Delivering Cartel Politics

April 21, 2015

UK politics are often defined as adversarial but a closer look at what’s happening shows a cartel masquerading as adversaries.
Cartel? Today’s definition is in terms of the commercial sector but the history of the words lies in the political arena. And in both environments a cartel is an agreement between those who control supply, in order to maximise their own benefits while excluding others from the same marketplace.
The DeliveryDemon has been struggling to decide how to vote in the forthcoming General Election. The main parties are too busy shovelling out marketing material to engage with real voters and are totally ignoring the press. Looking at their track records, there’s not a lot to choose between them. Looking at their PR bumf, none has a policy based on letting real people get on with their lives and limiting tax demands to what is needed for the efficient and effective provision of necessary services. There is a difference between the hinterlands of the various parties but it’s not something that affects the ravenous appetite for tax revenue of every single party.
What’s the difference between those hinterlands? That’s where privatisation comes in. Either tax revenue disappears into massive bureaucracy whose cost outweighs the money it spends on delivering services, or the revenue disappears into a massive bureaucracy whose activities swallow up money in administering the outsourcing of those services. Whatever the model, the bureaucracies constantly complain about lack of funds, and bolster their case by cutting services rather than by making the bureaucracy more efficient. Some choice!
Is the alternative the ‘protest’ candidates? The smaller parties without the backing to attain power? The independents? There isn’t an independent in the DeliveryDemon’s constituency and she hasn’t seen much from independents elsewhere. The smaller parties are following the examples of the larger ones in failing to engage with voters. The Scottish referendum showed UKIP sucking up to the cartel members who were using their publicity machines in a distinctly unethical effort to influence the results through threats. The Greens are wedded to large scale energy solutions which force a choice between environmental problems, rather than considering the sort of self-regulating solution which could be achieved by locating the problem, the solution, and the side effects in the area generating the demand. The SNP have Nicola Sturgeon, who may be the most professional politician on the scene at the moment. But SNP isn’t an option in the DeliveryDemon’s constituency, and anyway they wouldn’t get her vote after they decided to exclude native-born Scots from the referendum.
The DeliveryDemon is not alone in having a dilemma about how to cast her vote. It seems that a wide range of people have the same problem. At the last election, the idea of a hung Parliament seemed scary and unthinkable. But it happened, and this time round a hung Parliament seems almost inevitable.
The DeliveryDemon feels a need to exercise her vote as a form of damage limitation, but there doesn’t even seem to be an option which offers that.
In an ideal world, the DeliveryDemon would vote for a candidate whose overriding motivation was to represent the people who elected him / her, without giving priority to climbing the greasy pole of a career ladder within a self-perpetuating party structure. Or maybe she would vote for a unicorn. Given the current political climate, the DeliveryDemon has every confidence that she will meet that unicorn long before she sees a candidate worth voting for.

Delivering Lack of Political Credibility – by Phone

March 30, 2015

Come election time, the DeliveryDemon expects politicos to pay at least lip service to the concerns of the electorate. Even in the Westminster bubble it would have been difficult to ignore the fact that, across the country, people are becoming increasingly annoyed by the sheer volume of blatant scam calls being made by crooks using automated dialling technology. The DeliveryDemon was more than a little annoyed to be pestered multiple times with calls from 0203 4765 258, despite telling them succinctly where to go.

Today’s call came across as a blatant scam. The caller started by claiming to be ringing from the Office of the Prime Minister, David Cameron. While the DeliveryDemon has plenty advice to offer politicos about what their electorate wants from them, she still thinks it highly unlikely that DC or any other politico would actually call her personally for such advice, so the call failed the most obvious credibility test. Then of course, there is the date. As of March 30th, the date of the call, Parliament is dissolved. There are no MPs and no Prime Minister. Credibility fail number two. When it transpired that the caller was from one of the legion of nuisance call companies, he struggled to provide the most basic information about his organisation – yet another indicator of scam calls.

The DeliveryDemon prefers to cast blame where it is well deserved, and it is quite possible that the caller was a run-of-the-mill scammer using the election period to try and add credibility to the scam. Equally it may be that the Tories are being bloody stupid, ignoring the reams of recent publicity and high profile regulator concern on the subject of nuisance calls. If the former is true, then it is right that the Tories should know how their candidate’s name is being used. If the latter is true, then the Tories, like all other parties, need to be reminded that they should pay attention to the concerns the electorate has been raising for months and years. In particular they should exercise the tiny amount of intelligence it takes to recognise how their junk calls may be received by those who have not agreed to be contacted in this way.

Since the nuisance caller claimed to be from David Cameron’s office, the DeliveryDemon considers it appropriate that he should know how his name is being used. After much searching, and failing to find an email address, she found a contact form which wasn’t limited to a couple of skimpy lines of content, and sent the message below.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Today I received, for the third time, a call from someone making the highly unlikely claim that they were from your office. This individual, with a voice like a comedy Tory, was determined to get at personal information but had not even bothered to get the correct location of the phone he was calling. Further probing came up with the name of a company called Return Marketing, and an address which did not match the Companies House registered address of a company with the same name.

Investigating Return Marketing showed that, under the DPA, they are registered to provide telecommunications services and to hold details of their customers. This is manifestly not the same as holding details of individuals who have not given their consent and using those details to make nuisance calls to them.

Clearly these calls have all the hallmarks of a scam and, given the current massive volume of attempted fraud by phone, this appears to be highly likely. Either this company is claiming to be from your office in an attempt to lend credibility to a dishonest attempt to get at people’s personal information, or you have commissioned an extremely unprofessional organisation which has failed even to comply with its statutory duties.

If you have in fact commissioned this rather unsavoury organisation, may I suggest that you should instruct them:
• Not to lie about where they are calling from
• To comply with their duties under the Data Protection Act
• Not to harass people with multiple calls
• To be honest about where they obtain details of the people they call
• When they call someone, to be ready to provide basic information to indicate their bona fides, such as full company name and number and registered address, and data protection registration number
• When told their calls are an unwelcome nuisance, not to make repeat calls to the same number.

If your party is in fact using these tactics to get at information, it shows little awareness of the industrial scale harassment being caused by scammers making millions of fraudulent calls every day. May I suggest that your party should factor this into your campaigning, and consider dealing with the issue in your policies, rather than lose credibility by behaving in exactly the same way as blatant crooks.

While this missive is addressed to the Tories, the DeliveryDemon is not party-partisan, and any politicos trying this phone ploy can expect to receive a similar communication.

Let’s face it, survey calls are unnecessary. If the politicos are not prepared to listen to what the electorate are telling them while there’s Parliament, the electorate has a lot more sense than to believe that politicos will live up to the promises they make in order to be elected – even if they go phoning around to try and find out which promises might garner votes.