Agencies make millions from £120-an-hour doctors
Dozens of medical “temping agencies” are making millions of pounds in commission providing part-time doctors for the NHS.
They charge up to £120 an hour for supplying doctors to cover staff shortages on hospital wards, putting huge financial pressure on the already strained health service.
Hospitals are being forced to pay the firms behind the schemes up to £40 an hour in commission – as much as £900 a shift – for each locum doctor they provide, on top of the doctors’ salaries.
Such is the concern about the amount of taxpayers’ money being spent that the Government has written to the 50 firms involved warning them to keep a check on their “escalating charges”.
Last week The Sunday Telegraph disclosed how some hospitals were paying £20,000 a week for qualified agency doctors to cover staff shortages and absences.
Despite rules suggesting agency doctors should only be used in “exceptional circumstances”, the use of locums cost the health service more than £2 billion in the past two years.
The need for locums is being driven by a shortage of doctors in certain specialities and the need for hospitals to comply with the European Working Time directive, which limits the number of hours medics can work.
Now the scale of the industry built on providing the NHS with locums can be disclosed. Fifty agencies are members of a scheme which allows them to provide hospitals and other health trusts with stand-in doctors. Some are turning over sums of more than £100 million each year.
* Medacs Healthcare, which had a £184.9 million turnover last year and gross profits of £25.6 million. It says it offers 750 locum jobs a day, including doctors, GPs, dentists, nurses and social workers.
* DRC Locums, which provides doctors to more than 90 health service trusts, making profits of £9.7 million on a turnover of £67 million last year. It was recently bought by the entrepreneur James Caan, a former star of the BBC’s Dragons’ Den.
* ID Medical, run by a father and son team, which had a turnover of £23.5 million and earned profits of £4.3 million last year – when it sponsored the British Medical Journal’s “young doctor of the year” award. Last year at least one of the firm’s directors earned almost £500,000,
The firms are among those which are members of an approved scheme to provide locums and which offers NHS-wide rates.
Consultants covering normal on-call hospital shifts are paid up to £88.57 an hour – more than £2,000 for a 24-hour shift, while providing a doctor at the most junior level will cost £31 an hour.
Included in this is the agencies’ commission, which on average is 18 per cent of the doctors’ salary, but can be far higher.
The agencies vouch for their doctors, verifying their identity, immigration status and eligibility to work, obtain copies of their qualifications and references and complete Criminal Records Bureau checks.
There is increasing concern at the charges levied on the NHS. Earlier this year the Government Procurement Service, part of the Cabinet Office which oversees an agreement aimed at securing “value for money” from suppliers, warned agencies about their escalating charges and said they should not charge more to provide doctors at short notice.
The confidential contract pricing agreement is due to come up for renewal at the end of June, but in a memo to the 50 companies in the scheme, it said: “Following a review… we need to bring to your attention that charge rates for locums supplied through the Medical Locums framework have been increasing sharply.
“Our concern is that this trend is occurring when customers are trying to implement controls on the charge rates being levied under the framework in recognition of the budgetary constraints they are having to operate under.”
The scale of operations of the companies providing locums is now such that they have become investment opportunities.
Medacs Healthcare has as its majority shareholder the leading investment fund Lombard Group. Last year one director, believed to be its chief executive Nigel Marsh, was paid more than £400,000.
The firm refused to discuss how much it charged the NHS for locums or how much commission it was paid, but said it was consistent with other government-approved companies.
Earlier this year Dr Samir Asad, 63, a locum supplied by the firm, was convicted of sexually assaulting two patients at a hospital in Ayrshire.
Edward Simpson, who runs the Placement Group, which had a turnover of £8 million and profits of £1.5 million last year, previously ran a firm known as Mediplacements which went into liquidation earlier this year with total debts of £1.7 million.
The firm had been doing well, showing £16.8 million sales and a £3 million profit from supplying NHS locums in its 2009 accounts.
Shortly after the firm was wound up, Mr Simpson started a new firm, also called Mediplacements, again to supply the health service with agency doctors.
Mr Simpson said that the supply of locum doctors was only a small part of his business, which mainly concentrated on other hospital staff – some earning as little as £10 an hour.
Other locum agencies declined to comment.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “We take any claims of unfair pricing practices on our frameworks seriously and we carry out annual audits on suppliers.”
Britain plans major immigration crackdown
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is planning a major immigration crackdown on tens of thousands of people who “abuse” family visas to settle in Britain, according to a leaked cabinet letter.
The letter from Mrs May to Nick Clegg, which has been seen by The Sunday Telegraph, proposes a tough new minimum income of £25,700 a year for anyone seeking to bring a spouse, partner or dependant to the UK from outside the European Union from June – almost double the current threshold of £13,700.
The minimum income would rise dramatically – up to £62,600 – if children are also brought in.
Mrs May also wants a longer probationary period of five years before spouses and partners can apply to live permanently in Britain, and a higher level of English to be required.
The proposals could cut the number of immigrants allowed in by 15,000 a year – a significant step towards the Government’s aim of reducing “net” migration to 100,000 people each year.
However, they are expected to fought hard by Mr Clegg and other Liberal Democrat ministers, escalating still further the tensions between the two Coalition partners that have risen dramatically since last week’s controversial Budget.
The leaked letter suggests that Mrs May is determined to take a tough stance on immigration. In the 12 months until June 2011 the “net” figure for arrivals in Britain was 250,000 – making it virtually impossible for David Cameron to hit his target of bringing the figure down below 100,000 by 2015. The figure was just 5,000 short of the previous record.
The Home Secretary tells Mr Clegg that outline plans for a reduction in numbers who come to Britain through the “family route” won “broad public support” in the coalition’s consultation last year.
In 2010, some 48,900 visas were issued under this category. The majority of those who come to settle in Britain using this method are women from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
Mrs May adds: “The package which I propose to implement from June 2012 will reduce the burdens on the taxpayer, promote integration and tackle abuse.”
The Home Secretary also refers in the latter, dated 14 March, to a need to “differentiate between genuine and non-genuine relationships” – a clear sign that ministers believe many of the marriages entered into under the current system are sham.
She tells Mr Clegg: “In particular I propose a minimum income threshold of £25,700 for a British citizen or person settled in the UK to sponsor the settlement of a spouse or partner of non-EEA [European Economic Area] nationality.”
For a partner with one child, the income threshold would rise to £37,000 a year, for two to £49,300 and for three children it would hit £62,600 according to the letter.
The “probationary period” before which spouses cannot apply to live permanently in Britain would lengthen from two to five years under the proposals while the “level of English required to achieve settlement” would be raised.
Grandparents and other “non-EEA adult dependants” would only be allowed in under the “most exceptional circumstances” – as current rules already require.
Mr Clegg, who received the letter as chairman of the Cabinet’s home affairs sub committee, is likely to push for a much lower minimum income threshold.
Liberal Democrats take a much “softer” line on immigration – and a key plank of their manifesto at the 2010 general election was an amnesty for all illegal immigrants already in Britain.
Relations between the coalition parties hit a new low in the wake of the Budget, whose preparations saw the Lib Dems publicly call for a number of their key policies, in defiance of the usual secrecy surrounding negotiations.
Tory ministers blame their Lib Dem counterparts for a series of leaks of major proposals – with the ill-feeling rising in major departments across Whitehall.
The migration cap was part of the Conservative manifesto and is in the Coalition agreement, which sets out what the current Government will do before a 2015 General Election.
However ministers are powerless to cut migration from European Union member states because of rules on freedom of movement, meaning that they must make large cuts in the number of people arriving from outside the EU.
Last year’s consultation pointed the way towards the planned shake-up of the “family route” to settling in Britain.
There is concern not just over the numbers, but the impact “family route” migration has on social cohesion, and in particular on the education system.
Last week figures released by the Department for Education showed that children with English as their home language were now the minority of pupils in more than 1,600 schools across England.
One in six primary school pupils – 547,000 – does not have English as a first language, with the figure for secondary schools one in eight, or 400,000.
Punjabi is the most frequently spoken language among pupils without English as a first language, followed by Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Somali, Polish, Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish and Tamil.
The proposed £25,700 minimum income threshold is at the upper end of the scale recommended by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) last year.
Ministers asked the committee to recommend an increase in the current threshold – equivalent to £13,700 a year before tax – which would prevent the entry of those who could be considered a burden on taxpayers.
The committee, which is the government’s main advisory body on immigration, said the figure should be between £18,600 and £25,700.
Children who speak English as their main language at home are now in the MINORITY in 1,600 schools across Britain
The number of children who count English as their mother tongue are now in the minority at more than 1,600 schools across England.
The new figures show that close to one million children who now attend schools in England do not have English as their first language at home – with the multicultural effects of migration now showing in the nation’s classrooms.
And the amount of schools with a majority of pupils who do not class English at their home language is steadily increasing by one a week.
There are 97 schools where children with English as their first language are in such a minority that they make up less than one in twenty pupils.
The statistics released by the Department of Education shows that in 1997, when Tony Blair first came to power, there were 866 schools in England where more than 50 per cent of the pupils had English as a second language. Last year that figure had nearly doubled in just 14 years to 1,638 schools.
Now there are 1,363 primary schools, 224 secondary schools and 51 special schools where more than half the pupils come from a non-English speaking background. One in six youngsters in primary schools – 547,000 – do not have English as their first language.
In secondary schools the figure stands at 400,000 – just over one in eight.
A recent study found that Punjabi was the most frequently spoken language among pupils who did not have English as a first language. After that the most popular languages were Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Somali, Polish, Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish and Tamil.
But schools also have to cope with sizable populations of pupils who speak Shqip from Albania and Kosovo, Igbo from parts of Nigeria, Luganda from Uganda, Sinhala from Sri Lanka and Amharic from Ethiopia.
In the 14 boroughs that comprise Inner London, there are 98,000 schoolchildren whose first language is not English, compared with just 79,000 who speak English at home.
Anastasia De Waal, head of Family and Education at the think tank Civitas, said: ‘It is vital that schools are organised in such a way to adequately accommodate pupils who start school in the UK with weak English language foundations. ‘In our often highly standardised classroom situations schools are frequently asked to side-step language barriers. ‘This significantly and needlessly hampers the progress of those children without secure English, as well as the progress of their peers.’
The local authority areas with the smallest proportion of pupils who have English as a second language are Halton with 0.9 per cent and Redcar and Cleveland also with 0.9 per cent. They were closely followed by Derbyshire with 1.3 per cent, Rutland 1.5 with per cent, St Helens with 1.5 per cent, and Cornwall with 1.6 per cent.
Parents don’t need to worry about TV dulling their kids’ senses as Harry Potter movies make them MORE creative, say researchers
Another blow to the stupid “fears” of “Baroness” Greenfield
Watching Harry Potter films could make young children more creative, claims a study. Carried out by Lancaster University, it’s the first attempt to study whether there are any educational benefits in exposing children to magical content like witches and wizards, Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy.
The study examined if there was a link between magical thinking and creativity in preschool children – and it found that there was.
The small-scale study involved 52 four to six-year-old children. The youngsters were split into two groups and shown two 15-minute clips from Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.
The findings show that after watching the clips, the group who watched the magical scenes in general scored ‘significantly better’ in all three areas than their peers in the other group.
Researchers Dr Eugene Subbotsky, Claire Hysted and Nicola Jones from the Department of Psychology at Lancaster University concluded that: ‘Magical thinking enables children to create fantastic imaginary worlds, and in this way enhances children’s capacity to view the world and act upon it from multiple perspectives.
‘The results suggested that books and videos about magic might serve to expand children’s imagination and help them to think more creatively.’
Magical thinking involves believing in supernatural events like animals speaking human languages, or a witch flying on a broomstick.
This involves the ability to construct an alternative world and research has shown that most four to six-year-olds think magically in everyday life.
Some of the scenes include animals talking and witches and wizards performing spells and using wands, while other scenes featured the same characters but without any magical content.
The children were then tested for creativity which included being asked to pretend they were a rabbit or driving a car. They were also asked to think of different ways of putting plastic cups in a bin and for alternative uses for the cup.
The children who had watched the magical scenes performed significantly better on the creativity tests.
The researchers concluded that rather than just being used for entertainment, ‘magical thinking can be viewed as an additional source of development of imagination and divergent thinking in children.’
British Nursery workers so illiterate they struggle to read stories aloud
Nursery school workers and childminders are being allowed to look after children despite having such poor literacy skills they would struggle to read a story aloud, a Government-commissioned review has found.
Childcare qualifications often don’t insist on basic numeracy or literacy skills while pupils with the poorest academic records are pushed towards working with children as an alternative to hairdressing.
And some nurseries are taking on staff without any qualifications at all, according to the Nutbrown Review’s interim findings which were published last week.
Anne Longfield, the chief executive of 4Children, the national charity that campaigns for children’s services, said that the findings were a “wake-up call”. “This is a shocking oversight that parents would be very unhappy about. It is shameful that you need higher qualifications to get into hairdressing or animal care,” she said.
Dr Hilary Emery, National Children’s Bureau chief executive said, ‘The report echoes what our networks are telling us, that there is much confusion and concern over the level, quality and variation of child care qualifications.”
Cathy Nutbrown who wrote the report concluded that the profession was seen as “low-status, low-paid and low-skilled” and was a turn-off for the brighest pupils. Professor Nutbrown said there needed to be well taught courses leading to reliable qualifications.
“Expectations of learners in terms of literacy and numeracy are unduly low,” she wrote.
“The ‘hair or care’ stereotype still exists for many considering a course in the early years, yet many other sectors have raised their expectations in relation to enrolment.”
She added: “My interim report sets out the shared concerns among the workforce about their qualifications system.”
Prof Nutbrown will set out her recommendations in the summer but has suggested raising entry requirements for courses and bringing a licence for nursery workers similar to that of nurses.
Mrs Longfield, added, “’The suggestion of introducing a licence to work in early years is brave and forward thinking and we fully support this. The care and education of our children is of utmost importance and it seems only right that we provide children and their parents with the kind of assurance of quality that we have come to expect as a norm in other professions and positions of trust.
Children’s minister Sarah Teather said, ‘I welcome Professor Nutbrown’s interim report. We know the earliest years of a child’s life are so important to their development so it’s vital we have a workforce with the right knowledge and skills.’
Evil and lawless British social workers again
“Social workers took away our baby for nine months”: With no evidence against them, couple were banned from looking after their son
When Julie Nevin put her only son to bed in late December 2010, he was seven months old. The next time she was allowed to perform that simple act, Reilly was a 16-month-old toddler. She and her husband David lost nine months of their little boy’s life after social services took him away over a minor bruise on his forehead.
They believed Mr and Mrs Nevin may have slapped their beloved son, with the couple at one point being arrested on suspicion of assault and subjected to the humiliation of police taking their DNA, fingerprints and mugshots – despite all the initial checks coming back clear.
The couple’s nightmare only ended when a consultant paediatrician belatedly conceded that the bruising had most likely been caused by the little boy accidentally bumping into the metal legs of the family’s sofa – as they had originally suggested.
A judge dismissed the council’s application for a care order, ruling that Reilly was already a ‘well-cared for child’, and his parents were allowed to take him home.
Last night the Nevins told how their lives had been ‘turned upside down’ by the horrific experience, and called for an urgent overhaul of the child protection system.
Mrs Nevin, 40, who works for the Red Cross, said: ‘Reilly left us as a baby and came back as a toddler. We have had to start all over again. For nine months we came back to an empty house, it was very distressing.’
‘The whole system is loaded against parents. You are guilty until proven innocent. Nobody believed us apart from our GP. Our backgrounds and medical history were checked and there was nothing.’
She added: ‘We felt we were stuck in a system in which social workers were ticking the right boxes just to make them look as if they were working.’
The couple’s ordeal began on Christmas Eve 2010, when Reilly woke up at the family’s semi-detached bungalow in the village of Rhos, near Swansea, with a minor bruise on his forehead.
Mrs Nevin called her husband, a manager in a dairy company, who advised her to take Reilly to their family doctor to be on the safe side. The GP concluded he was a ‘well, bright and lively’ child who had probably hurt himself rolling around the sitting room floor, and that there was no evidence that the injury was deliberate.
But five days later, Mrs Nevin took Reilly for a check-up at a medical centre, and staff referred him to the paediatric assessment unit at Morriston Hospital in Swansea. There, a consultant paediatrician suggested a slap could have caused the bruise, describing it as a ‘non-accidental suspicious injury’.
His parents rejected this and gave other possible explanations, including him hitting his face on the metal legs of the sofa, or on his cot bars, or on his toys. But Mrs Nevin said: ‘Although the paediatricians did not say it in so many words, they thought we had slapped him.’
Reilly stayed in hospital for two nights for observation and tests, including one for shaken baby syndrome, which all came back clear. Despite this, the devastated couple were told they were not allowed to take Reilly home because of concerns about his safety.
Arrangements were made for the baby to stay with relatives, initially his uncle and aunt. Reilly then spent the next nine months being fostered by Mrs Nevin’s parents, who live a few miles away from Rhos, with a social worker acting as his legal guardian.
The couple were allowed to see their son, but only on a strict schedule, and they had to be supervised at all times. They visited each day but overnight stays were banned.
Mr Nevin, 48, said: ‘On the first day, we got back home and we just hugged each other in the kitchen and cried. Even though it was New Year’s Eve, we were in bed by 8pm and cried all night.’
Then in February last year, the couple were arrested for suspected assault. A few weeks later however, police told the Nevins the case was being dropped because of lack of evidence. Despite this, social services still sought a care order and told the couple Reilly might be put up for adoption.
Over the next few months, the couple, who have been married for nearly four years, attended the family court in Swansea four times to try to get Reilly back. A second consultant paediatrician, instructed by Reilly’s guardian, initially told the hearing the bruising was caused ‘most probably by a hand slap’.
But after various alternatives were put to him he changed his evidence, conceding the bruising was narrower than he would have expected if Reilly had been slapped. He eventually said he believed the most likely cause was Reilly bumping against a sofa leg.
District Judge Jane Garland-Thomas dismissed the care order application, ruling that Neath Port Talbot Council had failed to prove the injury was non-accidental and that there was ‘no evidence whatsoever’ of any other causes of concern. She added: ‘Reilly was a well-cared for and no doubt still is a well-cared for baby and these parents have been totally compliant and engaged fully with the social services.’
Finally, on September 27 last year, the couple were able to take Reilly home.
Nearly six months later, Mr and Mrs Nevin are still recovering from the pain of being separated from Reilly for nearly a year.
They have written to the Prime Minister asking for changes to child protection procedures, highlighting the ‘stress, heartache, family upset and depression’ they suffered.
Mrs Nevin, who was prescribed anti-depressants, said: ‘He is the most loved child ever. But I still don’t think I have got over it. I am even afraid to take Reilly to the doctor now.’
A spokesman for Neath Port Talbot Council said: ‘We take safeguarding of children extremely seriously. We are satisfied that all appropriate actions were taken.’ [Self-righteous scum]
Meet the British students taking on the state
If you think student groups are all PC, censorious bores, you clearly haven’t heard of Liberty League.
‘It’s pretty much totally unprecedented.’ Anton Howes, a 21-year-old undergraduate student at King’s College London, is referring to the rapid rise of the pro-freedom organisation Liberty League on campuses across the UK. Howes and a group of fellow students launched Liberty League 18 months ago.
For decades, university students in Britain who wanted to change the world often had little more than a handful of left-wing groups to sign up to. And, as time has gone on, these radical groups have become more and more outdated and divorced from political reality. Left-wing student associations are now more likely to call for state intervention into people’s lives, embrace the welfare state and demand fewer cuts, rather than fundamentally challenging the state’s role.
Howes recognises this phenomenon. ‘People are sick of seeing tonnes and tonnes of Socialist Workers Party or Marxist groups hounding them on tables outside campus all the time, posting fliers and posters everywhere. They think “well, I don’t agree with this”. Students want to see an alternative group on campus that has pro-liberty ideas.’
Howes, like an entrepreneur, explains that the reason for establishing the Liberty League was a case of supply and demand: ‘There’s a growing demand for an end to interference in people’s lives. More and more people are getting annoyed with the state, but they might not necessarily pin it on the state at the start.’ This is where Liberty League comes in. ‘What you need’, Howes continues, ‘is the infrastructure of a group of people that say “well here’s your problem”’.
The demand for such a group is coming from a mix of students, says Howes, who place themselves all over the traditional political spectrum, from left-wing anarchists to young conservatives. Liberty League now has 30 active student societies on campuses across the UK and it is rising all the time.
One enthusiastic Liberty League supporter is Gabrielle Shiner, a young American studying at Queen Mary, University of London. Shiner recounts: ‘When I got to the UK I couldn’t really find any student group to join. It was really disheartening for libertarian students. And then Anton, who I’d never heard of, started tweeting asking me if I was looking to get involved in something and I was really excited about that.’
Howes and Shiner both say that they are neither left-wing nor right-wing. Instead, they prefer to call themselves ‘libertarian’. ‘Right now what unites us all [at Liberty League] is we are all working towards having small state where people can live more independent lives and where power is given back to the individual’, says Shiner. ‘That’s the fundamental principle that everyone wants to see realised.’
Both of the students recount frustrating experiences of being wrongly pigeonholed. ‘People automatically throw us next to the Tory group on campus before they’ve even interacted with us or spoken to us’, says Shiner. ‘A lot of people think we’re just the really extreme Tories, which is totally bizarre to me.’
Shiner has, however, found that right-leaning students are more open to discussions on campus than some left-wing ones are: ‘When I send invites for debates to the socialist societies, they just aren’t really willing to engage with them’, she says. ‘It’s really hard to strike up a conversation and I really want my events to be about debate. I don’t want to be in a room with the people who already agree with me. What’s the point of having a student society if you’re not engaging with – and challenging – ideas?’
Liberty League campaigners have been experimenting with different initiatives to try to open up debate around freedom issues. One such experiment was the Freedom Wall, established by Shiner and her friends at Queen Mary. They persuaded the student union to let them erect a 16ft-long wall where, over the course of a week, students could write whatever they liked.
‘A lot of campuses in America have set up Freedom Walls, but it hadn’t been done in Europe before’, Shiner explains. But setting one up wasn’t without its problems. ‘I spoke to my student union and they were like “oh but someone might write something racist on it, you can’t do that!”’ Shiner didn’t give up and after a lot of discussion eventually got the green light.
While some of the messages posted on the wall were banal, Shiner found it served its purpose. ‘When discussing it some people made some weird connections, saying things like “If you support free speech and you support being able to question all ideas, then that means you support Islamophobia”. That’s absolutely ridiculous, but that’s the kind of attitude a lot of students had. Illogical conclusions were being drawn, but the positive thing was that it started up a conversation among people about what free speech means.’
There are now plans to set up Freedom Walls on other campuses and Liberty League has several other campaigns in the pipeline, too. Howes is excited about a forthcoming campaign to challenge the increasing obsession with putting health warnings on food, drink and tobacco.
However, Liberty League is defined mostly by a strong belief in holding lively, no-holds-barred debates. Shiner will shortly be organising a public debate in London entitled ‘Libertarians and Marxists: Friends or Foes?’. At the end of this month, they are organising a national conference, the Liberty League Freedom Forum, which is supported by spiked. There will be discussions on everything from Ancient Greek conceptions of freedom to free speech at football matches and free-market environmentalism.
In stark contrast to the Occupy movement, which eschews aims and demands, the Liberty Leaguers have a clear sense of what they want to achieve. ‘The ultimate aim is to have a Liberty League, or associated group, on every campus in the UK’, says Howes. ‘In five years’ time I want our conference to have 1,000 participants.’ Speaking more broadly about what he calls the ‘liberty movement’, Howes rules out the idea of moving into party politics: ‘In 10 years’ time, it should be a kind of constituency – big enough and powerful enough so that during student elections and local and general elections, those running for posts and office will be asking themselves “how do I keep the libertarians happy with this policy or that policy?”. That’s the dream.’
Shiner has set her sights on helping to organise the liberty movement internationally. She is a supporter of the Students For Liberty organisation in the US, which has gone from having 100 people at their founding conference four years ago, to attracting over 1,000 people at their conference in Washington this February.
After graduating, Shiner plans to dedicate her time to building European Students For Liberty, which she is on the board of, and the nascent student liberty movement in Africa. But she recognises a lot of misconceptions about libertarians need to be nipped in the bud as the movement develops. ‘As a libertarian, you’re told all the time that you’re horrible and immoral, that you want to kill poor people and don’t care about equality, women’s rights and racism. Nothing could be further from the truth.’
Shiner believes that the idea that people need the state to help them make their way in life urgently needs to be challenged. ‘People aren’t stupid. Look at what we have achieved and still achieve despite everything we’re up against. The idea that people aren’t capable of achieving anything and that they’re all just going to starve to death and die with less state support – that’s ridiculous. People are incredibly innovative and creative, especially when you have a culture that promotes and supports independence, rather than undercutting people’s ability to make something of themselves… So much of libertarianism is about respecting the potential of humanity. It’s about a love for what our potential is and about wanting to see individuals and societies flourish. So it’s the exact opposite of trying to favour a small handful of people. It’s the belief that every individual has those capabilities.’
Such words should set alarm bells ringing among the tired, left-wing student groups currently colonising political activities on campuses in the UK and beyond. With such genuinely radical arguments being made by campaigners calling for less state interference into our lives, traditional left-wing groups may well find their longstanding monopoly on student politics is coming to an end.
“Tosser” in British slang is a masturbator or a worthless person. So the sign is a pun designed to get attention
The message upon entering the village proudly declares: ‘Stamfordham welcomes you, not litter’. But it appears the rather modest sign, planted in a bed of daffodils, is not having the desired effect.
In recent weeks, one resident has become increasingly frustrated at having to pick up a deluge of rubbish outside her home, including condoms and pornographic videos.
So when Jo Riddell decided to take a more obviously proactive approach, she could be forgiven for thinking she would have the backing of her fellow villagers.
Instead, the 49-year-old has found herself at the centre of a storm after her bright-yellow signs bearing the slogan ‘Don’t be a tosser – take your rubbish home’ were branded ‘offensive and garish’.
She put up the placards after claiming to have collected 27 bags of rubbish along the roadside on her land in the Cheeseburn Grange Hall Estate, near Stamfordham, Northumberland in recent weeks. Most were thrown from passing cars.