Snippets 5: No10 farce, UKR, Tory 'strategy', AGI ruin, daycare, Direct Instruction, do shares only go up at night?!, NSN, abortion/US...
[UPDATED 8 July]
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No10 farce summary
Finkelstein re Tory strategy
Evidence on daycare
Evidence on Direct Instruction
Meta-lesson from New Schools Network: Tories close things that work & don’t care about changing government
Shares only go up… at night?!
I said from the start that I’d keep covid things public, not gated…
Back in 2020 we set up a system to monitor sewage for covid. Pretty much everybody uses the sewage system. It has a lot of advantages for adding to early warning systems and predictive models on covid outbreaks. It worked very well. The idea has been copied all over the world. It can obviously be used not just for covid but as part of an early warning system for other potential diseases including bioterror, the sort of thing I wrote about in my Jan 2020 recruitment blog. It was cheap given its value and doubtless could have been made cheaper. (An amusing/typical meeting was when some of the new data science team we built in 2020 suggested extending it to prisons so we could monitor true levels of drug use. ARGHHHH NOOOOOO! The last thing we want to do is know what we’re doing is bullshit and expose the rampant corruption in prisons!)
Some officials last week told me that it’s being shut down!!!
Vallance and other officials objected but were overruled.
This is an excellent and tragic example of how across the western world there is a demented refusal to learn from covid, a determination to repeat the same mistakes, a determination to keep the same broken bureaucracies, and the appalling political parties are at the heart of enabling this.
If democracy worked per the theory, then opposition parties would scream about such things. But instead you can see Starmer does nothing on such things. If anything he’s even more pro propping up the failing system than Boris hence, for example, him supporting Boris on keeping the failed MET leadership after the disasters last year. His instincts are always to side with the bureaucracy not the public. (The MET should be broken up with intelligence, counter-terrorism, VIP protection etc stripped out and the rest made fully accountable to the Mayor as in other big cities in the world.)
If democracy worked per the theory, then politicians would think: just had the covid disaster, biggest challenge 1945, I don’t want to be responsible for closing crucial assets for the next pandemic, I want it on-the-record that I said ‘keep open’.
In the real world politicians across the west either a) just aren’t thinking in any intelligent way about important issues or b) have thought and decided they won’t suffer if another pandemic hits and everyone goes ‘WTF were you thinking’. Or if a new covid variant pops up this winter that, say, is really bad for kids. (I think it’s more A than B, they’re basically just locked on tomorrow’s media, not thinking.)
As I keep saying, the real issue in government is not ‘how to do X much better’. In most areas we know. The real issue is big players in the system tend to be either uninterested in improving X or actively opposed. Almost everyone in Westminster is much happier with the existing system failing dismally than facing what it means to change seriously. It’s even true after such a disaster as covid. It’s the same viz MoD procurement, drones etc despite there being a war on.
This is also why you see constant tension between Insiders saying ‘lack of trust in institutions is a real problem’ and the public who keep voting for change and desperately want government to be very different. The key institution blocking what the public wants is the broken old parties who are locked into mindsets that aren’t even rational for them, but from which they can’t escape, partly because the vicious circle means they keep recruiting really duff people.
Brexit was always ‘necessary not sufficient’ and intended to force the parties to change or force their replacement…
(The sewage decision is also an example of Whitehall’s insane centralisation. Reversing such a stupid decision is now probably beyond anybody other than ~3-5 people one of whom would have to play personal chips with the PM, CHX or Cabinet Secretary. A huge amount of my time was spent receiving and acting on signals like this with people coming to me saying ‘X is about to happen, it’s insane, please stop it’.)
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