NHS doctor reported parents to social services because they complained about sick son’s care
Four people to hold this little boy down? It is the medical staff who should be reported to social services
A couple claim they were reported to social services by an over-zealous doctor – after daring to complain about their sick son’s medical care.
Gina and Nick Ashford were terrified when their 20-month-old son had a seizure at home and quickly rushed him to hospital in Birmingham. And as medics carried out ‘aggressive’ investigations to identify the cause, they became worried about the use of a sedative which was making him repeatedly vomit.
But after complaining to medics about the side effect, they claim they were then reported to social services – and an investigation into them was launched.
Gina, 39, from Solihull, West Midlands, said: ‘It was every parent’s worst nightmare. ‘I feel I upset the consultant by complaining.’
The couple’s problems began when they questioned Alfie’s treatment and asked for him to be allowed home.
They claim that after becoming concerned with some measures used by the doctors to identify what was causing their son’s seizure, one doctor threatened he would call police on them.
Gina, a former HSBC operations manager, added: ‘We were concerned because the medical team had carried out some aggressive investigations into Alfie’s condition but hadn’t come up with anything. ‘Alfie was in a real state and when we started to object to some of the measures the consultant said he would call police.
‘One member of staff said to us after we began raising concerns that the investigations approach was a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
‘They were trying to sedate him so he could have an MRI scan but he kept vomiting after being given the solution. ‘It was really chaotic and there was four people holding Alfie down to try and get him to take this oral sedative. ‘It was quite distressing to watch as a mother and we were concerned and wanted them to try an alternative method.
‘So when they threatened us with the police, we were baffled. We were simply concerned for our son’s wellbeing and only had his best interests at heart. ‘We are good, loving parents – but we feel we were put on trial for complaining.’
‘The next day the nurses said Alfie could be discharged but the consultant said he had reported us to social services because we objected to them sedating him.
The couple have since been cleared of any wrongdoing by Solihull social services. But Gina claims they are now stigmatised with the negative connotations associated with social services.
She said: ‘We now have a spot light on us. Whenever we go to the hospital the first thing people ask is are you known to social services? ‘We now have to reply yes, despite us knowing and the authorities knowing we did nothing wrong, just what every parent would do when they saw their child distressed. ‘It is like having a criminal record that we will never shake.
‘I’ve heard of plenty of other instances of parents being wrongly reported to social services. ‘It is a problem.’
The family have now lodged an official complaint with Heart of England Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital. It has launched an investigation into what happened.
A Heartlands Hospital spokeswoman said: ‘We were very sorry to learn of the concerns raised by Mr and Mrs Ashford and, as a result of the issues raised, we are carrying out an investigation which will be shared in full with him.
‘Our doctors and nurses take care and safety of our most vulnerable patients very seriously and will report any matters of concern observed while in their care to the appropriate authorities. ‘Due to patient confidentiality, we cannot comment on the treatment of any individual patient but will ensure any complaint is full investigated.’ [The usual bulldust]
Doctors were certain I was anorexic. In fact, I was one of thousands with Crohn’s
Lazy NHS doctors couldn’t be bothered to do a simple test, nearly killing her
Looking back at teenage photos, Fiona Argo can barely recognise herself as the young woman with jutting collarbones and stick-thin legs. But she can see why concerned friends and family thought she was in the grip of an eating disorder.
Between the ages of 16 and 19, Fiona’s weight plummeted from 9½ stone to just 5st, extremely underweight for her 5ft 5in frame. Her periods stopped and her weight was so dangerously low she was told she was at risk of heart failure and even death.
She was diagnosed with anorexia and hospitalised. But while the diagnosis seemed obvious to doctors, friends and family, Fiona remained adamant she was not anorexic.
‘I always knew I was experiencing a physical reaction to eating, not a mental one,’ she says. ‘Every time I ate I’d suffer crippling stomach cramps and end up being sick after most meals. I’d never suffered from negative body image and didn’t want to lose weight, so I knew I didn’t have an eating disorder.’
But despite Fiona’s protestations, her doctor did not run tests to establish whether she had an undiagnosed medical condition, instead interpreting her constant denials as secrecy, a trait often exhibited by anorexia sufferers.
It was only when Fiona collapsed in agony in January 2004, aged 19, and was rushed to hospital that doctors discovered she was suffering from Crohn’s disease, a chronic bowel disorder that affects the gastrointestinal tract.
The disease is thought to affect at least 60,000 Britons and usually manifests itself between the ages of 15 and 25. No one knows what triggers it, but it causes inflammation of the gut wall. Symptoms typically include diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss, tiredness and anaemia. There is no cure, and many sufferers will require surgery to remove diseased areas of the bowel at some point in their life.
Weight loss is a common symptom of Crohn’s disease, which is why it is often mistaken for other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, says Dr Ian Shaw, consultant gastroenterologist at Gloucester Royal Hospital.
‘The weight loss is caused by a number of factors — poor absorption of nutrients due to an inflamed bowel, reduced food intake by patients to try to avoid symptoms such as pain and diarrhoea, and increased energy consumption as the body fights inflammation. ‘It doesn’t surprise me that Crohn’s could be mistaken for an eating disorder because weight loss is a key symptom in both.’
Unfortunately in Fiona’s case, an ulcer had formed on her small intestine two years before diagnosis, which then perforated, causing the contents of her stomach to leak. She believes this was caused because her condition was untreated for so long.
She had to undergo emergency surgery to repair the damage and, three years later in 2007, she was awarded £40,000 compensation in an out-of-court settlement from one of the specialists who had failed to spot her Crohn’s. o convinced was she that Fiona had anorexia that she hadn’t tested her to see if she was suffering from another medical condition.
‘Early diagnosis is important,’ says Dr Shaw. ‘The sooner the disease is treated the less likely the patient is to have complications.’
Fiona has paid the price for her years of misdiagnosis. ery day is an uphill struggle, and I’ll never forgive the doctors for getting it so terribly wrong,’ says Fiona, now 27, who lives with her partner Simon, 30, in St Peter Port on Guernsey.
‘Sadly, Crohn’s is an illness with no cure, but I probably wouldn’t be this ill today if it had been detected earlier. Though I’m a normal weight, I’m often in pain and still struggle to keep food down. These are symptoms I’d suffer anyway, but are worse because the Crohn’s was allowed to progress. ‘I have to eat several small meals a day because large amounts of food leave me in agony, and I also need to take daily medication.
‘It makes me angry that doctors could have given me a simple stool test or blood test, yet they chose to ignore my symptoms and told me I had a psychiatric illness.’
Fiona’s nightmare started in 2001 when she suddenly started losing weight, dropping from 9½ stone to just 7st in a less than a year.
‘My mum and dad realised something was wrong when I started eating smaller portions at dinner, and they thought I was making excuses. But I couldn’t eat a full meal without pain and vomiting afterwards,’ she says.
In March 2002, when she weighed just under 8st, Fiona’s worried mother Jacqui took her to a local GP, who immediately diagnosed anorexia. Other GPs at the practice and a bone specialist confirmed this diagnosis.
‘I told the doctors that I found eating extremely painful, and that I didn’t want to be this way, but they clearly didn’t believe me,’ says Fiona. ‘One doctor told my mum I was in denial, and that it was a classic symptom of anorexia. They even told my mum the tricks to watch out for, such as hiding food under the table or slipping off to the bathroom to make myself sick after meals. I wasn’t anorexic, but I don’t blame my parents for thinking I was. I looked really ill.’
Over the next two years, Fiona’s weight dropped further, and by the age of 18 she weighed just 6st. That was when the GP referred her to a bone specialist, thinking the pain may be due to a bad back, but again she hit a brick wall.
‘The specialist wrote a letter to my parents insisting there was “nothing physically wrong” with me and it was all in my head. I felt trapped in a nightmare in which no one was listening to me.
‘My relationship with my parents became strained, too. In the end we went to family therapy, but as the cause wasn’t emotional it wasn’t that helpful.’
By January 2004, Fiona’s weight had dropped to just 5st, dangerously low for her height, and she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where doctors force-fed her small meals, but her stay was cut short on the third day when she collapsed in agony. It was only then that hospital doctors discovered Fiona had suffered a perforated ulcer on her small intestine. Further blood tests revealed she was suffering from advanced Crohn’s disease.
Septicaemia had started to set in and Fiona underwent emergency surgery that same day. ‘For a while it was touch and go, and my dad still can’t speak about my time in hospital without getting upset.’ Thankfully, Fiona made a good recovery and was discharged from hospital two weeks later.
‘My intestines had been blocked because a symptom of Crohn’s is a narrowing of the intestinal tract, but the doctors removed the damaged section of my bowel.
‘Suddenly I could eat properly again — it was a revelation. My parents kept apologising for not believing me. In less than a month, I gained more than a stone.’
There is a simple, non-invasive test that can help diagnose Crohn’s disease even in the early stages of the illness, which could have prevented Fiona’s ordeal. ‘If a doctor suspects Crohn’s, they can carry out a faecal calprotectin test early on, which will show any inflammation in the bowel,’ says Dr Shaw.
‘Crohn’s is a long-term chronic disease that needs to be controlled and half of patients will need an operation at some point. But there is evidence that early diagnosis can avoid complications and the risk of surgery is likely to be reduced.’
Earlier this month, Fiona underwent a fourth operation to remove part of her bowel, and is now in recovery. ‘I don’t know how many more operations I’ll need or if I’ll end up with a colostomy bag, but I try not to think about it,’ she says. ‘I’m moving on with my life, but I hope no one else has to experience what I went through.’
Britain’s National Trust comes out against ‘public menace’ of wind farms
The National Trust is now “deeply sceptical” of wind power, its chairman said as he launched an outspoken attack on the “public menace” of turbines destroying the countryside.
For years the conservation charity has been a supporter of renewable energy, including wind, to reduce carbon emissions and help fight global warming.
But in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Sir Simon Jenkins warned that wind was the “least efficient” form of green power, and risked blighting the British landscape.
Is the National Trust right to turn against wind farms?
Yes, wind farms are a blight on the countrysideYes, there are more efficient forms of green powerNo, all forms of renewable energy should be promotedNo, it should give its support but only where they will produce maximum energy
He said “not a week goes by” without the charity having to fight plans for wind farms that threaten the more than 700 miles of coastline, 28,500 acres of countryside and more than 500 properties owned by the Trust. “Broadly speaking the National Trust is deeply sceptical of this form of renewable energy,” he said.
At the moment the Trust is fighting against at least half a dozen plans to build wind farms or turbines that could damage the view from a stately home or stretch of countryside, including a massive offshore farm in the Bristol Channel and plans by the Duke of Gloucester to install a wind farm on his property.
Louise Mensch, the Tory MP and author, is backing the fight against turbines near Lyveden New Bield, Northants which she fears could “destroy one of the finest examples of Elizabethan gardens in England”
In the past the Trust, that now has four million members, fought plans for one of Europe’s largest wind farms in mid Wales and the National Trust for Scotland has spoken out against turbines marching over the hills.
The official position is to support renewable energy, including wind, although only in places where the turbine will produce the maximum amount of energy and “with regard to the full range of environmental considerations”.
The landowner already has 140 renewable energy projects installed on castles and farmland around the country, including a few small individual turbines.
The Trust’s climate change target to cut energy use by 50 per cent by 2020 will go beyond national targets and could save more than 14,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 4,500 cars off the road.
But Sir Simon said most of the renewables will be hydroelectric plants, especially in Wales, as the Trust has access to many miles or rivers and properties that were once water mills. An Archimedes screw is being installed at Morden Hall Park, London similar to the hydroelectric plant installed by the Queen in Windsor Castle.
Also biomass – the burning of plant matter – will cut oil use to virtually zero as the Trust has acres of woodland that needs to be managed anyway. Woodchip boilers have been installed in draughty castles around the country and some even have solar panels on the roof.
“We are doing masses of renewables but wind is probably the least efficient and wrecks the countryside and the National Trust is about preserving the countryside,” said Sir Simon, a former national newspaper editor.
His view is a blow to the Government who have already installed more than 3,500 turbines and are planning to complete 800 this year alone.
The Government can ill-afford another clash with the Trust – which has more members than all the major political parties combined – following its prominent role in the widespread revolt against the coalition’s unpopular planning reform proposals.
Ed Davey, the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has come out strongly in support of wind, opening the world’s biggest offshore wind farm off Cumbria last week. The Lib Dem minister said wind power will ensure energy security as fossil fuels run out, cut carbon emissions and provide jobs.
RenewableUK, the main lobby group for the wind industry, think by 2020 there could be as many as 10,000 turbines onshore and 4,300 offshore.
However campaigners argue that wind turbines ruin the landscape and are less efficient than other forms of electricity because more back up is required for when the wind is not blowing.
British Wind industry’s extensive lobbying to preserve subsidies and defeat local resistance to turbines
How Warmism rots the brain: The 15 biggest windmill owners will between them receive almost £850 million in subsidies
The full extent of lobbying by Britain’s wind industry to preserve subsidies while getting thousands of new turbines built can be revealed. The intensive lobbying – both to construct wind farms and to maintain generous subsidies – comes amid growing unease over an industry adding to the burden on household electricity bills.
Analysis of UK wind farms shows that the 15 biggest owners will between them receive almost £850 million in subsidies that are added on to household electricity bills.
It comes after the disclosure last week that 101 Tory backbench MPs had written a letter to David Cameron demanding he slash the subsidies.
An investigation shows how the wind energy industry has:
* employed lobbying firms to fight against Government plans to cut a near £1 billion a year subsidy
* drafted in eco-activists to drum up support for wind farm projects in the face of local opposition
* defeated a Tory election pledge that could have triggered local referendums on wind farms before they are built
A separate study by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a think tank opposed to onshore wind farms, shows that 7,000 turbines are on course to be built onshore across the UK by 2020, helped by a 70 per cent success rate on wind farm planning applications.
REF expects the total consumer subsidy paid out by 2030 to amount to a staggering £130 billion.
Dr John Constable, Director of REF, said: “The government’s own data shows that in spite of its unpopularity the wind industry is in fact having an easy time in planning, with the vast majority of schemes being forced on unwilling local populations.
“Very high subsidy levels have resulted in an overheated market and a rush of development that is inappropriate and environmentally damaging, as well as being extremely expensive for the consumer.”
RenewableUK, the trade body for the wind industry, said it had a roster of four lobbying firms while appointing a fifth last month to “help with media support”.
The four main lobbying companies are Bellenden Public Affairs, Four Communications, Edelman and Citigate. A fifth – Hill+Knowlton – works on media strategy.
RenewableUK has fought to resist attempts to drastically cut the wind energy subsidy, paid out through the Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) scheme that is added on to household bills.
The Government, following a consultation, is looking at cuts of between five and 10 per cent, which prompted RenewableUK’s chairman Andrew Jamieson to declare in its most recent newsletter to members: “Thanks to the highly effective way in which RenewableUK engaged with a wide range of stakeholders on key issues, the proposals do not appear as bad as originally feared.”
A RenewableUK spokesman said: “We knew the consultation was coming out so we did work in advance of it.”
In October, a flagship Conservative policy, which would have required local referendums on large-scale projects such as wind farms and housing estates, was quietly abandoned after intense lobbying by RenewableUK.
The trade body had warned of the “slow death” of the onshore wind industry if the referendums pledge had not been dropped from the Localism Bill, which was then going through parliament.
A RenewableUK briefing document subsequently sent to members stated: “Following a great deal of coordinated work with a number of other organisations and Peers with a development interest, RenewableUK has been successful in ensuring that planning applications and wider planning policy are not subject to referendums.”
A RenewableUK spokesman said: “We saw a slow death of the onshore wind industry had that gone ahead which is why we were campaigning so hard to get it struck out.”
While lobbying is taking place nationally, developers are also employing lobbying tactics on the ground to get wind farms built.
Energy companies have taken to hiring eco-activists, who run non-corporate, amateur-looking stalls proclaiming the virtues of renewable energy in order to produce hundreds of letters in support of planned wind farms. The stalls, typically in provincial towns generate hundreds of identical letters in support of a wind farm, often some distance away.
One anti-wind farm group, fighting a development in Norfolk, said an analysis of letters of support for a scheme by Renewable Energy Systems (RES), part of the Sir Robert McAlpine Group, showed that not a single letter had come from within a six mile radius. Some letters came from addresses more than 30 miles away.
Barry Cox, who is fighting the six-turbine farm at Jack’s Lane, near Fakenham, said: “They [RES] should not be allowed to bamboozle the unsuspecting, by going for numbers collected miles away from the local villages. “They might just as well offer the views on Jack’s Lane held by residents of Inverness.”
An RES spokeswoman said: “Providing opportunities for people to comment on the wind farm has included two street canvassing activities in the nearest centres of population to the site, including King’s Lynn, which resulted in more than 730 letters of support. “Many of these support letters used standard wording but all were signed by real people who supported wind and wanted to send the letters.”
A Manchester-based company Pendragon Public Relations runs a pro-wind farm campaigning arm called Yes2Wind, which is hired out to developers seeking to build wind farms.
Yes2Wind boasts a specially designed computer software package Express Support, which enables “community members to quickly and easily generate their own individual, personalised support letters”
Alex Doyle, managing director of Pendragon, said: “We are trying to balance out the opposition. We are pro-wind and we put those arguments forward on behalf of the individual developers. “One of the difficulties is a lot of people who are supportive tend to shrug their shoulders and not actually take any action that will make themselves heard.”
He said Yes2Wind’s computer programme, which generated individual letters, was not a quick option and took between 15 and 20 minutes to complete so that letters reflected the genuine views of members of the public.
Yes2Wind often hires a freelance eco-activist Jeff Rice, from Derbyshire, to manage its stalls. Mr Rice, who was convicted of trespass on the roof of the Palace of Westminster in 2009 as part of a mass Greenpeace protest, is also hired out directly by energy companies, including Renewable Energy Systems. RES is estimated to earn £15 million a year alone through consumer subsidies.
Mr Rice said people supporting local wind farms were often too intimidated to speak up for a scheme. “We do get quite a lot of harassment,” said Mr Rice, “Anti-groups can be quite aggressive.”
He said letters were often identical because people were in a hurry and had no time to stop and compose their own letters. He added: “We are trying out best to make sure the letters are reasonably local within a few miles of a project. We do try and do that. If people are too far away we will stop them doing a support letter.”
The perversion of science by the Royal Society and its Canadian counterpart
When Lord Robert May — a distinguished British population biologist — told a journalist: “I am the president of the Royal Society, and I am telling you the debate on climate change is over,” he was risking the reputation of the venerable institution he headed.
Presidents of national science academies are not meant to engage in ex cathedra statements, but to promote objective research. However, according to a devastating report this week from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the Royal Society — former home to Newton and Darwin — has adopted a stance of intolerant infallibility over climate science and, even less appropriately, over policy.
The report, Nullius in Verba: The Royal Society and Climate Change, by Andrew Montford, is important to Canada not merely because of the continued threat of climate alarmism, but because the Royal Society of Canada has twice attached its name to intensely political statements from its British counterpart.
The phrase “Nullius in verba,” the Royal Society’s motto, means “on the word of no one” and implies that science should always be determined by objectivity rather than the say-so of any “authority.” For ordinary folk like us, however, (including lazy and/or crusading journalists, and even scientists in other specialities) authority is all we usually have to go on, which explains the catastrophists’ relentless emphasis on the “consensus” of those 2,000-plus weighty “experts” who craft the reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC.
The burden of allegedly “settled” climate science lingers at every policy level, from electricity bills boosted by outrageously expensive wind and solar energy, to vast schemes to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars to developed countries for a climate crime that was likely never committed.
Mr. Montford identifies Bob May as the man who started the society’s campaigns of radical advocacy and media manipulation. This approach continued under his successor, cosmologist Martin Rees, while current president, Nobel geneticist Paul Nurse, has continued to castigate skeptics.
Of pivotal importance to public opinion was action taken by the society in 2001, when promoters of catastrophic man-made climate change were focused on the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report — whose star exhibit was the so-called “Hockey Stick Graph,” which purported to show a thousand years of constant temperatures followed by a Nike swoosh upwards in the 20th century — and efforts to ratify Kyoto. The society took the lead in organizing a total of 17 national science academies to issue an editorial statement, which appeared in the journal Science. Lord May made it clear that he was particularly eager to counter skepticism expressed by U.S. President George W. Bush.
The 2001 statement, supported by the Royal Society of Canada, made the dubious statement that “It is now evident that human activities are already contributing adversely to global climate change.” It backed the IPCC as “the world’s most reliable source” on climate science, and demanded action on Kyoto.
Ironically, the IPCC has since been sharply criticized by a report from the InterAcademy Council, the representative body of national science academies, and more recently been lacerated by two dedicated Canadian researchers, economist Ross McKitrick and blogger Donna Laframboise. Meanwhile another independent Canadian researcher, Steve McIntyre would, along with Prof. McKitrick, break the Hockey Stick.
The 2001 editorial claimed that there was much that could be done to “reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases without excessive cost.” That obviously wasn’t true because it didn’t happen. Emissions reductions were trivial; costs were enormous.
The president of the Royal Society of Canada who signed this document, Dr. Bill Leiss, told me that he consulted with RSC science members before adding the society’s name. He also suggested that signing such documents is “the sort of things national academies do for each other.” However, another former head of the RSC, who did not want to be identified, suggested that the society had no mechanism for validating such support, and said that he disagreed with signing such documents.
In 2005, the RSC signed another multi-academy political document designed to pressure the G8 ahead of its meeting at Gleneagles in Scotland. The same year, the British Royal Society issued a misleading pamphlet rebutting skeptics, which Mr. Montford describes as “a low point in the society’s history.” Worse, it pressured the media not to publish dissenting views.
Towards the end of his term of office, Lord May characterized those who questioned the official science of climate thus: “On one hand, you have the entire scientific community and on the other you have a handful of people, half of them crackpots.” He pointed to the existence of a climate change “denial lobby,” funded by the “hydrocarbon industry.” Successor Sir Martin Rees came out strongly in support of the U.K. government-sponsored Stern review on climate change, whose economic assumptions were widely ridiculed. He also presided over a campaign against Exxon Mobil.
In 2010, by then Lord Rees was replaced by Sir Paul Nurse, a Nobel geneticist, who tried to bury the significance of the 2009 release of embarrassing internal emails between prominent IPCC scientists known as “Climategate,” claiming that it was “the greatest scientific scandal that never happened.” (Former RSC head Dr. Reiss suggested to me that there was no Climategate unless one was an “ideologue.” He also denied — as far as he knew — that there had been any halt to the trend in global warming. The latest official figures suggest it has been stalled for 15 years.)
The Royal Society of Canada has recently, with the help of Dr. Leiss, produced a well-regarded and well-balanced report on the impact of the oil sands (although it was inevitably ignored by radical environmentalists) and another on marine issues. However, by linking itself with politicized statements, it risks its own reputation.
As for its British equivalent, Mr. Montford concludes that “Each year that temperatures refuse to rise in line with the nightmare scenarios trumpeted by one president after another, the risk grows that the society becomes a laughingstock.”
Unfortunately, perverting science to promote draconian and poverty-inducing global controls is hardly a laughing matter.
Met Office global forecasts too warm in 11 out of last 12 yrs
And it’s the BBC — a great chapel of the global warming religion — that says so, albeit with some attempted exculpations
Global temperatures fell quite sharply in January, according to the UAH satellite measure. The anomaly of -0.093C below the 30 year running mean equates to approximately +0.16C above the more standard 1961-1990 time period.
As regards 2011 as a whole, according to the Met Office, 2011 was the 12th warmest year in their 150 years of global temperature records with an anomaly of 0.346C. This compares to their 2011 forecast of 0.44C.
Although this discrepancy is within the stated margin of error, it is the 11th year out of the last 12 when the Met Office global temperature forecast has been too warm.
In all these years, the discrepancy between observed temperatures and the forecast are within the stated margin of error. But all the errors are on the warm side, with none of the forecasts that have been issued in the last 12 years ending up too cold. And, in my opinion, that makes the error significant.
Some scientists who I have spoken to suggest that one of problems is the lack of observations in the Arctic, which is known to have warmed faster than other parts of the world.
They point out that if proper account was taken of this area of the world, then the overall observed global temperature would be higher, a point acknowledged by the Met Office when I spoke to them earlier this week. In short, it could be that the observations are wrong, with computer predictions right all along.
Climate sceptics, however, say that the real reason why the computer predictions are systematically too warm is because they don’t properly take into account some of the natural processes that are occurring, such as weak solar activity, which may be holding back global temperatures.
But in recent research conducted by the Met Office and Reading University, the possible cooling exerted by a less-active sun was found to have only a small effect on global temperatures.
This year, the Met Office is predicting an anomaly which is 0.44C above the long term average.
Whatever the reason for the ongoing ‘warm bias’ in Met Office global temperatures, their forecast for the first half of this decade, published in early 2010, that half the years between 2010 and 2015 would be hotter than the hottest year on record (with an anomaly of 0.52C set in 1998) is already looking in doubt.
A Brief Argument for English Independence
by Sean Gabb
The normal English response to Scottish nationalism is to ignore it, or to see it as an irritation, or to try shouting it down with reminders of all that shared history, or to point out the value of English subsidies and to wait for common sense to win the argument. None of these, I suggest, is an appropriate response. None takes into account that England and Scotland are different nations, and that the loudest and most energetic part of the Scottish nation has decided that the current union of the nations is not in Scottish interests. This does not make it inevitable that the union will be dissolved. It does, however, make this desirable. Scotland may or may not have suffered from the union. But the union has done much to bring England to the point of collapse, and it strikes me as reasonable to say that England can never be safe while there are Scottish members in the Westminster Parliament.
Let us take the New Labour revolution as evidence for this. Since 1997, England has been largely remodelled. There are few institutions, or administrative and legal forms, or even assumptions, from before 1997 that now make sense to anyone who has grown up since then. The gutting of the House of Lords, the altered functions of the judges, the laws to regulate political parties, and that allow unelected officials to supervise and even unseat elected representatives, the new criminal laws and new modes of criminal and civil procedure, the appointment of commissar units in every government agencies and most private corporations to impose the totalitarian ideologies of political correctness – these and many others combine to make present life in England very different from anything known before. There is also our continued and even accelerated integration into the European Union. And there has been the state-sponsored settlement of England by millions who are alien in their appearance and their ways. Every thread of continuity between the English present and past that could easily be snapped has been snapped.
Of course, this creeping revolution did not begin in 1997 – it became undeniably evident when Margaret Thatcher was in office. Nor has it been confined to England – every other civilised country has fallen into the hands of a totalitarian elite. There is an attack on bourgeois civilisation in every place where it exists, and the attack is led by those who were young in the 1970s, and has the support of a mass of economic and other interest groups. But, this being said, just think how many of the Labour ministers were Scottish. There was Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Robin Cook, John Reid, George Robertson, Wendy Alexander, Yvette Cooper, Doug Henderson, and so on and so forth. Below the leadership, an astonishing number of Labour members of parliament or Labour Party officials had Scottish accents. The Labour Party that emerged from its troubles of the 1980s was disproportionately Scottish – and assertively Scottish. Their political ambitions lay in the Labour Party, and not in the Scottish National Party. This did not give them other than a very weak sense of British identity, and gave them no observable understanding of or liking for the English.
Now, the central fact of Scottish history has been English domination. Since the eleventh century, England has been a rich and powerful and unified nation, loyal to a government that, broadly speaking, has been accountable to it. For most of the past thousand years, Scotland has been sparsely populated and without trade. Its people have been divided by language and culture, and by political allegiance, and sometimes by religion. It would be a miracle had Scotland ever managed real independence in these circumstances. It almost never has. The 1707 political union put Scotland under an almost purely English Parliament. The 1603 union of the crowns gave Scotland, after one reign, an English King. Even before then, the most important commoner in Edinburgh had almost always been the English ambassador. Even when there was no English army stationed there, Scotland was subject to varying degrees of rule from London.
In no meaningful sense, therefore, can Scotland be independent so long as it has England as its neighbour. And this is the main significance of the New Labour Revolution, and of the disproportionate Scottish contribution to New Labour. Undeniably, this was part of an overall project to destroy bourgeois civilisation, and understanding it requires a reading of Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci and Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault, and all the others. At the same time, it was an attempt to make Scottish independence possible by destroying England. Divide England into half a dozen Euro-regions; set these in competition with each other for money and privilege from Brussels; fill the country with ten or twenty million aliens; make it illegal, or at least in poor taste, to refer to an English identity – and the way is cleared for Scotland to be as independent as any other small nation can be.
This would explain the rising levels of Scottish hatred seen by many English visitors. When I visited Glasgow in 1994, there was much good-natured mockery of the English. When I was there again in 1997, I was driven from a coffee bar by the hostility even of the staff. In 2000, a taxi driver had the nerve to claim he was unable to understand my accent. In 2002, when I replied to hatred with hatred, another taxi driver tried to get me arrested for unspecified drug offences. Scottish politicians and administrators cooperate in discriminating against the English. The Scottish lower classes are best avoided.
The reason is simple. If you hate someone, you may want to destroy him. But, if you want to destroy someone, it is nearly always necessary to hate him. The Scottish claim to hate us for what we have done to them. In truth, they hate us for what they want to do to us. Bearing in mind that the Labour Party remains a Scottish front, and that the Conservatives might lose the next election, the 1707 union is actually more dangerous for England than membership of the European Union.
I will ask in passing why so many English Conservatives disagree with this analysis. One reason is a sentimental attachment to facts that have ceased to exist. This leads to what I find the most bizarre claims from Conservative supporters– for example, that the European Union wants to dissolve the United Kingdom in order to absorb England, whereas the European Union is simply part of the Scottish attack on England. A less creditable motive is that many of the Conservative leaders are themselves Scottish, and an ending of the union would reveal them as foreigners in England, and confirm them as unelectable in Scotland.
Most importantly, there are the electoral considerations. In the short term, removal of the Scottish members would bring about a Conservative domination of Parliament. In the longer term, however, removal of the Labour threat would mean that English conservatives were no longer locked into voting Conservative. I do not believe that many of those who voted Conservative in 2010 felt the slightest enthusiasm for David Cameron and William Hague and George Osborne. These got into office only because a majority of the English people feared and hated the Labour Party. Take away the Labour threat, and there would be the freedom to vote other than Conservative in general as well as in European election. Obviously, union with Scotland benefits the Labour Party. But it also benefits the Conservatives by keeping alive the Labour bogeyman.
I say, then, that the union between England and Scotland should be wholly severed. I say that there should be no customs union or common currency, no rights of movement or of settlement, no shared head of state, no coordination of foreign policy or defence. Scotland and its citizens should become as alien, under English law, as Uruguay now is. This might not suit the interests of the Scottish people, as reasonably considered. But that is not my concern. It should certainly be English policy to prevent the sort of instability north of the border that might encourage foreign – and therefore hostile – intervention, or that might cause mobs of starving refugees to electrocute themselves on the border fences. But, once the union has been severed, I shall be inflexibly opposed to any structure of shared institutions between England and Scotland.
England requires no less. Perhaps, all things considered, Scotland deserves no less.
Nadine Dorries MP: We must stop anti-religious groups from removing the Christian fabric of British society
Parliament now has to face a new problem, which is how to legislate to reverse the decision made yesterday by Mr Justice Ouseley, that the 600 year old practice of Bideford council to say prayers at the start of each council session are not lawful under section 111 of the Local Government Act of 1972. Because there is one thing which is for certain, the attack upon Christian belief in this country is plumbing the depths of what reasonable people will accept. This ruling is in itself a catalyst which will have prompted a fight back which will set those determind to impose their own secular beliefs upon a Christian society into reverse.
In December, David Cameron described Great Britain as ‘a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so’. This sentence in itself is revealing. Of course we shouldn’t be afraid to say so, but when a van driver loses his job for hanging a crucifix from his cab mirror or a social worker is suspended for wearing a cross and chain around her neck, people are afraid, which is why those words were included in the speech. There is recognition that Christians are being silenced by systemic attack upon their faith and constantly being challenged through the courts.
Bideford council had already voted twice to continue with their prayer tradition following attempts by Liberal Democrat councillor, Mr Bone to have them stopped on the basis that he, a lonely-voiced councillor who wanted them to cease, was having his human rights infringed as he felt embarrassed having to leave the chamber whilst the prayers took place. Not happy, lonely LibDem Mr Bone went to court. It seems he’s not too keen on democracy.
Interestingly, and with a sigh of relief from many, the judge found that Mr Bone’s human rights had not been infringed and it appears the judge took his decision upon what would be described as a narrow technical point. I have bad news for Mr Bone. Parliament doesn’t have much difficulty in dealing with ‘technical points’. Mr Bone is no hero secular warrior. As the voice upon earth of the Bideford branch of the National Secular Society, his action was supported by the larger organisation.
I once regarded the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association in much the same vein, two organisations which believed in, well, nothing much really and were therefore harmless. I have learnt during my time as an MP that both are very far from harmless, extremely political and intent on imposing their anti-faith view, which is in itself rigid and dogmatic, pursued mainly by zealots, so it can only be described as a form of belief in its own right. This, in a country in which 70% of people describe themselves as Christian.
If the National Secular Society had its way, all vestige of religion would be removed from the state and society. Without doubt, their next move will be to have the same ruling applied to Parliament, but that isn’t going to happen. If Mr Bone had won under section nine of the Human Rights act it can only be imagined what would happen to the Queen as head of the Church of England and her role within the state. Would prayers be said at a Coronation or a state funeral? Would the Queen be able to continue as the Monarch? What would have happened to Remembrance Sunday, bank holidays at Easter and Christmas?
It is only when someone attempts to unpick the accepted fabric of our society that one begins to realise the extent to which the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association wish to alter our spiritual landscape which is based upon tolerance and freedom. In Parliament, we also have prayers which take place each and every sitting day before the chamber’s business commences. The division bell will ring five minutes before and we MPs who wish to participate in prayers attend the chamber. It is an intimate service which takes place before the cameras are switched on, presided over by the Speaker and the House of Commons Chaplain during which we all say the Lord’s Prayer together, pray for the Queen and ask to be given wisdom during the day in executing our duties.
The three minutes of prayer are a time for sombre reflection and always during this time the privilege I have been afforded to serve my constituents in the historic mother of parliaments washes over me as I am sure it does others. It is a wonderful thing to begin your days work saying sorry for what you have done wrong and thank you for all that has gone well. Those MPs of no faith will sit or stand and read the order paper or simply take the time to reflect upon the day ahead. It works for us.
Until this is sorted, and I am sure it can be with existing legislation or via a Statutory Instrument, I would urge Bideford councillors to meet five minutes before their agenda begins until legislation can allow them to continue with a practice which has been in place since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It would be a travesty for Mr Bone to win in reality. What is certain though is that re-election for Mr Bone is unlikely. The British people are reasonable by nature and don’t like bullies, and Mr Bone appears to shun one and embody the other.
Study: Smoking speeds up male cognitive decline
This is somewhat of a surprise. There have been a lot of reports stating that nicotine has a protective effect against dementia. That they found the effect among men only is also strange — and suggests that there was more going on than they were aware of. Perhaps the smokers were more stressed, for instance
A male regular smoker has a higher risk of rapid cognitive decline, compared to his counterparts who do not smoke, researchers from University College London, England, reported in Archives of General Psychiatry. The authors add that the evidence has been mounting regarding the link between smoking and dementia in elderly individuals – smoking has been found to push up the total number of patients with dementia around the world.
Séverine Sabia, Ph.D., and team set out to determine what impact smoking might have on men during their transition from middle age to old age. They gathered data from the Whitehall II cohort study, which was based on people who worked in the British Civil Service. They analyzed data on 2,137 females and 5,099 males whose average age at their first cognitive assessment was 56 years.
They specifically looked at six assessments of individuals’ smoking status over a 25-year-period, as well as three cognitive assessments which took place over a decade.
The researchers found that:
Males smokers had a higher risk of accelerated cognitive decline
Those men who carried on smoking after follow-up had even greater cognitive decline, according to the test results
Even the regular smokers who had quit during the 10 years before their first cognitive assessment still have a higher-than-average risk of suffering cognitive decline, particularly in executive function. Executive function refers to such cognitive processes as working memory, attention, solving problems, verbal reasoning, mental flexibility, multi-tasking, inhibition, and monitoring of actions.
Long-term ex-smokers had the same risk of cognitive decline as lifetime non-smokers. The authors wrote:
“Finally, our results show that the association between smoking and cognition, particularly at older ages, is likely to be underestimated owing to higher risk of death and dropout among smokers.”
The same associations were not found in women, and the authors are not sure why. They suggest that perhaps adult males are generally heavier smokers than adult females.
In an Abstract in the same journal, the researchers concluded:
“Compared with never smokers, middle-aged male smokers experienced faster cognitive decline in global cognition and executive function. In ex-smokers with at least a 10-year cessation, there were no adverse effects on cognitive decline.”
Free speech fear as British soccer magazine’s KKK spoof banned: Thousands confiscated over Suarez race row
“Police chiefs were accused of criminalising free speech yesterday with their confiscation of a satirical football fanzine.
Thousands of copies of Red Issue were seized before Saturday’s heated clash between Manchester United and Liverpool.
The fanzine had tried to make fun of Liverpool and their striker Luis Suarez for his use of racist language toward United captain Patrice Evra.
Along with a spoof cut-out of a Ku Klux Klan hood were the words ‘Suarez is innocent’ and ‘LFC’ – for Liverpool Football Club.
Officers deemed this ‘potentially offensive’ and threatened to arrest anyone selling the fanzine. Thousands of copies were seized.
But a spokesman for campaign group Liberty said: ‘It’s one thing for the police to take action in fear of a riot being provoked at a tense football match. ‘But threatening seizure and prosecution of the fanzine after the event is really a step too far. When lampooning racism becomes a criminal matter you realise just how dangerously broad our speech offences have become.’