NHS bumps off another one
Killing people is what they are best at. Score 100,000 just for the elderly. They’re devils in white coats if you are frail and elderly
The family of a 35-year-old mother who died under NHS respite care have accused doctors of making no attempt to save her life because they assumed she was dying anyway.
Andrea West was suffering from cancer but had been told she could live for a further two years. But the mother of six died within days of being admitted to a palliative care centre last month with what her family thought was a routine infection.
The day before her death last month, she had been looking forward to going home, chatting with her children, eating crackers and drinking cola, her family claim.
But when her husband Chris visited her the following day he found her heavily sedated. When he urged unit staff to send her to hospital for treatment, they refused – saying she would only die in the ambulance.
Mr West had already become concerned about his wife’s treatment after finding she had been labelled with a ‘do not resuscitate’ notice.
The notice, which meant she would not be revived if she suffered a medical crisis, went against the wishes of Mrs West and her family, who were desperate to prolong her life so she could spend precious months with her children, aged between one and 17. Yet Mr West said he and his wife had to ask five times to have the notice removed.
After her death, Mr West claims he was told by a nurse and his GP that despite being expected to live for at least 18 months, his wife had been put on the Liverpool Care Pathway, the controversial system designed to ease the suffering of the dying in their final hours.
Last night the clinic denied that Mrs West had been placed on the LCP.
But the case will reignite debate over the treatment of those who are believed to be dying.
Thousands of patients are placed on the LCP every year, which some medics say leads to the premature deaths of more than 100,000. Mr West said: ‘Andrea had a lot of things she wanted to do for the children. She didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to them.’
The Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, which runs the unit where Mrs West died, declined to give further information on the case before Mrs West’s inquest. The LCP was devised in the 1990s and involves the heavy sedation of a patient and the removal of tubes providing food and fluid.
However its use was criticised in the summer by a senior consultant, Professor Patrick Pullicino, who told a medical conference that nearly a third of NHS deaths now involve patients on the pathway.
He said a decision to put a patient on the LCP has become ‘a self-fulfilling prophecy’, adding that ‘factors like pressure on beds and difficulty with nursing confused or difficult-to-manage elderly patients cannot be excluded’.
Mrs West, who had two children from a previous marriage and four – aged seven, four, three and one – with her husband, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in January last year which later spread to her lymph nodes.
Her husband said she had been given between 18 months and two years to live. Mr West, a former care worker who now looks after his children full-time, said a nurse had advised him last month that his wife should be admitted to Priscilla Bacon Lodge in Norwich for palliative care.
‘I believed she had an infection,’ he said. ‘She had had the same symptoms in the past with infections. I didn’t think it was serious at all.’
Mr West and the children visited Mrs West on September 19. ‘She was active, cheerful and looking forward to going home,’ Mr West said. ‘She spoke to her children, she was eating cheese and crackers, and she was drinking Coke with lemon.’
However, he said, his wife was concerned because she had been told doctors had placed a ‘do not resuscitate’ notice in her notes. Mr West said his wife told him: ‘I have fought this far. Why would I want to die now?’
However, he said, it took five requests from himself and his wife before medics removed the DNR notice. The following day, at 6.30am, Mr West was phoned by nurses to be told his wife had been bleeding and vomiting. He was, he said, told she was likely to die that day.
‘I couldn’t understand it at all,’ he said. ‘I couldn’t understand why they assumed she was going to die so quickly.’ On arriving at the unit he said he found that his wife had been heavily sedated and no tubes for artificial hydration or nutrition had been connected.
He said he was later told she had been placed on the LCP. ‘I asked a nurse and she said, “We are treating her on the Liverpool Care Pathway. The papers have been prepared by the doctor and she is being treated as a dying lady on the LCP”.’
He said he ‘argued with’ doctors to provide his wife with intravenous fluid and this was done. As her condition worsened he threatened to call an ambulance to take her to hospital.
‘They said I shouldn’t do that,’ he said. ‘They said it would disturb her dignity and she would die in the ambulance.’ His wife died at 8.30pm that evening.
‘Her death was sudden and very unexpected,’ he said. ‘She would have been shocked at the idea that she was dying. We all thought she had a year, probably a year and a half. She wanted to make boxes for the children, with pictures and other things to remember her by.’
He added: ‘One day she was eating and drinking. The next she was dead. It makes no sense to me.’
A spokesman for the Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust said: ‘We can confirm this patient was not on the Liverpool Care Pathway. However, we have been advised by the coroner that it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time as it may be subject to a coroner’s inquest.’
And they nearly got this guy too
The family of a 48-year-old man have told how they rescued him from dying on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway by reviving him with drops of water.
Andy Flanagan’s family were told that he was severely brain damaged, had organ failure and was close to death after a cardiac arrest.
They gathered at his bedside to say their goodbyes after the hospital withdrew fluids and said it was going to let him ‘slip away’.
But when Mr Flanagan’s sister, who is a nurse, gently moved him to change his bloodstained sheets, he started to murmur words, showing signs that he had not suffered severe brain damage.
Then, as she cleaned his face with a wet cloth, he desperately tried to suck in the moisture. The family continued their vigil at his bedside around the clock, concerned that doctors did not want to keep the patient alive.
Every ten minutes they gave him drops of water that helped him start to come round before doctors eventually agreed to put him back on a drip. Mr Flanagan recovered and returned home. He lived for another month and was able to properly say farewell to his loved ones.
His sisters last night called the Liverpool Care Pathway a ‘licence to kill’.
It involves withdrawing treatment and the heavy sedation of a patient and removal of tubes providing food and fluid in the last 24 hours of their life.
Devised in the 1990s as a means of easing pain for the dying, it has been in widespread use in the NHS in recent years.
However, critics claim it is increasingly being applied to patients without their families’ knowledge and when they still have a chance of recovery.
Lesley Flanagan, 53, last night said her brother had been put on the Pathway, which she describes as ‘insidious and a licence to kill’, long before he was ‘ready to go’.
She said the hospital had chosen to ‘give up’ on Mr Flanagan, a father of five and grandfather of two who had been a carpenter.
Mr Flanagan, who was suffering from pancreatic cancer, was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn in the early hours of June 19 after he had a cardiac arrest.
When Miss Flanagan arrived at the hospital she was told that he was very ill, that his organs were shutting down and that they had taken all of the tubes from him.
She said: ‘They told us that he had not got long to live and that the kindest thing to do would be to let him slip away. We did not know that they had instituted the Liverpool Care Pathway. ‘They mentioned something about a care pathway, but we didn’t perceive for a second that it was a way to kill people.
‘In the evening my sister, who is a qualified nurse, arrived from Stockton. She was angry because no one had taken care of his basic needs. The bed he was in was dirty and covered with blood.
‘She asked if she could change the sheets and when she asked Andy questions, such as if they could roll him on his side, he replied with “yes” and started to open his eyes.
‘That is when she began to suspect he had not been brain damaged. When she used a wet cloth to clean his face he tried to suck the moisture. We started to give him water from pipettes ourselves and he gradually became more awake. But we still had to campaign for the doctors to put him back on a drip.’ The family also found Mr Flanagan’s medical notes were marked with ‘do not resuscitate’, despite this never being discussed with them.
Miss Flanagan added: ‘We stayed with him around the clock, because we were scared they were going to try to kill him again.
‘He was terrified of the doctors and at one point told his consultant himself, “you tried to kill me and told my family that I wanted to die”. He went home at the end of June and lived for another month until July 25.’
Mr Flanagan’s other sister Kathy Flanagan, 57, who has worked as a nurse for 39 years, said: ‘We had another five weeks with our brother – that time was very important for us and everyone else in the family.
‘Even when Andy had started to come round we had to beg the doctor to put him back on a drip and he told us that our brother did not like needles and that he was sure that he wouldn’t want to be put back on a drip.
‘I think it’s very difficult for relatives to comprehend what’s going on when they’re in state of shock, grieving and hurting. People just listen to doctors and respect them and I’m not saying perhaps at the very end that it might not be appropriate, but who knows when that end stage is.’
Last night a hospital spokesman said: ‘This case is subject to an official complaint and we are unable to comment at this time.’
Vicious British bureaucrats determined to “get” Branson — even if they had to make up and misapply the numbers in rail bid
Branson is Britain’s most prominent businessman — and far too successful for socialist bureaucrats. But their nasty little fraud fell apart when threatened with exposure in court
THE Government lost or failed to save key calculations underpinning its decision to award the West Coast rail franchise to FirstGroup, a report commissioned by the Department for Transport shows.
The study from accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers highlights crucial flaws in the handling of the bid that led to last week’s decision by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to pull the contract.
They include the absence or loss of vital computations showing how civil servants arrived at their decision and the failure to examine the risks around GDP forecasts for the final three years of the contract.
The DfT appointed PwC in late September to re-run the numbers on the rival West Coast bids after Virgin Rail, the losing incumbent operator, applied for a judicial review of the process.
Heavily redacted copies of PwC’s report were handed to the bidders earlier this week as the Government provided initial feedback on a decision that has left the taxpayer with a bill of at least £40m to reimburse bid fees and seen the suspension of three civil servants.
One insider said: “It looks like they ran the numbers and didn’t save the results. PwC tried to repeat the outputs and it couldn’t.”
It is unclear whether officials failed to save results, lost key calculations or deleted some of the workings behind their decision.
The report also shows the “GDP resilience model” was not properly applied for the last three years of the contract, while the DfT made errors confusing real and nominal inflation.
It is in the final three years to the end of 2028 when there is a ramp-up in payments to the taxpayer from FirstGroup’s £13.3bn bid.
Last week Mr McLoughlin admitted “mistakes were made in the way in which inflation and passenger numbers were taken into account, and how much money bidders were then asked to guarantee as a result”.
The PwC report shows revenue forecasts were not correlated with how many passengers could actually fit on the trains.
A DfT spokesman said: “We are not going to give a running commentary on what went wrong.”
A FirstGroup spokesman said: “The DfT has provided us with information and we are working through it.” Both PwC and Virgin declined to comment.
Disabled boy, 18, allowed to fall to his death because health and safety fears meant carers could not restrain him
“Health and safety” is a standard excuse for employee laziness in Britain, even when it leads to death
A disabled boy fell to his death because care home workers were too afraid to restrain him over ‘health and safety’ fears.
James Dean Brotherhood, 18, had brain damage and was susceptible to blood clots following treatment for a brain tumour, which was removed when he was eight.
But despite his medical history and the evident danger, carers at a specialist unit stood by and watched as James pulled himself up onto a windowsill with his wheelchair still strapped to his back.
The teenager fell and hit his head – and within hours was dead. His family have now received a four-figure payout.
When asked by a coroner why he did not intervene in the moments before the tragedy, one of his carers wrongly stated the home had a ‘no restraint policy’ due to health and safety rules.
Following the out of court settlement, James’s mother Suzanne said: ‘If a toddler ran out into the road, would they have stood by and let them get run over by a car?
‘His carers said they didn’t want to move him or stop him because they were scared they might get hurt, but one of them was a 6ft bouncer – it was simply ridiculous.
‘After the accident, I was told that he had suffered a slight knock but in the inquest I discovered he had received a severe blow to the head.
‘There were three carers in the room at the time and they just stood next to him and watched him for several minutes before he fell.
‘They should have just grabbed him and stopped him from doing it, then my little boy would still be here.’
Mrs Brotherhood added: ‘If he had died from the cancer I might have been able to live with that, but knowing his death was preventable has made it impossible for me to move on.’
After his death, bosses at the Aarons Specialist Unit, in Loughborough, sent his family a £12 cheque for James’s funeral flowers after the inquest in May.
Now, the home’s owners Rushcliffe Care have agreed to pay Mrs Brotherhood and her ex-husband Dean, 46, an undisclosed sum, although they continue to deny any responsibility for James’s untimely death.
An inquest in May this year heard how three members of staff were with James when he pulled himself up on a window frame to try to see a motorbike outside.
He was still strapped into his wheelchair and the hearing at Loughborough Coroner’s Court heard his carers tried to persuade James to climb down but at no point did they physically intervene.
In evidence, they said there was a ‘no restraint’ policy and that health and safety regulations prevented them from stepping in.
Senior care assistant Dale Watret told the inquest that he was in the room with James when he climbed on the windowsill, but he could not physically step in to get him down because of a health and safety policy.
Mr Watret said carers were told to talk to patients and distract them from behaving in ways that might cause them to harm themselves.
Mr Watret, who is no longer employed by Rushcliffe Care, said he shouted for help.
Coroner Robert Chapman asked Mr Watret: ‘Why didn’t you grab him?’
Mr Watret replied: ‘Health and safety policy states you don’t catch anyone to break their fall.’
Mr Chapman asked if that was the firm’s policy. Mr Watret replied: ‘It’s health and safety policy all over the country, I am led to believe.’
He told the inquest he was concerned about being injured himself.
Mr Watret said: ‘I was asking him to come down. The back of his head hit the floor. It happened so fast. Everything after that is a bit of a blur.’
Coroner Robert Chapman recorded a verdict of accidental death caused by bleeding on the brain.
At the time, he said: ‘The issue I find the most difficult to deal with is that for one or two minutes James was holding on to the window frame with his wheelchair strapped to his back.
‘The staff realised it was dangerous. No attempt seems to have been made to take simple action to intervene.’
Darren Carnwell, a senior manager with Rushcliffe Care, which owns the unit, said staff should have been trained to physically intervene ‘as a last resort’.
Mr Chapman also said James’s care plan meant he should only have been in his wheelchair when being moved around the home, but staff members with him when he fell did not know that.
He said he was further concerned James was not always made to wear a protective helmet, as his care plan suggested.
Following the payout, Neil Clayton, a specialist in medical negligence and care home neglect with Harvey Ingram Shakespeares solicitors said: ‘This was a tragic accident that would have been avoided if Rushcliffe Care’s staff had used basic common sense.
‘There were several opportunities that were missed to prevent James climbing on the window and to get him down safely once he had done so. I hope that lessons have been learned and that an awful event like this will never happen again.’
When Mail Online contacted Rushcliffe Care a man, who refused to give his name or his position in the company, said they would not be giving any comment on the case and hung up.
Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released… and here is the chart to prove it
The article below is from the mass-circulation “Daily Mail” in Britain. The writer is one of their general journalists
The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week. The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.
This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.
The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported. This stands in sharp contrast to the release of the previous figures six months ago, which went only to the end of 2010 – a very warm year.
Ending the data then means it is possible to show a slight warming trend since 1997, but 2011 and the first eight months of 2012 were much cooler, and thus this trend is erased.
Some climate scientists, such as Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, last week dismissed the significance of the plateau, saying that 15 or 16 years is too short a period from which to draw conclusions.
Others disagreed. Professor Judith Curry, who is the head of the climate science department at America’s prestigious Georgia Tech university, told The Mail on Sunday that it was clear that the computer models used to predict future warming were ‘deeply flawed’.
Even Prof Jones admitted that he and his colleagues did not understand the impact of ‘natural variability’ – factors such as long-term ocean temperature cycles and changes in the output of the sun. However, he said he was still convinced that the current decade would end up significantly warmer than the previous two.
The regular data collected on global temperature is called Hadcrut 4, as it is jointly issued by the Met Office’s Hadley Centre and Prof Jones’s Climatic Research Unit.
Since 1880, when worldwide industrialisation began to gather pace and reliable statistics were first collected on a global scale, the world has warmed by 0.75 degrees Celsius.
Some scientists have claimed that this rate of warming is set to increase hugely without drastic cuts to carbon-dioxide emissions, predicting a catastrophic increase of up to a further five degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
The new figures were released as the Government made clear that it would ‘bend’ its own carbon-dioxide rules and build new power stations to try to combat the threat of blackouts.
At last week’s Conservative Party Conference, the new Energy Minister, John Hayes, promised that ‘the high-flown theories of bourgeois Left-wing academics will not override the interests of ordinary people who need fuel for heat, light and transport – energy policies, you might say, for the many, not the few’ – a pledge that has triggered fury from green activists, who fear reductions in the huge subsidies given to wind-turbine firms.
Flawed science costs us dearly
Here are three not-so trivial questions you probably won’t find in your next pub quiz. First, how much warmer has the world become since a) 1880 and b) the beginning of 1997? And what has this got to do with your ever-increasing energy bill?
You may find the answers to the first two surprising. Since 1880, when reliable temperature records began to be kept across most of the globe, the world has warmed by about 0.75 degrees Celsius.
From the start of 1997 until August 2012, however, figures released last week show the answer is zero: the trend, derived from the aggregate data collected from more than 3,000 worldwide measuring points, has been flat.
Not that there has been any coverage in the media, which usually reports climate issues assiduously, since the figures were quietly released online with no accompanying press release – unlike six months ago when they showed a slight warming trend.
The answer to the third question is perhaps the most familiar. Your bills are going up, at least in part, because of the array of ‘green’ subsidies being provided to the renewable energy industry, chiefly wind.
And with the country committed by Act of Parliament to reducing CO2 by 80 per cent by 2050, a project that will cost hundreds of billions, the news that the world has got no warmer for the past 16 years comes as something of a shock.
It poses a fundamental challenge to the assumptions underlying every aspect of energy and climate change policy.
‘Devastating’ power bill rises to hit 10m homes: British Gas to raise prices by £100 from next month
British Gas will provoke fury today by announcing an inflation-busting rise in energy bills – even though the price of power has fallen over the past year.
A dramatic increase of up to 9 per cent is expected, which would add more than £100 to the average family’s heating and power bill from next month.
The rise will affect ten million households – more than 40 per cent of the country – and plunge more people into fuel poverty just as the winter months set in.
Millions of families are already struggling to pay their energy bills amid the biggest squeeze on household incomes for more than 60 years.
The price rise will lead to renewed claims that energy giants are profiteering. An average dual-fuel bill for British Gas customers is already £1,260 and it could rise to £1,375, consumer groups warned last night. The firm’s parent company Centrica posted profits of £1.7billion in the first half of this year.
But even though the price of buying electricity on the open market is 6 per cent lower than it was 12 months ago, the big six energy firms are all expected to hike their prices before Christmas.
Caroline Flint, Labour’s energy spokesman, said people would not understand why bills had to rise when British Gas was making so much money. ‘Hard-pressed families and businesses need much more transparency on costs, pricing and profits to know whether they’re getting a fair deal,’ she said.
‘Unless ministers get to grips with spiralling energy bills, people will rightly think that this Government is completely out of touch with families and pensioners struggling to make ends meet.’
Michelle Mitchell, of the charity Age UK, said: ‘Reports of price hikes as we head into winter will be leaving many older people feeling extremely anxious about their heating bills. Cold homes pose a serious risk to the health of older people, yet a huge number of older people cannot afford to heat them properly.’
Energy bills have doubled in the past decade and last year each of the big six hiked prices. British Gas pushed them up by 18 per cent for gas and 16 per cent for electricity.
Energy firms are expected to blame rising costs on meeting environmental regulations laid down by the Government and the EU.
British Marxist historian shows how history is whitewashed by the Left
Anyone who remembers his American history courses in grade and high school – when American history was still being taught, because very little of it is today – will also remember all the glowing, adulatory accounts in standard textbooks of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. One encountered nary a disparaging word about them. They “saved the world,” were “forward looking,” or “ahead of their time,” and “served selflessly” the cause of “democracy” and “social justice.” These particular presidents appeared in those textbooks as squeaky clean, literal saints, and were held up as models of political and national leadership.
They could do no wrong, and if these real-life Dudley Do-Rights failed in their missions to reorient the electorate to be more easily led to moral adventures, the New Frontier, and Great Societies, it was all the fault of greedy obstructionists and other Snidely Whiplash villains in Congress or the Supreme Court.
Worse still, it was implied ever so subtly that we the people didn’t deserve to have them as leaders. They were too good for us. We’d be punished for not living up to their expectations, for eschewing the need for “leaders.”
And we have been punished: We got Barack Obama.
Wilson, Roosevelt, and Kennedy were not totalitarians, but their basic political agendas, at first interventionist and regulatory, are the groundwork for eventual total government. It was not for lack of trying. A statist principle cannot be applied only half-way, not in the long term. Sooner or later, if not checked and repudiated, it must be fully applied, across the board and over everyone and everything. As statist policies are implemented incrementally, the electorate must be made incrementally receptive to them, surrendering their liberties piecemeal over time in exchange for ever-dwindling but more expensive messes of pottage.
School textbook portrayals of historical persons are based on what respected historians have written about them. What students have read in textbooks about the forenamed presidents is but a thin gruel distilled from approving weighty biographical tomes and sycophantic histories of movers and shakers. And of destroyers.
Recently, Eric Hobsbawm, a respected British historian, died and received glowing obituaries in Britishand American newspapers.
Eric who? When I first read the surname in aDaily Mail article, I immediately presumed it was either a name borrowed by J.R.R. Tolkien for a character in his The Lord of the Rings trilogy, or one invented by J.K. Rowling for a character in her Harry Potter series. Then, to my surprise and dismay, I learned he was an actual person, that he was an unrepentant Communist, that he taught history from the Marxist perspective in the best British schools, and that he wrote a number of histories from an unapologetic Communist standpoint.
Then I saw the Daily Mail’s photograph of him. I immediately nicknamed him The Horrible Hobgoblin of History.
As he was revered, so were his books. At least they were in Britain. The New York Times ran a long article on him, while The Washington Post ran two, one an extended obituary, another a fond retrospective of his work.
A.N. Wilson, writing for The Daily Mail, enlightened me about Hobsbawm and just how revered he was:
On Monday evening, the BBC altered its program schedule to broadcast an hour-long tribute to an old man who had died aged 95, with fawning contributions from the likes of historian Simon Schama and Labour peer Melvyn Bragg.
The next day, the Left-leaning Guardian filled not only the front page and the whole of an inside page but also devoted almost its entire G2 Supplement to the news. The Times devoted a leading article to the death, and a two-page obituary.
You might imagine, given all this coverage and the fact that Tony Blair and Ed Miliband also went out of their way to pay tribute, that the nation was in mourning. Yet I do not believe that more than one in 10,000 people in this country had so much as heard of Eric Hobsbawm, the fashionable Hampstead Marxist who was the cause of all this attention. He had, after all, been open in his disdain for ordinary mortals.
Yet the nation was not in mourning. Wilson suggests that most Britons were left scratching their heads trying to recollect just who this person was and why well-known persons such as Blair and Miliband were shedding tears over his passing.
Unlike Wilson at The Daily Mail, William Grimes of The New York Times penned a nonjudgmental, praising article about Hobsbawm, subtly implying that if Americans hadn’t heard of him until now, then they ought to have, because he was a very important person.
Eric J. Hobsbawm, whose three-volume economic history of the rise of industrial capitalism established him as Britain’s pre-eminent Marxist historian, died on Monday in London. He was 95….Mr. Hobsbawm, the leading light in a group of historians within the British Communist Party that included Christopher Hill, E. P. Thompson and Raymond Williams, helped recast the traditional understanding of history as a series of great events orchestrated by great men. Instead, he focused on labor movements in the 19th century and what he called the”pre-political” resistance of bandits, millenarians and urban rioters in early capitalist societies.
Grimes thought it apropos to quote an admiring professor of history from 2008:
“Eric J. Hobsbawm was a brilliant historian in the great English tradition of narrative history,” Tony Judt, a professor of history at New York University, wrote in an e-mail in 2008, two years before he died. “On everything he touched he wrote much better, had usually read much more, and had a broader and subtler understanding than his more fashionable emulators. If he had not been a lifelong Communist he would be remembered simply as one of the great historians of the 20th century.”
To judge by Hobsbawm’s political prejudices, had he not been a lifelong Communist, he might not have been an historian at all. Where’s the fun in reporting and narrating facts? In discussing real causes and real effects? No, the Communist philosophy of history is to fit it all into a cockamamie ideology, and to dispense with facts if they won’t cooperate. Very much the philosophy of Nazi history, and Islamic history, as well.
Christopher Hitchens, in a 2003 book review of Hobsbawm’s autobiography, neatly distilled the author’s life as others did or would not:
Eric Hobsbawm has been a believing Communist and a skeptical Euro-Communist and is now a faintly curmudgeonly post-Communist, and there are many ways in which, accidents of geography to one side, he could have been a corpse. Born in 1917 into a diaspora Jewish family in Alexandria, Egypt, he spent his early-orphaned boyhood in central Europe, in the years between the implosion of Austria-Hungary and the collapse of the Weimar Republic.
This time and place were unpropitious enough on their own: had Hobsbawm not moved to England after the Nazis came to power in 1933, he might have become a statistic. He went on to survive the blitz in London and Liverpool and, by a stroke of chance, to miss the dispatch to Singapore of the British unit he had joined. At least a third of those men did not survive Japanese captivity, and it’s difficult to imagine Hobsbawm himself being one of the lucky ones.
No, it is unlikely Hobsbawm would have survived Japanese captivity. He was an intellectual snob who would have been an abrasive fellow prisoner-of-war. As Wilson writes:
Hobsbawm came to Britain as a refugee from Hitler’s Europe before the war, but, as he said himself, he wished only to mix with intellectuals. ‘I refused all contact with the suburban petit bourgeoisie which I naturally regarded with contempt.’ Naturally.
Naturally, but not so inevitably. Hobsbawm must have witnessed the turmoil in Berlin and the street battles between the Communists, Nazis and other political groups vying for power in the expiring Weimar Republic. Spartacus, a self-educational blogsite connected with the left-wing Guardian, noted:
When Adolf Hitler gained power in 1933, what was left of Hobsbawn’s [sic] family moved to London. He later recalled: “In Germany there wasn’t any alternative left. Liberalism was failing. If I’d been German and not a Jew, I could see I might have become a Nazi, a German nationalist. I could see how they’d become passionate about saving the nation. It was a time when you didn’t believe there was a future unless the world was fundamentally transformed.”
It must have been hard choosing sides in Germany then, one gang of thugs battling another gang of thugs, both gangs fighting for the right to impose their brand of totalitarianism on a whole nation. Hobsbawm must have tossed a mental coin and it came up tails: Communism. After all, the Nazis allowed businesses and industries to keep their property, if only to have it serve Nazi purposes. The Communists were more thorough in such an expropriation; they took it all.
Douglas Murray, writing for Gatestone, is just as scathing as A.N. Wilson in his appraisal of Hobsbawm:
A writer in the Times recalled the dead Communist to have been – “a man of deep intellect, humility and charm” – on his only meeting with him; going on to claim that the talent the man had shown had “superseded” the ideology.
I do not see how this could be so. This man’s career was spent whitewashing, minimizing, excusing and stooging for some of the worst crimes in human history. Having been given ample years to recant his views, he resisted the call, instead holding them to the end. The system he supported prevented many people reaching even a quarter of the age he was fortunate enough to live to. But for him human life always took an – at best – secondary importance. The really crucial thing was communist ideology -surely, along with Nazism, the most bankrupt and destructive ideology the world has ever seen? Asked in a BBC television interview in 1994 whether the creation of a communist utopia would be worth the loss of “15, 20 million people,” he replied clearly, “Yes.”
But Nazism, or fascism, lost the coin toss. Communism lost it, too, at least in Russia. Murray hypothesizes:
Had he joined the Hitler youth voluntarily in 1933 and stayed inside fascist movements until his death; had he denied the Holocaust and said that the death of six million Jews and many millions of others would have been worth it for the achievement of the ideal Nazi state he would have died in ignominy. He would not have been celebrated in his life and he would not have been celebrated after death. Irrespective of any consideration of his works he would not have had plaudits from politicians of any stripe, let alone the leaders of political parties of the right.
Formal Communism is certainly dead. China has a “communist” ruling elite, which is more fascist than communist. Britain is nominally “socialist,” but is governed by a kind of watered-down, kid-gloves brand of fascism subscribed to and disguised by both major parties. The United States has been creeping unopposed, yet ever so cautiously, in the direction of fascism ever since FDR’s first term in the White House. The current occupant has deliberately albeit pragmatically accelerated America towards a full national socialist polity.
But, in the end, it matters little which brand of totalitarianism governs men, because the results are always the same: slavery and death and destruction. Historians like Eric Hobsbawm- and there are more of his ilk in academia, pale pinks and flagrant reds and retiring grays – give short-shrift to that slavery and death and destruction. They claim it’s all part of a price to pay to shepherd the survivors – the meek, the humble, the morally lame and the halt – in the direction of that collectivist City on the Hill that is actually a prison built to save mankind.
Hobsbawm preferred one style of totalitarian architecture; Howard Zinn another.
British thug who wore T-shirt with ‘one less pig’ slogan hours after murders of two policewomen is jailed for eight months
Rather lame that a opinion you write on your shirt can send you to jail but that’s Britain
A man who wore a T-shirt with offensive comments about the murders of Pc Fiona Bone and Pc Nicola Hughes on it just hours after they died has been sentenced to eight months in prison.
Barry Thew, 39, who has a lengthy criminal record, wore a T-shirt with ‘One less pig: Perfect justice’ hand-written on it the same day the two women police officers were gunned down.
Thew, of Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, admitted a Section 4A Public Order Offence (displaying writing or other visible representation with intention of causing harassment, alarm or distress) and was sentenced at Minshull Street Crown Court today.
He was jailed for four months and ordered to serve another four months, consecutively, after he admitted breaching a suspended sentence order imposed for an earlier offence of cannabis production.
The sentence, at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court, means he was jailed for a total of eight months. He will likely serve only half of that in custody.
Thew, who has 29 sets of previous convictions for 77 offences since 1983, appeared shaken as he was led away from the dock to serve his sentence.
Mr Duke said Thew has a long-standing dispute with Greater Manchester Police over the death of his son three years ago and repeated ‘stop and search’ procedures. ‘It is an on-going dispute between Mr Thew and Greater Manchester Police. He feels victimised and picked on.
PCs Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32, were killed on duty in a gun and grenade attack after they responded to a routine call about reports of a burglary at an address in Abbey Gardens.
Dale Cregan, 29, has been charged with their murders, the murders of father and son David and Mark Short and four other counts of attempted murder.
Famous comedian in trouble for a joke while out of character
Had he made the same joke in character as either Edna or Sir Les, it would have passed unremarked
AN agent for Barry Humphries has apologised for any offence caused by the entertainer’s comments referring to the eye shape of new Australians.
Famous for his much-loved and outspoken characters Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson, Humphries, 78, offered his take on Australian citizenship as his wife, Lizzie Spender, joined the dinky di ranks in London.
“At least my wife came to our country voluntarily and not against her wishes. She has the right-shaped eyes. A lot of new Australians are Chinese,” London’s Evening Standard newspaper quotes Humphries as saying after his wife’s citizenship ceremony this week.
Spender, 62, Humphries’ fourth wife of 22 years, is most eligible to join the antipodean clan, according to her spouse. “She’s a lot more Australian than our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who is a 10-pound pom with an Adelaide accent,” he continued.
A spokesman for Humphries offered an apology on Friday to anyone who took offence at the comments. “He would never want to offend anybody … a lot of what Barry says to the press is in jest,” the spokesman told AAP.