Weekly News Review: 3rd – 9th October

9th October 2020 / United Kingdom
Weekly News Review: 3rd - 9th October

Editors Weekly Poke

We are now inside the last three months of 2020 and Britain sits on the precipice of an almighty cliff that will forever change the nature and character of our country if bad decisions are made. Unfortunately, these decisions are in the hands of people with a track record of moral bankruptcy, incompetence and failure. At this crucial moment in our history – the very last person we need at the helm is the current incumbent of No10 Downing Street. Not only are we now heading into the flu season, aided and abetted by an out-of-control global pandemic and threatened with illogical and confusing restrictions – we have Brexit, which for the last four years has felt like the sword of Damocles hanging over the nation.

Boris Johnson has odiously described the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has seen tens of thousands lose their lives as a “massive opportunity” that his party can take advantage of. He said that the Conservatives would use the fallout of the crisis to “short-circuit” the country and impose a right-wing agenda of tax cuts and reduced support for the unemployed. This fact has since come to light in Rishi Sunak’s very quietly announced benefits cuts that are twice a big as George Osborne’s were five years ago (more below) for those unfortunate enough to enter the failed Universal Credit system, described only last week by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee as “one the most punitive in the world” (source).

In just one example of ‘taking advantage’ – the insidious hypocrisy of this government is demonstrated once again by yet more leaked emails that reveal wealthier seats and new Tory strongholds are being spared the harshest restrictions struck by Covid. Wealthy areas, including the chancellor Rishi Sunak’s parliamentary seat, are avoiding lockdown despite having higher Covid-19 rates than poorer areas that are subject to restrictions, this is according to emails between health officials (source).

And Johnson, contrary to Sunak’s recent messaging, urged activists to keep the faith as he promised that he would slash taxes as soon as the Spring when Brexit is done. It is clear Johnson is getting desperate. Only a year ago he was the Tory party Brexit pin-up boy and they were roaring him along. Now tested by a crisis he’s failing on every metric possible. A poll of grassroots members conducted by the ConHome website on the eve of this weeks conference found just 28% thought Johnson was dealing with the coronavirus pandemic well and 63% said he was dealing with it badly (source). And last week, Keir Starmer, an opposition leader with a mountain to climb inside his own party grabbed the top slot as the public now think he would be a better PM. To make matters worse, a former chair of the Tory party and founder of YouGov published the public’s most popular words from a poll to describe the PM as – “dishonest, incompetent and out of his depth.” Today, Johnson marches around Downing Street surrounded by a Praetorian guard of advisors as personal protection. For many experienced Tories, it is clear he is unable to even manage basic communications, let alone be on top of policy detail – and the novelty of ‘Boris’ is becoming dangerously tiresome to many. Interestingly, dyed-in-the-wool Tories in government really do think Johnson hasn’t got the competence to succeed anyway (source).

Johnson’s Tuesday conference speech was not covered by the national newspapers the following day, meaning there was little interest in what he had to say right now. His plan for boosting offshore wind was quickly shot down in flames. According to experts, Johnson’s promise of £160m wind farm investment falls short by about £49billion. There were lots of other promises – all of which alludes to the government borrowing another £100bn in this parliament, without actually saying on what or how it will be paid for. Quite how this fits in with Sunak’s promises to ensure the national books balance is unknown. As usual, it’s all words, supported by a blancmange of slogans.

Johnson was ramping up the wheels of the culture wars in his speech. Those critical of his actions are “guilty of seditious propaganda” characteristic of those “who didn’t want Brexit to succeed” he said. He cited the 1945 government’s effort to “build a new Jerusalem” after the war. He droned on – “we’re proud of this country’s heritage. They literally want to pull statues down. They want to rewrite the history of our country, to edit our national CV to make it more politically correct. We aren’t embarrassed to sing old songs about how Britannia rules the waves.” Stylised by a Trumpian era, Johnson’s rhetoric blamed everyone and everything else for his failures and then went as far as to say – “I believe that you’ll see a Britain that is more united than for decades in its constitutional settlement.” It only goes to show how desperate the situation has become to have to offer some consolation that the Union of Britain is now all but over on his watch. As usual, it was all words, backed by no detail, financed by fantasy thinking and supported by a blancmange of meaningless slogans to get those on the faithful right into flag-waving mode on the runup to 2021.



Inside ‘Drowning’ Street

Misspeaking: Amanda Milling, Tory party chair was being interviewed for this week’s Tory party conference – who insisted that members “are all happy” with the way Boris Johnson has handled the coronavirus. “People understand and are very grateful for all the measures the government have taken over the last few months to deal with what has been an unprecedented situation.” She said that despite the UK being one of the worst-impacted nations in the world, the sheen has not come off the PM for members. “They still love Boris,” she said. “The prime minister delivered that incredible result last December. We wouldn’t have that 80-seat majority if it wasn’t down to Boris and the manifesto and getting Brexit done.” The same week, Johnson was overtaken by Keir Starmer in the polls.

What the Papers Say: The view in No. 10 right now is one of fear. The newspaper companies are facing another cliff-dive of revenue and are fiercely opposing lockdown measures that would further devastate their incomes, and so are bombarding the government day after day over the restrictions. “You can understand that sales have gone off a cliff and that these papers are campaigning for their own survival by opposing any new measures. They might not have a duty to protect the health of their readers, but we do,” a government source hits back. However, it’s a bit unlikely the government will win that argument.

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But, But, But: Boris Johnson very much hinted at the growing divide between him and Rishi Sunak by stating that it was his Eat Out To Help Out scheme that helped spread the virus, and wasn’t Johnson’s idea. Sunak insisted he had no regrets: “No, no, no, no, definitely not. We had an industry that I care deeply about because of employment. It’s over 2 million people.

Anti-Democracy: We said this would happen. The chairman of the election watchdog the Electoral Commission has been forced out by Tory MP’s. It’s just another attempt to break down the institutions that uphold our democracy. “Sir John Holmes, who chairs the Electoral Commission, is understood to have been told by MPs that he cannot extend his term for another four years.” There was no problem until the commission decided to set out plans to acquire powers to prosecute political parties for criminal offences rather than referring them to the police and Crown Prosecution Service (who did little when they were referred), which angered the Tories. So you can expect yet another Tory stooge to take Holmes’ place and ensure that democracy is the loser once again (source).

Priti Awful: Priti Patel, the home secretary, branded the asylum system “broken” and promised the Conservatives during the virtual conference this week, a thorough overhaul was now in sight. Its first test was the government’s post-Brexit immigration bill that then met with defeat in the Lords on the same day, with peers demanding greater safeguards for EU children in care and unaccompanied refugees (source).

Word Cloud: Lord Ashcroft is a politician and founder of one of Britain’s biggest pollsters – YouGov. He is a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party and one of those tax-dodging, offshorers who has enough money to be a resident of anywhere that’s nice sunny and doesn’t charge tax. Strangely enough, this week, he published a set of words that the public used the most to describe Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer. The former ended up with “dishonest, incompetent and out of his depth”, the latter with “sensible, competent and principled” (source).

Honour Without Honour: At the time of writing, we have no idea what levels of nepotism and cronyism is to be expected with new knights and dames to be announced and then to hit the front pages tonight ahead of publication of the queen’s birthday honours list on Saturday. No doubt Brexiteers and those causing mayhem for Jeremy Corbyn are to be honoured! All this will provide cover for the outrage that MP’s will be rewarded for their failure and are on course for another £3,360 pay rise next year just as millions will hit the dole queues and pay will be restrained across the country to pay for Covid.

Inside Brexit

Mass Surveillance: A ruling by the EU’s top court last Tuesday dealt a serious blow to the prospect of digital information being able to flow freely across the Channel after Brexit. Simply put – this is because Britain’s mass surveillance regime has been ruled illegal (again) under EU rules. Britain is the Western world’s leader in privacy abuse and citizen data theft. From January 1, the UK will lose its automatic status as a safe destination for EU data because it falls out of the EU’s legal system. To keep the data taps flowing after Brexit, the U.K.’s data protection regime needs to get a stamp of approval from the European Commission in what is known as an “adequacy decision.” It won’t do that because Dominic Cummings cannot keep his dream alive of managing the state by data systems and AI if Britain complies to normal laws in normal democratic countries (source).

Pallet Shortage: The United Kingdom faces a race against time to have enough pallets for exporting to the European Union once the Brexit transition period ends in less than three months. The timber packaging industry says the coronavirus outbreak forced companies to put efforts to stockpile ISPM 15-compliant pallets on hold for several months. Now it is urging Boris Johnson’s UK government and the European Union to agree on an adjustment period lasting at least half a year so it has more time to build up stocks (source).

Simply Complicated: The updated Border Operating Model shows big gaps still remain. The document, dated September and said to have been handed out last week to senior managers, still lacks detail about crucial online systems hauliers will need to file paperwork with before heading to ports. Not only this but freight firms are facing a complicated array of customs declarations who will now need to record more than 10 different data points about their shipments, including purchased invoice numbers, date and time of entry and warehouse approval numbers, among other things. Apparently, this is meant to be the simple version.

Compo: Japanese manufacturers Nissan and Toyota have demanded that the UK government reimburses them for tariff costs if the UK can’t agree on a Brexit deal with the European Union (EU). As first reported by business publication Nikkei Asia, the companies are preparing themselves for a 10% tariff on cars exported from the UK to the EU that could come into place from 1 January 2021. If such market conditions do arise, they want the UK government to bear the brunt of the tariff costs (source).

Lamb: UK landowners warned this week that millions of lamb carcasses could go to waste if there’s a no trade-deal Brexit. The Country Land and Business Association said the imposition of tariffs could see the industry collapse, with prices depressed and about 2 million carcasses unsold. The lamb sector with 30,000 businesses in the supply chain is one of the most vulnerable to the shocks of a no-deal Brexit, with 89 per cent of sheepmeat exports heading to the EU each year (source).

Violence Warning: The Brexit backing Daily Mail has finally had to admit that the security checkpoints and customs bases in Northern Ireland that will inevitably be constructed after Brexit will become targets and a ‘recruiting badge’ for dissident republican groups, MPs have warned. It came after MI5 carried out an investigation into the terrorism threat linked to ‘installations or infrastructure at the border’ with the Irish Republic. The intelligence agency said it feared the New IRA could become a more dangerous threat in the future. The New IRA are recruiting significant numbers of politically violent young people  (source).

Optimism: Brexit deal probability is up from 60% to 70% – according to Morgan Stanley. It joins the market bulls expecting a soft Brexit in its latest forecasts for a trade deal ahead of the autumn talks between the EU and UK. The bank cites the reduction of 10% from the previous 40% expectations of a World Trade Organization (WTO) terms based departure of the ex-neighbours. The resultant 70% soft Brexit probabilities also take clues from an increase in the mixed deal favours to 60%, from the previous 50%. In other words – money is now going on a deal of some sort (source). In addition, Goldman Sachs is advising its clients to buy sterling, with analysts predicting that the UK and EU could reach a post-Brexit trade deal by early November (source).

Inside the Economy

More Tory Worries: The latest unemployment figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show a trend that should worry Conservatives: unemployment is rising fastest in affluent Conservative heartlands. Unemployment increased by 117 per cent across the UK in the year to May, but there was a significant variation to this figure at a regional level. Of the 20 constituencies to have seen the biggest increases in unemployment, 18 are represented by Conservative MPs. The average Conservative constituency has seen unemployment rise by 150 per cent, compared to 108 per cent in Labour-held areas. For instance, Michael Gove’s constituency, Surrey Heath, unemployment has risen 242 per cent (source).

Savings Soar: Britons stashed away more than ever before between April and June this year, official figures revealed, as the coronavirus lockdown kept the country at home and prevented people from spending. The percentage of disposable income which households saved rose to an all-time high of 29.1 per cent, more than double the previous record of 14.4 per cent set 27 years ago (source).

Fraud Pays: Up to 60% of emergency pandemic loans made under the Bounce Back scheme may never be repaid, a report by the government’s spending watchdog says. The National Audit Office (NAO) said taxpayers could lose as much as £26bn, from fraud, organised crime or default. The lending scheme carried lighter checks than others and was aimed at small businesses unable to access other pandemic funding support (source).

Stress Test: Boris Johnson promised this week to turn ‘generation rent into generation buy’ with plans to boost the availability of long-term mortgages for homebuyers with a small deposit. The reality is that he is simply going to force the banks to reduce the hurdles (or criteria) to ensure borrowers can actually pay the mortgage in the first place and then offer a taxpayer-funded guarantee to the banks if the loan goes bad. This has been calculated to put the taxpayer on the hook for £44bn. It is yet another state intervention into a housing market that has been falsibly ‘pumped’ by the Tory government since 2010 (source).


Universal Failure: Whilst the government offers private equity owned companies (very often serial tax avoiders, short-sellers, asset-strippers and often based in tax havens) taxpayers cash in the guise of government bailout loans, two in five households on Universal Credit had money deducted from their claim in May, almost entirely to repay loans to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). £1 billion in total will be deducted from Universal Credit claims this year, according to Feeding Britain – who have identified deductions from Universal Credit as one of the prevalent causes of foodbank demand (source).

Moonshot Matt: The latest update to the ‘Moonshot’ is that all Salford residents, in the initial trial period, were expected to have access to 20-minute saliva-based tests by now. As at Tuesday this week, the trial has not reached even it first 250 tests a day. ‘Operation Moonshot’ is supposed to test millions of people per day.

More Bad News: There is now serious concern among senior officials and government scientists that the virus is spreading once again among older people. It appears new restrictions are imminent: “Alarm bells are ringing across Whitehall — these numbers are incredibly concerning, it looks increasingly like further action will need to be taken soon. There are indications the disease is starting to spread more amongst the older population — those most at risk of hospitalization and death.” Government officials are worried that the UK is already ‘world-beating’ at the C19 death rate and do not want it to accelerate more bad news.

Ebbing Support: “We do not support further economic lockdowns,” said Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, Manchester City Council leader Richard Leese and Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes on Tuesday. They are calling for the “counter-productive” 10 p.m. curfew to be scrapped. Downing Street is facing a furious backlash from ‘Red Wall’ MPs, mayors and council leaders across the north of England as we head into winter, especially s many have been kept in the dark as decisions are made without them. The new traffic light system will see pubs, restaurants and cafés forced to close at the highest tier, with leisure venues also shut, but schools, universities and other businesses remaining open. There’s another rebellion building more widely amongst MP’s and a cabinet divide.

Blame Game: As we have reported so many times, the government works just as hard on shifting the blame for its cock-ups as they do making them. Some in Whitehall are pointing the finger straight at their favourite punchbag Public Health England when the reality is that the system is run by a private for-profit company and headed up by Tory failure Dido Harding, (listen to this – source) and its even bigger outsourced failure Serco.

Anti-Vaxxers: If a UK wide vaccination programme is to be administered, only 30 million Brits will be vaccinated at most. There’s going to be no vaccination of people under 18. It’s an adult-only vaccine, for people over 50, focusing on health workers and care home workers and the vulnerable. There are 12 identified groups up for vaccination. For all those anti-maskers who keep banging on about their civil liberties, the likelihood is they won’t get offered one anyway. Will they suddenly change their tune and say that they’ve been the ones left out to face this pandemic and surely this must be against their human rights?

World Infections: World Health Organization expert says around 10% of the world’s population may already have been infected with COVID-19, twenty times more than the world’s reported tally (source).

India Rate of Infections: 1st of April: 58, 1st of May: 1,223, 1st of June: 5,608, 1st of July: 17,848, 1st of August: 37,403, 1st of September: 66,460, 1st of October: 99,804 (source).

Could It Get Any Worse…

Denying legal responsibility: A leading disabled person’s organisation has lashed out at comments made by DWP boss Thérèse Coffey MP (Secretary of State for Works and Pensions), after she casually claimed that the department does not have a legal duty or statutory requirement to safeguard vulnerable benefit claimants.  

Assange – Kangaroo Court: One of the US prosecution’s key medical witnesses in the Julian Assange hearing, who claimed that Assange’s risk of suicide is ‘manageable’ if extradited to the US, works for an academic institute that has received £millions by the UK Ministry of Defence and linked to the US Department of Defence. What we are witnessing in Britain is the total breakdown of justice. What this article does is explode the myth of the rule of law, when a foreign state, in collusion with the UK, can effectively rig the outcome of so-called justice. This excellent article by declassified is a (MUST READ)

Mother of all Parliaments: The crumbling Palace of Westminster (House of Commons and House of Lords) costs the taxpayer a whopping £2 million just to maintain each week according to the public accounts committee (source).

Shhh… The Electoral Commission appears to have preemptively published (before its boss is shoved out by the Tories for daring to challenge their crooked campaigning tactics) a load of the national campaign spending data from the 2019 general election on its website, without anyone noticing in the mainstream media. The Conservative Party spent £16,486,871 on its 80 seat majority. That’s over £200,000 per seat. And that’s only the officially declared spending – which has been researched and found to be barely scratching the surface of reality. (source) (source).

Thought of the Week

Just a reminder that in just 75 days, British citizens will lose the right to move, study, work, retire, set up a business, sell goods, sell services or move money across the 31 member states of the biggest single market on the planet. To do so, they will be treated as any other third party entity or individual that is outside of the EU. The last formal round of talks between the UK and the European Union on their future relationship ended last Friday and the following day Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen ordered their teams to keep talking. Next Thursday, October 15th is Boris Johnson’s last, last, last red-line day. However, whatever chances that there were to do a deal were poisoned by the law-breaking Internal Market’s Bill. Both sides are now fully expecting and preparing for failure. There is still some smouldering optimism though.

That failure will mean every man, woman and child in Britain will be, to some extent worse off. There’s a cost to a no-deal Brexit. Not least is the administrative burden of tariffs and customs checks, which will impact on food supplies and prices more widely – just as the country sees a rapid incline of unemployment, household debt, evictions and poverty. Every household in Britain is to shoulder £4 billion of additional import/export red tape each year. That’s without near £15bn annual cost of managing new borders. Businesses are not prepared as they are currently in Covid survival mode – but those that trade heavily in exporting to the EU will, no doubt, feel yet more strain on their finances, especially as they now need to to find a new and costly infrastructure to trade through. Many will give up, throwing yet more hard-working people onto the dole queues. Trade and disputes will be handled by the failing WTO – a governing body that has not been successful in negotiating a single trade deal in 25 years. The failed and disgraced British politician Liam Fox is in the last round to be its new CEO – which says a lot about the WTO – itself falling apart in a 21st-century world of geopolitically driven trade.

There’s an awful lot of things that could go wrong and just as many things that may not go wrong. That’s the point, we don’t know until this government crashes the country into that wall. And if their management of the CoVid crisis is anything to go by, you know everything that could go wrong probably will. Everything from on-time pharmaceutical deliveries to port management, from aviation and GPS systems to roaming charges and intelligence sharing. To make up for lost trade with the EU, all manner of public protection laws could be changed from working conditions to environmental protections – to compete with a global economy whose inhabitants earn less than half what Britons do. And in the hands of people like Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Liz Truss, Dominic Cummings and economic extremists like members of the ERG, the IEA and so on – profit is the humming incantation of their ideology. It’s about money and power – not ‘levelling up’ or any other shallow-as-spit slogan they think up next. The one thing these people have never done is tell us exactly what their plans are. Do they even have one? One thing we can be assured of though is that whatever their plan is, it is only known to those who will profit the most from it – a bit like spending £10 billion (£149 per UK citizen) of desperately needed taxpayers cash on a ‘world-beating’ track and trace program with a widely available £120 excel spreadsheet – that didn’t work.

Work Facts

Mental Health: According to the Mental Health Foundation, over a third of people in full-time work admitted to having anxiety about losing their jobs during the first lockdown. And among those who were unemployed, a quarter reported not coping well with the stress of the pandemic, almost half were worried about not having enough food, and one in five experienced suicidal thoughts (source).

Job Losses: The latest figures also show job numbers falling for a seventh month in a row across services and manufacturing, with private sector services jobs hit hardest. “Once again job losses remained the black spot amidst these pockets of recovery,” said Duncan Brock, group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply. “Redundancies have replaced job hiring in an attempt to shield firms from rising input costs but these strategies will devastate local communities” (source).

Home Working: A survey of just under 1,000 firms by the Institute of Directors (IoD) shows that 74% plan on maintaining the increase in home working. A smaller survey of bosses whose firms had already cut workplace use suggested 44% of them thought working from home was proving “more effective”. Another study suggested that 50 of the biggest UK employers had no plans to return all staff to the office full-time in the near future. Nine in 10 workers who have worked from home during lockdown would like to continue in some form, researchers found in an academic study (source).


Tech Facts

Honda Quits F1: Honda is quitting Formula 1 (F1) at the end of the 2021 season to focus on fuel cell and battery technologies, the Japanese car giant said in a shock announcement on Friday (2nd Oct). As the automobile industry undergoes a once-in-one-hundred years period of great transformation, Honda has decided to strive for the realisation of carbon neutrality by 2050, Honda said in a statement (source).

Remote Working: A new poll commissioned by the Prospect Union has found that two-thirds of workers are uncomfortable using remote working-related technology, such as keystroke and camera monitoring. Even more, the research found that 80% of workers would be uncomfortable with camera monitoring, while 74% said they would be uncomfortable with electronic tracking through wearables. Additionally, nearly half of respondents said that monitoring software in their remote work positions could damage their relationship with their manager (source).

Hate Facebook: The resignation of Ashok Chandwaney was the latest act of rebellion from inside a company that used to be one of the most coveted places to work in Silicon Valley but is facing growing internal dissent from its elite workforce. “Internal dissent and external pressure will be needed to bring change inside a company that from their own personal experience is “not interested” in stamping out hate and incitement to violence on its platforms.” In recent months, there have been walkouts, regular leaks of sensitive internal documentation, and bruising confrontations at staff meetings with chairman and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg (source).

Fuel Cell Breakthrough: A new and flexible fuel cell technology, a project developed by Norwegian companies, has proven that it can reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from shipping by 40% to 100%. The project partners, Odfjell, Wartsila, Prototech, and Lundin Energy Norway, claimed that the fuel cell project is a “ground-breaking” fuel solution for ships and offshore (source).
Fixers Wanted: Technology firm to double the size of their workforces by Christmas after influx of new repair contracts. IN just one case, since the start of the pandemic, a Samsung Authorised Repair Partner has seen more than 100,000 mobiles comes through the doors for processing – 30,000 of which needed repairing. It follows a host of new contract wins with the NHS, police forces, the Government and local authorities (source).


Quotes of the Week

“MARCH 2020: Cases soaring – Infection spreading, Testing can’t cope, Government hesitates to impose national lockdown. OCTOBER 2020: Cases soaring – Infection spreading, Testing can’t cope, Government hesitates to impose national lockdown. Have they learnt nothing?” (source) David Schneider – Actor, writer, director.

“I see people are pissed off at Boris Johnson’s dad for not wearing a mask. I’m more annoyed he didn’t wear a condom!” (source) – Left-wing political commentator

The fact that a lawyer represents an asylum seeker does not make them a ‘lefty lawyer’. It simply makes them a lawyer. Attacks on members of the legal profession for doing their jobs do our country no creditRepeated govt attacks on the integrity of the legal profession are deeply concerning. This divisive language serves nobody and puts lawyers and their clients at risk.” (source) – The Law Society commenting on Boris Johnson’s attack of lawyers representing asylum seekers where 73 per cent of cases are won on legal grounds under laws created by parliament.

“How many bankers retrained as car mechanics or whatever when their industry collapsed? Which, can I add, was entirely their own fXXking fault (source) Sophie Petzal TV Writer commenting on the governments’ so-called plans that the recently unemployed simply retrain to find employment – when its the jobs that have gone not the skills required to do them.

“It’s worth asking where the UK Government’s fundamentalist hatred and dread of the modern world comes from and what they hope to go back to… what was there before THE RULE OF LAW, SCIENCE, HUMAN RIGHTS, FEMINISM, ENVIRONMENTALISM, EQUALITY and MULTICULTURALISM?” (source) Dr Matt Prescott – Founder of Environmental Rating Agency commenting on doctors doing their job of treating migrants called “lefty do-gooders”?

Recommended Weekend Reading

What will the ‘new normal’ be? Despite the blow COVID-19 has inflicted, we now have a unique opportunity to re-evaluate many aspects of the modern economy, society, and government.“The world will never be the same after COVID-19”. Is that actually true? Simon Hix (Pro-Director for Research, LSE) explains how the LSE’s new initiative can help shape the post-COVID world (READ MORE).

Technology to Fracture Global Trade and Relations: The article “Data Overtakes Oil as Leading (Geopolitical) Global Commodity” published three years ago became the subject of much debate and deliberation. At the time, many economists and political commentators decried the notion as nonsense – and some still do. “Data, the leading reason why tech exists in todays world has overtaken oil as the number one traded global commodity and is now worth exactly double budgeted global defence spending. Like oil and military spending, data is the new geopolitical ammunition of the 21st century.” Whilst that statement is now recognised by just about everyone as common knowledge, Graham Vanbergen stresses the next big shift to take place will be just as rapid, game-changing and threatening (READ MORE).

The Digital Threat to Democracy: The UK government issued a curious press release a few days ago to announce that the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, had been disqualified as a company director for seven years for offering “shady political services”. These included “bribery or honey trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns”. Tactfully, the release didn’t mention Cambridge Analytica’s key role in the Brexit referendum campaign – here’s why (READ MORE).

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