Brexit and referendums in general.


Today I would like to talk about Brexit referendum in particular and all referendums in general. I don't want to loose time to argue about subjects of them. I don't really know what will be better for Britain but I am sure that both sides were lying as hell about it. True is, no one really knows what will happen as there was no precedence in such case. Okay.... let's come back to the subject.

For me, this referendum shows how weak UK is now (I mean government and politicians). Why? I am explaining it right away, just look at outcome first, please.

Referendum results (without spoiled ballots)

And first, just graphic representation with hidden numbers.

51.9% Leave
48.1 Remain
And now the numbers:
  Votes %
Leave 17,410,742 51.89%
Remain 16,141,241 48.11%
Registered voters/turnout 46,500,001 72.21%
Total votes 33,577,342 100%
Invalid or blank 25,359 0.08%

The turnout was very good and give a strength to the voting, but you can simply see that votes an only normal majority and it is very tight "Leave" 1,269,501 - 3.78%. I don't undermine the outcome, it is a vote for "Leave", Sure. But what sane person will decide future of nation based on the normal majority? Seriously?

Even small corrections in general shape of the country need a qualified majority (2/3 votes and 1/2 voters present). Why is it so? Big changes should not be easy to make to prevent against a whim of the moment in public sentiment. In the Brexit referendum, we can plainly see that society is hesitating now. It is just half - half and we are in a state of indecision. Why do I say so? Because 4% of bublic votes can change in time of two weeks or month. But such decision influences the UK in terms of years. As long as we want stable country it has to be a big force to do permanent changes (or long-term ones). I can understand a simple majority to decide something that is easy to change if a public sentiment will change (taxes, internal law, etc.)

My point here is like that. Leading parties don't see that necessity? Again... Seriously? How they will keep the stable country. I have no idea, but for me, it is a form of a populism and in the long run, it will not serve us well.

Internet Security vs Total Invigilation

And again the next attack.

I think it doesn't matter when you are reading this post; surely you have got some horrible incident in mind. At the time of writing this article it is ISIS and Muslim radicals, earlier it was IRA and earlier it were Christian radicals and sects. Unfortunately, we, as a human race, have much to learn. How to cope with anger and frustration. But this is not a subject of this post. This time governments realised how big impossibilities go with the Internet in the digital era. Don't take me wrong, I am pro security and have nothing against government tapping phones or reading the digital communications of people who are suspected of a crime. But there is big BUT.

We are going into Orwell's Big Brother land. These crimes are used to cause unproportionate fear of the digital world. When we added politicians, who have none or little knowledge of digital security issues we have such action like systematic lowering security barriers in Windows (or holding critical updates to allow USAs NSI to get access to more computers). Now in UK Teresa May shown almost an unbelievable level of ignorance calling for a ban of encryption or for putting backdoors to programs. What's wrong with this? Terrorist use WhatsApp (for example) to plan and carry the actions.

I am putting it on the list.

  1. The flaw in the logic. Terrorist use car, why not ban them? Terrorist use cell phones, ban them too? Terrorist use kitchen knives and other available appliance.
  2. The flaw in the claim. We somehow need to achieve ad least same level of control as in the non-digital world. But already with new fast computers, data searching AI and robust algorithms, we have got more control over ours emails and on-line publications than in real life. If the government would like to introduce a system which allows reading all our letters, postcards and personal notes just for the prevention of crime, that would cause a massive public outcry. But now, such systems are working in the digital world.
  3. The flaw in the pride. Yes, one has to have great arrogance if someone thinks that if the backdoors are there for police/government use, no one will use them because of a power of the authority. Oh, please, that is just ridiculous. We now see havoc caused by "Wanna Cry" virus or how Russia and USA hack democracies around the globe (and it doesn't matter you are an ally or foe). Intelligent persons are around the world not only in our governmental agencies. They are in foreign bodies, and lots of them are criminals too. If we make opportunities to spy/hack us, it will be explored. It is only a question of the time.
  4. The flaw in the target. Any ban or weakening of the system does not influence a criminal world much. Criminals/Terrorists will move to other apps or services. We do not weaken criminals much, but we lower security of the nation in general.
  5. The flaw in the outcome. Criminals/Terrorists do not pay attention to what is legal they disobey anyway, such things will hit ordinary citizens. And it will harm democracy a lot. Such total control over our private speech gives an immense power and power corrupts. Keep in mind that in Russia any picture or drawing of Putin wearing makeup is officially recognised as extremist and banned (and prosecuted as well).

And again, I agree, we have to stop on-line bullying, fake news, extremism. But we do not need a big revolution to do this. We have to use hi-tech tools and software to find people who are a danger to the society. We do not need to limit a freedom of speech. There is nothing wrong with it. We need just to realise that the freedom of expression goes with responsibility. Fifty years ago our grandparents were risking their personal safety and their lives for the freedom. Now we are offering to trade freedom for the illusion of security. Yes, just for the illusion. The true is this that we will never be completely safe because there is always a way around any law and system. If we give up our way of life and subdue to the total invigilation, it means terrorist already won.

And there are the last questions. Who watch the watchers? How we control our digital security and invigilation agencies? We have to remember. Power corrupts, total power corrupts totally.

The job with no qualification needed - Politician

If you want to be a bus driver you need to go through tests. Want to be a pilot? The same. A doctor needs to go through years of education and practice. Accountants same and have to get the licence if they want to be real professionals. They are responsible only for few lives. But to be at the helm of the nation you can be totally bonkers. I am not joking. That really did happen and even not once. Why it is possible, that complete moron, who doesn't want to do any honest job can even apply for the position in a parliament or become a minister? People after multiple bankruptcies can be a minister of finance or president. People with mental disorders become a minister of defence, Well, many can argue that parliament position is for everybody and education is not equal with experience and skill to govern well. In any job, you have expectations like a degree in this or that or equivalent experience. How often uneducated and inexperienced person shows good skill in any job? Really how many times you hear about? But this isn't the main issue. Why do politicians not undergo periodical mental health tests? In this situation, we have got underdeveloped personality leading world biggest nuclear power with almost childish behaviour and diagnosed with mental issues person as a minister of defence, education, security. I am aware that it isn't a simple problem as such tests can be used to ban opposition's candidate to get the sit. But we have got a national security and counterespionage checks of the candidates. That can be built into a reasonable checking mechanism. Of course, it has to be proper transparency and public control over the process. (By the way, I am for the total public access to the examination results. If one dear to rich for the highest chairs one should include costs that society have right to now and control him).

And just one little thing more. If anyone become a parliament member first time should consider going on the rhetoric course at least 6 months long. This shouts and insults, childish stubbornness and misbehaviour, lies and deceptions are not that representing nation means. I mean rhetoric in the classical sense [definition on Wikipedia] We need a parliament that can work and be efficient in reaching agreements and form some conclusion which stands on the base of logic.

© 2017 Chris Hoopoe (writer-novelist)