Just a quick note to say that this site has just registered its 10,000,000th hit – Ten Million! Over half of those have been registered this year alone, meaning that the year-to-date has generated well over twice as many hits as the whole of last year. In four-and-a-half years, I’ve generated as many hits as the BBC does in a couple of days or less… That puts it in some kind of perspective, I guess…
Minister thinks Government is unethical
You may have noticed that Dawn Primarolo, Health Minister, has asked for a report into the ‘unacceptable’ and ‘unethical’ situation whereby recovering drug addicts are given extra doses of methadone or shopping vouchers in return for clean drugs tests.
Perhaps she should start by investigating the advice endorsed by her own Government, and published by the Government-established NICE three months ago. If she does, she’ll come across this:
Principles of Contingency Management
- Offer incentives contingent on each drug-negative test, usually either:
- vouchers that can be exchanged for goods or services of the service user’s choice, or
- privileges, such as take-home methadone doses.
- The value of vouchers should start in the region of £2 and increase with each additional, continuous period of abstinence.
You see, that’s one of the many problems with evidence-based medicine – it doesn’t necessarily fit in with the Daily Mail‘s ‘druggies are scum’ agenda. Sometimes, the most effective thing to do isn’t the most popular.
But presumably, since NICE advice is now officially unethical, the government will now be performing a spectacular U-turn on all NICE guidance, and issuing drugs regardless of ‘cost-effectiveness’ – and the dementia patients who so vigorously campaign for drugs (in a way that fits in with the tabloid agenda) will now be granted all they want, as the government will no longer be able to hide behind NICE Guidelines.
It’s all because the gays are getting married
Crap: A Guide to Politics by Terry Arthur
Note: I was sent this book to review by the publisher, and have reviewed it in compliance with the review policy of the site. Other companies are welcome to send me stuff to review – email me using the details on the right.
Crap: A Guide to Politics is a major update on Terry Arthur’s famous book from the 70s, 95% is Crap. It aims to deconstruct ‘political speak’, and expose it as ‘crap’ of one of twelve kinds, each of which is given a chapter in the book.
The book is certainly entertaining – it’s written with humour, and certainly made me smile. However, the clear anti-government stance of the author became wearing in parts, and there was often a strong feeling of him criticising every option without offering a solution.
That said, the book does highlight some quite startling U-turns by politicians, and some fairly worrying half-truths (and worse). It highlights the way in which the political process has become corrupt, and reliant on influencing the news cycle and assuming that the voter will forget last week’s news in favour of today’s.
However, the book itself has been published at an unfortunate time, which (thanks to the turbulent political times of late) makes it appear outdated as soon as it has hit the shelves. At the time of the book’s writing, Tony Blair is leading the Labour Party, much is made of Menzies Campbell’s leadership of the Liberal Democrats, and Cameron’s Conservatism is still seen as new and exciting. Clearly, things have moved on from there, but the central messages of the book hold true.
Arthur points out the core duality of any political process – the politican must represent both their constituents’ interests and their own, which are often disparous – and highlights some fascinating (and hilarious) episodes on which this has been clearly exposed to the public. But whilst maintaining a humour, there is a serious message underneath about the damage such approaches can have on the political process as a whole.
This book is both humorous, and also a serious deconstruction of the state of political play. That duality makes the book untidy and repetitive at times, and the humour sometimes comes across as juvenile, but it isn’t a bad book. It’s certainly accessible enough for the general reader, but perhaps not quite heavy enough for the political junkie. It’s worth a read.
Win My Review Copy
To comply with my self-imposed policy of not accepting payment for reviews, I held a competition to give away my review copy of Crap: A Guide to Politics. But it’s closed now – you’re too late.
Buy Your Own Copy
If you’re not feeling lucky, Crap: A Guide to Politics is now available to buy from sjhoward.co.uk/shop.
Royal Mail strike: Quick fix
The ridiculous ongoing strike by Royal Mail workers which is risking lives and livelihoods is easy enough to fix: Simply change to paying the workers by cheque, sent in unmarked envelopes through the mail. I think the strike might end rather more quickly then.
I still don’t understand the aim of the strikes. Every day of disruption takes business away from Royal Mail, and increases the number of redundancies and level of pay-cuts which will be necessary to make the organisation competitive. The strikers are shooting themselves in the foot.
In the meantime, DHL must be celebrating the day they decided to offer their consumer courier service via Staples stores. It’s not cheap, but it works.
A big Brown mess
A single sentence in Mr Brown’s conference speech could have saved him a huge humiliation today. But he tried to keep his options open for too long, and look where he’s ended up. A huge climbdown following an unnecessary build-up, in the face of a terrible poll.
The number of mistakes that have been made in the handling of this situation is staggering.
He’s announced this decision in the face of a poll showing a Conservative lead, meaning that the poll gets more attention that it otherwise would have.
He’s done it on a Saturday so he gets a bashing in the Sunday papers and the Monday papers.
He’s done it in an embargoed interview, so the only pictures to accompany the story for the first (almost) 24 hours are those of Mr Cameron criticising him.
He’s done it in a BBC exclusive interview, pissing off every other broadcaster and guaranteeing himself a rough ride.
In fact, I don’t think there’s anything right about the way he’s done this. Yet he’s supposed to be one of the greatest political strategists of our time. What’s gone wrong? Is the pressure of being PM taking his eye off the political ball? And if he makes this much mess of not having an election campaign, how will he manage the real thing in a couple of years’ time?
Update to Toolbar
The incredibly popular sjhoward.co.uk toolbar has just been updated to a new version.
Still included are links to tens of the biggest national and international news sources, live-updating links to popular news websites and agencies, links to video reports from three major organisations, and the ability to search with many different search engine providers.
Added to this edition are links to hundreds of the biggest political blogs in the UK and Ireland (US blogs will be added soon), a whole new range of handy tools (including a calculator, a notepad, and a to-do list), and a few sneaky mini-games to play while your favourite websites load.
The toolbar also has a slicker new look, with better browser interface integration and new icons.
The new version will automatically cascade to current users shortly, if it has not already done so, and no action is required on their part. If you are not a current user, and wish to download the toolbar, you can now do so directly from the toolbar page.
Seven reasons why Brown won’t call an election
There are many, many reasons why Mr Brown won’t call an election in the next few weeks. These include…
- It would be difficult for him to ‘win’ – only an improvement on Mr Blair’s last performance will be seen as a ‘win’, and that’s not the current trend.
- The latest polls – Labour has virtually lost its lead.
- The postal strike – Potential for electoral chaos.
- Electoral register – Because the new register only comes into force from 1st December, thousands will probably be disenfranchised.
- Technology – Much of the technical equipment that failed in the May elections hasn’t been fixed.
- The defence against not calling an election is stronger than that against calling an election. And not calling an election when the Conservatives have called for it makes Cameron look powerless, which is a reasonable swap for Brown looking a bit wimpy.
- The Brown honeymoon period is now well and truly over.
I’d be surprised if he called an election against that background. My history of predictions is pretty terrible, but poor ability doesn’t stop anything else I do…
After holding my own in the non-aligned category of Iain Dale’s political blog rankings, I’m amused to see that overall I’ve dropped from being the 69th best political blog in the UK to, err, 198th. I guess you can’t win ‘em all.
This week’s Gazette post was another eerily familiar one, though this one’s been reheated so many times now I fear it’s lost all nutritional value. Ah, well…