It’s been a day of wild accusations.
The Commons debate on the Big Society was marked by an assurance by a Tory that it does not include volunteers being asking to conduct brain surgery. But he did paint a nightmare Kafkaesque view of Labour society in which people were forbidden to rescue drowning children from ponds or help old ladies to cross the road. I intervened on one Tory and asked him how Cameron’s Big Society would persuade people to rescue drowning children.
The debate was introduced by the MP for Dover who waxed eloquent on a scheme for a peoples’ takeover of the town’s harbour. However he did not explain how the Big Society would help that. I reminded him of the cooperative takeover of Tower Colliery about twenty years ago in the face of Tory government antagonism.
No Labour speaker today decried the aims of a Big Society, although we prefer to call it the Good Society. But the Government’s attempt to force activism or nationalise volunteering will be counterproductive. Our Good Samaritans now act out of the goodness of their hearts – not in obedience to a politician’s gimmick.
Demonstrating my lack of bias, I warned parliament to beware of all Prime Ministers bearing three word policy gimmicks. The Cones Hotline, Back to basics, the Third Way, The Big Society. One Tory intervened on me and said ‘You didn’t mention the Third Way’. The Chamber grumbled back at him saying ‘Yes, he did.’
It was a new member who did not know that I was not always the greatest fan of Tony Blair and all his works. Unexplained in the debate is how £3-£5 billion of cuts in Charity funding will allow an increase in volunteering.
PASC will listen fairly to evidence on the Big Society and commend worthwhile initiatives. But I fear the Big Society is the Big Cop Out.
Baby killing? NO!
The AV debate has gone weird. The No camp has desperately claimed that a Yes vote in the referendum would jeopardise the lives of premature babies, or members of our armed forces. Huh?
Government confirmation that an AV world would not add to public expenditure blows the No campaign's fake figures out of the water. We deserve an honest and open debate on the real issues of this referendum. Ben Bradshaw MP said today, ‘This kind of shameful scaremongering is exactly the type of old politics we need to change.
Only 9 weeks left to convince the public that first past the post is a cheat. AV would be a worthwhile reform.
Dr Meryl Nass MD writes:-
Dr Meryl Nass MD writes:-
Since August 2010, following widespread use of vaccines against influenza (H1N1) 2009, cases of narcolepsy, especially in children and adolescents, have been reported from at least 12 countries. In the US, an average of about 75 children/year die from flu-related causes. Most of these children have underlying, chronic medical illnesses. There are over 50 million children in the US. If half were vaccinated, and their rate of developing narcolepsy was the same as in Finland (one in 12,000), we might expect 2,000 new cases of narcolepsy in vaccinated children. Granted, it is unclear what the risk of narcolepsy is for use of swine flu vaccine in the US; and it is unclear whether the novel Glaxo adjuvant used in Pandemrix swine flu vaccine outside the US may have contributed. But I just did the math. And it appears that if Finland has a similar childhood death rate from flu as the US, it could be seeing 80 cases of narcolepsy for every flu death prevented.