We’ve given an eye-wateringly broad “Snoopers’ Charter” to big corporations

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As Lib Dems we have campaigned long and hard for curbs on the government’s power to snoop on our internet data.

Yet, most of us (not all) have personally given an eye-wateringly broad “Snoopers’ Charter” to big corporations – namely Facebook and Google.

I know, I have checked on my data held by Facebook and Google. You can do it too. Facebook had all my photos, posts, friends etc etc going back to February 2007. The data was 354 megabytes in size. That’s equivalent to 71 copies of the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Continue reading

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Radio 210’s Golden Days January 16th 1983

It’s taken me a while to get round to putting this up.

Apart from a broken cassette, it is the only record I have of part-time working at Radio 210 in Reading in the late 70s/early 80s.

I am very grateful to the folks at Radio 210 for letting me have a lot of fun and get the radio “bug” out of my system. The experience left me with a love of radio, an enhanced knowledge and appreciation of music (which I enjoy to this day) and, believe it or not, a very acute sense of timing. When hitting the news on the dot of the hour is the very highest priority, you tend to develop a skill for precise backward-calculation of timings!

This is a very good example of my programmes at 210. I loved doing “Golden Days” which was a great show for four hours on Sunday evenings, 9pm – 1pm.

I particularly loved doing competitions about music facts. There are plenty of those here. These days most of them would be impossible, because people would easily google the answers in a couple of seconds. In those days, if you didn’t know the answer, you had to schedule a visit to your local library to look it up.

I cannot believe that colour photo, which is the one I used to send out to listeners who asked for a photo of me. It displayed considerable brass neck on two fronts: a) for opening up my shirt like that and b) having my photo taken in front of that large house and grounds with the implication that it was my house, when in fact I simply rented a room in it!

Of course, in those days being a radio dee-jay was quite a physical task – I had a mini-van to carry boxes of records to and from the studio – then there was the job of sorting them out and playing them, putting themback in their sleeves etc. Then there was the task of getting out the adverts/jingles on big DAB cartridges.

Nowadays you more or less sit at a screen and click.

What was wonderful about the job then was being able to choose the records, including chopping and changing during the programme.

I did do one programme playing mostly 78 rpm records on shellac!

But at the other end of the scale, we did have the start of the digital revolution through a digital delay system which allowed phone-ins to be conducted seven seconds prior to broadcast. Then if someone swore or said something potentially defamatory, you just flicked a switch to ditch the most recent seconds of speech and go back to “live”.

I had to do this once when some silly fool swore on a phone-in. He apologised afterwards, thinking the offending word had been broadcast, but I took great pleasure in deflating his balloon by telling him that it didn’t go out on air!

What a licensee must be…


These words were typed on a thin sheet of paper in my grandfather’s wallet when he passed away in the late 1960s. He spent the early part of his life in a hotel, run by his family.

A licensee must be a democrat, an autocrat, acrobat, a doormat. He must be able to entertain Prime Ministers, pick-pockets, pirates, philantrophists and police – and be on both sides of the political fence – a footballer, golfer, bowler, tennis player, darts champion and pigeon fancier.

He has to settle arguments and fights, he must be a boxer, wrestler, weightlifter, sprinter and peacemaker.

He must always look immaculate when drinking with bankers, swankers, commercial travellers, and company representatives, even though he has just stopped a beer-throwing contest in the public bar.

To be successful he must keep the bars full, the house full, the tanks full, the storeroom full and not get himself full.

He must have barmen who are clean, honest, quick workers and thinkers, non-drinkers, mathematicians technicians and who are at all times on the boss’s side, the customer’s side, and stay on the bar’s inside.

To sum up – he must be outside, inside, offside, glorified, sanctified, crucified, stupefied, crosseyed, and if he’s the strong silent type – there’s always suicide.

There are various version of this on the internet. The original author is unknown.

The secret world of Whitehall – and other BBC Michael Cockerell gems

British Houses of Parliament
If you’ve missed them when they were originally broadcast, YouTube has a wealth of BBC political documentaries for you to watch at leisure.

I missed Michael Cockerell’s “The Secret World of Whitehall” when it was originally broadcast. All three programmes from the series are on YouTube in full:

Episode 1 – The Real Sir Humphrey – This looks at the role of the Cabinet Secretary, chronicling the historic evolution of the role through its various job holders. Continue reading

The 2017 general election – the much overlooked rebalancing of British democracy

The British Election Study has been issuing data concerning the 2017 election based on their “face-to-face” process. They maintain, for example, that the much-acclaimed “Youthquake” of 2017 was in fact a myth.

But I was very interested in this graph, tweeted by James Kanagasooriam:

There are a number of conclusions to be drawn from this graph. Much has been made of the fact that the Tories had quite a chunk of Remainers voting for them – particularly in the South of the country. Continue reading