We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Moral blindness

“Danny Baker’s excuses don’t cut it – the impact of racism is inseparable from the intent”, writes Kuba Shand-Baptiste in the Independent. Or rather her headline writer does, since the headline claims that intentions matter deeply and the article claims they matter not at all. No, I’m wrong; on closer reading, the headline-writer took the headline from the penultimate line of Ms Shand-Baptiste’s article. But that line contradicts everything that went before. Oh, I give up. You can read it yourselves.

For context, Ms Shand-Baptiste’s article is about the sacking of the DJ Danny Baker for tweeting an old black and white picture that showed a very posh couple with a dressed-up chimpanzee, to which Baker added the caption “Royal baby leaves hospital”. Given that baby Archie is mixed race (a touching photo of him surrounded by beaming relatives from both sides of his multi-racial family went round the world in an instant), and there is a long history of racist depictions of black people as being apes or monkeys, Baker was a fool not to see how his tweet could be misread. But he says it was misread. He says he was jokingly making a left-wing point to the effect that all the royals are in a sense performing animals, dressed up for the cameras. I see no reason to disbelieve him. Neither does Kuba Shand-Baptiste in the Independent, she just thinks innocent intent does not matter:

When it comes to racism in Britain, naivety has long been key to pushing the harmful messages we accept as inadvertent or good natured. But there’s no excuse. Whether or not these acts are accidental, the impact is almost always inseparable from the intent. You don’t have to have a “diseased mind” to be part of the problem, but blind belief in your own sense of decency in the face of facts that suggest otherwise, definitely helps.

Wait a minute, “blind belief”? Kuba Shand-Baptiste just used the word “blind” as a metaphor for a moral failing!

When it comes to ableism in Britain, naivety has long been key to pushing the harmful messages we accept as inadvertent or good natured. But there’s no excuse.

Never mind the context, never mind her intention, the Independent must fire her now.

Added 10.20pm, 10/05/19: Good grief: Danny Baker being investigated by police over ‘stupid’ royal baby tweet that saw him sacked by BBC.

To be fair to the police this looks like a case of “someone has made a complaint so it must be investigated”. Welcome to the world you made, lefties.

What answer were you expecting?

Diana Darke, writing in the Guardian, asks,

Britain used to ask Muslims to move here. What happened to us?

In the current climate of Islamophobia, I wonder how many British people are aware of a series of films made in the early 1960s, which were expressly designed to encourage people from Arab countries to come to Britain to work or study. The four films, all in Arabic, were made on behalf of the Foreign Office, and all begin with a mosque skyline and melodic chants of “Allahu Akbar”, the start of the Muslim call to prayer. They are unapologetically religious, eager to show Arabic-speaking Muslims how welcoming Britain is, how Islamic institutions exist in Britain to cater to their cultural and religious traditions, as a friendly home from home.

I truly, literally hesitated to post this Guardian article that purports to combat hostility to Muslims because it is so obviously certain to infuriate people against them. In the end I did post it because the phenomenon of its existence is worthy of examination. Why do the writers of such pieces do it? Why does the Guardian facilitate them? What answer were they expecting?

A distant mirror

“Turkey officials order re-run of Istanbul election, voiding win for Erdogan opposition”, reports the Independent:

Turkish authorities on Monday ordered a redo of an election won by an opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political party, snatching away a major victory from the country’s opposition.

Under heavy pressure by Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) Turkey’s High Election Commission (YSK), which is described as packed with the president’s loyalists, cancelled the results of 31 March Istanbul mayoral elections narrowly won by Ekrem Imamoglu, a rising star in the Turkish opposition.

The news was reported by Turkey’s state-run Anatolia News Agency. It sent the Turkish lira, already battered by inflation and high borrowing costs, tumbling.

Mr Imamoglu appearing before a crowd of supporters struck a defiant tone.
“We won this election by the hard work of millions of people; they attempted to steal our rightfully won elections,” he said. “We are thirsty for justice. The decision-makers in this country may be in a state unawareness, error or even treason, but we will never give up.”

The Times has also reported on this story: “Election chiefs order re-run of Istanbul poll Erdogan lost”.

Imamoglu, the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate who won the March 31 poll by 14,000 votes, of the office and duties that he had already assumed.

In a statement to crowds waving Turkish flags in the city’s Beylikduzu district hours after the announcement was made, Mr Imamoglu, 48, urged his supporters to “stand up against what you know to be immoral”.

Street protests broke out across the middle-class, secular neighbourhoods of Istanbul where support for Mr Imamoglu and his party runs highest.

The Guardian has followed Mr Imamoglu’s rise closely in recent months, not surprising given that Mr Imamoglu is a liberal secularist standing up for democracy against the Islamist demagagogue Erdoğan. For instance this admiring profile of Mr Imamoglu by Bethan McKernan appeared last month: “Ekrem İmamoğlu: a unifying political force to take on Erdoğan”. As it usually is, the Guardian‘s straight reporting of the story that the election is to be run again is fair enough: “Outcry as Turkey orders rerun of Istanbul mayoral election”. But something tells me that the newspaper’s liberal, secularist columnists may not leap with their customary vigour to defend Mr Imamoglu’s hard-won democratic victory against those in power who would use their control of procedure to make him fight it again. On the other hand, perhaps I am too pessimistic. They are all devotedly pro-EU, after all, and the left-wing MEP who might be thought of as the European Union’s spokesperson on Turkish affairs has spoken clearly and well:

Kati Piri, the European parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, said the decision “ends the credibility of democratic transition of power through elections” in the country.

A cross-party group of Green, Labour and progressive Conservative MPs have finally seen the light and are demanding deficit reduction

I thought this day would never come!

New laws should be checked against a “compassion threshold”, to ensure they will not harm future generations or the most vulnerable in society, a cross-party group of MPs will argue this week.

At last “progressives” have acknowledged that to run up the UK deficit by reckless government spending is to bribe the present electorate at the expense of ruinous consequences for future generations. I do not know what caused the likes of the Green Party’s only MP Caroline Lucas, the Labour MP Thangham Debonnaire, or the famously wet Tory MP Tracey Crouch to belatedly see the wisdom of the US Tea Party movement and Senator Rand Paul’s Balanced Budget Amendment, but whatever caused this Damascene conversion, it is most welcome.

Naturally these generally left-wing MPs see the proposed “Compassion Threshold” that would bind this and all future Parliaments in what laws they can pass as primarily affecting issues of more traditional concern to the Left:

From rising levels of rough sleeping to the rollout of universal credit, there are a growing number of issues that campaigners believe underline the unintended consequences of policymaking on the most vulnerable in society.

Backers of the idea of the compassion bill say they hope it would allow those affected to bring legal action, as they can when they believe their human rights are being breached, for example.

But since it should obvious to anyone how readily this proposed law could be used to enforce stringent budget responsibility on future governments, including what may very well be our next Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, let us wish the sponsors of the Bill every success.

The UK has declared a “climate emergency”, apparently

Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter:

Labour has just forced the UK Parliament to declare a #ClimateEmergency.

Real politics comes from the ground up, and that’s what today has shown.

An emergency does not have to be a catastrophe – we now need a Green Industrial Revolution that will reprogramme our economy.

All flights are grounded, today’s local elections have been indefinitely suspended, and jury trials will be replaced by military tribunals for the duration of the emergency. Citizens failing to report to their local branch of the Sustainable Farming Commission for voluntary labour service will be docked ten points of social credit.

Commenting on this post is forbidden. The internet will be closing shortly.

This is not yesterday’s post about the NHS killing several hundred people

Today’s post about the NHS killing several hundred people is quite different from yesterday’s and should not be confused with it. They have nothing in common except both being about times when the NHS killed several hundred people.

The Guardian reports,

Fresh criminal inquiry launched over Gosport hospital deaths

Police have launched a fresh inquiry into how 450 patients died over 14 years after being given dangerously high doses of painkillers at an NHS hospital that showed “a disregard for human life”.

Relatives of the victims hope the investigation – the fourth into one of the biggest scandals in NHS history – will finally lead to criminal charges being brought against staff involved in administering the drugs unnecessarily.

An independent inquiry last year into events at Gosport War Memorial hospital in Hampshire found 456 patients had their lives shortened as a result of being given opioids without medical reason between 1987 and 2001. Their deaths are the focus of the new police investigation.

Another 200 people “probably” received excessive doses of painkillers at the hospital between 1989 and 2000, it added.

However the Guardian does not report a little detail that the Times does:

A hospital doctor faces a new police investigation into the deaths of 456 patients who were given “dangerous” levels of powerful painkillers.

Last year an official inquiry concluded that Jane Barton, who was known as Dr Opiate, headed an “institutionalised regime” of prescribing the drugs without medical justification at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

Patients considered a “nuisance” were allegedly given drugs on syringe drivers filled with opiates which killed them within days of their arrival at the hospital in Hampshire.

(An earlier post on Gosport can be found here: “If a nurse didn’t like you, you were a goner”.)

The cruelty of those who think themselves virtuous by definition

The error was bad enough…

Hospital infected teenager with HIV then kept diagnosis secret

An NHS hospital kept a teenager’s HIV diagnosis secret from him after accidentally infecting him with the virus and testing for it without his knowledge.

Martin Beard, now 50, wants answers from the Infected Blood Inquiry, which begins examining what has been called the “worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS” tomorrow. More than 2,400 NHS patients were killed and as many as 25,000 were infected by blood products contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1970s and 80s.

Mr Beard was among thousands of haemophiliacs treated with Factor VIII, hailed as a “miracle drug” to aid clotting. It emerged years later that almost all those treated were infected with HIV, hepatitis C or both.

The drug was made by “pooling” plasma from thousands of blood donors, including prisoners and drug addicts in the US who were paid. If even one donor was infected, the whole batch was contaminated.

Mr Beard, from Burton-on-Trent, was treated from infancy at Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH), but transferred to North Staffordshire Hospital aged 17, where he first attended with his mother in September 1986. “We opened the doctor’s door,” Mr Beard said. “He didn’t even say ‘hello’ or ‘sit down’. His first words were, ‘I see you’re HIV positive.’ ”

…but in a way the attempt to conceal what they had done was more shocking.

The Times article by Kaya Burgess continues:

A year earlier Mr Beard had been treated at Leicester Royal Infirmary. The Times has seen a letter sent by a consultant in Leicester to a registrar at BCH [Birmingham Children’s Hospital]. Dated October 1985, 11 months before Mr Beard learnt of his illness, it states: “We note that he is HTLV 3 [HIV] antibody positive, but is not aware of this and that you do not wish this to be divulged to him. We shall make every effort to comply with your wishes.”

Medical errors will always happen. Some “cures” that seem wonderful at first will always turn out to have long term side effects, or, as in this case, to be worse than the disease. We can try to minimize such things but we can never eradicate them because they arise from the nature of discovery. If we knew in advance what worked and what did not we would not need research, we would just apply the wonder treatment the angels had told us about.

But for doctors to conceal from the victim of their own mistake the terrible harm they had done, and for no better reason other than to cover themselves… words fail me. Although Mr Beard was eventually made aware of his condition in the most brutal fashion, apparently more because someone did not get the memo to keep it secret rather than from any desire for honesty, other haemophiliacs who were not told of their diagnosis unknowingly infected their sexual partners who went on to die.

Consider those words in the consultant’s letter “We note that he is HTLV 3 [HIV] antibody positive, but is not aware of this and that you do not wish this to be divulged to him. We shall make every effort to comply with your wishes.” A senior doctor who had attained the exalted status of consultant could not possibly have been unaware of the potential dire consequences of hiding from this boy (as Mr Beard then was) the fact that he was HIV positive. Yet this consultant blithely promised to “make every effort” to comply with the wishes of his or her fellow doctors to perpetuate the conspiracy of silence, as if that were the honourable course of action.

Consider that the behaviour of that consultant was widely replicated throughout the NHS. It seemed normal. It was just what you did.

And they wonder why we do not trust the media

What Roger Scruton actually said in an interview with George Eaton, Deputy Editor of the New Statesman:

“I think there are difficulties around the corner that we are ignoring, like the rise of China. There is something quite frightening about the Chinese sort of mass politics and the regimentation of the ordinary being. I think that the… We invent robots, and they are in a sense creating robots out of their own people, by so constraining what can be done that each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that’s a very frightening thing. Maybe I don’t know enough about it to be confident in making that judgment but the politics is like that, and the foreign policy is like that. And the concentration camps have come back, largely there to “re-educate” the Muslims and so on.”

What George Eaton said that Roger Scruton had said:

“I think there are difficulties around the corner that we are ignoring, like the rise of China. There is something quite frightening about the Chinese sort of mass politics and the regimentation of the ordinary being. I think that the… We invent robots, and they are in a sense creating robots out of their own people, by so constraining what can be done that each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that’s a very frightening thing. Maybe I don’t know enough about it to be confident in making that judgment but the politics is like that, and the foreign policy is like that. And the concentration camps have come back, largely there to “re-educate” the Muslims and so on.”

What George Eaton did after this and other lies forensically detailed by Douglas Murray in the Spectator got Roger Scruton fired from his unpaid job advising the government on architecture:

Caption written to a now-deleted picture posted on Instagram by George Eaton,
Deputy Editor of the New Statesman, showing himself drinking champagne from the bottle:
“The feeling when you get right wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked as a Tory government adviser”

Discussion point: have you kept the libertarian faith on freedom of movement?

The Independent reports, Let Us Vote: New campaign launched to give everyone living in UK the right to vote in elections

The “Let Us Vote” campaign, which has the backing of more than a dozen MPs and peers, is seeking new legislation to extend the voting franchise, which has not changed significantly since the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1969

It has been launched by campaign groups the3million, representing EU nationals in the UK, British in Europe, which represents UK citizens in the EU, and anti-Brexit group Another Europe is Possible. The campaign says it is strictly neutral on Brexit and party politics.

In an open letter published in The Independent, supporters including MPs, peers, and NGO leaders wrote: “The outcome of the next few weeks in politics could determine the course of our lives for decades to come.

“But many of the people who are most affected by the current situation – migrants living in the UK, and UK citizens living abroad – have never been offered the chance to have a stake in our democracy.

“Whatever our views on Brexit and party politics, we are united in the belief that it is fundamentally wrong that so many millions of people whose lives will be deeply affected by developments at Westminster are currently denied a vote.”

The letter was signed by Labour MPs Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Clive Lewis, David Lammy and Stephen Doughty, plus Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran.

The “Let Us Vote” campaign’s own website is here.

What was your first thought upon reading this proposal? What would it have been ten years ago?

My first thought was this was David Lammy’s way of ensuring he never again loses another referendum. (My second was, “Leave campaign: use this on C2DE voters.”) Ten years ago I might have said, “It’s a difficult question”. I do not think I was ever unambiguously in favour of complete open borders on libertarian grounds but I knew plenty of people who were and I was open to persuasion. It was seen as one of the questions that sorted the committed Libertarians from the dilettantes. That, I think, is where my instinctive casting of the question in religious terms came from.

My impression is that my loss of belief in free movement of people is shared by many. Is it shared by you? Or have you kept your faith strong? Have you converted to this belief?

A prominent Remainer from the media world gives of his wisdom

David Yelland is a public relations consultant and former editor of the Sun newspaper.

He blesses us with this tweet:

@davidyelland

So many, but not all, the leading Brexiters are unhealthy and don’t seem to care for themselves. So many, but not all, the leading Remainers are healthy in body, mind and soul. It applies right across the country. We smile, they are angry. #PeoplesVote

12:45 AM – 6 Apr 2019

Edit: And it’s gone. Because of Mr Yelland’s kindness:

Have deleted a Tweet earlier which was a tad unkind to some Brexiters. I do think there is a deep unhappiness in the country which fed the Leave campaign but there’s enough conflict out there without me adding to it.

Someone called “Techboy” ensured that Mr Yelland’s original words were preserved for posterity.

Some examples of promises that Remainer MPs made to get elected and then broke

At the height of the Watergate scandal Nixon’s press secretary was a man called Ronald L Zielgler. He became famous for declaring with a straight face that only his latest statement was “operative” and that all previous statements contradicting it were thus “inoperative”.

The following statements by prominent Remain-supporting MPs are all inoperative:

Heidi Allen

This is what the Right Honourable Heidi Allen MP promised to the voters of South Cambridgeshire to get them to adopt her as a candidate at her hustings in 2017:

This is democracy. We might not all like the result. I was a remainer, but the minute we start ignoring the democratic will of the people in this country we are slipping very quickly towards the sort of banana republic I don’t want to live in.

*

The referendum was a different kind of vote. It was a national question, it wasn’t a local one, and I know that probably the majority of people in this room tonight will think “well, we don’t want it”, but we can’t forget that this was a national vote. And I think it’s wrong for us as democratic leaders to be picking and choosing the results that we don’t like.

*

So quite frankly if I am re-elected as your MP, I am not going to waste time, precious time, resisting Brexit from happening. I’m going to grasp that opportunity, leverage that opportunity we have with every fibre of my being and make the best of it.

*

I think those that voted to Leave would think we were treating them as fools and that they were stupid and that we didn’t respect their views. So I think that a second referendum is not what we should be aiming for.

Heidi Allen is now the interim leader of the Change UK party, formerly known as The Independent Group and informally known as the Tiggers or CUKs, whose only significant policy is to force a second referendum.

I saw that speech on the video “Heidi Allen Hustings 2017 Best Bits” posted to YouTube by Tom Harwood. The video of Sarah Wollaston’s hustings linked to below was also posted by Mr Harwood. I thought it was very useful that he added subtitles to the videos, as that makes it easier to find and cite the most strikingly dishonest passages in the MPs’ speeches. By writing out the speeches and the contents of the election flyers and leaflets here in this Samizdata post I hope to make it still easier to spread the word of how these Remainer Members of Parliament are not to be trusted.

Nick Boles

This is what the Right Honourable Nick Boles MP said to the voters of Grantham and Stamford in an election leaflet:

60 SECOND Q&A
NICK BOLES

Q: How do we know you won’t betray us, if we elect you?

A: I will publish all my expense claims online and I will never claim for food or furniture or household goods. I think that MPs elected for one party should have to stand down and call a by-election if they defect to another party.

On 1st April 2019 Nick Boles resigned from the Conservative Party following the announcement of the results of the second round of indicative votes on exiting the European Union. He now describes himself as an Independent Progressive Conservative. His previous belief that defecting MPs should have to stand down fell by the wayside when the time came to apply it to himself.

That leaflet can be seen at the URL https://staging.electionleaflets.org/leaflets/full/58310/ uploaded to the site electionleaflets.org. The fact that by the standards he himself had proclaimed Boles had betrayed his constituents was highlighted by Guido Fawkes in this post. The post reminded me that when Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell left the Conservatives for UKIP they both voluntarily resigned their seats and stood for election again under their new colours. Both were re-elected to their old seats.

Yvette Cooper

This is what the Right Honourable Yvette Cooper MP said on an election leaflet addressed to the voters of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford to solicit their support in 2017:

Yvette Cooper MP
– Securing the best Brexit deal for the Five Towns
– I voted to trigger Article 50 in Parliament
– I want to reform freedom of movement
– I will not vote to block Brexit
– I want to secure the best deal for the Five Towns not just the cities

I took the picture of the Yvette Cooper election leaflet from a tweet by Paul Embery of the Firefighters’ Union.

Sarah Wollaston

This is what the Right Honourable Sarah Wollaston MP promised to the voters of Totnes in order to solicit their support at her hustings in 2017:

It was extraordinarily divisive, the referendum, and we need to move on from that. But what we must do, in my view, is accept the result, but now make sure that just because we are leaving the European Union, we are not leaving Europe. Taking all of the people within this constituency into account, this constituency voted by 54% to Leave. I think this is one of the things that annoys people is telling them that they didn’t know what they were voting for. That was the purpose of the referendum; we accept the result; we move on and make it as constructive as possible. There are real problems with how the Common Agricultural Policy has worked, and we have an opportunity now to redesign something that does more to protect Devon’s farmers and to look at how we balance that with protecting our environment.

A second referendum to take us out of the European Union: it is a direct incentive for us to get the worst possible deal. We have to go into this absolutely understanding that the principle here is that we respect the outcome of the referendum and I think it would be a huge mistake to go into this promising that I’d be prepared to vote to actually overturn the deal and send us back into Europe. We shouldn’t be going back and saying that we don’t accept the result of the referendum, I’m afraid.

From the video “Sarah Wollaston’s 2017 Husting Highlights” posted to YouTube by Tom Harwood.

On 20 February Sarah Wollaston resigned from the Conservatives and joined The Independent Group / Change UK. Wollaston’s pledge to respect the referendum thus joined in the inoperative bin her belief that MPs who cross the floor ought to face a mandatory by-election. As the Wikipedia article on Sarah Wollaston says she actually supported a Private Members bill to make this the law:

Call for mandatory by-elections for MPs switching parties

In March 2019 it emerged that Wollaston had supported a 2011 bill which required MPs who switch parties to face an automatic by-election. Wollaston herself switched parties on 20 February 2019, yet refused to let voters have a say on her switch. Chair of the Labour Party in Totnes and South Devon, Lynn Alderson, said Ms Wollaston “made her views clear”. Wollaston acknowledged the likely calls for her to face a by-election but refused such a proposal, stating “neither this nor a general election would answer the fundamental question that is dividing us”.

Broken promise on respecting result of EU Referendum

During her election hustings when campaigning for re-election at the 2017 General Election, Wollaston promised her constituents she would “accept the result” of the EU Membership Referendum, noting that 54% of her constituents had voted Leave. She went on to state that “one of the things that annoys people is telling them that they didn’t know what they were voting for” and completely rejected the idea of holding a second referendum. Wollaston later switched to the Independent Group, all the member of which oppose to respecting the result of the EU Referendum and committed to holding a second Referendum, therefore meaning Wollaston had broken all her election promises on the issue.

Let’s get thrown out of the EU!

Jacob Rees-Mogg tweets,

If a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU we should be as difficult as possible We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes.

The Independent reports that the EU has slapped him down:

Brussels has slapped down Jacob-Rees Mogg after the leading Brexiteer suggested the UK should wilfully cause chaos at the EU institutions if Brexit was delayed.

Mr Rees-Mogg will be pleased his threat has got through to its intended audience.

A spokesperson for the European Commission suggested that the Tory MP was essentially irrelevant and not involved in negotiations.

No one said he was involved in negotiations. He is suggesting a course of action to be applied by newly elected Eurosceptic Conservative, UKIP or Brexit Party MEPs when and if they find themselves elected to the EU Parliament. Jacob Rees-Mogg is famously mild mannered. The type of candidates elected by a massive bloc of voters who have just had it demonstrated to them that voting does not work are likely to be less so.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, also piled in. Seizing on Mr Mogg’s comments, he said: “For those in the EU who may be tempted to further extend the Brexit saga, I can only say, be careful what you wish for.”

Mr Verhofstadt is correct.

Edit: in the comments – OK, in the comment – Stonyground asks a very good question: “As I understand it, the EU parliament has very limited powers. How much trouble could the awkward squad realistically cause?”

Going by recent dramas in the Mother of Parliaments, quite a bit if they place their votes with ruthless indifference to the merits of the motion in whatever way will lead to stalemate.

There is also something to be said for complete randomness. And it’s “plobble”. (Slaps self round side of head.) What I meant was they could vote with the extreme Right on Monday, the Extreme Left on Tuesday and with an unconventional part of their anatomy on Wednesday.