Thursday, 28 February 2013

No Need to Panic

        Sir David Nicholson, the former chairman of the mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, is refusing to resign. After all, he was only in charge of an organization in whose hospitals over a thousand people who were supposed to be cared for were left to suffer and die in dirty, degrading conditions - what reason is that to worry? Anybody would imagine from the fuss that is being made about it that Sir David had done something really serious such as insulting socialists, homosexuals or transsexuals!
       The head of commissioning in the NHS, Professor Malcolm Grant,  has stood by Sir David undaunted, insisting that he is the person they want to be and to stay Chief Executive of the NHS. Well, he has got a sense of proportion I suppose. Sir David has not committed any offences against Political Correctness. He has not called a horse "gay". He has not said anything against Yuman Rights.
       Today a bus driver told me that nowadays they are not even allowed to tell a passenger who is standing up on a bus to sit down, because that would be against the passenger's Yuman Rights. He is only allowed to advise them to sit down. What about 'Elf and Safety? We have lots of laws about that, enough to get trees cut down in school playgrounds in case children climb up them, but not enough to justify a bus driver telling you to sit down while the bus is moving. And not enough to prevent hundreds of patients from being neglected and left to rot in mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust Hospitals.
      Just being in charge and getting a lot of money does not mean that Sir David had to take responsibility for everything that happened. Good Lord, if you applied that rule, Fred Goodwin should never have walked away with his vast pension. If Sir David Nicholson said in public that the NHS should not be doing operations for transsexuals, he would undoubtedly be sacked, but since he has only presided over a major calamity that has, according to the Francis Report, cost the lives of 1,200 people, he can brazen his way out.



Sunday, 24 February 2013

Driven to Extremes

The collapse of the trial of Vicky Pryce is not just ludicrous, it reveals that the jury system is in crisis. The judge complained that they kept asking stupid questions, and this was because most most of them did not understand English. He blamed the fall in educational standards...well that is a familiar moan. There is another reason actually. The problem is that the first thing most people do when they get called up for jury service is find an excuse not to go. They don't want to miss paid work to carry out an unpaid civic duty. Being on a jury can be boring and it can also be very taxing for those required to follow the technical details of a complicated case. And you do it at a loss if you have a job.
      So juries tend to be dominated by people who could not find a good enough pretext for avoiding it. Housewives, the unemployed and the less educated often end up on juries. Anybody over the age of 70 is automatically excluded, yet a person under that age who barely understands any English is eligible to serve. This is one more way in which our society is unfair to older people.
There is a strong pressure coming from the EU to abolish trial by jury in the UK and to replace it with trial by experts. I think this is an attack on our rights and freedoms, and if we want the jury system to survive we must all support it and stop skiving off jury service. I want to see the best brains taking pride in serving on a jury and maintaining the ancient rights of Magna Carta, including the right to be tried by your peers.
        Vicky Pryce will have to have another trial, costing the tax-payer goodness knows how much, and I suspect that at the end of it she will get a suspended sentence. She is not a hardened criminal and the public does not really need to be protected from her, as the likelihood that she will ever again perjure herself by taking driving points for her ex-husband is remote. Whether Chris Huhne goes to gaol remains to be seen, but I'm told that if he does it will not be for the first time and that his first experience of penal servitude was also for a driving offence. In 1972 he and a few friends bought an old London taxi-cab and drove down to Southern Europe on holiday. They shared the driving and all was going well until somewhere in Greece, Chris unfortunately (allegedly) crashed the taxi. To his surprise, the police threw him into a cell for a few days. This was under the colonels, and police could do more or less what they liked with offenders, particularly those who happened to be foreigners and have long hair. His friends went on ahead without him, and Chris eventually turned up to meet them on the island of Hydra, a bit bedraggled and crestfallen. But he soon perked up and started to take an interest in the local girls.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

EU Tax Hits Pensioners

Pensioners are having a rough and tough time in this society, swindled out of the care and security they earned and paid for. So what is the government going to do for them? Tax them a bit more. The EU's new transaction tax is going to hit retired people who rely on investments to pay their well-earned pensions.
That is not just the opinion of UKIP   - it is the opinion of a major Dutch pensions company, the Dutch Algemene Pensioen Groep. APG, one of the world’s largest administrators of group pension schemes, wrote to the European commission warning that FTT would be a “tax on current and future retirees...The FTT would hit ordinary pension savers very hard and would result in pensioners paying for the FTT through reductions in the value of their pensions,” said the letter.
 “Pension savers and investors could end up shouldering an unfair share of the burden of the FTT.”
George Osborne has made ineffectual criticisms of this new tax but can do nothing to stop it being introduced  - because we are in the EU. It would be exactly the same if Labour was in power.
        Already most retired people  have inadequate provision for their life expectancy. But in a high-tax, high-cost-of-living society, there is very little opportunity to save. And those who do save know that they will be penalized by the benefits system.
       For those who are reliant on the state pension the news is even bleaker. We as a nation simply have not got the resources to pay the basic pensions we owe to the generation retiring now. Even by postponing their retirement for a number of years, we cannot square the books. Previous governments have spent so much on other sorts of benefits that our coffers are empty.
      Meanwhile we continue to make damaging cuts in the NHS, insulting the public by giving the announcements saccharine titles. "Shaping a Healthier Future" was the name that the N-W London Health Trust gave to their decision to close down four Accident-and-Emergency units. Similar closures all over the London area have been couched in Orwellian  language. Cuts are a healthier future. Ignorance is Power. War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery.
        I know a lady living in London in her mid-eighties who recently called an ambulance because she was in extreme pain. The ambulance took four hours to arrive. Is that a healthier future? It looks as if they are hoping the patients drop dead before help arrives. The older generation in this country has been badly let down by the system and has much to complain about.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Tories the Left

Anyone who doubts that there is no difference at all between Labour, Libdems and the Conservatives will have to explain why the Conservative party has just sacked a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for insulting...socialism.
      Yes, that's correct, Dr Rachel Frosh, a conservative who had already been selected by her constituency of Harrow West and approved as Tory candidate, has been told she has been dropped because of a six-word message she sent out on Twitter. The message ran "Dear Socialists embrace your inner Nazism." It was attached to a picture of Adolf Hitler and a quotation from a speech he made in 1927 when he professed to be an ardent socialist: "We (the National Socialist Party) are socialists, we are enemies of the capitalist economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with it's unfair salaries, with it's unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance and we are determined to destroy this system."
     Now what worries me most about that quotation is the wrong use of the apostrophe, but that was not what sent a mob of tweeters hysterical. They all started foaming at the mouth and insisting that they had been offended and what she said was not politically correct. This is the disease that is sweeping this country  - dedicated offence-takers throwing a tantrum and insisting that they will scream and scream until they get their own way.
     Nothing that Rachel Frosh said was controversial, yet incredibly, she has been bullied into resigning her job as Deputy Crime Commissioner of Hertfordshire, all because of this Twitter remark. I remember when I taught for the Open University that we had to study ideology, and the prevailing view in the class was that communism and fascism were to all intents and purposes the same. I think there are striking resemblances. Hitler came from a lowly background, seized power by a series of ruses and proceeded to kill millions of people; Lenin and Stalin also came from lowly backgrounds, seized power through a coup and proceeded to kill millions of people; they plastered the billboards everywhere with propaganda expressed in crude slogans and cruder art; neither communists nor nazis permitted any criticism or opposition to their regimes. Pious Marxists would say, "But Hitler didn't nationalize the whole of industry  - he left the great industrialists running their businesses." And the majority of people in the street (or on the Clapham omnibus) would retort, "So bloody what?"
     At the very same time, our Coalition government is telling us that they will conform to a human rights ruling that nobody can be sacked for their political views. Really?
     If Rachel Frosh were a Labour candidate or even a Libdem, there might be a faint ghost of an excuse for her to be treated in this way, but she is (or was) a Conservative candidate and an elected Police commissioner. She has twenty years of experience working in the NHS, yet all of that is flung aside for the sake of some petulant tweeters who think they are insulted. Conclusive proof that Cameron is Blair Mark 2 and his party is a troop of Labour clones. What we need in this country is a political party that has the guts to give two fingers to politically correct claptrap and stop grovelling to the views of a tiny minority of utterly silly people.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Victory for Reform Section 5

 I feel that there is now a change in the wind in this country, a change in the current of feeling. At last people are beginning to take an interest in some of the freedoms that we have lost. One very hopeful sign which I applaud and rejoice in, is the victory of Rowan Atkinson's campaign "Reform Section 5". Hurrah! Can it really be true that we tolerated for more than twenty years a law that could get you prosecuted for calling a police horse "gay"? To say something in public, that is not either a death-threat, an incitement to violence, or a libel against another individual, is not a crime. Looking at it, it seems to be such a silly law you'd imagine it was passed under a Labour government but, no  - it was the Tories. Did the law make us into a politer society? Of course not. In the years since 1986, society has become steadily ruder, which is proof that the law has failed.
   Perfectly innocuous people are constantly attacked, reviled, slandered and abused by every means possible in the left-wing press yet you could be prosecuted for calling a horse "gay".
 It is the people who send vicious threatening messages to others by E-mail or telephone who should be regarded as criminals, but in most cases the cyber-lynch mobs get away with what they do.
       So well done, Rowan Atkinson and congratulations to all those who campaigned for restoring some common sense to at least one aspect of our lives.
   The surge in UKIP membership continues and it is just a matter of time before the figures overtake those of the waning LibDems.

Greeks Trampled Underfoot in Food Riots

When Greek farmers distributed 55 tons of fruit and vegetables outside the Agriculture Ministry in Athens on February 6th, they meant it as a protest about the fact that they are losing money on what they sell. This is because production costs (water, fertilizer, transport) have all rocketed upwards. The supermarkets are bereft of fresh food because nobody finds it worthwhile to stock them. There is so little money in the country and the economy is so stagnant, that nobody can afford to buy what they produce.
They did not anticipate a hungry mob going on the rampage but that is what happened. People could not take the food fast enough from the stalls and they stormed the nearby lorry. Many were injured as they struggled to get a hand-out of a bag of apples, oranges or potatoes. One man fell, was trampled and suffered head injury. He had to be taken to hospital. A journalist photographing the scene was also injured.
The plight of Greece is pitiful. Prisoners of the euro currency, they are effectively occupied by a foreign power and they are experiencing a shock reversal of the false prosperity they enjoyed when they first went into the EU. Then they enjoyed subsidies. Now they are paying the price in unemployment, huge taxes, huge cuts in pensions and services, and huge increases in the price of electricity, oil and gas. Many people are without heating or lighting since the shock inflation.
If they were allowed to devalue their currency, as Iceland has done, they could eventually find a way out of this economic stranglehold. It would be painful but it would enable them to start exporting again, and attracting tourism. It is the only solution to their problems, and they can't do it because of the EU.
  Those who understand what is going on also know that their democracy has been replaced with dictatorship and their national assets are being signed away to foreign banks. But never mind, they can console themselves with the thought that we have all got Human Rights now! Human Rights EU-style, meaning votes for prisoners and messing up marriage, meanwhile nothing much to eat.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Pensioners' Assets Stolen to Pay for Basic Rights

It is a scandal that pensioners are being forced to pay local authorities for care that is supposed to be their right under the welfare state. People who are now in their seventies, eighties and nineties worked for as much as fifty years  - from age 14 to 65 - paying tax and contributing to this country. When they started work their wages were probably £5 per week if they were lucky. Their holidays were two weeks per year. Many of them took part in the war and made sacrifices during the lean years of rationing and post-war austerity. Now they are told that they must pay again and pay through the nose just to get the basic care and attention anybody deserves in their old age.
    Local authority care is means-tested and you only get it free if your entire assets are worth less than £23,000. Is that fair? Certainly not. Take the example of two brothers, who inherit a large house worth £400,000. One of them uses his share to buy a smaller house in the UK and lives there, working and paying income tax, council tax, stamp duty and VAT, without demanding anything from the state. The other takes his half of the money and goes to live in a sunny spot abroad, where he spends it all on girls, booze and cigarettes. He has a fine time, pays nothing into the British exchequer, and returns many years later in poor health, penniless, to the UK. Then he claims state benefits and is allocated a special flat for the over-55s.  He gets free treatment on the National Health for the conditions he has acquired as a result of his chosen lifestyle. Now the two brothers are in their seventies, both single and in poor health, either of them could need council care. The one who was careful with his money will be forced to sell his house to foot the bill. The one who squandered his money will get free care.
    Approximately 20,000 old people every year are forced to sell their houses to pay for local authority care.   That does not even count those who are paying for private care.
    The government has made a few feeble gestures of addressing this inequity  - I am tempted to write iniquity. It set up the Dilnot Commission which was expected to put a cap on the maximum amount any pensioner would be expected to pay. If that maximum amount were £35,000 this would still be unfair on the prudent, hard-working and responsible people (castigated as "the rich" in socialist vocabulary). But now it is feared that the cap may be set as high as £75,000 per person. so a couple who both need care would have to spend a total of £150,000   - possibly the entire value of a house in many parts of the country. It is robbing them and it is robbing their children. UKIP policy is to abolish inheritance tax and let the children benefit from their parents' hard work and sacrifices. Even if we can't afford to do that immediately we could raise the IHT threshold to one million, so that nobody had to sell their house.
 Meanwhile we pay £52 million per day to the EU, give NHS treatment to foreigners, and buy a mansion for the family of Abu Qatada (none of which is made up by the Daily Mail).
   The cuts mean that a 97-year-old blind woman can be bullied and harrassed to pay for care in her final years. Mrs Elfrida Harper-Tarr of Turweston in Buckinghamshire ran the local Post Office there for fifty years. Now she is aged, frail and injured by a fall she needs to be looked after  - and she will not get it free. Why? Because her house is supposedly worth £275,000. In fact it is impossible to sell because it is on the path of the infamous High-Speed-2 rail scheme which is planned to slice Buckingham in half and turn it from a pleasant quiet county into a rocket tunnel. So Mrs Harper-Tarr, stuck in a hospital bed with nowhere safe to go, is now worried sick because she does not know how she can pay her bills. This government wants to spend £33 BILLION on the HS2 scheme but will not stump up a few thousand so that those who worked can enjoy comfort and dignity in their final years.
     Mrs Harper-Tarr's MP, John Bercow (the one who has such a resemblance to the Egyptian god Bes) thinks that the solution is for the government to hurry up and go through with the compulsory purchase of Mrs Harper-Tarr's home. His answer is to rob her a bit sooner and faster. Nobody should be forced to sell their home either for care or to make way for HS2. They are both plain theft.
    Any politician who talks about "human rights" yet condones treating old people like this is a hypocrite. We have seen what Dave and Nick regard as human rights  - votes for prisoners and messing up marriage. This country is in a vile mess.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Euthanasia or Just Plain Murder

The crisis in care of the old and the sick is no longer imminent. It is here. The desperate lack of adequate care for our old people has reached crisis point and beyond. Winter is always the worst time and the death toll is just dreadful. We call them the "elderly" as if euphemism could somehow relieve their plight, then we leave them to die.
In Banstead, Surrey, a woman aged 81 was left without any care at all for nine days in her home and then died on 4th February shortly after being admitted to hospital. It was too late to save Gloria Foster. She was supposed to be getting four visits per day, but she died of starvation and dehydration, covered in bedsores. The situation behind this shameful event is a mess and reveals a lot about what is going on in this country. Mrs Foster was supposed to be the responsibility of Surrey County Council, which contracts out this sort of work to a company, Carefirst24. How come it is more economical to outsource geriatric care to a private company? Because they employ illegal immigrants, of  course. It turned out that they were hiring, among others, workers from Mauritius and the Philippines. This came to the attention of the UK Border Agency, which carried out a raid at the Carefirst24 company HQ in Sutton, and arrested six employees. The result of this was that there was nobody left to look after Mrs Foster.
"A spokesman for UKBA said it met local authorities ahead of the raid to warn them of what they were going to do so they could arrange alternative care for the company's clients." Well you can believe that if you want to. It does not appear that any alternative care was provided either by the company or the County Council, for nine days. How many bedridden people were left stranded?

I want to know why our own citizens cannot or will not train to do this work. We have millions of unemployed people. About a year ago I wrote references for a young man who was offered a traineeship in this kind of company. (He was English born and bred and I thought he was a suitable sort of person too). He did it for a few days then gave it up, because he said it was "not for him". When I pressed him for a better explanation, he said that it was frustrating to have to go to each person for only 20 minutes and have to do a lot of paperwork reporting on each. He wanted a more personal relationship with people. In other words, his notion of doing the job was an unrealistic one. The fact that something desperately needs to be done was not a factor in his decision. And of course he can live indefinitely on benefits.

Which is worse, to leave old people to die of starvation and neglect, or to give them a friendly push by abusing the Liverpool Care Pathway? Both are shameful and deserve the term fascist euthanasia. I don't suppose David Cameron would give a damn about anyone calling him a fascist. He is busy pursuing his own priorities in "human rights" e.g. votes for prisoners and messing up marriage. So long as it is a pink swastika, he seems to think that everything is just fine.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Gentle Art of Political Persuasion

Here is a genuine message that was sent to someone (not me) opposed to redefining marriage, a week ago.
Of course it was sent anonymously.
"I hate you and I'm gonna kill you and all of your straight friends. First I'll do gay stuff to you then cut off your fucking head and keep your body in my basement. When you're all dead we'll have same-sex marriage."

Who could fail to be persuaded by such logic, such eloquence and such intellectual brilliance?
Just send messages like that to your MP and see democracy at work!

Monday, 4 February 2013

No Major Change to C.S. Lewis's Church

It seems that the PCC at Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry, has decided not to pursue its scheme to build a major extension to the church building. There will be changes and adaptations inside but they will be kept to a minimum. That is a relief to many local people who did not want their family graves built over.
    The church is a small one with a villagey feel, partly due perhaps to the yew trees in the churchyard. It is not very old, only Victorian, but designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and made special by the fact that C.S. Lewis attended it for thirty years and is buried there. There is going to be a C.S. Lewis Festival at Holy Trinity this year on the 19th-22nd September, which is the 50th anniversary of his death.

To me it seemed extraordinary for the church to contemplate spending sums in the region of £600,000 + on an extension at a time when there is so much austerity and hardship with people losing their jobs and their homes. We are told that 128,000 people in the UK now rely on food banks. How is this possible in a supposedly advanced Western society? Only by dint of having a series of grossly incompetent and irresponsible governments.
If there are charities that can  raise anything like that sort of of money for a church extension, how about donating it to one of these worthy causes. For a start there is this homeless people's charity in Oxford:--

A favourite charity of mine is Help for Homeless Veterans:-

Around 10,000 ex-service personnel are homeless in this country. Former soldiers and airmen with front line experience are now unable to find a job and often suffering mental or physical injury as a result of their stint in the army. They are lucky to get a place in a hostel and if they can't's the streets. H4HV tries to find homes for them and when it can't house them it provides winter survival kits for those sleeping rough. Sometimes ex-servicemen do manage to get a council house or flat but have no furniture or bedding. H4HV can supply second-hand furniture and equipment donated by supporters. It also offers help writing a CV and coping with job applications, and H4HV even has a scheme in Yorkshire where they are renovating a row of derelict cottages to provide homes for ex-servicemen.
The group Soldiers Off the Street (S.O.T.S.) does similar work specifically in Liverpool.

Then looking further afield we could support persecuted Christians in Nigeria where churches are being bombed or burnt down by Boko Haram and people murdered or made homeless just because of their faith.

OpenDoors Charity for persecuted Christians:-

There are so many more urgent causes at this moment than a church building extension.