Wednesday, February 13, 2013
You can't rely on a bureaucracy: Nobody cares and nobody takes responsibility
And no negligence will get anybody fired: A council left 81-year-old widow to starve to death in her own home after being warned by police that she needed urgent care. Elderly Britons without close family are at great risk
A council was warned by police that an 81-year-old woman needed urgent care but failed to act - leading to the woman starving to death in her own home, it has emerged.
Stroke victim Gloria Foster depended on agency nurses who visited her home four times a day for food, water and medication.
But after the agency was closed down last month – for allegedly employing illegal immigrants – her council did nothing to look after her.
It has now emerged that on the day the raids took place, Surrey County Council was given a list of all the agency's clients and contact details by the Metropolitan Police. According to the Daily Telegraph, this included Mrs Foster.
But the council failed to provide any alternative arrangements for the widow's care and she spent nine days alone at home.
When someone eventually went to her home, in Banstead, Surrey, on January 24, they found that Mrs Foster had all but wasted away. She was severely dehydrated, suffering kidney failure, had serious bed sores and only a faint pulse. She was taken to Epsom Hospital but died on Monday.
Detectives from Surrey Police are now investigating Mrs Foster's death and have seized her care register as evidence.
She had been receiving help in her own home from Carefirst24, but Surrey County Council became responsible for her care after a number of its workers were arrested last month following a UK Border Agency (UKBA) raid
The care register shows that Mrs Foster last received care on January 15. The nurse wrote that she gave Mrs Foster spaghetti bolognese and fruit juice.
She also wrote that she put on the washing machine and left Mrs Foster watching TV.
Mrs Foster was then found at home on January 24 with her walking frame out of reach in the lounge. The washing which the nurse placed inside the machine was still inside.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Jo Wood, Mrs Foster's god-daughter, said: 'Can you imagine just lying there not being able to move for nine days? It must have been horrific. What happened to her is simply unforgivable.'
Her friends have previously said that what happened to her had been ‘appalling’ and demanded answers from Surrey County Council, the local authority responsible for her care.
Ann Penston, from Sutton, said: ‘How on Earth could this have been allowed to happen? ‘How can they just close this thing down and not identify the people they were supposed to be taking care of?
‘She did not deserve to go out like this – in agony with a total feeling of being lost.’
Mrs Foster’s MP, Conservative Crispin Blunt, described her ordeal as ‘horrific’. He said: ‘Clearly there are questions to answer and I would expect a comprehensive investigation between all of the agencies involved.’
Mrs Foster, a lover of classical music and the theatre who is believed to have worked as a stenographer, had no children. Her husband Bob, an accountant, died in a car crash in Saudi Arabia about 30 years ago. She had suffered a stroke and lived alone in the £200,000 house she had owned since 1984.
Private agency Carefirst24 had a lucrative contract from the council to look after her.
But the agency was suspected of employing illegal immigrants and six people were arrested by UK Border Agency officials when its Sutton headquarters was raided.
Alternative arrangements should have been made but Mrs Foster did not get any replacement care. She had no idea the agency had closed and was unable to call for help.
A district nurse visited her by chance and found her in a critical condition.
Miss Penston, who had known Mrs Foster since the 1980s, said she ‘couldn’t imagine’ how her friend would have felt after being left alone for nine days. ‘I don’t know how she survived. She had a glass of water by her bed. 'I don’t know if she managed to get up and get it but my assumption is that for she was just lying there waiting for someone to come.’
Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam, said the council needed to get to the bottom of why its procedures did not work properly.
The UK Border Agency said it had warned the council of plans to shut Carefirst24.
All those arrested in the raid on Carefirst24 have been bailed until dates in March.
Two British women aged 48 and 52, a 52-year-old British man and a 34-year-old Mauritian man were held on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to facilitate foreign nationals.
They are alleged to have employed illegal workers using former workers’ identities.
Carefirst24 is owned by Mahen Caussyram. The company’s website says: ‘Mahen is a family man who takes his responsibilities quite seriously. He enjoys spending time at home with family and friends.’
Mr Caussyram is a registered nurse who ‘developed an interest in human resource management’ and worked as an ‘activities coordinator’, the website adds.
A spokesman for the council said: 'This is now the subject of a police investigation and it would not be appropriate to comment further other than to say we will cooperate fully.'
An unfree press — by appointment to the Crown?
The Tories’ ‘alternative’ to statutory press regulation is to get the monarch and Privy Council policing freedom of expression once again
Some might be wondering if they imagined the whole year-long Leveson Inquiry into the ‘culture and ethics’ of the UK press, and the brouhaha that met the publication of Lord Justice Leveson’s report in November, so little has been heard of it lately. And even if it did happen, they could be forgiven for thinking that Leveson’s proposals for a powerful ‘independent’ statute-backed press regulator had already been forgotten, given the apparent lack of political progress towards agreeing the new system.
But they would be wrong. In fact, there have been intense negotiations and arguments over what exact form the new regulatory system should take. We have not heard much about these machinations, because the authorities do not believe that the public has any real part to play in deciding what sort of media we should be allowed to read, see and hear.
Instead, from the start the Leveson Inquiry operated as a closed shop for the political, legal and media elites, with the rest of us reduced to largely bored spectators. In the same oligarchic spirit, the post-Leveson political debate has been an invitation-only affair confined to the leaders of the main political parties, lords, lawyers – and the pro-regulation lobby group, Hacked Off.
There are, of course, differences of emphasis between these parties – notably over Leveson’s proposal that the new regulator be underpinned by law, which was rejected by Tory prime minister David Cameron but backed by Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the House of Lords and Hacked Off. However, what is much more important is that they all accept the central myth that has informed the debate since the phone-hacking scandal: the myth that the British press has been too free to run wild, and that the naughty newspapers need the firm hand of a new regulator to smack them into line.
The pro-liberty argument, that in fact the press is already neither free nor open enough, has unsurprisingly not featured in their deliberations. That pro-regulation consensus makes it also unsurprising that the main players have apparently begun to move closer to a deal on how the press should be restrained, behind the closed doors of their smoke-free rooms.
The lack of visible political progress on press reform has this week led the frustrated denizens of the House of Lords to put more pressure on the government by passing their own version of a ‘Leveson law’ – a bill to create a low-cost arbitration system, as proposed in the Leveson report. Before anybody starts cheering this latest act of ‘rebellion’ by their lordships, we might recall that Leveson’s proposed ‘voluntary’ arbitration body is in fact an indirect form of coercion on the press: the flipside of his financial ‘incentives’ for newspapers to sign up to the system is the threat of ‘exemplary’ damages being awarded against publications that refuse to bend the knee to the new regulator-arbitrators. This is just one way in which the ‘Leveson principles’ for a statute-backed regulator threaten further infringements on press freedom (see Leveson: a licence to police press freedom).
But while the lords were right to complain about a virtual ‘news blackout’ on the political negotiations over Leveson, they were wrong to suggest that nothing has been happening. In their desperation to escape from the corner they have painted themselves into – wanting to implement Leveson, but having rejected his key proposal for statute – the Tories have come up with an extraordinary ‘alternative’. They now want to see the new regulator established, not by parliamentary law, but by Royal Charter. And what is more, their opponents have lately shown signs of coming round to this dangerous idea.
Acting as the prime minister’s voice on earth, Tory Cabinet minister Oliver Letwin reportedly sprang the idea of a regulator backed by Royal Charter on to the other political leaders during cross-party talks. The details of this extraordinary proposal remain unclear, though the government has promised to announce them soon and has already begun lining up the great and the good – a top judge, a former Labour cabinet minister, etc – to play a part in judging the press.
What is clear, however, is that the Tories want to avoid going through parliament and instead set up the regulatory system using the Royal Prerogative. This is the historical constitutional device which gives Her Majesty’s Government, acting in the name of the Crown, the power to do anything from signing treaties and launching wars to appointing lords and judges, without consulting parliament, never mind the public. The Royal Prerogative is a permanent menace to democracy which ought to be abolished – indeed, it is the main argument against the monarchy. Instead, the Tories now plan to introduce this authoritarian instrument into the affairs of our supposedly free press.
A Royal Charter has to be agreed and overseen via the Privy Council. This is the ancient secretive body of advisers to the monarch, officially known as Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council. Largely made up of senior politicians, the Privy Council formally advises the sovereign on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative and the issuing of Royal Charters. In practice, this means that such executive decisions are taken by government ministers. And as the Privy Council Office’s own website makes clear, there is a strict limit to the ‘independence’ of any body set up by Royal Charter:
‘[O]nce incorporated by Royal Charter, a body surrenders significant aspects of the control of its internal affairs to the Privy Council. Amendments to charters can be made only with the agreement of the Queen in Council, and amendments to the body’s by-laws require the approval of the Council (though not normally of Her Majesty). This effectively means a significant degree of government regulation of the affairs of the body.’
So much for no political interference in the press.
Anybody with a passing knowledge of the history of the struggle for press freedom in Britain should recoil from the merest suggestion of the Crown and the Privy Council becoming once more involved in press regulation, however formal their role. It evokes grim shadows of the old system of Crown licensing of the press, started by Henry VIII in 1529 and expanded under successive monarchs, under which nothing could be published without official permission. The central body of censors enforcing that system was the Star Chamber, a secret court made up of judges and Privy Councillors. Those who dared to defy these crude early attempts to ‘regulate’ the press faced more than a slap on the wrist; an insolent author had his writing hand cut off at the wrist under Queen Elizabeth I, while a Puritan pamphleteer whose writing was less than complimentary about the wife of King Charles I had his ears removed. Even after that king has his head removed by the Puritan revolutionaries in 1649 and the Star Chamber was abolished, licensing of the press returned. As late as 1663 a printer was hanged, drawn and quartered for defying King Charles II’s monopoly of the press. Crown licensing and censorship of everything that was published did not end until 1694.
Now it seems the Conservatives want to give the Crown and the Privy Council a role in a system of regulating the press once more. There is no prospect of a return to the censorship and punishment of old (though some critics might like to cut a few journalists’ hands off). But it is still a dangerous form of state intervention in the press, the very thing that people have struggled against for more than 500 years, and presents no ‘alternative’ to Leveson’s proposed statutory regulation that is rightly seen as an historic danger. (Indeed, it is now suggested that the Royal Charter idea might need some sort of statute to entrench it.) Whether a new ‘independent’ regulator is supervised by the broadcasting regulator Ofcom (as Leveson wants), or by senior judges (as Labour have suggested), or by the Privy Council, it is state intervention by any other name, and bad news for press freedom.
Yet the Tories’ idea appears to be gaining what the political wonks call ‘traction’ in their talks. The Labour Party has made clear from the day Lord Justice Leveson published his report that it backs his call for a law to underpin the new regulator, and opposes Cameron’s position. Its culture spokesperson, Harriet Harman, says the argument against statutory intervention does not hold, because there are already laws limiting freedom of the press. Which sounds rather like saying things are already bad, so what’s wrong with making them worse? It never occurs to these state-dependent politicians that this might be an argument for getting rid of the legal restrictions that exist, rather than imposing more. However, Harman has only said of the Royal Charter idea that Labour is ‘unpersuaded’ – which, as lobbyists have pointed out, is not the same as unpersuadable. There is plenty of scope for some sort of deal backing some form of state intervention.
The Hacked Off campaign was initially more dismissive of the Tories’ Royal Charter idea – hardly surprising, as that celebrity-fronted lobby group has called for a law making it obligatory for all newspapers to submit to the new system. The Hacked Off complaint that Letwin’s proposal was ‘undemocratic’ might have been a bit rich, coming from the leading lobbyists for further restraining the democratic right to a free press. But it was also true – the notion of Privy Councillors and judges implementing a regulatory system is even less democratic and accountable than MPs doing it. However, this week Hugh Tomlinson QC, the lawyer who chairs Hacked Off, told a committee of MPs that the campaign was ‘prepared to consider’ a Royal Charter instead, if that was the best way to get a strict system of press regulation set up.
(The two-actors-a-hackademic-and-a-dog outfit that is Hacked Off continues to exercise a remarkable influence over the entire process. Having, as recently argued on spiked, set the terms and the tone for the entire Leveson Inquiry, and written most of the key proposals in the report, it is now apparently shaping the supposedly hostile Tories’ response. So, as Peter Preston points out in the Observer, ‘Hacked Off wanted a “present or former civil-service commissioner” and/or “a present high judicial officer” plonked on top of the appointments body who’ll choose the successor regulatory board to the Press Complaints Commission – and lo! their demands would seem to be met in full.
‘The government has asked Sir David Normington, current commissioner for the civil service – and public appointments as well – to move in and approve the appointments system that emerges. He’ll need Privy Council assent to extend his official brief. Expect this to follow in a few days. And meanwhile Lord Phillips, former president of our supreme court and thus just about the highest former judicial officer extant, has agreed to advise on the construction and running of that selfsame appointments apparatus.’)
One way or another, it appears that the main parties allowed into the elitist clique redefining press freedom are coming closer to agreeing a system described by the pro-regulation Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) as ‘underhand statutory underpinning’ for a new system of policing the press. No doubt there will be ructions, fallouts and U-turns ahead as they attempt the juggling act of appearing to support press freedom in principle while hobbling it in practice. But whatever arrangement they eventually agree to endorse, the writing is already on the wall, in big bold type, for the future of a more free and open press.
Already there are signs of politicians becoming bolder in chastising the press under the shadow of Leveson – whether it’s the culture ministry warning the Daily Telegraph that it should not expose the minister’s questionable expenses claims while she was considering the Leveson proposals, or another government minister demanding not only that an Observer columnist should be sacked for writing something she disagreed with, but that the editor should also go for daring to publish it (he quickly took it down). Expect more of the same.
This does not signal any return to historical forms of state censorship. But it should highlight the real threat that an ostensibly free UK press is facing today – not censorship, but conformism, the pressure to conform to an increasingly narrow you-can’t-say-that culture of what opinions and ideas and investigations are acceptable to publish. What the pro-regulation consensus wants is not a state-run press, but a more conformist, tamer, better sanitised press that has been ‘ethically cleansed’. And all done behind the banner of ‘Of course we believe in a free press, BUT….’
One question that, it seems, has been entirely removed from the agenda for debate is this: why should we need or accept any special rules or laws for regulating the press, anyway? Freedom of expression is the bedrock liberty of a civilised society, on which all other freedoms depend. A free press is the organised expression of that right. So why should we look to the Irish, Finnish or whatever other system of press regulation is fashionable with the controllers this month? Why not look to the American revolutionary tradition to which Britain gave birth, and match the spirit of the First Amendment to the American Constitution, which declares that Congress shall pass no law ‘abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press’?
The fight for real press freedom, against all the alternative systems of control being proposed, should be a major issue for 2013. The first step is to break the political oligarchy’s monopoly on this issue and start a proper open debate. The future of a free press is far too important to be left to those who think the ‘public interest’ should ultimately be policed, not by the public, but by the Privy Council.
No future for Jews in England
by Caroline Glick
In an interview with Haaretz in November 2010, British novelist Martin Amis said the following about discussions of Israel in his motherland:
"I live in a mildly anti-Semitic country, and Europe is mildly anti-Semitic, and they hold Israel to a higher moral standard than its neighbors. If you bring up Israel in a public meeting in England, the whole atmosphere changes. The standard left-wing person never feels more comfortable than when attacking Israel. Because they are the only foreigners you can attack. Everyone else is protected by having dark skin, or colonial history, or something. But you can attack Israel. And the atmosphere becomes very unpleasant. It is traditional, snobbish, British anti-Semitism combined with present-day circumstances."
After participating last week in a debate in London about Israeli communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines organized by the self-consciously pretentious Intelligence Squared debating society, I can now say from personal experience that Amis is correct. The public atmosphere in England regarding Israel is ugly and violent.
The resolution we debated read: "Israel is destroying itself with its settlement policy. If settlement expansion continues Israel will have no future."
My debating partner was Danny Dayan, the outgoing head of the Yesha Council.
We debated Daniel Levy, one of the founders of J-Street and the drafter of the Geneva Initiative, and the son of Lord Michael Levy, one of Tony Blair's biggest fundraisers; and William Sieghart, a British philanthropist who runs a non-profit that among other things, champions Hamas. Levy has publicly stated that Israel's creation was immoral. And Sieghart has a past record of saying that Israel's delegitimization would be a salutary proces and calling for a complete cultural boycott of Israel while laudingHamas.
We lost overwhelmingly. I think the final vote tally was something like 500 for the resolution and 100 against it.
A couple of impressions I took away from the experience: First, I can say without hesitation that I hope never to return to Britain. I actually don't see any point. Jews are targeted by massive anti-Semitism of both the social and physical varieties. Why would anyone Jewish want to live there?
As to visiting as an Israeli, again, I just don't see the point. The discourse is owned by anti-Israel voices. They don't make arguments to spur thought, but to end it, by appealing to people's passions.
For instance, in one particularly ugly segment, Levy made the scurrilous accusation that Israel systematically steals land from the Palestinians. Both Dayan and I demanded that he provide just one example of his charge. And the audience raged against us for our temerity at insisting that he provide substantiation for his baseless allegation. In the event, he failed to substantiate his allegation.
At another point, I was asked how I defend the Nazi state of Israel. When I responded by among other things giving the Nazi pedigree of the Palestinian nationalist movement founded by Nazi agent Haj Amin el Husseini and currently led by Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas, the crowd angrily shouted me down.
I want to note that the audience was made up of upper crust, wealthy British people, not unwashed rabble rousers. And yet they behaved in many respects like a mob when presented with pro-Israel positions.
I honestly don't know whether there are policy implications that arise from my experience in London last week. I have for a long time been of the opinion that Israel shouldn't bother to try to win over Europe because the Europeans have multiple reasons for always being anti-Israel and none of them have anything to do with anything that Israel does. As I discuss in my book, these reasons include anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, addiction to Arab oil, and growing Muslim populations in Europe.
I was prepared to conduct a civilized debate based on facts and reasoned argumentation. I expected it to be a difficult experience. I was not expecting to be greeted by a well-dressed mob. My pessimism about Europeans' capacity to avail themselves to reasoned, fact-based argumentation about Israel has only deepened from the experience.
One positive note, I had a breakfast discussion last Wednesday morning with activists from the Zionist Federation of Britain. The people I met are committed, warm, hardworking Zionists. I wish them all the best, and mainly that means, that I hope that these wonderful people and their families make aliyah.
While their work is worthwhile, there is no future for Jews in England.
The Truth in Love Police
Liberal academics have been using speech codes for years. They hear an idea they don't like and it makes them angry. But they don't quite know how to defeat the idea on its own merits. So instead of either a) taking the time to cool down and offer a rational response, or b) actually changing their view, they simply give in to the impulse to censor. That is why our campus speech codes really don't reduce so-called hate speech. They simply embolden those who hate speech.
I wish I could say that this childish inclination toward censorship is unique to liberal academics within the secular university. But that isn't the case. The problem is spreading into Christian circles as well - liberal Christian circles, to be specific. It is particularly pronounced among young liberal Christian males who believe their liberal politics can be meshed with a comprehensive Christian worldview.
The liberal Christian censor has a number of verses he uses to try to silence political speech that makes him feel uncomfortable. Among his favorite verses is the Apostle Paul's exhortation that we speak the truth in love. This verse has been pulled from Ephesians and thrown my way no less than three times in the last month. See if you can detect any commonalities with the following:
1. The truth in love police called me out for saying Governor Chris Christie was "not one of us" on the issue of gun rights. (This was after Christie accused the NRA of going after Obama’s kids in the name of politics). I'm not sure why the young liberal Christian male thought “not one of us” was a hateful remark. It was made out of love. I love guns and I think Governor Christie doesn't. But I think Christie loves knives - like the one he jammed in Mitt Romney's back right before the election. And I think that helped get our rabidly pro-abortion president re-elected. Do you really want to talk about going after other people’s children in the name of politics? Or do you just want to end the conversation by quoting Scripture?
Truth. Love. Thank you, drive through.
2. The truth in love police called me out for asking pro-choice conservatives to remove themselves from my personal Facebook friend list, but only conditionally. The condition was if, emphasis on if, they could not refrain from using my wall to urge me to suppress my pro-life views. I'm not sure why the young liberal Christian male thought this was a hateful remark. It was made out of love. I love the unborn and I think those who want to legalize killing them don't.
Truth. Love. Thank you, drive through.
3. The truth in love police called me out for stating that a nation that defends itself by placing women and homosexuals in combat is on the verge of extinction. I’m not sure why the young liberal Christian male thought this was a hateful remark. It was made out of love. I love women and I think those who would expose them to gang rape in POW camps don't. I also fear that social experimentation with homosexual politics is a distraction that will get people killed. History is not silent on the veracity of my thesis. And history will someday reveal that homosexuals are treated worse by those who run Islamic prison camps than those who run Chick-fil-A.
Truth. Love. Thank you, drive through.
The commonalities in those three scenarios should be obvious. But just in case you are a liberal who is blinded by emotion, I'll gladly lay them out for you:
1. The three liberal Christians all disagreed with my political positions and that made them angry.
2. The three liberal Christians then projected their anger on to me - although I was not at all angry.
3. The three liberal Christians all reached for a verse to stop the speech that made them angry. And they all committed idolatry in the process by elevating their politics above their religion.
Had any of these young liberal Christian males read the Bible thoroughly they would have noted that calling me out in public was against Scripture. They should have reached out to me privately beforehand. So I'll refrain from calling them out by name. Instead, I'll leave them with a bold piece of advice:
A self-proclaimed liberal Christian is sitting in the White House. He supports the murder of unborn innocent children with zeal unmatched by any previous president. And he tries to use his power to force those who he says are his brothers in Christ to subsidize the murder of innocent children. He does so by stripping the conscience objector of his religious freedom. Write to him privately. And don’t forget to quote the Apostle Paul from the Book of Ephesians.
In short, liberal Christians need to stop confusing forthright honest speech with hatred. But the truth of the matter is that they aren't confused. They are simply deflecting attention from their own shortcomings. Like their fear of boldly defending their families, their country, and the innocent unborn human.
Truth. Love. Thank you, drive through.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.