Friday 13 November 2009

Defending the Realm

On Wednesday, in London, I paid my respects to those who had sacrificed their lives defending the realm, by visiting the Cenotaph in Whitehall and reflecting on the wreaths that had recently been laid there by those who are so much braver than me.

Also on Wednesday, my work colleagues gathered around me to sing “Happy Birthday”, and I was presented with the book token I had been hoping to get which enabled me to pop out and exchange it for a copy of the first edition of “The Defence of the Realm: the authorized history of MI5” by Christopher Andrew. Covering 100 years (and 1,000 pages), it’s an account that I can’t wait to delve into. And to complete my birthday celebrations, yesterday Jonathan Evans, the Director General of MI5, very kindly signed it for me!

This morning, I woke to hear Evan Davies questioning the Prime Minister on Radio 4 on the Government’s strategy in Afghanistan, where lives continue to be lost as our servicemen seek to further protect our country.

These events have helped reinforce the point that some of what I do (at work) really matters. I remain absolutely convinced that communications records should be available to those who are on the front line, and to those whose role it is to support those who are on the front line, in the fight against terrorism and in defence of national security.

But this does not automatically mean that communications records should also be available to those who just want to see whether I’ve been voting each week for my favourite X Factor contestant. My preferences as to whether I want Stacey Soloman, the Jedward twins or Olly Murs to win really ought to be just a private matter between me and Simon Cowell.

For the record, however, I recon it’s a shoo-in for Olly.

Despite raising it in a somewhat flippant manner in this blog, I do appreciate it is actually an extremely serious question, and one which I’ll reflect and report back on later.