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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/31/2007 04:59:00 pm

Via Iain Dale, this news of a new Tory Communications Director.
Andy Coulson, the ex-editor of the News of the World, is expected to be appointed Director of Communications for the Conservative Party.

The News Of The World editor? Oh, fan-fucking-tastic. So we can expect some really mature and considered political discussion, eh?

Fucking hellski.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/31/2007 04:59:00 pm


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ban pleasure!

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/30/2007 04:41:00 pm

Oh, dear fucking god, will these fuckers never piss off? Why is it that every pleasure that we have is to be regulated and eventually legislated out of existence? They've gone for fox-hunting, smoking and now they're getting started on the booze.
Alcoholic drinks will carry new health warning labels by the end of 2008 under a voluntary agreement between ministers and the drinks industry.

The labels will detail alcoholic units and recommended safe drinking levels.

Bottles and cans currently have alcohol percentages, but only some state what this equals in alcoholic units.

Public health minister Caroline Flint says exactly what the labels will say is not decided, but the warnings will not be as strong as for cigarettes.

Anyone else looking forward to "Low Sperm Count", "Alcohol Causes Cirrhosis Of The Liver" and "This Drink Is Going To Fucking Kill You" warning labels? Oh, and don't forget the "If You Take One Sip Of This Drink, You WILL Go Home And Beat Up Your Wife And Touch Up Your Kids" warnings.

Still at least it's a voluntary code, eh? Rather than this fascist government legislating on it. [Emphasis mine.]
The measure was first proposed three years ago, but both sides have struggled to agree on a format.

It is not known how many drinks firms will sign up for the scheme, but ministers said if the industry did not comply, the government would introduce legislation.

Oh, what a fucking surprise! This government does love its legislation, doesn't it? Is it because they are a bunch of fucking authoritarian cunts with absolutely no sense of proportion and only their puritanical instincts to guide them in how to make everybody's lives that little bit more miserable. Fuck, I hate them.

And, naturally, various hideous awful pressure groups—encouraging our government to curtail our freedoms whilst being funded with our money—are there on the sidelines, sticking their entirely unwanted views in our faces, like a small goblin holding a turd up to my nose.
Alcohol Concern welcomed the scheme but said it did not go far enough.

Don Shenkar, director of policy and services for the charity, said: "We'd like there to be more information in pubs and bars, in terms of the sensible drinking limits there."

Oh, you would, would you? Well, I don't. I am fed up with constant preachy bloody signs everywhere I look. Quite apart from the fact that they remind me of the bunch of arseholes that we are ruled by, they're so fucking ugly.

And how, precisely, are pubs that have a constantly rotating selection of ales supposed to cope with government-sanctioned signs? Will they receive their alcohol unit signs along with the font badge? And what if, as often happens, the badge and sign don't arrive? Will they not be allowed to serve the beer? And why doesn't everyone involved in Alcohol Concern fuck off and drown themselves in a vat of malmsey?—that'd give them something to be concerned about.
However, Annette Fleming, chief executive of Aquarius, a Midlands-based alcohol and drugs charity, questioned how effective the labelling would be.

She told BBC Radio Five Live: "It begs the question, that once people have had one drink out of a bottle, are they really going to be bothered to read the tiny print that talks about units?

"I'm not sure it will actually make a difference."

Well, quite. So what is the fucking point, eh? Labelling on cigarettes hasn't been effective: why else would the EU—which, as Croydonian found, is subsidising tobacco growers to the tune of €920 million this year—be legislating to put pictures of diseased lungs and other such monstrosities on packets of fags (I've got a cigarette case, so up yours, Brussels)?

But it is because these fuckers always need to find something to ban in order to justify their own existence. So, fox-hunting and fags are nearly conquored, so it's time to move strongly against alcohol. We can hardly pretend to be surprised; the attacks have come fast and furious over the last few years: we had surgeon John Smith trying to limit people to three drinks a night, the EU Commission report on "passive drinking", health "experts" setting ludicrous "binge-drinking" definitions, the Preston police trying to ban "vertical drinking", the bloody EU (again) trying to curb alcohol advertising, the move to ensure that all drinks in pubs are served in plastic recepticles, and Patsy cocking Hewitt begging the Chancellor for some of that hot Polly-style lovin' much higher alcohol taxes.

This last was one of my more vitriolic posts and this one paragraph basically sums up my attitude towards all of these attempts to infringe on my freedom to get absolutely stoshus.
Go fuck youself, you stinking apology for a cunt of a human being; did I say human being? I meant hideous chicken-brained whore of a monkey's arse dipped in aubergine surprise—the surprise being that it is made of aubergines and shit, shit, shitty-shit-shit-shit—and mashed up with the pus-filled discharge of a diseased, eighty-year-old whore's raddled, smelly and very badly-packed kebab. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, you cunting cunt cuntitty cunt cunt. Tit.

So there.

Where do we find these bloody parasitic busybodies, eh? We are crying out for more scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, doctors, nurses, anyone competent and all we seem to end up with is these fucking killjoy scum.

No wonder the moral fibre of this once-great country seems to be going down the fucking toilet. What a bunch of cunts.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/30/2007 04:41:00 pm


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A little post-holiday light relief

Posted by Katy Newton at 5/29/2007 07:26:00 pm

This makes me happy.

Posted by Katy Newton at 5/29/2007 07:26:00 pm


The BBC

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/29/2007 04:49:00 pm

A little while ago, The Dude wrote a post in which he defended the BBC.
Despite this, I am a supporter not only of the BBC, but of the licence fee too. And are you going to tell me that the BBC is in the Governments pocket? OK, they may only attack from the left - but at least there's no overt party political bias. In time and with focus, I think they might just balance their political reportage, and there are signs that they are waking up to the problem. The trick is to take the time to complain every time you notice a biased programme and report. Eventually they'll get the message.
The whole post is well worth reading, and it's one that I broadly agree with. I enjoy watching television without adverts and I will admit that, amongst the increasing crap that it outputs in a desperate scramble to get ratings that it doesn't need, the BBC does broadcast some excellent stuff. Just because the news reporting is a little biased isn't a decent reason to abandon the whole structure.

However, there are a few things that I do disagree with. I object to the Licence Fee being raised in order to subsidise the BBC's expansion into commercial, i.e. advert-carrying, digital channels. If they are going to carry adverts, then the BBC should compete on the same level as all the other companies; besides, my chief enjoyment is TV without the adverts and it makes me extremely unhappy that I should have to foot a massive increase in the tax and watch adverts.

The second thing that I dislike is that the Licence Fee is linked to the possession of a TV: why? One doesn't have to pay a fee to listen to the radio, why should one pay if one possesses a TV? One could see the point before the late 70s, when the only channels one received were BBC ones, but that is no longer the case.

Now, if one were to make the BBC a subscription channel, then one could see that their revenue might well drop to the point where they might need to take adverts, thus disrupting my personal enjoyment. But how about a service from which you can opt out?

Very soon, we will have digital receivers and many more people will have set-top boxes of one sort or another, so it should be technologically possible to simply switch off those channels to which you are not subscribed (it happens through cable, certainly).

If you do not wish to pay the Licence Fee, you can simply choose to opt out online or through a call centre, and you will no longer receive BBC Channels. That seems fair enough, doesn't it? In this way, I believe that the vast majority of people would continue to pay the fee but those who do not wish to subscribe to the Bolshevik Broadcasting Association can quite easily opt out and continue to watch ITV1 or Channel 4 (or, of course, the plethora of other cable, Freeview or Sky channels) without the Telly Tax inspectors banging on their doors.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/29/2007 04:49:00 pm


More charity/NGO horseshit: Greenpeace

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/29/2007 03:59:00 pm

Iain Dale has received an email from Ben Stewart, chief media officer of Greenpeace UK, in response to a request for them to send a representative to debate with Dominic Lawson over climate change.
Iain,

We have a policy at Greenpeace that we no longer debate people who don’t accept the scientific reality of anthropogenic climate change. It’s similar to the policy undertaken by cancer specialists who used to debate the tobacco industry but discontinued doing so. To paraphrase Richard Dawkins, if we debated Dominic Lawson on climate change it would look great on his CV, not so good on ours.

I would make clear that that doesn’t mean I don’t think there should be freedom of speech for people with DL’s view, there should be. He is welcome to write about it and speak on it all he wishes, even though I disagree. But by debating him and his fellow-travelers we perpetuate the myth that this is a ‘he said/she said’ issue, a 50/50 where there is still a debate.

I’d debate Bjorn Lomborg, who accepts the science but disagrees vehemently on the need to take action on climate change. But not Dominic Lawson.

All the best

Ben

Consider me staggered, but not surprised. As Dizzy points out, science is about asking questions; that is the very nature of the discipline.
However, the way I see it, if someone is convinced of their argument they should not feel the need to refuse to debate something with someone.
...

For me it exemplifies the problem with the environmental lobby these days. It is the policisation of science pure and simple. Science is not about proven realities, it's about testing hypotheses. Refusing to engage with someone who questions those hypotheses is, putting it simply, wrong.

The entirety of scientific enquiry is founded on the principle, espoused by the great Sir Karl Popper, of empirical falsifiability: any scientific theory can only be considered correct in the absense of anything proving it not to be. In other words, a scientific theory is only considered to be "right" if it has not yet been proven to be wrong.

If you shut down debate on any scientific issue, then you can no longer question the theory and thus the theory cannot be proven wrong. This is why politicians and snout-in-the-trough NGOs are attempting to stifle anyone who questions their "scientific reality of anthropogenic climate change".

Late contender for Dangerous Fuckwit of the Month, Ben Stewart, says:
But by debating him and his fellow-travelers we perpetuate the myth that this is a ‘he said/she said’ issue, a 50/50 where there is still a debate.

No, Ben, this is not a "he said/she said issue" but there is still very much a debate to be had. Are you saying that you would rather that Mann et al.'s so-called "hockey-stick" temperature graph should not have been questioned because it was utterly discredited? I know that it was awkward that so much of the global-warming scare-mongering hung on that incorrect graph, but shouldn't one also be questioning some of the other data?

The answer is yes; the very basis of scientific theory formation says that, absolutely, yes you should. One should always debate and challenge scientific theory, because that is how science is advanced.

But the climate change scientists do tend to make it very difficult to debate because, as the excellent Bishop Hill has been discovering, they really aren't tremendously keen on publishing their data.
I posted a while back about the failure of climate scientists to archive their data or to release it on request - a scandal which has been carefully documented by Steve McIntyre's Climate Audit blog. Another post on the same subject developed a very interesting comments thread with contributions from McIntyre and Maxine Clarke, the executive editor of Nature - one of the journals who have failed to enforce their own policies on data availability.

Do go and read the whole of the good Bishop's post, as it is extremely interesting; why on earth would climate change scientists be unwilling to allow others to examine their data?

One imagines that it might be for the same reason that the IPCC has released several "summaries for policy-makers" of their latest review, but still not published their results. The only explanation is that all of these people have something to hide.

Scientists are not above being corrupted. Nor are they always right. And even if every, single scientist in the entire world agreed that anthropogenic climate change is happening, your humble Devil would carry on questioning it because that is how good science works.

But, in the meantime, I am hardly going to accept the word of a piss-scared media officer from an organisation that has been proven to lie and ignore the evidence of its own reports, deliberately and with malice aforethought, in order to advance its twisted agenda.

Ben Stewart: you are an arsehole.

In the meantime, here's Lawson on 18DS.



Lawson is well-informed and reasonable; but this month's Stupid, Ignorant, Cliche-Ridden Cunt is Professor Ivor Gaber. I would love to debate with him, and I'd slap him into next week; is arguments are the same, old pap trotted out with total and utterly ill-informed conviction. The man is a fool.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/29/2007 03:59:00 pm


Monday, May 28, 2007

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/28/2007 06:42:00 pm


Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/28/2007 06:42:00 pm


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 05:45:00 pm

This is in such appallingly bad taste that I laughed for quite literally minutes.

I am a bad person.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 05:45:00 pm


Jollification

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 04:43:00 pm

Following on from my post about John Christopher and in response to a challenge, I thought that I'd continue in a literary theme. Dennis Wheatley was another prominent British author, who is mainly remembered for his Black Magic stories, such as The Devil Rides Out.

Although the attitude of many of his characters, many of whom are staunchly patriotic, are frowned on today, his books were always acknowledged to be informative and well-grounded, as well exciting. Besides, perhaps his values weren't so far out.
In the winter of 1947 Wheatley penned 'A Letter to Posterity' which he buried in an urn at his stately home. The letter was intended to be discovered some time in the future. In it he described his belief that the socialist reforms introduced by the post-war government would inevitably lead to an unjust state, and called for both passive and active resistance to it.
"Socialist ‘planning’ forbids any man to kill his own sheep or pig, cut down his own tree, put up a wooden shelf in his own house, build a shack in his garden, and either buy or sell the great majority of commodities – without a permit. In fact, it makes all individual effort an offence against the state. Therefore, this Dictatorship of the Proletariat, instead of gradually improving the conditions in which the lower classes live, as has been the aim of all past governments, must result in reducing everyone outside the party machine to the level of the lowest, idlest and most incompetent worker.
...

It will be immensely difficult to break the stranglehold of the machine, but it can be done, little by little; the first step being the formation of secret groups of friends for free discussion. Then numbers of people can begin systematically to break small regulations, and so to larger ones with passive resistance by groups of people pledged to stand together – and eventually the boycotting, or ambushing and killing of unjust tyrannous officials."

One of my favourites of his black magic books is To The Devil—A Daughter which, quite apart from being a thrilling adventure yarn, has a heroine that I have always been actually attracted to...!

At the time that I first read it, I was listening to a particular album and, in the way that these things happen, whenever I hear the album I think of that book and, naturally, vice versa.

But, all the same, it has always struck me as immensely incongruous that I should connect such a dark and morbidly themed novel with something as light and jaunty as The Lightning Seeds' Jollification.

But then, they are both quality pieces of work...

UPDATE: another book and music connection is that of The Cure's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me with H P Lovecraft. In particualar, the song All I Want is very strongly associated with The Whisperer In The Darkness. However, whilst he had some novel ideas, I just don't rate Lovecraft as a writer.

If you want scary supernatural stories, then I would suggest that you read M R James instead...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 04:43:00 pm


Inheritance Tax

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 05:36:00 am

A little while ago, I signed a Number 10 Petition to abolish Inheritance Tax. This pernicious, distressing and shitty tax causes immense amounts of heartache; a friend of mine, for instance, is unable to move on with her life—nearly two fucking years after the tragic death of her partner—as the Inland Revenue have still not got around to working out how much she owes in IHT.

There has now been a reply (in the negative, naturally).
The £4 billion raised from Inheritance Tax is equivalent, for example, to an increase of over 18p on petrol duty.

Or, to put it another way, about 0.5% of the government's projected spending for this year. Or, to put it yet another way, about £0.75 billion less that VAT fraud cost in 2005–2006. Or about 4% of what the EU costs us every year in lost opportunity costs...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 05:36:00 am


A difficult choice

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 05:18:00 am

You know when you get to that stage where you loathe so many groups of people that you have a hard time choosing which one it is that you despise the most? No? Oh. Well, I am having a problem working out whether I am more enraged at fucking corrupt politicians or the bastard charities that spend the millions lobbying them.

Today's Charity of Contempt Award goes to Save The Children, who have kicked off a campaign to persuade Gordon Brown to use our tax money to pay eliminate medical care fees in Africa.
LONDON (Reuters) - Gordon Browns across Britain are calling for leaders of rich nations to help African countries abolish healthcare fees when the G8 meets in Germany next month.

In a publicity stunt, charity Save the Children has dispatched a car to travel round the country and find 840 people with the same name as the next prime minister.

Save the Children is campaigning for the G8 to pay for the abolition of healthcare fees in Africa and hopes by getting all the Gordon Browns in Britain to sign up, it might influence the Brown in government.

Just what the fucking fuck is going on? Get your grubby little hands off our money, you robbing bastards. If you want to try to persuade individuals that your cause is worth fighting for, then persuade them to voluntarily donate cash to it; do not lobby the Cyclops King to give even more of the money which he has extorted from the people of this country to the economic black hole that is Africa.

Do you see the difference between "voluntary contributions" and "money extorted with menaces from the taxpayers of this country to pay for our public services", you evil fucks?

Furthermore, it isn't even a decent cause. Matt Sinclair sums up the reason for this very nicely, in fact.
Brilliant, let's reinforce in African leaders minds that their budget is purely there for the purpose of enslaving or massacring their people. Replicate the dependency of poor regions in rich countries on an international scale. Create yet more corruption that ruins the chances of poor nations building decent states.

I'm not saying there's necessarily no role for international aid. Clearly at times, during disasters in particular, considerations about incentives and corruption need to go out of the window. However, institutionalising global healthcare provision is a dismal idea.

Quite. So don't lobby an unelected leader to spend extorted cash on a fucking stupid project. Save The Children join the NSPCC (amongst others) on my list of charities that I will never give to. Ever again.

God, I hate these people so very, very, very much.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 05:18:00 am


Stop and quiz

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 05:04:00 am

Via the poor, little Greek boy, I see that John Reid is hell-bent on putting as much of the framework of a police state into place as possible before he, mercifully, fucks off.
The government is considering giving police officers across the UK "stop and question" powers under new anti-terror laws, says the Home Office.

Er... Does anyone remember that Identity Cards were not going to be compulsory to carry? You know, various Home office ministers pooh-poohed the idea that Britain was going to become some kind of jack-booted, totalitarian police state because you wouldn't actually have to carry your ID Card with you?

Remember?
The proposal, allowing police to ask people about their identity and movement, is among measures being considered by Home Secretary John Reid.

So, is it just me that thinks that that promise about not having to carry your ID Card wasn't worth the paper that the lying cunt bastards didn't even bother writing it down on?

Ah, I'm almost looking forward to that glorious day when the police officer comes up to me and demands to see my "papers, please". For only then will I truly love Big Brother...

UPDATE: Tim Worstall sums up.
There you are, amiably wandering down the street, and if a policeman so wishes, he can not only stop and search you, he can insist that you divulge where you have been and where you are going. If you have more than £1,000 in cash on you it can be confiscated, you having to prove where you got it from and what you were going to do with it: for the assumption is that such cash amounts are the proceeds or enablers of crime and so the burden of proof reverses. Finally, if you keep silent John Reid wants this to be taken as proof of your guilt.

A free, happy and liberal land now, isn't it?

What the fuck is going on with this country? And when, exactly, are we going to rise up, hang all politicians from the nearest lamp-post and bring in our tiny libertarian state? Fucking hellski...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 05:04:00 am


Catching up

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 04:38:00 am

Via Matt Sinclair, I see that there is now a Ghost Cabinet of bloggers. Nice to see that some of the... er... younger bloggers have caught up.

DK's Blogger Cabinet was finally assembled on August 9th 2005 and their policies were assembled over the course of the next couple of months. The final manifesto was presented in November 2005 (it should be pointed out that some of my views—including my conversion to ever more rabid libertarianism and my understanding of general economics—have developed since those tender times).

Oh, and Matt's post specifically discusses the Ghost Cabinet's DTI strategy; he might perhaps be interested in what DK's DTI ministers—Tim Worstall and Chris Dillow—decided to do: that was to email me—entirely independently of each other—to let me know that their first act was to scrap the entire department and put themselves out of a job.

That still sounds like a really good start...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 04:38:00 am


The Tripods

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 01:52:00 am

We all know that trilogies tend to work rather well; it is no coincidence that many of the best plays and books are in three acts. And, after the success of the Lord of the Rings, who could deny that the level of our cinematic technology can allow for almost any scenario to be well depicted?

So, what should be next?

Watching the film of the War Of The Worlds, I was reminded of one of the finest literary trilogies ever written: John Christopher's The Tripods.

John Christopher was one of the best post-apocolypic sci-fi writers, on a par with John Wyndham. Books such as The Death Of Grass and Wrinkle In The Skin are fantastically realised but, in your humble Devil's opinion, the Tripods Trilogy was his finest achievement.

At the time that the BBC adapted the series—which I remember watching and being pretty scared by—it was the most expensive that the Beeb had ever done. Unfortunately, they decided to introduce a number of extraneous and downright contradictory storylines and characters, which not only made a mockery of Christopher's beautifully-realised concepts but also lengthened the first two series well beyond what they should have been. The triumphant third part, The Pool Of Fire, was never made.

The Tripods Trilogy would make an extraordinary and compelling film trilogy; it demands to be made. It seems that either the trilogy, or the first part, may be in production but details are sketchy.

I await further information with considerable interest and I can only hope that the production company are willing and able to do it justice.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/27/2007 01:52:00 am


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Iain Dale: Freedom Association Chairman is mad

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/26/2007 03:59:00 pm

Now, generally speaking, I am a great fan of The Freedom Association, who's About page lays out the Seven Principles of a Free Society.
  • Individual Freedom

  • Personal and Family Responsibility

  • The Rule of Law

  • Limited Government

  • Free Market Economy

  • National Parliamentary Democracy

  • Strong National Defences

"Freedom is usually appreciated only by those who have lost it, consequently it requires not praise but intelligent, active and continuous defence. We campaign for limited government and the fundamental freedoms essential to the maintenance of a humane and civilized society."Norris McWhirter C.B.E. (1925-2004)

According to Wikipedia, the current Honorary President is Christopher Gill, who was also Honorary Chairman from 2001 to 2007.
[Gill] was one of the Maastricht Rebels and has been President of The Freedom Association (TFA) since 2007.
...

Gill served as Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Ludlow from 1987 to 2001, when he stepped down. He was known as the "Butcher from Ludlow", due to his family company being a meat processing firm. During the Maastricht Rebellion, Food Minister Nicholas Soames threatened to: "close every abattoir you own". He had the Conservative Whip withdrawn over the EC Finance Bill on November 28 1994.

He was a dedicated constituency MP, who fought against the closure of local cottage hospitals. Gill was known for being an expert on European Union legislation regarding farming and also unusually (for an landlocked constituency) fishing.

He served as Chairman of The Freedom Association from 2001 to 2007, before becoming its President.

So, Christopher Gill was a good constituency MP, renowned as being a knowledgeable man, a principled supporter of individual freedom and who was strong enough to risk personal emnity and political oblivion in order to vote with his principles, to vote against the EU. He is now a member of UKIP and is, in fact, one of my rivals for a place on UKIP's National Executive Committee.

So, one can see why Cameron's lot wouldn't like him. And so it should come as no surprise that Iain Dale should effectively call this principled, knowledgeable and conscienscious man a lunatic.
ConservativeHome reports that four ex Conservative MPs have written to the Daily Telegraph in support of grammar schools. What they don't say is that the four are now prominent UKIP supporters. They are Piers Merchant, Sir Richard Body, Christopher Gill and Roger Knapman. John Major once said that when he saw Sir Richard Body approaching he could hear the sound of flapping white coats. That could equally apply to the other three, and it's the reason why UKIP will always be a fringe party.

I can't speak for any of the other three, but in some ways Iain's right, of course: principled politicians are always going to be attacked and smeared by Cameron's Conservatives. Especially is their principles extend to being anti-EU. After all, Cameron is the Tory leader who said that there was no place on his front bench for EUsceptics.

But what I can guarantee is that all four of those people can coherently explain their stance on the EU. Which is, as I never tire of pointing out, is more than the Tory head of policy can do.
I am sorry that you and I do not agree about this matter - but I fear that we shall have to agree to differ.

And frankly, mad though some might consider them, I'll go with men who can justify, rationally, their political position rather than a clueless coward like Letwin, a smug arsehole who is nevertheless so unsure of his own beliefs that he has to dress them up in pseudo-sociological bullshit.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/26/2007 03:59:00 pm


Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/26/2007 03:36:00 pm

Bored? Nothing to do? Need a shit?

Why not shift your crap for poo-stones, the next fashion jewellery phenomenon...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/26/2007 03:36:00 pm


Vote now for your favourite useless fuckwit!

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/26/2007 02:22:00 pm

A couple of days ago, I referred to a discussion about the most incompetent NuLabour minister; I wrote about Charles Clarke, the jug-eared cunt.

Now Iain Dale has posted a poll in which you can vote for your top three most completely fucking useless NuLabour fuckwits.

Your humble Devil nominated the following Commissars (links are to DK Best Of... rants about those personages): Patsy Hewitt, John Prescott and the Safety Elephant. With so many stupid, useless bastards to choose from, it was a very difficult decision though...

I was tempted to vote for the Gobblin' King, but since I'm fairly sure that we will see another of these polls soon, and that our Cyclopean King-in-waiting will continue to fuck things up in the most spectacular way, I'll save him for next time.

Next up, Iain, how about a poll to find the most loathesome columnist...?*


* No, there are no prizes for guessing who I'd vote for.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/26/2007 02:22:00 pm


Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/26/2007 02:12:00 pm

As readers will know, I hold no particular brief for young Miss North. However, she is being stalked by some mad bint who absconded, after being convicted in absentia of harrassment. Quite apart from this woman being a nutjob and, of course, the fact that this libertarian is a big fan of the rule of law, Rachel's one of us and I would advise you to go and read Rachel's appeal (a flick of the horns to ChickenYoghurt).

Basically, the idea is for us to look out for this loony and to help the police catch a convicted criminal.

UPDATE: Mike Rouse has created some nice blog-buttons.

UPDATE 2: The Telegraph follows up.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/26/2007 02:12:00 pm


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Galileo is dumb

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/24/2007 01:59:00 pm

Trixy has picked up a nice little quote from the EU Commission's Vice-President.
Handelsblatt reports that Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen has made the latest in a series of gaffes. He told journalists that the Galileo EU satellite project was “in some ways a dumb project”. His spokesman quickly moved to correct the Commissioner saying that his remark had been misunderstood and that the Commissioner naturally thought Galileo was “extremely important”. He explained that “Verheugen indeed said ‘dumb’, but he meant ‘simplistic’”.

Which, of course, is sooooo much better.

He might also have added that, up until this point, it has also been a spectacular failure. It is seriously behind schedule and the private funding agreements seem to have collapsed. As EU Referendum has highlighted a number of times, Galileo is in serious trouble and the EU is looking to force member states' taxpayers to bail out this massive fucking vanity project.

For make no mistake, vanity project is what this is.
Member states, therefore, are to be asked to sign what amounts to a blank cheque, something in the past they have been very reluctant to do. M. Barrot might find it even more difficult to extract the money, especially as budget commissioner, Dalia Grybauskaite, has said that the project was "under serious question" with doubts about "its ability to perform at all".

Although she adds that, "Galileo is very important and Europe needs to invest in it," an executive close to Galileo has declared that the market for commercial (paid) services "is just not there." We were too optimistic, he says: "GPS (Navstar)is fine for most purposes. Besides, who gets the money from satellite navigation services? Usually the maker of the device, not the satellite operator."

Whatever the funding options, the EU is asking the taxpayers of the EU to bail the project out to the tune of nearly €10 billion (£6 billion). Now, this may be made through increased donations from EU member states, but it is entirely possible that it will be made through chargeable schemes, such as road pricing.
As someone whose portfolio includes the European Union, [Hague] really should know that road pricing using satellites is a nice way of the British taxpayer funding this black hole [Galileo] in the EU budget, which has already cost them £200 million. As UKIP have pointed out:
This government signed up to Directive 2004/52 which will ensure the entire road pricing schemes in EU countries are the same, and can be linked to Galileo.

And as I have written before:
Galileo satellite system: Multi billion pound 'grand project' that is driven by delays, costs and technical problems. Will be superseded by competition. The need to pay for this project is the main reason for the hated road pricing scheme.

Which is why it seems that road-pricing will go ahead, but the government is pushing for schemes to be introduced by local councils (so that they get the blame); however, the technology will have to conform to a particular manner of operating.
The draft Local Transport Bill will give councils more flexibility to match road pricing schemes to local conditions, while ensuring they remain compatible with schemes in other areas.

That technology will not, of course, be conforming to a British national standard, but one set by EU Directive 2004/52 [PDF].

And let's be absolutely fucking clear about this: if local raod pricing schemes are introduced, the charging will be in addition to the current car and fuel taxes (because these last are dealt with on a national level).

But that won't stop Galileo tracking your movements (assuming that the fucking thing ever works).

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/24/2007 01:59:00 pm


Who is the most incompetent NuLabour Minister?

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/24/2007 01:10:00 pm

Charles Clarke: Top of the Fuckwits for the 685th week running. He also a shit. A great big fucking shit. With a garnish of shit. And shit sprinkles.

That is the question that Master Dale has asked, and one which we debated briefly on 18 Doughty Street last night. As I was suggesting people, I knew that there was someone lurking in the back of my mind, like a dog turd in the corner of your bedroom that you haven't noticed until it's completely fly-blown.

Yes, I believe that none of us mentioned the Sweaty Baboon himself, Charles Clarke. How could we have forgotten the Safety Elephant, a man who—until John Reid's incumbency of the Home Office—represented the apeothis of NuLabour's thuggish, authoritarian tendences.

Indeed, some time ago, I wrote a post summarising his stupidity, mendacity and sheer fucking uselessness, which seems tailor-made for answering today's question.
The real problem, though, is that he completely fucking useless. Can you think of one competent thing that he has achieved? All of his legislation is bogged down, toing and froing between the Lords. We all of us know that all of the legislation is, at the very least, deeply flawed, if not outright fascist. Furthermore, all of these laws are unnecessary; all of the things that Clarke is trying to cover in his Terrorism Bill are actually covered by age-old laws. But there is no point in having laws if they are not policed, and that is really where the problem lies.

Clarke, however, is busy alienating all of the police forces in the country (starting with Wales, obviously) and so they are unlikely to wholeheartedly support any measures which Clarke may throw his not inconsiderable weight behind. Which is why his legacy will be that of a man who, whilst introducing some fearsomely draconian laws into our green and pleasant land, had absolutely no effect on those on whom he was trying to crack down.
...

But the real insult is that Clarke is so utterly fucking useless; if I could offer some advice to the Safety Elephant, it would be, "shut your fucking trap". The man is a shit so far in front of the first water that he practically counts as some new lifeform; if only this were true, since I feel ashamed to be part of the same race as the fuck.

As with many other Labour ministers, I can only wish cancer upon him; with any luck, it'll be a brain tumour: at least it would go some way to explaining how one person can be such a useless fucking cunt. Charles Clarke: the world's most eloquent argument against the existance of an intelligent designer...

I think that's our question answered although, let's face it, the terminally stupid Patsy Hewitt must be pretty high up there for fuckwitted contenders to this title.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/24/2007 01:10:00 pm


Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/24/2007 12:34:00 pm

We all have our particular favourite targets and for Jackart it's obviously the police.
They are harassing the law-abiding whilst not doing their job properly. As far as I'm concerned, they can enforce the smoking ban and licencing infringements, but only when they've cleared up every unsolved burglary and mugging, and not before.

I can't say that I disagree with a word of that. Go read the whole thing...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/24/2007 12:34:00 pm


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Patricia Hewitt shows her true colours

Posted by Katy Newton at 5/23/2007 10:05:00 pm

(I am not obsessed with medical stuff, honestly. It is just that at the moment there's a lot of interesting medical stuff happening.)

Sadly, Remedy UK lost its case today. The full judgment is available here, courtesy of Dr Grumble. The case was a judicial review. Judicial review is what you ask for when a government body makes a decision which is irrational, unlawful or outside the power that it has under the law. It is not a review of the law itself. In this case, the decision under review was not the decision that led to the "Modernising Medical Careers" initiative itself, nor the decision to put the original MTAS scheme in place. What was reviewed was the way in which the MTAS review body appointed by the Secretary of State decided to modify MTAS when it became clear that MTAS as originally conceived just wasn't going to work.

I'm not going to comment on the merits of MTAS in detail, because it merits its own series of detailed posts. Trying to do that in this post, on top of what I want to say about Patricia Hewitt, would be like trying to put two arms into one sleeve. But fortunately I don't have to because Dr Crippen has covered MTAS at length since its inception. Suffice it to say that the unmitigated dogs dinner that is both MTAS and modified MTAS has caused huge uncertainty, great mental anguish and future hardship to this generation of junior doctors.

The action was brought by Remedy UK, a coalition of junior doctors who came together to bring this legal action. They represent the interests of the junior doctors. They had to do that because the BMA, despite being aware that the junior doctors who were paying its subscriptions were passionately against MTAS and modified MTAS, failed to adopt their position, as it should, being a representative body. In fact, it went further than that: it gave evidence for the Secretary of State at court. This obviously caused the Judge a serious problem, because the BMA holds itself out, and presumably held itself out at court, to be representative of the interests of doctors: see paragraph 124 of the judgment.

No doubt the fragrant Patricia will spin this as a victory for MTAS. It isn't. Judicial review is not about the merits of decisions - unless they are so ludicrous that no rational body could have reached such a decision; it is about the way in which bodies make decisions. An application for judicial review requires a court to examine a decision of a public body to see whether it was rational, not conspicuously unfair and within the law. As the Judge rightly observed at paragraph 126 of the judgment, "The fact that I might have reached a different solution is not to the point."

Reading between the lines of the judgment, the bottom line seems to be that MTAS was such an unmitigated disaster that it made modified MTAS look good. Patricia's lawyers were put in the position of positively arguing that the Secretary of State had cocked up the first time round in order to win the case. In paragraph 30, the Judge noted:

"It is unattractive for the [Secretary of State] to rely as part of her answer to this claim upon the failings of her process, [but] the review group could not... ignore facts. ... There was no perfect solution."

The Judge found for the Secretary of State. He did not personally endorse MTAS or modified MTAS. He emphasised that he was being asked to decide on a very limited question: it was not open to him to quash the introduction of MTAS in principle because that was not the decision in respect of which judicial review was sought, nor was he being asked to quash the decision to "use ... what many might think to be an inadequate application form for shortlisting" (paragraph 125). What he found was that in the circumstances created by the premature introduction of MTAS, modified MTAS was one of a number of solutions that the review body could reasonably have reached. He emphasised that whether he would have reached the same decision was not the issue. He made a number of explicit criticisms of both MTAS and modified MTAS in the course of his judgment. The penultimate paragraph of his judgment bears repeating in full:

"The fact that the claimant has failed...does not mean that many junior doctors do not have an entirely justifiable sense of grievance. The premature introduction of MTAS has had disastrous consequences. It was a flawed system in the ways I have indicated. This judgment does not mean that I agree with the decision of the review group; merely that it was one that the review group was entitled to come to. Neither does it mean that individual doctors would not have good grounds to appeal regarding their allocation or that they would not have good cases before an employment tribunal. Quite the contrary could well be the case."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement. But, irritatingly, still on paper a victory for La Hewitt.

Now, you might think that, having been forced to admit that the first incarnation of MTAS was a failure in order to save the second incarnation of MTAS from judicial review, Hewitt might find it in her heart to be gracious in wholly undeserved victory and leave it there. It's no secret that applications like this run up legal costs on both sides, and traditionally costs follow the event - by which I mean that the loser pays the winner's costs. In this case, the winner - if that's the right word - was the government, and the loser was Remedy UK, representing several thousand junior doctors, many of whose careers and lives have been fucked over by what was by common consensus a fundamentally flawed and ill thought out recruitment procedure, and, I assume, in the position of having to pay their own legal costs.

Some of them, as Crippen points out, are unemployed.

So if you were Hewitt, you wouldn't ask for costs, right?

Wrong. Oh, so very wrong.

Because Dr Crippen reports that her lawyers did seek costs, and made it clear to the Judge that they were instructed to do so by the Secretary of State.

It seems that the Judge was not happy about this - perhaps that's not surprising, given the tenor of his judgment - and he asked if that decision could be reconsidered. Apparently not.

And so the Judge had no real choice but to award costs against Remedy UK, because costs are not like fines; it doesn't matter whether you can afford them or not. When you begin proceedings against someone else you assume the risk of paying their costs at the end of it, and in the vast majority of cases if you lose you pay.

So there you go.

I wonder if she'll enforce the costs order now that she's got it.

Somehow I think she will.

Posted by Katy Newton at 5/23/2007 10:05:00 pm


Spartacus? Eh?

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/23/2007 11:49:00 am

Despite the fact that I disagree with Owen Barder (blog currently down) on almost everything, and have attacked him quite viciously in the past, I do actually owe him a large favour.

However, that is not the reason why I am—belatedly—highlighting Timmmy's post about The Daily Mail's attack on him. It is because of the wider implications for we bloggers.

About 83 billion bloggers have commented on this topic—using the, to me, mildly incomprehensible epithet of I'm Spartacus (I've never seen it)—but I particularly liked Gary Andrews' post on this, not least because he says some very nice things about your humble Devil.
And again, any blogger or note, or not noticed at all could be subject to this treatment. It’ll further serve to drive a wedge between blogs and the media, bloggers and non-bloggers, will lead to further self-censorship [5], and the loss from the internet of engaging, entertaining and thoughtful writers, both actual and potential. So the MoS aren’t just doing a thoroughly unpleasant job on one individual, they’re continuing a course of action that could have serious ramifications for freedom of speech and thought in what is technically an uncensored medium [6].

Fair enough if you’ve posted something idiotic online that deserves a good bit of ridicule, then you’ve only got yourself to blame. No sympathy there. But if you’re Barder, then its difficult to see what more you could have done, except not blog. And that would be denying him one of his basic Human Rights, the right to free speech.

Well, that pretty much sums up the position. Is it be inevitable that, as blogs become more recognised in the MSM, we will start to see more of these hatchet jobs? If the MSM do see us as a threat—which I think that Comment and Opinion writers, at the very least, must do—then I think that we will.

There have been a number of articles deriding blogs, especially over the last year, but there had been relatively few launched at blog personalities themselves. These seem to have become more common, with the awful, bigoted Melissa Kite in the vanguard*. The beast, hunted down and cornered, has now turned at bay and started to attack; blogs are no longer merely laughable, they are beginning to challenge the MSM in some important areas.

Having said that, Owen Barder was a fairly inoffensive blogger, and seems a strange target to go for: there are far juicier targets out here in the Fifth Estate.

Still, the opening salvoes have been fired and I think that we can expect more.


* Note to Melissa: the comments on the blog are written by visitors, not the Blogger himself. For those of us that operate an open, free speech policy, some are always going to be unsuitable. And if you write bitchy, sexist articles then you can expect people to leave bitchy, sexist comments about you.

Had anyone ever heard of you before, they would have done it anyway, Melissa, in pubs and coffee-houses. It just that, on the internet, it's written down.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/23/2007 11:49:00 am


Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/23/2007 11:36:00 am

Just to set off against The Nameless One's selection of Eleanor Put Your Boots Back On, I shall post this.


I love this sort of video: stories, drama and beautifully shot little vignettes.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/23/2007 11:36:00 am


Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/23/2007 12:35:00 am

This is most amusing. Especially the bit about internet politics...


A flick of the tail to Dizzy...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/23/2007 12:35:00 am


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hague: off the cuff, out of his depth

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/22/2007 05:08:00 pm

Trixy just happened to be in her club when the Tories were holding a press conference. And happened to catch poor old Billy Hague at a weak moment.
As people drifted off, it was just Hague left with his press lady, who informed him that he had a live interview lined up where they wanted to talk about the Litvinenko case and road pricing. Old Bill didn't look too happy at that news. In fact, if I recall correctly, he placed his hands on the bar, leaned on them and say he 'didn't know anything about road pricing' and that he wasn't that confident on Litvinenko.

I had a look at the interview on the TV and he was right, he didn't know that much. I'm so happy that a policy being debated in the House of Commons today which is of considerable importance, especially if Galileo has anything to do with it, is off the radar of the Shadow Foreign Affairs Secretary.

Poor old Billy! Go and read the rest, including why Galileo is important.

What I find extraordinary is that I know a decent amount about road-charging, and Litvinenko and I'm just a humble blogger, with real work to do too. If Hague hasn't got a decent idea about these subjects—and assuming that he is typical of all MPs—then just precisely what are we paying these cunts for?

Shouldn't our elected representatives have a pretty broad and detailed grasp of political issues? After all, that is what the bastards are paid for.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/22/2007 05:08:00 pm


Are these people insane? Or just really, really stupid?

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/22/2007 12:24:00 pm

A little while ago, Timmy posted about MTAS and included an assessment which points out that, really, security in web systems should be thought about at every stage of implementation; in fact, it should be absolutely integral to the operating of the system. It isn't something that should be bolted on at the last minute if security is paramount; and surely, when you are storing everyone's medical histories, you really should be thinking about security at every, single second.

Which makes this question and answer, highlighted by Dizzy, so absolutely confounding.
Yesterday, Oliver Helad MP asked the Secretary of State for Health, "whether a privacy impact assessment (a) has been produced and (b) is planned for the NHS spine project." In an amazing moment of honesty, Carline Flint said, "No. We do not believe that such an assessment would serve any useful purpose at this stage of the project".

What.

The.

Fuck.

Are these people completely mental? Hello! Any politicians reading these ramblings? Are you completely fucking mental or what? (Answers in the comments, please.)

Oh, and while we are about it, can I remind everyone—again—that NHS Scotland already has a working system that cost a mere £24 million over four years. Being browser-based, it has no need for computer upgrades and no proprietory terminal-based software. So why have NHS England and Wales gone with that totally fucking stupid route solution?

Might I also remind you that your details will automatically be stored on the NHS Spine unless you request, in writing, that your GP withhold your details.

Given that the Spine, should it actually ever work, is obviously going to be a security fucking nightmare, I foresee record profits for the Royal Mail this year...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/22/2007 12:24:00 pm


Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/22/2007 12:15:00 pm

Kudos to Hamer Shawcross for this fine and not entirely serious look at the Labour Deputy Leadership contenders. Though I'm not sure that I see Hazel Blears as Jessica Rabbit; but I suppose that pictures of Squirrel Nutkin are fiercely copyrighted...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/22/2007 12:15:00 pm


Monday, May 21, 2007

Worried About Ray

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/21/2007 05:00:00 pm

Apologies for my lack of posting, but I was back in Edinburgh—yes, it's still beautiful—for a wedding over the weekend and I have been catching up on the work that I didn't do whilst asleep on the train.

Decent posts are coming, but in the meantime here's a quickie. A little while back I mentioned going to a gig at which the support band, The Hoosiers, were rather good.



I like it: Harryhausen was a genius and the whole thing is so beautifully retro.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/21/2007 05:00:00 pm


Sunday, May 20, 2007

The General Medical Council

Posted by Dr De'Ath at 5/20/2007 10:43:00 am

The GMC is the regulator of the medical profession in the UK. It licenses doctors to practice, has the power to revoke or place restrictions on that license when a doctor's fitness to practice is called into question. The purpose of the GMC is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the community by ensuring proper standards in the practice of medicine. The main guidance that the GMC provides for doctors is called Good Medical Practice, which outlines the standards that are expected of doctors. This all sounds well and good, however the reality of the GMC is entirely different.

Judge Charles Harris raged: "It is like a totalitarian regime: anybody who criticises it is said to be mentally ill - what used to happen in Russia."

This comment related to the case of an NHS whistle blower who the GMC tried to smear as mentally ill and incompetent, before investigating the very serious concerns raised. It sums up the utter contempt that the GMC has for fairness. Ironically 'Clinical Governance', the NHS' version of corporate governance, has 'openness' as one of its key elements. One of the chief architects of Clinical Governance, the Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson, seems intent on ignoring his own chatter; as medical politicians and managers are never held to account for their dangerous actions by the GMC.

The GMC uses the most bizarre and dishonest argument to justify this stance. They claim that their guidance is only 'directed towards practising doctors involved in medical management.' This is despite the GMC printing a document about good medical practice in management. This effectively means that once a doctor has stopped practising medicine, they can behave as dangerously and dishonestly as they like without the GMC lifting a finger.

This stance grants our non-practising medical dictators the freedom to make decisions that may result in the wanton slaughter of patients, while their practising colleagues on the ground can be held to account for the most minor of indiscretions. Whistle blowers in the NHS are written off as loony or incompetent, while the dangerous practice that they tried to uncover is quietly brushed under the GMC's expensive carpet.

The GMC is also happy to put any old doctor on their UK medical register, even if they cannot speak and write english to an appropriate level. The GMC thinks it should be left to the employer to determine this. I am hardly filled with confidence that the GMC is protecting patients given that they accept any old EU medical degree as proof of medical competence, even if the degree comes from the most dodgy of medical schools in the most dubious of countries.

The GMC is endangering patients by collaborating with our political masters in Whitehall. The GMC is used by the government to help enforce a brutal NHS culture of fear and intimidation that prevents doctors from speaking out against the government's dangerous reform agenda. The pretence at 'openness' is a sham that covers up a vicious dictatorship that stifles progress by encouraging the exact opposite. It's a shame because genuine progress can only come with a culture that fosters an open and accountable democratic structure, not this top down Stalinist approach. Recent government reforms via Sir Liam's white paper promise to do little to improve this dismal situation, as it appears that the new system will be subject to yet more corrupt political control.

It's ironic that if Stalin were a medic then the GMC would not be able to strike him off the medical register, however they would be able to dish out brutal punishment to a petrified doctor who was simply following Stalin's orders. This is the world of the brave new NHS.



UPDATE: due to various requests, emails, comments, etc. around and about this post, I have hidden comments and am allowing no more. This is the first time in my two and a half years of vituperative blogging that I have ever had to do this.

I've removed my more vituperative comments about the medical profession in general as I don't hold any brief against them; however, I do not want this argument to continue here. Please take it elsewhere.

Thank you Dr De'ath for writing this piece (on which I believe him to be substantially correct), and to those few who joined the debate rationally.

DK

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Posted by Dr De'Ath at 5/20/2007 10:43:00 am


Friday, May 18, 2007

My First Week Back At Work

Posted by Martin at 5/18/2007 09:16:00 pm

I really do hope that my host will accept my apologies for blurting out personal shit in his space; but I have just completed my first week back in practice as a solicitor, after a break of nine years.
During that period I have been, at various times: a vacuum cleaner salesman; a recruitment consultant; a hawker of carrier preselect telephony services; a porn vendor; the man you want to turn to if you have a problem with your mobile; and a recipient of contribution based Jobseekers Allowance at the mindboggling rate of £114.52 per fortnight - and all with not one but two genetic monkeys on my back.
This week I did a whole lot of stuff I never thought I'd do again, or thought that I had lost the bottle to do -
I settled two cases without breaking sweat;
I organised a schedule of court hearings without falling into an apocalyptic carpopedal spasm ( a good one can be like The Ride of the Fuckin' Valkyries);
I saw clients face to face, and took their instructions and advised them lucidly without resembling a rag doll on acid.
It might not seem like much to show for a week's work, I know; but having thought oneself, on a number of occasions, to be down, really down, in the belly of The Beast, right now I feel like Donald Findlay, Clarence Darrow and Edward Marshall-Hall all rolled into one.
As the late, great Anthony Newley said:

Posted by Martin at 5/18/2007 09:16:00 pm


Trebles all round!

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/18/2007 08:58:00 am

Not only is this a wonderful, heart-warming story, but it ought to please Pollyanna too. [Emphasis mine.]
Employees of whisky giant Whyte & Mackay are to share a £26m bonus after their outgoing chief executive offered to pay it out of his own pocket.

South African tycoon Vivian Imerman, 52, sold the firm to the Indian-based United Breweries Group in a deal worth £595m earlier this week.

He has offered to pay all 600 employees the equivalent of three month's salary as a thank you.

Mr Imerman bought Whyte & Mackay in 2005 and turned around the business.

He said he wanted to reward staff for the hard work they had put in to help transform Whyte & Mackay's fortunes. Employees were told of the windfall on Wednesday.

Although can these figures be right? £26m divided by 600 workers is about £43,300 each: that's a bonus and a half! But, do you see, Pol?—if "the good super-rich know" that inequality is bad, then I am sure that they could follow Mr Imerman's lead and personally pay bonuses to staff. Wouldn't that be nice?

Now, a question for any tax lawyers out there: what taxes will the staff be liable for on this bonus? How much of this generous thank you for all their hard work in helping to make the company profictable again will Gordon Brown now snaffle from these hard working people in order to pay for other people's fuckwit mistakes?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/18/2007 08:58:00 am


Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/18/2007 08:41:00 am

Samizdata on measuring "carbon footprints".
Your personal carbon is a sooty sin consumed of private desire. That expended by the good state managing you is essential, virtuous, too cheap to meter.

But of course, for the state is omniscient, omnipotent and all its works are for the good of the society that it nurtures and protects. Hadn't you heard?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/18/2007 08:41:00 am


Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/18/2007 08:36:00 am

Fucking hell! Surely they can't be serious?
The Electoral Reform Society has hailed Scotland's council election as a resounding success.

The organisation has suggested that there were "major inadequacies" in the vote for the Scottish Parliament, which saw more than 140,000 rejected ballots.

However, a report from the society will say that the single transferable vote (STV) system used in the council election worked well.

What, I wonder, would it take for it to be hailed "a disaster"?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/18/2007 08:36:00 am


Beer in a glass, you bastards!

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/18/2007 08:15:00 am

Via The Englishman, please go and sign this petition.
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to oppose calls by police to introduce blanket use of plastic glasses even in pubs and other licensed premises with no history of violence. We feel blanket bans on glass are unnecessary and will have a detrimental effect on the licensed trade and the drinking experience of the millions of law-abiding pub goers in well run establishments up and down the country.

Quite apart from the fact that the thought of having to drink my Bombardier from a plastic glass is quite abhorrent, we have to stop this pernicious culture in which the innocent majority are punished for the actions of the guilty few.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/18/2007 08:15:00 am


Come to me, my Big Viking Warrior!

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/18/2007 06:26:00 am

Your humble Devil would like to apologise. He has been most remiss, allowing darling Polly a good few weeks of unfisked publishing. But, you see, I was waiting for this: her ecomium to her big, Norse warrior as he steps up to begin the Fimbulwinter, the winter of winters.
Finally ministers are off the leash and free to say the rich are too bloody rich

I always think that this angle, coming from a woman who is estimated to earn £140,000 per annum from the Guardian alone (for writing two articles a fucking week, for heaven's sake!), is a particularly dodgy one.
Brown has now accepted what Blair would not: the growing gap between rich and poor is splitting and damaging our society

Pol, it is Gordon that has, at least partially caused the split; on the front page of today's Guardian is trailed the following article.
Inequality at same level as under Thatcher
Labour has failed to cut gap between rich and poor.

Who's been in charge of monetary policy for the last ten years, Polly? Could it, by any chance, be your beloved Gobblin' King?
'We're allowed to think again!" said one minister, surprised by freedom.

Well, he would be. As part of one of the most illiberal governments of the last... well... fuck knows how many years, I imagine that he feels what the rest of us will when this shower of shits are shown the door.
There is a new light-headedness in the Labour party.

As opposed to empty-headedness...
Under the peculiar feudalism of politics at the top, where the leader's whim is absolute and there are no appeals against wrongful dismissal, none of them know what - if any - job they'll have in six weeks' time.

Unlike you, eh, Pol; you'll still be writing this drivel in six weeks time. Fuck, but you're an odious woman.
Departments are off the leash, reckonings are in the air. New thoughts and long-suppressed ones are breaking to the surface.

Oh fuck.
It's hardly a 1989 wall-coming-down moment, but the weight of a relentless decade in the yoke has for a moment slipped from their shoulders.

Hopefully, in 2010 or so, we'll know how they feel. And no, it's definitely not "a 1989 wall-coming-down moment"; don't overdo it, Polly.

Besides, the falling of the Berlin Wall signalled the end of Communism in that country; this moment is likely to signal a drive towards it in this.
With the passing of Blair goes the burden of many of those things they wish they hadn't done, or had done better. They are free to confront their failures...

That'll take a while...
... and talk openly about what to do next. With the coming of Gordon Brown there is scope for hope: everyone can indulge in their own wishful visions of what he will do.

Wishful is the word, you old bag. You know as well as I do that Gordon is a rampant control freak. Don't tell me that he doesn't order you to bend over the sofa and pull your cheeks aprt to expose your sparsely-haired minge to his probling Scotch caber.

Don't tell me that he doesn't grab you by the hair and make you beg for it. Don't tell me, Pollyanna, that he is not the dominant body, that he doesn't possess you, that he doesn't push you around your house with his cock up your flappy twat. Been late to any more meetings, Pol?

What he will do is precisely what he has been doing for the last decade; extending his client state, further screwing that two-thirds of the country who do not yet rely on the state for their income and who work, whilst continuing to buy the votes of those who do not.
These curious handover weeks will not be paralysis, but a breathing space...

Heavy breathing in your case, eh?
... and thinking time before shouldering the yoke again, back in harness for two more years, whipped on by polls that remind them how much is to be won back before the next election.

All he's thinking of is how much more money he can shove into off-balance-sheet PFI projects and how much more he can tax us to make up the shortfall.
Gordon Brown set out as PM-in-waiting yesterday with a suitably low key "truly humble" opening speech after an "election" that raised mocking comparisons with unsavoury leaders around the globe.

I read it. It was crap. Pretentious crap at that, and about as genuine as a nine bob note.
But his words struck the right note: "This is who I am, and I will do my best for all the people of Britain."

All the people? No, the working taxpayers will get fucked; his clients might do well enough, but even that is unlikely going on the form of the past decade.
His will be a short honeymoon: this is, after all, a second marriage.

I bet that you wish that it was, quite literally, a second marriage. To you. Eh, Pol?
Long gone is the 1997 innocence of balloons and flags. This time round is less Diana than Camilla - mindful of what can go wrong, but hopeful of doing better. How will it be?

"How will it be"? Hmmm, is anyone else reminded of that Beyond The Fringe sketch in which a small cult are waiting on the top of a mountain for the end of the world?

"How will it be," they demand of their leader as they wait for the impending Armageddon. "Tell us, how will it be?"
Too early to tell, but each day he opens another small door on his advent calendar.

He probably has one, actually. Each door concealing a little chocolate Polly...
He has been saying all the right things.

It's called being a politician, Pol. But though the old joke—"how can you tell when a politician's lying? His lips move"—applies doubly to this bunch of NuLabour bastards. So Iu wouldn't worry too much about what he says.

By their deeds shall ye know them, and all that. Which, unsurprisingly, is precisely what I think about you, Polly, when I see you banging on about people being too rich. Well, that and fucking Champagne socialists...
On housing he gets the desperate plight of those excluded forever from the national house-price lottery winnings.

Forever? A little dramatic, don't you think?
On the NHS, patients need access to GPs, but he will sit down with doctors and nurses and see if peace can be made with the 1.3 million angry staff currently acting as NHS badwill ambassadors, despite increasingly good results.

I look forward to Doctor Crippen's write-up of that meeting...
Education is "my passion" and he is down where it matters, where what goes into children's heads counts, where catching fallers at the youngest age matters more than ideological reorganisings.

What? What the fuck are you talking about?
Expect a big boost for families through health visitors, Sure Start and extended schools.

You mean, expect yet more taxpayers' money to be flung at parents who are unable to support their own children. In other words, Gordon will happily restrict the lifestyle of those who have chosen to live within their means, in order to support the lifestyle choices of those who have decided to live beyond theirs.

And when the fuck will you learn, Polly? How maqny socialist nightmares do we have to point at to show you that central planning foesn't fucking work, you troll? How much of our income has to be pissed up the wall before you realise that simply throwing money at things doesn't work? Haven't you learned anything from the last ten years?

Believe you me, missy, the rest of us have.
Lobby groups see him open some surprising windows, seizing on slender words with new hope.

Oh, great. More unelected cunts deciding policy for the rest of us.
On the constitution, he delighted electoral reformers by declaring he had "an open mind" so long as the constituency link is kept.

We wouldn't need a fucking Constitution had Brown and his merry men done so much to undermine our ancient freedoms, if they hadn't done so much to corrupt thje legal process, if they hadn't done so much to curtail our liberty in the name of security.
Devolutionists are encouraged that he means to let go.

Er... You're just pulling these little, shitty nuggets out of your arse now, aren't you, Pol? You really think that Gordon is going to even contemplate for instance, more devolution for Scotland? That would make his position as a Scottish leader of the English nation even more tenuous.
Stronger select committees will let parliament scrutinise key quango appointments.

Or, as I see it, effectively it's elected QUANGOs scrutinising unelected QUANGOs. Oh joy.
Liberty's Shami Chakrabarti seized on these Brown words as a good sign for human rights, promising to be "vigilant about ensuring that the hard-won liberties of the individual ... are at all times upheld without relenting in our attack on terrorism".

So, he'll be repealing all of the illiberal terrorism laws, will he?
Tone and mood are telling, as he set out hints and clues.

Bit of a bizarre change of tense there, Pol...
But take the big one.

No, you take it, Polly; you take it nice and hard in every orifice.
He has broken a 10-year taboo on the I-word. He used it - inequality - and expunged all that Blairite "never mind about the filthy rich" mantra by admitting what Blair would never say - the gap between rich and poor is important, it matters, inequality is a problem. What did he mean? Ask his people and they say he means renewed efforts to pull up the bottom, to give life chances to those with none.

Pollyanna, don't be a thick cunt, please. No one in this country has no life chances. Not one.

Everyone in this country is entitled to the biggest chance of all: free education. That many choose not to take this chance (and often disrupt and destroy the opportunities of others) is nothing to do with inequality. It is because they make a choice not to take advantage of this offer. It's called personal responsibility, Polly.
But what about the rich? The gap can never be narrowed while the top keep taking the lion's share of income and wealth.

So what? Economics is not a zero sum game: everyone has got richer over the last ten years. Admittedly, we'd all be rather better off if your Norse warrior let us keep a larger proportion of our earned money, but that's the real problem.
On Labour's watch three-quarters of the extra income went to the already rich.

And what would you do about that, Pol? As I pointed out to you a little while ago, your Swedish paradise has just abandoned its wealth tax. Why? Because all of their rich were moving to reside in other countries.

In fact, Polly, I emailed you, remember?
Polly,

I wonder if you have seen this?
STOCKHOLM -- Maybe the next Björn Borg won't feel compelled to move to Monaco now that Sweden plans to scrap a decades-old "wealth" tax that imposes levies on assets -- not just on income.

The tax, which a handful of developed countries retain, was designed to keep the rich from getting richer, but is increasingly seen as harming primarily the upper-middle classes.

The move, expected to be approved by Parliament later this year, underscores the country's efforts to keep successful Swedes and their capital at home by changing its fabled but costly welfare state.

What do you think? Is this moving towards fracturing Sweden's caravan? I ask with particular reference to your Bow Group talk, at which I pointed out that, at present, many of Sweden's wealthy businessmen do not actually live there: will this measure draw them back?

DK

And your reply?
How depressing. This is what conservatives do. It will make inequality soar, and it probably won't bring back those who want to avoid high income tax anyway.

Possibly. But it's also possible that the Swedish government are finally facing up to reality.

He probably won't say anything about that. That's going too far. Social mobility, yes, but he worries that middle England aspires to mega-wealth.

Everyone aspires to mega-wealth, Pol; otherwise all those working class people wouldn't spend their dole money on Lottery tickets. But, of course, mega-wealth is relative: to the vast majority of people—what with the median wage being about £23k an' all—would regard you as mega-wealthy. They might view your denigration of their aspirations rather unfavourably, frankly. I certainly do.
None the less, he has opened the door marked "inequality".

I wish he'd shut the door marked, "Polly's mouth"...
This is one of many issues the deputy leadership campaign may push further and faster than Brown's studied positioning. There are 11 official Labour hustings meetings still to go, with a plethora of others organised by Labour-affiliated groups. The restrained first outing at the Fabians on Wednesday was deceptive. Expect the arguments to hot up and stronger lines to be drawn.

Drug references, Pol?
Never mind the dubious status of the job, the fight is on. These ministers are big beasts...
Aaaaaaahahahahaha! Ha! Haha! Oooh, you're priceless, no, really.

They are a collection of incompetent non-entities, barely more capable than the strategically-shaved chimp that they are vying to replace.
... competing hard for the votes of party members who are, in the main, yearning for bolder progress - and for individual trade union members' votes whose colour is unknown and unknowable: they are ordinary people, not necessarily Labour, since inertia means very few bother to opt out of the political fund that makes them affiliated Labour party members with a vote. Nor will they pay much attention to how their leaders tell them to vote. This won't be dull.

Eh? What? Oh, sorry, Pol; I fell asleep.
Gordon Brown will, alas, have no opponent, but he is likely to find himself swept up in the swirl of the deputy debate at his feet.

Well, he's so much higher than them, up there on his pedestal; he is Odin—for Odin, too, had only one eye—and you, Pol; are you not one of his Valkyries?
He may find a tide pushing him to be bolder than he planned.

Or, of course, he may just find people bowing and scraping, cravenly protrating themselves to do his bidding.
Leadership elections after many years often unleash pent-up urges to surge forward faster. Wherever they start out, questions from the audience will force the six candidates to take competitive positions that reveal where they stand on everything.

Or everyone will be so fucking bored of the whole process and, knowing that Gordo will not relinquish any real power, simply vote for whomever has the prettiest face (I'm not expecting Hazel to win).
Class positioning was the oddest outbreak in round one: not only Cruddas, but Johnson and Blears played their working-class card hard.

How odd. NuLabour aimed to build the "classless society", a true mediocracy; instead, all that we have at the end of an entire fucking decade is mediocrity.
Expect this personal positioning on class to turn into hard questions about inequality.

I don't think that'll happen, Polly. It would be very difficult for an MP on £60k a year plus £130k expenses plus a gold-plated, tax-payer-funded, final-salary pension to justify attacking anyone else on the grounds of inequality. The best thing that they can do is shut the fuck up about the whole issue.
The Office for National Statistics published figures yesterday showing again that the gap is widening.

That's right, Polly, it is. After, and I'll say this again, a decade of NuLabour's redistributionist policies, the gap is wider than when they started in 1997.

Now, what would that suggest to you, Pol? I'll tell you what it suggests:
  • Simple redistribution doesn't fucking work.

  • There is an uderclass who are making no real attempt to better themselves and are thus staying on roughly the same income.

  • Since the economy has grown, the proceeds have therefore gone to those who work and who have thus invested and grown their resources.

I believe that one of the definitions of a mad person is one who keeps doing the exact same thing time and again and—in defiance of the actual disappointing results—keeps on doing it, expecting to get a different outcome the next time.

You are like that, Pol. Despite a century of stark demonstrations that redistribution doesn't work, you keep on hoping that the next time it will be different. You are a mad fucking cow.
So what does Labour really think? Candidates can all agree on poverty, but have they nothing to say about City bonuses, boardroom kleptocracy and the gap getting wider?

No, because what private businesses pay their employees is none of the state's damn business, you appalling excuse for a harridan.
Some do. Alan Johnson's website talks of "pursuing greater equality" but sticks with the meritocratic agenda by calling for "more fluid social mobility", unachievable without closing the gap.

What absolute horseshit. That might be one of the stupidest things that you've ever said and, fuck me, but that's a strong competition.

You need to provide a machanism for mobility. We might disagree on the exact nature of the mechanism—I think that grammar schools provided just such a conduit, you disagreed—but claiming that this cannot happen with high inequality is just so much crap.
Peter Hain goes further.

Heh. From what I've heard, Peter Hain goes all the way, baby...
His website says efforts to close the gap should not be concentrated only on low incomes but on the "super-rich" too. But his remedies call only for "voluntary" social responsibility in the boardrooms. Harriet Harman takes the same line on the rich, but goes one further, insisting it needs government action to tackle the gap. This cries out for more clarity and honesty.

OK, here's clarity and honesty: Harriet Harman wants to build a Communist command and control economy. That makes her more than usually insane.

Look, there is a good deal of hypocrisy here. Every time that MPs vote themselves yet another stonking pay-rise, they justify it by saying that we need to attract the most talented people into politics and to do this we need to pay them a decent wage. OK, fine; no doubt you would justify your disgustingly high level of pay in the same way.

But politicians can't use that argument to justify their payrises and then turn around, when the boardrooms put the same argument to MPs, and say that it's not a valid argument. You cannot have your cake and eat it.
These hothouse debates will force their own trajectory. Briefly freed of collective responsibility and bidden to think out loud in answer to hundreds of questions, these seasoned ministers are not about to delight the Tories by plunging over an icy precipice.

What do you mean? Some of them have already done it: Harriet Harman for one!
They know better than anyone that Labour will only win when it wins again on crime and the NHS.

Ha! Yeah, good luck with that...
But unfrozen from mantras fixed in 1994, they can now say some of the common-sense things to be heard in any pub or wine bar: the rich are too bloody rich.

I don't think that you'll hear that in the wine bar, Pol. Besides, actually, most people don't talk about how some people are too bloddy rich; they talk about how they themselves are too bloody poor. I know, Pol; I hang around in pubs in Brixton and Streatham.
Opinion polls confirm it. Even the Daily Mail sometimes says it. Runaway greed without responsibility splits society and destroys social harmony and wellbeing...

Polly, the inequality gap was pretty damn high in the Victorian times too. The difference was that all of the public amenities were provided by the mega-rich. The Welfare State has removed that sense of social responsibility; and not just amongst the rich. It permeates every level and strata of society. Once we abdicated our responsibilities to the state, we also abdicated our responsibility to our fellow humans.
... the good super-rich know it, and they say it themselves.

Do you, Pol? I must have missed you saying that...
It's so blindingly obvious that it's not brave to say it. Labour urgently needs to say it and not mumble if it wants to regain some credibility and trust in its own values and sincerity of purpose - and sock it to the 15 super-rich Etonians on the bench opposite.

Ah, yes. It's a wonderful thing, isn't it: only Britain that would regard the fact that its government-in-waiting were successful, intelligent and well-educated as something undesirable.
Other issues will boil up, but this one is totemic.

It is totemic, symbolic; nothing more. Acting will not improve the lot of the poorest in society one fucking iota, and you know it.

This inequality shite that you constantly spout is based on nothing more than jealousy and the pimping of jealousy onto others. There are—what?—a few thousand millionaires in a country of 60 million bodies? For every millionaire that they read about, the "poor" will meet, interact with and talk to tens of thousands of people like themselves. People who are just trying to make a living and, whilst they may aspire to mega-riches, know that they will probably never achieve this goal.

What most people want, Pol, is enough money to pay the bills, buy fags and booze and the odd DVD player when they want. And the best way to facilitate that is to ensure that they are allowed to keep as much of the money that they earn as possible.

You want social mobility? Give people a decent education (which is going to require reform, not more cash) and then STOP STEALING THEIR FUCKING MONEY!

Ye gods, I loathe you and your Viking warrior so very, very much.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 5/18/2007 06:26:00 am


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