Entries from January 2008 ↓

Just a bit tired but can you help me?

There have already been many amusing moments with this new cabinet office job. When I get time to string a few paragraphs together, I’ll blog about them. Top of the list must be the security guard who nearly escorted me off the premises for using a mobile phone (fair cop). I managed to make an escape but I’m checking for wanted posters at the front door each morning. So far, so good.

I have some responsibility for technology projects and want to use the blog to ask for some advice and ideas. Assuming you’ve already got world peace, free beer and legislation to save Scrabulous on Facebook as ministerial priorities, what should I be working on? What can I push the techies who work for the government to do that will make a practical improvement to people’s lives?

It’s at times like this that I wish I was smarter at all this stuff. If I was, I’d design a one page “Tell Tom” site where you could describe the project you think the clever people at the Ministry should be working on. A sort of “Fix my Street” for government web sites. All ideas welcome and who knows, you might actually make a difference.

Sandwell’s first ever Holocaust memorial service

It was quite a moving ceremony this morning. Sandwell borough had the first of what I hope will be an annual service to commemorate the Holocaust and other genocides.

A small memorial stone was dedicated. The British Legion were at their best and we heard a small contribution from Mr Cohen, who spoke movingly to an audience of about 100.

Well done to all the people who made this happen. You should be proud of yourselves. I hope that next year, the event will be bigger and attract cross party support as well as the involvement of other community and faith groups.
Sandwell's Holocaust Memorial

Now I do feel sorry for Iain Dale

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=510598&in_page_id=1770

Candidate set to be Tories’ first black woman MP tried to stand for Labour just two years ago.

Though he shows remarkable resilience in his support of the Conservative candidate for Maidstone, Iain Dale must be absolutely hopping mad about the revelation that Helen Grant tried to stand for Labour less than two years ago.

I know exactly why the Tories are fast tracking candidates but it must be sickening to be as experienced as Iain and get hoofed out of the race by someone with zero party experience.

Conservative Home has an interesting array of views on the matter.

Policy mashed

One of the key challenges for a junior minister is finding the areas in your brief where a mastery of the detail can make a difference to the direction of travel a particular policy is taking.

I’m halfway through “The Power of Information” report by Ed Mayo and Tom Steinberg – a fascinating look at how public information can be presented in a way that makes life just that little bit easier and gets things to work just that little bit better. As the authors say:

“When enough people can collect, re-use and distribute public sector information, people organise around it in new ways, creating new enterprises and new communities. In each case, these are designed to offer new ways of solving old problems. In the past, only large companies, government or universities were able to re-use and recombine information. Now, the ability to mix and ‘mash’ data is far more widely available.”

An example of this is My Society’s travel time maps. Transport time and mapping data has been “mixed and mashed” to help people work out their commute times. It’s an example of how a bit of thinking from the hive using freely available public sector data can make life just that little bit better.

It also proves beyond doubt that if you want to commute to Westminster in under 45 minutes and live in a relatively cheap flat, move to Deptford.

http://www.mysociety.org/2007/more-travel-maps

I still have a lot more reading to do but if you have an interest in this field, I’d be delighted to hear your views.