The downward spiral of negative politics

Politics. The art of dodging an answer and bombarding the person asking the question with statistics on how devastating all alternatives bar their own party will be…..

The news today (and sadly for the next few weeks) is a mix of unaffordable election promises coupled with an underlining need to explain how the other parties are wrong. Suddenly, parties are keen to help our armed forces, solve our ailing schools, invest billions in infrastructure, settle Brexit with ease and ensure that the NHS has the resources it has for so long pleaded for.

Equally,  we have claims that Labour will bankrupt us with a £1.2 trillion spending plan,  the Conservatives have something to hide with their refusal to release the report on Russian interference and a general consensus across all parties that having gone through years of austerity we apparently now have the confidence to increase debt burden with impunity.

John Pienaar, the BBC correspondent, writes “all the party leaders are worried trust is at stake in this election.” With respect, this misses the point. Our party leaders do not need to concern themselves with trust because there isn’t any and any attempt to reassert trust prior to 12 December is frankly a  waste of time and energy.

We have become accustomed to manifestos that promise the earth and then rarely deliver coupled with a negative focus on the impact of what “everyone else is promising to do”. The current state of politics is not about an honest assessment of where we are nor is it about explaining  how we are going to maximise opportunities and deal with problems. Instead it has descended into a cacophony of negatives where the road to No.10 is predicated on undermining at all costs the policies and ideas of competitors.

If we are to rebuild trust between politicians and the public then we need to see a wholesale change in the approach of our would-be leaders. Leaders need to set out clearly what they stand for whilst acknowledging the challenges that they will face. Leaders need to stop focusing on the devastating impact the policies of their competitors will bring and focus more on setting out how they will deliver and often how they will pay for their own policies. Leaders to need to move beyond the soundbite that exists today where policies are adapted to focus on whatever is popular at a particular moment in time.

I want to trust our politicians but to do so I want to believe in what they are telling me. I would like to hear a politician telling me they got it wrong – we are all human and we all make mistakes. I want politicians to stop telling me how bad everyone else is and stop insulting my intelligence that I cannot come to my own views on this. Most of all I want politicians to answer the questions they are asked.

Whatever happens in December, it will not be about trust as that is a bridge that cannot be fixed that quickly but it can be a start if someone is brave enough to focus on what they are doing and not what everyone else is.

Google Glass – worth the hype?

Garry Mackay

On 4 Jul 2014, at 18:00, “Garry Mackay” wrote:

Ok so I know that I should just ignore it but this little voice kept saying “go for it” and so with a degree of anticipation I went to Google basecamp and got my first introduction to google glass.

First impressions are mixed but you can certainly see the potential. On the downside:

A. You look stupid. Sorry no other way to describe it. The guy giving the demo insisted he used it for sport etc but no matter how much he tried to argue there was no getting around the fact that it is not aesthetically pleasing (Interestingly it was the battery sticking out the back rather than the plastic cube that I found odd).

B. It made me feel sick the first few times I used it. It felt a bit like having travel sickness without the travel. Admittedly having used it a bit more this is getting better.

C. Packaging: the beauty about Apple is their absolute attention to every small detail. Google Glass on the other hand is ill thought out, comes in two fairly big boxes (which then didn’t fit in the carrier bags they had so I ended up with two of them as well). There is nothing enchanting about the way it is packaged nor do you get that sense of anticipation that you get when opening Apple products (and I am not an apple fan). The case you get for glass is not very practical and far too bulky and the lack of an actual plug (you just get the USB cable) is a bit frustrating. It would have been nice to have had a case where everything clicked into place rather than just loosely placed.

D. Aesthetics aside the design of the frames is also a bit odd. The flexibility of the frame means it is very robust however the lack of any ability to close the glass frame is stupid as it removes the portability. When added to the laptop and tablet, the whole combination is very bulky.

E. Functionality: it’s benefit and it’s burden. Current functions are limited and sometimes feel cumbersome in the way you have to operate them. Equally it is part of the positives – whilst the current apps and functions are not great the opportunity and possibilities are clearly endless.

Despite all of the above there is a sense of excitement that surrounds Glass. Once you have got used to the operational commands (you can either voice activate or touch and swipe the right side of the glass frame) and the TV image appears in front of you, you start to understand what google are looking to achieve. The speech recognition is impressive (although my Stoke accent clearly caused it some confusion), sending texts and emails is a breeze and searching on Google is fun as the results come through and a synthetic voice just about your right ear reads out the results.

The apps are still in their infancy although the translation app is superb. Carrying out some research on Russia’s data storage legislation found a number of Russian sites. Focusing google glass saw a very quick and impressive translation appear in the view screen.

There is an inevitable concern over privacy although with wearable tech watches and ever growing functionality of mobile phones it is difficult to see that google glass does anymore than reinforce an existing problem. The cube just above the right eye lights up when in use so arguably it is more obvious than the surreptitious use of the camera on something like the Galaxy Gear.

I have no doubt the novelty will wear off but glass offers a fascinating insight to where things are going. Debates over privacy, purpose and extent of when it should/should not be used will rage but for the time being I will enjoy uploading inane texts to Evernote and using the shazam app to identify music and show me the lyrics……