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11 things we've learnt from the BuzzFeed interview with Ed Miliband

A list about a BuzzFeed article not written as a list.

Photo: Getty

1. Chunky fonts and black-and-white filters make a montage of giant pictures of Ed Miliband a surprising design hit.

See the remarkably good-looking interview here.
 

2. He won't read this article.

Ed Miliband told BuzzFeed:

It’s always a good idea not to read the newspapers... I don’t read much British news. You get a lot of advice in the newspapers about what you should do. It’s much more important to follow your own path and stick to your own path. I’ve made that a rule in the last three and a half years.

3. He relies on his aides and a US news aggregator for keeping up with current affairs.

The interview reveals:

... he really means the part about ignoring the news. There are no TV screens showing rolling news channels in his office and he has no newspapers delivered to his home. Instead he relies on aides to summarise what’s going on in the world.

Miliband, wearing a red tie and with his BlackBerry on the table, says his favourite news website is RealClearPolitics, an American site that aggregates political news stories, where he keeps up with what he sees as a new global politics of inequality. 

4. He's wary of Twitter.

The Labour leader admits to a  “decidedly mixed record” on the social media site. In January 2012, he tweeted about the death of Bob Holness, the host of Blockbusters, but misspelt the programme's name in an embarrassing gaffe as "Blackbusters".
 

5. He says people think he's "weird" because he's on track to becoming PM.

The press people who don’t like us have been saying that [I'm weird] for some time. It comes with the territory. I think the heart of this is people think we are in a position to win the election and there are some people who don’t want us to win this election.

6.  He's trying to tackle the Ukip problem by saying he understands their supporters.

The vast, vast majority of people who voted UKIP are concerned for understandable reasons. It’s not about prejudice. It’s about genuine concern about the country having changed.

7. He's tentatively talking about immigration.

 The interview reports that he insists his party must move away from the idea that "if you’re concerned about immigration you’re prejudiced".
 

8. He's still defending his 'cost-of-living crisis' slogan.

It's not defunct, he insists: 

Any good news in the economy is a good thing, any time things get better is a good thing,” he insists. “But as I go around the country and talk to people and they will say – I’m on a short hours contract, I can’t make ends meet, I’m worried about my son or daughter getting a house.

Even people who consider themselves relatively well off are saying where is this country going and what’s in it for me. Somewhere along the way ordinary working people who were struggling got left behind. It started before the financial crisis – or you could date this before the financial crisis. I personally think it’s got a lot worse under this government.

9. He's taking heart from what he sees as the rise of the global left.

In the US version of the interview, which describes Miliband as "an unapologetically pro-American figure", he says:

There’s massive change happening in our country: globalization and opening up of the world and that has big profound economic and social implications... Fundamentally this goes to what our campaign in 2015 and what Obama 2012 share in common: how to restore what the U.S. would call the American dream, with a strong middle class.

If you look at some of the debates in America about inequality … President Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Bill de Blasio are talking about similar things.

10. Even his own children aren't supporters...

... Of his favourite football team, Leeds United. His two sons are apparently more interested in Arsenal.
 

11. He chillaxes too.

In an echo of the PM admitting his addiction to online app game Angry Birds, he tells BuzzFeed his favourite diversion is the Major League Baseball app on his iPad.

I'm a mole, innit.

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Calum Kerr on Governing the Digital Economy

With the publication of the UK Digital Strategy we’ve seen another instalment in the UK Government’s ongoing effort to emphasise its digital credentials.

As the SNP’s Digital Spokesperson, there are moves here that are clearly welcome, especially in the area of skills and a recognition of the need for large scale investment in fibre infrastructure.

But for a government that wants Britain to become the “leading country for people to use digital” it should be doing far more to lead on the field that underpins so much of a prosperous digital economy: personal data.

If you want a picture of how government should not approach personal data, just look at the Concentrix scandal.

Last year my constituency office, like countless others across the country, was inundated by cases from distressed Tax Credit claimants, who found their payments had been stopped for spurious reasons.

This scandal had its roots in the UK’s current patchwork approach to personal data. As a private contractor, Concentrix had bought data on a commercial basis and then used it to try and find undeclared partners living with claimants.

In one particularly absurd case, a woman who lived in housing provided by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation had to resort to using a foodbank during the appeals process in order to prove that she did not live with Joseph Rowntree: the Quaker philanthropist who died in 1925.

In total some 45,000 claimants were affected and 86 per cent of the resulting appeals saw the initial decision overturned.

This shows just how badly things can go wrong if the right regulatory regimes are not in place.

In part this problem is a structural one. Just as the corporate world has elevated IT to board level and is beginning to re-configure the interface between digital skills and the wider workforce, government needs to emulate practices that put technology and innovation right at the heart of the operation.

To fully leverage the benefits of tech in government and to get a world-class data regime in place, we need to establish a set of foundational values about data rights and citizenship.

Sitting on the committee of the Digital Economy Bill, I couldn’t help but notice how the elements relating to data sharing, including with private companies, were rushed through.

The lack of informed consent within the Bill will almost certainly have to be looked at again as the Government moves towards implementing the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

This is an example of why we need democratic oversight and an open conversation, starting from first principles, about how a citizen’s data can be accessed.

Personally, I’d like Scotland and the UK to follow the example of the Republic of Estonia, by placing transparency and the rights of the citizen at the heart of the matter, so that anyone can access the data the government holds on them with ease.

This contrasts with the mentality exposed by the Concentrix scandal: all too often people who come into contact with the state are treated as service users or customers, rather than as citizens.

This paternalistic approach needs to change.  As we begin to move towards the transformative implementation of the internet of things and 5G, trust will be paramount.

Once we have that foundation, we can start to grapple with some of the most pressing and fascinating questions that the information age presents.

We’ll need that trust if we want smart cities that make urban living sustainable using big data, if the potential of AI is to be truly tapped into and if the benefits of digital healthcare are really going to be maximised.

Clearly getting accepted ethical codes of practice in place is of immense significance, but there’s a whole lot more that government could be doing to be proactive in this space.

Last month Denmark appointed the world’s first Digital Ambassador and I think there is a compelling case for an independent Department of Technology working across all government departments.

This kind of levelling-up really needs to be seen as a necessity, because one thing that we can all agree on is that that we’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to developing the link between government and the data driven digital economy. 

In January, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and the New Statesman convened a discussion on this topic with parliamentarians from each of the three main political parties and other experts.  This article is one of a series from three of the MPs who took part, with an  introduction from James Johns of HPE, Labour MP, Angela Eagle’s view and Conservative MP, Matt Warman’s view

Calum Kerr is SNP Westminster Spokesperson for Digital