And another one!

New dawn?

Sunrise, new dawn, new day,
 new database Sunrise, new dawn, new day, new database

In years to come political scientists,analysts and historians will see this as the age of the database. No problem faced by government was solvable without the creation of a database. No Minister could look their fellows in the eye without being the Minister who introduced another database. No civil servant could claim to serve the public without doing so via a database. In the world of the free market, evolution would give us the databases we need. While others believed that come the revolution everyman would have their own database and all databases would be equal.

This obsession with databases and the attendant technology will mark out the political territory. At the moment the sections of the media still being kind to Gordon Brown are heralding the start of another 'fight back' by him, how many is that now? Not only will this trail of failed fight backs disappear when the history is written, so too will the 'G' meetings. Another G20 is planned, we may assume Brown will hope to benefit from this in some way, some hope! The London G20 is still in the minds of many people but for reasons that have nothing to do with Brown, the death of Ian Tomlinson for example. So our PM is a very slow learner, this is not a route out of trouble.

The Nulabour obsession with databases is very apt being statist, authoritarian, and ruthless, much as Brown is said to be! He is also a sad micro-manager; it is a fact that list makers are seldom doers, the database being nothing more than a very large list small wonder that Nulabour under Brown loves them. Modern technology can do many things but cannot do everything, it is a fantasy to assume a big list can 'solve' a problem. But for the moment we are stuck with the Nulabour IT fantasy trip.

Thus it will come as no surprise to you to know that John Denham, the Communities Secretary, wants to introduce a database and the Denham proposal is all to do with landlords. Naturally it is possible to make a case for this, to suggest that this is a 'good thing', but that is a job for Denham himself. All we have to note is that there is a familiar pattern here. The origins of the idea are to crack down on rogue landlords who fail to repair property or who improperly retain their tenants’ deposits. And you may say, 'there is nothing wrong with that', well actually there could be.

It is the idea that landlords who behave that way now will sign up to a database and reform, common sense tells you they will simply carry on as before. Rather as a general database will not solve problems with terrorism, as would-be terrorists will duck out of the system, so will errant landlords. As with all databases there is a fee, the current proposal is that it should be £40 to register.

Also, as with all databases, it is started to do one job then ends up doing another. The data here could be given to tax inspectors and so far, so they say, that's all. However, common sense tells us that the police will get access and all in good time the information on landlords will end up as a building block in the National Information Register. Common sense also tells us that there will be leaks, inaccuracies and misuse by a whole range of authorities, much as local authorities saw fit to misuse legislation intended for one purpose to go spying on wheely bin use! That costs will soar is inevitable.

Failure to comply by simple oversight could result in legal proceedings thus further clogging up our law courts. If legislation in this area is not being properly applied then Denham should issue instructions to the relevant authorities and force them to apply existing law. Only if all else fails contemplate introducing new legislation, but be specific and focused. But yet another database just looks like a bad case of 'me too' thinking.

So, new dawn and new database and well done Minister? Perhaps not.