The baby and maternal deaths at the Morecambe Bay NHS Trust in Cumbria must be a cause of unbearable grief to the families affected. Bereavement is often silently endured, but the pain of loss is so intense that it never really passes. Each grieving journey is unique, yet common to all is an overwhelming feeling of being suspended helplessly somewhere between exile and death.
To learn now of allegations that the hospital’s systematic incompetence and alleged medical malpractice may have been subjected to a cover-up by NHS regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), can only compound the sense of natural violation. It is an agonising thing to lose your baby; it is intolerable, unjust and offensive to have been duped and deceived about the circumstances of that loss. Continue reading →
Barbra Streisand Live at the O2 ArenaShe is the stuff of legend – still bewitching and beguiling at the vintage age of 71 (not that she looks or sounds it). Barbra Streisand has won a couple of Oscars, a Tony, an Emmy, a Golden Globe and been awarded France’s Legion d’Honneur. She has Grammies galore, with 51 gold, 30 platinum and 13 multi-platinum albums to her illustrious name. She even has an ‘effect’ named after her, which must be the showbiz equivalent of a political ‘-ism’. So it was no surprise that she got a standing ovation the moment she ascended the stage on a lift (not out of geriatric necessity). Continue reading →
On 2nd June 1953, the Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher crowned Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, Pakistan and sundry other realms and distant territories. She was anointed on King Edward’s Chair in Westminster Abbey, where a thousand years of monarchs have sworn their oaths to God and made promises to their peoples. The Prime Minister was Winston Churchill. Continue reading →
Jason Richwine PhD was a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation from March 2010 to 9th May 2013. That was the day he resigned, following the media furore which greeted some remarks made by the Washington Post about his 2009 doctoral research, which apparently suggested that recent immigrants into the US score lower than US-born whites on many different types of IQ tests.
Dr Richwine is not a likely racist: he has no political agenda to manipulate US immigration policy. Indeed, by all accounts, he is a credible statistician and qualitative researcher with a string of highly-respected fiscal research papers to his name.
But the doctoral statistical analysis he carried out suggested a real cognitive gap between Latinos and non-Latino whites. This was unpalatable to the political and media elite, so he had to go. Continue reading →
I have never met Nadine Dorries, but I feel as though I have. She radiates the sort of plain-speaking, unstuffy approachability which is rapidly becoming rather attractive to the disaffected and disillusioned masses – if the Farage Factor is anything to go by. I listened intently to her speeches on abortion 18 months ago – in particular her plea for the utterly common-sense safeguard of separating ‘independent’, NHS-funded counselling from the profit-making abortion providers. I watched with sadness as she was predictably pilloried by the left-liberal media, but I was appalled when she was treated worse by some of her own parliamentary colleagues – simply for having the temerity to inject a little reason into the irrational consensus that constitutes our apparently immutable abortion settlement.
If I’d been in her abused shoes, I might have been tempted to jet off to spend a few weeks with Ant & Dec in the jungle myself, if only out of a preference for piranhas over politicians. Continue reading →
When news of Margaret Thatcher’s death reached her alma mater, Oxford University, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, put out a terse statement: ‘As Britain’s first female prime minister, and one of its longest serving, Baroness Thatcher ranks among the most prominent of Oxford’s alumni. One of the foremost politicians of her age, historians will debate her legacy for decades to come; today we remember a graduate of the University who reached the highest public office and had a lasting impact on British politics and society.’
It was carefully worded. With the neutral observation that ‘historians will debate her legacy for decades to come’, and a passing mention of her ‘lasting impact on British politics and society’, Professor Hamilton trod delicately. He couldn’t say nothing, but neither could he say much at all beyond the facts: the merest whiff of praise for her accomplishments would have risked the ire of the Congregation – the academics who make up the governing body of the University, most of whom voted against awarding her an honorary doctorate back in 1985. Continue reading →
As the Socialist Worker alliance of teaching unions continue their disruptive ‘work-to-rule’ policy in schools, I see they are now agitating for further strike action. It has been announced that the comrades will walk out (again) and abandon their students this summer and autumn in protest at Michael Gove’s education reforms. We’re more than acquainted with NUT hyperbole and disinformation when it comes to the Government’s education policy, but I am intrigued by a contentious letter in The Independent on this subject which has been signed by more than 100 academics.
These eminent professors and teachers of education write on behalf of some of the nation’s most prestigious centres of learning. They are seemingly persuaded that the proposed reforms to the National Curriculum will damage education standards because the tedious focus will be on ‘endless lists of spellings, facts and rules’, spiced up with a dirge of ‘rote learning without understanding’. Continue reading →
On Wednesday 27th February 2013 at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the University’s Student Union voted overwhelmingly against the anti-Israel motion to support ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) – a Palestinian movement which seeks to isolate Israel on the world stage by severing all diplomatic and economic links with the country, and placing embargos on trade, aid and military cooperation. Israel’s actions are, in short, devoid of all reason and lack any moral justification.
As far as the BDS campaign is concerned, the Israeli Government is guilty of ethnic cleansing, colonisation, racial discrimination, and military occupation. The motion was to have remained in force until such time as Israel ‘ends the occupation and complies with international law’. Continue reading →
Now that the House of Commons has given its blessing to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, the focus will soon turn to the House of Lords and the final consummation. Even if the Bill emerges from its Committee stage largely unscathed, it is so badly drawn-up that it is unlikely to survive the scrutiny of those in the Upper House who are tasked with applying their philosophical and theological expertise to expose all legislative shortcomings.
And don’t think for one minute that the opposition will come only from the Conservatives: many unreconstituted Labour peers and a fair smattering of Liberal Democrats and Cross-benchers are likely to unite in a strategy of filibustering and frustration. There is a determined cross-party consensus among Their Lordships that the case for same-sex marriage has simply not adequately been made. Continue reading →
On Thursday of this week, the Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe became Dame Ann. It is an honour well-deserved and long-overdue, bestowed in recognition of her remarkable contribution to politics and society, along with decades of tireless work for charity. ‘Dame Ann’ not only sounds good; it adds gravitas to a well-known name which will enhance the profile of her charitable efforts and increase her capacity to raise much-needed funds for the myriad of good causes she champions.
But this damehood was not bestowed by the Queen in Buckingham Palace at the behest of the Prime Minister: it was a papal honour granted after a Mass in Parliament’s Crypt Chapel. Ms Widdecombe is now a Dame of the Order of St Gregory – an honour conferred by Pope Benedict XVI himself and bestowed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor at a ceremony in Speaker’s House in the Palace of Westminster. Continue reading →