Jeremy Hunt's Dolly Parton problem
Regarding Iain Martin’s recent piece on the Junior Doctors’ dispute: British doctors may have missed what has happened to other workers – 26th May 2016. I find it astonishing the degree to which the author and many other conservative commentators abandon any sense of proportion or intellectual consistency in favour of party loyalty.
It would appear no matter what the subtleties of the argument may be, if a Tory minister is in dispute with a public sector union, the minister must be blameless and the union workshy and inflexible.
The author would do well to read Robert Colville’s piece on the same issue On the NHS, the Tories are betting against the free market – 15th February 2016, which addresses the more fundamental problem with the job market for Junior Doctors in the UK. Namely that there is one set of terms and conditions for every single junior doctor in the country. If a UK junior doctor is dissatisfied with his/her conditions of employment, there is no alternative employer to seek out to improve his/her lot. The only other options are retraining in a different profession or emigration. No matter how well you might regard the current Minister for Health, this is the definition of the sort of command economy he would normally find abhorrent in any other sector of the economy.
It is a cowardly position for Mr Hunt to insist on perpetuating this situation while at the same time demonising doctors for taking the only other option open to them in such circumstances to influence their conditions of employment, namely industrial action.
A more intellectually consistent and humane way to deal with the problem is to have more widely devolved decision making over contracts on a regional basis in the NHS. If one region takes on Mr Hunt’s new contract and another region doesn’t, relative recruitment rates and comparisons of safety data will soon tell us who is correct on this issue.
John O'Flaherty, Cornwall, UK | @jdoflaherty
What about all other public services who have to provide 24/7 cover 365 days a year like prisons, police, fire & ambulance services? Oh and not forgetting the nurses and porters and cleaners in our hospitals.
What makes doctors so special?
If they wanted to work Monday to Friday perhaps they should have trained as lawyers.
Robert Taylor, South Yorkshire, UK
Whilst Hitler was obviously not a Zionist he did concur to the Haavara agreement.The Haavara Agreement (Hebrew: הסכם העברה Translit.: heskem haavara Translated: “transfer agreement”) was an agreement between Nazi Germany and Zionist German Jews signed on 25 August 1933. The agreement was finalized after three months of talks by the Zionist Federation of Germany, the Anglo-Palestine Bank (under the directive of the Jewish Agency) and the economic authorities of Nazi Germany. The agreement was designed to help facilitate the emigration of German Jews to Palestine.
Seems to me Andrew Roberts is a somewhat faulty historian just as partisan as Ken Livingstone.
Michael Martin, UK
Grubby characters like Livingstone and Galloway just feed the myth that the Jewish State of Israel was created as a result of the Holocaust.
The first Jews to settle in that desert land was Abraham and his tribes and it continued to be settled by Jews until the Roman Occupation when most Jews were killed or exiled to Babylon and the country was re-named Palestine. Never was that country called Palestine an Arab State and the Arab population never exceeded in numbers that of the Jews who had survived and stayed.
Most of the Jewish population over the centuries was orthodox and the land remained a barren desert until the turn of the 19th/20th century when the secular pioneers emigrated from Eastern Europe and set up communal farms and established industries. With the resulting promise of prosperity, many Arabs were encouraged to come there from other Arab countries and instead of working together with the Jews to create an idyllic agricultural and industrial and peaceful society, they now claim it is all theirs. The British media as well as the likes of Livingstone need to go back to the history books.
Wendy Blumfield, Haifa, Israel
Jew-hatred is a complex psychosis. It mutates, erecting twisted arguments in any realm: religious, racial, political, economic, mythological, and many more.
When a human being has the psychotic virus in our ultra-interconnected, politically correct, 21st Century, he/she will try to disown it, dissociate him/herself from it, because it creates a cognitive dissonance to the very person who has the psychotic virus.
So he/she will do the following:
1. Try every argument that renders anti-Semitism something trivial like “racism”. It’s not racism.
2. Try to make the case that his/her opinions are merely a natural response to what Jews -“Zionists”, “Israel”, “World Jewry”- does. It should look like a rational cause for his/her anti-Semitic obsessions.
3. Once the bug becomes fatter, it bothers the person more. So he/she will try to fight it and disown it further. That’s when the blame must be laid on Jews themselves: It’s Israel/”Hasbara”/”Jewish-dominated” who is pursuing the Jew-hater as a victim.
4. In the final stages of the psychosis, he/she will try to blame the cause for the psychosis on the object of his hatred, Jews, and lump them together with those who mass murdered Jews -Nazis-. That way he/she attempts to disown the whole thing. Thus Holocaust denial, or Nazism being associated with or infamously compared with Zionism.
All four manifestations are present in Livingstone, Galloway, Corbyn, Shah, and others.
Rabbi Roberto Feldmann, Santiago, Chile
Andrew Roberts’ article Barack Obama has turned his back on democracy – April 22nd 2016 highlights the pitfalls of modern political discourse.
The media and the average citizen (endowed with a booming voice by the megaphone of social media) too often in today’s political arena fall prey to the ease of selective quotation and oversimplification in search of a headline to grab attention. Hampered by rhetoric and exaggeration, the article makes some points succinctly while simultaneously obfuscating the primary thesis and raising more questions than it answers.
Mr. Roberts makes clear early on his utter disdain for President Obama’s foreign policy track record, describing it in bombastic language as a “despicably ignoble history”. Rather than support this loud opening statement though, the author proceeds to cherry pick instances of successful non-violent diplomatic intervention by the U.S. throughout the 20th century as evidence of a tradition of support for “populaces who want to control their own destinies rather than have them decided by foreign bodies”.
Conveniently and glaringly ignored in this discussion is the fact that in many cases the US was the “foreign body” exerting control over foreign countries by continued military intervention with questionable motives and even more dubious results. All of this is not to mention the vast differences in the global political landscape of the 20th century and that of the 21st, where complex secular relationships do not abide by arbitrary borders and constantly dog ill-fated attempts at “nation-building” by military means. One need look no further than the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the current state of the Middle East for reference.
Let us not be so rash in our characterizations and hasty in our judgments as to jump to conclusions based on a selective remembrance of the past. Were the 20th century global diplomatic victories summarized not born of pernicious war and violence similar to recent times? Did Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points (of which the British at the time were notably skeptical) and Churchill and Roosevelt’s Atlantic Charter not hold global cooperation, disarmament and peace paramount? Perhaps Churchill himself provided the best lesson for today’s trying times when he addressed the House of Commons in 1935 following the failure of the Stresa Conference, saying “when the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure.” It is important not to glibly dismiss Mr. Obama’s academic tone as haughty, cool or dismissive without considering the context of his statements. A diplomatic tone behooves a country and world weary of war without tangible result.
As a proud American, I certainly still do not hold Mr. Obama beyond reproach. In fact, many of his decisions are rightly deserving of public criticism as are the flawed tenets that led to creation of a largely failing European Union. Having said that, Mr. Obama’s reluctance to commit to foreign conflicts without full-fledged international cooperation and his support of a strong, united Europe are not among his foibles. In fact, these are conscious choices that I believe will serve to bolster his presidential legacy.
Andrew G.Reynolds, Brooklyn, New York, USA | @slouchyslim
Nonsense, it’s not a pro- or anti-capitalist issue. This is an issue of failure of government and of perverse incentives created by a government pension insurance scheme.
It was blindingly obvious what Green and his cohorts intended to do and why, just as it was with Rover Cars years ago. In both cases the enablers were the government.
Capitalism is about the efficient allocation of resources, notably capital, and produce goods and services that people freely want to buy; this is not under any real challenge in spite of the excited and febrile ramblings of the non-practitioners like Mr. Field. BHS is about the legal shifting of liabilities by unscrupulous people. The fault lies with the lawmakers like Mr. Field, and not with capitalism.
Richard Bassett, Ascot, Berkshire, UK
From Britain, with love
The authors are quite correct in everything that they say save in one important area. They assume that the EU is capable of reform. It is not.
The EU has not had its accounts signed off by the Court of Auditors for the last 22 consecutive years. For the Commission to ignore a court for 22 days, never mind 22 years implies a total disregard of the laws which inconvenience it. That has all the hallmarks of a dictatorship.
As a fledgling nation state, the EU has everything that it needs. Its own courts, currency, constitution, army, police force, diplomatic corps, parliament, flag and anthem. The problem is that the Parliament can only react to the agenda of the eurocrats. It cannot propose legislation. While the MEPs are indeed voted in, none of them have a manifesto because this is not possible.
We cannot fire the President of the Commission, which I suppose is only fair given that we did not elect him in the first place. A short list of 1 and an electorate of 28 is hardly democratic. This is the same as Assad, Ghadaffi, Hussein and lots more polling 99% of the vote. With nobody else to vote for, it does make the choice fairly simple. Again, the hallmark of a dictatorship.
Britain has tried to change things, to no avail. The EU does not even use double entry book-keeping, which goes a long way to explaining why its accounts are in such a mess.
To suggest Britain can change things is actually absurd. France and Germany run the show and if these two countries decide something is to be done, it is done. Interestingly, the only currency that the Bundesbank protected during the ERM debacle was the franc. The Irish pound was behaving perfectly when it was subject to speculation and the Bundesbank did nothing. As a result, the ERM failed and shortly thereafter, the euro was born. The euro has pretty much followed exactly along the ERM model, despite this being shown not to work. Germany is happy with this because it has kept its currency down thus improving exports. The same cannot be said of the southern European countries who are suffering immense pain with no end in sight. The only way they can end their pain is to quit the euro, something the EU will never permit.
As a customs union, the EU is very protectionist and that is not in either its nor the UK’s interest. We do more trade with the rest of the world than we do with the EU. Conversely, the EU sells us far more – £16 billion worth of cars from Germany alone. The UK accounts for something like 10% of EU sourced new registrations. If that was affected, Germany and France for starters would really make a fuss, with good reason.
The EU is badly constructed, counter productive and undemocratic. It is in fact a dictatorship run by functionaries. Britain can never prosper under such circumstances and so we need to leave. If the EU collapses as a result, that is the EU’s fault because it insists on following policies that can never work with 28, hopefully soon to be 27, countries.
If the EU is to survive, it needs to abandon the integrationist policies and do what we were sold in 1973 – be a Common Market of like minded independent sovereign states trading with each other.
It is about time Germany took the lead in stopping this madness before it gets totally out of hand.
Kevan Chippindall-Higgin, Southsea, UK
Son of Sorrow
Regrettably millions of people will probably find this article hard to believe. For people to behave as those Germans did it is necessary for a film such as this to be made accessible and shown to the World so that their horrific actions are never forgotten.As an octogenarian I recall the effect that the first exposure of the German Concentration Camps had on people and having talked to an old friend who, as a British soldier, was amongst the forces that liberated these camps, remember the expression on his face as he described the condition of the survivors.
The world must be continually reminded of what took place in the hope that situations such as this are never allowed to happen again.
John Dodds, Harare, Zimbabwe