Tag Archives: eu

Things that are well-Brexit – 1, 2, 3

As a Remain campaigner in the EU Referendum I’ve been appalled at the Leave campaign. Remain hasn’t exactly done itself proud either, with questionable, daily warnings from Cameron and Osborne about the economic terrors that’ll befall us if we quit the EU, but Leave has basically sounded like a stuck record of an Enoch Powell speech. It’s been a depressing few weeks of listening to these people say we need to “reclaim our sovereignty” and “get our country back”, as if we’ve been living under some sort of occupation these past 40 years. I want us to remain in the EU because I support the free movement of people, think free trade within the largest economic bloc in the world is a good idea, like the fact that women are entitled to maternity leave and because I don’t want to be left stranded on a horrible, nasty, right-wing little island run by Michael Gove and Boris Johnson. There is lots of fear propaganda around but the evidence and reasoning for remaining from people like Professor Michael Dougan, Lisa Maxwell and Ben Goldacre is hugely compelling.

On Tuesday evening a hashtag game took over Twitter, #ThingsThatAreWellBrexit. “Well” is working-class slang and some of the tweets were a tad snobbish, but most were pointing out the hypocrisy and a misplaced desire to return to some sort of 1950s/1970s/prehistoric version of the UK which applies just as much to the middle classes. This litany of cliches and the rhythm of the hashtag inspired me to gather a few together along with some of my own into a lyric inspired by Ian Dury (Reasons to be Cheerful for form and “character” songs like Billericay Dickie for content) – although I guess it’s got a bit of John Cooper-Clarke in there as well. I then recited and uploaded it to YouTube, with annotations. (I did in fact originally want to record it as a parody song, but I lack the right musical equipment and there was no sign on YouTube of one of those free backing tracks you sometimes find… I’d be up for it if anyone can assist with either.) Here’s the result, with the full poem text below, with selected bits linked.

Things that are well-Brexit, one, two, three

Black cab drivers, Marks & Sparks clothes
Mild cheddar, slacks, Greggs and Waitrose
We’re being taken over, can’t take any more
Immigrants to blame for making me poor

Black and White Minstrels, living in Spain
No-one I know’s going to vote Remain
Never complaining, queuing in the rain
Being sent to Coventry on a French train

Brexit, we’ve got to, it’d be rude not to
What the hell’s Europe ever done for me?
The miners, the shipyards, the steelworks, the dockyards,
It’s the Tories EU wot done for our industry

Pound shop wages for all but the bankers
Taking back control of my hard-earned dole
Bongo-Bongo, bingo hall, hashtag “banter”
Eating egg and chips on the Costa del Sol

Blackpool rock, Union Jack socks
Nandos extra hot which you can’t eat
Daily Mail howlers, mustard-coloured trousers
Benny Hill chasing ladies down the street

Elf and safety spoilsports, regulated fishing ports
Red tape nightmare and Project Fear
MPs on the fiddle, nipping down to Lidl
Cos the very British Sainsbury’s is just too dear

Living in the fifties, being rather thrifty
Three hundred and fifty million a week
Straighten our bananas, microchip our Weimaraners
Bloody Brussels bean-counters are a bloody cheek

Now I’m no racist, I’m a royalist, a loyalist
We’re giving away all of our sovereignty
Cubes of Double Gloucester, cheering Diego Costa
in a Made in China Chelsea shirt, sipping lukewarm tea

Eurocrat, bureaucrat, aristocrat, fat-cat
I aint no migrant, I’m a proud ex-pat
Men-only golf clubs, women in their place
Gays are all right as long as they don’t shove it in my face

School of Hard Knocks, University of Life
Good old Boris Johnson will protect our rights
House of Lords aristocracy, casual hypocrisy
Greeks don’t know the meaning of democracy

Pooftas, Chinkys, Pakis, Page 3
It’s my right to be non-PC
Hammersmith Palais, cheeky trip to Calais
What’s the point in voting for your M.E.P.

Tattoo “Keep Calm” on your arm, turn on the English charm
Bring back the birch, never did me any harm
Hard-hats for acrobats, can’t fly your England flags
Coming back from Benidorm with duty-free fags

God save our German queen, ordering the duck terrine
Reclaim our marmalade back from Seville
Punch and Judy Finnegan, never seen an immigrant
but we’re being overrun and it’s making me ill

Please vote Remain on 23rd June…

(c) Thoughtcat 2016

The nonsense of the EU cookie law

CookiesThe following is the text of a letter I sent to the Guardian following the enactment of the new EU cookie law on 26th May. The Grauniad didn’t publish it and I meant to post the text anyway but had an extra prompt today from an article reporting that, a couple of weeks later, four out of five UK organisations are ignoring the law.

I manage several websites in various capacities and this law has been a great worry for firms ever since it was announced.

The likely interpretation of the law has been unclear and much (mis)interpreted, so even though all the sites I manage use cookies in a completely harmless way (for instance to anonymously keep a count of the number of visitors and page views, or to work a shopping cart), I’ve had to spend time auditing cookies, attending workshops, liaising with colleagues, clients, legal advisers and external suppliers, wading through the ICO’s own information and other articles offering their interpretations, and trying to update web content accordingly.

While you can’t expect web developers to work for nothing, I’ve found that some web development firms have taken advantage of the law to charge hundreds or even thousands of pounds to implement hi-tech cookie-control solutions – especially dubious when there is a duty of care to ensure a client’s website complies with law. And although there are open-source solutions available, technical knowledge is still required to put those in place.

One website I manage is for a small cheese shop business and for them to consider spending even a few hundred pounds on a developer to implement a cookie-control widget has been an unwanted distraction and concern for them, especially in this climate. They also depend on analytics software, which uses cookies, to see which parts of their site their visitors are viewing so they can interpret that information to improve the site and remain competitive. As the legislation has again been unclear on this, small firms especially have been stuck between a rock and a hard place in deciding whether to risk breaching the law to retain reliable statistics.

And only now in the past few days, after firms have spent time and money trying to comply, do we hear that most of the Government’s own websites won’t comply in time – this may not actually be surprising given the Government’s contempt for the Information Commissioner’s demand to release the NHS Risk Register, but it hardly sets an example to ordinary businesses and citizens who have no such ability to ignore the ICO.

To rub salt into the wound, the ICO’s Dave Evans announces the very day before the law is implemented that “implied consent” is acceptable and that he finds it “hard to imagine a situation in which we will levy a monetary fine”. The latter is especially disingenuous when the ICO have referred clearly on their website to their maximum fine of £500,000 in relation to this law and others within their remit.

Even though the law may have originally been well-intentioned to protect consumers from a minority of malicious website owners, the ICO themselves admit they won’t be able to monitor every website and so will depend on consumers reporting potential breaches – but when most average users don’t even know what a cookie is, what’s the likelihood of them knowing a website is in breach?

The ruling and its management has left ordinary, honest businesses confused and out of pocket, while normal consumers are as much at the mercy of malicious website owners as before. Both will feel the ICO, EU and Government have let them down.

Addendum: possibly the only good thing that’s come out of the law is the BBC’s fabulous retro photos on its privacy and cookies pages.