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Saturday 30 June 2018

Poor women with large tattooed breasts - 11 years on

Back in May 2007 I posted a piece titled "Poor women with large tattooed breasts will have to do the best they can" which has, over the years, attracted over 3,000 hits. I guess some 2,800 googlers or more will have been disappointed. There were no illustrations. It was about non-essential NHS procedures and I wrote
Whilst I also believe that funding decisions should be made at the local level by local bodies of health professionals and citizens, rather than from the State central health bureau, I think the NHS (or rather the NHS at its local level) should be allowed the power generally to ask for top-up fees for a whole range of medical procedures; a charge that is somewhere between free and the cost of a wholly private option.

Fertility treatments, breast enlargement or reduction, tattoo removal, elective caesarians for mums too-posh-to-push, varicose vein removal, cosmetic plastic surgery, piles reduction and many other minor procedures are now seen as a 'right'. This is never what the NHS was founded for. What next? Baldness treatment for men 'psychologically damaged' by being slapheads? Buttock implants for women who see a phat booty as a 'cultural necessity'?

Of course we're all happy to get something for nothing. But I'm sure if given the choice between spending money a year's gym membership or getting our piles sorted next week, we'll go for rectal comfort. 'Unfair to the poor' I hear some say; yes, perhaps. But not life threatening. And poor women with large tattooed breasts will just have to make out the best they can.
Well, NHS England have just caught on. Eleven years late and some £2bn wasted that could have been saved had they formulated policy from our blog posts in a more timely manner.

Of course, back then hardly anyone had gender reassignment treatment on the NHS whilst now there are thousands queueing for gender dysphoria counselling and hundreds waiting to have their tackle lopped at £16k a chop. But I doubt the NHS would dare face up to the Trans lobby - at least not for another eleven years.

Friday 29 June 2018

Blair, Straw must face trial for rendition & torture conspiracy

I said at the time of the peak 9/11 rhetoric that you could no more have have a 'war on terror' than you could have a war on swords, or a war on light machine guns. Terror is just a weapon. You can protect yourself against a weapon, but to end the threat you must deal with those using it. And any group with a big enough grudge can use terror.

Our domestic war criminals Blair, Straw, Hoon and Irving - the holders of the four great offices of State who lied this country into an unlawful war - have also now been exposed as complicit in the most vile and despicable acts of torture. 

Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee has just published its long awaited report on UK complicity in rendition and torture under Blair and Brown's governments. Not only are the facts a damning indictment of Blair's hubris and utter immorality, but the intelligence service bosses, Scarlett and Dearlove, are also exposed as deeply complicit in this disgusting business. And please don't defend torture - "When we torture people, even if we win the battle, we've already lost the war for hearts and minds, especially our own". Blair's torture policy was Not In My Name and not, I suspect, the name of the vast majority of essentially decent British people. 

The Chair of the committee is one Dominic Grieve. This report has been long awaited, and perhaps those wondering why the long delays may look to Blair's machinations as in Chilcot's report and wonder if he has not adopted the same tactic here.

Blair and Straw at least must face trial over this. And both Dearlove and Scarlett, as Peter Oborne recommends in the Mail, must at the least be stripped of their kinghthoods.  

It is high time we put these people in the dock to answer for these crimes.

Wednesday 27 June 2018

50% of UK Revenue Cutters deployed to Greece

Those of you familiar with North Norfolk will at some stage have come across the horses of the Household Cavalry on holiday. In return for having to live in London's ugliest building (by the hubristic brutalist Basil Spence), having to stand still for long periods outside Horse Guards as idiotic tourists self-snap and caparison alarmingly close, and at getting a sniff of Hyde Park but never being allowed to get a full gallop on, the doughty chargers are rewarded with a few weeks a year cantering naked in the North Sea surf, galloping down wide dawn beaches with damp sand under their hooves and pigging out on sweet fresh grass well-balanced with mash and hay. Then it's back to London. 

The same must apply to the crews of the UK's revenue cutters. Not only have Dutch shipbuilders Damen constructed these for standards of crew comfort unknown to the Royal Navy, with floating soundproof decks, 'box-in-box' suspended crew quarters and generous leisure space, but they also even have raft-mounted engines to reduce vibration so the crew can sleep more easily. Those domes at the stern aren't for tracking the pursuit of drug smugglers - they are TV satellite receivers, so the lads (and lasses?) don't miss a single world cup game. And that tube at the front isn't a gun but a fire-hose, designed to look like a gun.

But I guess that comfy beds, satellite TV and gourmet food just aren't enough for our Border Force afloat. What they really need is a month or so steaming between the Aegean islands on ink-dark seas, with Retsina and gay discos after their 9-to-5 shifts are done. To top up their tans and steam about searching for the few rubber boat people making the trip to the Greek islands from Turkey, and take them back.  

The problem is, the UK has only four revenue cutters - HMC Valiant, HMC Seeker, HMC Searcher and HMC Vigilant. Valiant has been on holiday in Greece since 2015, and it's been so much fun that another of the flotilla will join her there. Meaning half our total revenue cutters are away on holiday. And unlike the Household Cavalry's chargers, not just for a quick break. 

Nice work if you can get it. 

HMC Vigilant - will she win the Greek lottery?   

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Europe's Liberals need to learn from Turkey

If you or I were in Turkey, opposing the illiberal authoritarian regime of Dictator Erdogan, we would risk being thrown out of our jobs, having our homes trashed by thugs, imprisoned or being quietly dragged away at night and shot. Erdogan's fifteen year regime has used every legal means plus emergency powers to repress free speech and democracy in Turkey.

Some 60,000 are held in 'emergency detention'. 150,000 public sector employees have been thrown out of their jobs since 2016, following a purge of the armed services in 2013 in which commanders not loyal to Erdogan were jailed at show-trials. Police, judiciary and universities have been purged of potential opponents, but above all Erdogan has complete control over news media and has jailed hundreds of independent journalists. 150 media outlets were closed after 2016, and government censorship is active and present in all others. All news in Turkey is Erdogan news. Internet access and use is restricted and any website can be (and are) blocked at the whim of the censors. Even Wikipedia is banned. In the run-up to the election, Erdogan's party got 67 hours of election broadcasting. His biggest rival Ince got 7 hours. the Iyi party got 12 minutes.  

Yet despite all this, people still communicated. Somehow they managed to meet and talk, to canvas, to spread the message. 87% of voters turned out to vote, and despite the repression and crackdown, Erdogan managed only a slim parliamentary majority. People organised themselves to guard polling stations and ballot boxes from Erdogan's thugs. Even Kurdish voters, some of whom faced an 8km walk to cast their votes, passed the magic 10% threshold as their HDP party gained 12%, despite the party leader having been imprisoned by Erdogan. 

Free speech. Free association. The right to form political parties. Erdogan has trampled on all these most fundamental rights - yet still somehow he failed to win the victory he needed. Universal suffrage and most of all the secret ballot have kept democracy alive in Turkey. They are the most precious of our rights, and worth our blood to defend. 

We need to learn from the Turks the ways in which democracy can be nurtured under an illiberal regime.

Monday 25 June 2018



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