Mike Vickers' Blog

December 22, 2019

Johnson’s Vacuity

Filed under: Johnson, Westminster — derryvickers @ 3:39 pm

Ken Clarke on Johnson’s Vacuity

Clarke said Johnson’s policy vagueness was particularly acute on Brexit: “I could never get out of Boris – and nobody so far could get out of Boris – what he has in mind for the eventual deal. To say they’re generalities is an understatement

Remember: Roger McGough

I wanna be the Prime Minister
I wanna be the Prime Minister
Can I be the Prime Minister?
Can I? I can?
Promise? Promise?
Yippee I’m the Prime Minister
I’m the Prime Minister

OK what shall we do?

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/22/boris-johnson-told-to-stop-campaigning-and-start-governing-ken-clarke-brexit

December 20, 2019

The Dictator’s first move

Filed under: Brexit, Dictatorship, Europe, Johnson — derryvickers @ 8:23 pm

John Crace

‘Brexit was done. Even if it wasn’t. And anyone who dared whisper the word Brexit again after 31 January would be arrested for thought crimes. Boris had hoped he would feel more elated than this, but instead he could only feel disappointment closing in. He had gained the world, but had long since lost both his family and his soul. His narcissism would inevitably destroy him. In the beginning is my end. Now the light falls.’

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/20/to-johnson-the-brexit-spoils-and-the-amnesia

One might add:

‘Beware the Ides of March’

In 44 BCE, Julius Caesar’s rule in Rome was in trouble. Caesar was a demagogue, a ruler who set his own rules, frequently bypassing the Senate to do what he liked, and finding supporters in the Roman proletariat and his soldiers. The Senate made Caesar dictator for life in February of that year, but in truth, he had been the military dictator governing Rome from the field since 49. …..that the next 30 days were to be fraught with peril, but the danger would end on the Ides of March.

December 18, 2019

Enter Johnson the Dictator

Filed under: Dictatorship, Europe, Johnson, Supreme Court, UK Parliament — derryvickers @ 2:30 pm

Under plans made by Theresa May, the incorporation of all EU case law made by the European Court of Justice into UK law after departure would have left the supreme court as the only body able to overturn these decisions.

But asked about reports that Boris Johnson had ignored concerns from some ministers and decided to allow lower courts the same power, his spokesman confirmed that this would be part of the new withdrawal agreement bill.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/18/lower-courts-can-roll-back-eu-laws-after-brexit-no10-johnson-confirms

December 9, 2019

Cod Face

Filed under: Brexit, Johnson, Reality — derryvickers @ 10:54 am
Which is the face of a cod

Cod Face

December 3, 2019

NHS for sale? Our mental health services are

Filed under: Brexit, Ian Birrell, Jeremy Corbyn, Johnson, NHS — derryvickers @ 4:25 pm

Ian Birrell

Sunday 1 December 2019

Fatcat US Operators already have their claws into our psychiatrics service

For much of the time it has seemed only two issues are at stake in this depressing election campaign.

The Tories relentlessly push the phoney idea that they will “get Brexit done”, dropping their duplicitous slogan into every interview and speech.

Meanwhile Labour focus with similar determination on the claim that only they can save the National Health Service from being flogged off to slavering private firms.

Both lines are lies. The dispiriting Brexit saga will drag on for many more years if the Tories win, while no party – even one led by Boris Johnson – is going to sell off the NHS when it is seen as sacred by most voters.

Yet these two false claims came together last week when Jeremy Corbyn, desperate to regain momentum after his mauling by the BBC’s Andrew Neil, brandished 451 pages of documents from trade talks with the United States.

He claimed the papers prove the Tories are planning “runaway privatisation” of the NHS after Brexit since “mega-corporations” view it as “a chance to make billions from the illness and sickness of people in this country”.

A member of NHS medical staff poses with unredacted documents related to post-Brexit UK-US Trade talks following a Labour election policy announcement on the NHS. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Stirring stuff. Shame that Corbyn’s documents showed nothing had been agreed, although clearly longer drug patents are among Washington’s objectives.

Yet the Tories hit back hard. “We are absolutely resolved that there will be no sale of the NHS, no privatisation; the NHS is not on the table in any way,” declared Johnson. Ministers and loyal MPs chimed in to chorus that “the NHS is not for sale”.

Yet hang on a second. One key slice of the NHS is already lying in a distressed state on the operating table, where it has been chopped up for profit-hungry private firms.

And giant US health corporations, along with hedge funds and private equity firms, are already here and bleeding dry this profitable corner of the NHS – with often disastrous consequences for some of our most desperate patients. Sadly, no one seems to care much since it is “only” the mental health sector – for so long the neglected Cinderella service.

Yet in recent years a small cluster of fatcats have got their claws into Britain’s psychiatric services, exploiting the struggles of the health service to cope with surging demand.

These operators have grabbed nearly £2bn of business, providing almost one quarter of NHS mental health beds and soaking up close to half the total spend on child and adolescent mental health services.

This means they own many NHS-funded units holding people such as teenage girls who self-harm and adults with suicidal thoughts, along with hundreds of people with autism and learning disabilities scandalously locked up due to lack of support in their local communities.

These firms benefit as overloaded mental health services and risk-averse officials send more and more troubled citizens into secure units.

It is a lucrative business when it costs up to £730,000 per patient a year. Bosses can pocket millions – but many frontline workers earn little more than minimum wage and the use of agency staff is routine, despite the need to develop patient relationships.

Acadia, a Tennessee-based health giant, spent £1.3bn buying the Priory Group and now boasts of earning than £188m in just three months from British public services. “Demand for independent sector beds has grown significantly as a result of the NHS reducing its bed capacity and increasing hospitalisation rates,” said its last annual report.

Operating profits at Cygnet, owned by another huge US firm, have surged to £45.2m due to deals with 228 NHS purchasing bodies after it bought a rival group last year. Another outfit called Elysium, backed by private equity through a Luxembourg firm, only launched three years ago, but is already earning revenues of £61.2m from at least 55 units.

A member of NHS medical staff speaks to the media. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

But a study by the Rightful Lives campaign group has found these three firms alone own 13 of the 16 mental health settings judged “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission watchdog, since it found some teeth after the furore over abusive detention of people with autism and learning disabilities exploded a year ago.

Cygnet runs eight of these “inadequate” units, although its US boss is reportedly the richest chief executive in the hospital industry, who collected more than £39m in one year from pay, bonuses and stock. Priory and Cygnet also owned hospitals exposed by disturbing undercover television documentaries over the past year.

I have heard a stream of horror stories from despairing families and former patients involving solitary confinement, forcible injections, abuse and overuse of restraint, during investigations into this area. Some were detained in NHS psychiatric units. But most involve privately-run units.

People such as Megan, who was sectioned for self-harm, suicidal thoughts and later found to be suffering post-traumatic stress from childhood traumas. She was in four clinics – but in one run by the Priory, aged just 16, she was even held stark naked for one month to prevent self-harm until her parents delivered a “safe suit”.

“It was the most degrading time of my life,” she told me. The firm was fined £300,000 earlier this year for failings after the suicide of a 14-year-old girl at the same unit.

Unlike many voters, I have no problems with private providers in healthcare if the service remains free at point of use, especially after seeing their role in European systems with superior patient outcomes to our own health service. But seeing these mental health firms has shaken my faith.

Clearly all private operators need to be effectively regulated, especially when providing sensitive frontline services.

Sadly, it seems our politicians on all sides prefer to posture over whether the NHS is really for sale to “mega-corporations” while ignoring those that have already arrived and are pocketing vast sums while offering inadequate services to so many despairing citizens. Once again, we see how little Westminster really cares.

Opinion-Society

 

December 1, 2019

The Power of Music: Good or Ill

Filed under: Music, Suzy Klein, War — derryvickers @ 10:43 pm

Suzy Klein

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b097f2gv/tunes-for-tyrants-music-and-power-with-suzy-klein-series-1-1-revolution

Unforgettable television even if it leaves me totally unnerved.

But then there is

Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60, titled Leningrad

Venice for Independence

Filed under: Scottish Independence, Travel, Venice — derryvickers @ 10:56 am

It’s not just Scotland that is seeking Independence

Venice too.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/01/venice-referendum-autonomy-independence-mestre-depopulation

November 24, 2019

Thousands of EU Staff fed up with Brexit and are going home

Filed under: Brexit, Electioneering, Europe, Johnson, Nurses, Politics — derryvickers @ 9:46 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2019/nov/24/general-election-2019-conservatives-manifesto-tax-nhs-spending-live-news

Just to make good the EU Nurses going home through the threat of Brexit

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/nov/24/nhs-winter-crisis-thousands-eu-staff-quit

November 19, 2019

Human Rights; Bertrand Ramcharan

Filed under: Human Rights, Royal Society Edinburgh — derryvickers @ 10:45 pm

RSE – The Human Rights Idea in the Philosophy of the Scottish Enlightenment – 18 November 2019

Bertrand Ramcharan – One Time UN Commissioner for Human Rights – origin Ghana

A good active presentation – I wait to see the podcast

A few points in the meantime:

  1. Human Rights – as for the whole of humanity
  2. It’s Universality remains a worry
  3. Need for Responsibility and Voice of Conscience
  4. Long time in coming to fruition – Aesop’s fables
  5. Common Sense – not quoted but Thomas Reid
  6. Is a Western Idea? – No
  7. All nations bought in and confirmed recently (Date to be found)
  8. But have they touched the peoples of the world?
  9. Main problem will be AI – China and US
  10. The South China Seas are now in the Front Line
  11. Active problems: terrorism, rights of sovernty, Job Losses, Retraining people
  12. More generally the need to maintain / implement The Rule of Law
  13. Scottish Enlightenment as source of Human Rights
    1. Gershom Carmichael wrote it all including protection of Environment; against slavery, rights applicable to all humanity
    2. And BTW there was Hume with his Treatise of Human Reason
    3. Brody has reviewed it all
  14. US Constitution made use of the Ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment – but Thomas Paine helped
  15. Human Rights and The Future – very open – Impact of technology – ‘communications’

November 17, 2019

Looking for a Democratic Leader

Filed under: Brexit, Politics, UK Parliament, Westminster — derryvickers @ 9:21 pm

The Leader in today’s Scotsman

https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/leader-comment-least-worst-leader-is-far-from-the-best-case-scenario-1-5047397.

“On the Remain side of the argument, the likes of Labour’s Keir Starmer, Anna Soubry, the ex-Tory who now leads The Independent Group for Change, and Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general, who had the Conservative whip removed and is now an independent, have stepped up to the plate.

But Starmer has to cope with his boss’s obfuscation on Brexit, Soubry’s profile has slipped since she quit Johnson’s party and a single independent will always struggle on the national stage.

However, when Grieve says Johnson is an “extremely troubling” individual and that he has “never experienced a politician in modern British history who is so elastic with truth”, there are lots of Conservatives who will take that seriously and be worried.”

Happy to go with Starmer, Soubry or Grieve. OK, these are all Remainers.

But there is no one on the Leave side that inspires anyway.

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