Britain’s NHS? It’s about as good as the health system in Slovenia

The National Health System is on a par with Slovenia and the Czech Republic, according to an analysis by European researchers. The NHS came 14th out of 33 European countries, making it one of the worst systems in Western Europe. The study – the Euro Health Consumer Index – found the NHS performed particularly badly on waiting times, even though these have fallen thanks to Labour targets. The survey says that the NHS is dragged down by waiting lists but the Department of Health claims the report is ‘flawed’

It is also one of the least efficient, delivering less service per pound put in. The annual survey is by HealthConsumer Powerhouse, which campaigns for social insurance type systems rather than nationalised models such as the NHS. It ranks 33 systems on 38 factors such as patient rights, waiting times and access to medicines. Total possible score is 1,000 points and the Netherlands tops the list with 875, followed by Denmark (819) and Iceland (811). The UK, with 682 points, ranks just behind Ireland’s 701. Lowest ranking of all was Bulgaria’s 448 points. The NHS ranking was just above former Communist states Slovenia and the Czech Republic but below France, Germany and Ireland. It did rank better than Italy however.

The Netherlands is the only country which has consistently ranked in the top three during the five years the survey has been carried out.

But the UK’s has been steadily increasing. It could have been higher this time, but the report comments: ‘A mixed performance is shown by the UK: the overall UK score is dragged down by waiting lists and uneven quality performance’.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: ‘Once again, the European Consumer Health Index report is based on flawed methodology and old data. ‘There is a lot of credible and up-to-date evidence available showing just what great strides have been taken, on the back of record investment, in improving NHS services across the country. ‘The NHS is treating more people and saving more lives than at any time in its history with waiting times at their lowest levels since records began.’ ‘Twelve years ago it was not uncommon for patients to have to wait over 18 months for an operation. ‘Record investment and dedicated staff have given patients the shortest waits since NHS records began with average waits from referral to start of treatment at around eight weeks for admitted patients and four weeks for non-admitted patients.’ [We won’t mention the many “fudges” used to produce those figures]


Senior British hospital doctor could face charges after jury rules patient died of gross neglect

A consultant could face a manslaughter investigation after a cancer patient died when she was mistakenly prescribed a lethal overdose of chemotherapy, an inquest heard. Anna McKenna, 56, was given four times the recommended daily amount of Idarubicin to treat her bone marrow cancer. Mother-of-five Mrs McKenna should have taken 60mg of the drug over four days, but was told to take 60mg per day.

Yesterday Avon Deputy Coroner Brian Whitehouse heard a jury return a narrative verdict of manslaughter due to gross neglect after a jury returned a majority decision of eight to two. The ruling now means that the CPS will review its decision that there was no criminal case to answer.

Anna’s family told the five-day hearing that blundering doctors ”panicked” and tried to ”cover up” the error by refusing to tell them she had been given the wrong medication. The overdose destroyed Anna’s infection-fighting white blood cells, leaving her immune system powerless against disease. She developed renal failure and died at the Bristol Oncology Centre three weeks later on April 18 2006.

Dr Jacqueline James, a consultant haematologist at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, admitted the blunder at the inquest and said she was ”very sorry” for what happened. Recording a verdict of manslaughter due to gross neglect yesterday, Avon deputy coroner Brian Whitehouse said: ”I offer my sincere condolences to the family.”

Mrs McKenna, a housewife from Knowle, Bristol, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, in March 2006 and prescribed a course of chemotherapy tablets. Her condition was terminal, the treatment was administered in the hope of prolonging her life. Without the medication, doctors gave her just two years to live. But Mrs McKenna was given a prescription for 60mg of Idarubicin per day, instead of the usual 15mg or 20mg per day. The drug left her in agonising pain, suffering with vomiting and diarrhoea. It also sparked a high fever and led to renal failure.

Her daughter Nancy McKenna said: ”It was such a traumatic experience for my whole family seeing our mum like that. You wouldn’t treat your dog the way they were treating her. ”Mum was rushed to hospital after being so ill for many days. When we got there we told the doctor that she had been given an overdose and she told me to go home and bring in the medication mum was on. ”I brought it in and the doctor looked at it. I kept on and on as did the rest of the family about the fact she had been overdosed but no one was listening. ”We told the doctors treating mum that we thought she had been given the wrong dose of Idarubicin and we maintain that.”

Dr James admitted prescribing four times the recommended dose and said: ”I am very sorry that a mistake was made.” Verdict: Manslaughter due to gross neglect.

Outside court a family statement, read by solicitor Kerstin Scheel, said: ”The family of Mrs McKenna have been absolutely devastated by her sudden and unnecessary death in April, 2006. ”They feel extremely angry not only that such a serious mistake was made in her prescription but also that this was not found by the pharmacist who was supposed to act as a safety net to the patient. ”They greatly hope that this will never happen again to another patient and that the new safeguards in place will make a difference for others in the future. ”Anna was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother and is sorely missed by her whole family.”

Chris Burton, medical director of North Bristol NHS Trust, said: ”North Bristol NHS Trust would like to take this opportunity to repeat it’s sincere apologies and condolences to Mrs McKenna’s family and friends. ”The trust has cooperated fully with external investigations into the circumstances surrounding Mrs McKenna’s death. ”Patient safety is our priority and following Mrs McKenna’s death we made immediate and significant changes to our procedures around prescribing and issuing Idarubicin.”

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police said: ”South Gloucestershire police investigated the circumstances surrounding the death of Anna McKenna in 2006 and prepared a file for the Crown Prosecution Service. ”After consideration by specialist lawyers, the CPS decided that there was not a criminal case to answer and police submitted a file to the coroner. ”Following the verdict of unlawful killing, the case will be reviewed in liaison with the CPS. South Gloucestershire police again offer their sincere sympathy to the family of Anna McKenna for their loss.”


British school admissions reforms ‘failing’

A £15m Labour plan to get poor pupils into the best state schools has had a “minimal effect”, according to research. But if it had succeeded, the schools concerned would no longer be “best”. Feral students will destroy any school in the absence of strict discipline and strict discipline is a distant memory in British schools

The reforms – introduced in 2006 – have benefited less than one child in 100 and are just as likely to help pupils from middle-class families, it was disclosed. Every local council in England is required to run a team of “choice advisers” to make the school admissions system fairer.

Under plans, they are supposed to advise parents about secondary school admissions policies, help them fill out forms and provide information on uniform policies, the curriculum, term dates, travel details and understanding league tables and Ofsted reports.

Launching the programme four years ago, ministers said they would “have a real impact on ensuring that all parents are armed with the information they need to find the right school for their child”. They were introduced alongside a more stringent system of school admissions rules to stop head teachers selecting bright pupils from middle-class backgrounds.

But a study by Sheffield Hallam University said the high-profile reforms had an “incommensurate” impact. “The proportion of children benefiting from the service is, and in any likely policy context could only ever be, tiny,” it said. “While it substantially benefited a small group of parents, some of whom were very needy, it had a minimal effect on the numbers of poorer parents gaining entry to the more popular schools.”

This year, one in six children failed to get into their preferred secondary school. In some areas, such as London, where parents face the stiffest competition for places, up to half of 11-year-olds missed out.

Researchers led by Professor John Coldron, from the centre for education and inclusion research, studied the impact of choice advisers in 15 local authorities. The report said 73,000 children transferred between primary and secondary schools in the affected areas but only 602 had contact with a choice adviser. It represented 0.8 per cent of parents, but only half of those were from the poorest families, the study said.

Researchers suggested other parents taking advantage of the additional help were from middle-class backgrounds. “We dubbed them ‘well-informed, but anxious’,” said Prof Coldron. “They were parents who wanted to ensure no stone was left unturned in their attempt to make sure children got into the best schools.”

The report said the initiative had failed because it ignored the fact that postcode was the “main driver” of school “segregation”. It suggested that – even with the help of advisers – many poor families could not get into the best state schools because they did not live in the catchment area. The study also found that many parents did not want to send children several miles to sought-after schools, preferring the local comprehensive irrespective of quality. “While the choice advice service has delivered a valuable service to a few needy families, the proportion helped was so small it could not make any significant impact on the larger process of segregation of schools and therefore had a minimal impact on the fairness of admissions,” it found.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: “We’ve outlawed covert selection and given all parents a fair and equal chance to get into a school of their choice through the mandatory admissions code. Choice advisers target families that need the most help with the application and appeal process – it was never designed to deliver fair access for all parents so it is disingenuous for this research to claim it was.

“Parents now have more choice because there are undeniably more good schools and standards have gone up across the board.The vast majority of parents will get a place at a school of their choice – most at their first choice school. We have given the admissions watchdog real teeth to police the system and crack down on unfair admissions.”


“Green” British councils escalate their war on garbage

Worried residents thought their rubbish was being stolen when council ‘spies’ dressed in hoodies started rifling through their bins. Concerned neighbours saw mysterious men emptying their bins into black sacks and loading them into an unmarked white van. When homeowners questioned the official binmen an hour later they learned their council was conducting a survey of what was being thrown away.

The ‘spies’ were part of a week-long waste analysis study by the Northamptonshire Waste Partnership, a collaboration of eight local authorities working to reduce rubbish going to landfill. An external contractor was told to go through the bins of residents. One thousand houses were targeted as part of the survey, including 780 in Northamptonshire.

But none of the inhabitants of Cedar Close, Irchester, near Wellingborough, Northants, had received any notice from their council about what was going on. Resident Gillian Barnett, 61, said the snoopers made her feel ‘very uncomfortable’. She said: ‘Three young men parked outside my house and just started going through my bins – I thought they were pinching my rubbish. It was very suspicious. ‘We haven’t had a leaftlet or a letter, all my neighbours were going round asking each other what was happening. ‘If they’d had “County Council” marked on their van it would have been less concerning but as it was nobody knew what was going on. ‘It made me worry about what I had put in the bin – I didn’t know I was going to be fined or what. ‘I heard this was happening in nearby streets like Pine Close too.’

Another resident, who asked to remain anonymous, slammed the council for using ‘Big Brother’ tactics.

Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough Borough Councils have authorised waste experts Resource Futures to go through the bins of people living in their boroughs as part of this survey. This was to provide Project Reduce – a £138million government-funded enterprise headed by Northamptonshire County Council and Milton Keynes Council – with information about what was being sent to landfills.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, condemned Northampton County Council for what he described as an ‘aggressive’ campaign. He said: ‘This sneaky behaviour on the part of the council is underhand and alarming. ‘Taxpayers are sick and tired of being spied on by their councils, it is an infringement of both their dignity and personal space. ‘People are doing all they can to recycle, if they are throwing something away it’s because they have to. ‘This approach is unnecessarily aggressive and a waste of taxpayers’ money and precious resources.’

But a Northampton County Council spokeswoman insisted the survey was purely for informative purposes. She said: ‘This is not a punitive measure and all data gathered will be kept strictly confidential. ‘We just want to gather more information about what people are throwing away so we can target our resources to better meet their needs.’..

Corby Council lead member for the environment Cllr Peter McEwan said: ‘Landfill charges are currently in excess of £60 per tonne and rising. ‘It is vital that we continue to search for cleaner, greener ways to treat and dispose of our rubbish.’



Seven articles below on where the complete destruction of moral and ethical standards by 12 years of socialist rule leads — where “There is no such thing as right and wrong” and the criminal needs “assistance”, not punishment. In their hatred of their own society, the Left are good at making criminals out of ordinary people, though. They make right wrong and wrong right and seem to think that is clever. Havoc in many people’s lives is the result

Lazy British police blamed in car blaze deaths

The woman should have told the cops that the thugs were using hate speech. Then they would have been there like a shot. Only political crimes interest them. They have no time for real crime

Police and council failings led a mother who had been terrorised by a gang of youths for years to kill herself and her severely disabled daughter, a jury decided yesterday. Leicestershire Constabulary’s failure to respond properly to Fiona Pilkington’s repeated pleas for help contributed to her decision to set fire to her car when she and her daughter Francecca, 18, were inside it.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission last night launched an investigation into the way that officers handled more than 30 pleas for help from Ms Pilkington, while Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, said that the force and council had “some hard lessons” to learn.

During the six-day inquest at Loughborough Town Hall, the jury heard how Ms Pilkington, a 38-year-old single mother, had been petrified about the future for her daughter, who had a mental age of 3. Francecca had left her special-needs school and required round-the-clock care.

Her mother’s fears were compounded by the thuggish behaviour of a gang that repeatedly targeted the family. The inquest heard that Ms Pilkington rang police 33 times in ten years to plead for help. Some of the gang were members of the Simmons family, neighbours said last night.

It was on October 21, 2007, that Ms Pilkington gave Francecca the family pet rabbit to hold, drove to a secluded lay-by at the side of the A47 near their home in Barwell, doused old clothes with petrol and set them alight. The explosion killed them both.

In returning their verdicts yesterday, the inquest jury listed a catalogue of errors by the police force, the borough council and county council social workers, and concluded that they had “contributed” to the deaths of Ms Pilkington and her daughter.

Chris Eyre, Chief Constable of Leicestershire, issued an “unreserved” apology last night, adding: “The vulnerability of the family was not picked up. We recognise that we need to have a better response to low-level antisocial behaviour.”

Mr Johnson described the case as “shocking and immensely distressing”. The Home Secretary added: “For more than a decade, the Pilkington family suffered intimidation at the hands of a local gang, culminating in a sustained level of abuse that no family should have to tolerate.”

The jury’s findings are highly damaging to the Government’s policy on policing, in which every neighbourhood has a dedicated team of officers. Each team is expected to respond to local residents’ problems and deal with antisocial behaviour before it grows into serious criminality.

Although both Labour and the Conservative Party remain committed to neighbourhood policing, the evidence raises questions about whether the theory is being reflected in practice and also whether police and local councils are serious about dealing with antisocial behaviour.

It is also embarrassing for the Government and police that the failures occurred in Leicestershire, where the Chief Constable until recently was Matt Baggott, the architect of the national neighbourhood policing strategy. Mr Baggott is now Chief Constable of Northern Ireland. [Baggott the maggot]


British police not interested in crime by the young

Don’t call us for help about yobs – hooligans are councils’ problem, says top police officer

Dealing with antisocial behaviour and ‘ low-level’ hooliganism is no longer the responsibility of the police, a senior officer said yesterday. Superintendent Steve Harrod, speaking at the inquest of a mother and her disabled daughter who were hounded to their deaths by yobs, said it is now the responsibility of local councils since a law change in 1998.

The officer, head of criminal justice at Leicestershire Police, said officers were allowed to hand out only reprimands and ‘final warnings’ to young thugs unless their offences were ‘serious’. He said: ‘I’m not sure if people know, but low-level anti-social behaviour is mainly the responsibility of the council.’

His evidence led jurors to openly question the police’s strategy at the inquest into the deaths of Fiona Pilkington, 38, who died with her daughter Francecca, 18, when she turned their car into a fireball to escape a decade of abuse from feral youths in her street in Barwell, Leicestershire.

The youths, some aged only ten, had laid siege to their house and thrown stones and eggs at their windows, and at one point her son Anthony was marched at knifepoint to a shed. Police had repeatedly ignored their cries for help, dismissing the despairing mother as ‘over-reacting’.

Mr Harrod appeared to blame the ‘frustrating’ judicial system for the failure to tackle the yobs who made the family’s life hell. He told the hearing at Loughborough Town Hall that it was ‘difficult’ for officers to tackle ever-changing gangs of children. He said: ‘I am not saying that officers do not get frustrated with not being able to do some things. It is extremely difficult.’

A new way of dealing with youth offending was ushered in with the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, he said. Instead of locking up young offenders, there is now a sliding scale that starts with a ‘reprimand’ for a first instance of offending, and moves up to a ‘final warning’. A criminal charge is considered only if these options have been exhausted several times. Mr Harrod said: ‘It is still possible to jump straight to a charge for a serious offence, but if it is only anti-social behaviour, this would be highly unlikely.’

He said the purpose of the new system was to prevent youngsters from being ‘criminalised’ – prompting one juror to ask: ‘If they commit a crime, do they not bring the criminality on themselves?’ The policeman replied: ‘From a police point of view, what we want to do with any criminals is to prevent re-offending. From my personal experience, if a juvenile goes in to detention, they are likely to mix with like-minded people during their time there and they are more likely to reoffend.’

The policing of anti-social behaviour and abuse by young people has been a key issue at the inquest into the deaths of Miss Pilkington and her severely disabled daughter.

Their bodies were found in a burned-out Austin Maestro in a layby close to their home on October 23, 2007.

Miss Pilkington felt ‘under siege’ for more than ten years from a gang of 16 young people, who pelted the family home with stones, mocked and taunted Francecca and threatened and assaulted Anthony, now 19.

She recorded in a diary of despair how she used to sit in the dark in her lounge until 2.30am willing the young thugs to move away from her house.

Police were called 33 times but no one was ever charged with a criminal offence in connection with the harassment.

The only action taken against the yobs was eight days after the deaths when the council took a ‘problem family’ to court. The family was given an injunction after Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council applied to Nuneaton County Court.

The children in the family were reported as ‘engaging in name-calling, taunts, damage to the family property and threats to the children to the extent that the family felt effectively prisoners in their own home’.

The inquest heard that attempts by police had failed to deal with the family, who ‘refused to accept that their children had done anything wrong’.

The inquest heard that Leicestershire County Council launched a serious case review into the way the authorities handled the care of Miss Pilkington, her teenage daughter and severely dyslexic son Anthony, now 19.

It found there were a number of failings including a failure by the county council, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and Leicestershire Police to share information about the family, their disabilities and the abuse they were receiving.

The inquest was adjourned until Monday when it is expected to deliver verdicts.


British police tell mother attacked by yobs at home: ‘We won’t send anyone… it may escalate the problem’

A mother who was punched to the floor in her own home by yobs was stunned when police advised her not to call officers to her house – because it would ‘escalate’ the problem. Nikki Collen, 39, begged officers for help after a thug kicked in her front door and punched her to the floor in her hallway. After her attacker fled, Nikki rang Warwickshire Police who promised to send an officer to her home in Kenilworth.

But an hour later she received a phone call from a woman police officer who told her it would be better if police did not attend because it might inflame the situation.

Mother-of-two Nikki, who is studying an Open University degree in nursing, said: ‘I couldn’t believe it. ‘I was attacked and wanted to report it but the officer was persuading me not to press charges. ‘She even told me that if the bullies saw a police officer at my home it could escalate the problem further. ‘I was so scared I asked what I should do and she told me to try and sort it out on my own. I was really upset and felt really alone. ‘It’s a horrendous way to live and has got to the stage where I fear going out because of the abuse I will get. ‘I can’t cope with it and need some help from authorities. I’ve just had enough and need to move. Why should I put up with this?’

Nikki, who lives with her son Josh, 17, and daughter Demi, 13, have been subjected to a terrifying campaign of harassment after a minor dispute over a bottle of hair conditioner last December. Since then the family have been sworn at, had used condoms hurled at their house, had their windows smashed and graffiti scrawled on their home. Nikki said the police had been called on numerous occasions but no charges had ever been brought against the bullies.

She added: ‘I am on anti-depressants, my nerves are shot to pieces and I’m terrified of walking out my front door. ‘This is no way to live. When it’s got really bad, I have to admit I have thought about ending it but I’m determined not to be beaten by the bullies who are acting like they are above the law. ‘All I want is a bit of support from the police.’

The family’s problems have haunting comparisons to the case of Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter Francecca Hardwick, who were driven to their deaths after an 11-year bully campaign. Nikki said: ‘I’ve read in the papers about Mrs Pilkington and just think the police simply don’t care. ‘If they can ignore that family for 11 years what hope have I got?’

A Warwickshire Police spokeswoman confirmed a female officer had spoken to Nikki about the attack on Saturday, September 19. She said: ‘The policing team have had some involvement in ongoing issues in the street. ‘We have also been working closely with the local authority regarding tenancy agreements and ongoing neighbour disputes.’ [In other words they only want to relocate the bullies. No thought of prosecution]


Two policewomen’s crawling babies are nothing to do with Ofsted

A government’s job is to protect us from strangers, not our mates

No, really, this is it. Bring on the revolution. Man the Lego barricades! Devise Pampers dirty-bombs! Send in stormtroops to smear puréed apple and vomit over the concrete barricades of Westminster! Ofsted, that giant mutant Godzilla of the education world, has finally stepped over the last line and shown how deeply the State despises us.

Two young detective constables in Aylesbury became pregnant at the same time and agreed to apply for a job share. Each would look after the other’s infant during the long, sometimes unpredictable shifts. It suited the police work and the children; the babies grew up in homely sibling amity for two and a half years. The officers, relaxed and reassured, were presumably all the better at tracking down Buckinghamshire felons.

Then, DC Leanne Shepherd sadly relates, “an Ofsted lady came to the door” and accused her of illegal childminding. Because the arrangement was deemed a “reward”, she should have been registered, inspected and compelled to deliver and record the 65 targets of the new early years curriculum. Ofsted considered the private friendly swap no different from a commercial enterprise. DC Shepherd says that she was not even given grace to go through the hoops, but had to put her crying, baffled child into a nursery to complete her police work. Result: unhappy child, anxious mothers, wasted fees.

Ofsted was too chicken to reply on the Radio 4 Today programme, but piously stated in writing that arrangements in common between friends are fine as long as the childcare was not for more than two hours, or 14 days a year.

Gordon Bennett! What has an “office for standards in education” to do with babies crawling around in their mums’ friends’ houses anyway? Government and its regulations exist to defend us from incompetent or bad strangers, not from our mates.

Twenty years ago, under the supposedly bossy Tories, a local artist and I were abandoned simultaneously by our helps, and decided to pool our limited patience with preschool rampagers. So for two mornings and lunches a week Rose got underfoot in her studio, and for two more she and her pal Zoe roared around within earshot of my study.

Both mothers had two peaceful work spells and two less so. As the years went by I can remember few summer days when I did not have either an unnaturally quiet house or a maelstrom of little boys and girls. It went over 14 days a year for sure. And yes, we paid one another back in similar favours — or “reward” if you are from Ofsted. Today, it seems, ordinary life has been made illegal. Do you remember voting for that?


British planners ban family from their own barn conversion… but rule holidaymakers CAN live there

When Jonathan and Emma Jones spent £100,000 converting an old barn, they thought they had created the perfect countryside home for their family. Their dreams were shattered when they were banned from living in it by the local council. But the couple were told they could still rent it out to holidaymakers – because it would ‘diversify the rural economy and support the tourist industry’.

Their home in the picturesque village of Rhos, near Neath in South Wales, was classed as a new build rather than a barn conversion after structural problems required extensive rebuilding work. They had to re-apply for planning permission, but this was rejected. Instead, they were told they could complete the project only for use as a holiday let to encourage tourism.

Mr Jones, 33, said: ‘We had permission for a dwelling but planners were not happy with some of the work I carried out. They then told us the house would not be granted planning permission as a dwelling – though we would get approval for its use as a holiday let. ‘To cut our losses we went ahead with the change of use which left us stranded and now we don’t have a home. ‘We are faced with the ludicrous situation of handing the keys to holidaymakers to stay in the dream home we have built for ourselves.’

The couple sold their former home to finance the conversion to a four-bedroom house, which used stone and other materials from the old barn so it looked just the same.

Mr Jones and his 34-year-old wife are now living at his parents’ farmhouse with daughter Ffion, two, just a few yards away. ‘We look out on it when we get up every morning knowing that we can’t live there,’ said Mr Jones, a telecoms manager. ‘It has led to a lot of stress for myself and my family. ‘The council basically had to choose who they would rather see stay in the house. ‘Would it be a young family born and bred in the area who work locally or strangers from outside the area?’

The couple’s dreams were scuppered by planners at Neath Port Talbot Council. A report by the council’s planning department said that the conversion ‘would result in an unjustified form of development within the open countryside’. Mr Jones has now lodged an appeal with the Welsh Assembly.

A council spokesman said: ‘While Mr Jones was working on the original building at some point – for whatever reason – he demolished part of the existing barn and built a replica of it. ‘At that point we could not consider any new application as a conversion because this was now treated as a new property.’

Council planning chief Geoff White said: ‘The site is in the open countryside where there are strict policies controlling development. ‘Approval was granted for the retention and completion of the building as holiday accommodation.’


Image isn’t a public good

Abercrombie & Fitch is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for not hiring a Muslim teenager because she wears a hijab. A garment that doesn’t fit in with the ‘image’ that A&F is trying to portray while selling its branded style of clothing.

In these multicultural, omnipotent public sphere times a private company is a fantasy. Only after government imposed laws and regulations have been put in place can you legally trade. Playing by their rules not the consumers’. Any person living in the real world is aware of the ‘image’ that A&F tries to portray. It’s preppy and extremely homo-erotic. Given that their advertising is practically everywhere you’d have thought it would be noticeable that it’s not aimed at certain market sections. Yes A&F is exclusionary: they wilfully choose not to sell to certain parts of the marketplace. Why then should they be forced to employ someone who, let’s face it, isn’t part of their ideal customer base?

Private companies have a right to choose. They should be able to decide based on any reason as to why they don’t employ someone, be it religion, sex, race, skills, education, attitude etc. When a person isn’t chosen for a job they have been discriminated against, that’s an unfortunate consequence of competition. It happens on a daily basis across the globe. There is nothing that can be done to stop people being different from one another. It’s those differences and their continual impact that makes life interesting. Cases like this and others retard our individuality and seek to impose a blanket of sameness upon us all. In the meantime let people discriminate. Without it we end up with burqua’d waitresses in Hooters…


The British Disease


Whenever I am in Amsterdam, I stay in a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all Dutch.

Whenever I am in London, I stay at a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all foreign—which is just as well, for if they were English the hotel would not be well-run for long. When the English try to run a good hotel, they combine pomposity with slovenliness.

Perhaps this would not be so serious a matter if the British economy were not a so-called service economy. It has been such ever since Margaret Thatcher solved our chronic industrial relations problem by the simple expedient of getting rid of industry. This certainly worked, and perhaps was inevitable in the circumstances, but it was necessary to find some other way of making our way in the world. This we have not done.

Incompetence and incapacity are everywhere. Despite ever-rising local taxes, town and city councils are either unable or unwilling to clear the streets of litter, with the result that Britain is by far the dirtiest country in Europe.

Although we spend four times as much on education per head as in 1950, the illiteracy rate has not gone down. I used to try to plumb the depths (or shallows) of youthful British ignorance by asking my patients a few simple questions. Fifty percent responded to the question “What is arithmetic?” by answering “What is arithmetic?” It is not that they were good at doing something that they could not name: When I asked one young man, not mentally deficient, to multiply three by four, he replied “We didn’t get that far.”

This is the result of 11 years of state-funded compulsory education, or rather attendance at school, at a cost of between $100,000 and $200,000. The government’s response has been to raise the school-leaving age to 18, thus making total ignorance even more expensive.

This is at the bottom rung of society, but incompetence starts at the very top. It is doubtful whether any major country has had a more incompetent leader than Gordon Brown for many years. The product of a pleasure-hating Scottish Presbyterian tradition, he behaves as if taxation were a moral good in itself, regardless of the uses to which it is put; he is widely believed to have taken lessons in how to smile, though he has not been an apt pupil, for he now makes disconcertingly odd grimaces at inappropriate moments. He is the only leader known to me who combines dourness with frivolity.

Early in his disastrous career in government he sold the country’s gold reserves at a derisory price, against all advice, driving the price lower by the manner in which he arranged the sale. A convenience-store owner couldn’t, and almost certainly wouldn’t, have done worse.

After 12 years of ceaseless Brownian motion, British public finances have gone from being comparatively healthy to being catastrophically bad. In order to expand vastly the public sector in which he is a true believer, Mr. Brown has raised taxes by stealth, undertaken government obligations that appear nowhere in the accounts and that will weigh on future generations, and eased credit to encourage asset inflation and give people the illusion of prosperity. For the duration of his time in government, Britain has been like a consumptive patient, with an excess of bogus well-being shortly before expiry. If the world is an opera stage, Britain has been playing Violetta or Mimi in the last act.

What, then, of the opposition? Surely it has managed to hit a few of the easy targets with which the government has so thoughtfully supplied it?

No words of mine can adequately convey the contempt in which the Conservatives are now, rightly, held by almost everyone. I do not recall meeting anyone who thinks that David Cameron, their leader, is anything other than a careerist in the mold of Tony Blair. The most that anyone allows himself to hope is that, beneath the thin veneer of opportunism, there beats a heart of oak.

But the auguries are not good: Not only was Mr. Cameron’s only pre-political job in public relations, hardly a school for intellectual and moral probity, but he has subscribed to every fashionable policy nostrum from environmentalism to large, indeed profligate, government expenditure. Not truth, but the latest poll, has guided him —at a time when only truth will serve. However, he will be truly representative as prime minister. Like his country, he is quite without substance.


About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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