Yes, I know, we have limited resources, we don\’t want to have health tourism, we can\’t have open immigration and the welfare state, yes, I know the arguments:

The deportation of a Ghanaian woman with terminal cancer was defended by the head of the immigration service yesterday, who disclosed that there were hundreds of similarly difficult cases each year.

Lin Homer said that the removal of Ama Sumani, who was in hospital in Cardiff, back to Accra was heart-rending but not exceptional.

She spoke as The Lancet described the removal of Ms Sumani as atrocious barbarism. “To stop treating patients in the knowledge that they are being sent home to die is an unacceptable breach of the duties of any health professional,” it said. “The UK has committed an atrocious barbarism. It is time for doctors’ leaders to say so, forcefully and uncompromisingly.”

Ms Sumani, 39, suffers from malignant myeloma and was receiving dialysis at a hospital in Cardiff when she was taken by immigration officers and flown back home last week because her visa had expired. She left the hospital in a wheelchair accompanied by five immigration officials before being driven to Heathrow to board a flight to Accra last Wednesday.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said that he had spoken by telephone to Ms Sumani in her Accra hospital shortly before a hearing of the committee — at which he told Ms Homer, the chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency: “Her health has deteriorated since she arrived in Ghana.”

A little bit more of the milk of human kindness (not that a bureaucracy can offer that of course) would have been appropriate. Sorry, for all my supposed economic rationality I would have said bugger it: treat her. While I\’m not a believer in the rationale for the New Testament certain of the lessons contained strike me as being true: our Samaritan didn\’t ask whether the near corpse at the roadside was a Jew or a Palestinian, did he?

Erm, Zoe?

This bit is really quite good:

Immediately, this riles. Yes, we all have to take responsibility for our consumer choices. But those choices are a lot more meaningful for some than for others. The difference between a three quid broiler and a £10 organic bird to someone with dependants, living on – let\’s not even be melodramatic and say benefits, let\’s say the median national income of £24k – is very great.

To Jamie Oliver, it is no difference at all, on account of how he is loaded. And why is he loaded? Because a) he makes quite a lot of money entertaining us by gassing boy chicks, and b) he hoovers up that much and more again by advertising for Sainsbury\’s, which has been one of the driving forces behind this cheap food since mass production began.

Or, at least, this is the kind of petty-minded line of argument a person might be driven to, standing accused of cruel consumer choices. It is, frankly, obnoxious to see a rich person demanding impoverishing consumer choices from a poorer person. These chef-polemicists consider themselves outside politics, because they\’re being straightforward – let\’s eat what came out of the ground naturally, what was raised in a happy way. Let\’s just do as nature intended, and by gum it will be tasty, and what could possibly be political about that?

They\’re right, it isn\’t political, in that it has no consistency of ideas, indeed, doesn\’t even comprehend its own implications, but it encapsulates rather well what happens when rhetoric becomes unmoored from structured ideology: you get all the worst bits of the left – the proselytising, the sanctimony – and all the worst bits of the right – the I\’m-all-right-Jack, the "if you worked a bit harder, you too could afford to be me".

Well, quite. Insisting that those poorer than yourself follow your expensive moral choices really is rather galling.

But then this is howlingly bad:

The fact is, ethics that come out of your wallet are not ethics. All these catchwords that supposedly convey sensitivity to the environment, to animals, to the developing world – fair trade, organic, free range, food miles etc – are just new ways to buy your way into heaven, the modern equivalent of the medieval pardon. Anyone with a serious interest in this would be lobbying the legislature; arguing to tighten laws on animal cruelty.

Instead of persuading people to our moral view, we should pass a law making it illegal for people to differ from our moral view! Result!



Cloned Animals and Food

An interesting little example of the stupidity of the food testing system in the European Union. First, the Americans have considered this matter:

US farmers have been given the green light to produce cloned meat for the human food chain. In a 968-page report billed as a "final risk assessment" of the technology, the US Food and Drug Administration has concluded that healthy cloned animals and products from them such as milk are safe for consumers.

An entirely logical stance. There\’s nothing different about meat or milk from cloned animals. Indeed, that\’s rather the point, that there isn\’t anything different about them. So while one can argue on moral grounds (not sure what ones, but I\’m sure it\’s possible) or animal welfare ones, as is done here:

"It\’s a technology that has arisen out of a huge burden of animal suffering and that is still going on," said Joyce D\’Silva, of Compassion in World Farming. But she said even if the embryo loss rates were brought down to acceptable levels, the technology would be detrimental to animal welfare. "It looks like it is going to be used to produce the most highly productive animals – the cows that produce the most milk, the pigs with the meatiest bodies. These are the high-producing animals that have the most endemic welfare problems anyway."

Well, yes, that\’s the point of all animal breeding programs. All this one does is allow us to do it better.

But arguing about the food itself as being safe or unsafe is nuts: thus the American decision. But what has to happen here?

Even if cloned meat were given approval by the European agency it would have to undergo rigorous testing. "Under the novel foods regulation, the applicant has to provide evidence of safety – this could be in the form of a detailed comparison with the existing product, or it could be the results of tests in animals," said a spokesperson for the UK\’s Food Standards Agency. It would also be subject to approval by the European commission, which would require a majority vote of EU member states. Approval in the EU is likely to be years away, if at all.

That\’s the way to spark innovation, isn\’t it? To make Europe the most knowledge based, forward looking (or whatever the gibberish offered by the Lisbon Declaration is) economy in the world? When you offer something which isn\’t in fact a new product at all, it\’s a direct replication of an existing one (again, which is, after all, the point of cloning) you have to go through a testing process lasting some years, one which also requires the assent of the assembled continent\’s politicians, before you can sell it?

That\’s really going to get the boffins excited about inventing new things, isn\’t it?

Peter Hain

All Mr Hain would be without his office, and the preening vanity it bestows on him, is a noisy, smarmy, unprincipled ex-student agitator whose contribution to our good governance remains not even debatable: for most of us could not, for the life of us, start to imagine what real or illusory achievements he has that might be debated.

Umm, perhaps the Heff doesn\’t actually like Peter Hain?

Donald Rumsfeld

I agree, I\’m not as knowledgeable about the minutiae of American politics as some others, but thi really did surprise me:

The invitees included two young anti-draft Congressmen, Robert Kastenmeier (D-Wisconsin) and Donald Rumsfeld (R-Illinois), and one pro-draft Senator, Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).

Don Rumsfeld? That Don Rumsfeld? Unknown Unknowns Rumsfeld? Was anti-draft in the 1960s?

That Kennedy would have been pro-, hateful statist creep that he is, doesn\’t surprise me.

Blogging Away

You know you\’re a blogging geek when… … you had a dream last night which involved Rachel from North London and the Girl with a One Track Mind. At the same time.

Ermm, one of those once won an award as the most shaggable in the Britblogosphere…the other possibly the most shagged.

I have to admit that, blogging geek though I am, it\’s not a scenario that had occured to me….

More Olympic Madness

Well, what do you want to do now. Laugh or cry?

Britain faces a £1 billion black hole after the 2012 Olympics because of “ludicrous” property price projections backed by ministers, it emerged last night.

Today the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will, for the first time, vote against government plans to give the Olympics more money. Their move comes after a report for the London Development Agency (LDA) suggesting that the Government’s estimates for the amount it will recoup in land sales after the Games are unrealistic. The shortfall will hit heritage, sports and arts projects already suffering from tight squeezes on their budgets.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, and Tessa Jowell, the Olympics Minister, signed a memorandum of understanding last year stating that at least £1.8 billion would be raised in land sales after the Games. The LDA now fears that this figure, based on a 16 per cent per annum increase in land prices in Stratford, East London, over the next 15 to 20 years, is too optmistic. It told the London Assembly last week that it now plans to raise £800 million, leaving a £1 billion shortfall. About £675 million of this had been due to go to the National Lottery to repay money lent to the Games. This money could now be lost.

16% per year over 15 years? Does no one understand compound interest? £100 now at that rate is £925 in 15 years time. They\’ve seriously based their budgets on the thought that land prices will be ten times higher then than they are now?

Is it too late to call Paris?

Argle, Argle, Argle

Damn this is supremely annoying.

Europe is Europe\’s last remaining realistic political utopia. But Europe remains to be understood and conceptualised. This historically unique form of international community cannot be explained in terms of the traditional concepts of politics and the state, which remain trapped in the straitjacket of methodological nationalism. If we are to understand cosmopolitan Europe, we must radically rethink the conventional categories of social and political analysis.

Wibble wibble, Nuremberg Trials, wibble, Churchill, wibble, New World Order, wibble….

Can we please get something transparently clear? Europe is a continent. It doesn\’t do anything, doesn\’t mean anything and is not a model for anything. It simply is. The European Union is a political construct. This might mean something, might do something and might be a model for something. I happen to think that it means bad things, does bad things and is a poster model for something that should be abolished.

But the European Union is not Europe and should not be confused with it.


Polly on Organ Donation

Of course, she\’s happy that the State gets that little bit more power over us. But the thing that rather gets me is that she completely ignores one other method of increasing organ donations. Having a market.

I\’m really rather conflicted over the whole subject myself, but I do have this feeling that I would, if people think that organ transplants are so important, think them more honest if they supported both presumed consent and compensated donations.

Explaining The Rape Conviction Rate.

Well, the G does have a go at it. Somewhat unconvincing though. Their rape victim used as a story was a escort raped by a client (tortured very badly as well). Yes, it is still rape but it\’s perhaps not the most representative of tales to use. The lawyer though is highly amusing.

Miranda Moore QC, barrister with wide experience of prosecuting and defending in rape cases

Rape as an offence is given far less importance than it used to be. I want it treated as the serious crime it is, with enough funding to attract the highest quality counsel, for both the prosecution and defence. Twenty years ago it was not unknown to have a QC prosecuting. These days it\’s exceptional. Rape cases need people who have been doing it longer and have a feel for how a case should be prosecuted. I can walk into a case and give the CPS a list of 20 things that should have been done. Experience shows that in many cases they will have not. The other thing is meeting the victim. As a prosecutor, 99.9% of the time you only meet on the day of the trial. Victims go on an orientation visit to court in advance with a police officer but there\’s no funding to meet the barrister. You couldn\’t discuss the case, but it would be reassuring for the victim during the trial to see somebody ask her questions she knew rather than a stranger.

High priced specialist lawyer says the solution is to spend more on high priced specialist lawyers. Surprise, eh?

Higher Food Prices

There\’s a very simple solution here you know?

Food prices are accelerating at their fastest rate since records began, fuelling a rise in the average family\’s shopping bill of £750 a year.

A very simple solution indeed.

The CAP costs an average family of four in Europe £16 a week in taxes and higher food prices.

£16 a week is £832 a year.

Thus, abolish CAP and you\’ll cancel out food price inflation. A good reason to do it, no?