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Samizdata quote of the day

We are marvelling at the multiple possibilities of Oyster, but come back here in 10 years’ time and we will have chips inserted under our skin or inside our heads

– Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, quoted by Computing

[Those foreign readers who are unfamiliar with Oyster should maybe start here. Those unfamiliar with our dear leader, the mayor, can read his official bio here, but Red Ken is a massive subject, and if you can understand his career then you know more about British politics than I do. Here is a recent friendly (!) blog post. Now if you’ll excuse me, it is 6.43am and I am off to vote.]

16 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Right, I am voting for Boris. We need to get rid of Livingstone and Boris, for all his faults, is pretty sound on the civil liberties stuff.

  • Now if you’ll excuse me, it is 6.43am and I’m off to vote

    Do you really have to encourage them?

  • Animositas

    Now if you’ll excuse me, it is 6.43am and I’m off to vote

    Shades of Chicago Democrats – “Vote Early! Vote Often!”

  • John Louis Swaine

    I’ve said it before, the Oyster card is everything that’s wrong with Ken Livingstone and central government in general.

    A crippled reflection of its free-market origin (the Hong Kong Octopus Card) it has one tenth of the functionality, requires the submission of personal data and apparently is also used to monitor the movement of everyone who uses it.

    Basically a great, emancipating tool that is a boon to the free-market is made trite, oppressive and ultimately shit by government intervention and planning. What a joke.

    Boris’s platform should be based on a desire to implement the Hong Kong Octopus card system. ALL the infrastructure is already there!

  • I am out of town today, and so will not be able to vote. If Ken gets re-elected by one vote, then it will be my fault.

  • Ah, was my comment deleted because it was just a link. Anyway, the latest post on my blog (linked to through my name) is a response to this quote in the context of the election.

  • I have been relatively quiet about Oyster because, contrary to what John Louis Swaine said, it does not require personal data. I’ve been using pre-pay for years and paid with cash and never supplied any information.

    That said, it would be trivially easy for that to change, now that the infrastructure is in place. So I am very concerned about what Ken’s plans might be. Let’s hope we get rid of him.

  • Ah, was my comment deleted because it was just a link.

    Yup. A little explanation was all that was needed to make it kosher :-)

  • Sunfish

    What does the Mayor of London actually do and what power does he actually have? From reading posts from a UK local government official who I wish posted here more often, I got the impression that everything was ultimately controlled by the Home Office.

  • ian

    90% of UK local government consists of enforcing central government edicts. There is nothing local about it.

  • guy herbert

    There’s an entire site devoted to that, Sunfish. (It is however a product of the mayor’s propaganda department, so you won’t read anything negative about the incumbent.)

    Mayor of London (not to be confused with the 800-year-old post of Lord Mayor of London) was intended as a powerful sinecure for a New Labour politician. Ken seized it and used it to drive his peculiar band of machine leftism, but did a deal with the Government who granted him even more power, thinking the municipal socialist machine had control built in. With luck that may be disproved by the voters.

    Most local government in Britain is entirely under the thumb of Whitehall, but the mayor has been an exception to that.

  • Sam Duncan

    The London Mayor is a strange beast.

    The Assembly is simply a European Regional Assembly, like the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish ones, not to mention countless others across the continent, intended to bypass national governments in the implementation of EU policy. Londoners should perhaps count themselves lucky that they can vote for theirs, unlike the rest of England.

    But none of these others has anything resembling the Mayor. The First Ministers are the leaders of their groups in the Assemblies, in imitation of Parliament; not quite the same thing. (Although it’s always amusing to remember that Alec Salmond, for all his posturing as a Great National Leader, has the same official status as Bendybus Livingstone.)

    I strongly suspect it’s a diversionary tactic to obscure the fact that it is what it is. The Scottish one is called a Parliament, because it plays up to Nationalists. The one in NI is presented as part of the “peace process”. The other English regions have “Development Agencies”. And London’s is presented as municipality writ large, with a so-called “American-style” directly-elected mayor.

  • Daveon

    A crippled reflection of its free-market origin (the Hong Kong Octopus Card) it has one tenth of the functionality, requires the submission of personal data

    Well, firstly, it doesn’t require any personal data UNLESS you opt for the post-pay and top up option. I’ve had no issue with pre-pay and cash. I may have used a US company credit card for the last top up actually…

    Second, “monitor the movement of everyone who uses it, er… well… yes. That would be rather a feature of a card like that – the question is whether or not that data is particularly useful to anybody looking at it, especially the pre-paid cards. I can see how it might be useful to verify a journey and complain if you’re charged incorrectly. I’ve had a couple of trips where bus travel has been charged incorrectly but it’s not something I can be arsed to complain about. Others might worry more about a pound than I do.

    It’s handy, really handy and, like most people, I am prepared to sacrifice convenience over the risk of loss of liberty. I’m not going to give up using credit cards and my mobile phone because anybody who wants to track me using them can do so.

    If I wanted to go to more effort I could get a PAYG SIM and start only using Cash but frankly I can’t be arsed with that.

    I’m more annoyed that to buy a Used Car CASH last weekend the dealer asked me for my personal details AND SSN because all Used Car Sales through dealers are now reported to the DHS.

    Now that’s intrusive.

  • guy herbert

    Although it’s always amusing to remember that Alec Salmond, for all his posturing as a Great National Leader, has the same official status as Bendybus Livingstone.

    I think that’s a gross mis-statement of the nature of the new constitutional arrangements. It is an arrantly wrongheaded simplification in fact. Though given the regional arrangements are complicated and unpublicised, not many people grasp them at all.

    The Scottish parliament may be subordinate to the UK one, but it is fully capable of making local law in devolved matters. The GLA has no actual power whatsoever. Most regional assemblies have some, but by no means all, of the powers that in London are exercised by the mayor. Development agencies form a parallel structure to regional assemblies, which again are parallel to, and distinct, from government offices of the regions; except in London, the Development Agencies effectively depend on and work under to the GOR.

  • Sam Duncan

    Yes, fair enough Guy. It was a bit of a rant, I admit.

    I still maintain that the constitutional details of all this have been deliberately obfuscated to hide what’s going on, though.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes – government people (and so on) have been talking about electronic stuff under the skin (ideally in the brain) for years.

    I have mentioned this before – but most people assumed I was joking.