August 20, 2003
More on Connexions

I put a piece about "Connections Direct" here, and I put a piece about it at White Rose. And at White Rose, Stephen Hodgson commented thus:

Brian, I am unfortunate to have had first hand experience dealing with "Connexions" because my school (a combined secondary school and sixth form college of around 1,400 students aged between 11 and 18) handed over my personal details to this organisation without my consent: They passed on my name, date of birth, home address, telephone number and goodness knows what other information they held on me to Connexions in exchange for £1. (Connexions have subsequently sent me a vast amount of junk mail including a small booklet which explained that, "Connexions are here to offer you advice on important life-changing decisions - like starting an apprenticeship, getting a job or having a makeover" and I also received a phonecall from an idiotic bureaucrat who insisted that I hand over my personal information for the sake of allowing them to "monitor the quality of service" or some such rubbish.)

At White Rose I described this most peculiar enterprise as "creepy", and it was certainly a creepy for Stephen. But I think that in order to set up something like this, the people who set it in motion had to be the sort who wouldn't understand such language to describe all the help they are providing.and all those "connexions" they are making.

I remember watching the New Labour project assemble itself in the late eighties and the early nineties, and these people were immensely impressed by capitalism, by all the fun you could have shopping, and by such things as credit cards and those supermarket cards, then in their early stages. My guess is that the sort of people who are involved with an outfit called Demos, or at any rate people in the general Demos milieu, had a hand in this "Connexions" nonsense, and that they imagined that what they were doing was not pestering people and making creeps and jackasses of themselves, but rather "reinventing government" and "learning from the retail revolution" blah blah blah.

But somehow, I didn't expect to be writing about nonsense like this here. Nonsense yes, in abundance. But not this particular nonsense.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:45 AM
Category: Politics