Compare and Contrast...

...This:

A father-of-four has been left with a criminal record for overfilling his wheelie bin by four inches.

With this:

Islamic extremists could escape prosecution and instead receive therapy and counselling under new Government plans to "deradicalise" religious fanatics.

Now tell me that the Government haven't completely lost the plot.

more ...

Blunkett's Kiss of Death

Blunkett proves again that there are none so blind as those who will not see:

Gordon Brown's government has "hit rock bottom", but defeat over anti-terror plans would not be a "knockout blow", ex-home secretary David Blunkett says.

He told Simon Mayo on BBC Five Live that Labour's present unpopularity meant things could not get any worse.

Wannabet?

"Things could not get any worse" is not quite as catchy as "Things can only get better". Blunkett has obviously been out of the New Labour Spin loop for too long. Shame on him.

more ...

Mobile Friendly

Thanks to the wonders of WordPress plugins, the site is now mobile friendly.

Just point your mobile device to the normal address and the plugin takes care of the rest.

more ...


Another fine mess

Way back in December 2005 I prefaced one of my own favourite blog posts with the following quote:

ENERGY giant Shell has slashed investment in its future North Sea oil drilling programmes by a third, blaming the doubling in oil production taxes announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown in his recent Pre-Budget Report.

Rather irritatingly, I didn't keep a link to the original source.

From this, one could quite reasonably conclude that El Gordo cannot be completely absolved of blame for the current situation in the oil market. But fear not! From today's Telegraph we read that Laurel and Hardy have leapt to the rescue!

Oil industry leaders are anticipating more North Sea tax relief after the first signs of a Government U-turn. Modest tax changes were announced yesterday as the Prime Minister and Chancellor intervened to try to boost flagging production.

Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling took the unprecedented step of making a direct appeal to oil industry leaders to increase output and accelerate developments. They took members of Oil and Gas UK, the industry trade body, by surprise by asking to join what was planned as a routine meeting of the organisation near Aberdeen yesterday.

They held out the prospect of regulatory and tax changes to attract more North Sea investment and provide the incentives to develop new discoveries which are little more than 'puddles' compared with the giant Brent and Forties fields.

Well, not quite. As is usual with New Labour, you have to dig a little deeper....

Crucially, the tax cut announced yesterday affects only older oil fields, which are covered by a separate tax regime, and does not reverse this new windfall tax.

This is hardly surprising. Over the past decades the North Sea has become one of the Government's biggest corporate tax cows, generating more than £230bn in revenue since 1968. The Treasury is expecting to make around £10bn this year from oil revenues, though experts at Grant Thornton think this could rise as high as £16bn due to higher oil prices.

However, this windfall has come at a price. If, as thought, it is responsible for depressing production in recent years, it has helped make the UK a net oil importer two years earlier than expected.

This is yet another example of Gordon's complete inability to think through the consequences of his punitive taxation policies. Stupid, grinning, one-eyed wanker!

more ...

The End of New Labour?

It looks that way if you flick through the Politics->Labour section of the Guardian website. You would usually have to visit a right-wing blog to see such a wonderful collection of doom-laden headlines.

Labour cash crisis could bankrupt party leaders

Is it not just a beautiful thought that Gordon and all of his cronies might be "jointly and severally" responsible for all of the Party's debt? The clock is ticking as within the next 5 weeks they have to find a mere £7.45m. And all because...

the Labour party constitution is framed like a local club or society, and has no provision for limiting the liability of its officials or managers.

Muppets. Dig deep boys...

Minister signals end of business regulation era

I assume he is referring to the business regulation imposed by New Labour over the last 11 years?

Chancellor ready to postpone 2p increase in fuel duty again

I love the "again" tacked onto the end of that line.

Uncertain times

You don't say!

Labour's lost ground

Once again... You don't say!

Labour put on path to tragedy, says Blair ally

Another Blairite sticking the boot in.

Labour's lost reputation for fairness

What reputation was that?

And finally...

Labour leaders are starting to revolt me as much as Tories always have. Am I becoming rightwing?

Words fail me.

more ...

Music to my ears

Half the population don't support ID cards. Oh, the joy:

Support for the UK's national ID card programme continues to plummet, with one quarter of people saying they are strongly opposed to the scheme.

According to an ICM poll, 25 percent of those surveyed thought it was a "very bad" idea — up from 17 percent in September last year.

Opponents of the ID card scheme said the survey of just over 1,000 people, commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, showed the government would be "unable to impose" the cards on the population.

25% think it is a very bad idea and other 25% think it is just a bad idea. Not that New Labour will give a shit either way about what we think.

more ...

No! No! No! and thrice more No!

I think he might be railing against popular opinion in this belief:

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in the UK is "unavoidable".

Dr Williams told BBC Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

A Brit living in a Muslim country would never be afforded the same consideration. We have a perfectly well established (if far from perfect) legal system in this country. Anyone who wishes to move to this country must accept that system. When in Rome...

more ...

GP's getting all hot and bothered

It seems that GP's are stirring up a bit of trouble for Gordo. I received the following email yesterday and have decided to post it pretty much "as is". The only thing I have removed is the name of the author who is a GP and on the GPC. The contents pretty much speak for themselves:

Dear All,

We currently appear to be being steered towards accepting imposition A simply on the grounds that in the short term we will take less of a financial hit. I think this is probably dangerous and that we will regret it next year if we do not stand our ground now. It will be your decision. There has been criticism that the GPC is not prepared to give a steer. They are in a difficult position and are still trying to formulate questions that will make it clear that if you accept imposition A then it is only under protest as being the least unpalatable of two unacceptable options. We are not negotiating with honourable people. I certainly hope myself that if you go for option A when you are asked to vote then no one at all in Gloucestershire or Avon will then do any extended hours surgeries whatsoever; regardless of how much you might be bribed to do so.

For what its worth my personal view on the way forward is : -

  • Reject both A & B. Stay cool and then point out that the stand-off between us is another "faut pas" by Gordon Brown in person, caused by his insistence on the over-riding of his own negotiators. He is getting a reputation in the media for someone who cannot delgate any power. I think he is vulnerable and will not want an epitaph as being the man who destroyed the NHS.Unless we reject both A&B we are not in a state of "dispute" and cannot legally hold a ballot on any form of industrial action.
  • Publicise widely that the Government has lied, interfered with the pension settlement, and has betrayed doctors who signed up in good faith to what they believed to be legally binding contracts, and that the NHS can no longer therefore trust Gordon Brown. Seek a General Election if feasible by whatever means available to us legally. Posters seeking that might help. Gordon Brown has no personal mandate as Prime Minister from the general population.
  • Stress publicly the underlying privatisation agenda, with loss of the traditional family doctor as being our major concern.Stress Government intention to use nurses, pharmacists, emergency care practitioners, and overseas doctors from Eastern Europe as cheap GPs.
  • Take every possible opportunity to educate patients in our daily dealings with them. It is very easy to drop in a relevantcritical comment or two about the Government in general conversation. It is after all only informing them of the truth. If we all do this then hopefully opinion polls will rapidly show an impact based upon our disillusionment with the Labour Party. Our strength lies not necessarily in our patients' support, but in our ability to influence them on matters political, such as the threat to the continuation of the NHS, via our frequent one to one contacts.
  • Continue to publicise the enormous achievments and benefits of the new GMS/PMS contracts to patients, but don't expect too much from patients as the media campaign against us has been too effective. They do indeed view us as fat cats now.
  • Illustrate to patients that already practices are planning staffing cuts that will make it more difficult for them to access an already understaffed and underfunded primary care service, including access to both doctors *and also to practice nurses*. ( Don't forget our nurses now often have as big a following as do the GPs - they spend longer with each patient and that can be interpreted as being a more personal service by the patient. Patients don't understand the delegated responsibility)
  • End practice based phlebotomy and anticoagulant control. It might cause patient protest, but we can simply point out the scale of cuts and that we can no longer afford it. That should soon cause a public outcry.
  • Expose the cuts to practice-based primary care teams, with the associated widespread downgrading of senior clinical nurses and cuts to health visiting and midwifery, leaving but a few only as managers for groups of practices, simply to save money. Point out how this undermines team spirit, and has resulted in delegation of important clinical work to very much more junior nurses who often do not have the necessary skills etc.
  • Expose the gross inadequacies of the emergency OOH services compared to those that GPs ran before PCTs took over. Also expose cuts to the ambulance services.
  • Insist that the employers element of superannuation is handed back to PCTs immediately and is not in future recorded as part of our income whether intentionally or otherwise.
  • Try very hard to use BMA lawyers to establish that the contract cannot be broken unilaterally as there is no "natonal emergency". If necessary insist on a judicial review as delaying tactic if nothing else, regardless of what the BMA lawyers think about likely outcome, or whether the BMA quibbles about paying for one. ( I have serious doubts about the BMA's willingness to support our campaign financially. It has spent too much on gutting BMA House!)
  • Insist on the declared support of the wider BMA, which I don't feel we have at present. If not forthcoming consider establishing a break-away organisation outside of the BMA, which I will personally be prepared to become involved with , I daresay along with others on the GPC.
  • Seek a European judgement based on the current "Working Time Directive" etc. Lobby Euro MPs. If necessary get BMA lawyers to seek changes to European law along the lines of maximum time that pilots/lorry drivers are allowed to work without a minimum break.
  • Seek support of Medical Defence Organisations to resist the enforcement, by financial threat or otherwise, of doctors having to work alone doing booked surgeries with just a prescription pad at antisocial hours, when they will obviously be at risk.
  • Ballot on industrial action to comply with Trade Union law, and don't leave this too late.
  • Insist as far as possible that all GPs act in unison throughout the UK. Peer pressure will be vital for success. Get LMCs to prebook a series of large-scale meetings now.
  • Make it clear to Government that refusal to negotiate fairly will mean an immediate embargo on all further IT developments including National Spine, electronic prescribing, GP to GP etc
  • No statistical or survey information of any kind to be fed to PCOs in future.
  • Withdrawal from all PBC and C&B developments by ALL GPs, with refusal to engage in commissioning of any sort until satisfactory resolution.
  • Refusal to develop QUOF in any way.
  • Refusal to engage further with "Access".
  • Doctors currently doing any extended hours will be asked to stop doing them for the time being as part of the national campaign of unity.
  • There will be an end to any attempts to reduce referrals to secondary care which most of us have cooperated with to date. Any referrals sent back to practices by the inevitable referral management centres that will result, will be returned with a note to the PCT asking them to confrm acceptance of legal liability, and those patients affected will be given a letter to take to their MP.
  • An end to any further generic prescribing.
  • An end to 28 day prescribing, and a return to presciption for quantities of drugs dictated by clinical considerations only.
  • Refusal to agree to any "drug switch" campaigns, whatever short-term savings there may be for PCTs.
  • Seek to establish our right to treat any patient privately outside contracted hours, as per consultants. If rejected insist that consultants should have that right to practice private medicine withdrawn if they hold an NHS post.
  • Refusal to train new GPs until satisfactory contractual negotiations are re-established.
  • Encourage GPs to withdraw from OOH arrangements until satisfactory in hours contractual arrangements are restored.
  • Insist that attached staff being accommodated in GP owned or leased surgeries are rehoused.
  • Collect undated resignations.
  • Point out to all managers just how vulnerable their jobs will be if we all resign.
  • Ask for a detailed public analysis of the value of SHAs by the National Audit Office, with the intention that they are scrapped.
  • Set up immediately a subcommittee that will assist the process of resignation if we are forced to go that far, will negotiate for a "Mediplan" type insurance etc., and will produce detailed guidance notes for GPs.
  • Publicise that it is Gordon Brown personally who is responsible for threatening the NHS by starting yet another unnecessary war.
  • Publicise that we have always been prepared to negotiate on detail of contractual arrangements and on improving patient care in line with updated evidece bases, given the necessary resources and professional respect, but that the outline of the 2003 contract is written in stone, and that general practice cannot continue without inflationary uplifts plus significant extra funding in addition in order to cope with the ageing population, developments in medical science, and new treatments.
  • Publish comparative cost tables for drug costs, primary care costs, and overall health costs for all European countries.
  • Insist that comparability is restored as a factor that must be taken into account by the DDRB in assessing GP pay.
  • Call a Special Conference of LMCs, or convert the Annual Conference into a Special Conference solely for decision on the agreed way forward.
  • Consider as an option seeking mass PCTMS salaried contracts as "consultants in primary care". I was at a dinner yesterday with a PCTMS GP . He is a senior doctor, but he is paid £90,000 all found. ( The contract includes Crown indemnity, maternity and paternity leave, sick leave, NHS pension, all staff and premises provided etc). He is taxed byPAYE so does not have the disadvantage of payment of Schedule 4 tax in advance. I think many could find the advantages of such salaried contracts backed up by *PROPER* GPC negotiation ( instead of the half hearted support so far given)attractive compared with what we now face as supposedly "independent" contractors.
  • Resign en-masse from GMS/PMS contracts as last resort on a pre-determined date following the Special Conference.
more ...

Police can "no longer"? bug clients?!!

I had no idea that they were even allowed to do it in the first place:

Police can no longer authorise bugging conversations between solicitors and clients in police stations.

A ruling by the Lord Chief Justice said the monitoring of such conversations will be unlawful, unless it is authorised by an independent person.

...

Until now, such surveillance could be authorised by a deputy chief constable.

So much for Attorney Client Privilege. How did we get into a situation like this?

more ...