Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Goodbye David Miliband -

 - and good riddance.

The paeans of praise gushing around Miliband senior must have been very satisfying for the chap. Oh how troubled he has been, wrestling with his desire to serve his constituents, and his party, and yet not undermine his beloved brother. Bollocks.

He actually claimed that the life of a back bench MP was important to him. Oh yeah. 

Try this for size 

“May 2012: Paid £14,000 for three hours work speaking at a conference paid for by hedge fund investors including Tory donor Michael Hintze and Mitt Romneys former employer Bain Capital.

May 2012: Paid £12,500 for four hours ‘work’ speaking to Bridgepoint, a company who’s interests include NHS privatisation - it owns the hospital contractor, Care UK.

August 2012: Paid £4000 by Qatari government for addressing the Doha Forum Conference on Middle Eastern security.” Private Eye, September 2012

“£30,200 per year for advising Indus Basin Holdings which invests in Pakistani food crops.
£92,840 per year for advising VantagePoint Capital - a US technology investment firm.
£65,000 per year for helping the United Arab Emirates government host a high profile international conference.” (ibid)

Not content with that, he also gets £75,000 per year for being Vice-Chairman of Sunderland football club. Mind you he has to work 12 - 15 days a year to ‘earn’ the money. In all he has made over £500,000 in one year. Which does not include the £66,000 he claims as an MP.

He is clearly following in the footsteps of the Reverend Blair, who makes the Televangelists  of the Deep South of the U S of A look abject and bereft.  

He attended under half of the votes held in the Commons and made 15 parliamentary speeches in the last year. He represented one of the poorest constituencies in the country. It contains Jarrow within its boundaries. The descendants of the Hunger Marchers are surely not happy to see their MP swanning about around the world, making a fortune while they struggle to put food on the table. 

And that is not to mention his collusion with rendition and ‘black prisons’ and all that entailed. Perhaps the enquiries currently ongoing are getting close to home? A secure position in the States would make it harder for m’learned friends to get at him.

It is a thought.

Another thought -  good riddance.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

‘Search and Rescue’ sold off to private US company.

“Heir to throne made redundant by Tory cuts”

A headline you will not see but one which would attract more odium on this appalling government wheeze. It is difficult to comprehend just how brainless this latest Tory privatisation is. Anyone in any doubt that the Tory’s mantra of private=good, public=bad had been shelved following several embarrassing revelations needs to think again. 

‘Theonearmedbadger’ had this to say in the Guardian Online this morning:

The military's tasking in the SAR role (for 60 years now) was the rescue & recovery of downed aircrew and support for military vessels at sea; the happy by-product of that was an air sea rescue service that rescues more than 1500 people each year, with aircrew who will fly in the most difficult of circumstances - remember the Boscastle disaster, where 150 people were plucked to safety.

In recent years the RN and RAF crews have been joined by the equally brave men & women of the Maritime Coastguard Agency, who have proved every bit as capable as their military counterparts (in the main they are ex-military). I'm sure (I hope) that the Bristow crews will be every bit as professional; but this is another extremely short-sighted proposal by one of the dimmest governments of all time, who look only to the short term gain & forget the investment for the future - the investment, in this case, being the loss of invaluable training for the military helicopter pilots. Yet again they've proved they know the cost of everything & the value of nothing.” 26/3/13

‘One of the dimmest governments of all time’  - spot on. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Boris Johnson “A Nasty Piece of Work”

Anyone familiar with Eddie Mair will know that beneath his humour and affability lurks a man of steel. Listening to him put the same question three times to Danny Alexander on the ‘PM’ programme on Budget Day, then cutting through the flanneled responses with a terse, “The listeners will note that you did not answer the question,” was typical of his approach. Friendly and warm, but coldly scathing wherever and whenever politicians (it is usually them) try to bluster or deny responsibility for their deeds.

He has hit the headlines today for his treatment of Boris Johnson. Standing in for Andrew Marr, (remember him, the journalist who invoked a super-injunction to cover up his infidelity....) on TV yesterday morning, he engaged with BoJo rather like a spider with a fly. 

Confronting Johnson with uncomfortable facts from his history he assembled them together in a killer sentence: “Aren’t you, in fact, making up quotes, lying to your party leader, wanting to be part of someone being physically assaulted? You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?” BBC Andrew Marr show 24/3/13

Johnson blustered, shambled and equivocated, claiming these things were a long time ago, and there was another side to it all etc, etc. The photos accompanying the articles this morning are damaging too. In one Johnson sits with his head in his hands, in another he sits looking downcast.


The man has cultivated an image of being an intelligent buffoon which until yesterday acted as a bubble the media did not prick. A serial adulterer and darling of the Tory Right, Johnson is anything but a buffoon. Even Conrad Black - no charmer he - described Johnson as, “A sly fox disguised as a teddy bear.” 

Thanks to Eddie Mair, Johnson stands exposed for what he is, ‘a nasty piece of work.’

Saturday, 23 March 2013

You can’t beat the Daily Wail

Huhne moved to a cushier prison.......maybe

As ever there are two sides (or more) to a story. The Daily Wail had this in its online edition tonight: “Disgraced MP Chris Huhne may be sleeping a little easier tonight after he was moved into one of Britain's minimum security prisons.
After spending just seven days in tough Wandsworth prison, the former cabinet minister has now taken up residence at HMP Leyhill, Gloucester, where prisoners are not even locked in their cells.
It will be his home for the rest of his eight-month jail term.” Mail 23/3/13

Years ago a cricketing team-mate was sentenced to a stretch in prison for receiving stolen goods. Initially, he too was sent to a ‘tough’ prison, Strangeways in Manchester, and was then later transferred to an open prison. His experience does not match the Wail’s line. He found being in Strangeways OK. He felt safe and although he spent a lot of time locked in his cell, he began a fitness regime, doing sit-ups and press-ups to work his way through the sentence. He was largely left alone to get on with it. The prison officers recognised him as presenting no trouble so were always civil and reasonable.  

All this changed when he was transferred to the open prison. The regime was much more lax but that was not a good thing as far as he was concerned. There were a couple of  gangs in the prison who wanted to run things in their own way and expected loners like him to kowtow to them. Supervision was very loose.  He felt far more unsafe in a so-called ‘soft’ prison than he ever did at Strangeways. He said he had to tread very carefully and spent as much time as possible in the gym working even harder to become stronger so they would leave him alone.

The line ‘where prisoners are not even locked in their cells’ is a double-edged one. It also means that a person or persons with evil intent can get at you in the middle of the night.

Perhaps after all the hacking inquiries are over  -  and several journalists have been locked up at her maj’s pleasure, maybe even incarcerated in ‘minimum security prisons’ for a spell - the tabloids may just start to sing a different tune. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

They just don’t get it

Australia 50 years ago....

An interesting juxtaposition of two stories happened this week. From Australia we heard that Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister, had apologised to an audience comprising women who had had their babies taken from them within minutes of their birth. Quite horrific and a subject worthy of an abject apology. 
“Unwed mothers were pressured, deceived and threatened into giving up their babies from the second world war until the early 1970s so they could be adopted by married couples, which was perceived to be in the children's best interests, the Senate committee report found.” Guardian 21/3/13

“Roman Catholic hospitals in Australia apologised in 2011 for forcing unmarried mothers to give up babies for adoption and urged state governments to accept financial responsibility.
Catholic Health Australia, the largest nongovernment hospital operator in Australia, said the practice of adopting out such children to married couples was "regrettably common" from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Adoption in Australia is mostly controlled by state laws, but the report found that the federal government had contributed to forced adoption by failing to provide unwed mothers with full welfare benefits to which a widow or deserted wife would have been entitled until 1973.” ibid (my emphasis)

Britain today....

The second story came from a blogsite recommended by a friend. The allegations made on the blog are serious and current. The hub of the report on the blog came from a whistleblower working in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). 

As ever with our government, there are many things which are left unsaid. In the era of spin, spin and spin again, it is vital that whistleblowers are supported and their complaints publicised. 

The DWP site alleges that ‘ahead of expectations, local authorities reported in January [2013] that they had successfully turned around the lives of 1,675 troubled families after just nine months of the three year programme, meaning that the children in those families are regularly in school and not committing crime or adults are in work.
Note the use of the word ‘or’ at the end there – not ‘and’. A 50% improvement is clearly being used as the criterion for ‘success’. We are also given no details of what the work/school/crime ratio was before the scheme began.....

......what has not been released and is being kept hush hush [is that] this will not be an option where families can choose not to be involved…..if they refuse to participate, their benefits will be stripped under sanctions.”

If after a period of 26 weeks results are not forthcoming and improvements tangible and sustained all benefits will be withdrawn. From then on, the adults will have to work in any position that can be found – and will be paid via fuel, food and basic clothing. Children over 13 will be expected to work under the same terms as their parents at special schools.

* If the children continue to truant and participate in anti social behaviour, those under 13 will be taken into care. They will not be living with their parents, but in dormitory accommodation. (And we all know what that means)

  • Any of the parents having children throughout or once they’ve failed the initiative will be taken into the care of local authorities. The families will be allowed supervised access at contact centres as deemed acceptable by the people overseeing the project and the handlers for the individual families. (And we all know what that means)

Are we in a State now that believes it has the right to ban people having children – to the extent that they fire the parents off the programme and put the kids into paedoland (sic)?

Myself and many other staff are horrified, but are powerless to stop this. The government are saying they will save more on what they cut on the benefits including DLA for the people in these families getting high rates for anger and behavioural problems, housing benefits and benefits for babies and children…children whether in these families or other families on low incomes are a drain on resources, and they believe if they stop paying then the children will stop being born and those already here will have to either conform or to be excluded and earn their keep….This is all underway and being arranged as we speak.”
The mind boggles at the kind of mentality that believes the children will stop being born if the benefits are removed. But as the clincher, it’s worthwhile taking a look at the private intermediary facilitators shortlisted for the task of running the rollout. They are G4S, Deloittes, Veolia, Capita and Serco.  ‘The Slog’ blogsite 17/3/13  (again, my emphases)

Wherever and whenever policies and practices aimed at the poor and vulnerable are decided by a rich and powerful elite, they invariably make a complete mess of them. Their understanding of hardship is a world away from reality. 

Using the withdrawal of benefits to punish the so-called feckless is another policy in a long line from the Fleet debtors prison to the ‘undeserving poor’ - an expression much favoured by tory toe-rags - who would welcome back the workhouse. 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Commons Debate on Leveson

Watching a lot of the debate yesterday was fascinating but also disturbing. There had clearly been an 11th hour deal struck between the three main parties at Westminster. Many contributors paid respect to the hard work and diligence of the teams representing each party who had striven hard into the night to reach a compromise from which each could claim a sort of victory. 

Whenever the House of Commons acts quickly to legislate or approve a course of action such as sending troops to Afghanistan it invariably gets it wrong. For example the Dangerous Dogs Act was rushed through at the behest of tabloid hysteria and has proved to be virtually unworkable. 

As one speaker pointed out halfway through the proceedings, they did not know what the final draft on which they were to vote on looked like, as it was still being written. Not good. 
A significant omission is the lack of anything about tweeting, blogging, facebook or similar internet activities in the regulations. After taking all of this time since Leveson published his report last November, another couple of days spent getting the wording right would not have gone amiss. 

In that time there has been much activity. There have been several off-the-record meetings between Cameron and a group of editors. Who knows what has been happening behind the scenes with the proprietors? One of the biggest problems with our politics has been the undue influence of powerful scum like Murdoch and his attack dogs. The way the old scrote continues to carry on anyone would think he was as innocent as the day is long. Slimeballs such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove still openly enjoy dinner with him. 

‘Hacked Off’ profess themselves pleased with the outcome, which is a positive; while a significant group of newspapers are not, which is a problem. Among them are such luminaries as the Barclay brothers who want to run ‘their’ Channel Island as a personal fiefdom, ‘Dirty Desmond’ who made his fortune with porn channels and now runs the Express and Star (and Channel 5) , Paul ‘expletive deleted’ Dacre is not happy and neither, surprise, surprise, are the old scrote’s group. 

This follows on from the Sun having a front page yesterday that beggared belief. They invoked Churchill and his trenchant views on the freedom of the press on the same day they paid a Labour MP £50,000 for using material from her stolen phone. 

Only the editor of the Independent, Chris Blackhurst, has come out and said that the outcome was what he expected. He did not have a problem with a key issue - that of putting an apology when the paper had a story wrong - in the same place it appeared - even if that was the front page. This is a sticking point for some of the press.

Years ago the Mail ran a front page story claiming that because ambulance drivers were taking industrial action, some unfortunate had died. This was in blazing headlines, on the front page and named the ‘guilty’ men. Several days later, in a tiny paragraph tucked away deep within the paper was an apology. The story had been bollocks.

The damage done to ordinary mortals who do not inhabit the elite bubble of celebs and politicians is profound and is something which has needed redressing for years. 

Do not hold your breath. Cameron has probably had several interesting conversations this the record.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Hen Harrier e-petition

The facts
Male Hen Harrier (courtesy RSPB)
  • There should be over 300 pairs of Hen Harrier across England
  • Last year the population was down to one breeding pair.

Why has this happened?

The simple answer is persecution by grouse moor owners.  

Research undertaken by the government's own advisory body on conservation, Natural England, points to a correlation between harrier losses and grouse moors.

A study by a researcher working for Natural England attached tiny transmitters to 12 harriers to track their progress and movements over winter. They were all recovered i.e. found dead, on or very near grouse moors in the Pennines.  The study has not been published. Natural England claim it is part of an ongoing PHD despite the fact that the tracked harriers were killed ten years ago. DEFRA maintain a wall of silence on the issue even though they are responsible for the ‘Hen Harrier Recovery Plan.‘ 

How do they get away with it?

  • They are rich and powerful, with friends in political high places. Richard Benyon, currently under-secretary at DEFRA, is himself an estate owner. The shooters expect to pay £1200 - £1500 for a days shoot, not the sort of sum Joe Public has handy. The estates tend to be the preserve of the very rich. 
  • Gamekeepers occasionally get caught poisoning birds of prey. It is more difficult to prove persecution when nests are destroyed, usually by the eggs being smashed, in extremely remote upland areas. Harriers are ground-nesting birds. 


Shooting estates receive considerable public subsidy in the form of grants. This subsidy comes from our taxes. Among the criteria to qualify for grants is the need to conserve protected and endangered species. The Hen Harrier meets that requirement yet is virtually extinct. 
It would be unfair to label all grouse moor owners and keepers as being anti-harrier but the overwhelming evidence is there that a significant number of estates flaunt their responsibilities, regard raptors as a pest and are quite happy to break the law on a regular basis believing themselves to be immune from prosecution.

So what can be done?

Click on the link below. It will take you to an e-petition created by a friend, John Armitage. 

Having done that, please encourage your friends to support the petition too.

Friday, 15 March 2013

What does Cameron actually stand for?

Anyone for a party in a brewery?

Remember ‘Greenest Government ever’ --- well that didn’t last long.

How about ‘there will be no top down re-organisation of the NHS’ ––– or 

Privatising the forests –––––  or 

Non-existent pasties on Leeds station? ––– or

Minimum price for alcohol? He spoke so well on that one too ------ or Leveson!

How the victims of hacking were in the forefront of his thoughts ---- and all the promises he made to the Dowlers and others......and how he said there would be transparency.....this before he entered a series of ‘off the record, un-minuted meetings with various editors - particularly Paul ‘vagina monologues’ Dacre and friends from the Times and the tabloids’ ---and before he summarily walked out of the cross-party talks on Leveson. This led to members of the Hacked Off Campaign being shown the door by embarrassed civil servants mid-meeting. 

Did he discuss any of these issues when he had his deep and lengthy chat with Rebekah Brooks at a Christmas party - or was he begging her not to drop him in it? In exchange for what? 

With a background in PR, Cameron comes across as plausible, but over time the veneer wears thin. The flip-flops on policy - leaving his Ministers with egg on their faces and taking the blame. Not good for Cabinet morale that. Or loyalty as recent events have proved. Add his habit of overdoing the hyperbole, managing to bring the Office of Budget Responsibility out of their box.

He is as slippery as a lubricated eel. No-one knows what he stands for - apart from being in power and being PM. 

He has said in the past that his role model was Tony Blair. 

Says all you need to know about him. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Cardinals begin to pick new Pope

The official line is that the Cardinals are picking someone who is the direct descendent of St. Peter. This spin conveniently forgets or ignores the many Popes who brought disgrace to the office. It also tests belief in the principle of papal infallibility - a concept that has been compromised by practices that are truly incredible.  

The media coverage of this event is way over the top. A bit of perspective is called for. The last time this group, comprising the genuinely devout alongside others who have either been abusers or colluded with sex abuse cover-up on a massive scale, they elected Ratzinger. He was the architect of the cover up of abuse campaign. Direct descendent from St Peter?   

Many in the conclave are men who have practiced a ‘blame the victim’ culture for generations. This has caused untold harm to thousands of individuals. To dignify them, and the process, with some sort of sanctity and respect is asking far too much. Look at the evidence. Judge them by what they do. 

For instance, one of the spokespersons interviewed regularly on the media is Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor. Even senior reporters such as Ed Sturton listen respectfully to what this man says. Mellifluous and ingratiating in his answers,  it should be remembered that O’Connor covered up the actions of a priest in his diocese, Michael Hill,  who was a serial abuser. Hill then continued to abuse several other vulnerable people. O'Connor has zero credibility and Sturton should know that.

It is gratifying to hear from Ireland that the numbers attending mass have collapsed dramatically. This followed the publication of a couple of reports detailing the extent of abuse and equally importantly, the lengths the Vatican went to to cover up the crimes. The reports sadly also showed the extent to which the Irish State either colluded with, or turned a blind-eye, to disgraceful incidents. 

It is to be hoped that where evidence exists of systematic cover-up of abuse then those who do the cover up are prosecuted. It must be a criminal act - so why are the authorities so reluctant to prosecute? 

It is an issue far more serious than asking your wife to take your speeding points.

Finally, the fawning, predominantly uncritical coverage by the media of the election is making news programmes unlistenable and unwatchable.  

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Secret Courts

A Fair, Free and Open Society

“The very first sentence of the Liberal Democrats' constitution states that they exist to build a 'fair, free, and open society'. The vote in favour of secret courts is an attack on the heart and soul of the party." Dinah Rose QC quoted in the Guardian

"The right to a fair hearing, and the right to open justice, are among the most fundamental of all our basic constitutional rights. I just cannot see what purpose is served by the party, if it is prepared to support the bill. I have therefore decided, with great regret, to resign my party membership." ibid

An elemental part of our justice system is that an accused should know and see the evidence of their alleged wrong-doings. This will not happen in ‘security’ cases. Evidence will be presented in secret to the Judge which the defendant does not know about. Without this knowledge there is no chance of rebuttal or contradiction - for instance the evidence may be plain wrong or mistaken. Without challenge it is accepted as fact. This used to happen a lot in the Middle Ages when guilt by association was enough to be burnt at the stake. 

Our security services did not cover themselves with glory in the Blair years. Sexing up dodgy dossiers; colluding with the Bush regime over rendition and even sending back opponents of the tyrant Gaddaffi to be tortured by his goons. This latter disgrace was only discovered by accident when letters from our secret services were found in Libya after Gaddaffi’s fall. It is precisely this sort of shameful embarrassment which would be covered up by this legislation. ‘National Security’ would be invoked when the reality was ‘national scandal.’  

Kenneth Clarke, who has been piloting this egregious piece of legislation through Parliament, asks us to trust him and Ministers in the future. Recent experience tells us this is too much to ask. With many good reasons we do not trust our government or our security services. Would the Hillsborough revelations have come to light? Bloody Sunday? Birmingham 6? Guildford 4? Or would all of these have been covered by ‘national security - the catch all of tyrants and despots everywhere? 

And as for the Liberal Democrats, they seem so enamoured by being in government they have lobotomised their principles. 

Charmless, gutless, unprincipled stooges. 

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Cameron and the ‘Magic Money Tree’

Someone somewhere writes, or at least vets, what the Prime Minister says in his speeches. A lot of attention has been made in the media of the public contradiction of Cameron’s assertions by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) about his austerity policy. Not a lot has been made of his claim that, “There is no magic money tree.” 

Really? A toff born with a silver service in his mouth has to be a little cautious making such claims. He is a toff among toffs in his Cabinet. Many of whom are very familiar with the money tree.

As is the Bank of England  ---- who have their own version of the Magic Money Tree. It is called Quantative Easing, or printing vast amounts of money to give to banks so they can reward their gambling spivs with ever-increasing bonuses.

The spivs then put a small amount aside to donate money from the tree to the Tory Party to help them win elections. 

Nice one Dave! Your mates in the media didn't point out the bleedin' obvious.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

There Is No Alternative


So says our Prime Minister echoing Margaret Thatcher back in the 80’s. The governments recipe for getting the country out of the mess created by a rapacious financial sector is to continue rewarding those who created the mess while at the same time castigating the poor and the weak. The only country in Europe defending banker’s bonuses!

This shameful policy is challenged by Labour only in matters of speed and impact. Labour admit they too would cut - “but not quite at the same rate as the Tories.” They are hamstrung by their cosy relationship with PriceWaterhouseCoopers who subsidise the party, providing them with staff to help with financial matters. That PWC are in the business of making their clients even more mega-wealthy by the use of offshore tax haven schemes, devised by PWC is an unfortunate coincidence. 

And as for the Liberals? Having sold their souls to sit at the table, they are piffling about on the edge as they proclaim how they have curbed the coalition’s worst excesses. Oh yeah. 

So ‘There is no alternative’ then? Well probably for the duration of this benighted Parliament.

Meanwhile in the undergrowth there are stirrings. It was clearly the case at the Eastleigh by-election that the prevailing view was ‘a plague on all your houses.’ 

Watching fat cats become fatter, watching money that should have gone towards taxation squirreled away by giant corporations and watching organisations once held in high esteem, like the beeb, putting people onto self-employed status to avoid paying tax, is making the vast majority of folk in the UK very angry. Very, very angry. 

The money currently heading offshore would be more than enough to restore balance to the books. But our bubble dwellers do not mention it - because they say ‘There Is No Alternative.’ 

But there is. 

Inform.    Organise.  Mobilise.

And then at the 
next election....

Throw them out!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Cardinal O’Brien

There are times when having crystal balls are quite useful. The quote (below) appeared in ‘Concerned4Democracy’ last year. It followed Cardinal O’Brien sending out 500 letters to be read out in Catholic Churches on the same day. In these letters he railed against gay marriage.....

He has a bloody nerve. As Cardinal for the kiddy-fiddlers, abusers and cover-up sect masquerading as a world faith he would be much better engaged putting his own house in order. 
Perhaps all of this palaver over gay marriage is a welcome distraction to divert the attention of their flock from matters nearer to home (and the knuckle)?Concerned4Democracy Aug 2012

He admitted this weekend that he had carried out improper sexual acts throughout his career. “However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.” O’Brien statement 3/3/13

This is the same man who said that same-sex relationships were a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right."

What kind of hell was this guy operating in? He knew what he had been up to so was he in denial? There must be some degree of self-loathing involved to indulge in the very acts you condemn in public. Also the lack of concern for his victims is striking - but not atypical of the church he served. 

O’Brien is not a ‘loose Cardinal’ - there are many turning up for the shindig at the Vatican who inhabit a similarly weird world where their public pronouncements are not reflected by their private behaviour. A brass-necked American Cardinal is there, despite being shown to have covered up serial abuse in his diocese. He has not been turned away.

All this pales into insignificance against the real crimes here. Victims are victimised further by the machinery of the Vatican rolling out against them. Last weeks reaction to the revelations was dominated by condemnation of the 4 priests for ‘political ends’ - and ‘why did they wait so long’ etc etc. There is little sympathy or concern for the victims. Their concerns were dismissed as ‘unfounded allegations’ and ignored. Ratzinger was involved in the cover up of abuses before he became Pope.

A further twist. Despite the Vatican being told about these offences back in early February, O’Brien would have been entitled to attend the conclave beginning today. No action taken in public - no withdrawal of permission to attend - nothing. The cover-up continues. And now they say the Vatican will hold an inquiry - - in secret!

Oh yeah, we can trust a bunch of repressed weirdly obsessed elderly men to do the right thing can’t we? 


Sunday, 3 March 2013


Shame but no blame

The Mid Staffs Inquiry - the Francis Report. ‘M.D.’ writing in the latest edition of Private Eye does a thorough job in exposing the inadequacies of this watered down piece of bilge. Francis did a good job of answering the question, “How could the NHS, with record funding, published death rates and armies of regulators lose sight of so many patients, some of whom died in appalling conditions?” Private Eye No. 1334

But - and what a massive ‘but’ this is - he singularly failed to answer the more important question: “Who is responsible?” (ibid)  Apparently all those named in the first draft of the report were sent copies and allowed rewrites which explains the lengthy delays in publication. It also suggests that m’learned friends were engaged by the responsible suits and were quickly rubbing their greedy little mitts at the prospect of a nice little earner. 

In the end he (Francis) opted for a ridiculous ‘no scapegoats, blame the system’ approach.” (ibid). This is contemptuous of all the families who lost loved ones in deeply shaming circumstances. Reading about the care and treatment received by the hundreds of thousands of troops wounded in the First World War, it is striking just how good the quality of care and compassion these shattered young men received from (predominantly) young women, many of whom were themselves volunteers. There are countless stories of nurses taking great care to ease the suffering of mortally wounded men, many of whom were in great pain and distress. Others were terrified both by what they had been through and what they were facing. Most of them were also a long way from their families and friends. 

That was almost one hundred years ago. It is mortifying to read what happened in Mid-Staffs.

“The care was so bad that as many as 1,200 people died unnecessarily, often in appalling conditions. The poor care was known about for years and flagged up by successive mortality data alerts....and whistleblowers were threatened and silenced.” (my emphasis)

The treatment of whistleblowers by the NHS is well documented, and successive governments have mouthed platitude after platitude about the need to ensure whistleblowers are heard - and then do bugger all to make it happen. We pay an inordinate amount of money from the NHS budget to fund gagging clauses in termination of contract deals. This is a disgrace. 

The Francis report is symptomatic of much that is wrong with our country. Wealthy, powerful elites make a complete bollocks of running their part of the national infrastructure - and few are held responsible. Bankers? Give em their bonuses. MPs on the take? Sort out a few scapegoats. BBC arse-coverers? Shuffle them around a bit. 

NHS bosses? Absolve them from all responsibility. Let them threaten and bully the handful of staff brave enough to put their heads above the parapet - and then reward them with promotion. 

The position of the NHS boss Sir David Nicholson exemplifies this approach. He should be sacked forthwith. 

And it is getting worse. From April 1st, thanks to the private-medicine sponsored ex-Health Secretary Lansley’s execrable ‘reforms’, the Secretary of State will no longer be held to account for events in the NHS. Now how barmy is that?