Lord Joffe Bill on assisted suicide

Joffe Bill on assisted suicide, currently in the Lords

Every day, in NHS wards, the merciful doctors use such quantities of morphine to ease the pain of their patients that their respiration is suppressed

But I think it might be better than seeing increasing numbers of British people forced to take their lives in a foreign country

Assisted suicide is problematic, but better than months of agony

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NHS Scandal

Gordon Brown is facing a cash crunch and the NHS budget has been so badly mismanaged that many hospitals are under threat of closure…

…is there a better explanation for this massacre of hospitals? It is quite unbelievable that government ministers can agonise in public about the appointment of a few dodgy teachers, and yet refuse to offer any public comment or justification for the irreversible extinction of dozens of hospitals, hiding resolutely behind civil servants who are themselves anonymous.

Forget the ‘porno sirs’ – the real scandal is going on in the NHS

Many years ago I had a short and happy reign as comment editor of these pages, during which it was my chief joy to sign the expenses of a brilliant but heroically under-productive colleague, whose tactic was to wait until I was full of the benignity that follows lunch and present his stapled dockets, a masterpiece of Tolstoyan length and creativity.

With mock reverence he would approach my desk, and flatten the top sheet in such a way as to conceal the bottom line. “Just sign here, minister,” he would say, in the manner of Sir Humphrey; and because I believed that this was exactly how our then proprietor would have wanted me to spend his money (or whoever’s money it was; there seems to be some confusion on that point these days), I would unhesitatingly authenticate his claim.

Like tens of thousands of people set in authority, I had no time to check the detail of his assertions. I couldn’t confirm that he had indeed had lunch with Mossad or the CIA – where did I phone them? – and there was no point: the sums were tiny, and in any case I had no reason whatever to doubt his word.

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Community Hospitals

17 January, 2006

MPs and local activists come together to fight for community hospitals

Local hospital campaigners from across the country joined forces yesterday in an attempt to prevent a wave of community hospital cuts and closures. Many Primary Care Trusts are in deficit and are under intense pressure to balance their books by April.

The result is likely to be front line cuts to many local community hospitals. Representatives of Leagues of Friends, local campaign groups, MPs, Councillors, community leaders, and residents, attended a one day seminar to share campaigning tips, build alliances and develop strategies to reverse the cutbacks to such vital, local health services.

The seminar comes less than ten weeks after the launch of CHANT (Community Hospitals Acting Nationally Together), a cross-party umbrella organisation set up to lobby Ministers, and raise awareness of the nation-wide threat to community hospitals. The group is chaired by Graham Stuart MP and the vice-chair is Boris Johnson MP. CHANT is supported by more than 40 MPs including Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Independent members. Chairman of CHANT, Graham Stuart MP, said:

‘This joint conference between CHANT and the Community Hospitals Association aims to support all those who are concerned about the future of their community hospital services. It will develop a network of support for campaigners who are battling hard to save their local health services.’

Over 80 community hospitals, including Townlands hospital in Henley, are currently under threat. The seminar included sessions on potential legal challenges to cutbacks and allowed campaigners to share tips and advice on working with the press and lobbying politicians.

Vice Chairman, Boris Johnson MP, commented:

‘It is appalling to see these vital hospitals facing such an unprecedented threat. If the Government persists with this policy, it should have the decency to explain the logic of this frankly bizarre decision to the British public, rather than continuing to hold up its hands and pointing the blame at the PCT’s, who are after all, unelected and unaccountable.’

Yob Culture

We are once again being invited to have hysterics about the yoof of today, and yob culture, and once again Tony Blair presents himself to us as the father of the nation, pater patriae, the man who is figuratively going to put the offending yobbos over his knee and give them a damn good hiding on behalf of us all.

We the British public will never recover our individual and collective courage as long as we think that nanny Blair is going to deal with the problem himself.

Blair is not going to get yobs off the streets – you’ll have to

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Corruption in the UK, USA, European Parliament …

Bribe me by all means, but it won’t make any difference

To a degree that I find downright insulting, I have never been the object of any attempt at bribery or corruption. In the course of a five-year political career, I have been offered not so much as the sniff of a directorship; no one has come close to suggesting that I might like to fly my family to the World Cup or a shopping trip to Dubai.

Mohamed Fayed has never sent me a hamper. As I look around at the items I have been sent in the post, I see a device for squeezing slugs, a pot of mustard and a baseball cap from Liverpool. And that is about it. It is a scandal. In a way that I find positively hurtful, big business seems to think it can rub along without me. I do not appear to figure on the flow-charts of influence.

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