Monday, 15 May 2017

Theresa May's Team Fails The National Security Test

We are always told that the first duty of any government, the acid test, is to ensure the security of the nation.  Theresa May's team, as we are now apparently to call the Tories, has failed that test miserably.  One of the main concerns of British people, the one thing that occupies their minds, is the NHS and its ability to keep them safe from sickness, disease and other illness.  But, for want of money, the NHS has been rendered incapable of doing that in many parts of the country.  That has been apparent for months, in A&E Departments, as well as in other areas, where waiting times, and waiting lists have grown longer and longer.  But, the impact of the virus that affected NHS computers in the last few days, and led to operations being cancelled, is simply symbolic of the dereliction of duty that the tories have been guilty of, and every time they are in government they do exactly the same.

The Social Trends Survey found that the percentage of those satisfied with the NHS stood at 55% in 1983, and fell steadily until 1994, when it stood at 44%. It then fell again sharply down to 34% in 1997. After Labour came to power satisfaction rose steadily rising to an all-time high of 64% in 2009. But, it has to be remembered that Labour had trebled the funding of the NHS!  The figures also show that the highest degree of satisfaction (75%), was in the 65+ age range, with the level of satisfaction falling in each lower age range down to 61% in the 18-34 age range. This is understandable given that the NHS was created when the over 65's were in their formative years, and so most closely associate with it.

Now after 7 years of Tory misrule, they are decimating the NHS once again.  According to all of the reports, they had been warned about the danger to NHS computer systems, but failed to act.  The vulnerability to the virus appears to result from the use of Windows XP, on the personal computers used by various hospitals etc.  But, you have to ask why was such an antiquated operating system still being used?

Windows XP was introduced in August 2001!!!  Microsoft stopped providing support for XP in 2014, so it is no wonder that organisations still using such antiquated software were open to attack.  Businesses usually operate on a three year upgrade cycle for PC's and software, which means that hospitals should have been looking to replace machines using XP from at least 2011 onwards.  So, its clear that many of these machines are at least 6 years old.  Its a case of, "for want of a nail, a shoe was lost....".

But, that is always the case with the Tories.  They always talk about fixing the roof while the sun is shining, but they do not mean by that what anyone else would mean.  They do not actually mean spending money on all of the vital infrastructure that public services require, what they mean is pumping more money into the state coffers, by slashing spending on vital services, so as to be able to give tax cuts to their rich backers, and to keep interest rates down, so that the asset prices of their rich money lending friends, including all those London based Russian oligarchs, are kept inflated.

The Tories talk about having made money available for cyber security, but its clear that their figures are phoney and not to be believed.  Its like their programme announced at the weekend to build council houses.  When its probed it turns out that its only £1.4 bn from an already existing fund that they are promising.  And how many houses will £1.4 billion produce, only around 14,000 over five years!  The Tories talk about their austerity measures being the "tough choices" that had to be made, after the state bailed out their friends the money lenders, and the banks in 2008.  But, it wasn't the Tories or their rich friends that had to bear the consequences of those tough choices, but ordinary working families.

If the tories want to fulfil the first duty of a government to protect national security then they should start by pumping the money into the NHS and social care that ordinary people need here and now. The chance of dying from cancer, a heart attack, or stroke over the next year after all, for the vast majority of British people, is thousands of times greater than being killed by a North Korean nuclear missile!

In fact, as I wrote the other day, the cyber attack on the NHS shows why nuclear weapons are today as useless and as out of date as were horses and bi-planes in WWII.  In fact, even worse, because if a hacker can tell your own nukes to blow up in their silos, or turn back and blow up your own country, they are a liability rather than an asset.  Moreover, why on Earth would any country decide to launch a nuclear attack on Britain out of the blue for no reason?

Ask yourself the question, if the british government came along and said, "We are tomorrow going to nuke, Peru, just because we can, because they do not have nuclear weapons", what would be your response?  It would be to rise up and overthrow such a government, and the same applies to the peoples of all other countries too.  The only reason a country would even threaten to nuke Britain, would be if they had some cause to do so arising from some conflict in which Britain was involved.  The simple answer to that is to concentrate all of our defence forces actually on defence, rather than sending them all over the world to interfere in other countries affairs!

And the fact is that these nuclear weapons really are useless, and indeed counter-productive.  Its perhaps not understood, despite the matter being highlighted by this cyber attack, how easy it is for determined hackers to get into these weapons systems.  But, just think about some of the things we know.  The US hacked the Iranian nuclear power industry; it has probably hacked the North Korean nuclear missiles systems, causing them to self-destruct in recent tests; the CIA have admitted that they can use your own Smart TV to eavesdrop on you, by using the TV's speaker system, in reverse, as a microphone; recently hackers used smart devices such as electric kettles, connected via a home network to the Internet, to launch a widespread denial of service attack; a car was recently taken over whilst in motion, by someone using the bluetooth connected radio, as a backdoor into the car's computer system.

Instead of wasting £100 billion on outmoded nuclear submarines and weapons, the government should be putting that money into the NHS so as to really protect British peoples lives, and to protect against further cyber attacks.  In the same way, instead of wasting £100 billion on the outmoded trainset that is HS2, the government should put that money into providing a 21st century, broadband, and telecommunications backbone for the country.  After all, the promise that the Tories gave us of £350 million a week for the NHS as a result of Brexit, was just another Tory lie.  The NHS will never see that money as its already earmarked in giveaways to the Tories rich friends.

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