National Health Service…


There’s no more NHS. There’s an EHS and an SHS

There’s nothing national about the National Health Service

As anyone will know who has witnessed the death of a relative from multiple myeloma, it can be a grim way to go. Your very marrow is in revolt, as the cancer takes over the blood-making processes.

Since it could happen to any of us, I hope you will concentrate for a second on the case of a constituent of mine, a distinguished and charming author. When I last met him, he was running the second-hand book stall at the fête, and seemed very cheerful. I did not know it, but he was already well down the track that begins with radiography and then goes on to chemotherapy and stem-cell transplants, and then to courses of melphalan and steroids.

Now he has come to the last drug in humanity’s current pharmacopoeia. It is called Velcade, and it is a good drug, fully licensed in this country. His doctors have told him that it would improve the quality of his life, and perhaps prolong it by two to five years.

It is available free in the healthcare systems of virtually every other European country; and yet he cannot get it in Oxfordshire. It is not available to him, or anyone else, on the Oxfordshire NHS.


He says, rather mildly, that he feels this is “unjust”. I think that is an understatement. It happens that Oxfordshire is one of those counties particularly penalised by Labour, in that our per capita healthcare funding is only about 85 per cent of the national average. It is true — though obviously grossly unfair — that there are some primary care trusts (PCTs) in England that do feel rich enough to be able to afford Velcade, and today it is still being given to many multiple myeloma sufferers in other English counties.

And yet, in just a few days’ time, the position is about to become worse. The injustice will shortly become an outrage. On September 6, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) is expected finally to rule, or “advise”, that Velcade should not be dispensed on the NHS, with chaotic consequences for those English PCTs that are still giving it out.

And why is it being stopped? Because each course of treatment costs between £16,000 and £17,000. We must accept, in this country, that there are some treatments the state just cannot afford, and Nice will shortly rule that Velcade is not cost-effective.

Did I say “this country”? Forgive me. There will certainly be one part of Britain, if not England, where the NHS will continue to distribute Velcade, free, to sufferers from multiple myeloma. The drug will be available in Scotland, as it has been for some time; and, much as I love the Scots, it makes my blood boil that they should be so preferred.

Do you remember that deathless moment when a heroic Labour backbencher ambushed Tony Blair at Prime Minister’s Questions, and asked him to describe his core political beliefs? The PM went white, and stammered, and, after a hilarious hiatus, he gargled, “Errr … the NHS”, and flopped back in his seat. And when Gordon Brown, his heir-presumptive, is struggling to sum up the “spirit of Britishness”, the thing that really unites the country, he always goes for the “unique values of the NHS”.

In a way, he is right. The NHS is an essential half of the symmetry of British politics. In property and economics, we may be more inegalitarian than some other European societies; but we compensate at the moments of birth, sickness and death with the total equality of the NHS ward.

So let me ask you this, Gordon: how can you call it a National Health Service? I mean, run that National bit past me again. Which nation are we talking about here? There are two nations, and England gets £1,085 per capita health spending and no Velcade, while Scotland gets £1,262 per capita and free Velcade for Scottish multiple myeloma sufferers, among many other benefits.

Gentlemen of England now abed, here is the position. The Scots have free nursing care for the elderly — subsidised, under the Barnett formula, by us, the English — while we cannot afford it in England. The Scots have the luxury of refusing to charge their students top-up fees — since they are subsidised by us, the English — while English students have to cough up. Now we learn that the Scots have free cancer drugs — subsidised by us, the English — while we in England are told they are not cost-effective.

And all this injustice is provoked by a fundamental constitutional imbalance. It was because of devolution that the Scottish equivalent of Nice was able to decide that it no longer needed to obey the rulings of this so-called “National” body. It is because of devolution that Scots are able to make their own health arrangements, in the comfortable knowledge that Whitehall will bung them an extra couple of hundred quid for every Scot. It is because of devolution that the numerous Scottish MPs, with their small constituencies, are able to vote on questions that affect England, while English MPs have no corresponding say over healthcare in Scotland.

It is just not good enough for Alistair Darling or John Reid or Charlie Falconer or Gordon Brown or any one of these smooth-talking Scots to say, as they do, that the only answer to the West Lothian question is to “stop asking it”.

Gordon Brown had better understand that if he wants to become prime minister, he must find a solution to this, fast. Scottish devolution — of which he was such an evangelist — has smashed its Mel Gibson broadsword through the NHS.

How can you call it a National Health Service when we officially sanction a financial division, by which sufferers from a horrifying disease will die between two and five years earlier in England than in Scotland?

There’s no more NHS. There’s an EHS and an SHS. This is no longer some abstract constitutional issue. This is life and death. Unless Labour sorts it out, the shires of England will not be asking for devolution, but revolution, and they will be right.

As for Nice, it’s absurd to pretend that there is anything National about it. It’s time to drop the N and put Nice on ice.

119 thoughts on “National Health Service…”

  1. If we have a truly National health service why is the standard prescription charge in Wales only £3 but in England & I think Scotland also £6.65?
    sourcehttp://www.wales.nhs.uk/page.cfm?pid=9586

    Great Article Keep up the good work
    Brian Scragg

  2. As usual, Boris’s ideas and solutions have too much commonsense about them for the ‘backward’ assortment of government and local authorities. Expect no action.

    Now, perhaps if you were from a criminal minority group, some apparatchik would be bending over backwards [no, i don’t mean Blunkett] for you.

  3. Time and again surveys have shown that citizens support increased fees if they result in more universal, or more adequate, healthcare.

    If citizens do not even have the right to life-saving drugs because the cost/benefit analysis says they are not worth keeping alive, surely it is time to replace the analysts-in-chief with those who will serve the people who elected them.

    Of course, we’re struggling with this in my country, too. Socialized healthcare is a right, but it’s a right whose delivery system is being stripped away by politicians, lobbyists, and a bureaucracy whose appetite for expansion of power, salaries and perks is limitless.

    Remember the doctor who told Clinton, “If my predecessors had been the Founding Fathers you’d have had the right to a doctor, not the right to an attorney.” Well right now you have to fight that bureaucracy and your own government for the rights they have already guaranteed you.

  4. If the imbalance highlighted by Boris stems from the situation euphemistically referred to as ‘devolution’ then I propose complete dissolution of the union up to, and including, passport control on the Scottish and Welsh borders.

    The various northern and western sheep sh*ggers can fend for themselves henceforth.

  5. There is also a WHS as pointed out by Brian Scragg.

    When I was a student in Cardiff I was refused nicotine patches on the WHS by a GP ‘because you are not a perminent resident of Wales’.

    Scoplin, I have put it to various Welshmen who I have heard getting off on ‘we don’t need the English’ rants that they should stop using our currency and fund their own off sheep farming. I told them if they did this they would be able to afford to export coal again and surely they’d be happy at long last. They’re not so bad in Cardiff but up in the valleys they really do hate the English, I wouldn’t have dared say the above outside of Cardiff or I would have needed the WHS.

    Boris, as for wanting revolution in the shires I can assure you that some people are getting pretty annoyed and starting to refer to new-labour as a ‘foreign government’ in South East England. Seen as you guys only have one or two seats to lose in Scotland and Wales perhaps this could form part of an effective election slogan.

    I reckon kicking the Welsh and Scots out of Westminster when English issues are being debated would be a sure-fire winner.

    That includes Gordon Brown doesn’t it. Imagine, the guy must already be at wits end with Blair hanging around like a bad smell, he loses the election after being branded as a foreigner then gets kicked out of Parliament for English debates; it wouldn’t be long before he needed his SHS.

    England for the English!

  6. Oh, and while I’m at it how about proposing ‘financial devolution’ in terms of NHS spending and see how the ‘socialists’ like it when equal funding per person is proposed.

  7. “The various northern and western sheep sh*ggers can fend for themselves henceforth.”

    And you wonder why the Irish fought so damned hard for independence. Sheesh …

  8. WELL SAID, Boris! You’re a Saint! Thank you so much for speaking out about the scandalously unjust and undemocratic actions of the Government in asset stripping and bankrupting the English NHS and other English public services – thereby robbing and scapegoating English service users – in order to subsidise other parts of the union.

    You are entirely correct in laying the blame for this on this undemocratic travesty of devolution to selective, minority parts of the Union. This leaves the majority in England undemocratically robbed of the political power given to all other countries in the union.

    What sort of democracy would leave English elderly sick starving to death for lack of care in bankrupted, English NHS hospitals while forcing the English to subsidise elitist health care for the Scots’ elderly sick?

    What sort of skewed administration would bankrupt the English NHS and education system and so many other English public services, by pillaging English taxes and asset stripping English services, in order to subsidise elitist services for other parts of the Union, the Scots in particular?

    There’s only one answer, a corrupt, largely Scots Mafia, the Party within the Party of alleged social justice, those imposters who claim to be our national Government.

    My view is that the only solution is for us English to get out on the streets and protest and – very firmly indeed – demand our own parliament to reverse these scandalous injustices and to keep protesting until we English get justice and democracy!

  9. “What sort of skewed administration would bankrupt the English NHS and education system and so many other English public services, by pillaging English taxes and asset stripping English services, in order to subsidise elitist services for other parts of the Union, the Scots in particular?”

    And why was all this not foreseen, thrashed out and sorted before Scottish devolution? What’s the point in complaining after the horse has been allowed to bolt? That’s what I don’t understand.

  10. Good luck to the Irish (My grandmother is Irish) I have no idea what the British were doing there anyway. It’s a completely separate ‘island’ and the British occupation thereof was an unjustified annexation of an independent sovereign territory.

    Now the Scots have a slightly more complex situation where they enjoy the dubious distinction of having invaded themselves by way of James VI th of Scotland (who became James I st of England) consequently uniting the kingdoms. It is important to remember that the James I was SCOTTISH and that the unification which persists (in part) today is, whether the Scots like it or not, their own fault.

    England, if anything, should devolve from Scotland.

    P.S.
    I don’t consider Wales to be an independent country; any nation which produces that many PE instructors has no right to representation in the United Nations.

    What has an IQ of 6000?
    12000 PE teachers.
    😉

  11. And why was all this not foreseen, thrashed out and sorted before Scottish devolution? What’s the point in complaining after the horse has been allowed to bolt? That’s what I don’t understand. (impeach_bush said)

    Quasi Dictatorships and quasi police States are not renowned for consultation, nor for respecting democratic process, IB – and UK has become a quasi dictatorship and undemocratic under this Government. The views of the English were brushed aside, as they invariably are by Blair. In any case, Blair and co used their customary spin and stealth to deceive the English public about the sort of inequities this heinous, selective devolution was designed to create.

    There’s more than sufficient evidence to support the view that UK is now a quasi dictatorship, but let’s rely on one aspect of it, the hugely disproportionate number of seats now required to elect Labour, Conservative and Libdem MPs. Although the first past the post electoral system has always created a certain amount of inequity in this respect, that inequity has never been so scandalously pronounced as it is now. The result being that a majority of the English, Conservatives and Libdems have never been so disenfranchised as they are under this NuLab Government. Why? Because, under the auspices of Blair, electoral boundaries have been gerrymandered and skewed patterns of migration from Labour voting demographic areas have been encouraged to distribute within these gerrymandered boundaries to make it so.

    The scandalous net result being that some 70% – SEVENTY PERCENT – of UK citizens were effectively disenfranchised in the 2005 election. NuLab, with a very small minority of 33% of votes cast for them – just 20 odd% of UK citizens – won 55% of parliamentary seats. The result was particularly unjust for England which elected a Conservative Government and got a NuLab one.

    Voters are represented unequally. In 2005, the average number of votes per MP elected was:
    26,906 for Labour
    44,373 for Conservative
    96,539 for Liberal Democrats

    In my view, that’s why, IB

  12. An article on the % of Scottish members of Cabinet, and MP’s vs % UK population might be interesting. What about TV pundits, journalists, etc.

  13. Scoplin,

    The main business of the university I studied at in Cardiff was churning out PE teachers. These were mainly failed public school kids with a passion for weight lifting and rugby. The school of sports and leisure was the only school that did not keep previous students’ dissertations available in the library for fear of rampant plagiarism.

    The month or so of long, lonely nights in the 24 hour computer room writing my dissertation were occasionally disrupted by swarms of sports students that would descend upon my tranquility on the Sunday night before their dissertation hand in.

    They would take it in turns to drive to the 24 hour supermarket to stock up on ‘Pro Plus’, which they would devour at the rate of about a 24 pack between 3 every 90 minutes.

    When the time came to check through the fruits of their labour, ammend grammatical mistakes and print out the finished article they were so wired that I even heard one girl ask her comrade ‘You know the title pages, do they have to be in the right order?’ For all her and her colleagues faults they did look good in shorts.

    If you really want to annoy a Welshman it’s best to debate the teaching and use of the Welsh language. Watch the Plaid Cymru supporter turn purple when you make the observation that because Welsh is not an official EU language, road signs and other such official notices have no real business being bi-lingual.

    Another interesting fact about Welsh sports students is that before the rise to fame of fast bowler Simon Jones the majority of them were not aware the England cricket team is in fact the England and Wales cricket team; the ECB’s full name is in fact the England and Wales Cricket Board. Many a Welshman has declared to me when asked if they know the score in the test match ‘I don’t watch English teams unless they are playing us, in fact I hope they get beaten’.

  14. Old Welsh law is also highly amusing and a subject I would thoroughly recommend reading up on.

    ‘A woman could only be beaten by her husband for three things: for giving away something which she was not entitled to give away, for being found with another man or for wishing a blemish on her husband’s beard.’

    From:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_law

    But if possible try and find a book on the subject.

  15. You are right, of course. The issue of devolution and the disparities which the South funds to enable others to avoid top up fees, etc. is galling.

    Anyone agree that Blair, Brown, Reid and co are taking revenge for Colludon?

  16. Anyone agree that Blair, Brown, Reid and co are taking revenge for Colludon? (Griffinister)

    That wouldn’t explain why so many Scots living in Scotland even detest their own countrymen and women who’ve moved to England. In my experience – I spent time in Scotland with one of my ex-husbands who is a Scot – rabid hatred of the English is deeply entrenched among many Scots. Many times I’ve heard Scots snarlingly refer to Scots who live in England as ‘bloody Englishers’ or worse.

    Colluden, which was fought 260 years ago by a miniscule proportion of the ancestors of the English and Scots, surely cannot explain the anti- English position of so many Scots. Any reference to Colluden can only be an apologistic excuse for other, more general hatred.

    Its my view that the English are just an easy scapegoat for those Scots with a big chip on their shoulder. Perhaps one major factor is the sheer number of the English in relation to the number of Scots. The English out number the Scots by about 9 or 10 to 1. In a union, that’s bound to lead to disatisfaction on behalf of the minority community.

    Whatever the reason, it is time we in England acknowledged that a majority of Scots living in Scotland – Scots’ politicians in particular – rabidly detest the English and are out to do as much damage to England and the English as they can. Those of us living in England – not just the English here – must organise ourselves politically accordingly – by asserting OUR independence.

    I don’t blame the Scots, Welsh or Irish for wanting independence, good luck to them, but we in England must have it too.

    “For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.”

  17. As a Northumbrian, hailing from North of Hadrians Wall and South of the Scottish Border, I can let on we don’t like the English (who we refer to as ‘Southerners’), Scottish, Welsh or the Irish.

    Anything South of the Tyne or North of the Tweed can burn in hell for all we care, but like S***e did we want a new-labour ‘regional assembly’ full of Scottish and Southern (or God forbit Welsh) politicans.

    Hail Lord Percy!

  18. “Now the Scots have a slightly more complex situation where they enjoy the dubious distinction of having invaded themselves by way of James VI th of Scotland (who became James I st of England) consequently uniting the kingdoms. It is important to remember that the James I was SCOTTISH and that the unification which persists (in part) today is, whether the Scots like it or not, their own fault.”

    That is a novel interpretation of history. I’d have at least thought with all the North Sea Oil England’s been pilfering yes pilfering:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_Scotland%27s_oil

    would have funded a decent education system down there, but clearly not. So let me briefly EDUMACATE you (for free ;-)). The Union of the Crowns came about under James the I (in 1603), however Scotland retained its independent status, the Union of the Parliaments (and thus the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain) came about in 1707 under the English Queen, Anne. Of course when talking of subsidies, no-one mentions the Treaty of Union subsidy that Scotland was liable for a proportion of England’s stonking National Debt.

  19. Of course when talking of subsidies, no-one mentions the Treaty of Union subsidy that Scotland was liable for a proportion of England’s stonking National Debt. (ScreamingWarrior)

    A rather selective reading of history, Brave Heart, sorry, ScreamingWarrior. You neglected to mention that Article 14, the Equivalent granted GBP398,085 10s to Scotland to offset future liability towards the English national debt 🙂

  20. screamingwarrior
    Actually there is very little scottish oil. Most oil platforms in the north sea are outwith the international twelve mile limit which means that it does not belong to scotland. Aberdeen has been used as a base for many north sea oil companies simply because it is a convienient location not because the oil is scottish.

  21. Yes Auntie_Flo and it wasn’t paid now was it? Indeed there is no evidence to be found anywhere that is was:

    http://news.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=617762006

    And when is England going to get’s its independence (and is there anywhere I as a Scotsman can help with that process). We’ve got a nice big nuclear marina here waiting for your collection 😉 And what about the pilfered oil reserves, that’s £200bn that’s gone to the British state and not Scotland.

  22. Sorry I maybe should have made myself clearer, the taxation revenue from the oil is Scottish.

    Scottish oil lies in the Scottish sector of the North sea delineated under the Continental Shelf legislation and ALL international maritime law just like Norwegian oil, of course. UK Maritime waters stretch further than 12km (otherwise why would the Treasury get the rights to tax it) and that maritime zone is divided into separate Scottish and English components.

    BTW its in the link with all appropriate legal standpoints etc to make it much more clearer than I ever could.

    £200bn and counting and £12bn this year alone.

  23. I’m afraid you’re wrong, ScreamingWarrior, the £398K was indeed paid to Scotland, as recorded in your own Scots archives (starring and capitalisation within stars is mine)::

    From Glasgow University Archives

    “Article 15 of the Treaty of the Act of Union of 1707 between Scotland and England stipulated that Scotland would be paid a lump sum of GBP 398,085 10s, which was to compensate Scotland for taking on a share in England’s national debt and to repay the dividends on stock held in the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies (the Darien Company) which became defunct at the time of the Union.

    Distribution of the equivalent was entrusted to 25 commissioners and ** WAS PAID ** in notes, coin and exchequer bills, but proved controversial. The commissioners were accused of favouring themselves and the wealthiest creditors, whilst many others went unpaid. To ease this controversy an Act of Parliament was passed to issue debentures with an interest of 5 per cent from June 1708, but this interest remained unpaid.

    Eventually an Act was passed in 1719 making provision for a yearly fund of GBP 10,000 to be paid out of Scotland’s customs and excise as interest on GBP 248,550 worth of debentures. In 1724 the debenture holders were brought together and formed the ‘Equivalent Company’, which was finally wound up in 1851.”

    As you see, England’s undertaking was discharged in full. See link below:

    http://66.249.93.104/search?q=cache:ep3eJdnnSHQJ:www.archives.gla.ac.uk/collects/catalog/ugd/051-100/ugd060.html+Act+of+Union,+England+paid+Scotland+%C2%A3398085+in&hl=en&gl=uk&ct=clnk&cd=6

  24. There’s a simple explanation for NuLab pandering to the Scots, Welsh, and one-legged transgendered Patagonians. They are minorities. Lots of minorities = lots of votes. Add to these the legions of state employees who make a fat living from pandering to minorities and the rest of us – the “silent majority” – can go to hell because we’re too busy maintaining them to complain.

  25. Sorry I maybe should have made myself clearer, the taxation revenue from the oil is Scottish…£200bn and counting and £12bn this year alone. (ScreamingWarrior)

    This website’s claims regardng the tax it alleges England owes to Scotland are as unreliable as the bogus claims it makes regarding England’s alleged failure to pay £398K Scots’ compensation. Your own University’s Archives accept the compensation was indeed paid. These highly controversial allegations are groundless.

  26. If we were talking about Oxford instead of Scotland (to the effect that “people in Oxford enjoy £1,262 on the NHS as opposed to £1,085 in the rest of the country”) I’ve no doubt there would be a flurry of activity and this imbalance would be adjusted with indecent haste to a chorus of recrimination by Labour back benchers.

    But, of course, the Scots are more or less an ethnic minority now and, by the rules of PC, effectively untouchable.

    Scotsmen, take your oil, your whisky and your (ridiculous) game of golf by all means. England is infinitely better off without a bunch of dour, tightfisted, violent hooligans. We’ll even pay you the £200Bn back as long as you repay the exploration and setup costs for the rigs and ancilliary equipment.

    And, yes indeed, we want our nuclear subs back. Scots can’t be trusted with military equipment as Blair and Brown have demonstrated.

    And, incidently, William Wallace was Welsh (by lineage). Probably a PE teacher too.

    “Contempt, derision and small regard”

  27. ‘And, yes indeed, we want our nuclear subs back. Scots can’t be trusted with military equipment as Blair and Brown have demonstrated’ (Scoplin)

    Unfortunatley there is nowhere, in terms of marine geography, suitable in English waters for the Trident submarine base. Loch Long, at around a kilometre deep and with deep water access to the Atlantic Ocean provides the perfect location.

    I’ll never forget the beautiful summers morning I awoke in my tent camped on the shores of Loch Long, the air was perfectly still and just as the tide turned the sea turned perfectly flat. I mean it, for about a minute or so there was not one ripple. Scotland is a truly amazing place to witness the marvels of nature.

    Having to get up at the crack of dawn on a freezing cold Saturday morning in January, to telephone Glasweigens and try to sell them duel-fuel gas and electricity is albeit a different kettle of fish.

    If there was one thing that could possibly be worse than cold-calling people, in an a state of alcohol induced semi-consciousness, from 9am to 2pm on a bleak day in January, it was doing the aforementioned when the automatic dialler decided to wake up Glasgow.

    By 11am they are in the full swing of things, you can hear the build-up to the football on Sky TV in the background. The ‘pisst’ of beer cans opening would often interupt the sales pitch, not that they were listening. By 12am they are quite merry, drunk by 1pm and thank God my shift finished at 2pm, because by then they were without exception completely plastered and spitting and hissing into my headset, horrible Glasweigan voices reverberating in my skull; it was hell.

    We used to have to say we were calling from ‘Scottish Gas’ because Galsweigans didn’t know that British Gas was in fact Scottish Gas, and didn’t want anything to do with ‘British’ Gas. If you made the fundamental slip up and said you were calling from British Gas they would quickly slobber at you ‘Oorch aye’m with Schortish Gas, A dinni wan nor Breatish Gas pal’.

    You have to ask yourselves, it any wonder that these people need an extra £200 per head for healthcare when they start drinking at 10am?

  28. It’s not for nothing that I’ve heard political commentators calling Scotland ‘Europe’s last third-world country’.

  29. You have to ask yourselves, it any wonder that these people need an extra £200 per head for healthcare when they start drinking at 10am? (Steven_L)

    I’m ashamed to admit the truth of this, Steven. I’ve called on cousins to find them paralytic first thing in the morning. Scotland isn’t notorious for its drink problem for nothing.

    I’m posting this as one of the many millions of Scots living in England. I love Scotland and the Scots but love my life in England too. I have to say that my view is that Scots want their cake and eat it!

    The Act of Union gave Scotland the right to around 45 MPs at Westminster – so why is that that now when Scotland has independence it still has around that number of MPs making English law? Why would Scotland even want to have Westminster representation when it has a Parliament of its own?

    Scotland is claiming the benefits of both Independence and Union at the same time!

    Why also would the people of INDEPENDENT Scotland want to be dependent on English taxpayers subsidies? How can Scotland be really independent while it takes these subsidies at the expense of English services?

    However, do the English want their cake and eat it too? Why would an independent England not want to pay any outstanding tax due to Scotland? There must be an Inquiry on this issue to settle it once and for all.

    England must have its own Parliament. Every part of this busted Union knows that to be true. Its a denial of the decency of every English, Scots, Welsh & Irish person in the land that England alone is denied democracy!

  30. A brilliant article touching the mood of most English people. The question Boris has not answered is: how can we alter the situation?

  31. Boris – it is appalling.

    It’s nothing less than health apartheid – people are dying in England right now because of these financial constraints. Tomorrow it’s ‘Velcade’, last week it was a couple of bowel cancer drugs, A few weeks ago it was Altzheimer drugs, a few months ago it was breast cancer drugs…. all available to Scottish patients, most available to Welsh patients, none available to English patients. Honestly, in Scotland if you have a drug prescribed to you, find a chemist, in England, you’d better know where your local Lawyer is, because you’re going to need him.

    I’ve raised this with my local MP – she’s as supinely Blairite as it’s possible to be. She doesn’t give a damn, not about health issues, nor tuition top up fees, nor anything else so overtly anti English.

    And what are the Tories saying about all this. Not much. The Tories are the biggest party in England – more people voted for them in last years General Election than voted for Blair. So where is the Tory outrage? Your lot should be screaming from the rooftops about health, education, transport….. but you’re not. Cameron is putting forward his EVoEL strategy as some kind of sticking plaster solution – this is a joke. Everyone can see this is unworkable – and frankly insulting to the people of England.

    To stop the Barnet formula, to give me and my fellow countrymen some democratic empowerment over our own affairs, to have our own champion – looking after the needs of people in England we have to have our own English Parliament. It’s called DEMOCRACY….. Boris, it is time you left the Tories and joined the English Democrats and started to actively campaign for OUR rights.

  32. Yes the taxation from scottish oil may be scottish but compared to the tax the british government recieves from non-scottish oil it does not really amount to that much. I read somewhere that for every pound that comes out of scotland about ten pounds go back in. So screaming warrior how about this for a deal-scotland keeps its oil tax revenues for itself, but in return does not accept any non-scottish tax revenues.

  33. ‘There must be an Inquiry on this issue to settle it once and for all’ (Scots & English Pride)

    Absolutely no more enquiries under this government please. Can you imagine the terms of reference?

    1) Investigation into the perceived inequalities in delivery of record public sector investment in healthcare in the United Kingdom.

    2) Assessment of how best to meet the changing needs of a changing population through the provision of a world class healthcare service through devolution, regionalisation and in partnership with the private sector.

    3) Recommendation of the best way forward in tackling the inequalities that exist in Britian today, in particular how we can move forward, not back, in delivering world class healthcare, moving beyond clinical excellence, in areas of social deprivation and inequality.

  34. This squabble over Scottish / English oil really winds me up. Where do the Scots think the revenue went? Into Tory Party coffers? No, it became a source of national income, providing funds which the Scots continue to enjoy in excess.

    Do we hear Coventry City Council demanding exclusive rights to income from Jaguar’s operations there? No, they realise it contributes to the national economy, from which they benefit, as well as providing jobs locally. Why should the Scots be any different?

    Having said that, I would rather be stranded in the desert with any one of the Scotsmen I know than with a Frenchman. Hostility toward the English, such as it exists, seems to be primarily a product of Scottish politicians who whip the populace into state of xenophobia to further their own interests.

  35. It’s nothing less than health apartheid…The Tories should be screaming from the rooftops about health, education, transport…we have to have our own English Parliament… Boris, it is time you left the Tories and joined the English Democrats and started to actively campaign for OUR rights. (Alfred the OK)

    Totally agree with your diagnosis of the problem, Alfred, though not with your conclusion. Cameron must wake up and smell the coffee on this crucial issue. He could start by reading the postings here and on the BBC’s Have Your Say forum where, despite heavy handed, pro-Government censorship by the Beeb, a substantial number of very angry English people post along the same lines.

    However, if Boris left the Conservatives and joined the English Democrats (ED) he’d beome a national laughing stock in another Kilroy-Silk/Gravitas style fiasco. let’s be honest too, there’ll be nothing left of England worth saving if we wait for ED to build up steam. I would like to see lead the campaign for an end to this Apartheid and an English Parliament from within the Conservative Party, no other Party has the necessary clout.

  36. Aren’t Blair and Brown’s psychotic Scots Mafia now effectively ethnically cleansing the English?

    Given the number of Government policies designed to kill us off, steal our pensions and homes, destroy our homeland, heritage and countryside, make us an ethnic minority group or force us out of UK, what other conclusion can be drawn? This Government seem intent on wiping the English off the face of the earth.

  37. Mark,

    Does it matter? We’re arguing, that’s the main thing if you ask me.

    Why, what would you like to argue about, devolution or the right way to manage the NHS, or who’s better; the English, Scottish, Welsh or Northumbrians?

  38. Too late, Auntie. In swaths of English cities we are already an ethnic minority.

    Even my father, an enlightened and visionary man who stood as a Liberal parliamentary candidate in the 1950s, would not have believed such a thing could happen. Some of his liberal beliefs have stayed with me but have been evaporating fast over the last few years. I, for one, am sick of feeling like a stranger in my own country – and angry at having to foot the bill for the destruction of my heritage.

    I despair at the way Britain has against our wishes been turned into an over-regulated, over-taxed, overcrowded country where enterprise is measured by the number of wheels you can clamp in a day, culture is defined by morons, tolerance has turned to intolerance, greed has replaced manners, education is reduced to box-ticking, and governance has become the art of monitoring and controlling every aspect of our lives. What kind of a monster have we created where there are now four times as many government PR men as there are daily and weekly newspapers?

    Coupled with this, the government’s pervasive strategy of encouraging and sucking up to minorities has left us wondering who we are, where we came from and where the hell we’re going. It does not augur well for a nation.

  39. ‘governance has become the art of monitoring and controlling every aspect of our lives’ (PaulD)

    You should see what Guido’s found on the DEFRA website today.

    David Miliband has started a wiki web consultation on ‘Environmental Contracts’

    In my cynical view it means that they want to put electro-tag on all our bins so an army of unemployed car clampers can come check what you have thrown away and issue you with a fixed penalty with their handheld computers because the local ASBO family have dumped their cider bottles in your compost bin.

    Anyway see for yourself:

    http://wiki.defra.gov.uk/WikiHome/EnvironmentContract

  40. What is needed is for someone to discover why these pharmaceutical products dispensed by the NHS are so expensive. Is it the cost of manufacture, the cost of discovery or the cost of regulation compliance and taxes? Or maybe something completely different?

    Given that the allies can find trillions of dollars for the Iraq war, it should not be beyond their means to find a fraction of this to develop these products. That war was based on preventing weapons of mass destruction being used, yet nature employs WMDs such as cancers, aging and communicable diseases. How many people die every year from medical conditions? Look on it as a war and act accordingly!

  41. ” What is needed is for someone to discover why these pharmaceutical products dispensed by the NHS are so expensive ”

    Actually , many of them are not ,only the minority are really expensive and anyway the total drug budget of the “N” HS is only circa 9% of total British government health expenditure . In the case of statins for fending off cholesterol the costs are , for 28 tablets ie a month ,
    – simvastatin 10mg – £1.97
    – Simvador( a branded generic simvastatin ) £1.77
    -atorvastatin(Zocor ) £18.03

    most GP’s prescribe Simvador , which is hardly going to break the budget .

    Good housekeeping in drug expenditure is always useful and is done in England ( but much less so in Scotland because there is little pressure on them to trim expenditure because the English pick up the bill .

    Which gets to the nub of the problem – the British government , which is deeply anti English , funds the NHS’s of Scotland , Wales and NI at a vastly more generous level than for the English NHS – there are 4 NHS’s in case anyone hadn’t noticed and they are quite separate .In Scotland the NHS is running over with money – English money – in England we have mass hospital redundancies and arbitrary cuts .

    They get away with this because there is no – absolutely none at all – represenation for the English as the English in any British governmental branch – and the British parliament is consistently and deliberately silent on the matter
    ( which makes one wonder what on earth they do to justify their pay and pensions ! )

    Only the emergence of specifically English institutions , the first of which must be our own parliament , will do anything to resolve the sickening situation which Boris outlines .

  42. Thanks for the link to Defra’s “Environmental Contract” garbage, Steven. I have been trying to post a response but can’t find a way of logging in without going through a sign-up ritual (this despite all posts appearing as written by “guest”, whoever he/she is).

    Here it is anyway.

    Verily this is a scam on the grandest scale. Of course we use too much oil and it will eventually run out. Of course we produce too much rubbish. But these ‘solutions’ are nothing more than a nest-feathering job by politicians like Miliband who like to be seen ‘doing something’. Green hysteria, much of it based on flawed science, is a wonderful excuse for appointing thousands more busybodies to dream up ever more cunning ways of clobbering us. Empires are built on it.

    Note how his ‘solutions’ are based as always on restriction, regulation, control and taxation. For all the government/citizen contract guff, I do not see a single inspired idea in all this lot.

    If the government was serious about tackling environmental issues it would provide us with the wherewithal to change our habits, not punish us for living normally. A government should serve us, not control us – a principle this one forgot long ago. So:

    – Invest in truly innovative public transport systems which people would WANT to use, like Personal Rapid Transport modules.

    – Invest in cutting-edge technology for the disposal and recycling of waste.

    – Invest in a proper infrastructure of mixed energy sources, including nuclear.

    – Use its propaganda machine to spell out the kind of messages that worked well in the past. ‘Is your journey necessary?’. ‘Does your business really need a fleet of cars grinding round the M25 for a 15-minute meeting?’. ‘Have you tried video-conferencing?’ Questions like this are perfectly fair, untainted politically, and would make people think more vividly than the indirect routes of taxation or grossly inefficient and resentment-fuelling pay-by-use schemes.

    – Any clobbering must be of the kind that hits home. Anyone caught dumping a bootful of rubbish by the roadside should be mercilessly tracked down, heavily fined and sent on litter-sweeping community service, not the woman who drops a Wotsit out of her car window.

    – Punitive taxes should be reserved for manufacturers who foist unnecessary packaging on us, not on the end-user who is lumbered with the stuff.

    So where does the money come from? Easy. Whittle down the vast armies of control freaks who are paid to STOP things from happening and direct them towards getting the job done .

    Oh, sorry. Do something useful for a change? Daft idea.

  43. Steven L – I can’t think of a thing to argue about re devolution because, frankly, I don ‘t know much about how Sotland is governed. Or Wales.

    The NHS, on the other hand, affects us all. I’m a little troubled that Boris doesn’t actually have any SOLUTIONS to the problem other than evening things out between Scotland and England. Which is going to make exactly zilch nada difference to the general screwed-up state of the NHS.

    It’s too big. Any fool can see that. And the bigger any organisation, the more it atrophies.

    It’s also been tinkered with FAR FAR too much. Starting under the Thatcher administration, as I remember. Come the dawn, come yet another Home Secretary wanting to make his mark on history by impsoing more targets and managers on the Health Service.

    So we need to fix it, toot sweet. We need to make it more accountable. We need to find a way to let the people that do the caring make the decisions. We need to find a way to allocate the tax budget to the Health Service in such a way that it streamlines management, and concentrates intelligence on treating causes, not symptoms. In the management as well as the clinical sense.

    BUT…

    What I fear here (and sense every time a noted Tory has a pot shot at the NHS) is that we’ll rush to the knee-jerk solution and put the whole damn thing back into private ownership, controlled by dozens of self-centred businesses whose priority is shareholder value and not clinical care. That’s not going to work, no matter how rose the tinted spectacles through which we look at the good ole US of A.

    (If in doubt about this, just look at the mess they made of British Rail when they privatised it).

    The NHS is our national treasure, VERY VERY VERY VERY badly managed. We can save it, but it’s going to take some serious cost management. Labour aren’t qualified to do that, and the Tories always have other people’s interests at heart.

    Go figure. I dunno.

  44. So we need to fix it NHS), toot sweet. We need to make it more accountable. We need to find a way to let the people that do the caring make the decisions. We need to find a way to allocate the tax budget to the Health Service in such a way that it streamlines management, and concentrates intelligence on treating causes, not symptoms. In the management as well as the clinical sense. (Mark Gammon)

    When you say ‘we need to fix it (NHS) toot sweet’, who do you mean by ‘we’? The Government? Well I’ve no confidence in their willingness to fix England’s part of the NHS since they’ve done nothing but rob it and erode the care it provides for the past 9 years – in order to subsidise Scotland’s elitist NHS. I no longer believe these two B’s give a damn about us out here in England, nor do I believe a word either of them say about anything – do you?

    Or perhaps you mean us, the public, that we should make Government fix it toot sweet? If so, tell me, when did Blair & Brown – who between them totally control NHS spending – EVER listen to anyone outside their brainwashed NuLab focus groups and Quangos? Let’s face it, when NuLab talk of consulting ‘partners’ they mean paid up Party members who regurgitate the mantras of NuLab’s sick, pc power games and who won’t rock the nice little earner that NuLab have turned England into.

    I agree with Boris, the solution to the huge damage Blair and co have done to the English NHS (or EHS) is to tackle this money devouring devolution monster. We must have our own Parliament, set our own NHS budgets – just as Scotland does now. Are the people of England worth any less than that?

  45. Boris’s outrage is entirely justified on the point of English subsidy to Scotland. This amounted, when last I checked, to between 10 and 14 billion Sterling per year based on the Scottish Nationalist assumption that North Sea oil revenues would remain in Scotland after any seperation.
    I disagree, however, that by equalising the per patient spend a greater degree of ‘equality’ in NHS treatment would result. Indeed, striving for equality is pointless since different people have different needs for a health service, both in terms of care and cost-efficency. The cost of providing any service, including healthcare, varies by location and other factors. Wages for health workers and the ancillary staff employed in the NHS are lower in Scotland than in many parts of England, particularly the south, for example. There is also the fact that certain ailments are more likely to be concentrated in certain parts of the country for a variety of historical and socio-economic factors.
    The system must therefore be a good deal more flexible than a taxpayer funded monopoly can ever be. The NHS is Europe’s largest employer and, since its employees recieve their salaries from private sector workers’ income tax reciepts, constantly ramping up the money spent on healthcare in the current system will only ever put strain on the economy and increase hardship. Although spending is higher in Scotland the funding problem is also more acute, since the public sector employs almost 40% of the Scottish workforce and any adjustment of the Barnett formula is likely to induce a harsh, if much-needed, reality check to the Scottish economy.
    Ultimately, both the EHS and SHS will need to be stripped back to a safety net. Largely replacing them, only an insurance-based system that reflects the true cost of individual healthcare and asks individuals to pay for it can ensure that the maximum number of people receive the care they expect.

  46. I’m thrilled to see this, Boris. I and many others have been waiting years for someone to speak up for England and against the biased nature towards Scotland, in terms of money and political freedom, and also Wales, since Labour first arrived in ’97. The situation is ludicrous. We are paying for daft things like fitness and fertility treatment for lesbian couples whilst being told that some authorities can not afford to treat the seriously ill. Absolutely insane. Never has health care in this country been such a postcode lottery as now.

  47. Auntie Flo –

    When I said ‘we’, I meant us. The British. The citizens of the United Kingdom. We’re all in this together.

    Please don’t think I was defending the government in any way. I have no time for Blair and Brown either. All I Was pointing out is that this is not a new problem. The NHS has been sliding towards the abyss almost as far back as I remember, and successive Conservative goverments from 1979 onwards certainly did it every bit as much damage as the current administration.

    The real problem, I suspect, is that’s we’ve collectively lost faith in the NHS as a concept. I don’t know HOW we recover that faith, but I’m reasonably sure we need to.

    An English parliament may indeed play a part in equalising how resources are used, but I suspect the NHS is more complex a problem than that. It’s not JUST the dastardly Scots’ fault.

  48. As shadow spokesman for higher education, surely Boris should be even more outraged by the simple fact that university top-up fees paid by English students are shared (under the terms of the Barnett formula he mentions) with Scottish students who pay none! Details here This is iniquity of almost US foreign policy proportions.

    The breakdown of percapita regional allocations is approx:
    * England £5,940
    * Scotland £7,346
    * Wales £6,901
    * Northern Ireland £7,945

    As usual England takes last place.

    Among my friends I am well known for supporting victimised underdogs. Palestinians, Female politicians, Everton etc. I am seriously considering adding Englishmen to my list of deserving charities.

  49. this is not a new problem. The NHS has been sliding towards the abyss almost as far back as I remember, and successive Conservative goverments from 1979 onwards certainly did it every bit as much damage as the current administration…An English parliament may indeed play a part in equalising how resources are used, but I suspect the NHS is more complex a problem than that. It’s not JUST the dastardly Scots’ fault. (Mark Gamon)

    Mark, terminally ill people in England just weeks from death are being forced to sell their homes in order to pay for their own healthcare. Has any prior Government since the establishment of the NHS refused NHS care to the dying? Or maybe I should have specified to those dying in England?

    Even 19th century workhouse infirmaries provided free health care for the dying.

    I’ve a death certificate, for Thomas Dice, killed by one of his sons in 1855. Thomas, an alcoholic wife beater, owned 2 houses and marine store. Yet he was given a bed and free health care, during the last weeks of his life – at his local workhouse infirmary.

  50. Auntie Flo –

    Thomas Dice’s death certificate proves that we’re actually in agreement here. The NHS is in trouble, and I’m not pretending it isn’t.

    All I’m saying is: let’s not fall into the trap of blaming it all on the current government. It takes decades to make a complete mess of an institution like the NHS.

    You can of course, blame any kind of two-tier Scotland v. England bias on the current government, since that part of the problem, at least, happened on their watch.

    Actually I am saying something else here: let’s try and be careful with our solutions. It’d be easy to go the British Rail route, absolve government of all responsibility for healthcare, and leave it to shareholder value. I mean, that worked so well for the railways, right? Yes, the NHS has problems – I just don’t want us to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If nobody’s suggesting that, then I’m happy to shut up.

  51. Blair has sent the NHS hurtling back into the life or death postcode lottery days that Dickens recorded.

    Remember Oliver Twist’s mother, forced to tredge many debilitating miles to her home parish while in labour in order to be allowed to give birth? She died from lack of care and exhaustion before she got there. Getting up at dawn and travelling many hours in a cramped ambulance each day for chemotherapy had much the same effect on a friend of mine in Blair and Brown’s 21st century England.

    10 years ago, the seriously ill were admitted to hospital for their treatment. One of my family was in the local hospital for a month’s chemo under Thatcher. I’ve mixed feelings about Mrs T, however my relation doesn’t get anywhere near that standard of care in Blair and Brown’s England.

    This Government has surely done more damage to the English NHS than any other. As one commentator has said, Blair and Brown have achieved what Thatcher wouldn’t have dared to – the demolition of the NHS – while ensuring that the Scots have a nice cushion of English taxes to pay for their health service. I don’t blame the Scots for that, Blair, Brown and NuLab are solely responsible.

    I don’t believe that we’ve lost collective faith in the concept of the health service. What we’ve lost faith in is this incompetent, self serving Government and their break up of the UK and NHS into EU regional, quango driven chaos.

  52. Flo – as regards the NHS’s problems, we’re on the same side. But I do think we’ve lost faith – and that, at least in part, is a direct result of The Conservative’s championing of the private healthcare ‘alternative’ in the 80s. Thatcher and Blair are not the same, but they have been equally destructive, each in their own way.

    And PLEASE – I’m not defending this government!

  53. And PLEASE – I’m not defending this government! (Mark Gamon)

    I’ve not stated that you are, Mark. You’re the only one who’s ever mentioned defending the Government – several times.

  54. I think less and less people are wanting to associate themselves with defending the government every day of their disasterous third term.

    I think it’s only right to defend the hardworking doctors, nurses etc of the NHS though, every time I’ve used it (not for anything life threatening) I’ve had first class service.

  55. From the Guardian 16.2 2005

    Regional Average salaries & Related Cost Of Living

    (UK average…..£22,411)

    ·South-east….. £25,221….. + 5.3%

    ·Scotland….. £22,230….. – 5.5%

    ·East Midlands….. £22,528….. – 2.6%

    ·West Midlands….. £22,529….. – 2.2%

    ·North West….. £22,102….. – 3.1%

    ·Yorks & Humber….. £21,085….. – 5.8%

    ·East of England….. £21,936….. – 1.1%

    ·Wales….. £20,391….. – 6.9%·

    South-west….. £22,205….. – 1.3%

    ·North-east….. £20,353….. – 5.8%

    ·Northern Ireland….. £17,366….. – 4.8%

    Perhaps we should all migrate to Scotland?

  56. House prices in Scotland will pop your eyes too. You can buy a 4 bedroomed, detached house with a big garden near Inverness for about £180,000 – with council tax a fraction of the amount I pay on a 2 bed house in England. That’s deprivation for you!

    But don’t migrate to Scotland for free places at uni for your children until you check it out, as I believe they refuse to subsidise English students and charge them just the same as they’d pay in England.

  57. Mark Gamon,
    Under Thatcher private health care was just that, an alternative. Under labour, however, it has become the only realistic option and sadly one which many cannot afford. Conservatism may have championed private healthcare but, more importantly, champoined

  58. House prices overvalued in England? Never, you wouldn’t think it, all the people I ever talk to / overhear never stop ranting excitedly about how much money they’ve made sitting on their arses the last 5 years, eyeing up early retirement and the chance to spend it all on some Spanish beach hut and sangria.

    I was really saddened to hear oil fell back below $70 last week, I want to hear them start whingeing about interest rates so I can say to them ‘You haven’t borrowed more than 3 times your salary have you? That was stupid wasn’t it!’

  59. Or invade?
    (Steven_L)

    No invasions, please, Blair would only use that as an excuse to suspend Parliament and give himself an indefinite fourth term. The longer he stays, the longer Blair postpones the day when he’s tried by the international court for his illegal invasion and genocide in Iraq.

    And on that subject, I’ve had an encouraging mail from the Stop The War Coalition, part of which states that there will be THOUSANDS OF WALTER WOLFGANGS INTENT ON FORCING BLAIR OUT OF OFFICE AT THE LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE THIS YEAR 🙂

    ‘Stop the War’s TIME TO GO demonstration in Manchester on 23 September, the eve of the Labour party conference, grows in significance every day and is rapidly building support. There is now serious talk of Labour MPs forcing Tony Blair out of office at the conference. It is Blair’s serial warmongering which is causing turmoil in Blair’s party, his support for the carnage in Lebanon being the final straw, even for MPs who have counted themselves as Blair loyalists.

    These MPs are now running to catch up with the majority view of the British public, which has consistently opposed the Bush/Blair wars

    At Labour’s 2005 conference, the only dissident voice was that of 83 year old Walter Wolfgang. He was manhandled out of the conference hall by new Labour heavies when he heckled the then foreign secretary Jack Straw.

    **This year there will be tens of thousands of us in Manchester to say, “WE ARE ALL WALTER WOLFGANG” and we will not be silenced**

    Over the next three weeks, there will be close to 100 public meetings mobilising support for the demonstration in every region of Britain.

    For all of us who have opposed the Bush/Blair wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently in Lebanon and Gaza, September 23 will be our opportunity to bring home to the Labour party conference, that Tony Blair must stop what former US President Jimmy Carter calls his ‘shameful’ and ‘subservient’ support for George Bush’s wars. It’s time to go.

  60. K –

    ‘Conservatism championed choice’

    Sorry. Not letting you get away with that. It’s Margaret Thatcher’s great Conservative lie, and it’s fooled us long enough.

    Private healthcare is not a choice, because it’s not open to everyone.

    School league tables (which I believe were a Conservative ‘innovation’) do not encourage choice, only envy, because the vast majority of people are in no position to take advantage of them. Again, because it depends how much money you have in the bank.

    We have ‘choice’ in the banking system. They keep telling us that, right? And we’re being skimmed in new and more ingenious ways by the banks every day of our lives.

    We have ‘choice’ in the telecommunications industry. With the result that no-one who doesn’t have the luxury of time and the brain of a computer has the faintest idea what kind of product he/she is buying, how much it’s costing, or how to make an intelligent switch to another ‘choice’.

    We have ‘choice’ in energy supplies. You may be able to tell me exactly what percentage saving you’re making by choosing British Gas over Powergen, or vice versa. I haven’t got the time, the inclination, or the will to live.

    We have ‘choice’ in the retail sector. That’s why Tesco and ASDA have been able to strip the guts out of every town centre in the country. Because they make the choice to make it easy for us to shop, irrespective of quality, and we buy their bullshit like the idiotic drones we are.

    We have ‘choice’ in the privatised railways. Another conservative innovation. That one, my friend, has killed people. And I challenge you find me ONE PERSON, in the entire British Isles, who chooses their train on the basis of the operator they prefer. They don’t: they get on the next train that comes along, just like they used to do when we had a perfectly serviceable, if clumsy, National asset called British Rail.

    Sorry. I know you weren’t expecting this response. And it has nothing directly to do with the debate we were having. But if I hear one more use of the word ‘choice’ as a justification for being able to steal from people, I will scream so loud the entire internet will hear me, so help me God.

    This is NOT exclusively a criticism of the Conservatives. The current Labour government talks exactly the same garbage.

  61. Flo –

    Sorry. I was being a bit defensive. It’s just that I’m not sure why you were arguing with me so vehemently, unless it was on the basis that I was defending the government.

    Which I wasn’t. But you know that 🙂

  62. And I challenge you find me ONE PERSON, in the entire British Isles, who chooses their train on the basis of the operator they prefer. They don’t: they get on the next train that comes along, just like they used to do when we had a perfectly serviceable, if clumsy, National asset called British Rail.

    Mark, I sometimes disagree with you strongly but that’s spot on.

  63. ‘And I challenge you find me ONE PERSON, in the entire British Isles, who chooses their train on the basis of the operator they prefer. They don’t: they get on the next train that comes along, just like they used to do when we had a perfectly serviceable, if clumsy, National asset called British Rail.

    Mark, I sometimes disagree with you strongly but that’s spot on.’ (PaulD)

    I second that, Mark & Paul, bring back British Rail! Like most people, I want confidence in the safety and reliablity of the rail system and I haven’t had that confidence for a very long time. I want to be able travel on trains without – terrorism aside – wondering if I’ll survive the journey or trying to mentally calculate how many people can force themselves into one carriage before the crush kills someone.

  64. We have ‘choice’ in the retail sector. That’s why Tesco and ASDA have been able to strip the guts out of every town centre in the country…we buy their bullshit like the idiotic drones we are. (Mark Gamon)

    I agree. If we don’t apply the brakes on the damaging aspects of these multi-national giants, before long a couple of multis will be the only bogus retail ‘choice’ we have. They’re swallowing up our small shops and having a feeding frenzy on so many other sectors – banking, legal services and all manner of consumer durables. No company should ever be allowed that amount of control over our lives or to damage other businesses to that extent. How can that be good for anyone except these hugely powerful companies and their shareholders?

    The extent to which these giants are reducing their staff levels and buying poor quality goods produced by overseas cheap labour, from China in particular, is very worrying. One was talking about staffless stores a while back – and isn’t that the direction these automated self service checkouts are taking us? Its sheer madness to allow these giants to make £billions out of UK while putting less back in from an employment perspective. The giants use a lot of small suppliers who can’t stand up to them too. Many of these small companies, farmers especially, are being run into the ground by the giants’ demands for cheaper and cheaper supply. This isn’t a healthy form of growth, in the long run it damages our economy.

    How has one supermarket with 36% of the retail grocery market managed to avoid the censure of the Monopolies Commission? Why are its small stores not classed as part of its overall operation by the Commission? Should the representatives of multinationals sit on Government committees? Why was a director of one multi allowed such influence on the Government, in particular re GM crops? Have directors of more than one of the multis been allowed to make large donations to NuLab – and, if so, should this be allowed?

    Yet people love their cheap goods. I try to use local shops and swore that I would not use Tesco’s automated checkouts – and I do.

  65. Auntie Flo –

    And I was beginning to think it was only me who always travels at the back of the train in case the front end comes off the track…

    Totally agree with you re Tescos. Staffless stores? Crikey. But I bet they are planning it – taking the staff out of the equation is a surefire quick hit to the shareholder value.

  66. Mark, thank god for you. I’ll hardly have to post at all if you become a regular here.

    My father was an aviational engineer and he always told me to sit in the back of the plane, as “no plane ever backed into a mountain.”

    I read the salary roundup with interest. Am warming up the passport as I type…

    Staffless stores? As formerly retail personnel, I anticipate new and funky ways to get free stuff… bring it. I could use free groceries. The mere presence of a human being, and therefore presumably a judgemental being, stops a helluvalotta crime. Tesco will learn this at their cost.

  67. Alex Salmond, SNP leader, has challenged Blair to a head to head debate on the future of Scotland and independence. he wants a new first minister who’s ‘on the side of the people of Scotland’, all of which Blair claims will be economically suicidal for the Scots.

    They’re having a laugh, aren’t they – all the way to the English ‘bank’ to grab even more subsidies for the c 5-6 million Scottish elite from the already pauperised public services and pay of the c 50 million of us in England. I don’t believe independence would lead to less subsidies, it will surely result in even more bribery of Scots voters by NuLab and even more slush funds being syphoned off from England’s desperately ailing NHS and education budgets to Scotland.

    Just where does England fit into Blair and Salmond’s vote grabbing schemes? Nowhere, except as taxpayer drones who’ve been duped and betrayed by Blair/Brown and Scotland. What do we get in return? Nothing but insults from NuLab and Scotland. Just when did Blair or Brown last mention England? Salmond can’t even say the word without a snarl.

    I Detest the BNP and I’m not a UKIP or English Democrat supporter. I was a life long Liberal and – reluctant – Lib Dem until becoming sick of their adoration of the corrupt EU and NuLab’s Dracula style alliance with the shrivelled corpse of my district’s Lib Dem council. Now, like so many others, I’m a floating voter, looking for some political honesty and integrity. Perhaps Boris & Cameron have that – however their pro war stance is a major stumbling block for me and so many others. So just who am I going to vote for?

    One thing of which I am certain, I am English and will never view myself as British again. I lazily use the term UK, though the very idea of a United Kingdom on this island is a sick joke these days. The people of England have at last woken up and see been sold down the river by the rest of the Union and this Government. Your pro-England article has struck a very powerful chord in this part of the shires, Boris – just wish you didn’t strike such a discordant one with your pro-war position.

  68. Raincoaster’s right for once,

    There’ll be no such thing as staffless stores, they need shelf stackers for a start.

    In some areas they’ll just get plundered if they put in self-service tills. I wouldn’t be surprised if the crack-heads are already homing in on the stores with these new check-outs as we speak.

    Apparently there is a new craze, called ‘grazing’ where troublesome youths walk around these big supermarkets ‘grazing’, i.e. eating as much as they can without paying for it.

    And by the way, the supermarkets are not in front of the competition commission because Tesco and Asda haven’t got where they are by merging or buying out competitors. The Office of Fair Trading has found nothing anti-competitive about their buying habits; because they are competing fairly. I for one think Tesco and Asda are brilliant shops, cheap food, cheap booze, cheap T shirts and they open 24 hours!

    Think about it, why would I want to go to a convenience store or small off licence to buy a few beers when I can get them cheaper, and 24 hours a day at Tesco? Good off licences like Odd Bins that sell nice wine and funky cigars will attract me when I’m felling a bit more plush, but when I fancy a pepperoni pizza washed down with a cheap bottle of red plonk Tesco will feed me for about £6. If I go to the pizza shop and off licence I’m looking at £12.

    With reference to Auntie Flo’s stop the war rot, do please remember Jimmy Carter never helped us out in the Falklands, he can go to hell, or the labour party conference, for all I care.

  69. Boris has highlighted a disgusting iniquity in NHS funding that I am fairly certain lags other bloggers (Guido?) by several days. It isn’t, however, an indication that the whole thing is crumbling.
    Before 1999 I used the NHS very little for myself, but had sat in hospital A&E’s for hours with injured offspring and waited for consultant’s to see us some time long after the stated appointment.
    In ’99 my health took a downturn and I have seen a lot of consultants and had an operation with another one, or two, pending. Nowadays I find that appointments are on time. If I turn up early I am usually seen early. I am treated with respect by all the staff, excepting car parking attendants, and explanations of my problems are given in language that I understand. I believe that the NHS is significantly better than it was and I certainly haven’t “lost faith” in it.

  70. Auntie Flo –

    We have a lot in common in our lifelong, and now disenchanted Liberalism. But it’s sad to hear you abandon your Britishness like that. I’v always figured that if we live in these islands we’re almost 100% certain to be a genetic mix of English, Welsh, Scottish, Cornish, and probably Irish as well. And French, come to that. Not much I can do about sharing my common ancestorship with them, but I can and do regularly describe myself as British when asked.

    That’s not to say that there arene’t inequalities brought about by devolution. Couldn’t agree with you more on that one. But we’ve been united through the good times (by which I mean – oh, I dunno – the 19th and 20th centuries) and it’s generally been to everybody’s benefit. It worries me a little when we start running for the national silos (and yes – I know the Scots and Welsh are even more inclined so to do) because the minute you take away the safety net of economic security, those silos can turn ugly and defensive.

    It’s an extreme example, but didn’t Yugoslavia rip itself apart precisely because everybody suddenly decided they were safer with their own gang?

    I’m just thinking out loud on this one, by the way.

  71. I haven’t abandoned Britain, Mark, Britain’s abandoned me. I used to be proud to be British, but not any longer. Do you know what a Scot said to me? You bloody English are jealous of Scotland because we’re a nation and England doesn’t exist. We exist when they want their £16 billion+ subsidy from us every year though, don’t we?

    Why would any English person want to be part of a union where the other parties use us as a cash cow yet despise us so much? Its a bit like a bad marriage, this union – and it is time to get a divorce. Let the Scots, Welsh and Irish, all 10 million of them, have those meaningless abstractions Britain and UK if they want them, which I doubt they do. Hope they enjoy funding their own services.

    Look at Switzerland, less than 10 million of them and they are amazingly successful, very democratic and politically neutral, so no terrorist attacks there. That’s a great model to follow.

  72. AND Switzerland has overtaken us in the tolerance league.

    Extract from Swissinfo.org. Note the last paragraph.

    Ticino in the southern Italian-speaking part of Switzerland has become the first canton to ban smoking in public places.

    Voters decided in a referendum on Sunday by an overwhelming majority (79.1 per cent) to follow the lead of neighbouring Italy by modifying current legislation on the issue. The law bans smoking in all restaurants, bars, discos and night clubs.

    Owners of such establishments have the possibility to make separate areas for smoking but these have to be well ventilated. There is a grace period of one year for alteration work to be carried out.

  73. Then perhaps the c 12 million, scapegoated and stigmatised smokers on this island, who fund the entire budget of the health service yet, as research shows, consume far less health service funds than non-smokers, should migrate to Switzerland and leave the non-smokers and Scotland to fund their own health service.

    As a twist on Boris’s article, could it not be argued that even Scotland’s smokers have elitist provison in relation to those of England, since Scots smokers’ taxes are refunded to them via their share of the subsidies funded by the smokers of England?

  74. Scotland has a ‘Tartan Tax’ Exemption too. It has the right to increase or reduce the rate of income tax paid by the Scots living in Scotland by 3%.

  75. My wife, who has spent much of her working life in the private sector, is retraining as an occupational therapist. The horror stories she brings back from her NHS placements make my hair stand on end.

    While front-line staff put on a brave and efficient face, she can hardly believe the chaos behind the scenes. Thanks to locked offices, broken equipment and clockwatching culture, it took her 24 hours to send an important fax, only to find she’d been given the wrong number in the first place.

    Supplies, sent by “urgent” overnight delivery, spent three days in Goods In because jobsworths couldn’t (or wouldn’t) find them. When they eventually did, they wouldn’t release the supplies because she presented a pink form instead of a green one (or was it the other way round?). Astonishingly, they then told her it would have been be better to fax the release form – overlooking the fact that faxes are monochrome!

    Any attempt at getting things moving is met by a blockade of managers whose role, she has decided, is to STOP anything from happening – unless, of course, it helps to meet some spurious target. Issuing special wheelchairs, she says, is like pulling teeth because of an alleged shortage of wheelchairs. Her solution: Sack the obstructive managers and spend the money on more wheechairs. Nah, far too simple.

    Home-visit staff were issued with mobile phones in an attempt to improve efficiency and personal security. They soon discovered the phones had no sim cards or chargers. Too bad, you’ve got the phones. Another box ticked.

    Perhaps worst of all is the lack of people with real authority. The decision-makers exist at unreachably high level or in remote committees whose edicts eventually filter down via memos and emails, leading to bucks being passed in every direction and palpably low morale on the shop floor.

    Of course she may have been unlucky in the placements she’s had so far, but if this gives even a half-accurate picture of working practices in Europe’s biggest employer it’s a miracle anyone gets treated.

  76. ‘Look at Switzerland, less than 10 million of them and they are amazingly successful, very democratic and politically neutral, so no terrorist attacks there. That’s a great model to follow.’ (Auntie Flo’)

    Switzerland was a neutral country right through the twentieth century. It is naive to think if we scrap our nukes and declare neutrality all of our enemies will simply stop being our enemies and start preaching their hatred against some other nation.

    Besides, defence technology remains an important industry for the UK, are you seriously suggesting we pull out of the Eurofighter and F35 Joint Strike Fighter projects that are bringing so many jobs and investment to the UK.

    What makes you think we can just re-write our financial services laws overnight and suddenly compete with Switzerland in the ‘anonymous/neutral stash your gold here’ market whilst retaining our market share in insurance and shipping services?

    You sound like you basically want to surrender/quit!

  77. Steven_L said:

    There’ll be no such thing as staffless stores, they need shelf stackers for a start…In some areas they’ll just get plundered if they put in self-service tills….Apparently there is a new craze, called ‘grazing’

    Stone Age thinking, Steven. You’re envisaging purely staffless checkouts, whereas I wrote of staffless *stores* – and one of the first staffless grocery stores, Piggley Wiggley, was operating in 1937. http://66.249.93.104/search?q=cache:l8aqrPVy-rQJ:www.pigglywiggly.com/cgi-bin/customize%3Faboutus.html+automated+stores,+grocery&hl=en&gl=uk&ct=clnk&cd=2

    There are already staffless internet cafes and coffee shops and internet stores which are staffless at the point of purchase. There are also arcades of vending machines which selling 200 grocery and household items per machine. You might say that an arcade isn’t a store – but what else would staffless stores be?

    I imagine there’ll be tarted up, high tech machines in smaller retail outlets initially. As Mark rightly says, they’ll rip the heart out of community shopping areas – and employment. It might not interest you that automated stores will remove the only daily contact many elderly people have and destroy many people’s jobs, but it matters to them.

    Automated vending machines would be loaded with fillers which have been prepacked at a vast, remote distribution centre, where a hybrid of shelf stacking might be found. There’ll be delivery and collection staff, of course, but they’ll spend very brief periods at each automated store. Net result, unemployment will rise and local employment will dwindle as more and more outlets become staffless or largely automated. So your £6 pizza and beer may come at a much higher price than you believe.

    It’s claimed that automated stores can totally eliminate pilfering and vandalism, by the way. As for grazing, that’s been going on in staffed stores for many years, but you’d be hard put to graze a vending machine.

  78. Steven L –

    I’ve no idea who bought the subject up, but can I seriously suggest we scrap the Eurofighter and F35 projects?

    Those things kill people. They’re built to kill people, and they have no other purpose. You can call it ‘defence’ if you want but I call that Doublethink. If they’re used, they destroy what ought not to be destroyed; if they’re not used, they’re a total waste of money.

    While we’re at it, let’s scrap Trident. Which is even more pointless.

    And please don’t whitter about jobs. Just redirect the investment into something we actually need – there’d be a little confusion at first, but everybody would soon be working again, at something they could hold their hands up to.

    Besides, if the ‘defence’ industries could make weapons without the trouble of having to actually employ anybody, you bet the would. They don’t care about jobs any more than they care about purpose or morality.

  79. Mark,

    If you can think of something equally valuable to sell the Saudi’s as 72 Eurofighters that they want to buy, or something equally valuable as the F35 that Lockhead-Martin is going to award lot’s of manufacturing contracts to the UK for go for it.

    If British people has spent the last 30 years buying cars and other consumer durables that were made in Britain we might not have this problem.

    Can you say your car, fridge, hi-fi etc were all made in the UK? Can anyone here?

    UK consumers want German cars, Japanese electrical goods and clothing made in the third world. The Saudis want British built Eurofighters – so be it!

    Don’t get on your high horse with me either, I don’t own a car and use a British hire company when I need one. I buy ‘made in Britain’ cotton shirts and wool suits for work.

    I smoke 20 a day (all UK duty paid) to fund the EHS (and the SHS and WHS) and never pester my GP because I have a cold or a blocked up nose.

  80. Mark,
    “If they’re used, they destroy what ought not to be destroyed; if they’re not used, they’re a total waste of money.”
    I am sorry, but I beg to differ. If they are used, they are used to destroy a threat. If they are not used it is because they have been succsessful as a deterrent.

  81. Surely the most fundamental principle of any government is equality for those citizens and residents under its curatorship?

    If we accept this platitude then, by extension, any government has an obligation to regulate disbursements to subnational groups where the allocation is unfairly high. If they fail to do this, after having been notified of an imbalance, it seems reasonable to pursue the matter in the international court of human rights as an issue of discrimination.

    The heads of argument would draw the Court’s attention to evidence that two people, paying the same amount of taxation in two different parts of the country, receive different levels of compensation for their tax contributions. The crucial word being, as Boris has amplified, the term NATIONAL Health Service. The case should hinge not on a request for an order of the court to cause the NHS to dispense Velcade to Boris’ constituent (as as a number of recent high court actions have unsuccessfully attempted) but to demonstrate to the court that Boris’ constuent’s position has been prejudiced through negligence by the government in the allocation of NATIONAL healthcare funds.

    The present position, as described by Boris is clearly unfair and, on the basis of prima facie examination, probably unlawful.

  82. “…that Boris’ constuent’s position has been prejudiced through negligence…”

    Neglect, of course, means to avoid or refrain from doing something which rationally is a reasonable thing to do and ought to be effected where possible.

    I should therefore add that there must be a presumption of negligence (on the part of the government) because of the very existence of ‘the Barnett formula’ which, on inspection, is geared toward bringing per-capita financing (in Scotland and England etc.) closer together over a period of time. The very fact that the treasury apply ‘the Barnett formula’ is an admission that there is an imbalance which needs to be rectified. Consequently, it would not require a leap of intuition, legal or otherwise, to infer that present the situation is untenable and only persists because the government lacks the political will to rectify this situation in the short term.

    The question this would beg of the court is: “Why should Boris’ cancer patient suffer prejudicial financial circumstances (due to funding restraints in his local NHS) because the Government is scared of losing votes by properly apportioning public money within the nation’s health centres?”

    Delictual claim deriving from unlawful conduct not arising from breach of statute, contract or common law.

  83. kdapt speaker to Tories said

    The question this would beg of the court is: “Why should Boris’ cancer patient suffer prejudicial financial circumstances (due to funding restraints in his local NHS) because the Government is scared of losing votes by properly apportioning public money within the nation’s health centres?”

    Interesting posting, kdapt, encouraging too. In your view, could this same principle be applied to other aspects of the government’s policies?

    I wonder if this principle might also be applied to students paying proportionately higher fees, or elderly persons denied proper care for the same reasons?

  84. raincoaster said:

    I’ve been to a Piggly Wiggly; the staff there were very nice.

    Double checked on this, the owner of Piggly Wiggly opened his automated shops under the name Keedoozle (Key Does All)

  85. Steven_L said

    Besides, defence technology remains an important industry for the UK, are you seriously suggesting we pull out of the Eurofighter and F35 Joint Strike Fighter projects that are bringing so many jobs and investment to the UK…What makes you think we can just re-write our financial services laws overnight and suddenly compete with Switzerland in the ‘anonymous/neutral stash your gold here’ market whilst retaining our market share in insurance and shipping services?

    Precisely where do you claim I either stated, suggested or implied ANY of the above? You’ll be mightily hard pressed to find it, Steven, because its not there. Where precisely do you claim I said that we should compete with Switzerland in their own specialist market and rewrite our financial service law – overnight, or in any other period of time? Ditto, it’s not there. Rewrite my postings and criticise the daft version of them that you’ve written to your heart’s content, but please don’t attribute them to me.

  86. Steven_L kindly said

    You sound like you basically want to surrender/quit!

    You sound like Tony Blair, spinning my posting to suit yourself then ripping apart a posting of your own invention. Attacking the person, not the issue. That’s precisely what Blair does!

    Am I quitter? I’m severely to profoundly deaf – depends on which ear you talk to – yet have run my own successful – and ethical – business since I was your age. Do I sound like a quitter to you?

    What have you done with your life?

  87. Auntie Flo’

    With all due respect you said:

    ‘Look at Switzerland, less than 10 million of them and they are amazingly successful, very democratic and politically neutral, so no terrorist attacks there. That’s a great model to follow.’

    You can’t be neutral and sell lots of arms to one side now can you, that’s not being neutral.

    You will notice that neutral countries (i.e. Switzerland and The Republic of Ireland) have different fincancial services laws than the rest of us too.

    You also said:

    ‘Its a bit like a bad marriage, this union – and it is time to get a divorce’

    ‘Divorce’, doesn’t that imply quitting, i.e. you want to quit the union.

    You go on to say:

    ‘Let the Scots, Welsh and Irish, all 10 million of them, have those meaningless abstractions Britain and UK if they want them, which I doubt they do.’

    This implies you want England to quit the union.

    We don’t need to break up the UK anymore. South-East England has always paid on net into the coffers of the other regions.

    All we need is:
    a) For Scots and Welsh MP’s to stop voting on issues that only affect England.
    b) An end to the oxymoron that is ‘positive discrimination’ to ensure the same level of NHS service throughout the union.

    London is our financial centre, there are always going to be higher earnings on average in the South-East because the financial centre is there, higher earnings generate higher tax per capita.

    I think the point we started from in the article is that there are unacceptable inequalities in NHS spending and availability of treatments in various regions of the UK, not that because Oxforshire pays more tax per capita than Glasgow that Oxford residents deserve more than Glaswiegans; the point was we should all be able to expect the same level of care from our National Health Service.

  88. “I wonder if this principle might also be applied to students paying proportionately higher fees…”

    Whilst these issues look similar to the cancer patient issue (viewing from a discriminatory perspective) they are somewhat different in complexion. I wouldn’t like to hazard an opinion on either matter unless the full facts were in front of me.

    What makes the cancer patient action (in my view) feasible is that the consequence of English NHS trusts not having enough money to prescribe Velcade is likely to be death. British courts are used to hearing cases of negligence leading to death and the rules are fairly well set out.

    When considering a cause of action based in whole or part on negligence, the court must consider the following elements:

    Duty/Duty of care
    A person owes a duty of care to another when the reasonable person would foresee that the other will be exposed to the risk of injury if the particular acts or omissions are continued.

    Breach of duty
    Having established that there is a duty of care the next test is to determine if that duty has not been fulfilled.

    Causation
    For the defendant to be held liable, it must be shown that the particular acts or omissions were the cause of the loss or damage sustained. There are two elements in the test of causation, namely: actual cause (sometimes referred to as “cause in fact”) and legal cause. Cause in fact relates to the defendant having actually caused the damage to the plaintiff . The plaintiff must identify the specific conduct alleged to be the cause of that loss or damage and, further, demonstrate that the specific loss or damage would not have occurred “but for” the specific conduct of the defendant. Legal cause applies to loss or damage which is consequent to the negligent action.

    Damage
    The plaintiff/claimant must have suffered loss or damage flowing naturally from the breach of the duty of care if damages are to be awarded.

    To demonstrate that the government has been negligent in this matter one only needs to ask four questions (and a small qualification):
    1) Is the decision not to offer Velcade to Oxfordshire NHS patients a financial one? (If not, why then is it prescribed in Scotland and out of wealthier English NHS trusts?)
    2) If Scotland did not receive a significantly higher per-capita contribution from the exchequer than England would the English NHS have enough money to put Velcade on it treatment list? The answer to this question must be based on the ‘NICE’ criteria for treatment allocations (of which I have no copy).
    3) Could it be reasonably foreseen that the British government’s failure to address this per-capita payment issue could cause harm of the nature envisaged here?
    4) Was the government’s failure to address the issue of financial apportionment between Scotland and England based on selfish motivations (malfeasance) or was it simply because they couldn’t be bothered (nonfeasance)?

    Although public bodies are generally considered to be immune (except in certain circumstances) from claims arising out of tort, the Human Rights Act 1998 has been interpreted in Osman as imposing positive duties to act rather than allowing mere powers and discretions to be an excuse for inactivity. The current state of the law seems to be that there will be no general right to claim damages from a public body unless the body has assumed a separate duty of care, e.g. in the fire brigade, education services, and NHS. It is my view, however, that The Human Rights Act 1998 provides the motive force for this action and the legal mechanism to lift the veil of impunity under which the government is shrouded. In particular, the 1998 Act makes it unlawful for any public body to act in a way which is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, unless the wording of an Act of Parliament means they have no other choice. The Act makes available in UK courts a remedy for breach of a Convention right. This latter extension of the British courts has caused a furor in the press recently and allegedly made Dr. Reid blow a gasket (deportation of Afghan hijackers).

    The worst is yet to come I’m afraid; the Act provides the best tool for exploitation of the British government since Harold Wilson.

  89. Or you could say:

    The Act is the biggest tool to be used for exploitation of the British public since John Prescott.

  90. Auntie Flo
    Just as Britain is divided into England, Scotland and Wales so Switerland is divided into German, Italian and French regions. The result is a very similar (and often bitter) rivalry between the regions.
    Also, do you really think that Switzerlands “neutral” stance is to be admired?

  91. I only wish I’d been on a 48 hour bender. Instead, I took the daughter of a friend to the Pacific National Exhibition, where she insisted on going on every stomach-churning ride she could find, often dragging me with her.

    A tequila hangover is NOTHING compared to the hangover generated by eight hours of the Cobra, Breakdance, Crazy Beach Party, 1001 Nights, the Scrambler, the Corkscrew, Mouse Trap, and one I cannot remember the name of although I shall never, as long as I forget, the combination of rotation, inversion, strobe lights and heavy metal.

    Besides, I have nothing whatsoever to say about English vs Scottish nationalism except to say that it might be easier to give due attention to this issue if you withdrew from Northern Ireland.

  92. Raincoaster
    Every single Northern Irish person I have met regards themselves as much a member of the UK as the English, Scottish and Welsh. Out of the four nations in the UK it is England alone which does not have its own parliament.

  93. Raincoaster
    Are your friends/relatives actually Northern Irish or are they North Americans with celtic ancestory?

  94. Raincoaster
    When you say Irish I assume you mean Northern Irish.
    One could possibly get away with Anglo-Northern Irish although this would make somebody unarguably British. As for the Canadian-Irish, there is not really any such thing. The fact that someone has Northern Irish ancestory does not make them Irish any more than Anglo-saxon ancestory makes me German.

    Also I referred to Northern-Irish people I have met not all of which were actual friends. When using the attitudes of ones friends (and relatives) to support ones own beliefs it must be remembered that the simple fact that they are friends means they will be a strong chance they share our views anyway.

  95. “Every single Northern Irish person I have met regards themselves as much a member of the UK as the English, Scottish and Welsh”

    You don’t get out much, k, do you.

  96. K,

    Raincoaster is a socialist, like Ken Livingstone, they tend to sympathise with the PIRA because they dispise everything the British Empire stood for.

    Just remind her that if ti wasn’t for the greatness of the British Empire she would be eating snails right now.

  97. Merci k. I should perhaps let you know that I was born in France.

    And I’m not sure what qualifies you to define how people are allowed to describe their cultural heritage, but I’m sure your qualifications are absolutely unimpeachable.

    And now I shall return you to your nationalistic thread. Enjoy.

  98. Raincoaster prefere les escargo a la rosbif!

    People called Romans they go the ‘ouse? What’s all this then?

  99. Steven_L said
    You can’t be neutral and sell lots of arms to one side now can you, that’s not being neutral.

    With great respect, Steven_L, that’s precisly what Switzerland did when the Swiss government turned a blind eye to their arms industry breaking the anti-Aparteid arms embargo on South Africa in the 1980s.
    The Swiss also supply Israel.

    Unlike here, the Swiss arms industry isn’t government subsidised. Remind me, exactly how much has our arms industry contributed to the economy over recent years, £1-4 billion depending on the economic climate? How much of that is wiped out by government subsidy? Almost a £billion.

  100. Kdapt speaker to Tories said:

    Although public bodies are generally considered to be immune (except in certain circumstances) from claims arising out of tort, the Human Rights Act 1998 has been interpreted in Osman as imposing positive duties to act rather than allowing mere powers and discretions to be an excuse for inactivity. The current state of the law seems to be that there will be no general right to claim damages from a public body unless the body has assumed a separate duty of care, e.g. in the fire brigade, education services, and NHS. It is my view, however, that The Human Rights Act 1998 provides the motive force for this action and the legal mechanism to lift the veil of impunity under which the government is shrouded. In particular, the 1998 Act makes it unlawful for any public body to act in a way which is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, unless the wording of an Act of Parliament means they have no other choice. The Act makes available in UK courts a remedy for breach of a Convention right. This latter extension of the British courts has caused a furor in the press recently and allegedly made Dr. Reid blow a gasket (deportation of Afghan hijackers).

    The worst is yet to come I’m afraid; the Act provides the best tool for exploitation of the British government since Harold Wilson.

    Which is why Cameron wants to set up a panel of experts to work on a British Bill of Rights. That makes sense to me. Thank you for your excellent and most informative reply to my query, Kdapt.

  101. Impeach_Bush,

    Was that wrong, I though it might be, I haven’t done french since early 1996, she still like snails more than the English mind!

    Auntie Flo’

    said ‘The Swiss also supply Israel’

    Israel are good buyers, last thing I heard they want to buy the F-22 Raptor, like the UK, Japan, Australia and Isreal do (well who wouldn’t). The Saudi’s are biting our hand off for the Eurofighter and we scored more F-35 contracts in May!!

    Don’t be so down, we’re winning.

  102. Winning what Steven_L?

    it certainly isn’t the war on terror if that’s what you’re implying, the ‘terrorists’ are running away with that one!

    Iraq is on the verge of civil war (it’s only a matter of time before the Yanks are driven out with their tails between their legs as per Vietnam); Afghanistan is a constant problem; Lebanon is in ruins (as the result of an incursion by a ‘terrorist state’); British and US citizens have had their civil rights cut to the bone and all any terrorist has to do to send the oil price orbital and the stock-market into a tail-spin is to make a phone call to Ryanair in a comedy accent.

    Sorry Steven, if you think the US and Britain are winning this fight you must be on some phenomenally good gear or have the odd chat to Elvis and Bigfoot.

    It’s so bad one might almost consider gift-wrapping Bush & Blair and posting them to the head terrorist with a little note saying: “Really sorry about being so twattish recently, here’s a little peace offering. Love & XXXX, the West”

    It’s a long shot but it might just work.

  103. By the way Kdapt speaker to Tories, is my last comment in breach of the ‘glorifying terrorism’ laws? In which case I offer in mitigation a big raspberry and a fervant ‘up yours’ to Tony Blair (may his reign last 1000 nanoseconds).

  104. “It’s so bad one might almost consider gift-wrapping Bush & Blair and posting them to the head terrorist with a little note saying: “Really sorry about being so twattish recently, here’s a little peace offering. Love & XXXX, the West”

    Scoplin:

    You’re worth your weight in gold. You gave me my first bellylaugh of the week. People talk so much sense on this blog, I wonder why Sky News sounds so ludicrous by comparison …
    I tell a lie. I know very well.

    Steven_L:

    “Les escargots” may be available somewhere “a la (why feminine?) rosbif”, but I can’t imagine you using a derogatory French term for an English person, most of whom don’t cook snails anyway. So not sure what you meant … !

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