Negligent NHS staff ignore distressed baby in utero; it dies
Midwives had told Miss Parsons that all was well with her baby. But it later emerged that they had missed vital signs that the foetus was critically under-developed.
By the time they did notice, it was too late to save her, and Anais died in her mother’s womb two days before her due date.
Following the baby’s death, the hospital admitted mistakes had been made. Despite the fact that the unborn child was under-developed, medical staff at Paulton Memorial Hospital in Radstock, Somerset, repeatedly assured the expectant parents that there was ‘nothing to worry about’.
Miss Parsons, 39, said: ‘They measured her as small and told me not to worry about it, played God with my baby’s life and our little girl paid the ultimate price – her life. ‘I despise them. Their lack of care took our wonderful baby away from us for ever. ‘They may have taken away our one and only chance of having a baby.’
If Miss Parsons had been induced or the baby delivered by caesarean and given specialist care, she may be alive today. Instead, the child was so weak that she died in her mother’s womb two days before her due date and Miss Parsons was forced to go through the trauma of a stillbirth.
The couple, from Chilcompton, had been trying for a baby for three years and suffered a miscarriage early in 2010. When Miss Parsons conceived again in September of that year, they were cautious, but doctors told them they were having a ‘textbook’ pregnancy and their confidence grew.
Following scans at 36 weeks and 38 weeks, three separate midwives told the couple that their baby was small, but said they did not need to worry about it.
They later discovered that by the 40th week, Anais was five weeks behind on her development. It was only during the final check-up that a midwife raised concerns about the size of the baby and immediately referred Miss Parsons for a scan.
The following day, Miss Parsons felt some unusual movement and had a wave of nausea. She now believes this was the exact moment Anais died. She said: ‘I remember feeling some very small movements in bed in the morning, which was unusual. At lunch time, for about 30 seconds I felt quite sick and had stomach ache.
‘I just put this down to being due any minute. I now know this was her way of telling me the exact time she had gone.’
Miss Parsons didn’t feel any further movements all day so she went to the hospital for a check-up. She was referred to another hospital for a heartbeat scan, which confirmed her worst fears.
Miss Parsons said: ‘I didn’t look at the screen. Our lives changed for ever from that second onwards. ‘I didn’t know what to feel or think and just lay on the bed with a blank mind. It wasn’t until I got my pyjamas and went into the bathroom to change that it hit me. ‘I could see my large bump in the mirror and knew we wouldn’t be taking our baby home. I then started crying and screaming and Andy came in to comfort me.’
Miss Parsons was induced the next day – the day before her predicted due date – and Anais, weighing 5lbs 7oz, was delivered.
In March this year, Wiltshire Primary Care Trust – which ran Paulton Memorial Hospital at the time – admitted a breach of duty and that the midwives had been in the wrong. School finance officer Miss Parsons said: ‘To hear it officially and then to read that if action had been taken our baby would be here was heartbreaking.’
In a statement, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which now runs the hospital, said it took full responsibility and was addressing the problems raised. It has also agreed to pay the couple an undisclosed amount of compensation.
Miss Parsons – who suffered another miscarriage in May this year – has reported the errors to the National Midwifery Council. She is also campaigning for growth charts to be given a prominent position in maternity books to help prevent similar tragedies.
Treat infected newborn babies within an hour of diagnosis, demands healthcare watchdog
Some hospitals are causing ‘unnecessary delays’ in treating newborn babies suffering from infections, according to the health watchdog.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) found delays in hospitals recognising and treating sick babies, while many newborns were at risk of becoming resistant to treatment after ‘needlessly’ receiving antibiotics.
Nice has published new guidance after finding variations in the treatment of babies with early-onset neonatal infection.
New recommendations say medics must treat infected babies within an hour of their diagnosis to
Early-onset neonatal infection – which occurs within 72 hours of birth – causes the death of one in four babies who are diagnosed, even when they are given antibiotics.
Nice’s recommendations have now urged medical staff to treat infected babies within an hour of diagnosis and use antibiotics appropriately to avoid the development of bacterial resistance to treatment.
Professor Mark Baker, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at Nice , said: ‘Early-onset neonatal infection can be very serious and, at present, there is much variation in how it is managed, with sometimes unnecessary delays in recognising and treating sick babies.
‘Many babies are receiving antibiotics needlessly, and consequently there is concern that the effectiveness of antibiotics is being reduced because of the development of resistance to them. ‘I am sure this new guideline will be welcomed as a useful tool for all those healthcare professionals working in this area.’
Early-onset neonatal infections are usually caused by organisms from the mother’s genital tract, such as group B Streptococcus (GBS), E.coli, Pseudomonas and Klebsiella.
Such infections may develop suddenly and rapidly, with mortality particularly high in premature babies and those with a low birth weight, Nice said.
The infections may also cause babies to develop cortical lesions in the brain, and subsequently cause neuro-developmental delay.
Nice’s recommendations now include treating babies with suspected early-onset neonatal infection within one hour of the decision to treat; using antibiotics benzylpenicillin and gentamicin as the first-choice treatment for suspected early-onset neonatal infection; performing a blood culture before administering the first dose of antibiotics, and offering child birth antibiotic prophylaxis in a timely manner to women whose babies are at higher risk of infection.
Farrah Pradhan, parent member of the guideline development group said: ‘As a parent of two children that were both born prematurely, I know first-hand what a difficult and trying time this can be, especially if a baby also has a bacterial infection.
‘I welcome these guidelines, and I hope they will help healthcare professionals deliver excellent care to pregnant women and their newborn babies.’
Mark Turner, Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Neonatology at the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘The NHS needs to prioritise treatment for sick babies as well as ensuring antibiotics are used sensibly.’
It isn’t only Russia that punishes iconoclasm
Western observers have been thrilled by Pussy Riot’s sacrilegious antics in Moscow but are just as sanctimonious when their own idols are criticized: Global warming, homosexuality, feminism etc.
In February this year, a bunch of balaclava-clad women, complete with garish tights, entered Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral. Given their get-up, it will come as little surprise to learn they weren’t there to pray. Instead, they were there to stick a punkish two fingers up at the then Russian president-to-be, Vladimir Putin, and his perceived partner in state crime, the Russian Orthodox Church. Their protest consisted of playing a song called ‘Holy Shit’, which called for ‘the Virgin Mary [to] put Putin away’, while dancing and mock-praying at the altar.
The jollity didn’t last long. In March, with Putin just days away from winning the presidential election, several members of Pussy Riot were arrested and three were charged with ‘a gross violation of public order, including inciting religious hatred as part of a planned conspiracy’. And last week, with the world’s media glare now firmly focused upon a sweaty courtroom in Moscow, the judgement was issued. The three accused – Maria Alyokhina, aged 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 – were sentenced to two years’ corrective labour in a prison colony. Handing down the sentence, Judge Marina Syrova stated:
‘Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich and Alyokhina committed an act of hooliganism, a gross violation of public order showing obvious disrespect for society. The girls’ actions were sacrilegious, blasphemous and broke the church’s rules.’
In Russia, the whole Pussy Riot brouhaha seems to have prompted a response quite heavily split down class lines. For the slim strata that is Russia’s cosmopolitan liberal set, well-travelled people for whom, as commentator John Kampfner noted, Putin is ‘uncouth’, the judgement was an embarrassment, an indictment of Russian backwardness. Yet while Muscovite and St Petersburg ‘creatives’, as Putin has been calling this upwardly mobile constituency, were outraged, the vast majority of ordinary Russians were less than sympathetic to Pussy Riot.
According to independent research group Levada, only six per cent of Russians polled sympathised with the women and 51 per cent felt ‘indifference, irritation or hostility’. It seems that like the British punk of the 1970s, indeed like its Dadaist, avant-garde precursors in the 1920s, Pussy Riot – itself formerly a performance-art collective called Voina – was premised upon an opposition to the conventions and tastes of the masses. The objective: to scandalise the stupid audience. Little wonder support has been muted.
Yet whichever way the Pussy Riot arrest, trial and conviction are spun, there’s no getting away from the principles at stake. Three women have been sent to a penal colony for playing sweary music in a cathedral; they have been punished for expressing themselves. And if you support freedom of speech, as we do at spiked, then the Pussy Riot trial can only appear as an affront to that principle.
Not that anyone in Western circles is saying otherwise. As the Pussy Riot trial started gaining media traction internationally (the BBC and CNN both broadcast the trial live), there has been a veritable deluge of seeming support for free speech. Pop royalty, from Paul McCartney to the Sex Pistols, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to Madonna, have stood alongside the likes of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to condemn the punishment. Politicians, current and former, have joined in, too. Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt announced that he was ‘deeply concerned by the sentencing… which can only be considered a disproportionate response to an expression of political belief’.
The commentariat was similarly staggered by, as Michael Idov of GQ Russia put it, the ‘depths of vengeful backwardness… teased out of the Russian soil’ by the case. In fact, so riled was Britain’s bible of the liberal elite, the Guardian, that on the day of the verdict, its website exclusively released Pussy Riot’s new single, ‘Putin Lights Up the Fires’. Elsewhere, a Telegraph columnist was content to contrast the draconian punishment meted out to Pussy Riot with that served up by the British judiciary to activist Peter Tatchell for interrupting the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter sermon in 1998: he was fined £18.60.
Russia, it seems, with Putin’s quasi-autocracy to the fore, is providing the perfect stage for commentators, NGOs, politicians and tired old pop stars to demonstrate their liberal credentials. In doing so, they can implicitly celebrate the liberal virtues of the West – even if such virtues come in the form of an £18.60 fine. One columnist almost seemed nostalgic for a time when British or American pop culture felt radical. ’ In the West’, he wrote, ‘we seem to have forgotten that popular culture once produced people who thought it was their duty to decry some of the most ingrained aspects of their societies, and thereby become lightning rods for dissent’.
And here we come to one of the problems with the Western liberal riot over Russia. Its protagonists seem incapable of grasping the extent to which the blasphemy Pussy Riot were punished for has acquired a secular form in the West. Because that’s the thing about blasphemy, indeed about heresy, heterodoxy or dissent – their content changes with the times. So, yes, in the UK for instance, actual blasphemy laws have been abolished. The church is not authoritative, the sphere of the sacred is not demarcated on religious or theological ground. So you can take the Lord’s name in vain, and you can, as the Archbishop of Canterbury often does, criticise politicians in a church.
But if Christian pieties no longer rule national life, liberal pieties most definitely do. The ‘ingrained aspects’ of our society that need challenging are no longer those of old-fashioned religious conservatism; they are the contemporary pieties, from environmentalism to official ‘anti-racism’. Around such ideas, a new sacred forcefield has been drawn. To spout wrongheaded Social Darwinist ideas, as a Cambridge University economics supervisor did recently, won’t land you in a gulag, but it will win you the antipathy of large sections of the respectable press, not to mention the prospect of losing your job should you persist in saying what you think.
So yes, anyone who dissents from, or decries ‘some of the most ingrained aspects of their societies’ in the West is certainly not subject to the draconian legal sanctions of Putin’s Russia – there is quite enough shrillness in the Pussy Riot furore as it is without adding to it. But such Western heretics are subject to a subtler, less severe, but no less constraining form of external pressure: informal censure usually from self-styled progressives.
Over recent years, there have been countless examples of the ‘you can’t say that’ sentiment which inhibits and informs so much of public life today. Ironically, one of the things you can’t express in public, without feeling the soft hand of liberal censure on your shoulder, is religious dogma. Think, for instance, of the fury vented a couple of years ago both at the guest-house owners who refused homosexuals entry to their lodgings and the then Tory shadow home secretary Chris Grayling who defended them. Or think also of the wacky Christian campaign group, the Core Issues Trust, which, a few months ago, was forced by the London mayor Boris Johnson to remove posters promoting its belief that homosexuality is curable through therapy and religious teaching.
And when it comes to environmentalism, criticism or dissent isn’t just collectively frowned upon by the right-thinking set, many of whom were to be found last week wearing tights and balaclavas in support of Pussy Riot; it is also seen as a sign of mental derangement, of ‘being in denial’. Whereas old-fashioned religious dissenters were accused of being in league with the devil, contemporary dissenters from the creed of global warming are accused of being in league with big corporations.
What is orthodox and, consequently, what is effectively blasphemous in the West is not decided by the church any more – it is decided by those self-same illiberal liberals currently clamouring for Pussy Riot’s release. No wonder they cannot identify, let alone defend, instances of parallel blasphemy in the West. As I say, shrillness is to be avoided here. While some, such as ranting Twitter tool Liam Stacey, received a prison sentence for ‘racially aggravated abuse’, many contemporary heretics do not suffer legal punishment. Invariably they are sent to Coventry, not a penal colony. But make no mistake: the informal straitjacket in which free speech is constrained, in which certain issues are deemed de facto sacred, is at work in the West. While I have no desire to defend daft or racist sentiment, for instance, the ‘you can’t say that’ attitude is just as offensive, suggesting as it does that we, the masses, will be incapable of hearing a statement without either unthinkingly acting upon it or becoming incredibly upset by it.
So if Pussy Riot’s freedom of speech deserves support, so too does free speech for those dissenting from Western orthodoxies, be they so-called environmental sceptics or devout, old-fashioned Christians.
More than 20,000 spared jail in Britain reoffend: Alarming figures ‘prove community service isn’t working’
Nearly 400 criminals a week commit another crime while they are supposed to be doing community service.
Shocking figures show more than 20,000 reoffended last year after being given ‘soft’ sentences instead of being sent to jail.
A similar number failed to comply with the terms of their punishments and had to be hauled back before the courts.
In total, this means one in four offenders fail to complete their community sentences because they break the rules.
The revelations will raise further doubts about the effectiveness of the punishments – which ministers want the courts to use more often.
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has ordered a major overhaul of community service to toughen it up. However, he has criticised the alternative – short prison terms – as ineffective in rehabilitating criminals.
The latest figures will raise concerns the public are not being properly protected.
Conservative MP Priti Patel said: ‘The public will be alarmed to see the large number of criminals breaching their community sentences and committing more crimes. ‘The courts must start sending these criminals to jail and handing down stronger punishments to keep the public safe.’
Jonathan Isaby of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘When only two thirds of these community punishment orders are being carried out, how can taxpayers feel that the system is delivering justice?
‘When the criminals subject to these orders who re-offend or fail to comply with their conditions return to court again, they must be handed tough sentences if the public are going to have any confidence in the system.’
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that last year 20,121 convicts who were placed on a community punishment order committed another crime.
Another 22,817 orders were stopped because the subject was failing to follow the rules set down by the court – such as unpaid work, meeting their probation officer or attending drug treatment.
It means that almost 43,000 community orders or suspended sentence orders – more than 800 every week – are being stopped because of criminals’ wayward behaviour. That is one in four of the 172,910 orders for last year.
Just two thirds were carried out, while another nine per cent were stopped because the criminal fell ill or died.
Last year it emerged some 50 people a day endure a violent or sexual attack by a convict who was spared jail.
Every year more than 18,000 criminals given a community punishment commit a sexual or violent crime within 12 months of being sentenced.
A report by the Policy Exchange think-tank revealed that robbers and burglars were working in charity shops or making costumes for the Notting Hill Carnival, instead of doing hard work.
Other ‘work’ projects included helping to look after animals on farms or serving lunch at old people’s clubs.
The Justice Secretary wants to send fewer criminals to prison and has criticised the ‘warehousing’ of inmates in jails.
He has set new rules to ensure community orders include a minimum work requirement of 28 hours a week, including ‘hard manual labour’.
Current rules allow offenders to do as little as six hours each week spread over 12 months.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: ‘The majority of offenders successfully complete their community sentences and do not go on to commit further crimes.
‘However, reoffending rates are too high which is why we are reforming the criminal justice system so offenders are properly punished and the root causes of their behaviour addressed.
‘We have completed a consultation on the future shape of community sentences to make them tougher and will set out our approach in due course.’
The Justice Ministry spokesman added: ‘Our plans to restore public confidence in community sentences include prohibiting foreign travel and imposing longer, more restrictive curfews.
‘We will also be making Community Payback more intensive and demanding with unemployed offenders serving longer hours, carrying out purposeful, unpaid activity which benefits their local community.’
Working-class pupils lose out because they are ‘too polite’
What a load of bollocks! Lack of confidence or not knowing the answers I can believe but “polite” is just a politically correct gloss
Middle-class children are more likely to put their hands up in the classroom and ask questions than peers from working class homes, research suggests.
Pupils from wealthier households have more natural confidence at school after being taught by mothers and fathers to engage with authority figures, it was claimed.
The study found that children with working-class parents were more polite and courteous in lessons but often shunned teachers and attempted to solve problems alone – hampering their long-term academic development.
It was feared that the differences in classroom behaviour by the two groups may have knock-on effects in later life as poorer children slip further behind richer classmates.
The disclosure – in research published in the United States – comes amid continuing concerns over link between social class and educational achievement.
One British study earlier this year found that the highest-performing pupils from disadvantaged families lagged around two-and-a-half years behind bright children brought up in wealthy homes by the age of 15.
Despite an extensive Labour drive to boost access to higher education, it also emerged that the richest schoolchildren were around six times more likely to go on to a top Russell Group universities than the poorest fifth.
Jessica Calarco, assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University, assessed the classroom behaviour of primary-age pupils as part of the latest research. She said: “Even very shy middle-class children learned to feel comfortable approaching teachers with questions, and recognised the benefits of doing so.
“Working-class children instead worried about making teachers mad or angry if they asked for help at the wrong time or in the wrong way, and also felt that others would judge them as incompetent or not smart if they asked for help.
“These differences, in turn, seem to stem not from differences in how teachers responded to students – when working-class students did ask questions, teachers welcomed and readily addressed these requests – but from differences in the skills, strategies and orientations that children learn from their parents at home.”
The study was based on observations of a class of state school children aged nine to 11 over a two year period. Children were assessed twice a week and then interviewed with their parents over the summer holidays.
Research revealed that pushy parents from all kinds of social backgrounds attempted to teach their children how to behave at school and work hard.
But a clear class divide in their methods emerged. Working class parents were more likely to emphasise the role of politeness and courtesy and being deferential to authority, it was revealed. They would also tackle assignments or projects but on their own without asking for help.
In contrast, middle class children were encouraged to raise their hand, ask questions and not be afraid to ask for help when needed.
These children are then more likely to be noticed by teachers who tend to reward such behaviour, said the study. It meant that they became more outgoing as they get older, which could help as they get jobs or have to deal with authority in other ways, it emerged.
Mouse study: Bowel cancer ‘could be fuelled by E coli stomach bug’
Or is it that mice with cancer are more likely to get e-coli through weakened resistance?
One of Britain’s most common cancers could be fuelled by the E coli stomach bug, scientists believe.
The breakthrough raises the prospect of a vaccine against bowel cancer, which claims 16,000 lives a year and is the second most common form of the disease in women after breast cancer and the third most diagnosed in men.
The elderly, who are most at risk of the bowel cancer, could also be screened for the ‘sticky’ strain of E coli that makes a DNA-damaging poison.
Although the idea that a bug is involved in cancer might seem strange, it is not unheard of, with a virus being to blame for most cases of cervical cancer and a bacterium strongly linked to stomach cancer.
Now, tests on mice and people, carried out in the UK and US, have pointed to E coli being a strong suspect in bowel cancer.
The concern surrounds a version that sticks well to the inside of the lower bowel, or colon. It also contains genes that make a poison which causes the type of damage to DNA usually seen in cancer.
Although we usually think of E coli as causing food poisoning, these strains had been thought to live in the bowel without causing any problems.
However, tests show them to be much more common in bowel cancer patients than in healthy people.
Two-thirds of the 21 samples taken from bowel cancer patients contained the bug, compared to just one in five of those taken from healthy people, the journal Science reports.
Experiments also showed that mice inoculated with the bug are at very high odds of developing bowel cancer – as long as the E coli carries the poison-making ‘pks’ genes.
Liverpool University’s Dr Barry Campbell, a co-author of the study, said: ‘The research suggests that Ecoli has a much wider involvement in the development of colon cancer than previously thought.
‘It is important to build on these findings to understand why this type of bacteria, containing the pks genes, is present in some people and not in others.’
Professor Jonathan Rhodes said: ‘The bottom line message is that there seems to be a strong association between a type of E coli and the development of colon cancer.
‘And given that this type of E coli is specifically able to damage DNA and inflict the sort of damage you get in a cancer, it is very likely it has a causative role, at least in some patients.’
The scientists, who collaborated with scientists from the University of North Carolina, aren’t sure why some people who have the bug go onto develop cancer and others don’t.
But factors such as genes and diet are probably important.
Professor Rhodes said: ‘The literature on colon cancer taken as a whole suggests that having the right genes, taking exercise, possibly taking an aspirin a day, limiting red meat and eating plenty of leafy green vegetables all have a protective effect.’
If the link is confirmed, it could lead to tests for the rogue form of E coli being included in bowel cancer screening for the elderly.
In the long-term, a vaccine that stops the bug from taking root is also possible, added the professor.
There is a precedent for this – the HPV vaccine which is given to teenage girls wards off infection by the human papilloma virus – the bug behind the majority of cases of cervical cancer.
Henry Scowcroft, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘This is an intriguing study in mice suggesting that the bacteria in our gut may play a role in the development of bowel cancer.
‘This would make sense, as we know that being infected with bacteria called H pylori can increase the chances of developing stomach cancer.
‘But since this study only involved mice and is still at an early stage, it’s not yet clear whether E coli is actually linked to bowel cancer in humans at all, let alone whether this knowledge could be used to help improve things for patients or people at risk.’
How your blood group can affect your heart disease risk: Britons with ‘O’ type ‘benefit from natural protection’
The Japanese are fanatical about blood type. Maybe they are onto something! The effects below are however too small to be given much credence
A person’s blood group helps determine their risk of heart disease, a study has found. Researchers claim almost half of Britons with blood group O, the most common blood type, benefit from some natural protection against the illness.
However, they said people from groups A and B are more at risk, while people from AB, the rarest blood group, are the most vulnerable.
The findings, published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, are based on an analysis of two large US health and lifestyle studies.
The Harvard University researchers concluded people with blood group AB were 23 per cent more likely to suffer from heart disease. Group B blood increased the risk by 11 per cent, and type A by 5 per cent.
Lead researcher Professor Lu Qi, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said ‘While people cannot change their blood type, our findings may help physicians better understand who is at risk for developing heart disease.
‘It’s good to know your blood type the same way you should know your cholesterol or blood pressure numbers. ‘If you know you’re at higher risk, you can reduce the risk by adopting a healthier lifestyle, such as eating right, exercising and not smoking.’
The study compared blood groups and heart disease incidence but did not analyse the complex biological mechanisms involved.
There is evidence that type A blood is associated with higher levels of ‘bad’ type of cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL), which is more likely to fur up the arteries.
AB blood is linked to inflammation, which also plays an important role in artery damage.
People with type O blood may benefit from a substance that is thought to assist blood flow and reduce clotting.
The researchers pointed out the study group was mostly white Caucasian and it is not clear whether the same findings applied to other ethnic groups.
Prof Qi said ‘It would be interesting to study whether people with different blood types respond differently to lifestyle intervention, such as diet.’
Scientists from Pennsylvania University last year found the same gene that causes people to be blood group ‘O’ gives them some protection against heart attack.
But experts warn that while blood type O may offer some protection from heart trouble, blood type alone will not compensate for other factors that are linked to cardiovascular disease.
Other research found blood group O patients may be at greater risk for bleeding and blood transfusions after heart surgery. Patients with AB blood type are 20 per cent less likely to die after heart bypass surgery than those with A, B or O blood types, said Duke University Medical Center researchers.
Doireann Maddock, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said ‘While these findings are certainly interesting we’ll need more research to draw any firm conclusions about blood type and its role in heart disease risk.
‘Nobody can influence what type of blood they are born with but a healthy lifestyle is something everybody can have an influence over. Eating healthily, getting active and stopping smoking are the types of things you should be worrying about, not your blood type.’
This appalling decline in productivity
Comment from Britain by Tim Worstall
Much ink is being spilled as people try to work out how to reconcile two conflicing economic statistics. GDP is still going down yet so is unemployment. If more people are employed they should be producing more thus GDP should be rising. Unless, of course, productivity is falling at the same time but that would be very odd indeed.
Finally, it is possible that falling productivity has been one of the many malign effects of the recession. If output per worker has dropped markedly, then it is possible to square rising employment with falling output, even though there has not yet been a really convincing explanation for why employees should have lost their skills or their motivation in such a profound way over the past five years. If both the GDP and the employment figures are correct, then productivity is dropping by more than 1% a quarter, a truly catastrophic performance.
The thing is though, this very odd indeed, this truly catastrophic performance, it’s not a happenstance, some unlikely side effect of our current problems. This is actually planned, forced upon us even. It’s deliberate.
Take, as an example, they way in which we are told that green energy is more jobs intensive. Without bothering to look up the numbers we’re told that powering the country by nuclear plants employs 3 people, doing so with solar 50,000 and with windmills 2,000,000. There might be some exaggeration for effect there but we all have heard the story. Green energy will produce more jobs for the same amount of power. We are told this is a good thing.
Yet greater jobs intensity is exactly the same thing as falling labour productivity. If it takes 10 people to make a unit of electricity one way and 20 people another then the productivity of labour in producing electricity in the second method is half that in the first.
It’s not just energy that is afflicted with this nonsense either. The usual suspects are similarly telling us that we must farm organically, something that requires more labour for the same output. That we should use small local shops instead of supermarkets: we’re told we must do this because small local shops are more labour intensive: read lower labour productivity. We should purchase artisanal products, not mass manufactured ones: by definition, products with lower labour productivity. Every hand spun yurt knitted out of lentils is indeed more job intensive and thus lowers labour productivity.
Now quite how much of what we can see in the unemployment and GDP figures comes from this effect is another matter. But do understand the basic point. What even The Guardian calls a “truly catastrophic performance” is what the various greens and Greens are urging upon us as our future lifestyle. They want to lower labour productivity. They insist that it must happen.
They really are campaigning that we must all work harder in order to have less.
This is neither happenstance nor coincidence: this is enemy action.
BBC burnt over climate change claim UK will be as hot as Madeira
The BBC has been accused by the Met Office, its forecaster, of making “unrealistic” claims that climate change will make Britain as hot as Madeira by the 2060s.
Tom Heap, the Countryfile presenter, said the Government’s research indicated that in 50 years “there is a pretty good chance” Britain’s climate will be similar to the semi–tropical island off Africa.
Broadcasting from the island for Radio 4’s Costing the Earth, he suggested that British farmers will be able to grow papaya, pineapples and prickly pear within decades.
But Dr Richard Betts, the top climate change scientist at the Met Office, said it was “unrealistic” to expect a climate like Madeira’s by the 2060s.
In making predictions for the Government, the Met Office suggested temperatures could rise from the average of 10C (50F) to 17C (63F) in the summer to 15C (59F) to 22C (72F) by 2080.
This is comparable with Madeira’s summer range of 19C (66F) to 23C (73F) but would not happen until well into the 2080s, and then only in the South.
Dr Peter Carey, an ecologist who contributed to the BBC show, claimed certain areas could be similar to “cooler, wetter parts of Madeira” by “the 2060s to the 2080s”. Radio 4 said the theory was clearly identified as “Dr Carey’s interpretation”.