What a way to treat an old soldier: War veteran who lost a leg forced to wait SEVEN YEARS for routine NHS procedure
When Jack Bland lost a leg while serving as a soldier in Northern Italy shortly after the end of the Second World War he couldn’t fault the medical care he received. But almost 70 years later he is furious with the NHS after enduring years of agony while waiting for routine surgery on his back.
Mr Bland, 85, sustained the injury in a fall seven years ago and can only get around with the help of crutches. Yet the simple operation that could ease his pain was repeatedly delayed and then cancelled by hospital managers.
Last night Mr Bland’s MP, former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw, stepped in to champion his case. He said he was ‘really concerned’ about the standard of care the veteran had received and would be taking the matter up with the hospital.
Mr Bland, a widower from Blackburn, attacked the hospital as ‘feckless’ and ‘uncaring’. He said: ‘Frankly, I’m disgusted with the NHS. I received better treatment and care in the military hospital in the 1940s. ‘It is a complete joke that my wait for a back operation at my local hospital has taken longer than the war itself.
‘In those days it didn’t matter whether you were a major or private – everyone was treated with the utmost respect. ‘Today we have consultants who look at you as if you are stupid and treat you as a number. ‘I used to be able to get out and about but I can’t any more. This operation would give me back my life.’
Mr Bland’s ordeal began in February 2006 when he slipped and hurt his back while on a day trip to Fleetwood, near Blackpool. He was prescribed painkillers by his doctor.
The retired engineer, who since his army injury has used a prosthetic limb, was confined to a wheelchair for four months without any improvement in his condition.
When he returned to his doctor, he was referred for a scan which he says showed he might need surgery because there was a bulge in a disc in his vertebrae. In April 2008 he went for another scan which showed no change and he asked for an operation.
Eventually Mr Bland was referred to an orthopaedic consultant. Although no date was set for surgery, he had several appointments at the Royal Preston Hospital to discuss the ongoing treatment for his back. Finally – almost five years after he had sustained the injury – he was put on a waiting list for surgery.
In June this year Mr Bland had another scan on his back and the doctor who looked at it told him it still looked the same as originally. An operation was scheduled for July, but it was cancelled. Then an appointment for a pre-operation medical, in October, was also cancelled.
The Royal Preston disputes Mr Bland’s claim that he waited for the operation for seven years, saying he was not due to have one in 2006.
However, Karen Partington, chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said: ‘We offer our sincere apologies to Mr Bland for delays in his care. ‘We will contact Mr Bland directly to assure him that we are prioritising his treatment.’
My daughter with a brain disorder was just given Calpol (Tylenol) by doctors – and now she’s sicker than ever
A mother who took her daughter to hospital after she collapsed at home says she was sent away with Calpol three times, despite her protestations.
Freya Davies-Redding, five, has a rare brain disorder, similar to cerebral palsy, which means she has epileptic fits and a weak left side. Freya collapsed into a TV stand at the family home in Barnstaple, Devon on Saturday, September 29.
But when mother Claire went to North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple she claims a registrar suggested she be taken home and given Calpol.
She then says they went back to the hospital the next two days running but was sent home and told to take Calpol each time.
Freya eventually got the treatment she needs but her mother says the delay means she now fits even more than before.
Claire said: ‘The registrar didn’t even ask us what kind of brain condition Freya had. I don’t know what he was thinking. Perhaps he thought it was a bit too much paperwork. ‘Her fits have got worse and she needs a new drug. I think it would have been prevented if the registrar had taken notice from the beginning.’
Eventually the hospital gave Freya an EEG (electroencephalogram) which checked her brain and found she was fitting every 10 seconds.
Jim Bray, spokesman for Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said Freya had undergone a thorough examination and tests. He said: ‘After the EEG test, our clinician acted immediately to manage the patient’s care in collaboration with neurology specialists at Bristol Children’s Hospital. ‘For rare conditions needing specialist treatment, this is a normal pathway of care for Northern Devon residents.
‘During this time we regularly updated the patient’s mother, who gave us the impression she was happy with her daughter’s management.’
Alison Diamond, the Trust’s medical director, said: ‘This was a very complex and difficult diagnosis. ‘Once the EEG identified a problem, the team worked closely with Bristol Children’s Hospital to manage the patient. ‘If it had been an emergency, the patient would have been transferred to Bristol earlier.
‘We understand the parents’ frustration and are disappointed our levels of care did not reach their expectations. ‘We strive to provide all our patients with the utmost care and compassion, regardless of their needs. We always welcome comments on where we need to improve.’
UK academic union faces claims of ‘institutional anti-Semitism’
Severe anti-Israel bias ‘makes Jews feel uncomfortable and unwelcome,’ lecturer charges in landmark tribunal
The UK’s trade union for academics, the University and College Union, is “institutionally anti-Semitic,” a London employment tribunal heard Monday.
The claim was made on the opening day of a potentially landmark case, which partially revolves around UCU’s resolutions concerning an academic boycott of Israel.
The claimant, freelance mathematics lecturer Ronnie Fraser, is alleging that the union harassed him by creating a hostile environment for him as a Jew, which “derives from a culture and attitude which is informed by contemporary anti-Zionism.
Complaints about anti-Semitism are met with either bald denials or accusations that the complainant is attempting to stifle legitimate debate. As a result of the role which the State of Israel plays in contemporary Jewish identity, the hostile environment necessarily has an adverse impact on Jewish members of the union, making them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.”
He says that this contravenes the 2010 Equality Act, which prevents discrimination on grounds of race or religion.
Unusually for an employment tribunal, the case will take four weeks to be heard. Over 30 witnesses for the claimant include the Booker Prize winning novelist Howard Jacobson — who has submitted a witness statement but will not be cross-examined — as well as Jewish community officials and numerous academics, both Jewish and non-Jewish. The seven witnesses for the respondent are all UCU officials.
Two of the three witnesses who testified during the opening session Monday discussed UCU’s decision to allow the international relations spokesperson for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Bongani Masuku, to speak at a UK conference promoting boycott and divestment of Israel in December 2009. Just two days earlier, the South African Human Rights Commission had publicized its finding that Masuku was guilty of hate speech against the Jewish community of South Africa.
The statements, which were made at a student rally at the University of Witwatersrand the previous March, included threats to South African families with children in the IDF, as well as a promise to make the lives of Zionists in South Africa “hell.”
Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, a representative body, argued that UCU leaders were informed of the ruling the day after it was made public (and the day before the conference) and had ample time to ensure Masuku did not have a platform in the UK. She rejected the suggestion by UCU’s lawyer, Antony White QC, that since Masuku had announced his intention to make further representations to the SAHRC, there was at the time “the possibility of a range of views about what Masuku had done”.
“That range of views was brought to the Human Rights Commission, they had a finding that was communicated to the Union and to the people who had invited over Masuku,” she said.
She was repeatedly questioned about when criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism and whether comparisons between Israel and apartheid South Africa were anti-Semitic.
“Whether Israel is or is not an apartheid state is academic discourse; it’s often discussed in the South African media,” she said. “When comments are made, ‘I came to the conclusion that Jews are arrogant’ or ‘Jews control the US’ — these comments are unacceptable, that’s when you go to the Human Rights Commission. When Jews are talked about as having blood dripping from their hands, that they should leave the country — that’s when you go to the Human Rights Commission.”
Political debate is “valid, to be admired,” Kahn later added. However, she said, “I have a problem with using the Israeli situation as an excuse for hate speech and making comments on fellow South Africans. Some of the comments drew on classic and modern anti-Semitic discourse.”
A second witness, retired University of Oxford biochemistry professor Michael Yudkin, had helped draft a motion in his local UCU branch disassociating members from “Masuku’s repugnant views,” which was passed 14:1. In May 2010, he proposed the motion at the UCU Annual Congress, but lost by “an overwhelming majority”. Yudkin subsequently resigned his UCU membership.
By the time Masuku was invited to the London conference, Yudkin stated, “it was a matter of public record that he had made remarks at a public meeting several months earlier that were, to put it no more strongly, prima facie anti-Semitic. The most cursory search of Google in October or November 2009 would have revealed both that such remarks had been made by Masuku, and also that there had been official complaints about them. The fact that UCU nonetheless invited Masuku to the conference in London suggests either that the union was reckless in failing to scrutinise the background of its invitees or that it knew of Masuku’s anti-Semitic remarks and didn’t consider them a reason for rescinding the invitation.”
His motion, Yudkin said, “centered on the expression of anti-Semitic views by someone who had been invited by the union to the UK. It recited incontrovertible facts and it invited the union to dissociate itself from remarks that had been found by an authoritative body (the South African Human Rights Commission) to amount to hate speech. That the union was unwilling to do so indicates, in my opinion, that it regards the expression of anti-Semitic views as acceptable.”
When White suggested that some UCU members felt it was inappropriate to support the motion as COSATU had said it was going to make further representations on Masuku’s behalf and legal proceedings were still ongoing, Yudkin responded, “I’m struck by the overwhelming opposition to the motion, 10:1 [against]. I don’t think these niceties about whether COSATU supported the appeal can be used as an excuse for that degree of opposition — all the motion asked [members] to do was to disassociate themselves from Masuku’s racist remarks, and that they refused to do. The context was the last several years of anti-Israel resolutions. All added together made it clear that the union was run by those committed to disregarding the feelings of its Jewish members and thinking that the kind of behaviour in which it was indulging did not need an explanation. It was institutional antisemitism.”
Told that several of the speakers opposing the motion were Jewish, Yudkin responded, “The fact that they are Jews by birth or upbringing is not a sufficient reason to think people may not be guilty of disregarding what is important to the majority of Jews.”
The panel of three judges, led by AM Snelson, will spend Tuesday listening to audio recordings of the UCU debates on an Israel boycott and the claimant, Ronnie Fraser, will take the stand on Wednesday.
Ten years too late, it’s good riddance to Britain’s wind farms – one of the most dangerous delusions of our age
By Christopher Booker
The significance of yesterday’s shock announce-ment by our Energy Minister John Hayes that the Government plans to put a firm limit on the building of any more onshore windfarms is hard to exaggerate.
On the face of it, this promises to be the beginning of an end to one of the greatest and most dangerous political delusions of our time.
For years now, the plan to cover hundreds of square miles of the British countryside with ever more wind turbines has been the centrepiece of Britain’s energy policy — and one supported by all three major political parties.
Back in 2008, when Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced his wish to see the country spend £100 billion on windfarms, the only response from the Tory leader David Cameron was to say that he should have done it sooner.
It was the only way, they all agreed, Britain could meet our commitment to the EU that, by 2020, we must produce nearly a third of our electricity from ‘renewables’ — with the largest part provided by tens of thousands more wind turbines.
Yet now, out of the blue, has come this announcement by the Coalition Energy Minister that from now on there is to be a moratorium on building onshore turbines other than those for which consent has already been given.
What made this even more piquant was the fact that Mr Hayes chose to drop this bombshell just hours before attending a conference in Glasgow staged by RenewableUK, the professional lobby group for Britain’s wind industry.
These are the very people who for years have been making fortunes out of the greatest public subsidy bonanza of modern times. Now Mr Hayes is to stop their gravy train in its tracks. It will give them the biggest shock of their professional lives.
The ramifications of such a policy U-turn stretch in all directions, not least to Brussels, where our EU colleagues won’t be taken in for a moment by Mr Hayes’s disingenuous claim that Britain doesn’t need more onshore windfarms because we are now on course to meet our ‘renewables’ target without them.
But nowhere will this announcement be greeted with more delirious surprise than in all those hundreds of communities across the land where outraged local protest groups have formed in ever greater numbers to fight the onward march of what they see as the greatest threat to Britain’s countryside for centuries.
I have been following this extraordinary story for ten years ever since, in 2002, I first began looking carefully at what really lay behind this deceptive obsession with the charms of wind power. It didn’t take me long, talking to experts and reading up on the technical facts, to see that the fashionable enthusiasm for wind energy was based on a colossal illusion.
I first warned about what I called ‘the greatest mistake in our history’ in an article in the Mail almost ten years ago.
I described the claim that it would be the answer to all our future energy problems as a catastrophic failure of judgment. I feared that windpower was stupendously inefficient and ludicrously expensive and that by falling for the greatest energy hoax of our time, the Labour government could be consigning Britain to a very dark future.
So unreliable are wind turbines — thanks to the wind’s constant vagaries — that they are one of the most inefficient means of producing electricity ever devised.
Indeed, the amount of power they generate is so derisory that, even now, when we have built 3,500 turbines, the average amount of power we get from all of them combined is no more than what we get from a single medium-size, gas-fired power station, built at only fraction of the cost.
No one would dream of building windfarms unless the Government had arranged to pay their developers a subsidy of 100 per cent on all the power they produce, paid for by all of us through a hidden charge on our electricity bills.
The only way the industry managed to fool politicians into accepting this crazy deal was by subterfuge — referring to turbines only in terms of their ‘capacity’ (i.e. what they could produce if the wind was blowing at optimum speeds 24 hours of every day). The truth is that their average actual output is barely a quarter of that figure.
Yet it was on this deception that the industry managed to fool pretty well everyone that windfarms could make a contribution to Britain’s energy needs four times larger than reality — and thus was ‘the great wind scam’ launched on its way.
For years our politicians continued to fall for this racket, as they ruthlessly bent the planning rules to ensure that nothing stood in the way of the turbines.
Meanwhile, ever more rural communities fought to stop the countryside around their homes being threatened with these monsters.
At long last, the penny began to drop with a growing number of MPs being besieged by constituents who wanted to know why our green and pleasant land should be disfigured for no obvious purpose other than to enrich the developers, and landowners such as David Cameron’s father-in-law Sir Reginald Sheffield, who has cheerfully admitted that the turbines on his Lincolnshire estate earn him £1,000 a day.
Earlier this year, 100 MPs, led by Chris Heaton-Harris, MP for Daventry, called for an end to building any more onshore turbines, on the grounds that the public should no longer be expected to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds a year in subsidies for something which was both useless and a crazy waste of money.
It was this groundswell of opposition, coming mainly from the Tory shires but winning support from MPs of all parties, which recently led David Cameron to appoint John Hayes as our new Energy Minister — with the private brief that he must find a way to curb those windfarms which are so massively unpopular.
Hence last night’s startling U-turn — which will destroy the long-standing all-party consensus on the issue.
The Lib Dems — led by our technically illiterate Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey — the Labour Party and Brussels will scarcely be able to contain their anger.
For countless others, this blast of realism will send up a cheer of relief across Britain — apart from Scotland, which has devolved powers. First Minister Alex Salmond has laughably pledged that, within eight years, it must derive all its electricity from ‘renewables’. (He has never explained what happens when the wind drops.)
In terms of seeing off the great wind delusion, however, this is only what Churchill once described as ‘the end of the beginning’.
When all those MPs finally became brave enough to recognise that onshore wind turbines are both useless and a waste of money, what they omitted to say was that the same objections apply twice over to those we are erecting in the seas around our coasts.
It’s not just that the thousands of offshore turbines that the Government still wants built will not only produce amounts of electricity scarcely less pitiful than those onshore. Because they are so much more expensive to build, they attract subsidies not at 100 per cent but at 200 per cent.
Thus, every reason that led John Hayes to strike such a blow yesterday for common sense in respect of onshore windfarms also applies, with redoubled force, to those vast offshore wind factories.
Until our politicians finally have the courage of their newfound convictions and halt this madness, too, one of the most bizarre follies of our age will not have been finally chucked where it belongs — firmly into the rubbish bin of history.
British parliamentarian runs slap bang into BBC bias; No deception is beneath them
Letter below from Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP, Member of Parliament for Hitchin and Harpenden to David Jordan, BBC, Director Editorial Policy and Standards, BBC
I would be grateful if you would look into my complaints about the Newsnight programme on Wednesday 5th September in which I participated (having just published a substantial critique of the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change) along with Natalie Bennett (newly elected Leader of the Green Party).
First, though least important, the BBC reneged on assurances I was given about the nature of the programme. Second, the introductory sequence was misleading, inaccurate and biased. Third, and most important, it demonstrates a systemic bias in the BBC’s approach to Climate Change.
Breach of assurances
I was told beforehand that although the programme would use the current record low in Arctic summer sea ice extent we would not discuss the science but ‘take the IPCC assessment of global warming as given’ and discuss what should be done about it. It was impressed upon me that I must not get into discussions of the science. I was perfectly happy with that a) because it is impossible sensibly to discuss both the scientific issues and the economic issues in a single brief item, b) because that was the approach I had taken in my report – I take the IPCC science as given and certainly do not dispute the reality of the greenhouse effect.
Despite those assurances, our discussion was preceded by a lengthy introductory film claiming to provide “new evidence”, “obtained by the BBC” that the ice was going to melt far earlier than previously thought and that this would lead to far more rapid, dangerous and unstoppable global warming. In fact it contained no “new evidence” only a piece of non-peer reviewed, non-research containing the tired old alarmist meme that “it’s worse than we thought” trotted out by a well known climate alarmist who has made the same assertions before; but this time implicitly endorsed by the BBC science editor who “obtained this evidence”.
I was therefore faced with a dilemma. If I adhered to my instructions and the original game plan it meant effectively accepting a highly tendentious bit of alarmism which contradicts the IPCC assessment of the science. On the other hand if I responded to this contentious piece I had to leave the points made by the Green Party leader unanswered. It also meant abandoning the original, sensible plan to focus on the economics/policy responses.
While the trailer was being shown I expressed my dismay at the bias of its contents to Jeremy Paxman who indicated that he would let me respond, which he did. I should make it clear that I have no criticism of the way Jeremy Paxman handled the programme – on the contrary my impression was that he was annoyed that the preamble had made a sensible discussion focused on the economics impossible.
I am happy to discuss either the economics or the science. And I have plenty of experience of being ‘ambushed’ in media interviews and can respond accordingly. If the blogosphere and my inbox are to be believed I came off best, the Green Leader was discomforted and Paxman dismayed. But that is not the point. It is wrong in principle to renege on assurances given. And the net result was to reduce the discussion to a muddle. The viewers were deprived of a meaningful discussion of the policy options.
More important is the bias displayed by the preamble.
* Susan Watts’ opening claim that this was a “new” thesis is untrue. The albedo effect and the possibility of methane emissions have been fully integrated into the IPCC assessments and projections as well as climate models for decades.
* Far from being “new research” Prof Wadhams has made similar alarmist claims in the past e.g. in “Planet Earth We Have a Problem: Feedback dynamics and the acceleration of climate change” June 2007.
* If “the new figures given to the BBC” do show that “the loss of Arctic ice is massively compounding the effects of greenhouse gas emissions” to a far greater extent than is assumed in the climate models collated by the IPCC then it follows that the underlying climate sensitivity must be far less than those models have assumed. If more of the observed warming has been the result of the albedo effect then less of it must have been the result of all other factors. Thus once the sea ice has melted and the maximum albedo effect is operating, the additional effect of further CO2 emissions will just be proportional to this lower underlying sensitivity. So the temperature will rise thereafter less rapidly than previously predicted. This fairly basic point does not seem to have struck either your science editor or Professor Wadham.
* The assertion that the summer ice will regularly disappear “within a few years” (or even happen soon after 2030 as attributed to the Met Office) contradicted the IPCC assessment which was not even mentioned. The IPCC Assessment Report Summary for Policy Makers says: “Sea ice is projected to shrink in both the Arctic and Antarctic under all SRES scenarios. In some projections arctic late-summer sea ice disappears almost entirely by the latter part of the 21st Century” (my emphasis). The Working Group1 report Chapter 10.3.3.1 says “the coupled models show a range of responses in Northern Hemisphere sea ice area extent ranging from very little change to a strong and accelerating reduction over the 21st century” but as shown in the accompanying chart no projection shows an ice free summer before 2070.
* Prof Wadhams’ assertion that “the temperature” has been rising was accepted by your programme makers uncritically. As was his almost meaningless phrase that “parts of the Arctic Ocean are as warm in summer as the North Sea in winter” (very cold in my experience!) In fact the remarkable thing has been the unchanging arctic temperature in summer – see appended charts. Global warming may be supplying heat to melt ice but it has not raised the temperature and a major factor affecting ice cover is wind blowing the ice out of the Arctic Ocean.
Much more HERE
Egalite without liberte? Non, non, non!
A new army of equality quangos and experts promises to make us all equal – but at the expense of our freedoms and desire to be rich
Historically, when people talked about equality, they meant one of two things. They either meant political equality – that is, equal rights, the expansion of freedom to more and more sections of society. Or they meant material equality – that is, a rethink of the way resources are created and distributed, the expansion of wealth so that more and more sections of society could enjoy it.
But today, we have a very curious situation where the new equality industry – all those quangos, experts and politicians who present themselves as the guardians of equality – actively undermines those two goals of the old struggles for equality. Today, equality is promoted not as a means of expanding freedom, but of limiting it. And equality is celebrated not as a means of expanding wealth, but as a way of shrinking wealth, or at least making it less ostentatious.
Where once we fought for equality in order to expose greater numbers of people to the gains of freedom and the joy of wealth, now the state and its offshoots promote equality in order to protect us from those things – in order to protect us from the alleged dangers of too much freedom and from the alleged mental distress that comes from wanting too much material stuff.
In relation to freedom: One of the most striking things about our society is how much validation and even adulation the idea of equality receives, and how little the ideal of freedom receives. There are numerous quangos and think-tanks devoted to promoting equality, but hardly any devoted to preserving freedom. Politicians like David Cameron are always talking about how important it is to address inequality, but they never make a loud defence of freedom – in fact, they pass laws that eat away at our freedom.
And not only does our society value equality more than it does freedom – it also uses equality as a tool for undermining freedom. You can see this pretty clearly with the UK Equality Act – the new ‘duty’ of equality that is enforced by government, which some religious and political groups have raised concerns about it, worried that it might be used to attack freedom of conscience and freedom of association.
Just consider the pretty shocking case where the state sought to force the far-right British National Party to rewrite its constitution. The Equality and Human Rights Commission argued that the BNP’s constitution was anti-equality. The constitution broke race relations laws by stipulating that the BNP was open only to ‘indigenous Caucasians’. It failed the equality test, and therefore it had to go.
Now, you might well hate the BNP’s constitution – that’s fine, most normal people do. But what you should hate even more is the idea that the state should have the right to edit or trash the constitutions of political parties. Because if we accept that the state should have that right, then we accept that there is no longer freedom of association or the right to political organisation; we accept that those two key freedoms – the freedom to associate with whom we choose and the freedom to promote whatever political views we like – can be undermined by the state in the name of ‘equality’.
The BNP case showed just how cynical the promotion of equality is these days. There were no queues of black and Asian people demanding the right to join the BNP, a racist party. This was no bottom-up demand for equal treatment – it was a top-down exploitation of the language of equality by a state keen to punish a deviant political party and force it to conform to the state’s values.
Today’s elevation of equality over freedom is bizarre – because freedom absolutely presupposes equality. Freedom is unquestionably a more important value than equality. In fact, earlier generations of fighters for equality saw equality as important only insofar as it allowed for the expansion of freedom. So for the French Revolutionaries – who propelled equality into historical consciousness – the demand for equality was about giving meaning to freedom. It was about making the ideal of freedom a reality by extending it, in Robespierre’s words, to both ‘slave and tyrant’. Equality emerged in the eighteenth century as a means of achieving freedom, which had been discussed as an ideal for centuries, in the living, breathing world.
Today, the use of equality to undermine freedom seriously denigrates both – it denigrates both the purpose of equality, and the meaning of freedom.
Then there is the debate about material equality. Here, too, the meaning of equality has been warped. Where earlier generations fought for the creation of more, in order to facilitate the spread of wealth to all, today’s equality quangos effectively fight for less. For them, equality means everyone having just about enough rather than everyone having an awful lot or all they can dream of.
Their starting point is the idea that desiring wealth is potentially bad for our mental health. They have even invented new diseases to describe the longing to be wealthy – they call it ‘affluenza’ or ‘stuff-itis’. They have pathologised the desire for more. And that’s because their aim is to lower horizons rather than raise them. For them, equality is a kind of therapy for the poor, a tool which should be used to make poor people feel better about the fact that they live on less than others. The new equality quangos are obsessed with lowering the perks and privileges of the rich – with ‘shrinking the pay gap’, as they call it – because their overarching aim is to stem feelings of jealously and out-of-control desire amongst the poor when they see rich bankers swaggering about with champagne and cigars.
This was best summed up by Will Hutton of the High Pay Commission, who recently said: ‘The knowledge that ostentatious consumption is possible has a shadow effect on every British citizen.’ In short, we must protect the poor from the sight of wealth; we must protect them from the harm of wanting things, and we must do this by making the wealth in our society less garish and obvious, by shrinking it, by removing the suggestion that everyone could achieve this standard of living or that it would be desirable for them to do so. This is really about helping the poor acclimatise to the fact that they are poor, by removing riches from their sight and from their minds.
The key problem today is the treatment of equality as an end in itself, as the good, logical end goal of policymaking. In past struggles, equality wasn’t treated as an end in itself – rather, it was viewed as a tool for the expansion of freedom and for the spread of riches. That is, it was about unleashing people’s potential and their individuality by making them more autonomous, both politically and economically; it wasn’t about making everyone the same, with the same views, the same incomes, the same life trajectories.
Today, equality, the end goal of just about every modern policy proposal, is about restraint; it’s about reining in allegedly dangerous freedoms and dampening down material desires. No wonder it is so attractive to the elite: ‘equality’ has become a PC word through which our rulers can limit people’s freedoms and lower our horizons and generally make our ambitionless, slothful society seem principled by describing it as ‘equal’. We should tell them we don’t want to be merely and always equal – we want to be free.