Avian Flu

bird%20flu.jpg
We are the second largest poultry exporters in Europe Someone somewhere has got to show that the great British turkey is safe to eat!
Don't be chicken - Britain needs you to eat bootiful turkey today As soon as I arrived at work this morning I told the troops their duty. This is it, I said. The Russians have banned our turkey. The pathetic Japanese have slapped an embargo on any poultry emanating from this country. South Korea, Hong Kong and South Africa are all equally chicken about our chicken. We are the second largest poultry exporters in Europe, I reminded them, with a £300 million business at stake. Here we are, in the cockpit of the nation, and the people expect us to show a lead. It is a time for greatness, a time for calm, a time for reassurance - and we are going to show all three. I reached for my wallet and fished out twenty. "Frances," I said, "go to the supermarket and buy as many slices of Bernard Matthews as you can find. Someone somewhere has got to show that the great British turkey is safe to eat! And that someone is going to be us." In no time she was back, laden with an extraordinary assortment of meat and meat-related produce. As we beheld the bewildering versatility of Mr Matthews's fowls, I felt a spasm of rage that the people of South Korea - where they eat poodles, for heaven's sake - should turn their noses up at the favourites of the British people. We had Bernard Matthews wafer thin turkey ham, 95 per cent fat free. We had a perfectly cylindrical Turkey Breast Roast, serving three or four. Mr Matthews's chefs had miraculously added water, potato and rice starch (and about 20 nourishing chemicals) to what the front of the packet said was "100 per cent breast meat". We had delicious golden turkey escalopes, containing as much as 38 per cent turkey. Look at that, I said: three oven-glove sized crispy escalopes, and all for £1.99. In fact, it all looked so good I didn't know where to begin. Here, I said, peeling back the lid of some Premium Sage and Onion turkey breast. A rich aroma filled the room. Come on now, I said, as they shrank back, who is going to be first? "I'm not eating it unless you eat it," said one. Eh? I said. You don't understand. I'm John Selwyn Gummer, and you are Cordelia. You eat the hamburger, or in this case the slice of sage and onion turkey blend. I merely offer it to you. Or, I said, would you prefer a Bernard Matthews Turkey Dinosaur? I unpeeled another packet. This one contained a mixture of turkey skin, pea starch, milk, potassium chloride, sodium nitrite and assorted other life-giving ingredients, boiled up and turned into a sliced roll complete with a beautiful picture of a dinosaur. Look! I held up the Dinosaur, showing how it ran all the way through, like a stick of rock. No, no, they said. You've got to do it first. OK, I said, no problem. It was a time for leadership. When the news bulletins are full of pictures of men in white space suits slaughtering thousands of birds; when everyone is panicking about the H5N1 strain of bird flu; when poor Bernard Matthews and his colleagues are beside themselves with worry about the threat to the UK's £3.4 billion poultry industry, it was time to eat turkey. I took out that slice of sage and onion 98 per cent fat free, I folded it politely, and I chomped for Britain. Flavour flooded my mouth. It was little short of heavenly, ambrosial, I told my friends; and I suggest that we all do the same. Let's say snooks to the Koreans and the Russians, and let's get stuck into British turkey; and I say this because I remember writing exactly the same - 11 years ago - about British beef. I was right then and I am right now. Do you remember that whole disgraceful BSE business, at the sad fag-end of the Major government? Do you remember the way those unscrupulous lentil-munching Labour MPs whipped up public hysteria over British beef? Thousands of blameless British cattle farmers had their livelihoods destroyed. Their continental rivals conspired with their EU governments to impose an outrageous and unjustified ban on British beef, and which the French have only just got round to lifting. The British taxpayer coughed up £5 billion for the whole shambles - and all because we were told that British beef could give you mad cow disease. Do you remember that government scientist who went around predicting that there would be hospices on every street corner, full of victims of nvCreutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and that the entire population was going to be punished for its addiction to hamburgers by being sent slowly and humiliatingly insane? What ever happened to him? I in no way mean to minimise the suffering of those few people who have contracted nvCJD, but the panic was ludicrous in proportion to the risk; and having looked at this bird flu business, I reckon we are in danger of stampeding over exactly the same cliff. As far as I can see, you would need to enter into a civil partnership with one of Bernard Matthews' turkeys, and then perform prolonged mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the startled bird, in order to contract the new type of avian flu. You might get bird flu if you ate ground-up turkey droppings on your cornflakes for a week, or there again you might not. And even then we still have no evidence that the disease can be transmitted from one human being to another, in the way of other flu epidemics. I tell you what is driving this story: it's a bourgeois horror of processed meat of the kind that Bernard Matthews produces so cheaply and so deliciously. It's all about people's sense of guilt at the ease of their lives, and the cheapness of supermarket food. It's a Marie Antoinette faddishness about farming, a belief that it should all be so much more natural. I say phooey. OK, so Bernard Matthews mixes milk and turkey skin. Is that any odder than a restaurant offering black pudding and marmalade fritter? It's time for Blair to follow our lead, eat a slice of patriotic turkey and tell the Russians where to get off. Anyone failing to do so is a snob, a sissy and a scaredy-cat.

106 thoughts on “Avian Flu”

  1. Thank the Lord and pass the Turkey Drummers! At last, someone with the ear of the nation who is willing to stand up and say that the industrialised world needs intensive farming to feed itself. The idea that we can live in some gentle, bucolic eden, where nice men in sandles and ruddy-faced yokels fill our shops with affordable food is a fantasy that needs putting to bed.

    Once again, a certain ilk of people are using a health scare as a means of attacking modern farming methods and, by inference, modern life in general. This studied repungence of anything mass-produced is old-fashioned snobbery: an attack on the vulgar masses and their grubby capitalist providers. Ironically, these supposedly vile people are doing more good for this country than the bracken-eating middle classes whining about the world being despoiled by savages.

  2. It’s the type of article which is crying out for the headline:

    “Boris offers his assistant a good stuffing (but she turns him down)”

    Or not, as the case may be. That bit was left suitably ambiguous.

    Anway, Boris, check out the latest Conservative Islington blogger in town: Arthurian Legend. He’s linked to you, and is hoping for a little bit of reciprocity, old chap!

  3. You know, for those of use who don’t like factory farmed meat, there’s a solution & it’s a corker: lamb. It comes from those woolly things you see on hillsides, as opposed to those feathery things you don’t see in enormous poo filled factories. And it tastes okay without being rammed fuller than a professional athelete with ‘performance’ or in this case ‘flavour’ enhancing substances.

    I know the Boz is just using satire to get us to think a bit about what we buy, but if we didn’t listen to Jamie Oliver, what chance does he stand? If he wants the people who regularly buy & eat this crud to pay attention to him, the correct forum is Big Bruvva, not his blog.

  4. I guess that this article is satirical and that Boris is as offended by [inappropriate comment …Ed] turkey farms as most of us are?
    (Except for the respondent who seems to have got it all ‘Head-over-Tayles’ as usual.)

  5. You’re welcome Tayles. Any time you want an example of the backward paternalist reaction to factory farming & the industrialised brutalisation of animals & people, you can count on me.

    And that’s Captain Badger to you.

  6. Personally, I don’t draw comparisons between the inevitably grim conditions of a factory farm [inappripriate comment …Ed]

    Intensive farms produce cheap, safe, good quality food for millions of people. This could never be carried out by local organic farmers. Furthermore, diseases are rarer now than they were when farming was smaller scale. Foot-and-mouth, for instance, was pretty common in Britain up until the big outbreak in 1967. After that it became increasingly rare thanks to intensive farming methods, which separated livestock allowing animals to be vaccinated more easily and dealt with more quickly when disease did strike. The big foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 was the first major reoccurrence in years, and it is widely thought that the outbreak started on a small farm that used ‘peasant’ methods.

    As for the sarcasm and irony of Boris’s article, I did think it started that way, but unless I’m missing the point entirely, he has something serious to say about the hysterical risk-aversion that accompanies food scares and people’s snobbish aversion to processed foods. I don’t honestly believe that Boris thinks a nation the size of Britain can be sustained by organic farms.

  7. With your article tugging at my conscience, Boris,I tried to do my best for you and England today. This morning I went to the Co-op to buy some of this turkey stuff. No small sacrifice, as I’m sure you will agree, for one who does not eat meat.

    As I don’t do carnivore I thought I could give the turkey to some very hungry looking gulls (Larus ridibundus – Laughing Gulls, I think) who were definitely not smiling as they anxiously wheeled around my office looking for food.

    Then the horrible thought struck me that this would be as morally reprehensible as are those unscrupulous factory farmers and foodstuff suppliers who doctor their supposedly vegetarian foodstuffs with animal matter.

    It might have introduced those starving gulls to cannibalism – a nasty habit which could well have dreadful repercussions for the human as well as the larus species. Herring gulls are cannibals, I know, but I don’t believe that the black headed ones are.

    So, bread seemed a much a better option for the gulls than Bernard Mathews turkey. Then another thought struck me. What if those gulls had avian flu’? Blimey. I rushed back to my office with my brolly up and left those lairy larus to their scavenging.

  8. Boris: I totally agree with you, we should mobilize Turkey population to have their voice heard – I for my part have published your statement in my blog !!!

    Tayles:”This studied repugnance of anything mass-produced is old-fashioned snobbery: an attack on the vulgar masses and their grubby capitalist providers”.

    “The latter is what most critics have in mind and it is probably a quite deliberate ploy to convey their degraded view of humanity”.

    Your illustration of modernity is monotonous, dull and paradoxical – as a dignified human mass producer machines. Somehow it doesn’t work. Ironically, the other day you were advocating some old fashion version ‘life style’, glorifying masculinity or men in total control. You were blaming powerlessness of modern men on feminism – which is only one critical voice among many with few followers. Perhaps dominant power games that are played on men as well as women by our system is ignored in this approach.

    And ‘stinking birds’ – how can you be so insensitive, I found birds sublim creatures particularly swans, have you spent time contemplating their behaviour ? I never forget this, early morning on the day of 7/7, small robine appeared in my backyard, singing with such enthusiasm, in a way that I had this feeling something is about to happen.

  9. Dominic Lawson, writing in the Independent of 21 Feb 2006, when the avian flu scare was at its height, recorded that he had actually once caught it himself. He’d been using pigeon droppings as fertilizer for garden vegetables. Avian flu has been around for 50 years. He listed various other scares – Sars, BSE, the Millenium Bug – which had come to nothing.

    In the case of the great bird flu scare of 2005/06 it is other self-interested bodies, by no means all of them drug companies, which are exaggerating the threat. The World Health Organisation – fresh from its triumph in fooling the politicians of the West into thinking we can all get lung cancer from “passive smoking” – has, of course, led the way.

    Margaret Chan of the WHO told Newsweek last October: “This is the first time we’ve been able to see a pandemic unfold before our very eyes.” Yet there is no pandemic. Mrs Chan is seeing things.

    It seems, these days, that we are continually seeing things that are not there. We now fight against entirely imaginary threats – things that might just possibly happen one day. Whole industries and bureaucracies depend on maintaining us in a state of fear, whipping up the slightest breath of wind into a distant but impending hurricane. There’s big money to be made selling life rafts to the suckers who believe it.

    We really ought to be concerned not with what might happen, but with what actually is happening. We have quite enough problems as it is, without inventing imaginary future problems. “Sufficient unto the day are the troubles thereof,” somebody once said. It was good advice then, and remains good advice now.

  10. TAYLES, so long as we apply current economic theories to the farming industry, and poo-poo centuries-old agri-culture, I believe we are done-for.

    Who benefits from the processing-for-profit? You would say the consumer who has access to cheap food which lasts ages in the cupboard, I would say the fat cats in the board rooms of these food corporations.

    Go to a country where they don’t exist on a modern UK/American-syle diet, and observe effervescent health as well as radiant smiles, even when work is still physically hard.

    Our pets share our Western chronic and acute diseases. Cancers, joint diseases, lung diseases, circulatory diseases. Cuba lost its ticket to chemical farming when the USSR dissolved and its health has improved steadily ever since. Our hospitals are groaning and many predict the NHS would eventually bankrupt the UK if it’s allowed to continue as it is. We have access to almost every drug possible, plentiful food and disease-free water yet disease is on the increase, and it is not in line with our aging population – witness the horrifying rise in young peoples’ cancer rates.

    We live in one of the finest lands in the world for growing healthy food produce, yet although (petro-produced) chemicals are used to increase yields, we have payed our farmers not to grow crops for quite a long time now. Water is polluted through repeated applications of powerful, artificial insecticides and synthesised fertilizers which promote the almost fluorescent green crops which spring in Orwellian order throughout our insect-less, birdless prairies. Farm animals are fed processed ‘food’ laced with anti-biotics to prevent them from dropping like flies. They are bred to grow rapidly so they can be killed artificially young. Many cattle look emaciated and diseased – imagine what the animals and birds resemble inside buildings, away from most human eyes.

    Many farmers are subsidised above the levels which miners once were, yet food is an everyday necessity and relatively expensive to transport long distances. We import because it can be produced for less money elsewhere, so while the chemical cocktails are sprayed over fields adjacent to houses, many eat food produced on the other side of the world. Eventually, maybe after a pandemic or other mass disease exacerbated by our poor animal husbandry, mono-cultural farming and poor diet we will re-assess what the term ‘wealth’ really means. Is it a new plastic kitchen or bathroom every five years, or an extra continental holiday every year, or genuine good health and the content which goes with it?

    Our massive urbanisation and industrial farming has distanced almost everyone from the magic of a sprouting seed, and the ability of nature to regulate itself. The result? Few have noticed how the agro-chemical giants have attempted to ‘buy’ the rights to nature’s own reproduction – previously free – through a degree of genetic modification, both 20th or 21st century. Once self-sufficient farmers all around the world have been branded ‘peasants’ if they don’t ride around in a chrome-laden 4×4 and support a host of parasitic business, from insurance to the agri-chemicals who are pulling the rugs from under their feet. There is also a growing resentment by farmers to the lack of control and subservience to multinational companies – as well as the monotony, loneliness and strangely-correlating previously-rare cancers and other diseases which appear with a monotony only mirrored in the farmland itself. Indian or English, Scottish or Italian, farmers are beginning to see through the myth that governments have encouraged over the last sixty years. Enclose a sufficient number of any species in a large enough concentration without access to sufficient health-promoting factors – human, plant or other animal – and the result is unpleasant and frequently a centre for disease and squalor. Human examples are (also) frequently ignored and neatly sidestepped.

    Successive governments have been coerced by big bucks and US-style agronomy, to the point it is illegal for one farmer to sell his own seed to other farmers. It is even illegal to move soil from one field to another, without a special license. It is quite possible that this approach to life will spread to the treatment of humans – there are already the beginnings of ‘ownership’ of our DNA. Big business is in, the individual not so. For now, that is. As more people become aware of the health hazards of ‘industrial disease’ as well as the quality of food (the C21st definition, not the C19th, TAYLES), the pressures will increase to re-apply knowledge which is no longer common to us in the UK. The increasing cost of petroleum products will also have a bearing on our behaviour – a century of cheap oil has polished our lazy instincts. Witness the Bush, Blair and Brown frenzy illegally invading a foreign country in an attempt to secure future oil, rather than using intelligence and promoting increasing reliance on renewable energy, as are the Germans and Swedes.

    The continuation of current economic philosophies will drive almost all farming out of this country as we strive to be the ‘high-value economy’ so loved by the theorists. Most other industry has gone from our shores, to be replaced by business which frequently makes money by doing no work. Not only do we risk handing down an economy based on falsehood, but poor health and a cultural desert – as well as an inability to be self-sufficient. Little wonder it is those who wish to earn money who enjoy residence (often temporarily) in the UK, whilst too many indigenous British are heading for ‘real’ countries where governments place greater value on the individual and are not short-term minded. Where people still produce goods and money isn’t the main God.

    TAYLES, cheap and safe food is by definition, produced by farmers with high standards (those who take pride in their work, and don’t have to rely on state subsidy but have the public beating a path to their quality, super-tasting food) who don’t live far away, and who don’t have to pay a fortune for their property rental or mortgage. You surprise me contributing to this wonderful column headed by Boris when your instincts appear to be so opposite to his – indeed quite Blairite? It is well-recognised that a lack of respect for other forms of life stems from a (sub-conscious?) lack of self respect. And no, I’m as traditional, CofE, public school, top university raised as any. But I’m not greedy for much else, other than the better things in life, which are increasingly to be found outside the UK, much to my despair.

    However, I’m not leaving. I’ll stay for the locals, the landscapes and a stubborn refusal to bow to the New Labour Orwellian society where GM, GeorgeW and the Nanny State are all good things. I find your love of coaches (see http://www.boris-johnson.com/archives/2007/01/train_service.php) and factory farms strangely Soviet. Are you sure you are a true capitalist, or does this fashionable tag simply cover your enjoyment of easy money and totalitarian control tendencies? (“I’d like to concrete over the railways”). The factory farm is not a capitalist ideal at all, since it produces low-grade produce and ignores individuals’ requirements, except cheap. They rely on state subsidy and protection (how much compensation will BM receive I wonder?), as no UK politician wants to see the rise in price of food.

  11. I suppose that if you can’t beat the scaremongers, you may as well join them.

    One niche in the vague-future-threat market that nobody has yet exploited is the likelihood, nay the certainty, that at some point in the future some comet or asteroid will collide with the Earth, destroying entire cities, and creating tidal waves that sweep round the planet.

    I am considering marketing a completely enclosed cylindrical titanium lifeboat, with a porthole at the front, and oars sticking out the sides, and packed with enough Bernard Matthews golden turkey escalopes to last a year. Apart from being asteroid impact-proof, it will also have the extra bonus features of being nuclear bomb-proof, global warming-proof, and avian flu-proof. With a small added extra charge, it will include air filtration systems that make it passive smoking-proof. My company – Vague Future Threats Ltd – will undertake to add features whenever any future vague future threat is discovered. (e.g. a machine gun in the case of Martian invasion).

    Also, for a small annual fee, my company will provide customers with a steady stream of information about the latest vague future threats. Unfortunately, in this respect, we already have a powerful competitor: the BBC.

  12. Bravo Bozza! The man at his best.

    You have nailed so many truths except one: Bernard Matthews “TurkeyHam” tastes vile. As vile as it sounds.

  13. With at least 10mm of snow lying on ‘untreated surfaces’, the BBC reporter on the news spoke with a man ner which would have been more suitable to Britain’s declaration of war with Nazi Germany.

    Throughout the 30s most of the English chattering classes believed the talk of a German threat was scaremongering.

  14. witness the horrifying rise in young peoples’ cancer rates. (russellg)

    I had not heard about this. But I should not be overly concerned. Cancer, as everybody knows, is caused by tobacco smoke. The coming July ban on smoking in public places will undoubtedly be followed by plummetting falls in the incidence of all forms of cancer, as well as heart disease of every variety, and indeed most other maladies.

    However, should the incidence of cancer not fall, it will only go to show that tobacco smoke is even more tremendously dangerous than is already thought, and that it will be thoughtless French people across the Channel smoking Gitanes and Gauloises who will be responsible for the continuing epidemic. And if not them, then the Russians or the Chinese.

  15. Tayles:
    “Personally, I don’t draw comparisons between the inevitably grim conditions of a factory farm and those of a Nazi death camp. This either elevates fowl to the status of humans or drags us down to the level of stinking birds. The latter is what most critics have in mind and it is probably a quite deliberate ploy to convey their degraded view of humanity.”

    Actually I was suggesting that people were debased by being fed crap. The prisons service have data on this if you’re interested. Could you quantify what you mean by ‘degraded’? I may have issue with that comment.

  16. I joke about cancer too, it helps. My 21 year old died last year. I’ve begun to see the world a bit differently, and some of my certainties have gone forever. I often travel through South America, where young people almost NEVER die from cancer.

    There’s something wrong with what’s happening to our bodies – some of the healthiest people I know grew up before the war.

  17. Oh dear, I seem to have riled a few people again. Sorry if I don’t subscribe to some romantic idyll, where humans regard themselves as no better than animals and get all their foods from the farm shop up the road. Unfortunately the fact of the matter is that we need industrialised food production to feed the world. The idea that the future lies in going back to nature and ‘peasant’ farming techniques is nothing more than a middle class fantasy that ignores reality in favour of a snobbish disregard for ‘dehumanising’ mass produce.

    The factory farm is not a capitalist ideal at all, since it produces low-grade produce and ignores individuals’ requirements, except cheap. – russellg

    This suggests that people have no choice but to buy low-grade factory foods. In fact, there has never been a greater variety of food on offer, from expensive organic produce to cheap and nasty mass-produced food. If factory farming continues to sell it’s because people value cost over quality. To suggest that people are being force-fed crap is an insult to the people who choose to buy it and a misunderstanding of how the market works.

    As for gripes about GM foods, what’s so wrong about scientific developments that enable us to grow food more productively? So what if it means we’re some how moving away from growing food ‘as nature intended’? Surely, making food cheaper and more plentiful is a good thing. And if some people choose this ‘Frankenstein food’ over the more expensive organic option, who’s to say that’s a bad thing? You suggest that I might not be a true capitalist, but I want to give consumers the freedom to buy whatever they like and manufacturers the freedom to produce it. Equally, I am irritated with moralising moans about food being produced in a dehumanising manner and consumers being alienated from what ends up on their plate. This is pure Marx.

    In this debate, the last thing that seems to matter to people is the welfare of their fellow man. They are more concerned with staying close to nature and forming some kind of symbiotic relationship with what they grow and eat. Nature has become a new underdog to champion – a victim of man’s destructiveness to empathise with.

    It is well-recognised that a lack of respect for other forms of life stems from a (sub-conscious?) lack of self respect.

    You can still respect other forms of life and consider yourself superior to them. Projecting human emotions onto livestock is naive and disingenuous.

    But I’m not greedy for much else, other than the better things in life, which are increasingly to be found outside the UK, much to my despair.

    It sounds like you are despairing at the fact that a large number of people in this country don’t share your love of the finer things in life. People who claim that capitalism doesn’t work normally mean that it isn’t providing the outcomes they would prefer. They would like to see their own preferences imposed on people from on high, with little regard for choice or freedom.

    This excerpt from an article I read puts it better than I can: As John Carey points out in his book The Intellectuals and the Masses, earlier snobs looked down their noses at tinned food and factory-farmed fish, describing it as ‘mechanical and soulless’, ‘offensive’ and ‘unnatural’. Then, as now, what these individuals really seemed to loath was the forward march of modernity. If the Matthews-bashers want to go back to natural, local and organic farming, good luck to them. Most of the rest of us would rather have our food made efficiently for us, so that we can concentrate on living our lives to the full.

  18. Tayles said:
    “In this debate, the last thing that seems to matter to people is the welfare of their fellow man.”

    Animals have no voice to cry out about the way they are treated, human beings do have a voice. You may call me callous, but I would rather spend time and money to save innocent animals, rather than in throwing good money after bad in continuing (for example)to provide aid for Africans who persist in their barbarism to each other in spite of all the efforts made to help them over the past 60 years. The old Victorian concept of the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving’poor was a valid one.
    I expect to be assailed on all sides for taking this view though.

  19. …it will be thoughtless French people across the Channel smoking Gitanes and Gauloises who will be responsible for the continuing epidemic (Idlex)

    This prompted a thought. I have done some calculations to show that cigarettes are a significant cause of global warming.

    15 billion sticks are consumed each day, according to the World Health Organisation. If each one weighs a gram, and they have a similar calorific value to wood (15Mjoules/Kg), then smokers are producing 62.5 megawatt-hours of heat every day (hope that’s right – lots of noughts).

    Disgraceful. It should be banned.

  20. Chris, frankly I am aghast that you would put animals before people. Any value that you put on animals is your own. Nature doesn’t care, only people do. The idea that animals have the ability to think and moralise in the same way as a human is entirely false.

    Animals are merely empty vessels into which people pour their grievances. While fellow humans are looked upon as the cause of their resentments, animals are given the role of morally-pure victims: proof of society’s injustice.

  21. Tayles said:
    ‘The idea that animals have the ability to think and moralise in the same way as a human is entirely false.’

    Exactly! That’s why we are in a position of care to them. We are not in a position of care over other human beings.

  22. smokers are producing 62.5 megawatt-hours of heat every day (PaulD)

    That would only be the case if smokers burned their fingers while smoking cigarettes right down to the very butt end. A great many smokers ‘bogart’ their cigarettes, by taking a few puffs and then stubbing them out. Perhaps Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca should be shown more frequently – purely for educational purposes.

    And only 62.5 MWhours? Festiniog hydro power station alone can output that amount of energy in 10 minutes, nearly all of which must be dissipated as heat from Welsh television sets and light bulbs and kettles, and thence into the atmosphere to melt another glacier or two.

    Commissioned in 1963, Ffestiniog Power Station was the UK’s first major pumped storage power facility. Although of an older generation to those at Dinorwig, Ffestiniog’s four generating units are still capable of achieving a combined output of 360MW of electricity – enough to supply the entire power needs of North Wales for several hours.

    Disgraceful. It should be banned.

  23. The idea that animals have the ability to think and moralise in the same way as a human is entirely false. (Tayles)

    This reminds me of when I shared a room with a cat. Tired of opening the door to let him in and out, I eventually rigged up a bedspring on the door so that it would be very easy to push open, and let swing shut of its own accord.

    Having got it working to my own satisfaction, it then occurred to me that I would somehow have to teach my cat how to a) pull open the door with one paw to go out, and b) thrust his head against the door to come back in. I wondered how it could be done. How on earth do you teach a cat anything?

    Eventually, I decided to simply get hold of the cat, sit him by the door, hold up his paw to the door to pull it open, and then bundle him out. And then shoved him head first back in again. I repeated this exercise 5 or 6 times, and then left the cat to his own devices. Unsurprisingly, he showed no signs of having learned anything, but instead returned to his cushion, curled up, and went back to the sleep I had so rudely interrupted. I began to try to think of some other way to teach him, suspecting that it was probably hopeless to try and teach a dumb animal like him anything.

    About an hour later, my cat woke up, yawned, stretched, and ambled towards the door. I awaited the usual mewing. But to my astonishment, he raised his paw against the edge of the door, and heaved it open exactly as I’d shown him, and slipped out. About 10 minutes later, he returned and head-butted the door open, just as I’d shown him. I was never bothered with plaintive mews again.

    And I think he preferred the new arrangement as much as I did.

  24. Ffestiniog hydro power station alone can output that amount of energy in 10 minutes (Idlex)

    Just up the road is, rather was, Trawsfynydd power station. This Magnox nuclear reactor could produce enough electricity to power all of Manchester (where did they find an extension cable that long?).

    It shut in 1993.

  25. “buy as many slices of Bernard Matthews as you can find”
    Another swing to the extreme, Boris.
    As a paid up member of Vegetarians for Peace, I welcome attacks on the pompous poncy poultry murderer, but would counsel remaining on this side of the border with cannibalism.
    I seem to be your only detractor still posting here, Boris. It is when your opponents stop noticing you that the end of your career is in sight. You have been warned.

  26. Reflection;

    “BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO MENNY”
    I had no business to be born at all, neither when I was, nor where I was, nor of whom I was-if without filial impiety I may say so…My mother had many children; she reared eleven; but I soon came to see how much better it would have been for her-how much more enjoyment, peace, repose and freedom from anxiety would have fallen to her-had her family been limited to three or four children.(Holyoke, 1896, p. 15).

  27. < ‘People who claim that capitalism doesn’t work normally mean that it isn’t providing the outcomes they would prefer’ (Tayles)<

    My thoughts exactly. In fact I’ve been arguing (and trying my best to educate) with a rather tiresome Swiss anti-capitalist on ‘webcameron’ all week now. He thinks that governments should be banned from borrowing from private banks, all world debt should be reset etc. I’m too busy filling in a rather bureaucratic job application to be bothered with him today. Perhaps you could take up the slack for me.

    http://www.webcameron.org.uk/ask-david/

    It’s the post that begins ‘The Bank of England’. If you read through the 5 pages of comments you can see how far I’ve got with him, I’m exhausted of arguing with the little so-and-so and now have better things to do.

    DC’s blog is swarming of conspiracy nuts! Boris I hope you realise how lucky you are to have such a sane clientelle on your wonderful website.

    Bird Flu –> Animal Health –> Public Protection –> ah! We can put a perfectly legal restriction on their goods, let’s do it! After all, the EU did it to Thailand.

    EU and UK animal health legislation is the most knee-jerk, reactionary drivel I’ve ever seen. All looks good when you’re sitting round a table in Whitehall. When you’re the one that’s got to jump on a 2 day old calves back, hoping his mother won’t mind, to fit one of those wretched eartags it’s a different matter (so I’m told).

  28. While I’m here, something just dawned on me when reading this:

    < I felt a spasm of rage that the people of South Korea – where they eat poodles<

    Do we still have a trade deficit? Perhaps all those mongrels sitting around in Battersea dogs home could go some way towards reducing it.

  29. Steven – had a look at your anti-capitalist chappie and see why you find him tiresome. In fact he’s so tiresome, I gave up.

    He is a Dave Spart who rants about the entire “system”, unable to grasp that you can only change things one step at a time, at best.

    You know their number’s up when they quote the Queen’s wealth as evil personified. I wonder what she plans to do with all that money of “hers”. Blow it on drugs? Gamble it? Hell’s bells, her idea of extravagance is cornflakes from a Tupperware box.

    If you were to abolish the monarchy and sell off the entire works at Christie’s next auction, does he think it would make a jot of difference to our economy, let alone that of starving nations thousands of miles away whose own corrupt governments have robbed their people of billions?

    Then again it would make a difference to our economy – the incalculable losses of not only tourism but the possibility of another Blair-style dictatorship reigning supreme.

  30. Tayles “This suggests that people have no choice but to buy low-grade factory foods”.

    One of the important aspect to visualize the state of society is our choice of food and how we eat it; which reflects how we perceive ourselves as it depicts the rules of our society and our culture. Sitting to eat together unite us and eating separately brings alienation to one another, drained from social duties and mutual obligations. Changes in food, changes our meaning and validates our social worth for relations between the source of supply, our taste for scarcity, our regular habits and the combinations we make of food, ultimately nurturing our body and the mind. Food preferences reveal how we treat our natural environment more as socially constructed universe rather than biological matter. We choose not to take pills as food based on the best scientific information available by nutritionists, because food matters.

  31. < ‘He is a Dave Spart who rants about the entire “system”, unable to grasp that you can only change things one step at a time, at best’ (PaulD)<

    I can sympathise with him though. I used to be an angry, idealistic 20 year old. Not completely understanding the world I live in (in other words not knowing everything) still gets my back up at times. I’d still sooner die in debt knowing everything than rich and ignorant.

    The real world slowly educates you, at the same time it savagely beats the idealism out from within. I’ve actually learned a few things myself, researching my arguments with the lad. He say’s he’s learned something too, even if he does still disagree with everything I’ve written. So it wasn’t in vein for either of us I guess.

  32. Well done Boris, leading the troops into such brave action in support of the country – we will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them in the supermarkets and YES we WILL fight them on the intensive farming farms! I’m right behind you Boris, especially in the queue to actually eat some of Bernard Matthews fine fare….

  33. I haven’t read all the comments -there’s far too much for a busy pensioner. All I have to say Boris is – think about what you said viz: – Do you remember ……..population was going to be punished for its addiction to hamburgers by being sent slowly and humiliatingly insane?

    Have you looked around Britain recently! Looks like some Government forecasts are accurate.

  34. It sounds like you are despairing at the fact that a large number of people in this country don’t share your love of the finer things in life. People who claim that capitalism doesn’t work normally mean that it isn’t providing the outcomes they would prefer. They would like to see their own preferences imposed on people from on high, with little regard for choice or freedom. (TAYLES)

    You seem to be doing a lot of explaining. Others have picked at your most of your arguments, I will just make my comment on the more personal reference above.

    I don’t believe we have a sustainable form of capitalism at work in the UK today, but a dis-jointed mix of state/EU interference where it is least needed (CAP and the UK’s handouts system which favour larger farmers enormously, schools, hospitals), the interference in earnings combined with a ridiculous taxation regime which stifles enterprise and promotes the sort of person who is more interested in filling in forms than actually doing something useful and productive, the encouragement of an ever-widening gulf between the higher income earners and the rest (do you want to live in a gated, patrolled street as in South Africa?) and the demoralisation of the least able people by allowing them to exist on long-term state handouts, whilst importing labour from elsewhere to do the jobs they should be doing.

    All that laid over a Thatcherite free market which was introduced over 20 years ago in an attempt to drag the country out of the terminal post-war decline which all other governments had limply accepted as the norm. Blair et al are so weak minded and greedy for success that they have failed to create a system which suits the needs of early 21st century Britain, but used tinkered-with Thatcherite policies and simply increased taxation on those least wishing to argue (but when they do, they are in a crushing majority.)

    This has led to a nation ill at ease with itself, with policies which are unsustainable and self-defeating and nobody is looking to solve the real problems which face us. The word ‘EFFICIENT’ is applied from food production to education to healthcare, a hand-down from the American system which has partly filled the gaps created by such ill-thought policy. (Blithely following the Americans into Iraq further narrowed the Atlantic for many Brits.)

    What may work in the USA doesn’t necessarily do so here – for example, if they make a mess of their land with genetic experimentation and the rest of the ‘scientific farming’ agenda, they could draw a 500 mile wide exclusion zone around all the damaged or infected land and move along a bit. A nuisance, but an option only open to such vast, un-populated continents.

    When people use ‘efficient’ they frequently mean ‘short-term money-saving’. As many have asked, who other than cost-accountants and other money-obsessed types actually want ever-increasing efficiency? America is a young country, the world’s most powerful, has vast prairies which are uncultivated and has a low population density. All these factors allow it to play fast and loose – yet the ‘American Business Model’ as understood by the rest of the world as a dog-eat-dog, unpleasant form of going about things isn’t so common in middle America, where they enjoy the contentment our own suburban sorts experienced in the 1930s, where jobs were secure and all the other pleasantries which go with being the top dog in the world.

    I certainly don’t hanker after any sort of imaginary idyll Tayles – I’m far too pragmatic and straight-thinking for that. But I do see a nation whose people are restless to break free from current ways, where we appear to have picked up our European neighbours’ knack of seeing corruption as the norm, and the street culture and winner takes all mentality of sections of the United States – instead of European culture and American freedoms. I don’t believe large business is efficient, even in the way its masses of accountants portray it to be. Small business has to answer to its customers directly, and survives by benefitting the customer as much as (or more than) itself. Size brings corruption, sloth and a lazy attitude. Think Enron, Halley-Burton, BAT, even Bernard Matthews. Individuals’ rights and health count for little in the big business world.

    I believe very strongly there is a need for politicians to stop meddling and pussy-footing around, and get to grips with the future for the UK. It is not easy, but that is surely why this current regime has awarded itself pay rise upon pay rise? Thatcher didn’t do this, yet she sorted out many of the country’s biggest headaches, and dragged it kicking and screaming into the real world.

    To what extent do we ape our cousins across the pond, and is that necessary to retain competitiveness? Are we maintaining this country’s history of innovation? How can the decimation of family life and respect for others be rekindled? Irrespective of its cause, the planet’s warmong is going to cause enormous problems, and although we are working hard and earning good money, has this made us lazy-thinking? Switzerland is a country which is rarely examined, perhaps because it is such an enigma to those who like to explain and compartmentalise everything. Sweden is making sure it isn’t paralysed by the monopoly a very few countries will have on fossil fuels, and becoming self-sufficient in energy production. Both these countries are very secure, successful and content places to live.

    Our nation was one of the first to embrace capitalism (in the 13th Century, on the back of the wool trade, according to some obscure Russian economist whose name I forget) and we evolved it into a very reliable and smooth running machine which much of the world copied. Along with so much else, this has been blown away with the zeal for ‘renewal’ and other slogans since the 1950s, and I really don’t believe the system we are operating today is cohesive or at all sustainable. Since I am still in my 30s and wish to remain living here, I feel strongly that our country’s mismanagement has gone on so long with little practical criticism. Some say it is all listed in ‘Decline and Fall of Rome’, but the world is so different today, especially with the challenges of climatic changes coupled with the (as yet) undiscovered abilities of the computer and internet. GB doesn’t have to lose the G.

    Britain’s people are worthy of more than we have at present, where monoculture and perpetual efficiency combine with top-heavy bureaucracy and multi-national corporations beyond the jurisdiction of any government to make life less rich than it could so easily be. The American form of Capitalism has been allowed to grow to a point where it risks consuming itself, and with a tired and culturally barren population, there is a greater risk of it being replaced by another system altogether. Freedom is hard won, and easily lost – never forget this. You sometimes need to prune successful growth to promote health and longevity.

    Any country is only as good as its people, and a country which neglects its people is risking its own neck. I believe Thatcher mis-judged individuals’ greed, to her own cost. The emergence of the ‘me’ culture is one of the single most damaging results of the 1980s, as a selfish person or group will end up with no friends and be consumed with (/by) themselves eventually.

    Perhaps the old political landscape has changed out of all recognition – those who wish for a progressive and high quality, sustainable country, and those who would upsticks to Mars if the mortgage rates were good enough. Many Tories will be there in the ‘Freedom and Conservative’ alliance, but those who still wear the red braces and leave black marks behind their Porsche at every set of lights will probably not. They will have joined the ‘New’ party, where new and more is always good and what matters is your own importance as well as how much you know about your fellow citizen. Surveillance is safety. They will be joining plenty of New Labourites who have little concern for the past or the future, who believe the size of your salary is everything, and where culture is extinct.

    Anyone who has read this disjointed effort deserves a glass of good Burgundy. I’ve usually enjoyed one well before 1.55am. In fact, I’m usually in bed. Now where’s that scrummy slice of goose breast gone? Boris let them eat Bernard Matthews turkey Johnson, you have distracted me!

  35. Irrespective of its cause, the planet’s warmong is going to cause enormous problems, (russellg)

    When I read this the first time, I thought that ‘the planet’s warmong‘ was probably intended to mean ‘warmonger’, and referred to George W Bush’s USA, which many people predict will attack Iran any day now, bringing skyrocketing oil prices, plus war, famine, pestilence, and death. These would, I thought, indeed be enormous problems.

    But then it occurred to me that ‘the planet’s warmong’ was perhaps more intended to mean ‘warming’, and referred to the belief of many people that climate change will soon bring hurricanes, deserts, sea levels rising 70 metres (the Independent’s estimate, I believe), plus war, famine, pestilence, and death. These would, I thought, indeed be enormous problems.

    I then began to entertain the idea that it was really about the planet’s ‘worming’, the secret plan by the WHO to administer a powerful emetic to the entire population of the world in an attempt to wipe out E. Coli – with predictably dire consequences. (Who says we don’t do conspiracy theories here?)

    So which was it? For myself, I won’t take any of these threats seriously until they actually materialise. I will, as they say, believe it when I see it.

    Good rant, otherwise.

  36. I couldn’t give two beans whether global warming is real. What is clear is that oil resources are finite, and we’re using them up, and thus is is inevitable that at some point we’ll have to stop.

    (Cue inevitable bleat about there being ‘Lots of oil’ and we shouldn’t worry, just trust the wisdom of HMG to make sure everything is fine, just like they did pensions)

    The upside to this is the solution won’t be found by committees, or quangos, or anything to do with HMG, it’ll be developed by real people doing real jobs. Which means they’ll not be unemployed or ‘working’ for the government. Unfortunately, partly due to Nulabour banning education as being predjudicial to their re-election, it’ll probably not be done here.

  37. Sorry Boris, but if we’d have banned Hungarian poultry then we would never have had this outbreak in the first place.

  38. Some of the comments above remind me of socialists in the 1980s who continued to defy reality by sticking to the line that a market economy was a wicked and dangerous backwards step from the utopia of commy Britain.

    Change is perpetual, and even the wider public is slowly realising that Mankind doesn’t understand everything about this miraculous blue and green planet which has nurtured our civilisation. Or that the way we behave like toddlers in a tantrum, treating other life (human, animal or the whole lot) with contempt is not necessarily the best way of building the best path ahead. Scientists constantly change their stance, as do medics. Look 100 years into the past, then examine their continuing absolute certainty that their ideas and conclusions are the closest thing to reality.

    Look to those who have held their views for slightly longer, and who have constantly been proved right. But who are they?

  39. Russelg”believe very strongly …. get to grips with the future for the UK. It is not easy”

    Recognising that much industrial production is now being carried out in the developing world with relative advantage in cheap labour, with unprecedented economic growth, what we need is a comprehensive strategy to establish vocational training aiming to educate a highly skilled workforce, able to anticipate the way the world is heading. What I have in mind is more a kind of management courses – pumping motivation factories. Management courses are confidence boosting energy stations that are much needed to replace the charity oriented spirit that is dominant. Taking up entrepreneurship and management engineering at any age is like passing through mind organising and confidence building machine that energizes your mental/motivational capacity to the fullest.

  40. Nasrin makes a good point. How come Honda & Toyota (for example) can make good money making good cars in this country, but we (The British) cannot? (Both companies are investing heavily here, ands it’s not because we’re close to the centre of the European market, there’s water in the way.)

    Different workforce?

    Different raw materials?

    Or perhaps different management?

    A lot of 3rd world companies have only 1 advantage over us – cheap labour, but it’s enough. We only have two ways to compete with them, one is for our pay rates to fall meet theirs as they rise ( I don’t fancy this much) and the other is to make sure we are better at adding value than they are, so our workforce is more effective, and we can continue to pay premium rates.

    Sure, we have the advantage of an already built infrastructure, but that’s countered by the disadvantage of an over regulating and over taxing administration. As long as our wealth creators continue to organise themselves as pathetically as they do now, we’ll continue our slide.

  41. < ‘How come Honda & Toyota (for example) can make good money making good cars in this country, but we (The British) cannot?’ (Captain Badger)<

    1) Economies of Scale
    2) Those 4 guys that bought Rover for £2.50 each never actually made any new cars, they just kept revamping old Honda Civics, making the same 1.8 litre engine go faster and selling the BMW designed 75 until the natural end of it’s life. They were crooks if you ask me.

  42. Steven_L:

    1. Economies of scale. – Maybe I should’ve said Vauxhall (GM) instead. Toyota, from being a loom & mattress maker in the 50s. are now eating their lunch. Likewise, I know a guy who worked for Honda back when they only made mopeds, which wasn’t all that long ago. Now look at ’em. They’ve overcome their competitors advantage of a stranglehold on the global market by the wily oriental ruse of making better stuff, and are now showing them a clean pair of heels.

    2. Don’t forget playing at going to LeMans. And yes, the K18 is the engine which should never have been. Ford made them substantially re-engineer it for the last shape Freelander, where it is perfectly acceptable due to having about $60 extra per unit spent making it. There’s only one K prefixed engine worth two beans if you ask me, and that’s the mighty (Honda) K20

    The 75 was a concept study for a front drive 3 series, which BMW decided they couldn’t badge themselves, but then detuned so it wouldn’t compete with the ‘real’ 3 series & wondered why no-one bought it.

    It’s my understanding John Towers & his chums weren’t prosecuted & hence were quite clearly not crooks.

  43. _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Another russellg rambling rant!

    The idea that we should continue to exist by fiddling with others’ products to make the extra margin is extremely risky. When we controlled half the world’s produce we could buy, value add and sell on as we wished both within and without our Empire. No longer. Innovation and development along the lines of the Japanese should be one of our strongest assets, but today this is stifled by government’s lack of conviction and support.

    Education is one of the routes to stability and prosperity, but rather than loads of management graduates we should concentrate on high quality, no matter what the academic subject. The UK still hangs on to an image of good education worldwide, but it is slipping fast.

    To raise quality, standards have to rise across the board. I meet far too many graduates who have been indoctrinated by wet, lefty lecturers and tutors at dismally average universities. This will change, but it will take a generation to do so, and in the meantime places at universities should be effectively reduced by 2-3%pa.

    To improve the appalling standards of those entering teacher training institutions, there must be a minimum standard for any new teacher entering the profession. If the UK cannot supply sufficient numbers, they may be brought in from other countries, to a maximum of 10% of any year’s entry to teaching. Hang the question “what about the poor countries left with fewer good teachers?” Their internal markets will provide more, with possible increases in their pay due to shortages. It is a ruthless world, and we no longer act as the Good Samaritan.

    ALL schools must take an intake which reflects a nationwide distribution of wealth, so there is no ability to buy your place. Teaching staff should be freed from the management style of behaviour and paperwork, and be allowed to concentrate on education. Headteachers should not be permanently accountable to local elected committees, but instead the inspectors and parents as a whole.

    Vouchers for each child should be issued so that parents on low incomes who would otherwise struggle to send their offspring to private establishments can do so more easily. These vouchers would be used to pay or part-pay at all schools. To maintain the number of children from less advantaged backgrounds at our more elite institutions, grants should be made widely available for those with potential and ability.

    Enormous damage has been done to our country’s future through decades of misguided education policies. Capable and talented people are put off the teaching profession through enormous volumes of paperwork, stupidly rigid frameworks for classroom teaching and no ability to reprimand unruly pupils. Our future depends upon the quality of our education today.

    The namby-pamby culture which attempts to shelter all of us from reality has the effect that it is a shock and paralysis to some when they meet it. Others carry on ignoring it, and it is considered acceptable for the likes of the ‘MG four’ to get away with what they did. It was no worse than repeated state subsidies which killed off enterprise and quality within our motor industry. The idea that it is honourable to earn money by doing as little as possible is a culture which must be reversed.

    There are few other successful countries which exist without a firm manufacturing base. By definition a population’s skills will not be best used by sitting everyone behind a desk. Successful banking and insurance industries survive through dealing with the profits and products of a country’s output – it seems unlikely that Chinese and Indian business will use London for depositing and insuring their incomes.

    There are always those who argue that ‘we can’t turn the clock back to a previous idyll’ – that is a reluctance to accept that current practise is not a safe way forward. But there are some things which are universalities, never changing. Hard work is one of them. At the present we are working towards Britain as a form of theme park for the world, where little happens other than people spending their leisure time.

    Some of our emaciated city centres are already exhibiting this future, with car-free zones becoming ghost-zones after the charity and trinket shops have closed, before the groups of terminally-bored, dis-illusioned and smashed youngsters paint the area with their own brand of art. If one travels to countries whose cities are still vibrant centres of buying and selling of real goods and foodstuff, the contrast is shocking. They are alive, and their people look alive also.

    To assume that the future will bring more of the past and present is in part, true but not the way to forge a future for ourselves – those areas should need no forging, for they will look after themselves if allowed. Just as the British empire was a trading empire built on ownership of land, the US empire is built on ownership and control of business. They do not need to own land to have authority and wealth. At present the world is sleep-walking into an energy shortage of crippling size. 100 years of cheap fossil oil has switched off our senses, yet as energy requirements rise to a degree which makes exponential look feeble our supplies of oil are becoming harder and more expensive to find. If it weren’t for the iron grip of the oil giants on our governments, we would be spending so much more on researching the alternatives. Future empires may well be of energy, for without it, very little of the modern world’s wealth generation can take place, bar online transactions.

    The idea that bigger is better is given greater prominence at the moment. Small can be beautiful, even if we are crowding ourselves to dangerous degrees, so that with a sprinkling of snow we come to a halt. The future world will have its successes both small and large, and those with a dynamic and healthy population will succeed the best (here the Western world starts on the back foot.) Healthy bodies mean healthy minds, which will comprehend the essential control over one’s own energy production. Education will provide those with the better minds the skills and pragmatism to help the UK towards a more self-sufficient and prosperous late-C21st life.

    Look at the circumstances which bring about fine results. Germany’s decimation in WW2 then its de-restricted autobahns has brought about motor vehicles which the whole world lusts after (even if they aren’t half as good as everyone thinks!) Our own hardship brought about the (pur-sang) Mini and (klepto) Land Rover then (trend tetting) Range Rover. Never had the UK been a freer country than post WW2. As governments acted to prop up our ailing motor industry, such brilliant products gave way to poor management and union excesses, with cars like the Allegro the result (it was more aerodynamic backwards than forwards.) As the US clamps down on freedoms and liberty, so they are stifling their own success in the world. This combined with the foreseen disaster of Iraq makes its future uncertain. For real success, look to our Victorian great-great grandfathers. We do not have to send children up chimneys or allow slums to fester (today we still do the equivalent of both) but we need to take some inspiration from their bold and free, forward thinking.

    Some will say nuclear is the way forward, others tide and wavepower. It is likely that outside of our own relatively safe shores, pressures will be exerted on other nations to avoid nuclear power generation – even if they can afford it. With a free, intelligent, thinking government and public these islands can become a haven once again for common sense and a quality of living which has in part deserted us. Boris’s deliberate ambiguity above (see how both camps take sucker from his prose) indicates that he is more than aware that the old school way he loves to emphasise and talk up becomes slightly ridiculous when our products are, ahem, less than world-class. Not only have our food production problems and related diseases become worldwide news, they have also cost the country billions. They produce food which benefits us little, and show us to be quite backwards in our approach to living.

    What sort of country encourages an industry where deliberate over-production beyond capacity leads to the loss of its entire production run, then subsidises it back into life with little or no change?
    _______________________________________________________________________________________

  44. < ‘What sort of country encourages an industry where deliberate over-production beyond capacity leads to the loss of its entire production run, then subsidises it back into life with little or no change?’ (russellg)<

    If you are referring to the recent Bernard Matthews bird flu outbreak, it is largely the internal and external market that has decided the production methods.

    Food producers are in the vice-like grip of the great supermarket buying cartel. Even Marks and Sparks pays poorly since it’s management re-vamp. Consumers love supermarkets and brands. The strength of the pound makes exporting ‘free-range’ to continental Europe (where they are perfectly capable of producing their own ‘free range’) a non-starter.

    As for ‘deliberate over-production beyond capacity’ leading ‘to the loss of its entire production run’, it is thought that importing Hungarian birds led to the outbreak, not domestic intensive farming. Animal health laws and protocols make the cull a legal necessity.

    As for subsidies in the event of livestock cull, the alternative is private insurance. Good debate, should farmers who are forced to cull what is in many cases perfectly edible livestock to meet animal health controls be subsidised? Or should they be forced to insure against such eventualities. They are forced to comply with a plethora of animal health legislation to prevent the spread of disease, the arm of state interference delves deeper into the world of agriculture than just about any other production industry. Should farmers foot the bill by buying insurance? Or Should the government cough up when it’s controls are proved to be insufficient to prevent disease outbreaks?

  45. The problem with dieases is that they spread at geometric rates thus if the best guess is 1,000 people getting that really means somewhere betwen 10 & 100,000 with equal chances either way. We seem to be under the 1,000 with CJD & were, I think, very lucky that Sars wasn’t much above it. Nonetheless, though CJD hasn’t been as bad as predicted I it could easily have been.

    As regards bird flu – there is going to be an epidemic of it. There always has been & probably always will. However when it reaches Britain it will not come by bird but by airplane. East Asia contains a couple of billion people & as many birds living in poor & crowded conditions. That gives conditions for the disease to pass to humans & more importantly to mutate & establish itself in the human population. Since we live in a world where people & their germs move round the world at close to the speed of sound it will get out & probably kill a lot of people worldwide but considerably fewer in Britain than the 24,000 pensioners who die annually from fuel poverty here.

    Either way it not going to come from eating chickens. It doesn’t spread that way & anyway the stuff in birds hasn’t yet made the crucial leap of mutating within humans.

  46. I see that DC is in the news.

    When will the hypocrisy end? Pretty much everybody I know – right up to the age of 70 – smokes cannabis, snorts cocaine, and knocks back whisky. Sometimes simultaneously. And if they aren’t doing it now, they used to do it. And if they never did it, they probably wanted to.

    Why have politicians got to pretend to adhere to a set of values that practically nobody else does?

  47. “When will the hypocrisy end? Pretty much everybody I know – right up to the age of 70 – smokes cannabis, snorts cocaine, and knocks back whisky. Sometimes simultaneously. And if they aren’t doing it now, they used to do it. And if they never did it, they probably wanted to.”

    That’s a pretty sweeping statement. I guess by the same measure pretty much everyone I know regularly transmutes base metal into gold by force of will, or at least wishes they could.

    Seriously, if this is true, maybe you should get yourself some better mates. I’m just saying.

    And whilst I’m in nitpick mode, Russellg, could you clarify what you mean by this:

    “ALL schools must take an intake which reflects a nationwide distribution of wealth, so there is no ability to buy your place.”

    You’re going to somehow force the rich to send their kids to sink comps? Oookay. I’ll be the one not holding his breath.

  48. …well, it would be interesting. I was talking against the situation where people are having to move house to get little johnnie into the right school. Of course the very rich will always send their children wherever they please (if the brainpower isn’t there, a new library often succeeds in place of an entrance exam) but a situation where many schools are developing a very narrow economic and social pupil intake is not, I think, desirable for anyone, whether a huge inner city comprehensive or a small private school. I hope this helps clarify my rant.

    If parents received the ‘cheque’ for the cost of education at school and had to present this to allow their child to enrol, maybe there would be fewer problems relating to the ‘free at the point of use’.

  49. Seriously, if this is true, maybe you should get yourself some better mates. I’m just saying. ( C Badger)

    Seriously, it is true.

    And I don’t want any better mates.

  50. What an excellent and heartfelt ‘rambling rant’ from Russellg. My views exactly, and expressed in a coherant manner that puts all of the Stalinist, cocaine-snorting, whisky-drowning posters and their Islington sound-alikes firmly in their place.

    A minor quibble:
    I would say that 19th Century England under Gladstone was a freer place than the country was post WW2, when centralised state planning (even after the labour government was thrown out) still was the political orthodoxy.

  51. Idlex:
    “Seriously, it is true.

    And I don’t want any better mates.”

    At least you acknowledge that they do, if only in principle at the moment, exist. Who knows, when it no longer seems ‘cool’ & ‘hip’ to shove something up your nose that 24 hours previously was probably stick up someone’s bottom before it was cut with horse tranquiliser, you may branch out into the real world. Here’s hoping!

  52. Jon Cummins:

    Green Cocaine? there’s a novel idea. You know Coke (the beverage) is naturally green don’t you? Oddly, since, due to the methods conventionally used to smuggle cocaine, I expect it’s naturally brown.

  53. As for subsidies in the event of livestock cull, the alternative is private insurance.(StevenL)

    A few months ago I was in Tesco’s during a power cut. Black plastic had been draped over the chilled meat aisle to slow the warming process, but the manager stood anxiously by a thermometer waiting for it to hit the red line (4 deg C, I believe).

    Hit the line it did. A crowd of staff descended on the cabinets and started loading meat in barrows. “What are you going to do with that lot?” I asked. “Scrap it,” he said. “Probably landfill. Don’t worry, we’re insured”. I could hardly believe what was happening.

    Hoardes of people begged him to let them take some of this perfectly good meat home. Joints of beef, pork and lamb, chickens, turkeys… the lot, all heading straight for the scrapheap. There was nearly a riot.

    I would have been quite happy to load up with a few joints myself. They were probably colder than meat you’ve lugged home in the car on a summer’s day.

    Have we become obsessed with food hygiene?

    (Talking of joints, why couldn’t Cameron take a leaf out of Boris’s book? “I have but it made me sneeze”. No-one batted an eyelid).

  54. Russellg:

    “If parents received the ‘cheque’ for the cost of education at school and had to present this to allow their child to enrol, maybe there would be fewer problems relating to the ‘free at the point of use’.”

    Unless the ‘cheque’ has genuine negotiable value, then all you’re doing is creating meaningless administration masquerading as choice. Sure, if it was a basic education voucher it would be very welcome in rich & middle class households, where it could be used to part pay school fees, but it’s been established these aren’t the people with kids who are being failed by the state school system anyway.

    I don’t have any solutions, (apart from more caning, & less crap food) and am clearly in the majority.

  55. Cpt. Badger:
    Not necessarily Green, but fair trade – i.e. the people doing the growing of the stuff getting a comparitively high slice of the end price. As it is, the cartels round up villagers and march them off at gunpoint to do their growing.
    However, you’d be stunned at the number of people one encounters who smugly claim to boycott, say, Nestle due to them exploiting the third world whilst happily stuffing the white up each nostril like there is no tomorrow.
    Hypocrisy? Never!

  56. I’m with you Boris!

    (I’d not normally eat milk protien boosted breast but I’ll go and take one for the team!)

  57. Jon Cummins

    “However, you’d be stunned at the number of people one encounters who smugly claim to boycott, say, Nestle due to them exploiting the third world whilst happily stuffing the white up each nostril like there is no tomorrow.”

    I probably wouldn’t. I used to think it was a victimless crime, the user simply excercising his or her right to stick whatever they like in their own bodies, until I heard of FARC, then I changed my mind. There’re a lot of people out there who deliberately avoid learning about the effect their actions have, to avoid learning why they should mend their ways… Using cocaine ia a bit like firing a machinegun up a crowded street because you like the bang, but denying the corpses have anything to do with you.

  58. “Sure, if it was a basic education voucher it would be very welcome in rich & middle class households, where it could be used to part pay school fees, but it’s been established these aren’t the people with kids who are being failed by the state school system anyway.” Capt Badger

    I take all your points, CB, and acknowledge that the world is inherently unfair as regards childrens’ oppportunities. The grammar school system was excellent for those who were able to beat the threshold for entry, just a pity that the ‘comprehensive’ system was so eagerly taken up by the Conservatives, instead of raising the standards of Secondary Modern schools to some of today’s better forward-looking establishments.

    If middle class families continue to send their children for extra tuition after (state) school, does this really suggest they perceive the system to be doing its job thoroughly?

    What this country has created is a state education system which offers your child an education dependent on your income.

    I accept that people with similar standards and aspirations will tend to try to send their children to similar places, and that the issue of basic education vouchers will make it easier for those on average incomes to send their kids to a private school where a child’s opportunities for development and success may increase. I see it as benefitting those people the most.

    Of course, since private education is a free(ish) market, there is every possibility that prices would rise to take account of parents’ greater spending power. However, the more money and attention given to the school system, the better.

    It is a sad fact that some of our more successful criminal and disruptive young people are intelligent and frustrated. Therefore extra money flowing into private education could be used to offer more scholarships and assisted places for bright youngsters from uninterested backgrounds.

    No matter what policy is implemented there will always be losers, but a concentration of effort to significantly raise standards – instead of jealously making life difficult for lower-income middle class people, dragging everyone outside the private sector down to a uniform norm, as have successive Labour governments – is what I believe would stimulate a REAL rise in pupils’ achievements and capabilities.

    Some other points regarding education vouchers are raised here:
    http://www.worldbank.org/html/extdr/hnp/hddflash/workp/wp_00064.html#TofC23
    and here:
    http://www.educationforum.org.nz/documents/articles/Issue57.pdf

  59. I have a feeling that much of our school food was made up of Bernard Matthews’ et al. by-products which were rejected by the pet food industry. It certainly looked and tasted that way, so it’s amazing what one can survive on…
    having said that, there were more than a few ‘disfunctionals’.

    Is it the lack of drugs in the latest school dinners which is pushing kids towards their ‘supplementary’ use? We didn’t give a thought to coke etc, just a few pints at lunchtime, ready for double Physics.

  60. < ‘Have we become obsessed with food hygiene?’ (PaulD)<

    Food hygiene, health and safety, ‘anti-social behaviour’, binge drinking, smoking. We’ve become completely obsessed with all the things that don’t matter. There is no opposition to all this fannying about either.

    I’m on the receiving end of it at the moment myself. I was ill in July and unable to work for 3 weeks. In mid-August my doctor signed me fit to go back to work. It’s now mid-February and I’m still not back because of all their bollocks ‘health and safety’ procedures that are apparently there ‘for my own good’. It’s not good enough any more that your doctor says you are fit enough to work. An army of self-serving ‘occupational health’ idiots and pathetic bureaucrats have to spend over 6 months having meetings about medical matters they have no understanding of, simultaneously inserting and removing their fingers from their rose-scented rectums.

    Quite how spending 6 months sat on my backside, and on the dole because my employer cares no much about ‘my own good’ that they refuse to give me sick pay, is for my own good I’m still unsure about. None of the aforementioned prats have managed to give me a satisafctory explaination either.

    The state has an overbearing obsession with protecting the weak, the irresponsible and the stupid from the harsh reality of life. This merely serves to breed more weakness, irresponsible behaviour and stupidity. Look at your Tesco example. Throwing away perfectly good meat! Gross stupidity, bred by an obession with protecting the weak and feeble from a biological reality.

  61. What I love about some of your articles is the infinite intellectual effort required to not work out whether you are parodying yourself or not.

    I’d never even heard of Bernard Matthews until a week ago (and then had to scratch my head to think why he remeinded me of an old British comedy act, but that was Manning), but had been misled by the Grauniad & Indy into believing the company was in the business of producing food, albeit the sad battery-farmed fettered fowls of GBaribusiness as opposed to the clucking chickens and guinea fowls walking around mine and neighbours gardens in Sri Lanka, where they make part of the organic culinary delight known as ‘bubble-gum chicken’.

    If BMltd truly produces the vile artefacts BJ describes then they deserve having the Koreans abduct Lady Matthews pet poodles, bottle them in pickle and served to her children at a Hogwon.

    But just think, Boris, a few more scares like this and the British will start to eat real food again, and you might even no longer be considered thin in comparison to the great unwashed.

  62. correction: “the more money and attention given to the school system, the better.”

    Reading back through what I wrote, I have to argue with this statement. Throwing money at the state education system could end up like throwing money at the NHS. Setting the right framework for intelligent teachers to enjoy operating in would make much more sense than more cheques. Allowing schools to operate to benefit their own particular intake rather than a set national curriculum would seem to make sense, too.

    More on vouchers here, well written by Eric Anderson:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/01/02/do0201.xml

    All the anti-voucher writing I can scroogle is of the opinion; “If we remove through creaming off the more gifted from state education, the quality of state education will fall further”. Typical of what’s gone wrong with schools policy in the UK. Instead of having a competitive, national policy relating to ABILITY, we have a competitive, national policy relating to EARNINGS. Not how we became a great nation, but quite likely the way we will lose credibility around the world.

    What’s the DC line on state education, I wonder?

  63. Who knows, when it no longer seems ‘cool’ & ‘hip’ to shove something up your nose… (Badger)

    I’m not sure where ‘hipness’ and ‘coolness’ come into it. Cocaine is the drug of choice of busy people, that lends them the stamina to work 24/7. Native South Americans have been chewing coca leaves for precisely this purpose for thousands of years. When, if ever, you arrive in the real world, you will find that all these various drugs have differing utilities.

    It surprises me some days that tea and coffee have not been made illegal drugs. They have something of a similar effect. But perhaps New Labour are working on this.

    (Talking of joints, why couldn’t Cameron take a leaf out of Boris’s book? “I have but it made me sneeze”. No-one batted an eyelid). (PaulD)

    Actually, someone said something like: “Well, that narrows it down a bit”. It almost certainly wasn’t a joint that made Boris sneeze.

  64. Idlex:

    “Cocaine is the drug of choice of busy people, that lends them the stamina to work 24/7.”

    Are you sure? I was given to understand amphetamine sulphate is the drug of choice for the hard working ’24/7′ Grumman A10 ‘Warthog’pilot. – And you don’t get a much tougher job than making the world safe for democracy to flourish!

  65. How did you guess? (StevenL)

    I do recall your saying you work(ed) for a local authority.

    If is really is as you say, haven’t you got a case for constructive dismissal? They can’t just lay you off indefinitely, unpaid, without good reason. Or is there more to it?

  66. “Cocaine is the drug of choice of busy people, that lends them the stamina to work 24/7.”

    Really? The epistemiology indicates that cocaine use is significantly higher amongst the unemployed and the ill-educated as a proportion of population than amongst graduates and the employed; i.e. those with least to lose and, one would assume, the less busy.
    Unless busyness includes 24-hour clubbing, but I’m not sure that can be counted as plus when arguing in Cocaines favour as compared to the the costs.

  67. I was given to understand amphetamine sulphate is the drug of choice for the hard working ’24/7′ Grumman A10 ‘Warthog’pilot. (Badger)

    I’m not sure I’d think of A10 ‘Warthog’ pilots as being ‘hard working’. War consists, as someone remarked, of long periods of boredom interspersed with brief episodes of terror. I’m sure the pilots have to concentrate very hard when they are strafing British troops in Iraq, but other than that I believe their lives are rather comfortable. Perhaps amphetamines are suitable for that sort of life.

    No, my understanding is that cocaine use was taken up in high-powered US companies during the 80s, where people were working flat out all day every day, making fortunes. It was used very liberally, from the boardrooms down. And cocaine was also suitably expensive to go with the business lifestyle.

    As with everything else, it soon filtered across the Atlantic. I first encountered it in the late 80s in Britain, among similarly busy people. But not being a hyperactively busy person myself, I found – perhaps unsurprisingly – that it did nothing whatsoever for me.

  68. JonCummins,
    I think that’s probably Idlex’ point: It’s a drug which makes mindless drudgery bearable. I wondered why they had to pay streetlamp bulb changers £80kpa, and now I know, it’s to keep them buzzin’ & motivated!

    As long as he has a job which doesn’t require judgement, or the ability to operate machinery more complex than a griddle or deep fat fryer, he should be okay.

  69. As long as he has a job which doesn’t require judgement (Badger)

    I don’t think cocaine affects judgment very much, if at all. I believe that it allows people to concentrate harder and longer than they otherwise would.

    I think that, used recreationally, it probably allows people to stay up dancing all night, and the like.

  70. < ‘If is really is as you say, haven’t you got a case for constructive dismissal?’ (PaulD)<

    Don’t know, don’t care really. These superfluous health and safety procedures are there to stop them being sued. I doubt you can sue them for following their procedures. I’ve just started applying for other jobs instead. If anything else comes up before they pull their fingers out they can shove it.

  71. Comparing doing a line of C with munching on a Coca leaf is rather like comparing taking nicarbazin, lascalocid and dimetridazole in pure form instead of taking it in a gentler form by eating a factory turkey.

  72. Idlex:
    “I think that, used recreationally, it probably allows people to stay up dancing all night, and the like.”

    Ah, so it come to this: It’s fine for your mates to routinely engage with organised crime, and pay for the destruction of society in Columbia, because you think it helps them stay up all night, dancing 1/4 beat out of sync with the music & generally cluttering up my dancefloor with their drug fuelled lurching.

    Why didn’t you say? I’m sure Luis Galan will lie easy in his grave now. You should have just said. I just got the worng end of the stick.

    Seriously: these jerks are criminals & they’re paying other criminals to murder, kidnap & extort children to feed their narcissistic greed, They should be in rehab, or prison, and you’re in denial. Grow up.

  73. < ‘As with everything else, it soon filtered across the Atlantic.’ (idlex)<

    For some reason ‘angel dust’, or PCP, hasn’t filtered over here. I’ve never heard of it being in the UK and I’ve never met anyone that has either. I’m glad it’s not here, it causes terrible problems over the pond. I wonder why the US has such a problem with PCP use, and with Methamphetamine, but we don’t.

  74. It’s fine for your mates to routinely engage with organised crime, and pay for the destruction of society in Columbia (Badger)

    All these drugs used to be legal, and not particularly problematic. It’s now a ‘crime’ (and also a problem) because it was quite arbitrarily made illegal, circa 1920, along with a lot of other drugs. Up until then Coca Cola, for example, used to contain coca extracts.

    And it’s America and its War on Drugs that is destroying Colombia. It’s also arguably destroying America, which now has a prison population of 2.5 million, many of them incarcerated for drug offences of one sort or other. Yet 40% of Americans have used drugs of one sort or other. They’re criminalising their own people.

    People have always used drugs, and always will use drugs. The government’s business should be to regulate the trade, and ensure high quality products, just like they regulate the quality of milk and everything else.

  75. Tayles-
    “Oh dear, I seem to have riled a few people again. Sorry if I don’t subscribe to some romantic idyll, where humans regard themselves as no better than animals and get all their foods from the farm shop up the road. Unfortunately the fact of the matter is that we need industrialised food production to feed the world. The idea that the future lies in going back to nature and ‘peasant’ farming techniques is nothing more than a middle class fantasy that ignores reality in favour of a snobbish disregard for ‘dehumanising’ mass produce.”

    Now correct me if i m wrong – but i believe China can now, with over a billion people, for the first time without famines, more or less feed itself with what it grows itself. Thats despite the high percentage of peasants still residing on small intensive plots employing organic techniques such as recycling waste. Its exporting manufactured goods all over the world and sending thousands of students to UK Universities so it can catch up with all the “knowledge intensive” value-added stuff that we re presently specializing in selling to them. I expect animal welfare standards are pretty much non-existent there though!

    I ve read that an individual can live on 1 acre and with the most modern scientific methods each of us could get by with as little as 6m squared of land on average for each person.

    Agriculture cannot and should not be dealt with purely “economically” like Adam Smith’s pin factory. It’s not Agri-industry (agri-business to the US) but culture. You can t just extract, you have to put something back.

    As previously, i find there’s usually an element of black and white ‘either/or’ thinking and of setting-up-a straw-man-to knock-down in your approach to argument.

    Serious, thoughtful people like the Australian philosopher Peter Singer (still thought of as a fatherly guru to many of the worse “animal rights” nutters) actually give credit where its due. eg that UK animal welfare standards overall are better than for most of the world. They then suggest areas and ways of further improvement eg- buying free range and not battery farmed eggs. (According to Singer this is about the most effective thing you can do for the least financial cost to yourself.) I would not eat French foi gras because of the methods used its rearing but i think the French attitude to food (and life in general) healthier than the US/UK one.

    I dont think animals have ‘rights’ but i would much rather put a healthy, happily reared, more humanely killed animal into my body, as i think it would taste better!

  76. Russellg-

    “The continuation of current economic philosophies will drive almost all farming out of this country as we strive to be the ‘high-value economy’ so loved by the theorists. Most other industry has gone from our shores, to be replaced by business which frequently makes money by doing no work. Not only do we risk handing down an economy based on falsehood, but poor health and a cultural desert – as well as an inability to be self-sufficient. Little wonder it is those who wish to earn money who enjoy residence (often temporarily) in the UK, whilst too many indigenous British are heading for ‘real’ countries where governments place greater value on the individual and are not short-term minded. Where people still produce goods and money isn’t the main God.”

    You ve made some excellent points here much better than I could, like the passage quoted above . Then you went and messed things up with the point below!

    “To improve the appalling standards of those entering teacher training institutions, there must be a minimum standard for any new teacher entering the profession. If the UK cannot supply sufficient numbers, they may be brought in from other countries, to a maximum of 10% of any year’s entry to teaching. Hang the question “what about the poor countries left with fewer good teachers?” Their internal markets will provide more, with possible increases in their pay due to shortages. It is a ruthless world, and we no longer act as the Good Samaritan”

    If their “internal markets” can magically provide more trained teachers by increasing pay “due to shortages” why can t the UK with its far greater resources do the same and stop poncing well trained ( but cheaper) labour off 3rd world countries then? What chance have these poorer countries of building an infrastructure if the rich world countries expect to be subsidized by poaching their trained people? And when have we ever “played the good samaritan”? Were nt any benefits gained by countries as a result of colonization by us incidental to our main purpose for being there?

    Your earlier comments seem to suggest that you really dont think this is or should be a totally ruthless “beggar thy neighbour” sort of world for the sake of some mythical “economic rationality”. It looks like you may be 2 different people posting under the same name Russellg!

    Don’t let Tayles rile you. He s an argumentative sort, and i ve established on another thread that he is this way because he was bullied in public school and wants to get his own back. If i had to guess i d say he was both Boris and Dave C’s “fag” at Eton!

  77. Idlex:

    Old arguments. Basically, you’re telling me you’re breaking the law because you think the law is silly, and hence shouldn’t apply to you. I don’t know which side of the risible/contemptible border your deliberate ignorance falls.

  78. Insomniac, yes I recognise the two different-sounding arguments. I usually see the world in many different shades of colour, and this sometimes shows itself through apparently dis-jointed thinking and conflicting-sounding ideas.

    No, completely free markets are what even Tayles would shrink from and only exist in rare circumstances, perhaps in a strange form when the Jews were compounded by the Nazis. Even then humanity frequently surfaced in circumstances few people could comprehend. However, markets are a natural way of human behaviour, even if this means bartering goods instead of using money to acquire things necessary for living.

    I believe that two large factors have come together to contribute to our problems sourcing quality people for professions which were once seen as noble, which counted for far more than money – and still does today, when the chips are down. Firstly, the influence a massive state monopoly has on a market, in the case for teachers, doctors and nurses in the UK. Secondly, this country’s new form of control to replace religion – money.

    Too many people see it as a form of deity to make a career of the education of children (which if carried out diligently, requires enormous reserves of intelligence, compassion, reason and stamina) seem remotely attractive, and this poor ‘image’ becomes a very powerful tool even for those who do not value money above all else. Combined with children who are abusive, violent, completely lacking in discipline and have no respect for knowledge, we develop the problem there is today recruiting young people. Similar arguments apply for nursing.

    This problem is so acute that to use the free market to encourage generate higher standards in education would be almost impossible in the short term. Almost every aspect of education would need to change as well as salary for recruit standards to begin to rise to a level which would impart all the tools young people are missing out on today. These things take time, which is why I see a potential way round this problem as limited recruitment of good teachers from overseas.

    If carried out in a responsible manner this could have positive effects in every direction. 10% of our teaching population need only be a tiny fraction of any one country’s if the net is spread broadly enough. Of course, problems would exist regarding discipline and there would probably be difficulties holding onto gifted people if the teacher’s level of authority in our schools wasn’t improved, but that is something which will have to change anyway.

    Reversing the fortunes of a sliding-standards profession is an extremely difficult project when free markets are so far removed. When a relative of mine headed a school, he was given free reign to take on whomever he wished until the Education Authority came under the control of a Metropolitan Borough, when his hands were tied and not only could he not ‘sack’ a poor teacher but could not recruit from outside his area.

    The French start their newest teachers working in the most difficult schools, and over time they are given more opportunity to teach where they wish. Different countries’ approaches to education could do to be as well studied as (or better than) the Tories’ study of healthcare outside the UK.

    Education has a long history of ignoring political and social barriers, and in the best businesses people spend time working on different levels to gain an fuller appreciation of their own job and relevance to the ‘end product’. I do not suggest this idea of foreign recruitment in isolation, but as part of a complete overhaul of state education. By definition it would be a temporary measure until our own standards were improved – probably five or six years.

    The best possible of way of running any organisation is to allow a natural market place to exist, within obvious boundaries of common sense and decency. Too far one way or the other and standards slip. The network of private schools throughout this country exists in a strange market place, where the aspect of snobbery plays a considerable part in affecting people’s judgement, yet even so, the schools are in general of a good standard. Poorly-performing individuals and institutions are improved or weeded out by the relatively free choice of parents. What was once snobbery of social ability and standing has become more a snobbery of financial wealth, to the detriment of the nation. Once upon a time it took three generations to develop credibility in this country – today it takes just one large City bonus, which makes a teacher’s job even more difficult.

    Eric Anderson writes and speakes with a lot of experience of the education system, and would do well to be heard on a wider stage.

  79. By and large I’m agreeing with you so far Russellg, (with reservations regarding the defacto tax cut for people who send their kids to private schools) but you’ve made a bit of a sweeping statement there:

    “within obvious boundaries of common sense and decency”

    which, bearing in mind the amount of human rights ‘elf ‘n safety nonsense thrashing round, are clearly neither obvious, nor sensible. Oddly, in a country run by a lawyer & a control freak, you’ll need to make some clear rules about what these boundaries are.

  80. Captain Badger – am with you completely and yes, trust the “lawyer & a control freak” to take a good idea, ‘elf ‘n safety’ and make it ridiculous!

    Russellg – I have enjoyed reading your thoughtful comments. Do you mean this Eric Anderson? Which particular writings did you have in mind?

  81. insomniac”If the UK cannot supply sufficient numbers, they may be brought in from other countries, to a maximum of 10% of any year’s entry to teaching.”

    As a graduate I have teaching training and experience in my self starting Vocational Training Center and worked as facilitator for NGO capacity building aimed at social actors – At Oxford I wrote many letters for taking up teaching jobs in different levels – but I never received any reply to my applications.

  82. Turkeezer Goode?

    I hear at least Private Eye find it worth a read, as apparently ‘Green Coke’ makes an appearance in their cartoons this week. Must pick a copy up. & start copyrighting my jokes… Oh, that one was Jon Cummins. Send ’em a bill, J.C.

  83. Yup, a direct lift. Who’d have thought the Boz’ old pal Ian Hislop would read his blog. Wonders never cease etc.

  84. Just to change the subject slightly, the Warwickshire Hunt continues to hunt foxes week in, week out, with no police interest. I’m interested to know where Boris stands on hunting and breaking the law.

Comments are closed.