Camera + minicopter = your very own Truman show

The week's most unusual business idea.

We live in a confused world. While we fret over privacy concerns - Google collecting our personal data, ID cards that can track our every move - we also merrily share the most mundane of details of our lives with an extended network of "friends" - it's perfectly possible for us to sign a petition against the sharing of our personal data while broadcasting our location, emotional state and shopping habits without a moment's thought for the blatant disconnect that's going on here.

Regardless of the walking contradiction our lives have become, new business ideas keep popping up that make the most of our predilection for over-sharing. So the introduction of the MeCam was only a matter of time - a mini helicopter that flies around you filming your every move, the results of which can then be shared with social networks. If you thought that your friend's endless stream of instagrammed dinner plates was worthy of a shot in the head then you'd do well to remove yourself from society if this latest idea is an indicator of things to come.

Of course, there are situations where this little gadget could be useful, say you stumble across a mugger down a dark alley then you've got a neat little prosecution case in the subsequent footage. Equally, court cases that have fallen apart because of a lack of evidence or witnesses at the crime scene could benefit from an inconspicuous little hover cam capturing every second.

But so far the inventors are guiding their robotic gnat down a social avenue. This means that every second of your daily life can be shared - we can all become the subject of our very own Truman Show, but without the creative direction, interesting characters or narrative arc. It does beg the question, with all this watching who's doing the living? But who cares when you can replay your friend falling face first into a puddle of mud endlessly on repeat.

Under surveillance. Photograph: Getty Images
Getty Images.
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Could Labour lose the Oldham by-election?

Sources warn defeat is not unthinkable but the party's ground campaign believe they will hold on. 

As shadow cabinet members argue in public over Labour's position on Syria and John McDonnell defends his Mao moment, it has been easy to forget that the party next week faces its first election test since Jeremy Corbyn became leader. On paper, Oldham West and Royton should be a straightforward win. Michael Meacher, whose death last month triggered the by-election, held the seat with a majority of 14,738 just seven months ago. The party opted for an early pre-Christmas poll, giving second-placed Ukip less time to gain momentum, and selected the respected Oldham council leader Jim McMahon as its candidate. 

But in recent weeks Labour sources have become ever more anxious. Shadow cabinet members returning from campaigning report that Corbyn has gone down "very badly" with voters, with his original comments on shoot-to-kill particularly toxic. Most MPs expect the party's majority to lie within the 1,000-2,000 range. But one insider told me that the party's majority would likely fall into the hundreds ("I'd be thrilled with 2,000") and warned that defeat was far from unthinkable. The fear is that low turnout and defections to Ukip could allow the Farageists to sneak a win. MPs are further troubled by the likelihood that the contest will take place on the same day as the Syria vote (Thursday), which will badly divide Labour. 

The party's ground campaign, however, "aren't in panic mode", I'm told, with data showing them on course to hold the seat with a sharply reduced majority. As Tim noted in his recent report from the seat, unlike Heywood and Middleton, where Ukip finished just 617 votes behind Labour in a 2014 by-election, Oldham has a significant Asian population (accounting for 26.5 per cent of the total), which is largely hostile to Ukip and likely to remain loyal to Labour. 

Expectations are now so low that a win alone will be celebrated. But expect Corbyn's opponents to point out that working class Ukip voters were among the groups the Labour leader was supposed to attract. They are likely to credit McMahon with the victory and argue that the party held the seat in spite of Corbyn, rather than because of him. Ukip have sought to turn the contest into a referendum on the Labour leader's patriotism but McMahon replied: "My grandfather served in the army, my father and my partner’s fathers were in the Territorial Army. I raised money to restore my local cenotaph. On 18 December I will be going with pride to London to collect my OBE from the Queen and bring it back to Oldham as a local boy done good. If they want to pick a fight on patriotism, bring it on."  "If we had any other candidate we'd have been in enormous trouble," one shadow minister concluded. 

Of Corbyn, who cancelled a visit to the seat today, one source said: "I don't think Jeremy himself spends any time thinking about it, he doesn't think that electoral outcomes at this stage touch him somehow."  

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.