Thursday, November 29, 2007

Channel 4 News-animated political cartoon - Party political funding

Graphic to display if Flash Player is not available.
After this evening's announcement that the Met Police will get to decide whether they investigate the current Labour party donation row, I wonder if John Yates will fancy another go the sources of party political funding? It is beginning to look as if Harman and Brown are briefing against one another. If the PM has lost her loyalty, he is in a lot of trouble, because hitherto, she has been about as loyal to him as it possible to be in party politics. This image was made for Channel 4 News in October of 2007.
29th November 2007

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The importance of jokes - and a picture of Harriet Harman


It is always reassuring to read this sort of thing. A hat-tip to David Hughes and also to Iain Martin, who takes a long hard look at Harriet Harman, who's facing some very awkward questions today. She's also married to the Labour party treasurer, Jack Dromey. Yesterday, he claimed he had no knowledge of the dodgy donations to the party. It's the second time he's has to do this in the last two years as he did not know about the cash for honours loans which bedevilled Tony Blair at the end of his time as Prime Minister. Realists might wonder how much shredding of email has been going on in the background during the last week - and this trend applies to all political parties.

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Channel 4 News-animated political cartoon-party political funding

Graphic to display if Flash Player is not available.
This would be car crash government if it wasn't taking place somewhere else. Published above and here.

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Government cartoon round up: 28 November 2007

Nick Garland in the Telegraph is very good today - simple and on the money. Peter Brookes in the Times goes for a more complex analogy - new film out - and it is, as ever, nicely done. Dave Brown in the Indy goes for a body shot and The Guardian in the absense of Bell and Rowson doesn't do too well at all. My own work for Channel 4 News should be live soon. The iniquities of finding a home in a media outlet means that my colleague, Morland doesn't have a slot this morning (well, that I know about), This should stop immediately, because his work deserves to be measured in the same league as all these fine journalists above.
Matt Buck’s animated drawing

Channel 4 News-animated political cartoon-party political funding


...coming soon...
28th November 2007

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Monday, November 26, 2007

Northern Rock and Richard Branson news

Graphic to display if Flash Player is not available.
Famous opportunist moves in on the Rock. Why might he do this? Well, you could read this, or, you might prefer to get the fuller tale of hubris that allowed him the opportunity, here. Today's spin is that the crisis is nearly over, I'd bet it isn't and don't bet that Branson and his associates are going to get the former bank either...

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Friday, November 23, 2007

The politics of identity news and missing CDs


The following is a long blog for me, but then, I didn't write it. It was published in The Health Service Journal in September of this year. The article is about identity management, and in view of this week's news (see blogs past and drawings above), I would urge anyone who is passing by (hello) to read it. I have an interest to declare at the end too.*

For your information, the information commissioner’s website is at: www.ico.gov.uk

The speed at which businesses, the government and the public sector are developing electronic record systems is starting to gather pace.

The arguments in favour of new systems are, by now, well rehearsed. They include the idea that electronic records will support safer services, increase efficiency, promote team working and deliver more security, accessibility and convenience for end users – patients, in the case of the NHS.

However, the Information Commissioner’s latest Annual Report suggests that many organisations are finding some of these kinds of argument more compelling than others.

Taken as a whole, it suggests that while many bodies are happy to embrace the increased information sharing, surveillance and targeting that new systems make possible, they are less committed to security and positively ambivalent about openness.

Sadly, I fear that the NHS is following the general trend. It is undoubtedly in the vanguard of what an earlier IC report called the Surveillance Society - defined as a world in which technology is routinely used to track and record people’s activities.

This is not only because it is developing its own care records. It is also because its data tends to be drawn into other projects, such as the children’s database, and because it is enthusiastic about using electronic systems to target services on people and monitor their impact (the algorithm to spot patients at ‘high risk’ of hospital admission is a case in point).

The problem is that there are few opportunities to debate what such systems can legitimately be used for - and even fewer checks on function creep. As Richard Thomas, the IC, notes: ‘The benefits of using personal information are undeniable.

‘But so are the risks for individuals and society where use goes beyond reasonable expectations or where things go wrong. [And] the risks - such as mistaken identity, judgemental profiling - magnify as information is shared ever wider.’

Sooner or later, it is certain, the NHS will be caught up in a major scandal involving records, databases or targeting. Some of its data will turn up somewhere it shouldn’t. Supposedly neutral targeting will turn out to be discriminatory. Some deserving soul will not get the treatment they need because ‘the computer says no.’

And when that happens, questions will be asked about how such systems could have been put in place and there will be reviews and resignations… which is why Mr Thomas argues that the best defences we now have against such abuses are data protection and the self interest of organisations with reputations to lose.

Unfortunately, other parts of his Annual Report suggest that these are not much of a defence, since it covers some ‘frankly horrifying’ but very basic security breaches - data being used on unsecured laptops, left open on an applicant website and dumped in bin bags.

Only one of these incidents is related to the NHS (guess which). But since every NHS IT manager has a fund of stories about staff taping passwords to computers or carrying patient notes around on USB sticks and MP3 players, any of them could be.

These kinds of breaches, and the social engineering lapses covered in another report on The Illegal Trade in Personal Information, happen despite the reputational damage that inevitably occurs when news of them gets out.

They also suggest that the potential for electronic records to deliver better security is not being realised in practice, because the introduction of new systems is not being accompanied by a new culture of security and confidentiality in using them.

Nevertheless, organisations are still willing to plead confidentiality when their own interests are at stake. The Annual Report contains the usual list of bodies - including an NHS trust - that were only too willing to hang on to information that should have been released under freedom of information rules.

Unusually, the IC addresses ‘ministers, permanent secretaries, chairs and chief executives’ directly in the year’s report. It is they, he argues, who must ensure that their organisations ‘exercise the necessary self restraint’ as they help to create a surveillance society and who must ‘ensure that their organisations guarantee safeguards.’

This is an important message, but at the moment I’d say we are in for years of stories about database application and security scandals. As a journalist, I suppose I shouldn’t complain, since they’ll keep me in business.

Managers, though, might like to reflect on Mr Thomas’ point that it won’t be much fun to be caught up in them, and take steps that will leave me and my colleagues writing about something else.

These are the reasons I have great caution about the uses of technology, commercially and publically. It is rarely the technology itself which is the issue, the real problem is invariably the people who use it, us.

* The article was written by my partner, Lyn Whitfield.
23rd November 2007


Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

HM Revenue and Customs news cartoon: 21-11-07


When your reputation for economic and security competence goes, you do not have much left as a government. This is worth a read - the journalist is obviously being briefed from a very high-level.
Drawn 21st November 2007

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Channel 4 News-animated political cartoon-Northern Rock

Graphic to display if Flash Player is not available.
Published here and above.
20th November 2007

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Your personal identity and child benefit news

The news that HM Revenue and Customs have managed to loose rather a lot of customer details on a pair of computer discs. It doesn't breed great confidence for national ID cards does it? Expect reassurances that the system will be changed to ensure that this sort of thing can never happen again...

20th November 2007

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Channel 4 News-animated political cartoon-Northern Rock


...coming soon...

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Monday, November 19, 2007

Northern Rock cartoon news


In Greek mythology, Prometheus was a Titan who deceived Zeus, King of the Gods, and stole fire for mankind. His punishment was to be chained to a mountain top and have his liver pecked out every day, by a visiting vulture or eagle. Generally, I steer away from classical references like this in my drawing but I felt that the mess that the Prime Minister is in over Northern Rock really deserved an unpleasant image and this is certainly one.

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

A potted history of Prometheus:

Here on Mount Caucasus, Prometheus was tormented day and night by a giant vulture tearing at his liver. By day, the eagle would come down to the cliff and devour Prometheus' liver, and by night the liver would regenerate, only to have it destroyed the following day again.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Identity card news


Will you stand up, not to be counted? No to identity cards. Why are so many people worried about having their name on a list owned by the government? Well, you could read this and then have a think about it. The clause about us being responsible for the accuracy of all the information collected is particularly interesting, because if it isn't correct, and we all know how reliable large databases and call-centres are, we'll be individually liable for £1,000 fines. And get this, we don't even have a choice about signing up, at least, not if we want a working UK passport. A bit further down the road on which the government plans to take us, signing up, will become compulsory for everyone over the age of 16.

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Playing It Safe news


Alan Pearce’s marvellous book for this Christmas* made it to the hallowed halls of R4s Today programme yesterday. You can listen again to what he had to say, under fire from Sarah Montague and the nice person from the Health and Safety Executive, here. It's under the 8.30am segment of the programme for Wednesday 14th November.

* Caution - advert. I illustrated it and provided the silly drawing for the cover.

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

15th November 2007

Channel 4 News-animated political cartoon-The great game of Pakistan

Graphic to display if Flash Player is not available.
If you read history you'll discover that many of the problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the NW borders of British imperial India, are old. The arguments about who holds the power in the relatively new nation of Pakistan, are connected to them and the partition of India after WW2. Published above and here.
UPDATED: 16th November 2007. There's a useful interactive timeline outlining what is going on inside Pakistan here

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Channel 4 News-animated political cartoon-The great game of Pakistan


...coming soon...

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Monday, November 12, 2007

Business news


12th November 2007

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Remebrance day news

This Remembrance day, please remember what you are not allowed to do in Westminster's Parliament Square, thanks to our government. This is a fine piece of public spirited journalism from Tim Ireland.
UPDATED: And to those who say the internet can't change anything, I say you are right, it can't, but the people who use it can. Read the response that Tim got to his efforts. Little things matter, especially when talking about daft laws.

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Why bother blogging? Try informed reportage

You get to meet interesting people who can encourage you to think about things in a way you might not have before, or, remind you of something important that you had forgotten. Mick Fealty who spoke at a Daily Telegraph blogging event last evening, reminded me of the reasons to became a journalist, way back before the idea of blogging had crossed the consciousness of the media business. I'm listing an appropriate quote, paraphrasing Mick's verbals, from one of his online homes.

What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? Listen as much as you write.

I should also name check Lloyd Shepherd and Jonathan Charles, who spotted that the BBC Radio 4 show - From our own correspondent - was, and is, a proto-blog. So, here's to the renewal of informed reportage. Long may it thrive. Thanks to Shane Richmond and all at The Telegraph for arranging the evening. Shane has also got a list of reactions to the evenings musings which I am not going to try and duplicate. If you are interested in how we communicate, make and distribute news, it's worth a good explore.

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Channel 4 News-animated political cartoon-The credit crunch

Graphic to display if Flash Player is not available.
The consequences of reckless lending. Thanks to the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alastair Darling, for such an entertaining and highly public argument. 7th November 2007. Published above and here.

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Queen's Speech cartoon news


Drawn for Tribune in the UK. 7th November 2007.
Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Monday, November 05, 2007

Business news

"Despite this international uncertainty, which started from the problems in the US housing market, there are grounds for believing that we will get through this."
Alastair Darling, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Does anyone else find this a curiously unreassuring choice of words to use at present?

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Cartoon caricature of Paula Radcliffe


To anyone who has run tried to run a marathon, this woman is just plain amazing. Paula Radcliffe, winner of the New York marathon 2007. She is, also, clearly, a bit bonkers.

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Jean Charles de Menezes

From the BBC
Requires Flash player.

Hack cartoons exhibition news


A reminder that the DACS show about political imagery is still on at their gallery in central London and tonight they are having a late evening viewing until 9pm. There is some terrific stuff in the show and it's well worth a visit if you can get down there. This photograph of Margaret Thatcher by Roger Bamber* is a part of the show. I have some still and animated work exhibited. The Kowalsky gallery is at 33 Great Sutton Street, London and the show is on until the end of January. Full details are on the gallery page at their website.

* Maggie Gets Her Hands Dirty, May 1983 by Roger Bamber.© Roger Bamber 2007.

Matt Buck’s animated drawings