Saturday, 22 June 2013

GM? We just don't trust them.

I've no idea what Monsanto has done specifically to annoy so many Austrians, but the very word was a curse amongst almost everyone I met there recently; the agrigiant was held liable for everything from bee-deaths, declining wildlife, nitrate contamination and aphid infestation to the poor weather. Needless to say they're firmly against GM foods - but not for the reasons that Boy Dave and his trusty sidekick Owen Paterson are campaigning against. 

Cameron has gone on the offensive in defence of GM foods. Emulating the great Gummer, who force-fed his daughter Cordelia with minced horsemeat to prove that beef was safe to eat, Dave has invited the world's press to his table to witness him feeding his family with a plethora of GM foodstuffs. He's addressing the food safety aspect  as though this is where the public objection lies. Which is utterly pointless.

The reason most people oppose GM is that they simply don't trust Monsanto. Their grain is sterile by design in the F1 generation, meaning farmers can't simply retain 1/10th of each crop to sow for the following year, they have to buy each year's seed from Monsanto. Any firm whose business model is based on establishing a monopoly supply position can't be trusted. And until the US has been growing the stuff for 50 years and all the negative environmental effects become apparent there why should we pollute our own farmland?

Sorry, we simply prefer the alternative that has already improved crop yields a hundred times more than Monsanto could ever achieve. By selective breeding. 

The idiot boy clearly has a political death-wish in lining himself up with yet another issue utterly antipathetic to the public view. What on earth will he support next? Free broadband for kiddy-fiddlers? Early release for Ian Brady? Banning the flag of St George from churches?

Friday, 21 June 2013

On the side of the Angels

Simon Jenkins has a decent dig at the crooks, shills, shysters and frauds who run FIFA and the IOC this morning; after conning the UK out of £9bn for their beanfest of Lithuanian tarts, blacked out limos and goody bags packed with Columbian marching powder, they imagined that squeezing £12bn out of the favelas of Rio would give them another go, this time with sunshine and bronzed bottoms. Back here in 2012 we cynics predicted a popular uprising against the Zil lanes, with IOC functionaries being pelted in their limos with ordure mid-pipe. It never happened - they just added half a billion to the security measures and another £250m to the publicity budget. But I'm not so sure it couldn't happen in Rio in 2016; it's therefore imperative that we do all we can to encourage the most lavish, extravagant and wasteful games ever.

After all, it may be our last chance to see crawling on hands and knees an IOC member stripped naked by an angry Brazilian crowd, his Lithuanian tart dismissed and his IOC limo jacked up on bricks while youths high on his IOC drugs-packet nick the wheels. It would be worth every penny of 2012.

Meanwhile our own crooks, shills, shysters and frauds who ran the CQC find themselves unexpectedly exposed; Cynthia Bower, Jill Finney and Anna Jefferson have been named as the scum who tried to cover up a negative report. Despite the redacted report trying to hide them by naming them as 'Mr' alphabet letters. I think it's also time that all UK public sector senior managers who are members of Common Purpose to have to declare it - as Masons do. What's the betting that at least two out of these three are CP shills?

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

NHS loses its Halo

Just two or three years ago even implied criticism of the NHS was unthinkable. It was the nation's sacred cow, free to wander unhindered and unquestioned; it defined 'Britishness' and even to hint that it was less than perfect was alike to declaring one's support for kiddy-fiddling. 

How things have changed. The accepted view is now that the NHS is an out-of-control behemoth, unmanageable, our hospitals death-factories, contaminated with deadly bacteria and viruses, uncleaned and unhealthy, staffed with uncaring incompetents, our GPs overpaid fat-cats who golf at weekends while patients die. Above all, we have accepted that NHS management is not only wholly disfunctional, but criminal in its negligence and grossly culpable for its cover-ups.

And now, to little surprise, the Care Quality Commission, the body that itself should have policed standards, has been caught in a massive cover up. This time it's new born babies that have been dying in Herodian proportions. And all the while the top guns, like senior bankers, escape jail. 

The reality is that there are many more good, professional, dedicated, caring and committed professionals in the NHS than there are incompetent fraudsters, shysters and other senior managers. A large part of the problem has been a culture of Managerialism that has robbed the professions and the Royal colleges of their authority to secure professional standards. 

But not until we have strangled the last NHS bureaucrat with the small intestines of the last NHS board member will we be able to reclaim a useful health service.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A bit of a Brazilian

The event that must be sending little frissons of unease amongst the besuited oligarchs at the G8 is the spontaneous demonstration by about a million Brazilians last night. The Guardian reckons it was prompted by another rise in bus fares, but El Pais has the better story; it was unplanned, entirely unexpected, not organised, without leaders and with a simple and universal message "We want to change Brazil". Young and old, from all classes, they just appeared, committed and angry. El Pais quotes Brazilian historian Francisco Carlos Teixeira as explaining that people felt that politicians "no longer represent them". 

It really does seem that this is more than just a temporary though global crisis of confidence in our political systems. It's really no good telling people they're being silly, it will all come to nothing and they're best off putting their trust in their local Tory MP and carrying on. That response misses the mood by a country mile and marks the responder as remote, out of touch and actually part of the problem. 

Of course (whilst avoiding potentially racist national stereotypes etc) it's possible that Brazilians are a tad more spontaneous than the inhabitants of Esher, or that Brazilian Monday night TV is even more banal than our own or that the Brazilian streets are actually not a bad place to be on a weekday evening, but it's the sheer unexpectedness of the thing rather than its size or actions that is the key point. And that's why there will be a few anxious phone calls home today from Loch Erne

Monday, 17 June 2013

Broken China

Ambrose turns his basilisk gaze to China in his latest Telegraph column, and what wondrous gloomy reading it makes. Not all his readers are happy that his focus has shifted from Europe, though;
China China China... I am sick of these doom and gloom stories about China. I want to hear some good news... like that Deutsche Bank is not broke, or that Credit Agricole is not a zombie that needs a bailout, or that there aren't 470 billion euros of construction loans sitting on the books of the Spanish banks... enough bad debt to sink the entire euro zone, and all from one misguided property boom.
 Meanwhile Boy George thinks that property booms are quite useful tools for bribing the electorate and his doing his best to stoke the UK furnace

Another commentator notes that since Chinese lenders and borrowers both are the same State there is no crisis; it's taking money from one pocket and putting it in the other. Whereas (after bailouts and nationalisations) British lenders and borrowers are ...oh, I see what they've done there

Sunday, 16 June 2013

'Someone's got to win the next election'

'Someone's got to win the next election' runs the headline for a Speccie piece by James Forsyth, making the point that even though the electoral prospects of Conservative, Labour and LibDems are equally dire, the 2015 intake of MPs will come from their ranks and a government must be formed.

And this will be the case even if turnout falls to 20%, if only one in five of us bother to vote. Unlike true democracies, our corrupt third world standard electoral quotas (maintained by Labour and the LibDems), widespread and acknowledged electoral fraud and electoral malpractice, which places the UK beyond all European standards of electoral probity, will put an MP into Parliament if two bribed electors and a dog called Bert submit ballots. 

The 2015 ballot is shaping up to be a contest between the UK Political Class and the people of Britain. That neither will score an outright victory is perhaps less important than the watershed that may occur; either the Political Class realises it faces a deep crisis of democratic legitimacy and sacrifices Party for democracy (yes, unlikely isn't it?) or it is effectively abandoned by a population no longer constrained to accede to obedience.