Student who suffered a stroke claims she was ignored by hospital nurses ‘stretched beyond their limits’ on busy ward
A student who suffered a stroke has condemned the hospital where she was treated as a ‘disgrace’. Furious Jennie Cosh, 20, claims she was left fitting after nurses at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital ignored her calls – despite one standing at the bed next to her.
She says staff on the hospital’s stroke ward were stretched beyond their limits, meaning they were not able to respond to patients’ needs properly.
Jennie alleges that elderly patients were forced to soil themselves when there was no response to them repeatedly pressing the buzzer and loudly wailing for help.
The journalism student, who is now recovering at home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, said she wanted to raise awareness of conditions in the hospital to help others. She said: ‘I was shocked at how poor the standard of care was at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
‘I was lying in a hospital bed, having a fit, and a nurse just two metres away ignored my cries for help.
‘It is supposed to be a “centre for excellence” for stroke victims but that wasn’t my experience at all.
‘I was put on a big ward in an open bay with very little privacy – and I was the youngest patient by about 60 years. Staff hardly paid any attention to me.
‘I felt totally isolated and alone and it was worse for some of the elderly patients around me who were constantly buzzing for assistance and being ignored. ‘One poor lady was buzzing repeatedly and, as there was no answer, she ended up soiling herself. ‘Another threw up over herself. It was a disgrace.’
Jennie was suffering from a splitting headache, dizziness, blurred vision and a high temperature on June 26 last year while eating dinner with parents.
She went outside to cool down where she struggled with her right leg before taking a combined aspirin pain killer tablet.
Her worried parents took her to the doctor after her symptoms persisted and she was given the shock news that she had suffered a stroke.
Doctors have still not been able to pinpoint exactly what caused her stroke. Jennie describes herself as ‘perfectly healthy’ and does not smoke, drink or take drugs.
Jennie was admitted to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital hours after visiting the doctor and remained there until July 2.
She added: ‘I remember at one point I started to feel faint and buzzed for a nurse. There was no response and I started fitting.
‘Although there was a nurse on the very bed next to me, she didn’t even acknowledge me for nearly 10 minutes.
‘I couldn’t believe how bad it was, but I was only there for a short time. But what about the elderly people who are in for weeks on end?’
Jennie has been left with limited feeling down her right side from the ordeal, but has been working hard to regain full fitness.
A spokesman for Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said it would need more details for a full investigation.
He said: ‘Gloucestershire Hospitals is committed to providing high quality and safe care for our patients and we take complaints seriously.
‘We are disappointed to hear that Jennie Cosh was unhappy with the care provided. We would like to invite her to speak to us about her concerns.’
I’ll buy el cheapo food and clothes rather than take my son out of his British private school
A real mother reports from grim Britain, where a huge overload of bureaucracy makes the living standard lower every year
An email bearing the dreaded subject line ‘School Fee Bill’ pinged into my inbox. My heart sank as I wondered how my husband Christy and I were going to pay it. Would this be the month we finally couldn’t?
Our financial problems have been brewing for years. With twin daughters now in their 30s and 16-year-old Joe approaching his GCSEs, Christy and I have been paying school fees for more than 20 years.
Average fees in our area of South-West London range from £12,000 to £19,500 a year — which is an awful lot of money to find in the midst of a global economic downturn.
Of course, many families are struggling, yet economists say we are cutting back on the basics rather than forgoing our luxuries. I know we are — for what could be more luxurious than paying for private education when there are good state schools out there?
Many people will think the hundreds of thousands of pounds we’ve spent on our children’s education wasteful — but it is the one thing on which we refuse to compromise. And in order to continue giving Joe the education I think he deserves, I’m willing to sacrifice all the other trappings of my middle-class lifestyle.
I’ve ditched expensive (delicious!) Waitrose food and started buying my groceries at Aldi. I’ve swapped designer frocks from Harvey Nichols for cheap High Street brands, and have even turned my beautiful flower garden into a home-grown vegetable patch — all so we can pay those school fees.
It was fortunate that my husband and I were in agreement. Had we held opposite cultural views on private schooling, or been divorced, I don’t know how we would have managed.
And while many people would suggest we just send Joe to the local comprehensive, children only get one shot at education — and I didn’t want to throw away my son’s.
We did look at the state alternatives, but they just didn’t seem up to it. They had a tangible ‘poverty of expectation’, to use a fashionable phrase, which was reflected in their mediocre exam results and the way the boys slouched around in scruffy uniforms. It just didn’t seem right to send our son there — no matter how much our circumstances may have changed since he enrolled.
Until five years ago, I had no reason to believe that we would find it hard to provide our son with the same opportunities his older sisters had had. Both successful authors, our joint income in 2008 topped £100,000.
But then the recession started to bite, and nowhere harder than in books and newspapers. Finding work was not a problem: we both love writing, are quite good at it, and were fortunate enough to get commissions and publishing contracts for new book ideas.
But publishers’ advances were suddenly nowhere near as generous as they once had been. In the past year, a book Christy and I worked on together remained in the bestseller lists for six weeks, and now looks like being made into a TV drama. But — like Britain itself — although our long-term prospects for financial recovery were good, the balance in our joint bank account remained alarmingly low. We were earning less than a third of what we once had.
My savings dwindled rapidly — just as a tax bill arrived for my highest rolling year, precisely as my earnings dropped to a record low. Suddenly, for the first time since we were young newlyweds, we were living from hand to mouth.
Big changes were called for. As the world plunged into financial crisis, I got out the calculator and worked out that, to my horror, our basic annual outgoings topped £22,000 — most of which went to cover the large mortgage on our terraced house. And that sum was not including food and clothes, let alone school fees.
But while we were willing to cut back in many areas of our life, Joe’s education was sacrosanct.
Although our twin daughters had attended state schools up until the age of 11, we’d never regretted the money spent on sending them to a private secondary school.
We paid for Joe to go to a private nursery because I was working and the hours suited us better.
After that, it seemed natural that he should go on to the linked primary school along with all his friends, and then secondary.
Not only is he doing very well academically there, more importantly, he is very happy and we would hate to disrupt him in such an important year.
His school is, and always has been, extremely supportive — not only in giving Joe the best education possible, but also looking out for his emotional stability as well.
I felt this was what mattered most, and was willing to sell the house, if we had to, sooner than jeopardise his future. First to go was my clothes habit. From now on, it would be H&M and Primark, instead of Harvey Nicks.
The good quality clothes I already owned — Joseph pencil skirts and Maxmara suits — proved a sound investment and could be shortened, lengthened or paired with High Street accessories at very little extra cost. Meanwhile, my husband swears by TK Maxx.
Then there were cosmetics. I managed to save £20 a month just by swapping expensive ‘miracle’ serum for basic aqueous cream from the local chemist — and my face didn’t appear to suffer.
Perfume, too, could hardly be counted as a ‘necessity’, so when my Prada favourite ran out, it wasn’t replenished (though I did allow myself the occasional bid for a ‘tester’ on eBay).
My daily Americano at Starbucks and Pret a Manger had to go. Our home coffee machine makes a cup for 7p, and a homemade cheese and pickle sandwich probably costs about the same.
I upped my game by switching gas and electricity providers, as well as car and home insurance, saving several hundred pounds.
I then ‘found’ a further £200 by changing to a ‘no frills’ current account after realising we never used any of the now ludicrous-seeming ‘executive’ perks of running a more expensive one.
Then came the family holiday. Before 2008, we went to Brazil and Sicily: now we started looking around for kind relatives and friends we could visit in the UK.
A three-night mini-break in Munich, which I stuck on the credit card to worry about later, was as luxurious as it got.
Birthday dinners were similarly downsized. Fashionable London restaurants gave way to family trips to Pizza Express using as many discount vouchers as possible.
Although we urgently needed to have some building work done on our house (decaying window frames needed attention), all home improvements had to be put on hold. Winter draughts are being papered over with parcel tape.
The weekly food bill needed major surgery. I love Waitrose, but knew we had to forgo it — apart from popping in for the odd bag of posh pasta for rare treats. My husband started growing his own cavallo nero cabbages (previously £2 a go) from a £5 tray of seedlings we bought from the garden centre.
The garden was cleared for action with a mini greenhouse and raised beds. We weren’t under any romantic illusions about any Good Life-style self sufficiency: we simply wanted to save money.
We’d previously popped into our local Lidl only out of curiosity: now, it was out of necessity. We were by no means the only middle-class couple in there, pouncing on French cheeses or bars of Colombian (81 per cent pure cocoa) chocolate, shouting: ‘Here, look at this darling — it’s only 99p!’
Once, hearing my name called out down one of the aisles, I turned to see a friend from my Pilates class, married to a hedge-fund manager, pushing a giant trolley. Why waste money when you could buy food at bargain prices, she reasoned.
It turned out that economising was no hardship. It made me think, and count and plan our meals in advance. It made me a proper home-maker. Actually, it made me feel quite smug about it.
But what was more worrying was the way I found myself reacting to some unexpected misfortune, like the washing machine breaking down. Even a parking ticket felt like a train crash. If you can easily put things right by reaching into your wallet, it is no big deal. But when you are watching every penny, minor mishaps feel like a major catastrophe.
There were occasions when I simply found myself without money at all — a terrifying feeling when it has never happened to you before, or at least not since you were young and broke yet felt it did not matter.
Money is not just about being able to buy the necessities, it is also about basic emotional security.
Waking up with a feeling of fear every morning about how you are going to pay the bills is exhausting, and eats away at your self-confidence.
I longed for that anxiety to end — but not enough for me to compromise my son’s education.
And while we went through some very difficult times indeed during 2012, gradually, as we kept working hard and trying to cut all the corners we could, our finances started to improve. We didn’t suddenly have thousands of pounds going spare, but at least we were ‘managing’.
And it was worth it — all the sacrifices and the going short of things I’d thought I couldn’t live without — just to see how well our son was growing up. It’s amazing how little you can get by on when you really have to.
This Christmas has been austere but entirely appropriate. My husband and I exchanged gifts costing no more than £40 (he bought me a jumper from H&M, while I bought him a model of a Mini). We set a strict budget of £100 for the children — and stuck to it.
Every treat has been relished, every scaled-back gift deeply appreciated.
Of course, I may look back on this in a few years’ time and wonder why I put my family through all that just to send my son to private school. But somehow I don’t think so. Few things justify struggling so hard for — but my son’s future is one of them.
Muslim parents sue British primary school over ban on hijab
A school is being sued by Muslim parents after banning pupils from wearing the traditional Islamic headscarf in lessons, it has emerged.
St Cyprian’s Greek Orthodox primary in south London faces being hauled before the High Court amid claims that its uniform policy breaches children’s religious freedom.
The couple insisted it would be a sin for their nine-year-old daughter’s head to be uncovered while in the presence of male teachers.
The move represents the latest in a series of legal challenges against school uniform rules on religious and racial grounds.
In a landmark case six years ago, a Muslim schoolgirl – Shabina Begum – successfully challenged a decision by a Luton secondary school to refuse to allow her to wear a traditional gown, although the judgement was later overturned by the Court of Appeal.
Last year, a north London school was also found to have broken antidiscrimination legislation when it turned away a pupil for wearing cornrow braids in his hair.
Current Government guidance on uniforms says that schools should “act reasonably” in accommodating various beliefs relating to clothes, hair and religious artefacts.
But it says heads should have the ultimate power to restrict the “freedom of pupils to manifest their religion” if it is justified on health and safety grounds or to protect other children.
In the latest case, parents are believed to have enrolled their daughter at the Greek Orthodox primary in Thornton Heath two years ago after pulling her out of a private school.
The couple – who have not been named – appealed to governors when the girl was prevented from wearing the traditional Muslim hijab in class.
But they withdrew the child and launched a legal challenge with the High Court when the school refused to reverse the ban.
Kate Magliocco, the head, said the girl’s parents believed that “she has reached puberty and it would be a sin for her not to be covered because the school has male teachers”.
“The decision not to allow her to wear a headscarf was taken by the governing body,” she added.
“The school has a very particular uniform policy, which is shared with parents and, as head, I must follow the plan. The pupil in question came to us from a private school.
“Her parents actively chose us and, before she arrived, we held a meeting which included details of the uniform plan.”
The uniform policy on the school’s website requires girls to wear a dark blue coat, an optional blazer, a skirt, white blouse and a navy blue pullover – but fails to mention a ban on headscarves.
Mrs Magliocco said the girl had observed all of the school’s Greek Orthodox practices, adding: “At the heart of this is a girl who has been unable to return to school… If it does go to court then it cannot be a positive thing.”
The child’s brother remains a pupil at the school and it is believed the family have submitted a fresh application to have the issue heard at the High Court after their first attempt was rejected late last year.
The matter is due to be considered in February.
Bottled water ‘less safe’ than tap (despite costing up to 1,000 times more)
It’s the one accessory that no health-conscious fitness enthusiast is seen without. And the benefits of bottled water are so valued that it costs up to 1,000 times more than what comes out of our taps.
But far from being healthier, the bottled variety is subject to far less stringent safety tests than tap water. It is also much more likely to be contaminated or become a source of infection, according to a university study.
The warning suggests that much of the £1.5billion-plus Britons pay for bottled water each year in the belief that it is better for us is spent mistakenly.
On average, we drink 33 litres of bottled water annually, whether ordinary mineral, fizzy, or ‘purified’ tap water.
Almost a quarter of people who drink bottled water at home say they do so because they believe it is ‘better for them’ than tap water, according to market researchers Mintel.
But what these consumers may not realise is that tap water must be checked daily under a rigorous inspection regime.
It also contains trace amounts of chlorine that prevent the spread of anything harmful such as bacterial infections.
By contrast, makers of bottled water are only required to undertake monthly testing at source. Once filled and sealed, a bottle of water might remain in storage for months before it is sold. Bottled water contains no disinfecting additives such as chlorine.
After a bottle of water is opened it has no way of remaining sterile, and so must be drunk within days.
Professor Paul Younger of Glasgow University said: ‘Water coming from UK taps is the most stringently tested in the world.
‘People think there must be something wrong with tap water because it is so cheap and plentiful. But from a safety and price perspective, tap water is better for you.
‘If the bottle is accidentally opened or someone tampers with it, then it can easily get contaminated,’ added Prof Younger, who is the author of Water: All That Matters.
‘There’s certainly a greater chance you could find something harmful in bottled water than from your taps.
‘Ideally it should be drunk on the day it is opened, as it can easily pick up bacteria from someone’s hands or face.’
Sue Pennison of the Drinking Water Inspectorate, which audits household supplies, said out of more than four million samples of tap water last year, 99.96 per cent passed strict standards.
She said: ‘Tap water is safe to drink, everything else is a personal lifestyle choice.’
Jo Jacobius, director of British Bottled Water Producers, said all water available in the UK is ‘highly regulated and generally of good quality’. She added that most bottled water companies test on a daily basis.
Natural bottled mineral water must come from an officially recognised underground spring, be bottled at source and cannot be treated or filtered.
Spring water must also be bottled at source, but it can be treated or filtered.
Sourced from rivers, boreholes and springs, tap water is treated and put into supply or held via storage reservoirs.
Foreign aid? It’s a cynical, ruthless and self-indulgent con job says scathing British study
David Cameron’s controversial foreign aid target is a costly ‘con job’ designed to make the Conservative Party seem more caring, a study warns today.
In a scathing assessment, the respected centre-Right think tank Civitas accuses the Prime Minister of using billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to ‘rebrand his party and cement the coalition with the Liberal Democrats’.
The study warns that the wasteful Department for International Development is almost beyond reform and suggests it should be effectively shut down.
It says future aid spending should be handled by the Foreign Office, which takes a broader view of Britain’s interests, including trade.
The study suggests that a third of Dfid’s vast budget should be handed to the Ministry of Defence to pay for ‘dual use’ equipment such as helicopters and ships that could be used in emergency relief missions as well as combat.
And it calls for Mr Cameron’s ‘exorbitant and self-indulgent’ target to spend 0.7 per cent of Britain’s income on aid to be scrapped, saying there is no evidence it will help the world’s poor.
The findings come as ministers prepare to increase the aid budget by a staggering 30 per cent in the coming year in order to meet the Prime Minister’s target.
Total aid spending will rise from £8.65billion in the 2012-2013 financial year to £11.3billion in 2013-2014 – an increase of £2.65billion.
Today’s 250-page study will make uncomfortable reading for Mr Cameron, who has stuck to his pre-election aid pledge despite imposing austerity measures on virtually every other area of public spending.
The book, by journalist Jonathan Foreman, questions both the value of the extra spending and Mr Cameron’s motives for ordering it.
Mr Foreman says increased aid spending has been used by the Prime Minister to ‘detoxify’ the Tory image, describing it as ‘one of the most expensive marketing campaigns in history’.
He accuses Mr Cameron of ‘taking advantage of the real generosity of the British people’, adding: ‘A set of policies trumpeted as manifesting generosity is in fact a cynical, ruthless and morally reprehensible con job pushed by marketing gurus for whom their real-world effects in the underdeveloped world are largely irrelevant.’
Mr Foreman also suggests that Britain’s political elite, who all back the aid increase, are more interested in helping the poor abroad than at home. ‘Such people are perhaps more likely to engage with poor Africans and South Asians on their holidays than they are to encounter needy people in their own country,’ he writes.
Loan sharking: A brief defence
by Sean Gabb
The British Government has announced it will cap the rates of interest on the loans people take out to tide them over till payday. It will amend the current Financial Services Bill to give the planned Financial Conduct Authority the power to limit charges.
Now, some of the interest rates charged do look astonishing. The loan companies that advertise on Channel Five all charge about 2,000 per cent. Others are said to charge as much as 4,000 per cent. The last time I borrowed money, I paid five per cent. I avoid going into debt on my credit cards, because of the 22 per cent charged on them. It may seem heartless to defend the right to charge very high interest rates – especially as these are charged to the very poor, who then have trouble getting out of debt. However, limiting the rate of interest they can be charged is not the way to help the poor. Let me explain.
I will assume a reasonably open market in loans. We do not presently have a completely free market – lenders must be registered under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, and this Act and the common law do not allow complete freedom of contract. Even so, there are many lenders, and there is no evidence of systematic collusion. This being so, the analysis of interest rate formation given in the textbooks does apply fairly well to the actual world.
The demand for loans is determined by a combination of forces. At the commercial end of the market, there are calculations about the marginal productivity of capital. At the consumer end, there is how badly people want the things that loans will buy.
The supply is also determined by more than once force. Most fundamentally, there is what the Victorian economists called the “price” of money, and is nowadays called time preference. Even assuming zero risk, people will tend to give up present use of their money only if they can look forward to a return on it. For example, seen from today, £100 is worth more to me today than a year from today – I might be dead in a year, or the pleasure I can buy next year might seem rather shadowy compared with what I can buy now. If an extra £5 is the minimum that will persuade me to defer use of my £100, then the price of my money is five per cent. There are other considerations. This price of money will be different according to how much present use is being deferred. Also, most people will save something even without a positive return. And, of course, in the absence of a proper gold standard, and often for long periods, the monetary authorities are able to create loanable funds out of thin air. But price, or time preference, is an important underlying determinant.
We must then take account of risk. The reason I can borrow at about five per cent is because I have a known record of paying my debts. And, if I cannot pay them in future, I have assets that can be seized after the appropriate legal action. The reason other people are charged much higher rates is because they have a poor credit history. Or, if they have no history, they fall into one of the categories of people who cannot easily be made to pay their debts. These categories include the young, those without assets, habitual defaulters, those who are able to move about the world or to disappear without trace, and the generally feckless.
Loanable funds are perfectly mobile. A lender can do business with people like me, or with young men without assets who have already been made bankrupt at least once. He will expect to walk away from either class of deal with the same overall return. If lenders can make more overall from this second group, they will compete with each other for business, until the rate of return has fallen to the same as can be earned on loans to the first group. Therefore, someone who is charged 1,000 per cent on a loan is not necessarily being exploited. He is being charged a premium that takes into account his perceived risk of default.
Therefore also, any cap on interest rates to those at high perceived risk of default will result in a drying up of loanable funds. As said, these funds are mobile. They will move out of markets where overall returns are lower than elsewhere. If some people cannot be charged 1,000 per cent on loans, they will not be able to borrow at all.
Or they will be able to borrow – but not from people in suits who try to collect unpaid debts through letters sent in brown envelopes and through the courts. When these people vacate a market, because of legal caps on rates of return, their place will be taken by real loan sharks – the kind of people who collect debts by threats of violence, and who, because of the risk of punishment, and the limitation of competition, will charge more than the lenders they have replaced.
For this reason, limiting interest rates will not help the poor. Indeed, even without the criminality of the loans markets that emerge in the shadow of interest limitations, this kind of law is bad. A loan is an act between consenting adults. It is of exactly the same nature as any other financial or other transaction. Any restriction in one area on freedom of association will, by example, encourage restrictions in others. It will encourage further state socialism or moral authoritarianism.
This is not to say that all is for the best in the best of possible worlds. The case made above is general. It applies to any particular state of society. But not every society has to be one in which large numbers of poor people are encouraged to get into debts they cannot pay. In England, we have an established church. Its ministers would do more to justify their privileges if they stopped arguing about woman bishops and canting about racial equality, and began preaching the virtues of thrift and sobriety. In other times and places, the poor have borrowed chiefly to cope with natural disaster or to pay grasping tax collectors and landlords. In modern England, they borrow to buy things they cannot normally afford, or are not willing to buy after saving up for them. So far as they do not spell out the obvious truths of life, the religious and moral leaders of this country – and not only in the Church of England – are failing the poor.
Then there is real action the authorities can take to reduce dependence by the poor on credit. In this country, tax is payable on incomes of just a few thousand pounds. Shelf-stackers in Tesco pay income tax. VAT at 20 per cent raises the price of all taxable goods and services. So do excise duties and tariffs. So called product safety and other regulations generally increase prices, and work in much the same way as a tax.
Worse, there is government rigging of the energy markets, which raise electricity, gas and petrol prices directly, and which – because energy is one of the main costs of bringing goods and services to market – raise virtually all other prices.
According to Christopher Booker, writing, in October 2012, in The Sunday Telegraph:
“Over the next eight years, we need to spend £100 billion on building 30,000 useless, unreliable and grotesquely subsidised wind turbines…. [F]urther billions will need to be spent on new gas-fired power stations – not only to fill the gap left by all the coal-fired and nuclear plants that are due to close, but also to provide ever more expensive, “carbon”-emitting back-up for the times when the wind drops and our turbines are scarcely functioning…. [T]he declared purpose of George Osborne’s “carbon tax”… [is to] double our energy bills.”
Giving up on the fraudulent claims about man-made climate change would allow millions in this country to lead something like the lives shown in television advertisements without having to go into debt.
Or there are various forms of corporate welfare, and a tax and regulatory system, that effectively prevent millions of people from running little businesses that would lift them out of poverty. For example, no one nowadays can become a – legal – minicab driver without spending thousands up front on licensing fees and regulatory compliance. Again, no one can become a – legal – childminder without OFSTED registration that closes that occupation to everyone without high standards of literacy and administrative skill.
Or there are the effects of state-sponsored mass immigration. In a free society, there would be few border controls, and there would be some movement of people across borders. What we have at the moment is a system in which, since about 1990, upward of twenty million unskilled and often illiterate – and even violent or subversive – aliens have been encouraged to settle among us. If they work, they drive down wages at the bottom end of the employment market. If they live on welfare, they add to an increasingly regressive tax bill. Whether they work or claim, they raise housing costs by the pressure of their additional demand in a market characterised by both natural and state-made inelasticity of supply.
I repeat, it is not a desirable state of affairs in which large numbers of people borrow at very high rates of interest. But caps on interest rates do not even begin to address this problem. We can accuse the politicians behind this plan of stupidity, or of a cynical shifting of blame for a situation they have done most to bring about. Most reasonably, we can accuse them of both.
Brief Argument for English Independence
by Sean Gabb
The normal English response to Scottish nationalism is to ignore it, or to see it as an irritation, or to try shouting it down with reminders of all that shared history, or to point out the value of English subsidies and to wait for common sense to win the argument. None of these, I suggest, is an appropriate response. None takes into account that England and Scotland are different nations, and that the loudest and most energetic part of the Scottish nation has decided that the current union of the nations is not in Scottish interests. This does not make it inevitable that the union will be dissolved. It does, however, make this desirable. Scotland may or may not have suffered from the union. But the union has done much to bring England to the point of collapse, and it strikes me as reasonable to say that England can never be safe while there are Scottish members in the Westminster Parliament.
Let us take the New Labour revolution as evidence for this. Since 1997, England has been largely remodelled. There are few institutions, or administrative and legal forms, or even assumptions, from before 1997 that now make sense to anyone who has grown up since then. The gutting of the House of Lords, the altered functions of the judges, the laws to regulate political parties, and that allow unelected officials to supervise and even unseat elected representatives, the new criminal laws and new modes of criminal and civil procedure, the appointment of commissar units in every government agencies and most private corporations to impose the totalitarian ideologies of political correctness – these and many others combine to make present life in England very different from anything known before. There is also our continued and even accelerated integration into the European Union. And there has been the state-sponsored settlement of England by millions who are alien in their appearance and their ways. Every thread of continuity between the English present and past that could easily be snapped has been snapped.
Of course, this creeping revolution did not begin in 1997 – it became undeniably evident when Margaret Thatcher was in office. Nor has it been confined to England – every other civilised country has fallen into the hands of a totalitarian elite. There is an attack on bourgeois civilisation in every place where it exists, and the attack is led by those who were young in the 1970s, and has the support of a mass of economic and other interest groups. But, this being said, just think how many of the Labour ministers were Scottish. There was Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Robin Cook, John Reid, George Robertson, Wendy Alexander, Yvette Cooper, Doug Henderson, and so on and so forth. Below the leadership, an astonishing number of Labour members of parliament or Labour Party officials had Scottish accents. The Labour Party that emerged from its troubles of the 1980s was disproportionately Scottish – and assertively Scottish. Their political ambitions lay in the Labour Party, and not in the Scottish National Party. This did not give them other than a very weak sense of British identity, and gave them no observable understanding of or liking for the English.
Now, the central fact of Scottish history has been English domination. Since the eleventh century, England has been a rich and powerful and unified nation, loyal to a government that, broadly speaking, has been accountable to it. For most of the past thousand years, Scotland has been sparsely populated and without trade. Its people have been divided by language and culture, and by political allegiance, and sometimes by religion. It would be a miracle had Scotland ever managed real independence in these circumstances. It almost never has. The 1707 political union put Scotland under an almost purely English Parliament. The 1603 union of the crowns gave Scotland, after one reign, an English King. Even before then, the most important commoner in Edinburgh had almost always been the English ambassador. Even when there was no English army stationed there, Scotland was subject to varying degrees of rule from London.
In no meaningful sense, therefore, can Scotland be independent so long as it has England as its neighbour. And this is the main significance of the New Labour Revolution, and of the disproportionate Scottish contribution to New Labour. Undeniably, this was part of an overall project to destroy bourgeois civilisation, and understanding it requires a reading of Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci and Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault, and all the others. At the same time, it was an attempt to make Scottish independence possible by destroying England. Divide England into half a dozen Euro-regions; set these in competition with each other for money and privilege from Brussels; fill the country with ten or twenty million aliens; make it illegal, or at least in poor taste, to refer to an English identity – and the way is cleared for Scotland to be as independent as any other small nation can be.
This would explain the rising levels of Scottish hatred seen by many English visitors. When I visited Glasgow in 1994, there was much good-natured mockery of the English. When I was there again in 1997, I was driven from a coffee bar by the hostility even of the staff. In 2000, a taxi driver had the nerve to claim he was unable to understand my accent. In 2002, when I replied to hatred with hatred, another taxi driver tried to get me arrested for unspecified drug offences. Scottish politicians and administrators cooperate in discriminating against the English. The Scottish lower classes are best avoided.
The reason is simple. If you hate someone, you may want to destroy him. But, if you want to destroy someone, it is nearly always necessary to hate him. The Scottish claim to hate us for what we have done to them. In truth, they hate us for what they want to do to us. Bearing in mind that the Labour Party remains a Scottish front, and that the Conservatives might lose the next election, the 1707 union is actually more dangerous for England than membership of the European Union.
I will ask in passing why so many English Conservatives disagree with this analysis. One reason is a sentimental attachment to facts that have ceased to exist. This leads to what I find the most bizarre claims from Conservative supporters– for example, that the European Union wants to dissolve the United Kingdom in order to absorb England, whereas the European Union is simply part of the Scottish attack on England. A less creditable motive is that many of the Conservative leaders are themselves Scottish, and an ending of the union would reveal them as foreigners in England, and confirm them as unelectable in Scotland.
Most importantly, there are the electoral considerations. In the short term, removal of the Scottish members would bring about a Conservative domination of Parliament. In the longer term, however, removal of the Labour threat would mean that English conservatives were no longer locked into voting Conservative. I do not believe that many of those who voted Conservative in 2010 felt the slightest enthusiasm for David Cameron and William Hague and George Osborne. These got into office only because a majority of the English people feared and hated the Labour Party. Take away the Labour threat, and there would be the freedom to vote other than Conservative in general as well as in European elections. Obviously, union with Scotland benefits the Labour Party. But it also benefits the Conservatives by keeping alive the Labour bogeyman.
I say, then, that the union between England and Scotland should be wholly severed. I say that there should be no customs union or common currency, no rights of movement or of settlement, no shared head of state, no coordination of foreign policy or defence. Scotland and its citizens should become as alien, under English law, as Uruguay now is.
England requires no less. Perhaps, all things considered, Scotland deserves no less.
Lewd Facebook confessions ‘making students unemployable’
Whether or not they contravene any official rules, these boasts are extremely foolish
Students who make Facebook confessions about boozing and bed-hopping have been warned it could leave them unemployable. The craze for online confession pages has swept the country with thousands using them to brag about boozing and bonking.
But academic chiefs have warned students that their racy anecdotes could damage their future job prospects.
One Facebook site, Swansea Uni Confessions, has been slammed by the university and its student union. In a joint statement, registrar Raymond Ciborowski and Students’ Union president Tom Upton said: “We are seriously concerned about the nature and content of these pages.
“Irresponsible use of social media can damage their future employment prospects as companies are increasingly searching for information on job applicants.”