Remembering Sarge, one year on

We lost Carl a year ago today. My Radio Wales tribute that day can be found here.

Once again, I want to thank Felicity Evans for her sensitivity in interviewing.

I won’t be posting more on this as I expect to be giving evidence at the Inquest in a couple of weeks time.

This is getting boring now….

Last week I had a letter from the Welsh Government saying they had received an FoI request related to any complaints about me in my time as Minister for Education and Minister for Public Services. The FoI requests were detailed and precise in terms of my time in those roles, so they clearly came from a political insider. I reproduce the letter below.

Those of us who have spoken up for the family of Carl Sargeant over the last six months – and yes, it is six months yesterday since we lost Carl – have grown accustomed to being on the receiving end of these bullying tactics designed to undermine us. Letters and FoI requests sent to employers have become the norm. In other cases, these have affected public sector employees unable to speak out to defend themselves.

Most people in the small circle of Welsh Labour politics know who the likely source of the letter is. I won’t stoke his ego by naming him.

Let’s be clear. Since Carl’s death there has been an active cover-up. There has been a deliberate attempt to intimidate witnesses. Lawyers’ letters have been sent to independent media outlets to silence them. One of the sources of the leak of Carl Sargeant’s sacking was only named by the media after the Leader of the Opposition went on the record in the Assembly Chamber.

The personal attacks are getting boring now. No doubt they will get worse once the QC-led inquiry commences.

Tomorrow I think I will publish my evidence to the leak inquiry.

 

 

 

Intimidation of witnesses

A few weeks ago, Paul Martin of BBC Wales ran a story saying that some people were reluctant to give evidence to the Inquiry currently underway into whether the First Minister had breached the ministerial code. Separately, last week ITV’s Adrian Masters published an article  about the concerns expressed by some witnesses that the hearings were being held in Welsh Government buildings. Both stories are true and I have incorporated in my evidence material from some reluctant to have their names used.

But matters are worse than that. There have been several attempts, which I suspect have been coordinated, to undermine people who have spoken up in support of Carl Sargeant. I am aware of a number of public servants whose employers have had malicious or anonymous mail about them.

In my own case, my employer, Cardiff University, has had a series of FoI requests on matters which have nothing to do with my work, clearly intended to damage my reputation or undermine my relationship with the University.

Cardiff University, I am pleased to say, has been robust in my defence, as has the Universities and Colleges Union, UCU.

Here is a selection from the FoI requests. I will publish more in due course.

I would like to know details of any disciplinary investigations and/or sanctions involving Leighton Andrews, details of any complaints made against him and details of all complaints raised formally or informally by him since January 1st 2017.

Could I please request under the freedom of information act, Leighton Andrews’s diary since November 5th this year and details and content of any communication – text, emails, calls, WhatsApp messages – between Leighton Andrews and employees of Wales Online/Media Wales/Western Mail, BBC, ITV, Golwg, The Times, The Daily Mail, Guido Fawkes and Skwawkbox since November 3rd 2017.

Please provide any communications relating to Leighton Andrews’ behaviour and public comments since November 5th 2017, details of all meetings between Leighton Andrews and his superiors (both departmental and within the wider organisational structure) since November 5th 2017, and all communications relating to either permission or requests to allow Leighton Andrews to conduct non-university business during normal working hours since November 5th 2017.

Please provide (under the Freedom of Information Act), any communications, notes or minutes relating to the commercial, financial or organisational impact on the university of Leighton Andrews’ recent public comments since the beginning of November 2017. I would also like copies of any communications between Leighton Andrews and email addresses ending in @assembly.wales, @senedd.cymru, @gov.wales, @wales.gsi.gov.uk, and @parliament.uk.

In my opinion, these FoI requests are malicious, and designed to undermine my reputation and discredit me.

In November, a few days after Carl Sargeant’s death, following my blogpost about the toxic atmosphere on the Ministerial Floor in Ty Hywel for much of 2011-16, the First Minister told senior Welsh Labour A.M.s that people were being ‘lined up’ to attack me. Within days, an anonymous MP was slagging me off to the BBC . The First Minister went on television and attacked me in December. Subsequently, journalists have told me that people close to the First Minister have been making insinuations about me and also about a member of my family. I am aware that another attack on me is currently being prepared. Others, in public service, have suffered worse.

In my opinion, these attacks are designed to intimidate and to discourage people from giving evidence to the inquiries that have been established. Some people feel too exposed to give evidence. These attacks on friends of Carl – who are not elected politicians – are vile and disgusting. Remember, all of this is happening today, in post-devolution Wales, not in Senator McCarthy’s time in the USA. It is deeply damaging to devolution, to the reputation of Welsh Labour, and the reputation of the Welsh Government. I have kept the chair of Welsh Labour informed about the attacks on me, and I am grateful for his supportive approach. But the attacks need to stop, and Welsh Labour colleagues need to take action to ensure that they do.

Misleading the Assembly: an update.

The BBC today carries a story  pointing to further evidence that the First Minister has misled the Assembly, in respect of an answer that he gave to Adam Price AM before Christmas to a question asking whether I had complained about the treatment of Special Advisers. In his answer, the FM said:

There is no record and I have no recollection of such a complaint.

Under FoI, the following exchange of emails has been released, showing that in fact I made a specific written complaint in December 2014. This is entirely separate from the complaint I made to the FM in November 2014 asking him to investigate the conduct of his senior special adviser, a complaint which he has claimed I never made.

The December complaint was sent to the head of the First Minister’s Office, Des Clifford, after my private office was told that the Special Adviser working to me on public service/local government reform could not accompany me on visits to London.

It’s important to say I don’t blame the civil servant who sent the email questioning whether the Special Adviser should go to London. She was simply a channel for the message. But this was an example of the persistent undermining of some ministers and bullying of some special advisers which took place during the 2011-16 Welsh Government. It was debilitating and designed to wear people down. It poisoned relations on the Fifth Floor and got in the way of good government. This petty internal politics, relentlessly pursued, was all about control and power-plays. It could and should have been stopped, particularly after four Cabinet Ministers raised concerns about it during 2014

Here is the exchange released under FoI:

From: Andrews, Leighton (Ministerial) <Leighton.Andrews@wales.gsi.gov.uk> To: (OFMCO – Office of the First Minister) <@gov.wales> Cc: Sent: Wed 17/12/2014 15:47 Subject: RE: Minister for PS – London meetings

I am slightly surprised at this email. I don’t recall any questions being raised when [name redacted] or [name redacted] accompanied me to meetings in London when I was previously in the Cabinet. Has there been a change of policy? I would be very concerned if I thought that [name redacted] was being treated differently from other special advisers. For the record, I think that the presence of a special adviser at such meetings is different from the role of a PS in these meetings. We are holding a number of high-level discussions on the subject of public service reform and you will see from the calibre of the people that we are meeting, both in January and this week, that we have scheduled discussions with people from whom we can learn about the process of public service reform in other places. [name redacted] needs to be in these meetings so that she can share in that learning and ensure that it is shared with officials when I am not available to discuss these issues with them and to inform her own contributions to future internal discussions on public service reform. You will appreciate that I have deliberately scheduled these visits in recess to avoid any disruption to normal business.

Best wishes, Leighton Leighton Andrews AM/AC Minister for Public Services Gweinidog dros Wasanaethau Cyhoeddus

From: @gov.wales To: @Wales.GSI.Gov.UK Cc: @gov.wales; @wales.gsi.gov.uk; @Wales.GSI.Gov.UK; (Special Adviser) @wales.gsi.gov.uk> Sent: Mon 15/12/2014 12:52

Subject: RE: Minister for PS – London meetings

Thanks but that’s not my understanding. Any future visits like this need to be cleared with the FM, as he’s keen that SPADs are in the office as much as possible. I also understand that [name redacted] mentioned to [name redacted] that there is likely to be a SPAD meeting on 6 January which would need to attend. [Name redacted] or I will let you know as soon as that is finalised. Grateful if you could let me know on what basis [name redacted] needs to accompany the Minister to these meetings rather than a Private Secretary so I can let the FM know please.

Prif Ysgrifennydd Preifat i Prif Weinidog Cymru Senior Private Secretary to the First Minister of Wales Tel/Ffon: Fax/Ffacs: E-mail/E-bost: @wales.gsi.gov.uk _____________________________________________

From: @wales.gsi.gov.uk On Behalf Of PS Minister for Public Services Sent: 15 December 2014 12:39 To: PS First Minister; PS Minister for Public Services Cc: (Special Adviser); DS Minister for Public Services; (Special Adviser)

Subject: RE: Minister for PS – London meetings , Further to the below, the Minister is also planning to visit London for the day on the 6th of January for some meetings which we couldn’t fit in during this week. They are: • ; • – to discuss experience of being a cooperative council; • – expert on public service reform, ; • – to discuss city regions, LEPs and links to Local Government Reform. {Name redacted] will be accompanying the Minister on this visit, she has discussed this with {name redacted].

Many thanks,

Uwch Ysgrifennydd Preifat i Leighton Andrews AC, Gweinidog Gwasanaethau Cyhoeddus Senior Private Secretary to Leighton Andrews AM, Minister for Public Services Llywodraeth Cymru / Welsh Government. Ffôn / Tel: YP.Gweinidog.dros.GC@cymru.gsi.gov.uk / PS.Minister.for.PS@wales.gsi.gov.uk Yn hapus i ohebu yn Gymraeg neu’n Saesneg / Happy to correspond in English or Welsh _____________________________________________

From: (Perm Sec – OFM) On Behalf Of PS First Minister Sent: 20 November 2014 11:13 To: PS Minister for Public Services Cc: PS First Minister; (Special Adviser); DS Minister for Public Services

Subject: RE: Minister for PS – London meetings Thanks , the First Minister has noted.

Prif Ysgrifennydd Preifat i Prif Weinidog Cymru Senior Private Secretary to the First Minister of Wales Tel/Ffon: Fax/Ffacs: E-mail/E-bost: @wales.gsi.gov.uk _____________________________________________

From: (Perm Sec – OFM) On Behalf Of PS Minister for Public Services Sent: 18 November 2014 18:07 To: PS First Minister Cc: PS Minister for Public Services; (Special Adviser); DS Minister for Public Services

Subject: Minister for PS – London meetings , ,

Can you please make the First Minister aware that the Minister for Public Services is intending to set up a series of high level meetings in London over 3 days during winter recess in December to discuss innovative practice in public services in order to inform his thinking in terms of next steps on Public Services Reform. The list of individuals/organisations we are approaching for meetings include: • (arranged); • National Audit Office – taken on various previous role of Audit Commission on Local Government inspection and regulation; • Audit Commission – previously Audit and Regulation of Local Government; • Local Government Association – membership organisation and lead on improvement of Local Government; • – Innovation enterprise; • New Local Government Network – think tank on Local Government; • Smith Institute – independent think tank on public policy; • –(arranged); • Lambeth Council – early adopter of co-operative council model; • – expert on government reform and improvement (arranged); • – ; • – expert on public service reform,. We are also seeking to arrange bilaterals with UK Ministers.

Kind regards,

Uwch Ysgrifennydd Preifat i Leighton Andrews AC, Gweinidog Gwasanaethau Cyhoeddus Senior Private Secretary to Leighton Andrews AM, Minister for Public Services Llywodraeth Cymru / Welsh Government Ffôn / Tel: YP.Gweinidog.dros.GC@cymru.gsi.gov.uk / PS.Minister.for.PS@wales.gsi.gov.uk Yn hapus i ohebu yn Gymraeg neu’n Saesneg / Happy to correspond in English or Welsh

Mental health and politics

I was teaching the final seminar in my module on Ministerial Life yesterday, and it was about Losing Political Office, something about which I am obviously an expert! Aside from looking at the usual kinds of ministerial exits – sackings, forced resignations, principled resignations, defeat at the ballot-box etc, I ended with an examination of the impact on loss of office which Dame Jane Roberts has undertaken. Jane was the former Leader of Camden Council and is a trained child pyschiatrist and has done good work in Wales as well on behalf of the Welsh Government. In her writings, she says:

Political mortality is not a comfortable subject to discuss. We shy away from lingering long over exits of any kind. The nature of political office and its intoxicating allure for many makes contemplating its end deeply painful.

She emphasises that this is in part because

Politics is about the promise of the future.

My summary slide of some of Jane’s arguments is here:

Jane Roberts png

In the trauma of the last few weeks, the emotional devastation has obviously been strongest with Carl’s immediate and wider family. But I have been struck by how many of his close friends are now themselves receiving counselling, and I am personally grateful to Cardiff University for facilitating that for me. Teaching, itself, has been therapeutic, and my colleagues and my students have been terrific.

I wrote five weeks ago how my mental health had improved after leaving politics. The last five weeks, I have to be honest, have not been great. A crisis like this has shown me who my friends really are. There are people I thought for years I could count on who suddenly became unavailable. There are other people in public life whose behaviour has been shockingly dishonest, and some who have indulged in name-calling, smearing and personal attacks. That has been deeply distressing to see and experience, and has simply compounded the grief at losing Carl. The emotional bullying has continued, in other words, and Welsh Labour needs to deal with it. Whether the hurt and anger will fade, only time will tell. While things continue as they are, there can be no closure, and the wounds will fester. However, truth will out.

On the positive side, there have been people, including in my own party but many in opposing parties or in the media or the civil service, or old friends who have suddenly got back in touch, who have reached out with a kind word or a private message or a hug. They know who they are, and I am deeply grateful to them.

Back in 1999, in my book Wales Says Yes, I wrote the following:

politics from Wales says Yes

Five years ago, four Assembly Members from four different parties bravely spoke out about their own mental health in a deeply moving debate in the Senedd. I have supported mental health charities in the past, and the Rhondda Labour Party donated some of its receipts from a fundraising dinner with Alastair Campbell to Time to Change Wales. Alastair and I also did a photocall for Time to Change Wales when Cardiff City played Burnley a couple of years ago, as you can see in the featured photo. We were 2-0 up till close to the end, then they equalized in the last minute, in case you wondered.

At the end of the day, mental health and wellbeing in the workplace depend on leadership from the top. If bullying – well-defined here by ACAS – is allowed to continue unabated, it poisons relationships and undermines organisational effectiveness. When I give evidence to the Inquiries coming forward, I will be giving evidence also on behalf of people who were bullied and who witnessed bullying, but in their present roles cannot themselves speak out. And I will not be silenced.

 

The persistent personal undermining of Carl Sargeant

This is hard to write, but it needs to be said. Yesterday I told a couple of journalists that there had been deliberate personal undermining of Carl Sargeant from within the Welsh Labour Government over several years.

I am not going to name names today. But I made a complaint to the First Minister about one aspect of this, of which I had direct evidence, in the autumn of 2014. An informal investigation was undertaken. I then asked for it to be made formal. I was told it would be. I was never shown the outcome. There was no due process.

After some weeks, Carl and I talked about this, and came to the conclusion that nothing would be done, and we should just get on with our jobs. Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, a General Election was due; we both had legislation to take through – I had the Violence against Women Bill, which Carl had provided the drive for, and a White Paper on Local Government to get out; we each had a long list of family, political, constituency and ministerial commitments; and in politics you don’t waste time and energy, your most important resources, on pointless activity.

I have some of this documented in my personal diaries. When you keep a personal diary in politics, you do so for a number of reasons. In part, possibly, for publication; in part, to keep a note of how things develop at interesting times; sometimes, just to keep a sense of chronology; in part, to work things out in your own mind; sometimes to let off steam, or for private therapy. Some things you think you will never publish. I am currently reading the latest volume of Alastair Campbell’s diaries, in which, amongst other things, he is reflecting on how and in what form to publish: he is given the advice, valuable and wise, not to use the diaries to settle scores.

There are two points I want to make. The first goes to the question of due process. Carl’s solicitor, his family and friends, believe that he was not given the benefit of due process over the complaints made against him, and that the interviews given on Monday by the First Minister prejudiced any inquiry in themselves.

Friends in north Wales tell me those interviews fuelled Carl’s despair.

But in terms of due process, they undermined what had been set in train when the issue had been handed off to the Labour Party last Friday.

There was no due process either when I made my complaint to the First Minister in 2014.

The second point goes to Carl’s state of mind. For too much of the 2011-16 Assembly, the atmosphere on the Fifth Floor, the Ministerial Floor in Ty Hywel, was toxic: minor bullying, mind-games, power-games, favouritism, inconsistency of treatment to different ministers, deliberate personal undermining on occasion. The undermining was of ministers, deputy ministers and special advisers. Some of this undermining was shared as gossip with people outside the government: I know this from comments made to me by a prominent outsider close to government who always likes to affect an awareness of what is really happening ‘on the Fifth Floor’.

I found that the atmosphere was unquestionably worse after I returned to government in September 2014 than it had been in the period May 2011- June 2013. Carl was unquestionably the target of some of this behaviour. The relentless drip-drip of disinformation – and worse – had a strain on his and others’ mental health.  The First Minister was made aware of this by several ministers, including myself. Nothing was done.

In a normal workplace, it would have been tackled.

It was damaging to the mental health of ministers and special advisers.

Speaking personally, I know that my own mental health has been a lot better since leaving politics.

Against car-cophony

I intend to buy a new car soon. My nine-year-old Saab can keep going for a while longer, but they don’t make Saabs anymore, the keys are falling to bits and the cost of buying and then programming a new key is disproportionate to the value of the car. The Saab I bought back in 2007 was equipped to run on both lead-free petrol and bio-ethanol – (once memorably described in the Guardian as a sort of ‘flammable muesli’) though the only petrol station I knew that supplied bio-ethanol soon dropped that option, and in any case early on there were serious questions raised about the ethics and sustainability of the product which continue today.

It’s worth considering the failure of the bio-ethanol option in the UK as those who subscribe to a technologically determined view of the future now seem to be out to persuade us that we will all be driven around in self-driving cars in the not-too-distant future. At a recent discussion at Cardiff’s Innovation Point on Educational Technology, the audience was asked if they expected to be riding in a self-driving car within ten years, five years, two years, or never. I believe I was the only person to opt for ‘never.’ I’ll come back to why I think that in due course.

A good summary of what the technological determinists claim was given by Simon Kuper in Saturday’s FT (my comments in brackets). Simon’s a good writer but this time round I found myself saying ‘I don’t agree with his take on this’:

  • driverless cars could allow cities to cut vehicle numbers by about 90% (fanciful weasel word ‘could’)
  • they will reduce accidents by around 90% (not convinced)
  • pollution and carbon emissions will drop, because the cars will be electric (begs a lot of questions on the production of that electricity)
  • ‘the old, the disabled and teenagers will suddenly gain mobility’ (my 86 year-old mother could drive now thanks, when she gets her new hip sorted, plenty of teenagers and disabled people do now)
  • people will save fortunes by ditching their cars (we’ll see)
  • driverless cars won’t need to park because ‘the driverless car is the perfect cheap taxi – it can drop you at work, then go off to collect somebody else’ (when does it recharge?)
  • cities will charge you for owning your own car – ‘if you think personal cars will survive as status symbols, remember that horses were once status symbols’ (but TV didn’t kill cinema, Khan Academy hasn’t killed schooling. Remember, back in 2000 Michael Lewis forecast that TiVO meant the end of commercial television as we know it. ITV has had a great run)
  • congestion will drop ‘as driverless cars can drive in dense packs, won’t get lost and won’t have to circle around looking for parking’ (guess we’ll have lots of wifi recharging then somehow – how?)
  • The police won’t racially discriminate by pulling over black drivers – or indeed any drivers (racial discrimination isn’t stopped by autonomous cars)
  • The tedium of commutes will disappear as you can use your driving time for other things. (commutes are tedious on trains, buses and tubes – why would driverless cars be different?)

Kuper also warns of job decimation in the automobile and associated industries from car manufacturers to taxi drivers to insurance companies. He acknowledges that ‘only 6 per cent of the biggest US cities’ (not sure what that 6% actually represents) have factored driverless cars into their long-term planning though industry experts expect driverless cars to be on our roads by 2020. (wait till there’s insurance against failure of autonomous cars)

Meanwhile, in the Harvard Business Review this month, the CEO of Nissan and Renault, Carlos Ghosn, sets out how these companies are planning for drivers to be able to choose whether to drive or not and explains why he isn’t scared of Tesla, Apple or Google parking their vehicles on his lawn. He says ‘I don’t hear anyone say “I love driving in traffic jams” or even on highways with miles and miles of road ahead’.

Well, personally, I do enjoy driving on highways with miles and miles of road ahead, particularly on French Autoroutes, though not so much on the A470. Has Ghosn never heard of Route 66 (https://roadtripusa.com/route-66/ ) and the romance that thousands if not millions have attached to that over the years? The song itself has been covered by Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones and Natalie Cole.

But it’s not the determinists’ rejection of the human factor that drives my scepticism of driverless enthusiasm. Nor is it the aesthetic objection that driverless cars are ugly, outlined by Tyler Brule. After all, I guess if Apple gets involved, design will be a key factor  . Nor the safety issues resulting from potential DDoS attacks on the Internet of Things with their dystopian nightmares of self-attacking cars (very Maximum Overdrive ) or state-sponsored Russian hackers running amok although these are real, terrifying and unresolved issues. Nor that, according to the FT, aggressive drivers see autonomous cars as easy prey. I expect there’s a video game for that. Presumably, being more of a luxury product, cars will have better security than cheap cameras, but little is ultimately impregnable.

Nor am I hostile to technological developments. I love my iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro and digital technology generally. Though I realized as soon as I started this article that I would sound to some like the DCMS civil servant whom Damian Green once described to me in the mid-nineties (when he was working in John Major’s Policy Unit and I was working for the BBC), as someone who was ‘not quite convinced that television would catch on’.

I don’t doubt the innovation that is going on at Tesla, which announced last week that it has installed the hardware – a camera, ultrasonic and radar package – in its cars in preparation for when the software becomes available, which it will then download to you. Build and they will come? Maybe. After all, with an alleged $4.5 billion in government subsidies you’d hope that was true. Tesla’s pitch is clear:

Self-driving vehicles will play a crucial role in improving transportation safety and accelerating the world’s transition to a sustainable future. Full autonomy will enable a Tesla to be substantially safer than a human driver, lower the financial cost of transportation for those who own a car and provide low-cost on-demand mobility for those who do not.

But as Ben Evans points out (hat-tip Dave Jones for the reference) :

Very few people in the field think that autonomy will be possible without a LIDAR sensor any time soon (LIDAR makes building a 3D model of your surroundings much easier), and very few think it will be possible even with LIDAR within 5 years. Many think 10 years (or longer) is more realistic. [LIDAR = Light- detection and ranging]

In the States, outline Federal policy on driverless cars has now been produced. You can watch a video on that here:

 

My objection to all this driverless car-cophony is that, as ever, it is putting the product before the people: the question shouldn’t be, how do we adapt cities to driverless cars, it should be, how do we ensure cities are liveable spaces and design transportation systems that help people live healthy, sustainable lives in those cities? To take a European city which has probably done more than most to achieve this goal, Copenhagen, where an estimated 40% commute to work by bike, it has been the investment in high-quality public transport systems – including driver-less light metro, by the way, and cycle-friendly routes – which matters.

image

That doesn’t mean Copenhagen isn’t thinking about the future of transport in its city: it’s thinking smartly about how to capture and use data, including mobile phone data, to continue its development as a sustainable and green city, with its intelligent traffic lights giving priority to buses and bicycles – not cars, driverless or otherwise.  Focusing on cars, autonomous or not, will give you car-focused not people-focused solutions. Let’s focus on the human space, and develop the technology to make it more human, not focus on the technology as the pivot. Back in Wales, this guy has some good ideas too.

Back in the 1980s, the Welsh cultural critic Raymond Williams warned against the notion of ‘technological determinism’:

The basic assumption of technological determinism is that a new technology – a printing press or a communications satellite – ‘emerges’ from technical study and experiment. It then changes the society or sector into which it has emerged. ‘We’ adapt to it because it is the new modern way.[i]

In fact, argues Williams, there is always a social context for the development of a technology, and how technologies advance depends on the material and corporate interests of those who have developed the technologies. As John Gray subsequently argued, ‘new technologies never create new societies….they simply change the terms in which social and political conflicts are played out.’ When it comes to decisions on regulatory issues, corporations seek to co-opt regulators and politicians into a belief that the technological needs prescribe certain outcomes, or as Des Freedman  puts it:

That there are no alternative paths and that resistance is futile because technological development is pre-determined. Technological determinism, therefore, is a discursive means of highlighting novelty and paving the way for structural changes that are seen to be necessary.[ii]

Or back to Tylor Brule again:

There’s also something rather depressing about all the hoo-ha surrounding driverless vehicles and the general demonisation of four wheels under private ownership. For starters, a car that does everything in automated fashion for the owner is yet another nail in the coffin for common sense, aiding and abetting in the abdication of responsibility for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians (or bringing a spike in lawsuits).

Second, it renders most of the taglines of the established carmakers completely redundant as they cower from lobbyists and the tech sector alike. And third, it’s eradicating all the sense of thrill and risk that makes it exciting to be human.

So, no, I don’t plan to be riding around in a driver-less car. Aside from my bike, which I’ve been pleased to ride into the university on many occasions since I started in September, I want a small, fuel-efficient car with great Bluetooth and a fabulous sound-system. Any recommendations?

[i] Raymond Williams, Towards 2000, 1985, p 129.

[ii] John Gray, ‘The sad side of cyberspace’, Guardian, 10 April 1995; Des Freedman, ‘A ‘Technological Idiot’? Raymond Williams and Communications Technology’, Information, Communication and Society, 5:3, 2002, p432