Richard Ingrams: Hilton's blue sky thinking leaves me feeling low

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

Lord Birt: where is he now? As John Birt he was the much-reviled director-general of the BBC, the man held responsible for the sad decline of the corporation, who turned it into just another big business run by management consultants.

Birt was subsequently given a peerage by his friend and admirer Tony Blair, who also gave him a job as his "blue sky thinker", with an office all to himself at 10 Downing Street. But political historians have searched in vain for any concrete results of Birt's meditation.

It comes as no surprise to read that David Cameron, who models himself entirely on Tony Blair, even down to appearing everywhere in his shirtsleeves, has appointed his own blue sky thinker in the person of Mr Steve Hilton.

And it is Mr Hilton, paid £90,000 a year, who has come up with the very Birt-ish idea of a national well-being project to find out how happy we all are. I could tell him that if you were feeling dispirited before, what with the cold weather and the cuts, our spirits are unlikely to be raised by news of his pointless exercise and his large salary.

The Bishop who tweeted too much

Though he was described by The Mail on Sunday as "a leading churchman", it can hardly be denied that until a week ago very few people indeed had heard of the Right Reverend Pete Broadbent, the Bishop of Willesden. An equally small number will have been aware that there was such a person as the Bishop of Willesden. (How many more such leading churchmen are there? Could there even be a Bishop of Neasden?)

Bishop Pete is another victim of compulsive twittering, which in his case led to him referring to "the nauseating tosh" surrounding the forthcoming royal wedding. He added that he gave the happy couple seven years before, like so many other royal couples, they split up.

Nauseating tosh is quite right, and there's going to be an awful lot more of it until the happy day dawns on 29 April next year. But like so many Christians, Bishop Pete has had to suffer for speaking the truth and will be "removed from public ministry until further notice". It may be OK for a bishop not to believe in God, but belief in the royal family is obligatory.

Hacked off with these demands to log on

If you read the papers, as some of us older folks still do, you will come across stories almost daily of individuals, usually young men, who have single-handedly perpetrated major frauds via the internet.

On one day alone this week, I read of a 19-year-old former public schoolboy from Manchester who plundered about £8m from 65,000 bank accounts, the details of which he had obtained on the web.

As a sideline he was offering instructions on how to hack into bank accounts and create computer viruses. Alongside was another story of a hacker, operating out of his mother's front room in Banffshire, who had sent out millions of virus-laden spam emails – again single handedly.

The question arises if a young man in his mother's front room can create so much havoc, what could an organised army of professionals achieve along the same kind of lines?

But we are now so dependent on computers that we don't want to think about that sort of thing, any more than we want to think about small children watching hardcore pornography on the web.

And in the meantime, in order to save huge amounts of money, the government is step by step forcing the millions – an estimated 27 per cent of the population – who have, perhaps wisely, hitherto given the internet the cold shoulder to log on. So in future you will be able to obtain a driving licence or a passport only online.

The Government points out that you can still do this at a post office – if you can find one in operation, that is.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor