Posts Tagged ‘Kent’

The Tory, Privatise Enterprise Cure for Stressed Teachers: Electrostimulate their Brains!

July 3, 2017

Everything about this says Bad Science, as in the book by Ben Goldacre. And ‘bad’ in every definition of the word. Not only wrong scientifically, but also morally. But it’s what you get all too often with the Tories in charge.

Mike over at Vox Political has today posted up a piece commenting on a story in today’s Torygraph, hyping the use of an electronic device, the Alpha-Stim, which Leigh Academies Trust are offering to their staff at seven secondary schools, seven primary schools and a special educational needs school in Kent to treat the symptoms of stress amongst their staff. The Torygraph says that the device is the size of a mobile phone, and works by sending micro-pulses of electricity to the brain to stimulate the production of alpha waves. This supposedly helps relieve anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. The Trust is offering it along with other therapies. The extract Mike includes in his piece quotes one Peter Caunt of Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust, who says ‘We know this type of therapy works’ before going on to say that the question is whether it is cost-effective.

Mike compares it to the shock treatment used on very disturbed people, which works by burning out part of their frontal lobes. He states that he personally knows people, who’ve had it done, and they have not been the same afterwards.
He asks why the schools management company isn’t trying to solve the problem by making teachers’ lives less stressful.

He wonders if the real reason is that the company’s bosses want to turn their staff into compliant little teaching zombies, who won’t complain, because they’ve had their conscience burned out of them along with the stress.

He also makes the point that the Trust used to be headed by Frank Green, who was appointed to a two-year stint as schools commissioner by Michael Gove. This shows the strong connection between the company and the Tory party.

The device should, apparently, be used for 20 minutes each, but some teaching staff are using it twice or three times. So Mike asks the obvious question of what kind of teachers they’re like afterwards.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/07/03/the-tory-cure-for-stressed-teachers-is-electrocute-their-brains/

Everything about this is highly dubious. It looks very much like something straight out of the accounts of bad, if not pathological science, from the pages of Ben Goldacre, Martin Gardner and others. Ben Goldacre, you may remember, wrote a book, Bad Science, about this kind of nonsense a few years ago. the Sceptic, Martin Gardner also attacked bad and pernicious science a few decades ago in his Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. This looks like a prime example of it, to go with other, earlier pseudo-sciences like eugenics, lobotomies, Lysenkoism, Nazi ‘race science’ and monkey glands.

As for electro-convulsive therapy, it was devised by a German Jewish doctor, who fled Nazi Germany to Fascist Italy. Deciding that it could be an effective method of treating the mentally ill, he started by testing it on tramps he and the authorities rounded up off the street. Adam Parfrey published an essay on it, ‘Gimme Shock Treatment’, in one of his books on the extremes of belief in 1990s America, Apocalypse Culture or Cult Rapture. That essay made it very clear just how nasty it was.

It’s still used, but proper medical professionals only resort to it in the case of severely disturbed people, where there really isn’t much choice.

And everything known about the brain should say that tinkering with it, unless you know exactly what you’re doing, is an appallingly bad idea. The brain is the most complex structure in the known universe. Modern neuroscience has succeeded in identifying which parts of the brain produces which mental function, but even so, there is a vast amount we don’t know. Raymond Tallis, who is a Humanist and former neurologist and neurosurgeon, wrote a book, Aping Mankind, with the aim to show that much human thought and mind couldn’t be reduced to neurological functions. He stated clearly that he wanted to show that thinking was ‘as mysterious as walking on water’. Given the vast complexity of the brain, and its vulnerability, it really is stupid and dangerous to mess around with it in this manner.

Remember a few years ago, when many doctors started to worry about possible brain damage caused by putting mobile phones next to your ear? They were afraid of the health risks posed by putting what is a microwave source next to your brain when talking on the phone.

It also reminds me of the ‘feedback cult’ of the ’70s. This also noted the connection between alpha waves and mood. It therefore encouraged people to hook themselves up to special monitors, which registered their alpha waves, and then learn how to control them and so altered their mood, all for supposedly beneficial purposes. That was also debunked some time ago.

The alpha-stim also sounds to be me like something that escaped from the Human Potential labs in the ’60s and ’70s. The Human Potential movement was one of those weird movements based on psychology that emerged in the 1960s, promising to bring people fulfilment and happiness through their programme of therapies. It still survives in various forms, and developed strong links with corporate capitalism, to the point where its detractors have called it a corporate mind control cult.

Adam Curtis devoted a programme to it in his documentary about the legacy of Freudianism, The Century of the Self, over a decade ago now. And what the programme revealed about it was truly chilling. The movement and its doctors managed to convince the medical profession to let them try to treat a selection of patients suffering from schizophrenia. The treatment consisted of dosing these poor souls up to the gills with LSD, and then attaching electrodes to electrify their brains. And all the while they were taught to repeat to themselves, ‘I am comfortable in myself’.

They interviewed one poor young woman, who’d been a victim of this nonsense. The treatment was a horrible, ghastly failure. It was perhaps a mercy that the woman said that she couldn’t remember much about it now, except that sometimes she had it done several times a day. It was this kind of appalling medical experimentation that the producers of Classic Star Trek took solid aim at in the episode ‘Dagger of the Mind’.

As for this latest rubbish, it also reminds me of an episode in Star Trek: Deep Space 9, when Doctor Bashir is called on treat Garak, the station’s Kardassian tailor and spy. Garak, like many other Kardassian secret agents, had a device implanted in his brain to stimulate his pleasure centres, so he could get through being tortured. Garak, however, has become so miserable that he started using it recreationally, and so has become addicted. Bashir has no choice but to find out what he can about the device, and try to remove it from his friend.

Which all sounds dangerously close to what’s going on here, with the exception that it’s teachers being treated with it, not alien spies.

I am really not at all surprised that it’s the Tories, or a company that’s associated with them, that’s peddling this nonsense. The Tories just love pseudoscience. I’ve reblogged stuff from Kitty S. Jones and other disability bloggers about the model of sickness devised by Unum and their pet psychiatrists at Cardiff University to have people thrown off benefit and declared fit for work, has been roundly debunked by other medical professionals.

And a little while ago, Private Eye in its ‘Rotten Boroughs’ column took a pot shot at a Tory-controlled council in Kent or that part of the world, where the local authority had cut council services, but was funnelling tens of thousands of pounds to a company headed by one of its female members, which specialised in using Neuro-Linguistic Programming or some other kind of dodgy therapy to offer spurious treatment to council staff.

Which, again, sounds very much like what’s going on here.

And then there was the case of the Leaderene herself, Maggie Thatcher. Thatcher was into Ayur Veda, a system of alternative therapies brought to the world by one of the dodgy Indian gurus, who rocked up here in the 1960s. Thatcher treated herself to baths, where along with the water there was a weak electric current. Obviously, she thought it would do her some good. I’m quite sure there were many others, who wish the voltage had been somewhat stronger.

This looks to me very much like a potentially harmful pseudoscience. As for Caunt’s statement that ‘we know it works’, that’s what Tory spokespeople have said about work improving people’s mental health, and other mental professionals, not to mention normal, ordinary people without a financial or ideological stake in it, pointing out that it’s rubbish. And I’ve no doubt it’s the same here.

This is just bad science, which is being hyped by company that obviously finds it cheaper to have their staff trying to make themselves less miserable by running electricity through their brains, than actually trying to do something more positive and concrete to improve conditions for them.

Pretty much like British society as a whole, where instead of offering real guidance and support to the unemployed, their harangued and demeaned by Jobcentre Staff through stupid, nonsensical models of unemployment and disability supported as government policy.

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Mike Smeared as Anti-Semite by Contemptible Israel Lobby Group

April 26, 2017

Yesterday I got a phone call from Mike, my brother, from Vox Political. Mike’s standing in the local council elections as a Labour candidate in Powys. He told me that he had been contacted by the local newspaper, the Powys County Times, who told him that they had been contacted by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, who are calling for Mike to be deselected because he’s an anti-Semite, as well as a conspiracy theorist and Holocaust denier.

Saaaaay whaaaaat?

Mike’s none of those things, obviously. He really doesn’t distinguish or discriminate against people according to the race or religion, or, come to that, their sexual orientation.

I can remember Mike telling me very proudly when he was at College, how one of his female friends had asked him to be a reader in an event she was putting on to commemorate the victims of the Shoah. Mike was one of those reading some of the names of those who had been murdered by the Nazis simply because they were Jews.

Also during his time at College, Mike and some of the other students went on trip to Berlin. One of the history courses I took for my undergraduate degree was on the rise of Communist and Fascist regimes in Europe. Mike brought back for me a book the-then West German government had published to accompany an exhibition on part of the SS headquarters that was being redeveloped. The book was on the SS, Gestapo and the Reichssicherheitsdienst, and their role as the Nazi state’s murderous organs of repression and genocide. The book and the exhibition not only described their place and function in the mechanism as terror, it also gave proper place to the Jews and others, who were murdered by the regime. It gave the precise figures, and even photographs and brief biographies of some of those, both Jewish and gentile, who had been killed by these thugs.

The very accusation that Mike is in anyway an anti-Semite is ridiculous. The accusation has been levelled at Mike because he’s defended Ken Livingstone, and several of the other members of the Labour party, who were unfairly accused of anti-Semitism last year as part of the machinations of the Blairites and their associates in the Israel Lobby to hold on to power. Apart from anti-Semitism, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has also moaned that Mike called Blair and his coterie ‘neoliberals’. As Tony Blair was a fan of Thatcher’s, and believed in privatisation and deregulation and the cutting of the welfare state, that’s exactly what Tory Tony was.

Mike’s now posted up a piece about this vile slur on his blog, followed by a point for point rebuttal of their smears. He writes

Today I received a telephone call from a newspaper reporter, saying the paper had been contacted by an organisation calling itself the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which had claimed that I (Mike Sivier) should be deselected as a council candidate because I’m an anti-Semite and hate Jews.

For the record, I’m not, and I don’t. Obviously.

Admittedly, the story seems likely to run only in a local(ish) newspaper, the Powys County Times, but the timing is significant as, if a negative story about me goes to press in this weekend’s edition (the paper is a weekly), there will be no time for corrections before people go to the polls on May 4. I believe this is intentional on the part of these Campaign Against Anti-Semitism people.

The organisation seems to be more concerned with defending the reputation of the state of Israel than anything else – according to Powerbase, the “online guide to networks of power, lobbying… deceptive … public relations and the communications activities of governments and other interests”, member (or former member, it’s hard to tell) Joseph Cohen founded the Israel Advocacy Movement – which concerns itself with countering “the increasing hostility Israel suffers at the hands of the British public, caused by huge volumes disinformation circulated by Israel’s enemies”.

For the record, I’m not one of Israel’s enemies. I have no objection to there being a state of Israel. I do, however, object to hostile activities authorised and enacted by its government, where Israel is the aggressor. I would object to those activities if they were carried out by any country or government, and I would hope that you would feel the same.

For information, the Israel Advocacy Movement has “campaigns” against the UK charity War on Want, singling out its support for the boycott movement against Israel, and the pro-Palestinian Palestine Return Centre. And a local newspaper in Kent reported that Kent Anti-Racism Network accused the IAM of having a hand in the controversial suspension by the Labour Party of longstanding anti-racist activist Jackie Walker, for allegedly anti-Semitic comments.

According to the Charity Commission, Campaign Against Anti-Semitism is a “volunteer-led charity dedicated to exposing and countering antisemitism through education and zero-tolerance enforcement of the law.” This seems to mean that it is an organisation dedicated to bringing private prosecutions against individuals it accuses of anti-Semitic activity, claiming that the Crown Prosecution Service “has failed to take action, so now we must act instead”.

An alternative interpretation, of course, as used by one blogger currently being prosecuted by this organisation, is that the CAA attempts “to use the law to silence dissenters”.

No trustees are listed on the Charity Commission’s website. Why not? What reason do they have for secrecy?

The organisation’s website is registered at 167-169 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5PF. It must be pretty cramped as apparently Companies House has 1,109 firms registered there, all on the 2nd floor.

Is anything about this starting to seem a little suspicious to you?

This is, unfortunately, par for the course for anyone, who criticises Israel for its barbarous history of terrorism, murder and expulsion against the indigenous Palestinians, or defends those who have. The Zionist lobby has tried to stop justified criticism of Israel by extending the definition of anti-Semitism to include criticism of the state of Israel. As Mike has pointed out time and again, this is a highly contentious and discredited definition of anti-Semitism. It is not how Wilhelm Marr, the founder of the Bund der Antisemiten – League of Anti-Semites – in 19th century Germany defined ‘anti-Semitism’, which he himself coined. The League defined anti-Semitism as hatred of Jews simply as Jews, as regardless of Judaism as a religion. Or as they put it

“Was er glaubt, ist einerlei
in der Rasse liegt die Schweinerei”.

Which roughly translates as ‘What he believes is beside the point, the swinishness lies in the race’. (See the extract ‘Der Politische Antisemitismus’ in the book Das Deutsche Kaiserreich 1871-1914: Ein historisches Lesebuch, edited and with an introduction by Gerhard A. Ritter (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1981) 131. In case you’re worried, it’s a entirely respectable, mainstream German history textbook, and certainly not the product of some diseased far right publishing house.

In some ways, it’s almost a badge of honour for Mike to be smeared by these people, as he joins a long line of decent people, who have been so libelled. These include not only gentiles, but also proud Jews, who are active members of their community. Those Mike has defended are people, who are genuinely anti-racist and have campaigned against anti-Semitism. Many of them are Jews, who have personally suffered real anti-Semitic attacks and abuse from the Nazi right. Mike also makes the point that he has no animus towards Israel. He is simply acting to defend those, who have been unfairly and maliciously smeared.
Critics of Israel’s brutalisation of the Palestinians, like Professor Finkelstein in America, and Ilan Pappe over here, have pointed out that the Israel lobby exists to manufacture anti-Semites, by which they mean it operates by smearing the country’s critics as such. The American radical magazine, Counterpunch, has published a series of articles about the way the Zionist lobby in America has done this. And one of the complaints about the Israel lobby is that it is itself viciously anti-Semitic. It particularly seems to single out Jewish critics for the worst vilification.

What makes this accusation particularly offensive, is that these libels against Mike and many others like him in the Labour party have been made when real anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world. Yesterday, Counterpunch’s Robert K. Tan published a piece commenting on the rise of militarism in Japan, following the Japanese government allowing the Japanese Fascist-era Imperial Rescript on Education to be read again in schools and the approval of Hitler’s Mein Kampf as teaching material. Although the legislation for the latter states that it may not be used to teach theories of racial supremacy. See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/25/abe-is-taking-japan-back-to-the-bad-old-fascism/
The British anti-racism/ anti-religious extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate, has also noted the rise in real, blatant anti-Semitism amongst the Fascist far right over here. The banned Nazi youth gang, National Action made very explicit anti-Semitic speeches repeating the old conspiracist libels that the Jews were trying to undermine and destroy the White race. The real anti-Semites deserve nothing but contempt and continual opposition and resistance. It is disgusting that Mike, and other decent people like him, are smeared as Jew-hating bigots by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and its shadowy paymasters in the Israel Advocacy Movement.

For Mike’s own account of this sordid accusation, and his point-by-point rebuttal of their smears, go to: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/04/25/scurrilous-smear-campaign-against-vox-political-writer-is-worthy-only-of-contempt/

Dick Coughlan on the Six Greatest UKIP Excuses

April 30, 2016

This is another funny and informative video, courtesy of the internet. In it, Dick Coughlan takes apart UKIP’s six greatest excuses for their blunders and generally foul behaviour. He starts with a general point about the implausibility of Nigel Farrage’s statement about the party’s decline from its supposed massive rise last year being due to establishment opposition. This is clearly disproven by the fact that Farrage was given every opportunity to speak all over the television news, and was given columns in the Independent and Express. Coughlan states that the real reason must have been because Farrage was permanently drunk, as whenever he appeared, he had a pint in his hand.

And then Coughlan moves on to the other excuses UKIP have had to make. These include trying to explain away Kilroy-Silk’s racist rant against Arabs in the Express. His secretary tried telling everyone she had sent it by mistake. It was an earlier, unedited version of an already-published column. Kilroy hadn’t sent it, because he doesn’t know how to operate emails and electronic messaging.

Then there was the case of the Kipper, who took a photograph of himself in blackface with a funny clown nose, and the tried to explain it as a face mask for acne. Nigel Farrage, again, tried excuse himself arriving late for a meeting in Faversham in Kent by complaining that it was all due to immigrants clogging up the roads. Another Kipper, who was photographed making the Nazi salute, and tried to explain that away by telling the world that he was reaching for his phone, which was held by his girlfriend. He wanted to take it off her, ’cause he didn’t want to look like a pot plant. Right. Another Scots Kipper issued a long rant against gays and immigrants tried to explain his comments away as due to the effects of the medical drugs he was taking. A neuropharmacologist explained that was untrue, because sedative drugs merely make the patient more likely to tell the truth by removing inhibitions. It takes more effort to lie than to tell the truth, and so their real feelings are more likely to come out if people start taking sedative tablets. Coughlan draws the obvious conclusion from this is that Trump must be taking thousands of such drugs to come out with his racist bilge.

And finally, there’s the case of the Kipper, who had the horrendous statement that the three year old boy and his brother, whose bodies were washed up in Turkey after falling out of a migrant boat, were the victims of their families’ greed in trying to get to Europe from Turkey in search of a better life. In fairness to the Kipper, he does unfortunately have a point. The migrants had taken refuge in Turkey for safety, but had then the tried to move on to Europe. The Turks, unfortunately, do have their problems with Islamic radicalism. There have been terrorist attacks there, just like those in Paris, London and Brussels, and Erdogan has been giving covert aid to the jihadis. But it’s much safer than Syria. Nevertheless, the children’s death is horrific, and the Kipper’s use of them to make a general point about economic migration appears cynical and tasteless.

I don’t agree with Coughlan’s atheism, but I’ve decided to reblog this as according to Hope Not Hate, there are over 1,500 extreme Right wing candidates standing at the election on Thursday. Most of them are for UKIP. Hope Not Hate makes the point that they’re not as bad as the hard Right, like the NF, BNP, National Action and the other Nazis. Nevertheless, they are promoting racism. This last point has been reinforced by Farrage appearing in the news yesterday whining that the Brexit campaign didn’t include enough about the threat of immigration. I also oppose them as Farrage and the leading lights of the party are Neo-Libs, who want to get rid of the welfare state and privatise the NHS. That alone should be enough to make people want to keep them out of government.

National Front Intimidation of Labour Canvassers in Broadstairs, Kent

April 26, 2015

The stormtroopers of the Far Right may be declining in the numbers, but they’re still up to their old tricks. I found this video on the SlatUKIP page of them marching up and down the seafront in Broadstairs in Kent, yelling abuse at the Labour canvassers there. The video was originally taken by the goose-steppers themselves, who for some reason decided to take it down. But not before it was saved and put up by the good peeps at the SlatUKIP site. It’s at

The stormtroopers can be heard shouting ‘paedophile appeasers’, presumably referring to the atrocious behaviour by Rotherham council in covering up the systematic abuse of White girls by the Asian grooming gang.

However, rape, child abuse and sexual exploitation are by no means confined to any one section of the community. And the stormtroopers of the Far Right have absolutely no business accusing anyone of child abuse. Not when so many members of the British Nazi fringe have been convicted of crimes against children. See the various articles at Hope Not Hate and over at EDL News. There’s an entire article there listing the various Nazis, who have been found guilty of abusing children. Just be warned – it’s a very long, and ignominious one.

A few years ago when it looked like the BNP was going to make its electoral breakthrough, Nick Griffin tried his best to play down his party’s thuggish reputation. They weren’t goose-stepping, ugly bruisers looking to beat up anyone, who happened to be a different colour, or believed in the dangerously subversive idea of democracy and equality. No, they were respectable, community-based politicians.

Then the BNP suffered a massive decline in support, and once again split into various warring factions. And as the numbers dwindled, the Fascists turned back to their roots and all the old ways began to come back. So it’s back to anti-Semitism, and abuse and intimidation of Blacks and Asians, and, of course, the Left.

Mark Steel on Farage on Twitter

April 3, 2015

Okay, on my last post I put up Gary Lineker’s considered opinion of Farage in the leaders’ debate on Twitter. Now it’s the turn of Mark Steel. As you probably know, Steel’s a left-wing comedian with a column in the Independent. He has had several shows on Radio 4, including one where he argued the case for controversial figures. One of these was the mighty Black American boxer, Muhammad Ali.

As a sportsman, Ali is simply one of the very greatest. I doubt there’s any question about that. What makes him controversial is that he converted to the Nation of Islam, the Black Islamic organisation in America, which preaches racial separatism and an independent Black homeland in North America. He also refused to do his national service during the Vietnam War, arguing that the coloured people of America had no quarrel with the coloured people of Vietnam. He also did not believe in racial intermarriage, and stated that if Blacks and White married, then the couple should be put to death.

Steel did not cover up his views or excuse them, but he did put them into their right social context. Ali was speaking as a Black man in the America of the 1960s and ’70s, when Blacks were still legally segregated from Whites and treated very much as second-class citizens. They are racist views, but they’re also the response to centuries of White prejudice and exploitation.

Not only is Steel very much a left-wing dreamer, he also comes from Kent. So the content of his tweet about the Kipper Fuehrer probably won’t surprise anyone.

Steel on Farage

Well, if you’re a Kipper, you can always console yourself with the fact that there is some praise for the Purple Duce in there. He says he’s honest. And you don’t have to rant and rave about BBC cultural Marxists. I think Steel was in the Socialist Workers at one time, so he was the real thing.

Private Eye’s Review of Rees-Mogg Snr’s ‘Picnics on Vesuvius’

March 31, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has posted a piece criticising the views and career to date of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Tory MP for part of BANES in Somerset. His constituency includes Bath, and, I think, part of Keynsham, a small town between there and Bristol.

Rees-Mogg is one of the new bugs, who came in with Cameron. Private Eye covered him in their ‘The New Boys’ on-off column. He’s a tall man, with impeccable patrician manners and the same air of condescension towards the lower orders. Which is just about everyone else. Mike cites a description of him as ‘the minister for the early 20th century’. It’s entirely apt. He cuts a strangely Edwardian figure, as if someone from the first few decades of the last century somehow fell through time to emerge nearly a century later, to be bemused by the strange technological devices, manners and ever-so-slightly vulgar social conventions.

He began his political career charging about Scotland, campaigning for the Tories in a Scots mining town. He announced that his platform was to convince the Scots that they vitally needed an unelected, aristocratic Second House. Clearly, his constituents and just about the rest of the country north of the border decided that they didn’t. No doubt he encountered some extremely forthright views while canvassing them.

He has gone to Glyndebourne, the great operatic festival in Kent. While there one sunny day, he got his wife and nanny to stop him getting sunburn by holding a book over his head. I’m as surprised that he actually wasn’t embarrassed to mention this as I am that he actually did it in the first place.

Rather more seriously, the extremity of his right-wing views are shown by his membership of the Traditional Britain group. This is another bunch of rightists, who stand for the restoration of the traditional feudal hierarchy, the absolute destruction of the welfare state and the privatisation of the NHS, and absolutely no immigrants. And particularly not Muslims. They were last seen a few years ago on the fringes of UKIP’s annual conference. You also see them posting on the anti-Islam, ‘counter-jihadist’ site.

Young Jacob is the son of William Rees-Mogg, a former columnist for the Independent and then subsequently the Times. In 1992 Rees-Mogg pere published his magnificent octopus, Picnics on Vesuvius: Steps Towards the Millennium. It was then reviewed and suitably done over by Private Eye in their literary column. Here it is:

Scrambled Mogg

Just before Christmas, William Rees-Mogg wrote his last column for the Independent. Some bolshie sub gave it the derisive headline: ‘Is this the end of life as I know it?’ Henceforth his compositions will be appearing in the Times.

Senior staff at the Independent are heartbroken. From the launch of the paper, they have found him such a dependable guide to the meaning of life, the universe and everything. All you need to do, they discovered, is read Rees-Mogg’s columns carefully and then believe exactly the opposite. It never failed, they say tearfully. Now they don’t know what to think.

At least Rees-Mogg has left behind this treasury of past triumphs, so we can look back and admire the almost supernatural accuracy of his forecasting. On 22nd January 1992, for example, looking into Fergie’s tea leaves, Rees-Mogg wrote: ‘Nor do I believe for a moment that the duchess’s antics, innocent as they seem to be, are doing any damage to the monarchy. the question of the future of the crown is a non-question; it is all got up by the press.’ Put a few ‘nots’ in there, in the right places, and this was an almost uncannily far-sighted assessment.

Or again on 11 march 1991, when base rates were 13 per cent, Rees-Mogg warned ‘any further reduction in interest rates is likely to restart a major house boom’. Indeed! Or rather – not! For those lucky few sharing the secret of how to interpret Rees-Mogg, this was priceless information.

No less inspired was his evaluation of Robert Maxwell on 11 November 1991, concluding: ‘I am glad he was buried yesterday on the Mount of Olives, which is a place of grace. I shall remember him with affection …’ To the initiated, there could hardly have been a more savage condemnation.

Yet is not just for his power of prediction that we must revere Rees-Mogg. Rather, it is for the sheer grandeur of his style, the way he sweeps so impressively from the tiniest detail of his own life to the great questions of history, with scarcely a pause – in fact, let’s admit, with never a pause – between.

Who else would are begin an article (‘Landmarks in a Life Which Has Seen the Shadow of War Lifted’) like this: ‘On my tenth birthday, 14 July 1938, I was given an ice-cream cake with a cricket-bat and ball on top; it was big enough to be shared with the 30 boys in the my house at school. Four months before, Hitler had invaded Austria … Two months after my birthday, Neville Chamberlain flew to Munich’?

At the time, Rees-Mogg was probably alone in realizing which was the critical date of the three. Now we are all privileged to share that thrilling perspective – and there are many such moments here.

Truly, he is a man of destiny. ‘Destiny has a way of making itself,’ he says here in passing of his own marriage. She may have been his secretary, but it was meant.

It is this sublime confidence in himself, as a Mogg and a Wessex man, that permits him to take such long views, not just from year to year, but from century to century, millennium to millennium, into eternity indeed. For Rees-Mogg, it just all joins up.

So what does the great seer foresee? Good news! He foresees dooooom.

Yup, things are going to be OK! Who would have thought it?

According to Rees-Mogg, the world is facing imminent economic and social collapse, what with the slitty eyes beavering away, mugging getting out of hand, overpopulation, nuclear proliferation, Aids and all.

On Aids, says Rees-Mogg with a touch of justifiable pride, he has done ‘special work’. There’s a whole section about it here, and his conclusion is, as ever, that only religion can save us: ‘Christian morality is a strategy for survival’, you see. Condoms are useless. ‘The “unzip a condom” approach to the HIV epidemic reminds me of the filter-tip response to the issue of cigarette smoking and cancer,’ he says scornfully.

There may be those who will say that this remark shows that Rees-Mogg, for his wisdom, is a little out of touch with modern life. After all, they might observe, most condoms these days use the more comfortable button-fastening; zips are hardly ever seen.

But this is petty quibbling. Of the basic truth, that only becoming a Catholic right away can avert the end of the world, there can be no doubt. The millennium is coming, you see. ‘By the year 2000’ is Rees-Mogg’s favourite way of beginning a sentence. ‘As we approach 2000 years after Christ, this ancient human fear of some final calamity is not as unthinkable as it would have seemed 50 years ago,’ he says.

Only a ‘worldwide spiritual revolution’ can help. Only the Pope can resist Islam. Only saints, and sages from Somerset, can lead us now.

Travelling the country, he met some black people once. ‘I was particularly touched by the young black boy, with the scars of handcuffs on his wrists, who said to me: “It6 must be grand to be a lord.”‘

What he seems not to realize is that we all feel like this about him. Our gratitude is bottomless. For as he says, ‘saints are so important in the spread of religious belief. They profess their faith, but their conduct is the real evidence of its truth.’ Yes, indeed.

‘I am certain that we are all eternal spirits, with an eternal purpose, ‘Rees-Mogg tells us. ‘We are all like eggshells filled with spiritual realities we cannot begin to understand, filled indeed with the whole glory of Heaven.’

Some of us hardboiled, some soft, other poached, and a few are scrambled, but we all can, if we choose, entere the new year and eventually the next millennium, hand in hand with Lord Rees-Mogg.

From: Lord Gnome’s Literary Companion, ed. and introduced by Francis Wheen (London: Verso 1994) 293-4.

I don’t share the writer’s hostility to religion, or their apparent hostility to Roman Catholicism, although that may just be an entirely suitable comment on Rees-Mogg’s own, rather sectarian religious beliefs, which clearly discount anyone else’s who isn’t a Roman Catholic. It does, however, show the lofty patricians tone Rees-Mogg’s views, and explains why Rees-Mogg junior is the way he is.

And with any luck, Rees-Mogg fils will be another Tory looking for a job after May 7th.

LGBT and Diversity Protestors ‘Invade’ Farage’s Pub in Downe, Kent

March 23, 2015

The Independent has this story, Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists ‘filth’ and ‘scum’ and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub . A group of protesters in fancy dress, including migrants, HIV and gay activists, breastfeeding mums and disabled people, turned up as a ‘cabaret of diversity’ while Farage was drinking there with his wife and two children. The protestors supposedly scared his children so much, they ran away and there had to be a search for them. They were eventually found and returned home.

Dan Glass, the protest’s organiser, said however that “He was sitting on his own and left on his own. We didn’t see any kids.”

The article also quotes Mike Kear, a freelance photographer, who was also in the pub at the time, on how unthreatening it was. He ‘said it seemed “very calm” inside the pub throughout and described the demonstration as “a day of celebration”.

“It was very good-natured – there was certainly nothing very intimidating about it,” he said.’

The protesters themselves claimed that it was Farage, who became angry an aggressive. They claimed he was there alone with his entourage at the bar, with a half-empty pint glass. When they came in, he ‘charged like a bull’, according to one man, calling them ‘filth’ and questioning why they were there.

The protesters told the Indie that “Ukip are a con. They pretend to be anti-establishment but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“By wrongfully shifting the blame for the economic crisis on to immigrants they have let the bankers off the hook.

“We will not succumb to their prejudice. We will create the world we want to live in. A world beyond Ukip.”

The photographs of the incident show some protesters jumping on the bonnet of the Purple Duce’s car, which suggests that it may not have been as non-violent as they claim.

The article’s at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/nigel-farage-brands-lgbt-activists-scum-after-they-invade-his-local-pub-and-scare-away-his-children-10126032.html. Go there and judge for yourself.

From 2001: Appalling Standards and Neglect at BUPA Care Home

February 1, 2015

I’ve put up several stories recently from Private Eye covering cases of the extremely low standards of care in private hospitals. As I’ve said before, these are important as the government is desperately trying to privatise the NHS under the assumption that private enterprise is more efficient than state provision. In their edition for the 30th November – 13 December 2001, the Eye ran this story about the abuse and neglect of patients in a BUPA care home in Kent.

Less Than Super-BUPA

While one of Bupa’s directors, Des Kelly, has been advising Tony Blair on care of the elderly, a Bupa care hom ein Kent has been at the centre of grave allegations of abuse and neglect.

Seven care workers who blew the whistle on a catalogue of cruelty, ill-treatment, doping with sedatives and the withholding of drugs and treatment at the £322-a-week Isard House in Bromley are due to be awarded compensation at employment tribunal this week.

Except that the seven – six women and one man – are boycotting the hearing and will refuse any payment from the UK’s biggest private health insurer and care provider. The reason? The careworkers say that though the tribunal found in their favour, it so diluted or ignored serious allegations and evidence that neither they – nor the vulnerable elderly people they sought to protect – have received justice, and they are challenging the tribunal’s decision in court.

The care workers are outraged that Bupa continued to employ the woman at the centre of the abuse against the subsequent advice of social services inspectors, at one stage trying to conceal the fact from them that she was working at a different vulnerable old people’s home. Bupa also promoted another, who is to face further allegations from the daughter of a resident who has recently been removed from the home.

The whistleblowers allege that Bupa has effectively been let off the hook.

They catalogued a series of abuse which went unchecked for nearly a year up to April 1999 within unit three at Isard House, which houses the most mentally and physically frail. Many suffer dementia, are unable to voice their concerns or needs and are dependent on carers for their most basic daily needs. They were hit, roughly handled, shouted and sworn at, goaded and verbally humiliated. They were left to lie or sit in their soiled clothing for to 18 hours. One developed dreadful sores. One man, R.H., had to search for staff on other units to change his catheter bag, which was overflowing and causing him immense pain.

In one of the worst examples a woman, D.H., who had not been given laxatives, was found to have an impacted bowel. She was taken to hospital but never recovered from pneumonia. Another was so overdosed on the tranquiliser Largactil she became unconscious.

Some of the staff had been regularly reporting concerns of cruelty and neglect to senior managers at the home and had been assured matters would be dealt with. In particular they were concerned that the unit’s team leader had bizarrely taken up residence in the unit, and seemed to control and encourage its punitive and cruel culture.

One of the whistleblowers, Eileen Chubb, was assured that evidence was being gathered in order to deal with this woman. When it became evident that nothing was happening and that the neglect was continuing unchecked, she and another worker, Karen Hook, went to Bromley social service inspectors.

An inquiry was launched and police were called in; but, partly because of the lapse of time and the difficulties of interviewing mentally and physically helpless old people, criminal charges were not considered. Once word spread around the home that complaints had been made and the team leader at the centre temporarily suspended, however, the whistleblowers say they were ostracised and bullied by other staff. They went off sick with stress. Shortly after they had a meeting with Mr Kelly in which they detailed their catalogue of concern and upon which they were convinced he would act.

Er … except that as their later industrial tribunal, lawyers for Bupa maintained that not only were the whistleblowers’ complaints unfounded, but they knew them to be false – ignoring the fact that they were risking their jobs when they went to social services.

Bupa maintained this defence despite a damning report into the home produced by Bromley’s inspection team. After a long investigation it described how the team leader had effectively moved into the home, using it “inappropriately for her recreational purposes” and how she was “primarily responsible for allowing the climate of abuses and neglectful behaviour to exist unchecked”.

It also detailed a string of incidents – ranging from wiping a resident’s face with a flannel with faecal material on it; inappropriate restraint of residents causing bruising; residents left in urine-soaked clothing; dosing patients with sedatives “for which there is no evidence of GP authorisation” and not giving them laxatives “with the possible outcome of distress and discomfort and indicating a disregard of residents’ needs.”

It concluded: “there are a significant number of witnesses amongst care staff, relatives and others who have been interviewed and who corroborate the original allegations … inappropriate behaviour towards them did occur in the manner suggested by the witnesses who have come forward and those subsequently interviewed.”

It condemned the lack of skilled staff on the unit, the long hours they worked and recommended a full investigation with appropriate disciplinary action. It is understood that because the inquiry team found that the abuse and failures were confined to unit three, and the bulk of the other residents in the home were well cared for, there was no recommendation to shut Isard House down because it would have caused too much distress to many residents who were settled and content. The aim was to clean up the act on unit three.

But at the tribunal the findings of the inspectorate were also challenged by Bupa. According to the tribunal findings, Mr Kelly had conducted disciplinary hearings against four staff named in the report – and in particular against the team leader. He found her explanations to be “entirely reasonable” . According to the tribunal report, Mr Kelly decided there was nothing in her response which he felt would constitute gross misconduct.

Despite its assertions at the tribunal, Bupa’s Claire Cater told the Eye it accepted there were issues that were wrong on unit three and steps were taken to correct them, including the immediate suspension of the team leader. “The issue has always been to what degree,” she said. “The inspection was long and drawn out and unhelpful. We did not get the witness statements for 14 months. Our own internal investigations revealed two different groups of people saying very different things. We went through everything and where we found things were far from ideal – for example with the regime for administering and recording drugs – we acted.”

She said Bupa’s job had also been made more difficult because of the “inconsistencies” in the statements of the whistleblowers. Some of the more serious allegations, regarding the safety of clients, had not been made in their original statements to inspectors but had come a year later. Bupa had a duty to test these inconsistencies to find out exactly what had happened, she said. The tribunal had found there had been some “exaggeration” in a few of the allegations, although it accepted they had been made in good faith.

She said the social services report indicated that the team leader should be demoted and retrained, but not dismissed. (However, a statement from Richard Turner of the inspectorate team says he contacted Mr Kelly at his home and by phone when he heard the woman was to be re-employed saying “it was unacceptable firstly because she was on bail with regard to allegations of theft and secondly that in our view she was implicated in both abuse and neglectful behaviour”.)

Bupa admits that staff member at one of the homes had panicked and tried to hide the fact that she had been re-deployed by tippexing her out of the rota. The inspectorate said: “The issue of tampering with records reflected on the fitness of senior Bupa managers and that employer her in a another home for the mentally elderly infirm was a ‘breach of statutory regulations’.

According to the whistleblowers, it was this woman’s reinstatement which led them finally to resign. The employment tribunal rejected this claim, suggesting that a six-week delay between learning of her reemployment and quitting their jobs meant it could not be the “final straw” as they protested. However, this was one of several tribunal findings that the whistleblowers hope to challenge. They maintain the delay came because they hoped Bromley social services inspectors would intervene as they had before.

What concerned the whistleblowers most was that while the tribunal found it credible “that incontinent residents might not be changed quickly and a culture had built up of not changing residents promptly”, the tribunal did not find it credible that residents would be neglected to the extent that they became “filthy and sore”. Yet the whistleblowers have the care plan of one resident showing that she had a sore which went through to the bone.

In another instance the tribunal accepted that while drugs sheets revealed that medication may not have been properly administered and/or the recording was deficient, it ignored evidence suggesting records may also have been falsified. (The Eye has several examples of drug sheets, indicating they have been fabricated.)

The seven whistleblowers have asked the lord chancellor’s department to investigate their claim that dozens of pieces of evidence presented to the tribunal – in particular the evidence other independent witnesses – have been overlooked. They have also filed for judicial review alleging bias and misconduct on the part of the tribunal, saying they did not get a fair hearing. It could be argued that it is not the role of an industrial tribunal to uncover levels of abuse. However, once Bupa decided to brand the whistleblowers as liars, they maintain the tribunal should have evaluated all the evidence. hence their decision not to attend and to try to block the compensation hearing. Eileen Chubb told the Eye: “We cannot fathom why Bupa would want to continue to employ abusers. We went to court firstly for a declaration of the truth of what was going on in that home – and secondly for compensation. We will not accept compensation if the price to be paid is the truth.”

As a result of events in Isard House, she and Karen Hook have now set up the non-profit making Compassion in Care, which will publish a handbook for families on what to look for in a care home and how to keep elderly relatives safe. They fund it by working as office cleaners at night. But some good may yet come of the tribunal hearing. As a result of its scrutiny of drug and medical records, Kent police have been re-examining the drug sheets and it is understood a file has been sent to the DPP.

What is of concern is not just the poor standard of care and abuse of the residents at the care home, but the fact that BUPA appeared more concerned with its reputation and discrediting the whistleblowers than in improving the standards in the home. It should also be a matter of real concern that BUPA’s director, Des Kelly, was advising the government’s health policy at the time the abuse was occurring, and was involved in an attempts to cover up the abuse and discredit the whistleblowers.

The Eye subsequently published many more stories of abuse and neglect at care homes, and there will be more still if the government goes ahead to privatise and deregulate the NHS and care homes still further.

RIPA and the Further Erosion of Free Speech and Democracy

November 27, 2014

The Coalition’s ‘Secret Courts’

Mike, Tom Pride, the Angry Yorkshireman, Johnny Void and other left-wing bloggers too numerous to name have all raised the serious concerns presented by the Coalition’s legislation expanding Britain’s surveillance state. These have included secret courts, a Kafkaesque travesty of justice waiting to happen, where the defendant may not even know the charges against them if this is deemed a threat to ‘national security’.

Internet Censorship

Under the pretext of trying to protect vulnerable children from online pornography and paedophiles, the Coalition has also tried to introduce censorship onto the internet with measures so loose and ill-worded that it threatened to stifle mature political discussion and contemporary pagan religion and alternative spirituality and occultism. Tom Pride suffered censorship at the hands of the Net because his blog had ‘adult content’. It has, but not quite in the way the term’s used by censors and the media, where it’s become a euphemism for nudity and sex. Pride’s ‘adult content’ is more in the way of dealing with adult issues using satire and scorn.

This has been waaaay too much for the forces of the Right. More recently he’s had Daily Mail journalists harassing his friends and trying to out him as a Conservative Brit living in Poland. This shows, if nothing else, how desperate they are to smear him.

Police Harassment of Greens and Film-Makers for UKIP and the Frackers

And then there was the case of the local Green activist, who had his collar felt by the rozzers on the behest of the local branch of UKIP. And last week NetPol, the campaign against police surveillance, reported the case of a documentary film-maker, who was interviewed by the police because she had been filming an anti-fracking demonstration, and was therefore considered a dangerous terrorist.

Derby Council’s Surveillance of Workers Talking to Journos

This fortnight’s issue of Private Eye (28th November – 11th December 2014) carries another sobering story about the way RIPA, the new legislation introduced by the government to allow the authorities to snoop on ‘terrorists, fly-tippers’ and people, who don’t clean up the mess when their dogs foul the pavement, has been used in Derby to spy on a local journalist doing her job. According to a speech to the House of Lords by Lord Black of Brentwood, the disgraced former head of the Telegraph group, Derby city council tried to use the new powers to spy on a group of serving and former council employees, who met Kirsty Green, a reporter from the Derby Evening Telegraph, in Starbucks. A senior council employee apparently stumbled on the meeting when he went in there. He reported it to the council, and then invoked the act to have two ‘investigators’ come to engage in ‘direct surveillance’ as part of ‘an internal personnel investigation’. The spies were, however, recognised by the group when they entered the shop, and Green and the employees left.

The Eye’s piece concludes that this episode is ‘more Clouseau than Ceaucescu, perhaps, but sinister nonetheless.

Local Councils and the Campaign against Free Speech

In fact, this has been only one of a number of case where local authorities have wasted time and tax-payers money clamping down on local dissidents, like some jumped-up petty Gestapo. The more infamous cases include how one northern city spent hundreds of pounds of council tax trying to find out who the ‘Mr Monkey’ was posting critical pieces on the internet so they could sue him and close him down. Private citizens and shopkeepers have been threatened when they put up posters criticising the local authorities on the windows of their own homes or businesses. Ten years or so ago, one of the councils in Kent got very stroppy with one individual who dared to put up posters denouncing a technology deal between the council and Richard Branson.

Hitler is Alive and Well and Living in Compton Dando

One of the most ludicrous and petty attempts to stifle free speech in a very local area was reported by the Eye a few years ago. A Conservative member of the parish council for Compton Dando had been infuriated by anonymous posters put up around the village portraying him as Hitler. He therefore demanded the police find arrest the culprit. Such is the vanity and totalitarian need to control of even some of the most minor politicos. Of course, it goes without saying that by demanding the police act to arrest a political opponent, the Conservative councillor therefore proved his opponent’s case: he was like Adolf.

There’s thus the real danger that RIPA will lead to more attempts by the authorities to stop the free discussion and criticism of their rule. It’s another step in the gradual erosion of free speech in the UK.