@campbellclaret on Brown’s substance abuse

Via Mr Euginedes, Alastair Campbell posted this message to his blog this morning :

In the so called spin room afterwards, all sides were claiming victory for their man, which I accept is a bit tedious. But I really did and do believe GB was head and shoulders above the other two on substance.

Maximum puke, as usual from the borg overseers. But yeah, Brown must have been high on some pretty good shit if he thought he was doing well.

Presumably the same substance that @campbellclaret is abusing. With some regularity if I’m any judge since only a complete asshat would genuinely believe that GB was anything other than his usual clunking fisted train wreck.

And also because he describes himself as a “Communicator”, but his god-awful blog looks like an angry fruit salad. With a rash. I mean fucking hell Alastair, my eyes were bleeding just looking at it, and I’m half blind.

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Alan Johnson – Dribbling trot mentalist drinks fullsome from poisoned chalice

It has long been mooted that the Home Office is something of a poisoned chalice, and the last twelve years have done nothing to dispel this impression with a succession of frothing at the mouth nutters being broken upon it’s wheel.

Latest corpse on the pile is due to be the career of current Home Sec Alan Johnson. The interview linked below appears to be – so far – the only TV face time on the issue that Johnson has given, even News24 are rolling the Sky footage, and according to Krishnan Guru-Murthy of C4 news fame

krishgm : Home Office still refusing to come on C4 News about drugs policy, for third day in a row.

It’s quite easy to see why. In the Adam Boulton interview AJ shows his true colours, incandescently angry dribbling trot mentalist without a clue.

Dribbling Trot Mentalist

Dribbling Trot Mentalist

I can think of better ways to destroy your political credibility than losing your rag like that on a Sunday morning interview, but not many.

Yesterday Charlotte Gore opined

I did think the reason Gordon gave Alan the Home Secretary job was to basically destroy his popularity forever.1:28 PM Oct 31st from Tweetie

In which case, job done.

Johnson does neither himself or his office (or indeed his party) any favours by acting like this, he clearly isn’t handling this well at all, and as the day continues I imagine he will continue to be made to look petty and stupid.

And there was once a rumour that this man would try and knock Gordon off the top spot ? Dream on, Alan.

Quelle Horror! Decent Post On Labourlist

Normally, reading Labourlist makes me want to go outside, find anyone who professes to be a socialist and beat them to within an inch of their life.

Currently, however, there is an excellent post by Labour PPC Andrew Lomas decrying the “denigration of science for political expediency”.

Well worth a read.

Of course, in order to restore the clever/stupid balance to the universe, the comments section has been colonised by a complete mong who thinks that David Nutt kills children. And is a Tory. Or something.

So that’s all right then.

This is your government on drugs

Jacqui And Alan Go Nutts

Well, there I was thinking about chucking up some waffle about the use of things like science and cost benefit analysis and suchlike as the basis for decision making in my ongoing sketch of a utopian future democracy, and suddenly the Stalinist dog fuckers that we managed to elect twice hand me a fantastic example in the form of the sacking of Professor David Nutt, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson’s letter to Prof. Nutt leaves us in little doubt about the reasons behind his removal from post. It also demonstrates a level of ignorance that would be frankly stunning if it wasn’t simply what we have come to expect. In it, Johnson says

I have concerns regarding your recent comments that have received such media attention. It is important that I can be confident that advice from the ACMD will be about matters of evidence. Your recent comments have gone beyond such evidence.

Those ‘comments’ presumably being that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than cannabis, and that the government – in the form of former Home Sec. Jacqui ‘the smug fascist’ Smith – simply ignored scientific evidence when they re-reclassified cannabis in January 2009.

Johnson’s characterisation of these as mere comments is, to put it extremely charitably, disingenuous.

On Tuesday 14 July 2009, Nutt delivered the The Eve Saville memorial lecture for the The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, held in Great Hall, Kings College, London.

The subject of his lecture was a briefing paper titled ‘Estimating drug harms : a risky business ?’, the text of which can be downloaded from here. It’s a fascinating read, and I thoroughly recommend it.

It is indeed sharply critical of the government, and of policy makers in general. As well it might be given the revolving cluster fuck that passes for drug policy. Nutt relates the difficulty he has trying to get people to engage with the idea of measuring risks and harm associated with prohibited recreational substances relative to other activities and substances.

This is an example of a conversation that I’ve had many times with many people, some of them politicians:

MP: ‘You can’t compare harms from a legal activity with an illegal one.’

Professor Nutt: ‘Why not?’

MP: ‘Because one’s illegal.’

Professor Nutt: ‘Why is it illegal?’

MP: ‘Because it’s harmful.’

Professor Nutt: ‘Don’t we need to compare harms to determine if it should be illegal?’

MP: ‘You can’t compare harms from a legal activity with an illegal one.’

repeats …

This of course exposes the hypocrisy at the core of drugs policy, debate about which Nutt characterises – not without justification – as

isolated and arbitrary, more akin to a ‘religious’ discussion

Quite. But the comments that really boil the government’s piss are of course the statements regarding the relative harm caused by consumption of various substances, and in particular, since it directly contradicts the government’s ‘message’, the harm and risks associated with cannabis use.

Johnson expressed his concern that advice from the ACMD be “about matters of evidence” and clearly he feels this oversteps the mark. Nutt’s remarks about cannabis, however, are based on a a 2008 ACMD report “Cannabis: Classification and Public Health”, which itself drew on earlier work by Nutt and his academic colleagues ‘Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse’ which was published in the Lancet in March 2007. (PDF available from here if you don’t wish to register).

So it’s difficult, almost impossible, in fact, to imagine how Johnson could be concerned that these remarks aren’t “matters of evidence”. Clearly then, the Home Sec is defenestrating the poor prof because his rational, scientific approach conflicts with the approach the government wishes to take. Johnson is eager to leave us in no doubt that this is the case

I cannot have public confusion between scientific advice and policy and have therefore lost confidence in your ability to advise me as Chair of the ACMD

Comfortably Decoupled From Reality

This is bad. This is in fact very, very bad indeed. Because it means that the government of the United Kingdom is happy to operate as though it were living in some fucked up fantasy land of imaginings (not unlike someone who is ripped off their tits on drugs, in fact) rather than actually dealing with reality as it is. Did I mention that this is bad ?

In this particular case, it is actually recursively bad. On receipt of the ACMD’s 2008 report on cannabis classification, Commissar Smith quoth

In reaching my decision, I have also taken into account the views of others, particularly those responsible for enforcing the law, and the public … I have given the council’s report careful consideration. Of its 21 recommendations, I accept all bar those relating to classification.

This is not true. Nutt quotes the results of a poll conducted by the government during the consultation carried out prior to the latest reclassification, which show a solid majority of respondents thought cannabis should have been left in classification C. Many of us would have left it at that, but Nutt and his colleagues didn’t like the poll question, so they conducted their own Mori poll for their report. Only 26% of respondents thought that cannabis should be class ‘B’. 18% thought it should be class C, 11% thought it should be legal. 11% were undecided. 32%, surprisingly, thought it should be class ‘A’. Bastards.

Reclassification to ‘A’, of course, wasn’t on the cards. Neither of those sets of numbers supports Smith’s statement about taking into account the views of the public. Nutt and co asked a second question about criminal penalties which is even more interesting and reveals public misunderstanding of the classification system in general. Again I encourage the reader to consume the paper in it’s entirety. It’s clear that no one at the home office did, because it turned out that the penalties a solid majority of respondents thought would be appropriate are in fact those associated with a classification of ‘C’, with ‘No Punishment’ coming in second.

So in overriding the views of the ACMD experts in favour of the views of the public, she had, in fact, not taken any notice of what those views actually were. Ouchies.

Whoa! Deja Vu!

Nutt points out that this is the first time in the history of the ACMD that the government has ignored it’s recommendations, heaping well deserved scorn on Gordon Brown for his risible “lethal skunk” outbursts. This may well be true, but it is by no means the first time that a government has received a report on cannabis use, disliked it, and binned it. In 1968 while James Callaghan was Home Sec, the Wootton report was submitted by the Advisory Committee On Drug Dependence.

We don’t even have to go beyond the covering letter before we find this

We think that the adverse effects which the consumption of cannabis in even small amounts may produce in some people should not be dismissed as in-significant. We have no doubt that the wider use of cannabis should not be encouraged. On the other hand, we think that the dangers of its use as commonly accepted in the past and the risk of progression to opiates have been overstated, and that the existing criminal sanctions intended to curb its use are unjustifiably severe.

Drugs policy is a particularly good (and topical) example of common sense and rational investigation being swatted aside in the pursuit of some ideological tenet or to win a few votes, but it is by no means the only one.

Earlier this month, “The most comprehensive enquiry into English primary education for 40 years” in the form of the Cambridge Primary Review was completed and submitted to the Department For Children, Schools and Families. Quoth the Graun

The Cambridge review, the biggest inquiry into primary education in 40 years, was published last week after a three-year process which produced 31 interim reports, 28 surveys and thousands of submissions.

The Cambridge review received support from every teaching union, agency and school support group

Quoth schools minister, Vernon Coaker (pdf), in response to the review’s findings that it would be beneficial to the nations children if formal education and testing started at age 6

The world has moved on since this review was started. If every child making progress and reaching their potential is what matters then Professor Alexander’s proposals are a backward step.

Heavy Heavy Deja Vu!

A May 2008 schools select committee report concluded

In addition, the data derived from the testing system do not necessarily provide an accurate or complete picture of the performance of schools and teachers, yet they are relied upon by the Government, the QCA and Ofsted to make important decisions affecting the education system in general and individual schools, teachers and pupils in particular.

Okay, that’s bad, so we should change it right ? Don’t hold your breath because

The Government has repeatedly refused to face up to accusations that an excessive testing regime has denied children a rounded education, according to one of the nation’s leading experts.

And indeed, if you have a quick peek around, you can find another select committee report from this year that draw similar conclusions.

Google Is Your Friend

Even the briefest, laziest research possible, googling a bit using “government ignored” as a search term reveals a depressing number of occasions where government ministers or officials have simply stuck their fingers in their ears when being advised by experts.

On Swine Flu

Advisers urged the Government to offer paracetamol to the public instead of Tamiflu, to stop the virus gaining resistance to the drug.

But the Department of Health advisers said ministers ignored their advice, even when it became clear the outbreak was mild.

They say the Government forged ahead with mass prescription, fearing the public would be angry if they were told that millions of Tamiflu doses were being held in storage.

On Clostridium difficile outbreaks

The Department of Health knew of a damning report into an outbreak of Clostridium difficile at a hospital trust in Kent more than five months ago and failed to act, it was claimed last night.

On medical training reforms

The government sidelined two top medical advisers to rush through the doomed online recruitment system for junior doctors, MPs were told last week.

It goes on and on and on. I can’t ever remember a government spokesdroid on the TV or radio saying “Well, we didn’t like the conclusions of the report, and we really don’t agree with recommendations, but hey, we’ll just have to suck it up and accept that we’re doing this wrong.”

Not once. Did I mention that this is bad ?

Recursively, Recursively Dense

It has been suggested that as far as the current shower are concerned much of the reason that the Home Sec. always is, or morphs into what Charlotte Gore delightfully labels “Authoritarian Super Cocks” is due to New Labour’s reliance on manipulative shitweasels like Phillip Gould, the so called ‘guru’ of the focus group.

An unsurprising irony then that they don’t listen to him when they don’t like what he tells them either. Witness this excerpt from a “sensational memo” from Gould to Gordon Brown from August 2008

We have to have a strategy of audacious advance. The best way of achieving this is to hold an early election after a short period of intense and compelling activity. A kind of “shock and awe strategy” blasting through the opposition and blasting us to the mid-40 per-cents.

Remind me, how did that go ?

BNP Takes PR Back In House – No Platform My Arse

Everybody’s favourite cassus belli de jour the BNP have clearly tired of having their publicity managed for them by the Labour Party and the UAF and have taken it back in house and placed it firmly back in the hands of odious wee turd Nick Griffin.

Determined to do his bit for free speech, Griffin set out to prove that “No Platform” policies have allowed the BNP to hide a right bunch of utter knobs behind the shadowy façade of a terribly threatening fascist movement. One largely manufactured from whole cloth by rabid anti fascist activists and Labour MPs.

Griffin replied thusly to members of the armed forces who take issue at his abuse of their heritage :

“Those Tory generals who today attacked the British National Party should remember that at the Nuremberg Trials, the politicians and generals accused of waging illegal aggressive wars were all charged — and hanged — together.

He added: “Sir Richard and Sir Mike fall squarely into this bracket, and they must not think that they will escape culpability for pursuing the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Beautiful. Every time the fucker gets near a camera or a microphone he makes an utter bell-end of himself.

Labour PPC Tom Flynn doesn’t think the plebs are fit to engage to the BNP though, he thinks we’re

“naive about the level of political sophistication which the BNP operation has achieved”

Yeah. Right. No Platform, my arse.

Reform, huwah! What is it good for ?

Someone floated a question on twitter yesterday asking

Can someone please explain why electoral reform is the answer to an expenses scandal?

I felt sure then that I knew the answer (because then you can talk about an election without actually having to have one), but now I wonder if it might not be that at all.

I wonder if the Labour Party is promising us reform – even though the only reform we asked for was for most of them and much of the opposition to resign pending public lynching and prosecution; in that order – as a bribe.

It is traditional for governing parties facing uncertain prospects in the next general election to offer the electorate some kind of bribe in the form of lower taxes, more spending, or draconian and poorly thought through knee jerk legislation against the demon de jour.

For a party facing certain annihilation the impetus to offer something that might convince us must be even larger.

But Labour has nothing left. The coffers are empty. They can’t promise lower taxes or a higher spend because there isn’t any money. After twelve awful years in power, much of which they have spent creating 3,000 new offences, criminalising and demonising their way through their long list of bogeymen, there isn’t room left for any more draconian knee jerk legislation than we’ve already got. At least not of the popular kind. Continuing one upmanship in this area has led to the point where the kinds of legislation still on the wish list are those that would have ashamed the East German Stasi themselves. DNA retention, universal surveillance, mandatory ID papers, etc. Hardly vote winners.

And it does seem that, despite the fact that everyone except the hardest core of activists and trot mentalists now openly despises them, the PLP genuinely believe they still have a chance of turning it round if they can just find that one winning policy. It truly is cargo cult politics.

Perhaps delusions are infectious ?

You are guilty of child abuse until we say you aren’t

Bad news for parents who chose to educate their children at home instead of sending them in to the soul destroying wasteland cherishing arms of the state education system.

A review of home education in England is expected to recommend a national registration scheme for home educators.

Now whenever the Stalinist apparatchiks of the state start talking about building a database ‘register’ of anything you just know that it’s only going to be the tip of a very unpleasant iceberg.

And so it proves to be in this case.

It is also expected to say local authorities should have the right to visit any child taught at home.

Because ?

the government has also been concerned that home education could be a cover for abuse.

Despite the fact that

the review has not found any evidence that home education was being used specifically to conceal trafficked children, or forced marriages.

So on exactly no evidence, the state demands the right to enter your home because they need to make sure you aren’t abusing your children.

And just so you don’t make the mistake of thinking that really this is just about local authorities responsibility to ensure children are educated

The review is not expected to propose any minimum standards or set subjects.

As Peter Hitchens points out in here

I haven’t any evidence that any members of the House of Lords abuse their children, because there isn’t any. But on this logic, that state of affairs would presumably entitle the Department ‘For Children’ to probe their Lordships’ House for evidence of such abuse.

This is, simply, a hysterical witch hunt. Worse, it is the state’s apparatchiks treating our children as their property.

It’s prime instigator is unpeakable harpy and Children’s Minister, Delyth Morgan. She clearly has a bee in her bonnet abut the who child abuse thing, and believes that the state must have primacy over our children, and the rights of parents, in order to protect them.

She also obviously has a prurient obsession with the sexual habits of others, as she issued a further press release this week that contains this absolute gem

The full extent of sexual exploitation is hidden as it mostly takes place away from streets in private homes. It can take many forms from the seemingly ‘consensual’ relationship where sex is exchanged for attention/affection, accommodation or gifts to serious organised crime and child trafficking. What marks out exploitation is an imbalance of power within the relationship with the perpetrator holding some kind of power over the victim, increasing the dependence of the victim as the exploitative relationship develops.

That’s right. Your relationship may seem consensual, but even you can’t be sure until you let Delyth Morgan Sex Stasi into your house to check. Presumably they like to watch.

Excellent coverage of the whole issue of Authoritarian Statists and the NSPCC vs HE, liberty and democracy can be found at Bishop Hill Blog.

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