Should law which results in the creation of new public administrative systems receive different parliamentary scrutiny from law which doesn’t?
If there is a Department of Digital, and a Secretary of State for Digital, what should they not be in charge of? If there is a message from the digital revolution, it is that digital touches everything, that the remit of the Department for Analogue will never regain the heady scope it once had. Digital is not a separate thing to be bolted on when the real work has been done elsewhere, it is not a channel for final delivery, independent of context.
Rules, we tell ourselves, are made to be broken. When strict application of the rule produces a silly outcome, we prefer to bend the rule rather than enforce the silly outcome. A rule which could cope with every exception and every special circumstance would be so complex and incomprehensible that it couldn’t in practice work as a rule at all. And so we muddle through.
How do you stop your stock of nuclear weapons accidentally blowing up the world? How do you devise a straightforward system for recording penalties on driving licences? Those sound like very different questions, but they turn out to have some unexpected similarities. Let’s start with nuclear weapons. Eric Schlosser has written an extraordinary book about […]
We are approaching the traditional time of the silly season in UK news and politics, the quiet period when in the absence of real news, the frivolous and the dotty get more column inches than they otherwise would.1 In Poland and indeed much of the rest of Europe, that period is known as the cucumber […]
When transport is disrupted, the first casualty is information. People who know what the alternatives are, what’s working and what’s not, what’s impossibly overcrowded and what merely unpleasantly so can make intelligent decisions. Those who don’t, can’t. That doesn’t make it an easy problem to solve. Situations change quickly. Crowds bubble up here and disperse […]
I had high hopes of The Blunders of our Governments. Its authors, Anthony King and Ivor Crewe have spent decades apiece observing the British political system. If they can’t make sense of what happens, perhaps nobody can. And that’s a worrying thought, because although their book is entertaining and very readable, it doesn’t leave us […]
I was brought up to enjoy the look and heft – and smell – of books as well as to treasure them as repositories of knowledge. A house without books looks both uninhabited and uninhabitable. If you can’t browse a stranger’s bookshelves, how will they ever stop being a stranger? So I did not rush […]
Not long ago, staying in Cornwall entailed giving up on most modern forms of communication. This summer, the house we have rented there for the last few years had sprouted broadband. Not very fast broadband, admittedly, but a big improvement on no broadband at all- and it’s just there, no fuss, no charge. Back in London, […]
Anthony King and Ivor Crewe were on great form today at the RSA where they did a splendid double act in support of their new book, The Blunders of Government. I plan to write a fuller review to go alongside my post on Conundrum earlier this week, but that will have to wait until I […]