Thursday, 28 February 2013

cyclists, hatred and crime: what was really said?

Yesterday, cycling in the dark, I was struck by the amount of fellow cyclists who not only wore dark clothes (ie no reflective strips or jackets), but had no lights. I felt disgusted that people should care so little for their and others’ safety.

Re-read the last sentence. Do you think it constitutes a hate-crime?

According to the Cambridge News of 28 February, the Cambridge Cycling Campaign has pressed for hatred towards cyclists to be "treated as a crime". I looked for the sources of the article, which is when I started wondering if the News hadn’t over-egged the pudding somewhat.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign have published a summary of the points they made to the 27 February session of the Get Britain Cycling campaign, facilitated by the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group. There’s no mention of hate-crime, or of cyclists being given a legal protected status against "stigma" like members of ethnic minorities. The website of Julian Huppert, Cambridge’s MP and prominent cyclist, lists nothing of the notion.

Cyclists face a copious discrimination, as the @CycleHatred page on Twitter shows. People don’t just seem to feel they can have a go, they tweet activities which would constitute dangerous driving or even intent to commit a crime, eg Birmingham’s @Miss_ALThompson: "Can't deal with f**king cyclists today just get out the road before I run you over #mightnotbeaccidently". Surely this can be investigated under existing laws?

click to view tweet

Many cyclists in Cambridge are exemplary. Many need to tighten up their act: often for instance, cyclists stopped by police for not having lights protest that they have reflectors, apparently unaware they predicate their safety on other people observing the laws that they’re breaking.

Intent to commit a crime apart, if anybody wants to insult this cyclist, feel free: just don’t complain when I respond in kind.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Cambridge Cycling Campaign at the Parliamentary Cycling Enquiry

@CycleHatred page on Twitter

all-party Parliamentary Cycling Group

Get Britain Cycling

Click to go to tweet pictured above (contains swearing)

Monday, 25 February 2013

Cambridge EDL demo 23 February 2013

At the English Defence League Cambridge Branch demo on 23 February, 2013 we assembled, did what we told the police we’d do then we went home. Job done.

The day before the demo, Cambridgeshire MEP Richard Howitt said in an extraordinary outburst that the cost of providing 400 policemen for the demo and counterdemonstration was too much, given that there was "no local support". His remarks seemed to be diversionary in nature, to draw attention away from the fact that there were 650 policemen at the 2011 demo. I wasn’t at the last demo, but after this one the policemen were laughing with us about their orders to walk us to the station afterwards when most of us probably came from Cambridge. They were right.

Luckily the police hadn’t listened to Howitt’s ramblings: before the demo a plain-clothes policewoman handed out to members a leaflet advising us "You have a democratic right to express your views through peaceful protest". But then, as an enthusiastic votary of the autocratic EU, I can appreciate that Howitt’s view of what one’s democratic rights are is somewhat ill-founded.

Most surprising was the Cambridge News’ reaction to this demo. While after the 2011 one it used its editorial on the following Monday to say that the EDL wasn’t welcome back in Cambridge, this year – probably responding to Howitt’s remarks – the editorial said "a price cannot be put on free speech", and that the EDL’s members "must continue to be allowed a voice, however strident it may be".

So what changed?

Could it be that the Cambridge News is reflecting, on the eve of its and every British newspaper’s emasculation at the hands of the Leveson reforms administered by politically illiterate demagogues such as Howitt, on the value of its own right to free speech?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust: corporate massacre as therapy?

The final report into failings at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust that led to the deaths of 1,200 people will not attempt to lay blame. Volume One of the report justifies this approach thus:

To place too much emphasis on individual blame is to risk perpetuating the illusion that removal of particular individuals is all that is necessary…To focus, therefore, on blame will perpetuate the cycle of defensiveness, concealment, lessons not being identified and further harm.

However, isn’t it axiomatic that when something has gone wrong systemically, removing the people who broke the system is a first step to fixing it?

Except the system isn’t broken. What I believe we are seeing at Mid-Staffordshire is the trialling of a program to dispose of economically unproductive human beings, a program whose results did not produce one referral of a health professional to the Nursing and Midwifery Council or General Medical Council.

learn more about 'Less than Human'
Psychologist David Livingstone Smith (right) has studied how murderous programs throughout history encouraged foot-soldiers to see their victims as "less than human", and I believe we are seeing a form of this in mid-Staffs, with patients on geriatric wards famously left in their own excreta and having to drink from vases. Case in point: Bonka Kostova, a midwife treating a 73-year old man (?) told him "you are no longer a human being but an animal. Chief Nursing Officer Jane Cummings perhaps revealed more than she realised when she said people like Kostova "do not have the capacity to be compassionate".

Wildlife enthusiast David Attenborough recently caused controversy by saying that humanity "is a plague on the earth",echoing the Georgia Capstones' exhortation: "be not a cancer upon the earth. If the Establishment considers vulnerable human beings a disease, was the corporate massacre at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust a clinical trial for the cure?

Charles Bond
300 words


Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust Public Enquiry:

Executive Summary No referrals to NMC or GMC - p59

Volume 1 No blame to be laid - para 108, p41

Volume 2 Lack of training for inspectors to spot another Mid-Staffs - para 11.217, p984 (p299 of the .pdf)

Volume 3 Doctors and nurses reminded of their most basic duties of care - paras 21.9-21.14, pp1403-1406 (pp54-57 of the .pdf)

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

marriage belongs to people, not Parliament

As a proponent of radical equality, I believe that gay people should be able to enjoy the benefits of marriage and a family as equals. And the Commons vote on gay marriage left me cold.

Marriage is not the property of our 650 MPs. Predominantly male and middle-class, they are entirely unrepresentative of the 62.5 million inhabitants of the United Kingdom to whom marriage in this realm belongs. Marriage existed long before the first parliaments started popping up in the early middle ages, it predates recorded history and it may even predate religion.

A civilised society moves on – sometimes in leaps and bounds, sometimes slowly and painfully; the cause of gay rights has seldom been anything other than the latter. But by making gay marriage the subject of a legislative decision, organisations that feel they cannot marry gay people will now be subject to penalties under equality legislation: for example, a church or a synagogue that believes marriage should be defined as a union between a man and a woman will not be able to hire a publicly-owned venue because of discrimination issues, and may lose the right to run their own schools.

But let’s not kid ourselves that the law will be applied equally. No islamist will ever be penalised or prosecuted for denying gay people marriage. It’s not going to happen.

This debate was about David Cameron desperately trying to pretend that the British parliament still has the power to decide some issues despite the EU’s legislative acquisitiveness. Had he any will to spit in the face of Euro-fascism, he could have given us a chance to speak in a referendum. But referenda are inclusive exercises and as such Westminster and Brussels fear them like railway operators do leaves and snow: they are the wrong sort of democracy.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


This Equality obsession is mad, bad and very dangerous - Charles Moore, the Telegraph

Where was Cameron for the gay marriage debate? - David Hughes, TElegraph blogs