Hospitals stripped of cash bribes for `death pathway’ in shake-up of controversial end-of-life regime
Hospitals will no longer be able to profit simply by putting dying patients on the Liverpool Care Pathway. NHS trusts have been receiving six-figure sums for using the controversial end-of-life regime.
But care minister Norman Lamb said these `bribes’ would have to stop unless it was shown suffering had been reduced.
It is feared the incentives pressure doctors to use the pathway even when a patient’s life may not be nearing its end.
Freedom of Information requests show Aintree University Hospitals Trust, in Liverpool, received £308,000 last year for achieving `goals including the Liverpool Care Pathway’. Part of the money was tied to it achieving an LCP figure of 43 per cent against a target of 35 per cent.
Salford Royal NHS Trust had LCP-linked payments halved for failing to hit targets.
Mr Lamb, who has commissioned a review of the pathway, said payments should be made only if it can be demonstrated that individual patients have experienced reduced suffering as a direct result of being placed on the LCP.
`If incentives are given just to add someone to a list, that seems to be of concern,’ he said. `I want the issue of payments to be looked at in the review, but in the meantime, let’s ensure we only pay incentives when it can really be demonstrated that care at the end of life is being improved.’
Every year 130,000 people are placed on the pathway, which aims to ease suffering. It usually involves heavy sedation with morphine or similar drugs, and in some cases the removal of tubes providing nutrition and fluids.
Yesterday Mr Lamb named health expert Julia Neuberger as chairman of the independent review. Her inquiry will make recommendations about any changes needed to ensure patients are always treated with dignity and that they and their families are involved in decision-making.
Baroness Neuberger, former chief executive of the King’s Fund health think-tank, used to sit in the Lords as a Lib Dem but is now a crossbencher and is also a senior rabbi to the West London Synagogue.
She said: `How we care for people at the end of their lives is a reflection of our society’s values and civilisation.
`At its best, Britain leads the world in end-of-life care, but it is not always perfect, and we need to work hard to get it right for everyone, providing the personal care individuals and their families both want and need.’
Mr Lamb said: `She will be scrupulously independent and she brings a faith perspective to the consideration of this. `She will be supported by a panel of people; independent experts and other people from faith perspectives. There is deep concern, for example, among the Roman Catholic perspective.’
The Lib Dem minister said there would be a specific session of the review which would question families about their experiences. Medical experts – both those for and against – would also appear.
He said: `I have been deeply troubled by some of the stories that have been reported to me about the experiences in some hospitals. It is impossible to know the scale.
`I am deeply concerned about the apparent misapplication of Liverpool Care Pathway guidelines in some hospitals. `Why it is that in many hospitals, patients are being denied food or drink, even though the guidelines say this should not happen? It is deeply disturbing and needs to be properly understood and investigated.
`I will act on any rational conclusions that come from the review. We have the chance to get to a great conclusion, where we can genuinely improve the quality of care at the end of life.
`It is critical that food and drink is not withdrawn, unless to give food and drink would cause unnecessary suffering. I have heard stories of people who are compos mentis being denied liquids – and this is deeply disturbing.’
One leading critic of the LCP, hospital consultant Professor Patrick Pullicino, attacked incentive payments last year. He said: `Given the fact that the diagnosis of impending death is such a subjective one, putting a financial incentive into the mix is really not a good idea.’
British education boss to confirm plans for performance-related pay in schools
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, will announce this week that the Government is pressing ahead with the introduction of performance-related pay for teachers despite unions threatening industrial action over the move.
From this September, schools in England and Wales will rip up the existing staff salary structures so that there are no longer automatic pay rises for all teachers each year.
Instead, individual heads will have almost total freedom to decide pay levels, giving them the power to reward the best performers and prevent the weakest teachers from receiving annual increases.
The National Association of Head Teachers has backed the introduction of more flexibility in setting salary rises, but classroom unions are bitterly opposed to the move and have warned it will lead to “unfairness and discrimination” in staffrooms.
Mr Gove’s announcement later this week that he is going ahead with the plans, which were outlined in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, will ramp up tensions with the unions.
The two biggest teaching unions – the National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT – are already taking part in joint work-to-rule action as part of a long-running protest over changes to pensions, public sector pay freezes and mounting workloads.
It is likely that a move towards performance-related pay will add to their list of grievances and could lead to an escalation of the action.
The pay reforms are based on proposals from the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), which makes recommendations to the Government on teacher salaries and working conditions.
It comes despite the Government deciding to retain national pay arrangements in the NHS and prison service.
Currently, teachers outside London receive an initial salary of œ21,588 and can see their pay rise year-on-year to œ31,552. They can then move onto a higher salary band that is supposed to reward good performance, although most teachers automatically receive the pay increase.
Under the new plans, the STRB is proposing to abolish all pay increases based on length of service and link pay to performance based on appraisals by line managers.
The Government argues that the move will help to improve the quality of teaching in schools.
Responding to the proposals in December, Mr Gove said they would make teaching a more attractive career and a more rewarding job.
“They will give schools greater flexibility to respond to specific conditions and reward their best teachers,” he added. “It is vital that teachers can be paid more without having to leave the classroom. This will be particularly important to schools in the most disadvantaged areas as it will empower them to attract and recruit the best teachers.”
However, Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, has suggested that the independent pay review body had been “leant on” and claimed its recommendations were “seriously out of step” with those made for other parts of the public sector. “These proposals place virtually unlimited discretion on teachers’ pay in the hands of head teachers at a time when unfairness and discrimination are already rife,” she said.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said performance-related pay rises were a “sensible principle” but noted that they would be hard to implement.
Shakespeare and Wordsworth boost the brain, new research reveals
There is no demonstration that any of these changes are permanent
The works of Shakespeare and Wordsworth are “rocket-boosters” to the brain and better therapy than self-help books, researchers will say this week.
Scientists, psychologists and English academics at Liverpool University have found that reading the works of the Bard and other classical writers has a beneficial effect on the mind, catches the reader’s attention and triggers moments of self-reflection
Scientists, psychologists and English academics at Liverpool University have found that reading the works of the Bard and other classical writers has a beneficial effect on the mind, catches the reader’s attention and triggers moments of self-reflection.
Using scanners, they monitored the brain activity of volunteers as they read works by William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, T.S Eliot and others.
They then “translated” the texts into more “straightforward”, modern language and again monitored the readers’ brains as they read the words.
Scans showed that the more “challenging” prose and poetry set off far more electrical activity in the brain than the more pedestrian versions.
Scientists were able to study the brain activity as it responded to each word and record how it “lit up” as the readers encountered unusual words, surprising phrases or difficult sentence structure.
This “lighting up” of the mind lasts longer than the initial electrical spark, shifting the brain to a higher gear, encouraging further reading.
The research also found that reading poetry, in particular, increases activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, an area concerned with “autobiographical memory”, helping the reader to reflect on and reappraise their own experiences in light of what they have read. The academics said this meant the classics were more useful than self-help books.
Philip Davis, an English professor who has worked on the study with the university’s magnetic resonance centre, will tell a conference this week: “Serious literature acts like a rocket-booster to the brain.
“The research shows the power of literature to shift mental pathways, to create new thoughts, shapes and connections in the young and the staid alike.”
In the first part of the research, the brain activity of 30 volunteers was monitored as they read passages from Shakespeare plays, including King Lear, Othello, Coriolanus and Macbeth, and again as they read the text rewritten in simpler form.
While reading the plain text, normal levels of electrical activity were displayed in their brains. When they read Shakespeare, however, the levels of activity “jumped” because of his use of words which were unfamiliar to the readers.
In one example, volunteers read a line from King Lear: “A father and a gracious aged man: him have you madded”. They then read a simpler version: “A father and a gracious aged man: him you have enraged.”
Shakespeare’s use of the adjective “mad” as a verb sparked a higher level of brain activity than the straightforward prose.
The study went on to test how long the effect lasted. It found that the “peak” triggered by the unfamiliar word was sustained onto the following phrases, suggesting the striking word had hooked the reader, with their mind “primed for more attention”.
Working with psychologists at the university, the next phase of the research is looking at the extent to which poetry can provide therapeutic benefit, using the work of, among others William Wordsworth, Henry Vaughan, John Donne, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, T.S. Eliot, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes.
Volunteers brains have been scanned while reading four lines by Wordsworth: “She lived unknown and few could know, when Lucy ceased to be. But she is in her grave and oh, the difference to me.”
Four “translated” lines were also provided: “She lived a lonely life in the country, and nobody seems to know or care, but now she is dead, and I feel her loss.”
The first version caused a greater degree of brain activity, lighting up not only the left part of the brain concerned with language, but also the right hemisphere that relates to autobiographical memory and emotion.
Intense activity is this area of the brain suggests that the poetry triggers “reappraisal mechanisms” causing the reader to reflect and rethink their own experiences in light of what they read.
“Poetry is not just a matter of style. It is a matter of deep versions of experience that add the emotional and biographical to the cognitive,” said Professor Davis, who will present the findings at the North of England education conference in Sheffield next week.
“This is the argument for serious language in serious literature for serious human situations, instead of self-help books or the easy reads that merely reinforce predictable opinions and conventional self-images.”
Professor Davis hopes to scan the brains of volunteers reading Charles Dickens to test if revisions the writer made to his prose spark greater brain activity than the original text.
Could a cup of tea made from coffee leaves be the healthiest hot drink option?
This is just another variation on the stupid but uncrushable antioxidant theory. No evidence of its effects at all
For those who find ‘tea or coffee’ a question too far first thing in the morning, relief may soon be on hand – a combination of both.
Researchers claim they have discovered the ultimate brew – a tea made from coffee leaves which is healthier than both of the drinks.
The coffee leaf tea, which is said to have an ‘earthy’ taste that is less bitter than tea and not as strong as coffee, boasts high levels of compounds which lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease, experts said.
It also carries far less caffeine than traditional tea or coffee and contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The coffee leaves were analysed by researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, South-West London, together with researchers in Montpellier, France.
They believe the drink – from the leaves of the coffea plant – has thus far been overlooked because of the preoccupation with the plant’s seeds, coffee beans, which are nowhere near as healthy.
While there is evidence coffee leaf tea is drunk in places such as Ethiopia, South Sudan and Indonesia, previous attempts to import it into Britain from as early as the 1800s have been unsuccessful.
After analysing 23 species of coffee plant and finding many health benefits, the researchers now hope the coffee tea could rival the well-established types of coffee and black and green teas in Britain.
Dr Aaron Davies, a botanist at Kew, reported in the journal Annals of Botany that seven species of coffee plant contained high levels of mangiferin – a chemical usually found in mangoes which is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects as well as lowering cholesterol, protecting neurons in the brain and reducing the risk of diabetes.
The leaves were also found to hold high levels of antioxidants, which reportedly help combat heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Dr Davies said: ‘In 1851 people were touting it as the next tea and there were all these reports about its qualities. It was said to give immediate relief from hunger and fatigue, and “clear the brain of its cobwebs”. It was also said to be refreshing – although some found it undrinkable.’
A moment of truth on Britain’s welfare state
A system intended to promote social solidarity has had the opposite effect
I’m sure it is entirely coincidental, but since this column’s pre-Christmas diatribe against the lie perpetrated by politicians of all parties – that present welfare provision can be sustained into the indefinite future – there has been a positive epidemic of truth-telling. Members of the Cabinet are now falling over one another to warn that present entitlements and universal benefits must be regarded as a thing of the past: that it is not only the workless dependency culture that needs to be dismantled, but also the system of automatic payments, which has expanded to encompass the entire population regardless of need.
Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms and the benefit cap passed last week are designed to see to it that those in work will never be worse off than those who are not. They are the least contentious aspect of this. In spite of Labour’s politically suicidal attempts to attack them, these moves have the support of virtually every sentient being in the country.
But it is the vast, comprehensive payments structure into which we are all eventually drawn, however great our private means, that is becoming untenable. Steve Webb, the pensions minister, jumped right in this week: early retirement in the public sector would soon be out of the question, the pension age will increase with life expectancy, and pensioners will have to expect to use their savings to pay for elderly care. With an ageing population, he said, the sums just don’t add up. And Nick Clegg, of all people, actually suggested that any political party “committing not to touch a single hair on the head of benefits for the most affluent people. will be found out”.
As lots of people keep saying, all of this is really nothing more than a return to the original Beveridge conception of welfare as a safety net. The model we actually have of the welfare state as an all-embracing system that offers benefits to every member of society for at least some part of his life was established by the post-war Labour government, which wished to use it as a form of socialist wealth-redistribution.
The pernicious effects of this are not just economic, but also social and moral. Abandoning the “safety net” principle meant that instead of treating poverty (or “want”, as Beveridge called it) as an emergency in need of temporary assistance, it would be regarded as a permanent condition caused by endemic social “unfairness” (as Gordon Brown called it) in need of everlasting support.
This transformed the function of welfare: it would not be simply a government policy of saving people from destitution when they fell on hard times. It was to be a national unifying programme that would bind all members of society into a network of interdependence. Everybody would benefit, so everybody would have a stake in the programme. The corollary of this notion that everyone should get something from the welfare state – however much he earned – was that everyone should pay into it. So the rich would get ever-increasing state pensions and all the perks that went with them, while the low paid would have to pay tax and contributions at an ever-higher level.
This was supposed to reinforce a sense of social solidarity (as the EU calls it) and communal responsibility. In fact, it has had precisely the opposite effect. Before the Second World War, a married man with a family earning the national average wage paid no income tax, nor was there any state welfare system for supplementing low wages. Would anyone like to suggest that solidarity and mutual responsibility in working-class communities is stronger now than it was then? Not only has the sense of community been undermined by the belief that only the state is obliged to respond to need, but the welfare system has become a divisive force, creating resentments between those who are thought to be overly dependent on it and those who are trying not to be. (It is precisely those resentments that the Tories are likely to benefit from politically.)
Perversely, increasing taxation on the low paid has helped to pauperise them, thus making it more likely that they will need help from the state in the form of tax credits or housing benefits. What ministers are finally coming round to saying – almost in so many words – is that not everyone should partake of the welfare state however rich they are, and not everyone should have to pay for it however poor they are. Indeed, Coalition policy is moving, albeit in baby steps, in this direction: taking more of the low paid out of tax and at least breathing the possibility of – someday, maybe – removing the more absurd universal benefits from wealthy pensioners.
It is something of a mystery, given their timidity over this issue, why the Tories chose to plunge right in with the least justifiable universal benefit cut: the removal of child benefit from higher-earning families. Child benefit was introduced to replace the old child tax allowance because – back in the day – only the affluent paid income tax and so only they got any advantage. Now that virtually everybody has to pay some income tax, the child tax break could be brought back to help further relieve the tax burden on low-income families, and the question of giving cash “handouts” to high earners would not arise. Instead, we will now be the only developed country in the world that makes no fiscal distinction between those who have children and those who do not. Tax breaks for child care (which may or may not happen) are no substitute for a child tax allowance that could be claimed by either parent, and so would not discriminate against stay-at-home mothers.
In another startlingly frank contribution to this debate (again from a Liberal Democrat, oddly enough), Norman Lamb, the care services minister, has said that pensioners should be advised to use their savings to buy private care protection packages. These insurance policies could be used to “top up” care home fees if pensioners wanted to buy better quality services than provided by the state minimum. Ah, now there is the phrase that is the key to the future: “top up”, and more specifically, “top up insurance”. As in the United States, where pensioners buy Medicare Advantage policies to – all together now – “top up” the basic provision of Medicare, so we shall have to open the way for this sort of solution.
Insurance that is only for topping up elderly care or NHS treatment could quickly become so popular and competitive that its premiums would be widely affordable. It would be in the interests of insurers to see to it that policyholders got value for money, which would help drive down the cost of services. It would break the state monopoly of provision, giving pensioners and patients some real choice and power. So maybe losing the universal monolithic welfare state isn’t bad news at all. If ever there was a moment to make that argument, this is it.
The Jimmy Savile affair has shed grim light on procedures and systems that are woefully inadequate
Like the most unsparing barium meal, the Savile affair has forced its brutal way through the body politic, revealing only malady, dysfunction and failure. Last week’s reports – one by the Metropolitan Police and NSPCC, the other by the Crown Prosecution Service – reek of the autopsy lab and formaldehyde. Yes, they give a measure of belated dignity to Savile’s victims by taking them seriously at last. But the reviews do not – cannot – offer justice.
If they symbolise anything, it is not redress and fairness, but their conspicuous absence. There are few forms of solitude so merciless as the loneliness of those who are abused but not given a hearing. As recently as 2009, two years before Savile’s death, the CPS missed the chance to prosecute him in relation to three victims. In 2008, a woman who had been molested by him in the Seventies made a complaint to Sussex police, who reportedly discouraged her from persisting on the grounds that he was a “big celebrity” who would make “mincemeat” of her in court.
So, having turned the BBC upside down, the Savile case is now coursing through the law and order system, undermining public confidence in police and prosecution alike, sowing doubt at every turn.
It is a storm of suspicion and recrimination that the system can ill afford, in this age of institutional fragility. Parliament is still clearing the debris of the expenses scandal, the press wrestles with the consequences of the hacking controversy and the Leveson Report, the financial sector continues to reel from the crash, the bailing-out of the banks and the consequent loss of faith in capitalism. A society’s institutions give it shape and meaning, enshrining its continuities and codes. To discover that they are dilapidated, decayed or otherwise grossly deficient is traumatic for those they serve as well as for those who work within them.
The Savile case has compounded a creeping lack of confidence in the justice system. In the last week alone, a senior Met officer has been convicted of misconduct in a public office after offering to sell information about the News of the World hacking inquiry. Stephen Lawrence’s brother, Stuart, has launched a legal action against the Met, alleging that he has been stopped as many as 25 times because of his ethnicity. Several of the newly elected police commissioners are already embroiled in rows about the employment of cronies. On Tuesday, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met Commissioner, was cross-examined by the Commons home affairs select committee about the extraordinary Andrew Mitchell case, now under fresh investigation. When I interviewed the Prime Minister for last week’s Sunday Telegraph, he did not conceal his shock and fury that an email supporting the claims against Mitchell should have been “sent by a police officer posing as a member of the public”.
Some politicians – especially on the Left, but also the new breed of Magna Carta Tories who have become disproportionately obsessed by civil liberties – take ill-concealed delight in the discomfiture of the police. The Prime Minister is emphatically not among them. It is too often forgotten that Cameron cut his Whitehall teeth not only at the Treasury, working for Norman Lamont, but also as special adviser in the mid-Nineties to Michael Howard, who redefined and transformed the role of Home Secretary. In Howard’s view, it was no longer politically feasible or morally defensible to treat the job as managerial: the Home Secretary had to address the public’s growing frustration with the justice system.
True Tory modernisers are uncompromisingly tough on law and order. This robustness is the flipside of the compassion at the heart of Cameron’s vision of the “Big Society”, but has barely been given expression during the Coalition era to spare the feelings of the Lib Dems. The appointment of Ken Clarke as Justice Secretary in May 2010 gave Nick Clegg his “sixth Lib Dem Cabinet member”, but was also at odds with the needs of the time. Chris Grayling is much better suited to the role, and was pleasantly surprised on arrival to discover that Clarke had not done as much as he feared: liberal rhetoric had not been matched by liberal action.
The task for Grayling and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is a huge one, made more challenging by the political realities of Coalition and the fiscal realities of 2013. Between them, they must do more with less; make the police more accountable, more visible and more responsive; build more prisons and declare (as Howard did) that prison works; make rehabilitation complementary to, rather than a substitute for, punishment; open up the probation system; and reform the prosecution service.
It is a formidable inventory, at least as demanding as Michael Gove’s education reforms or Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare revolution. At its core must be a campaign of persuasion, and one that will take many years. In all sorts of ways, the citizen has lost confidence that the system operates on his behalf and in his interests. Grayling’s announcement at last year’s Tory conference that householders will have the right to fight back against burglars addressed at last a deep sense of resentment that the criminal’s interests were better protected than his victim’s. It is no less important that a black man feels he can walk the streets or drive his car without being stopped arbitrarily; and that the victim of an assault by a celebrity who has the courage to come forward not be told that she will be crushed in court. In some areas, greater toughness is required; in others, much greater sensitivity. At all times, the objective must be to enhance public trust in the system.
In several great American cities, this has been achieved by a nuanced combination of zero tolerance and excellent links with community organisations. Small wonder that Cameron was keen to hire Bill Bratton, the former police chief in New York and Los Angeles, to take over the Met – only to be thwarted by Home Office regulations. But the fact that the PM seriously considered the idea shows how keen he is to administer shock therapy.
If Cameron gets the second full term that he wants – at the helm of a fully Conservative government – you can count on law and order and the justice system being central to its strategic objectives. The Savile affair has shed grim light on procedures, systems and cultural assumptions that are woefully inadequate. It has further eroded trust in institutions that depend absolutely upon public support and collaboration.
What a grotesque irony that a man who made his name supposedly “fixing it” did nothing but break everything he touched. But in the end, the power of celebrity trumped the majesty of the law: that is a bleak admission for any society to make. The nation’s jester made fools of us all, identifying and exploiting the weaknesses in the system with ruthless success. In the absence of true justice, the only honourable response – beyond contrition and reviews – is to repair that system, and confidence in it, as if starting from scratch.
A strange definition of rape in Britain
It was consensual sex but he lied about himself. There must be millions of rapists in Britain at that rate
Two women, chatting on social media, as you do. One confides in the other that she fears her husband is having an affair – would her friend, whom she has never met in real life, be so kind as to pop round to her house and see if she can persuade her husband to have sex with her and thus prove his infidelity?
Well of course, says the on-line friend, happy to oblige. And oblige she does. Obviously in some circles nipping round to a total stranger’s house to have sex with him is considered perfectly normal – indeed, enjoyable. She enjoys it so much that she returns several more times to `test his fidelity’. She even filmed the encounter and sent the tape to her on-line friend. Her on-line friend offered her money for this service, something she accepted, though the money failed to materialise.
Now before you fall into the trap of assuming that I am saying that prostitutes don’t have the right to be protected by rape laws – I’m not. I’m merely making the point that this was a woman for whom sex held so little intrinsic meaning that she was prepared to repeatedly have sex with a total stranger and treat it as a commodity that could be paid for. For the benefit of the sisterhood, naturally.
However, the on-line friend was becoming greedy, and encouraged her to have ever more adventurous sexual encounters with her husband. Who did she turn to in her hour of need, on becoming alarmed by this turn of events? Why the husband of course, so good and amicable was her relationship with him by this time. He said he would `kill his ex-wife’ and in due course reported that he had done so. At which point our victim turns to another of the sisterhood. `Oh my’, she cries, `I’m responsible for the death of a woman.’. `Woe is me!’
Did I just say victim? Indeed I did. For the sisterhood carted her off to the local police station, and in due course they transferred her to the cosily lit and comfortable rape interviewing suite. Rape? Ms Raccoon – did you say rape? Oh, I did. For the husband has just been given seven years in jail for rape and placed on the sex offenders list for life.
You see our victim, who was perfectly content to repeatedly sleep with a total stranger; was perfectly content to provide photographic evidence – presumably so the poor sap could be divorced and denuded of his life and children; perfectly content to take money for this service; and perfectly content to turn to him for protection when she felt threatened, was `utterly traumatised’ and `bravely came forward’ when she discovered that the husband and the `on-line wife’ were one and the same person.aye, he’d lied, tricked her even. Possibly verged on blackmail and coercion, but in these days where nothing less than a signed affidavit absolving the male of all consequences of having had sex is sufficient to prove informed consent – he was charged because he lied about himself and tricked her into bed and thus found guilty of rape.
Must not diss transsexuals, no matter how they behave
Apparently, British transsexuals have become so aggressive that even some Leftist writers (which Burchill certainly is) have become fed-up with them
Julie Burchill wrote a column in the Observer yesterday defending her friend and fellow columnist Suzanne Moore who came under fire on Twitter for an article that said women were under pressure to have bodies like ‘Brazilian transsexuals’.
Liberal Democrat minister Lynne Featherstone called for Miss Burchill to be sacked for attacking transsexuals as ‘bed-wetters in bad wigs’. The former Equalities Minister, a staunch supporter of transsexual rights, said she should be fired and her newspaper’s editor John Mulholland should also go.
Miss Burchill wrote the article in defence of fellow columnist Suzanne Moore, who became the target of transsexuals’ fury over what seemed to be a throw-away comment in a previous article.
Miss Moore, describing the challenges faced by modern women in an article for the New Statesman, had written that modern women were expected to look like ‘Brazilian transsexuals’.
She had said: ‘(Women]) are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual.’
Miss Burchill ranted: ‘Though I imagine (Twitter) to be something akin to being savaged by a dead sheep, as Denis Healey had it of Geoffrey Howe, I nevertheless felt indignant that a woman of such style and substance should be driven from her chosen mode of time-wasting by a bunch of d**** in chicks’ clothing.
She added that the reaction of ‘the very vociferous transsexual lobby and their grim groupies’ reminded her ‘of those wretched inner-city kids who shoot another inner-city kid dead in a fast-food shop for not showing them enough “respect”.’
She added: ‘I must say that my only experience of the trans lobby thus far was hearing about the vile way they have persecuted another of my friends, the veteran women’s rights and anti-domestic violence activist Julie Bindel – picketing events where she is speaking about such minor issues as the rape of children and the trafficking of women just because she refuses to accept that their relationship with their phantom limb is the most pressing problem that women – real and imagined – are facing right now.’
Miss Burchill was supported on Twitter by Miss Bindel, who writes for the Observer’s sister paper the Guardian. She said of her article: ‘This has been a long time coming, the bullying has to stop.’