlaying map data on a live camera feed.

The data is a combination of Open Street Map mapping data, with Ordnance Survey height data, which is downloaded and cached as tiles around your current location. Open GL is used to overlay a 3D view of the map data on the live camera feed, using the Android sensor APIs to detect the device’s rotation.

I’ve just downloaded and installed Hikar and, while my tablet is a tad slow, it works really well. I live somewhere flat and boring but the height data made a noticeable difference when Nick demonstrated the app in hilly Winchester.

Still to come: Day 2!

2013 in review


[Cheating, just in case I don’t finish a real post in January!]

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.