Friday, July 27, 2007

In defence of David Cameron

Since I left the Conservative Party two years ago (at roughly the same time as David Cameron became leader but not because of that) I have undergone a real change in attitude towards it. When in the past people told me that the nasty element so often seen was the face of the party I argued against that, but I came to realise that they were right. Not that every member is nasty, in fact some are fantastic and there are some elected representatives who are fantastic and who I would vote for, and even work to see elected again. But the truth is that the real face of the Conservative Party is too often the smug, sneering, nasty, frothing-mouthed, Daily Mail reader that we're all used to.

And boy has is reared itself up over David Cameron and his trip to Rwanda. The howls from the loony wing of the Party have been deafening. How dare he go to Africa and find out what's happening around the world? Why do we care what happens to the colonials? The Rwandans don't vote - why bother? Why wasn't he in the country looking at the flood?

Well, let's take the last point - yes, for some people the flooding this week has been devastating. But really - do they want some politician to fly over them in a helicopter tutting and rolling his eyes? If he didn't have a bucket and a mop to help clear up then he wouldn't be of any use to anyone. But on the other hand, he had already visited flooded areas in his own constituency before he went to Rwanda. A Prime Minister must be able to concentrate on several urgent issues at once, running the country and fulfilling international duties cannot stop because of a crisis. Instead our leaders must be able to juggle lots of balls in the air.

And it was a good thing going to Rwanda. If we want to stop genocide happening in the future we have to understand what happened and why. We must learn to read the signs. No genocide ever starts as a genocide - it starts with name-calling, it starts with exclusionary policies and it starts with labelling people as different. If we can recognise the first stages then maybe we can help stop the second, third stages taking place. And if we can stop genocide occuring, if we can help people to be safe in their own countries, maybe we can stop so many coming to the UK (shameless nod to right-wing sensibilities).

13 years ago the world stood by and allowed a genocide to take place in Rwanda. And the genocide is still taking place there - women and children are still dying of AIDS; people are still dying from their wounds and killings are continuing. I'm delighted that David Cameron went to see for himself what is happening in Rwanda. It can only make him a better politician and perhaps even a better Prime Minister.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Daily Mash Gets It Right Again

First a dislaimer - I am a huge Harry Potter fan, I was queuing at 1am outside a bookshop in Zurich to make sure I got my book, I was upset at a couple of the deaths but people do need to get over themselves.

Thankfully the Daily Mash puts it all into perspective for us.


CHILDLINE, the charity for abused children, will tell distraught Harry Potter fans, upset at the ending of the final book, to 'fuck right off'.

The charity is predicting a deluge of pathetic, over-indulged youngsters when the final installment of the fantasy series is published this weekend.

A Childline spokesman said: "Children have become so detatched from reality that they will gladly waste our time crying down the phone because of an entirely fictional trauma.

"It's very easy to blame people like Esther Rantzen and Lorraine Kelly for this relentlessly sentimental and immature approach to life, so let's just do that."

As fears grow of mass suicide among seven to 39 year-olds, Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury has been installing nets and crash mats around tall buildings .

And the owners of large Gothic buildings are bracing themselves for millions of bouquets being left at the gates, because it bears a faint resemblance to Hogwarts school.

Child psychologist Dr Wayne Hayes, said: "Are you fucking kidding?

"There are children trying to get through while they're being beaten up, but by all means give Childline a call because you don't like the ending of a book, you spoiled little shit."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Where's the Taliban when you need them?

Frankly, I can't imagine anyone who could rouse me into a homicidal rage more than Jude Law. But if he can sort out peace in Afghanistan then fair play to him.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Organ Donations - Consent or Presumed Consent?

This story about the Chief Medical Officer for England suggesting that we move from consent driven organ donation to presumed consent concerns me.

I carry (I think) an organ donor card. I have since I was very young and first understood what organ donation was and what it meant. I have always felt very strongly that should anything happen to me I very much want my organs to be donated. I have also warned my family that should this not happen I will haunt them - and not in a good way.

This has always been my choice. I know that not everyone in my family feels the same way and I know that others just don't know how they feel about it. That's fine. If (and I pray I'm never) in the situation where I have to make such a decision I hope that I will always respect the feelings of my family members.

I am really concerned about the idea of presumed consent and how this could develop. Presumed consent takes the decision away from the individual and their family about their body. I accept that as suggested there is an opt-out option, but how likely are people to actually find out how to opt-out and do so? People never think that dreadful things will happen to them and won't therefore prepare. Hence the lack of people with donor cards despite the estimated 70% of the population who would be willing to donate organs.

And if consent is presumed does this mean that organ harvest will become a consideration in treatment? Will families be rail-roaded into making decisions about turning off life support as the state already has a call on the body parts?

Surely there are better ways to increase proactive organ donation? A first step would be to ensure that inclusion on the register was binding. As far as I know it currently isn't. Increase awareness of need for organ donation, make it easier to sign up to be a donor - have cards in every library and every supermarket in the country.

Let's make sure that a rise in proactive consent negates the need for the government to take away yet another of our civil liberties - the right to control our own bodies.

If you haven't already registered and do want to - sign up here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

And in more breaking scientific news

Old people are humourless grumpy so and so's.

Anyone who has shared a Glasgow bus with the muppets on that or have been subject to a long queue in a Post Office can confirm this one.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

People really are quite nice

Sometimes, just sometimes something happens which reminds you that on the whole humans really are quite nice animals.

This is one of those times.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Make Pompous Celebrities History

From today's Third Sector news:

Levels of understanding about poverty in Africa are lower now than they were before Make Poverty History, according to the latest research.

Public Perceptions of Poverty, a report compiled by Comic Relief, is based on responses from 2,000 people to questions asked at regular intervals from December 2004 until January this year.

The proportion of respondents who were "very concerned about poverty in poor countries" fell from 30 per cent in 2004 to 22 per cent.

In the latest round of research, 57 per cent said they knew nothing about trade justice, and only 26 per cent said they strongly believed that the debts of the world's poorest countries should be cancelled in full. This figure was down from 33 per cent in 2004.

Andrew Darnton, an independent researcher who coordinated the results for Comic Relief, said the findings were "broadly depressing".

He added: "People are more aware that the causes of poverty can be political. However, MPH didn't open up the issues of debt, trade and aid to the public, and there are massive gaps in their knowledge, which nobody in the sector has done anything to address."

Hopefully this will encourage all the sanctimonous climate change bandwaggoneers to stop their preaching

Monday, July 09, 2007

Well Done Roger

Well done to Roger Federer on his amazing five in a row. The match was one of the best Wimbledon finals I have seen in years - both played brilliantly and it was a delight to watch. Roll on next year - can we see a six in a row? And will it take another 25 years for someone else to match it?