Category Archives: Officialdom

Jobsworths and state institutions driving Grumpy wild

Political duplicity

International law breaker Brandon Lewis

In the first week of November, 2020, Foreign Secretary of the UK issued a statement about the Chinese disqualifying a number of legislators from the Hong Kong parliament, saying it was breach if the Sino-British declaration on the status of the Special Administrative Region post the expiry of the UK lease on certain territories there. “With our international partners, we will hold China to the obligations it freely assumed under international law”, Dominic Raab said.

Really ? How short Raab’s memory is. Just one month before, Brandon Lewis, Northern Ireland Secretary, admitted in parliament that the Internal Markets Bill broke the UK’s freely assumed obligations under international law.

Grumpy is struggling to understand the difference in principle here. He also wonders how Raab is going to square his distaste of countries that break binding agreements when he and Liz Truss are trying to persuade Joe Biden that it’s fine for the Brits to do just this because it’s essential but the Chinese are being oppressive to the would be democratic legislators.

Ever heard of Oriol Junqueras? No ? Well he is languishing in prison serving a 13 year sentence (along with a dozen colleagues) for Sedition in Spain. The action of the Spanish government in these and other sentences was fully supported by that bastion of liberal government, the EU – including the UK. They were pushing for independence, just as the Hong Kong agitators have been doing.

But wait ! Wasn’t the fact that the Chinese government introduced a Sedition law (which the Hong Kong LegCo had failed to do for 13 years (in spite of an obligation so to do enshrined in the Basic Law) the triggered for sanctions by the USA, and an offer of British Citizenship from the UK ?

Amongst other things, the banned persons had refused to acknowledge Beijing’s authority, something Western hypocrites also lambasted. Here in the UK, however, anyone who is elected as an MP has to swear an allegiance to the Crown under the 1868 Promissory Oaths Act, or they cannot take their seat in parliament – just like in Hong Kong. This runs through establishment English life; every Freeman of the City of London has to make a solemn declaration in GUildhall to “be good and true to our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth II” and even that they “will know no Gatherings nor Conspiracies made against the Queen’s Peace but will warn the Mayor thereof…” Wow, just like the East German stasi in snitching on one’s fellow citizens.

Grumpy carries no banners for China, as he had frequently said here; but what he finds repulsive – and yes, that is a good word in this context – is that politicians like Raab are happy to voice such obvious inconsistencies of sanction without a twinge towards their own integrity as individuals.

As a footnote, Grumpy would add that many of the ‘democracy’ advocates in Hong Kong have been openly canvassing support against their government with enemies of the State. It’s called treason; this was something that the UK and others also railed against. when it was introduced into Hong Kong law along with Sedition. However, there is (of course) a law against it in the UK and USA (Trump wanted to jail Obama for it) – it’s just morally justified in the West but not with those dangerous commies.

Sophistry from Jessica Arnold

Jessica Arnold, Associate Director of Primary Care, NHS Bromley

An article in the Guardian berating users of private medical services caught Grumpy’s eye. His initial reaction was to dismiss it as being just another staff writer beating the socialist drum, but on further examination the author was an Associate Director at NHS Bromley, one Jessica Arnold.

Whereas unbalanced and slanted writing is the norm for the paper’s writers who quickly mug up on the background of their latest target over the first coffee of the day, Grumpy studied the piece published on 08/01/20 with more than usual care. He was taken aback at the blatant hypocrisy of the argument presented from an NHS insider, but on further investigation it seems that Ms Arnold is a paid up member of the Labour party (attending the annual conference even) and hence a proxy for the John McDonnell Marxist take on public services.

Ms Arnold essentially admits that the NHS isn’t working, but her thread of logic seeking to place the blame on a parallel private system is highly flawed, and seeks to ignore the underlying causal factors. Grumpy has used private GP services twice over the Christmas period for the simple reason is that no GP appointments were available in time frame relevant to his problem. However, to suggests that he in some way contributes to a shortage of GP’s is not only simplistic left-wing drivel, but profoundly wrong.

Ms Arnold’s argument is based on the notion that private medicine is responsible for ‘poaching’ NHS staff, which is the cause of the staffing crisis. This is breathtaking sophistry; the NHS itself is indeed a poacher of scarce medical skills on a scale which dwarfs any effect of the private sector. As Grumpy outlined in his note here because of deliberate policies of governments of both persuasions places at medical schools in the UK were restricted in favour of a mammoth multi-million pound poaching exercises from a variety of other countries, and particular India.

So whilst arguing that private medicine was depriving UK patients with care, the fact was that the NHS itself was depriving Indian mothers – with the highest child mortality expectation in the developed world – of doctors who were poached by higher salaries in the NHS.

As Cambridge Professor Ha_Joon Chang has argued systems which involve just the private sector or just the public sector are increasingly being shown not to work well; rather, thinking how private and public enterprise co-exist is key to developing a balanced society and economy.

The problems Ms Arnold recognises stem not from Grumpy’s recent burn being attended to by a private GP but from the policies of politicians, and only politicians. As a member of the Labour party, Ms Arnold will recall that Gordon Brown planned to cut thousands of doctor and nurse training places if labour were elected in 2010. However, for decades both parties have (a) knowingly held down training places because it was cheaper to poach scarce staff from Romania etc (b) encouraged the take up of local places by foreign students to generate income but without solving the local resourcing problem.

The fact is that until and unless the NHS trains more doctors than it poaches from other countries with far worse health systems than the UK, Ms Arnold’s attempt to lay the blame on private provision rings hollow.

RIP Nig… , sorry, Fido

Awareness of what is now seen as the stained and inhuman history of individuals, organisations and countries in a position to exploit and despoil nations, beliefs and the environment has led to increasing demands for both recognition of the nature of same, and in some cases reparations for, past deeds.

Whilst there can be some element of empathy for this, the targets are inevitably a bitty, hit and miss, illogical minority of the totality of injustices of the past. The simple fact is that those same actions were inextricably entangled with the current evolved structure of a country; part of its history, for good or ill. For example, the Industrial Revolution in the UK can be mapped back directly to both slavery and the subjugation of India, for example. How can that now be undone?

However, what is potentially more difficult to have empathy with is the the increasing attempts to re-write history, invoking an Orwellian vision of the ‘Ministry of Truth’. This tendency is overt is some cases, but in others it is diffusing with subtlety through governmental and institutional structures.

In 1955, a film called The Dam Busters was made, a belatedly patriotic tale of an otherwise wholly inconsequential attack on German infrastructure. The hero (and all war films need the ‘hero’) was Guy Gibson VC, and the point of this post is that in the story he had a dog called ‘Nigger’. Whether he did actually call it Nigger (or indeed, had a dog) is historically irrelevant, but this was the name used in the film. That’s a matter of record and fact. It is in time past. It cannot be changed.

It’s perfectly acceptable for people to now note that by current social mores the name is retrospectively seen as offensive if uttered by white persons (but oddly not coloured people). However, what Grumpy finds to be a dangerous trend by (in this case) the RAF is an attempt to remove a record of this by changing the name on a memorial dog tombstone at Scampton air base to something else. If history can be air-brushed for this, it is an alarming precedent for governments and others to re-write facts on more or less anything.

To put things in context, one of the currently successful women rappers (singers?) is a lady called Nicki Minaj. She released a song called ‘Looking ass,’ which had critical acclaim, and was presumably heard repeatedly on radio and seen in a video by the teenage consumers of such music. She used the word ‘Nigga’ (and Niggaz) no less than 40 times in two verses. That’s actually quite a feat, but the lyrics are typified by “Look at y’all niggas, niggas, look at y’all niggas” and “Pussy, you tried, pussy ass nigga you lie, pussy ass nigga, you high” {and no, Grumpy has absolutely no idea what that all means.}

Where is the furore ? Was the song banned in the UK ? Did the government leap in to prevent its youth from being exposed to this? Not at all – a 12 year old girl can buy it with explicit lyrics from Amazon today. Inconsistency is the father of disorder, and Grumpy will return to this topic in later posts.

Goose and gander

What’s the difference between the two individuals pictured here? Well, on the right is Stormzy, a ‘grime rapper’ whose lyrics embrace such niceties as wishing to gift a ‘facial’ to any young lady unfortunate enough to be involved with him. Stormzy has created a scholarship to fund two black students to attend Cambridge University. The initiative has been welcomed / praised by many in the educational field, as widening access to BAME students from disadvantaged and poor backgrounds.

On the left, however, is Sir Bryan Thwaites (both obviously white and from a privileged demographic), who offered £1m to fund two scholarships at Dulwich College and Winchester School for talented white boys from poor backgrounds.

Both Dulwich and Winchester immediately rejected the offer on the basis that any discrimination on the grounds of colour was against their core values.

Nothing could underline the contorted posturing of academia and politicians on supporting underprivileged youth than this. Poor white boys can expect a worse educational outcome than poor black boys, but somehow this fact is inconvenient when ethnically focused help is directed towards whites and not blacks.

Grumpy was hugely impressed by pieces written by Trevor Phillips (former Head of the Equality Commission and himself black) who trashed the ‘self-righteous guilt tripping’ offered by these organisations when faced with evidence based support for the disadvantaged of the wrong colour i.e. white. His intervention brings the weight needed to re-balance efforts in seeking to improve equality of opportunity for young people.

Law and sanction

Dateline March 2019: according to press reports, One dangerous offender was convicted 21 times for possession of a knife without being sent to prison. Another committed 33 assaults before being jailed for his 34th. One thug had acquired 17 convictions for assaulting police officers before finally being jailed last year for an 18th.
A shoplifter who had an astonishing 70 previous cautions and convictions for theft before being jailed in 2016. Last year, another career criminal totted up 65 previous convictions for theft before being locked up. Another offender committed 30 drug crimes before his 31st saw him put away, while a fraudster was convicted of 53 separate scams before finally being imprisoned for yet another.

Meanwhile, the medieval ‘pleading of the belly’ excuse is popular amongst female crooks. A 39 year old woman downed a bottle of wine and hit three cars. The judge (a woman, by the way) said that if she were a man she would have gone straight to jail, but she gave a sister 3 months to get clean.

White collar crime is alive and profitable. Natalie Johnson, a serial fraudster stole £168,000 from employers. She awaits sentencing as of the current data, but don’t expect a flogging anytime soon.
However, one of her colleagues at one company also put her hands in the tin to the tune of £16,000, but of course theft of this trivial amount didn’t justify jail time. The picture at the top shows her rejoicing at the beak’s generosity in a wine bar after sentencing.

The populace is concerned by the level of crime, and appalled by the perceived “softness” of the justice system. It matters not what the reasons for this are – ‘jail does’t work ‘ / ‘community sentences are better’ / ‘lack of jail places meaning non-custodial sentences are levied’ / ‘long term giving an offender jail time costs society more’.

As Grumpy has quoted before, as a principle which has held for centuries, ‘law without sanction is mere cipher’ . It’s a fact of human behaviour that, in general, people do what gets rewarded. After 20 times of getting away with it, a thug may well become cavalier about carrying a knife.

Unless and until this changes our society will neither be safe nor stable – and creating this environment is the first and primary duty of any government.

Huawei leak – the US ?

Grumpy has heard rumours that the leak from the National Security Council that the UK government was to use Chinese company Huawei within the planned 5G phone infrastructure, originated from the Americans. They of course have the whole of the parliamentary estate bugged, and when they discovered the technology for a 5G roll out might be of Chinese origin from Huawei, they were concerned and upset.

Firstly, it meant that US manufacturers would miss out, and Trump was determined that that should not happen, both to protect his business buddies, but also because it was bad optics.

More importantly however, by getting US technology implemented for 5G, it would mean that (a) they could hold the UK to ransom and (b) it would be even easier to spy on the UK government, companies and citizens.

Trump thus authorised the leak, knowing that Huawei would be binned in panic and under pressure, and some poor cabinet minister or civil servant would get the axe, because even if the powers that be knew the US bugged the National Security Council, they couldn’t possibly admit it, and therefore a scapegoat would be needed.

This is fake news. I’m puzzled as to how the Department of Media Culture and Sport will, under its announced plans, be able to detect it and effect its removal. What law might Grumpy break? For him to be guilty, it would have to be proved that it was false, which in objective terms might be difficult. They say it’s false, Grumpy asserts it’s correct, and would use the “they would say that, wouldn’t they” (to quote Mandy Rice-Davies – qv, youngsters) defence.

UN on poverty

A United Nations  ‘rapporteur’ spent 12 days investigating the impact of ‘austerity  in the UK. The  Huff Post reported that he said

“During my visit I have spoken with people who depend on foodbanks  and charities for  their next meal, who are sleeping on friends’ couches because they are homeless and don’t have a safe place for their children to sleep. Who have sold sex for money or shelter, [and] children who are growing up in poverty unsure of their future” 

Since he clearly couldn’t have found these people on a random interaction with the populace at large, it is likely that he was shepherded from one scenario to another by people with an ‘agenda’, presumably selected carefully as being the worst examples they could find. Worse, the targets to whom he spoke have naturally every incentive to stick one  to the government and exaggerate their situation when being asked about their plight. This is what statisticians call ‘selection bias’; if you do a survey in the Sahara desert  for evidence of global lack of water, it’s likely that you conclude it’s critical. The shepherds in this case included  the Poverty Alliance and the Child Poverty Action Group, who are presumably not neutral in their views on the effect of austerity.

The rapporteur in question was Philip Alston, holder of both academic and UN (doubtless well paid)  sinecures.

Grumpy has issues with the type of exaggerated language  used by Alston, because, in spite of his being an academic it is (a) imprecise  and (b) as reported, is designed to confuse. As the Resolution Foundation acknowledges, being in relative poverty does not mean being poor by some absolute definition. Alston uses the tired but common trick of conflating these two things to inflate his message.

However, the main issue is that Alston’s apparent title is  “UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights”. Now, measured in quantitative terms of the percentage of a population living with an income of less than USD 5.50 per day on a purchasing power parity basis, there are 147 countries worse than the UK. Grumpy doesn’t know how many of these Alston has covered, but (even in Europe) if he has not reported on Macedonia (25% below this level) but has selected the UK (0.7% below this level) one starts to sense the reek of a political agenda with a strongly socialist bias. Presumably, he doesn’t get the same self seeking publicity from trashing the Macedonian government as he does from the UK, which just may have something to do with his choice of country if he hadn’t completed the other 147.

Compared with the billions of people round thew world living in utter abject poverty and with desperately short life expectancy, a very small percentage in the UK reach the limit implied by Alston’s title, and he could have better served his title by addressing himself more to their  plight.

Food banks ‘Fake News’

Not anorexic …

Grumpy has opined before on how certain institutions with otherwise entirely laudable objectives (and which do contribute to society)  nevertheless resort to hyperbole,  and intentionally misleading and often disingenuous  statements to promote their political messages.   ( http://grumpy.eastover.org.uk/numbers-that-dont-add-up/ ) One of the common ways this is done is to conflate topics (often easily done with the ‘flexibility’ of the English language) to deliberately leave an impression with the reader which is removed from reality.

Grumpy’s eye was caught by a headline  on the website of US based CNN, ‘holiday hunger is haunting British Families’, driven by the statement  that ‘31% of children in Coventry live in poverty’ from a UK Community Trust. It goes on to say that ‘millions of parents … face stress over whether they will be able to provide food for their families’.  One can forgive a US reader getting the impression that that vast swathes of UK citizens are on the point of starvation. Poverty = poor; the authors know exactly what they are doing in this conflation.

The data stems from data issued in a leaflet by the ‘Coventry Partnership’, which also stated that 18.5% of residents of the City are living in circumstances of multiple deprivation. Oddly, it also says that over 24% of Coventry children are obese, and that this is increasing – giving the image of a third of the population being  anorexic whilst one quarter are wobbling about as flesh mountains. [Incidentally, the picture at the top of the page is of a family who use a food bank because they are unable to otherwise feed themselves. However, at the risk of being  cruel (but Grumpy at least deleted the word ‘porky’ from this post),  neither of the two women depicted have any obvious signs of food deprivation, so the food bank clearly provides copious calories.]

This piece of lexical sleight of hand comes from a favourite trick of the many agencies vying for more government monies, which is to conflate relative poverty (which is what the 31% was based on) with being poor; it is not. One can construct a scenario where people ‘living in poverty’ by this definition all drive BMW 520 cars.

The same article has links to another current bandwagon on which Grumpy has previously written (http://grumpy.eastover.org.uk/news-round-up-july-2018/ ) is about ‘period poverty’ i.e the cost of feminine sanitary products.  The Salvation  Army food bank stated that with Tampons costing £3.14 for 20 at Tesco, and women using 11,000 tampons in their lifetime, they would have to work 38 days to afford this.

This is using a 1950’s advertising trick of quoting usage by lifetime to maximise a quoted cost and by the hour / day if it is wished to minimise it (“only 50p per day”). However, setting aside that tired cliche, it is  clear that based on reputable figures (e.g. from the Office of National Statistics) this is more inflation. Do the math.

No-one can doubt that a considerable number of people have a relatively miserable life from a material perspective (which doesn’t mean that they do not find value and happiness in life nevertheless). However, Grumpy is of the view that the constant inflation  of statistics and disingenuous conflation of topics by various agencies to deliberately obfuscate reality and promulgate false impressions to gain political and general visibility is not necessary;  if the truth were known, it probably hardens the heart of the more fortunate towards charity.