The Huawei decision does not make technological sense

We’re fairly used to this government’s IT blunders now. Only recently there was the fiasco of the NHS coronavirus app – it was predicted here that it would be ‘dead-on-arrival’, weeks before the government was eventually forced to admit the same. Now with each passing month comes yet another poor decision by the UK. The latest of which is the plan to remove Huawei from UK 5G infrastructure over the next seven years. Politically, the justification is sensible. Technologically, it borders on farcical. To understand the Huawei issue, it’s best to think of a simple home network, involving a modem, a WiFi router and a smart TV. All three of these

This pandemic has put politics on fast-forward

‘The normal grease of politics is not there,’ bemoans one sociable cabinet minister. Certainly, the whispered conversations in corridors that make up so much of Westminster life are in abeyance during this period of social distancing. The fact that the backbenches and the cabinet have deep reservations about the government’s approach matters far less than it would in normal times. In the Zoom parliament, there is no such thing as the mood of the House. One Tory grandee pushing for a significant easing of the lockdown complains that the current arrangements ‘make it easier for No. 10 to ignore parliament and cabinet’. But contrary to appearances, politics has actually sped

Damian Thompson

Fake news is spreading faster than the virus

Just over a decade ago, I published one of those books with an annoying subtitle beginning with the word ‘how’. It was called Counterknowledge: How We Surrendered to Conspiracy Theories, Quack Medicine, Bogus Science and Fake History. My targets included Michael Moore, Creationists and homeopaths. I concluded that we couldn’t stop anyone circulating their ‘counter-knowledge’ on the internet, but we could at least hold to account ‘lazy, greedy and politically correct academics’ who had abandoned scientific methodology in favour of postmodernism. Otherwise, I warned pompously, quoting the title of an etching by Goya, ‘the sleep of reason will bring forth monsters’. Well, this year a monster called Covid-19 appeared in

The simple trick that will hugely boost your phone coverage

In the recent debate over Britain’s 5G infrastructure, one dog didn’t bark in the night. At no point did anyone dare suggest that, regardless of the supplier, upgrading our mobile networks to 5G might be premature. In saner parts of the economy, an investment requires something called a ‘use case’ or a cost-benefit analysis. In other words, you need to provide some immediate benefits which will arise as a result of your investment. Anything that can be dressed up as next-generation technology is somehow spared that tedious level of scrutiny. All it takes is for the techno-consulting complex to claim that ‘without this we risk being left behind’ and next