NHS managers numbers rise at twice rate of doctors, report finds
Hopefully they do something useful but spending the money on doctors and nurses would surely do a lot more good — considering the constant stories of insufficient medical personnel — see the story after this
Numbers of senior managers in the NHS have almost doubled in a decade compared with a 35 per cent increase in doctors and nurses as ‘fixation’ with the market means health service is bogged down in red tape, a report said.
The British Medical Association highlighted the figures as it launched a campaign to ‘Look after our NHS’ and end the commercialisation of the health service, with treatments contracted out to independent healthcare providers.
Official data shows that since 1995 the number of senior managers has increased by 91 per cent while the combined numbers of doctors and nurses rose by just 35 per cent. Other ‘market driven’ health care policies have wasted around £220 million since 2003 as private companies were given contracts to carry out operations on NHS patients which included clauses that they would be paid for a set number of procedures even if they were not carried out….
NHS trusts have been ordered to cut management costs by 30 per cent this year as the health service faces reduced growth funding and is faced with cost savings of £20 billion to find over the next five years. However, Health Service Journal published its own research showing NHS organisations which increased the number of senior managers scored highly on quality scores.
The magazine found that the average trust which received a weak rating on quality of services from the regulator had lost four managerial posts while trusts with an excellent rating gained 12 managers.
Mike O’Brien, the Health Minister, said: “We oppose the privatisation of the NHS. The government is committed to an NHS funded by taxation, with equal access to care, free at the point of use, based on clinical need and not ability to pay. We want to ensure that patients receive the best quality care and tax payers the best value for money. “Independent and third sector organisations were used successfully to get down waiting lists for operations and can make a contribution to this by helping to add capacity and increase patient choice.”
Dozens of British children’s wards must close
Dozens of children’s wards in Britain will have to close under European rules limiting doctors’ working hours, and because of the need to save money, the President of the Royal College of Paediatrics has said. The combined impact of the European Working Time Directive and the £20billion savings the NHS must make to plug its budget deficit over the next five years mean some children’s in-patient wards will have to close and merge with others, Prof Terence Stephenson told The Daily Telegraph.
He said there was already a shortfall of about 600 consultant paediatricians and 200 top-level trainees before the directive came into force last August, and now the workforce was under “unsustainable pressure”.
Junior doctors are limited under the directive to a 48-hour week, making it harder to ensure proper staffing levels in the wards at all times, Prof Stephenson said. Too many small hospitals provide in-patient children’s services and some of these should close so that doctors can staff the rest round the clock, he added. He also warned that the Department of Health had cut the number of trainees entering hospital specialities by five per cent this year to push more doctors into GP training. The latest figures show that 230 hospitals provide children’s in-patient services.
Michael Summers, vice-chairman of the Patients Association campaign group, said: “Far too many hospital services are closing to save money. It leaves patients having to travel vast distances.”
A Health Department spokesman said a Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health survey last year indicated more than 100 extra paediatric consultant posts were created as a Working Time Directive solution, adding: “Service levels are constantly under review. Changes should only happen when they deliver quality improvements for patients.”
Political correctness allowed a crook to flourish in the British police
The only thing black about Commander Ali Dizaei is his hair dye. Yet this Iranian-born policeman, the most senior officer to be jailed for corruption in more than 30 years, was a president of the National Black Police Association. The NBPA was not the only organisation to have been made a fool of by this arch-manipulator of racial politics: the BBC had made his dishonest memoir its Radio 4 Book of the Week, and The Guardian was also a willing media partner in his campaign to become the country’s most powerful policeman.
It is difficult for any organisation to admit to an error of judgment, and the bigger that error, the harder it is. So perhaps it is not so surprising that the NBPA’s immediate reaction to Dizaei’s guilty verdict was to say that his conviction had “come as a surprise”. Meanwhile, this bent copper’s newspaper of choice seemed to have an exclusive post-trial interview, reporting that “Dizaei, 47, remained defiant and told The Guardian the case was ‘completely outrageous and a fit-up’. He said that he had been pursued by the authorities, who had a ‘vendetta’ against him”. Amazing, given that Dizaei had in fact been found guilty himself of fitting up an innocent man who had crossed him, that any newspaper could publish such comments without its pages turning red with embarrassment.
The point, however, is that Dizaei — author of a PhD thesis on “racial discrimination within the police” — wasn’t just a bent copper. He was a politician, brilliantly playing on the fashionable belief that racism is the defining characteristic of British society to advance his career — and his alone. Not everyone was taken in: David Michael, a founder of the original Black Police Association, said last week that Dizaei “subverted the movement for his own ends”. Detective Chief Inspector Michael may have found it easier to say that than some might: he would not fear being described as a racist for attacking Dizaei. After the 1999 Macpherson report’s devastating labelling of the Metropolitan police as “institutionally racist”, its senior ranks had developed an understandable pathological fear of further accusations of bigotry.
Nowadays, if you receive any email from the Metropolitan police, it will contain a lengthy disclaimer at its foot, stating that the message you have just read must not contain “racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, defamatory, offensive, illegal or otherwise inappropriate material”. The fact that the police have “illegal” at the bottom of the list and “racist” at the top tells you something about their state of mind, all of 11 years after Macpherson.
Such caution would definitely have prevented any Met officer from observing that Dizaei’s behaviour — acting as if he were untouchable — was possibly cultural in its origins. He comes from a family of Iranian policemen, a body of men not known for their reluctance to throw their weight around. Indeed, if a police commander in Tehran had been embarrassingly confronted in his favourite restaurant, as Dizaei was by a young man — Waad al-Baghdadi — to whom he owed money, the consequences would hardly bear thinking about. A sudden loss of fingernails while in custody would have been the least of it.
It’s fair to say that there have been old-style British cops who in years gone by would have got away with behaving as Dizaei did — although it is uniquely characteristic of the vain and egocentric Dizaei that the dispute was about a bill for work on his personal website. In one sense Dizaei owes his downfall to the discrediting of the police in which he himself played such a part (for example by accusing its most senior officers of “ethnic cleansing”). The mixed-race jury spent little more than two hours in finding Dizaei guilty on all counts; they found it immensely easy to trust al-Baghdadi’s word over that of a commander of the Metropolitan police — and it was an additional irony that his defence lawyer, Michael Mansfield QC, is a man who built his lucrative career on ridiculing the police.
After Dizaei’s conviction, it is not just his supporters who have expressed outrage. Amid the exultation on the right at the humiliation of the blue-eyed boy (so to speak) of the anti-racist movement, many have furiously argued that it was a mark of the Metropolitan police’s enslavement by the forces of political correctness that it promoted such an obvious chancer as Dizaei to the coveted rank of commander.
This, however, is where the politicians have got away with it (which is not usually the case in the British media). The fact is that ever since the Metropolitan Police Authority was set up in 2000, in the wake of the Macpherson report, it has not been in the power of the Met to control its senior appointments. In the name of political “accountability”, all titles of commander and above have been put entirely in the gift of a group of local political figures.
It was not Dizaei’s senior officers at the Met, the “ethnic cleansers” of his imagination, who had made him a commander — I imagine they were appalled by the prospect — but what had been a Labour-dominated political claque. Dizaei was a politician after their own fashion, someone who spoke their language with great fluency and apparent conviction. The same crowd — led by Ken Livingstone — adored the former Metropolitan police commissioner, the inept Sir Ian Blair: Sir Ian, too, was an intensely political figure, whose public utterances were disfigured by the jargon of that trade, appealing to his (temporary) elected masters much more than to his officers.
Sir Ian was forced to resign by Boris Johnson in the week the new London mayor had taken over leadership of the Metropolitan Police Authority. This seems to have been legally valid — and you will immediately see the problem for any current or future Metropolitan police commissioner. As the system currently works (or doesn’t) he can be sacked by the MPA for making a mess of things; but he lacks any authority or right to appoint the men (and women) to the most senior ranks — the very people he needs at his side to ensure the Met is run well, according to his own best judgment.
To put it in the language that new Labour politicians might understand: there is a fatal dislocation between the Metropolitan commissioner’s rights and his responsibilities. Amazingly, the Met chief, Sir Paul Stephenson, can’t even strip Dizaei of his rank as commander; he must wait for the MPA to make up its collective mind.
Worst of all, this much-vaunted democratisation of the Metropolitan police has ensured that plausible “anti-racists”, such as an Ali Dizaei, are promoted to ever more senior ranks, while police officers with no ambition to nurture a personal political constituency are less favoured — doubtless to their resentment and frustration.
For all its corruption in the past — Ali Dizaei was a mere dilettante crook compared with some police officers who have entered the dock over the years — one glory of British policing had always been its absolute independence from the political process. Its best officers understood that they were accountable to the public simply in what they did every day, neither requesting political guidance nor offering it.
One of the most depressing aspects of the racial politics of modern policing, as demonstrated by the career of Ali Dizaei, is that it has deliberately divided the public it serves into the “white community” and the “black community”. It is racism by another name.
Amnesty shows its claws
Its long-standing Leftism is having predictable results. I was a member of Amnesty once — until I found out about its anti-Israel bias — JR
When Gita Sahgal questioned the human rights group’s links to Islamic radicals, it suspended her. Now she fears for her safety. Sahgal argues that Amnesty should not be associated with Cageprisoners, which appears to give succour to militants who believe in global jihad
Amnesty International has made its name as a champion of free speech, campaigning on behalf of prisoners who have spoken out against oppressive regimes around the world. But when it comes to speaking up about the organisation itself … well, that seems to be a different story.
Last week Gita Sahgal, a highly respected lifelong human rights activist and head of Amnesty’s gender unit, told The Sunday Times of her concerns about Amnesty’s relationship with Cageprisoners, an organisation headed by Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo internee. Since his release in 2005, Begg has spoken alongside Amnesty at a number of events and accompanied the organisation to a meeting at Downing Street last month. Sahgal felt the closeness of the relationship between Amnesty and Cageprisoners — which appears to give succour to those who believe in global jihad — was a threat to Amnesty’s integrity. “To be appearing on platforms with Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban, whom we treat as a human rights defender, is a gross error of judgment,” she wrote to Amnesty’s leaders following the Downing Street visit.
Feeling her concerns were not being addressed, she decided to go public. Hours after our story appeared she was suspended. Sahgal’s phone started ringing off the hook with news organisations seeking interviews. The story also lit up the blogosphere, partly because of Amnesty’s importance — it has some 2.8m members and a raft of glamorous supporters — but also because what Sahgal was talking about touched that raw nerve, the naivety of white middle-class liberals in dealing with Islamic radicals.
To say the past week has been a difficult one for Sahgal would be an understatement. She fears for her own and her family’s safety. She has — temporarily at least — lost her job and found it almost impossible to find anyone to represent her in any potential employment case. She rang round the human rights lawyers she knows, all of whom have declined to help citing a conflict of interest. “Although it is said that we must defend everybody no matter what they’ve done, it appears that if you’re a secular, atheist, Asian British woman, you don’t deserve a defence from our civil right firms,” she says wryly.
So no one in the human rights world wants to cross swords with Amnesty: that’s no surprise and least of all to Sahgal. “I know the nature of what I’m up against,” she says. “I didn’t do what I did lightly.” She is feisty, unrepentant and by no means without support: we meet, for instance, in an office lent to her by a family friend of Peter Benenson, the lawyer who founded Amnesty in 1961. She has had many private messages from former colleagues. “People are shocked,” she says. “There is a lot of disquiet in the organisation and that’s been quite heartening.”
Amnesty and Begg have taken issue with what Sahgal, 53, has to say. Claudio Cordone, Amnesty’s interim secretary-general, wrote to The Sunday Times to say it was “preposterous” to accuse Amnesty of being linked in any way to the Taliban. “Amnesty International works with Moazzam Begg as a former detainee of Guantanamo Bay and as a victim of the human rights violations suffered there . . .” he said. “Moazzam Begg has never been tried or convicted of any terrorism-related offences and has publicly rebutted accusations against him in this respect.”
Cordone objected to people like Begg being subjected to “trial by media”, but part of Sahgal’s point is that human rights organisations have to be super-scrupulous not only in the people they choose to support, but also about the company those people keep — and any decisions they make must stand up to public scrutiny.
The treatment of Guantanamo detainees keeps making headlines, the latest last week when the government was forced to publish evidence showing MI5 knew that Binyam Mohamed was being tortured at the United States’s behest. “Amnesty underscores the importance of Binyam Mohamed’s case and of course that’s right,” says Sahgal. “Moazzam Begg has ongoing cases and I hope he wins them. But that’s not the issue.”
Given the sensitivities involved it seems reasonable to ask where Begg’s sympathies lie. In his autobiography he describes becoming interested in Islamic politics in his twenties and he later ran a bookshop that stocked Islamist writing. He travelled to Bosnia and Afghanistan and admits giving money to Muslim combatants, but denies being involved in any fighting.
In 2001 he took his wife and young children to live in Afghanistan in order, he says, to fulfil a dream of being a teacher. He helped to establish a school with sections for boys and girls and installed water pumps. When the allied attack on Afghanistan started later that year, the family fled to Pakistan where Begg, now 42, was picked up. His family have always insisted it was a case of mistaken identity.
In his book he says the Taliban were better than anything Afghanistan had had in the past 25 years. “I was talking about something I believed at the time,” he says now. “That’s what I understood from my knowledge of the country, that there had been no law and order, there had been warlords that had taken over the country, children used as sex slaves, drug production was very high and the Taliban put a stop to all this. That was the reality on the ground. It was the best of the worst.”
He believes it is right to be talking to the Taliban now. “Because the Taliban are Afghans and we are not,” he says. “The British are not Afghans and neither are the Americans. And as much as you might not like what they stand for, they have more right in that land than anyone else. “Ultimately, what we’re doing now as part of our foreign policy is we’re talking to the Taliban, we are engaging with the Taliban, the people we’ve been demonising for the past nine years, and that is precisely what we did in Northern Ireland. “I’ve never said we should give the Taliban money — that is what the government is doing. But we need to be engaging with people who we find most unpalatable. So the dialogue with the Taliban is something I not only welcome but something I have been saying for a long, long time.”
As for human rights abuses committed by the Taliban, Begg says he has seen and written about them himself: “I’ve seen them because I lived there. But I’ve seen Americans commit more human rights abuses, I can promise you. But I haven’t said we shouldn’t talk to the Americans.”
He counters Sahgal’s view by saying she is, in her own way, a fundamentalist: “She advocates the government shouldn’t even be engaging with the Muslim Council of Britain. It’s not a normal position.” And he rejects her description of him as Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban: “That is a ridiculous thing to say. I have toured the country with former US soldiers several times … that doesn’t seem to be a very Taliban Al-Qaeda thing to do, does it?”
Indeed it does not. But when Asim Qureshi, one of Begg’s senior colleagues at Cageprisoners, appeared on a radio programme with Sahgal last week and was reminded of a speech he had given at a rally organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist political party, in which Qureshi supported “jihad” against oppression of Muslims, he did not distance himself from the sentiments. Cageprisoners not only campaigns on behalf of those detained without trial, but also for Islamic radicals who have been through the due process of the British courts, such as Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada. Sahgal believes the organisation has an agenda “way beyond being a prisoners’ rights organisation”.
The bigger picture is how human rights organisations — and society more widely — should view Islamic radicals. There has been much debate over whether, spurred by a sentimental knee-jerk anti-Americanism, white liberals have sympathised with Islamic radicals, thereby implicitly tolerating their intolerance, particularly towards women. “For me that’s a form of racism,” says Sahgal, “because what it does is wipe out the experiences of the people they oppress. And it’s not helped by a discourse about a ‘clash of civilisations’, which elides jihadi ideologies and treats them as normal Muslim thinking. That’s devastating for ordinary Muslims.”
If the men incarcerated in Guantanamo were white fascists, she says, “I hope we would defend them. We would have to defend them — but we wouldn’t necessarily put them on 50 or 100 platforms after that”. The problem, she believes, is that human rights organisations want to believe they represent “perfect victims”. “But a victim can also be a perpetrator,” she says. “It’s a very simple thought.”
This is something that has troubled her for many years. Some years ago, before she joined Amnesty’s staff, she was asked by the organisation to speak alongside a man whose son had been arrested during an insurgency in northern India: “His son had disappeared and he’d gone from police station to police station looking for him. It was a very moving story and it was hard not to cry. He was coming to thank Amnesty for the postcards they’d written and the letters they’d sent to the government. He felt his son owed his life to that, and that, of course, is the power of our work.
“The problem was that he was surrounded by men who were clearly Sikh political activists, allied to the group which assassinated Indira Gandhi. A perfectly well-meaning person had invited me to speak on a platform beside a perfectly genuine victim but hadn’t paid any attention to who accompanied him.”
Now, for flagging up this sort of error, Sahgal finds herself out in the cold. She says she needs to keep talking about this issue because she feels it won’t solve itself. She’ll be watching with interest to see if there is a cooling of relations between Amnesty and Cageprisoners. “The signs are that there won’t be,” she says. “The signs are that the cool relationship is with me.”
“New Scientist” becomes Non Scientist
In her article below, Joanne Nova appears to be unaware that “New Scientist” has always been Left-leaning and that their present bias is nothing new. It is not a peer-reviewed academic journal. Its editor has described it as “an ideas magazine”. It would be more accurate to describe it as a “no idea” magazine. It is in fact neither new nor scientific
You might think journalists at a popular science magazine would be able to investigate and reason. In DenierGate, watch New Scientist closely as it does the unthinkable and tries to defend gross scientific malpractice by saying it’s okay because other people have done other things (that were not related) a little bit wrong and a long time ago. Move along ladies and gentlemen, there’s nothing to see…
The big problem for this formerly good publication is that it has decided already what the answer is to any question on climate change (and the answer could be warm or cold, but it’s always ALARMING). That leaves it clutching for sand-bags to prop up its position as the king-tide sweeps away any journalistic credibility it might have had. I’ve added my own helpful notes into the New Scientist article, just so you get the full picture.
NS (New Scientist): “Climategate” has put scientists on trial in the court of public opinion.
JN (Joanne Nova): Since there’s evidence of falsification, hiding data, artificially altering results, and deleting records, a trial sounds entirely appropriate. How about the Supreme Court kind?
NS: If you believe climate skeptics, a huge body of evidence* involving the work of tens of thousands of scientists over more than a century–
JN: I’d hate to exaggerate, but the IPCC can only name 60 scientists who reviewed the evidence on causation in the Fourth Assessment Report, and most of them were either reviewing their own work, had a vested interest, or are themselves caught up in the Climategate scandal …
NS: –should be thrown out on the basis of the alleged misconduct of a handful of researchers, even though nothing in the hacked emails has been shown to undermine any of the scientific conclusions*.
JN: Nothing? So for New Scientist, it is normal practice to refuse to provide data, refuse FOI’s, and then delete data? Maybe this is the normal practice for a religion, but it sure isn’t normal for science.
And spot the appearance of the mythical “HUGE body of evidence”. Can anyone at New Scientist find that one mystery paper with empirical evidence showing that carbon causes major warming? Just ONE? That’s major warming, not minor. And that’s empirical, i.e., by observation, not by simulation. This is the paragraph where New Scientist proves it has become Non Scientist:
“If we are going to judge the truth of claims on the behavior of those making them, it seems only fair to look at the behavior of a few of those questioning the scientific consensus. There are many similar examples we did not include. We leave readers to draw their own conclusions about who to trust.”
Alarm bells are ringing from Galileo’s grave. We’re trying to figure out if the world is warming due to man-made carbon right? New Scientist’s method is not to look at the evidence, but to look at the behavior of the sceptics. Did you see the black hole of ad hominem that this once esteemed journal just stepped into? Logic and reason were reduced in a flash to a naked singularity. Follow its reasoning through the black hole, and you don’t emerge on the other side.
Who to trust indeed? Let’s trust people who can reason, and scientists who don’t hide their data. It doesn’t matter how “sceptics behave”; it matters whether the data can be independently analyzed and interpreted; whether the conclusions are robust. But, since the data is g-o-n-e , no one can verify anything. So in a way, it does come down to “trust”: In the new quasi-religious form of science, you have to trust those who hold the global data. Isn’t postmodern “science” an awful lot like the old religions?
Did they make the right “adjustments”? Who the heck knows?
So does New Scientist publish the most significant e-mails to let readers make up their own minds, or does it hide the damning lines, and feed in some old distractions it found in a festering mess of bias called the New Scientist Archive? Choose B. Go for an eighteen-year old paper by people not mentioned in the hacked e-mails. Of course. Then have another go at a science documentary that didn’t mention the hacked e-mails, but got part of a graph wrong. (And don’t mention that Al Gore’s movie made nine significant errors as determined by a British Court.)
Then, take another swipe at the unpaid scientists who arranged a petition that attracted thousands of signatures. New Scientist briefly notes the latest version of this petition, but since it really can’t find any flaws with this new version, which has an astounding 31,000 signatures on it, New Scientist spends several paragraphs on the earlier version, which could have been done a bit better, but was obviously mainly right, as shown by the second round… Remember the petition was done by volunteers and done twice. It’s the largest grassroots movement of scientists on any topic anywhere in the world, and New Scientist is attacking the 31,000 volunteer scientists, while it defends the 60 corrupt paid ones.
It’s beyond silly. The mindless irrelevant attacks go on. New Scientist attacks Nigel Lawson for using a misleadingly short time–eight years–to argue that the world is not warming (which is exactly what the satellite data shows). Eight years is too short for New Scientist to announce a flat trend, but in every other article with a single flood, a single cyclone, or a single heat wave, one week is long enough for New Scientist to imply that global warming might be to blame. So a season of hurricanes is significant, but years of cooling is misleading. Righto. (And Amen!)
New Scientist attacks Christopher Monckton’s paper–not because it can summarize why it is in error, but because another group disagrees with it, and there are some technicalities about whether it jumped through the right hoops called peer review. Attack the man and not the message, eh? New Scientist stands up for the bureaucratic details of “peer review” (only certain peers count), but won’t stand up for the independent scientists, the whistleblowers, who want access to data just to make sure those “peer reviewed papers” don’t turn out to be baseless frauds like the Hockey Stick.
Let’s pick apart this politics of doom
‘Climategate’ confirms what many of us already knew: that claims of future catastrophe are political, not scientific
A sixth of the world’s population – the billion or so people who live downstream of Himalayan glaciers and depend on them for water – must surely be relieved. Just a few months ago, ‘consensus science’ held that these vast tracts of ice would be gone in just a few decades. The implications were stark. Water wars and climate refugees would spread out from the region, consuming society in Gaia’s revenge. If the direct effects of climate change didn’t kill you, the social chaos they unleashed would.
Now that the death of the Himalayan glaciers has been deferred by some three centuries, we can take a sober look at the situation facing people living in the region. The truth is that they have more years ahead of them to find alternatives to relying on Himalayan meltwater than have passed since the Industrial Revolution began to transform our own landscape. That should be plenty of time.
For the furore around ‘Glaciergate’, we didn’t actually need to know that Himalayan glacial retreat was exaggerated to know that the disaster story it seemingly produced was pseudo-scientific bunk. The plots of such disaster stories are written well before any evidence of looming doom emerges from ‘science’. What really underpins the climate change panic is the way in which politicians have justified their own impotence by appealing to catastophe.
This helps to explain the reaction of the political establishment to the various scandals that have beset the IPCC and leading climate scientists in recent weeks. In response to the allegations levelled at individuals and institutions in the climate establishment, the UK climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, has declared war on climate sceptics on both Channel 4 News and in the Observer. But the ironic consequence of Miliband’s intervention has been to acknowledge that disagreement exists. Miliband now recognises an enemy that only a few months ago consisted of a tiny number of ‘flat-earthers’, according to his boss, Gordon Brown. Given that sceptics are not usually engaged, just ignored, a declaration of war is a sure sign that he is on the defensive.
Miliband says, ‘I think the science and the precautionary principle, which says that there’s at the very least a huge risk if we don’t act, mean that we should be acting’. This use of the precautionary principle puts the position of climate alarmists back by a decade. The argument for action on climate change once depended on just the possibility that changes in climate could cause devastating problems for humans. Scientists had not yet produced a consensus. The political stalemate seemingly ended after the infamous ‘Hockey Stick’ graph was published in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (TAR) in 2001. It was held to be, at last, the conclusive evidence that man indeed had altered the climate. Here was the fingerprint on the ‘smoking gun’ that pointed towards our imminent demise.
By retreating to the precautionary principle rather than simply defending the notion of scientific consensus, Miliband concedes a lot. The scientific consensus around climate change has stood as a powerful source of political authority in lieu of democratic legitimacy. In the light of events and arguments which undermine this authority, Miliband is fighting for his government’s credibility, not to save the planet.
He protests that, in spite of the new climate scandals, the ‘overwhelming majority’ of scientists nonetheless still hold with the idea that mankind has altered the climate. The recent revelations are just dents, caused by procedural oversight, in an otherwise robust case, he seems to say. But actually, this does not really get to the heart of the discussion about climate. A scientific consensus about the climate’s sensitivity to greenhouse gas emissions is not equivalent to a scientific consensus about human society’s sensitivity to climate. There is a huge difference between these two ideas, yet Miliband’s argument rests on the idea that they are equivalent. And it is on this point that sceptics have not yet made much progress. While banging away at the science of climate change, they have failed to tackle the wider argument about our capacity to deal with the unexpected. What sceptics need to explain is how climate and society have become so confused.
This confusion has other ramifications, for example in the familiar claim that Miliband makes, that ‘climate change will be worse for the poor’. This in turn depends on the reinvention of ‘social justice’ as ‘environmental justice’, as if inequality is a natural phenomenon as inevitable as wind or rain.
But poverty is not a natural phenomenon. It is a tragic conceit to believe that by not driving our cars we will somehow make life better for those who cannot even dream of owning a car – much less having a road to drive it on. The problem is that people are poor, not that their climate is slightly different. We can see this fact demonstrated in the horrific scale of devastation in Haiti. An event of similar magnitude in a more economically developed country would not have claimed so many lives. It is not enough to say that carbon emissions cost lives, or anything like it, because the principal factors that determine the outcome of natural phenomena relate to an area’s level of development.
However, as Miliband’s words reveal, world leaders have given up on the idea of development as the means through which people can enjoy better protected and more rewarding lives. This can only have the consequence of producing and sustaining poverty, making greater numbers of people vulnerable to nature’s indifferent whims. The way in which the political class has surrendered to climate panic is a comprehensive admission of our leaders’ own impotence. Only if we take their inability to produce domestic or international development for granted can we conceive of changes in weather patterns as inevitably catastrophic.
For example, over the next three centuries, the people living beneath Himalayan glaciers might construct dams to collect the rain or snow that falls there, but which does not remain as ice. It is not inconceivable that Asians might also provide a greater proportion of their water needs through desalination plants. The world has been reorganised around the tenets of environmentalism precisely because the notion of using development to provide protection from natural disaster is now deemed to be impossible.
World leaders have projected their catastrophic sense of impotence on to the world. Just to make sure that politics cannot intervene, they have brought forward the date of the ecopalypse, to render any alternative and any debate impossible. It can’t happen soon enough for them. A failure of imagination has been passed off as the conclusion of ‘climate science’ and as the opinion of ‘the overwhelming majority of scientists’, but as we can see, the premise of impotence and catastrophe is a presupposition that is political in its character and not a conclusion produced by science.
In turn, if the notion of catastrophic climate change is reduced to a mere article of (bad) faith, the institutions of climate politics – all of which have been constructed on the premise of catastrophe/impotence – cease to have a legitimate basis. The IPCC, the Stern Review, the Kyoto treaty, Copenhagen, the Climate Change Committee and the legislation and reorganisation of public life that have followed in their wake have not been created to save the planet from climate catastrophe, but to save politicians from the collapse of their own authority. That is what Miliband’s war is about.
The scandal is not really in the fraud, exaggeration, or deceit – if that is what they were – committed by particular researchers, or the failure of the IPCC process to identify that certain claims were false. The scandal is that politicians seek moral authority in crisis. It was not ‘science’ that produced stories of imminent catastrophe; it was the bleak doom-laden politics of this era. Scientists merely extrapolated from this scenario, into the future, taking the logic of the political premises to their conclusion. The politics exists prior to the science. In reply, sceptics, with a more positive vision, ought to demonstrate the gap that exists between the science and the story, and how it might end differently if we start from more positive ground.
If Miliband wants a war, he can have one. But the battle lines should recognise that the politics of catastrophe is prior to the science of catastophe, and that another outlook that emphasises our ability to control events is possible. Environmental problems will always occur, but it is how they are understood that counts. We cannot understand ‘what science says’ until we understand what it has been told, and what it has really been asked. Science has been put to use to turn the billion people living beneath Himalayan glaciers into political capital by the IPCC to prop up the likes of Ed Miliband. It is only now that he has been deprived of the authority that those billion lives – or deaths – gave him, that he wants a war.
Today’s politicians need catastrophes because they have no other way of creating authority for themselves. But the catastrophe is in politics, not in the atmosphere.
Dishonest British exam marks betray kids
Grades are so inflated that real ability can only be guessed at. I am not entirely sympathetic with the kid below, though. Why would he want to study English? He can read all the poems and novels he likes on his own and where is it going to get him anyway? English was by far my best subject but I did not major in it as I could not see the point of wasting a university education on it. My worst subject was always mathematics but I ended up teaching statistics for most of my university teaching career. Reality is often far from the ideal but it pays to recognize it
A new A-level grade intended to help universities pick the most able applicants risks falling victim to the grade inflation it was meant to solve. Candidates are being rejected by universities despite being predicted to score at least three A*s in their A-levels this summer, when the grade is awarded for the first time.
With about one in eight A-level candidates now scoring straight As and thousands rejected each year by Oxford and Cambridge alone, it had been hoped that the A* would identify the academic elite. Figures released last week showed applications to degree courses were up by 23% on last year and the A* has increased the pressure on pupils.
Among those who have been turned down is Robert Kehoe, 18, a grammar school pupil from Lincolnshire, who says he has been rejected by Cambridge and three other universities despite being predicted to win three A*s and an A. To gain an A*, candidates must achieve an average of 80% in exams across their two years of A-level study and 90% in exams in the second year.
Only a handful of universities include A*s in their offers — most successful applicants to Cambridge are told they must gain at least one of the grades this summer. The university is understood to have made its first three A*s offer within the past few days.
Research by the university suggests that even three A*s may not set candidates apart from the crowd. Cambridge analysed the A-level marks scored by present undergraduates and found that 45% of science students and a quarter of those in arts subjects would have gained three or more A* grades. At least 70% of science students and 55% of those in the arts would have merited at least two A*s.
Tutors believe this is likely to be an underestimate of the numbers who will obtain the grades this summer.
“We are told by teachers that students are working much harder than they used to when they knew they were on target for an A grade,” said Geoff Parks, director of admissions at Cambridge.
Tim Hands, master of Magdalen College school in Oxford, who co-chairs the main independent schools universities committee, said his school had been advised by Cambridge that applicants to study medicine might need A*s across all their subjects to stand out. He added that Cambridge was being “commendably open and helpful”, in contrast to other universities which had said they would not even acknowledge the A*, potentially magnifying the injustice to pupils. “Students should be aware that admissions systems are heading for a dishonourable and confusing meltdown,” Hands warned.
Kehoe is a pupil at Queen Elizabeth’s grammar school in Horncastle. His application to read English has been rejected by Christ’s College, Cambridge, by two other colleges at the same university and by Durham, Warwick and University College London. In addition to his predicted A-level A*s, he obtained 10 A*s at GCSE. Kehoe does not know how much better he is expected to do. “I was determined not to lose hope and felt gently reassured by my four As at ASlevel,” he said. “Unfortunately, at present, my Ucas form serves only to depress me.” He is now hoping for success from his remaining university choice, Leeds.
The universities that rejected Kehoe would not comment on his case this weekend, but all said that entry to their English courses was highly competitive. This meant that many candidates with impressive academic credentials had to be turned away. University College London said it had received 1,500 applicants and interviewed 300 for just 70 places. “There are some very good people who fall by the wayside,” it said.
British Mathematics teachers fail primary level test
If you were good at mathematics, why would you want to teach in a British school? To get better teachers you need a more civilized school environment, for starters. Many schools are now so dysfunctional that you would have to be a dummy to work there
Primary school maths teachers are failing to attain the standard of arithmetic expected of 11-year-olds, new research has claimed. Only 20% of the teachers tested for a Channel 4 television documentary were able to work out that the solution to 4+2×5 is 14, not 30 — multiplication takes priority over addition.
The results have led to renewed calls from business leaders for the government to improve standards of maths teaching — last year, more than 20% of pupils left primary school without reaching the expected level of maths in their Sats tests. Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury, tells tomorrow’s edition of Dispatches: “Any system that only succeeds 80% of the time in terms of achieving its basic result needs changing. If we saw that in our business we would be working out how we close that gap. “I don’t think it is about inherent skill. I genuinely don’t believe that many, if any, of our youngsters need to be left in a position of not having basic skills in maths.”
His comments follow those last year by Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco, who attacked “woefully low” standards in schools which leave private sector companies to “pick up the pieces”; and Sir Stuart Rose, executive chairman of Marks & Spencer, who said many school-leavers were “not fit for work”.
For its programme Kids Don’t Count, Dispatches used a test devised by Richard Dunne, a maths consultant and former Exeter University academic. The test comprised 27 straightforward questions, most of which, according to Dunne, were of the standard required of an 11-year-old. On average, the teachers answered just 45% of the questions correctly. Only a third knew that 1.4 divided by 0.1 is 14. Currently, primary school teachers in England need only C grades in GCSE maths to be admitted on to teacher training courses.
Dunne said the tests showed that teachers “know so little maths that they cannot be conveying mathematics to their children”. However, Vernon Coaker, the schools minister, denied the claims of poor standards. He said: “The fact is that 100,000 more 11-year-olds are reaching level 4 in maths compared with 1997 because of record investment, great teaching and a strong focus on the basics for all pupils.”
Alison Wolf, professor of public sector management at King’s College London, said she was “horrified” by the Channel 4 findings and that teacher training was to blame. “Our obsession with generic teaching skills has crowded out time in which we could be making sure that [teachers] have the basic knowledge,” said Wolf. “I don’t think you can teach maths if you can’t do it either.”
“Paddy” an offensive word in Britain?
“It began in December 2007, when Cllr Ken Bamber (Con) told an ‘Irish’ joke during a break in a meeting to discuss an appeal against dismissal. Union official Brian Kelly took offence at the use of the word “Paddy” and filed an official complaint.
Now agreement has finally been reached between the two and Medway Council has agreed to pay compensation to Mr Kelly, who was its full-time Unison official.
Details are being kept private, but it is thought the agreement was reached at the conciliation service, ACAS, after it was referred there by the Employment Tribunal.
Cllr Bamber was chairing the appeal hearing when the joke was told during a break in proceedings. The Irish-born union representative said he considered “Paddy” was an offensive word and racist in intent. Cllr Bamber scribbled a note saying he apologised, but it was alleged he would not sign it or say for what he was apologising.
The offending joke:
“A man walked into a Dublin bar and saw a friend sitting with an empy glass. ‘Paddy can I buy you another’, he asked, to which Paddy replied – ‘now what would I be wanting with another empty glass?'”
Blue chip companies running from Leftist Britain’s tax greed: “Half of Britain’s 30 largest companies have studied shifting their tax base offshore, with a handful saying they are actively considering a move, a survey by The Sunday Times has found. The findings underline the threat of an exodus that could cost the state billions of pounds. They come a week before a crucial meeting at the Treasury where reforms to the taxation of foreign profits — a bone of contention for multinationals based here — will be thrashed out. Of the top 30 companies in the FTSE 100 index, 15 said they were keeping their tax domicile status under review. Three — speaking on condition of anonymity — said they were actively considering a move. Some, such as Xstrata, the mining group, are already offshore, while others, like BAE Systems, the defence contractor, are unlikely to move because of their involvement in large government contracts.”