Daily archives: July 6, 2010

The 4.45pm Link

Conan the Librarian cheers me up a lot. His parodies of The Scotsman are much less rabid than the real thing.


I can best explain how bad the Scotsman now is, by saying that Andrew Neil was but a step in its decline. Those of us who thought it could only get better after Neil left, were proven astonishingly wrong. We should make more use of the phrase “self-hating Scots”.

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At Last A Torture Inquiry

Finally David Cameron has announced that there will be an inquiry into British government complicity in torture. It will not start until a number of civil and criminal proceedings by individuals who claim they have been tortured have been resolved – which David Cameron appears to believe will be later this year, but we can’t know that.

Unlike the Chilcott Inquiry, the personnel of this inquiry are not obviously packed with supporters of the government view. I am somewhat concerned that Sir Peter Gibson, who has been Intelligence Services Commissioner for some years, can be viewed as parti pris. If the intelligence services were seriously misbehaving throughout his time as Commissioner, is he not being asked to judge whether he himself has been negligent?

But Dame Janet Paraskeva, head of the civil service commissioners, and Peter Riddell are genuinely independent minded people. Let us hope Sir Peter Gibson can be too.

But what we don’t have is the terms of reference of the inquiry. These are absolutely crucial. Nothing in David Cameron’s statement precluded the possibility that it will, as the intelligence services wish, simply look at individual cases of victims and assess compensation for them, without considering the existence of an overarching ministerially approved policy to use intelligence from torture.

I remain deeply concerned that individual junior MI5 and MI6 officers will be punished, while Tony Blair and Jack Straw plus the very senior officials like Lord Jay and Sir Richard Dearlove, who were responsible for setting the policy, will get off scot free.

It is still by no means sure that the inquiry will even be permitted to consider this aspect. I remain doubtful that I will be able to give my own evidence of ministerial policy of complicity with torture.

You can see the documents supporting that evidence here:


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Why the NHS Budget Should Be Cut

I just went to see my doctor for a renewal of my omeprazole prescription. For ten years I have been taking 80mg per day, for hiatus hernia. That is two packets of 7 x 40mg per week.

The doctor called up the prescription on her screen and it showed £15.50 per packet charge to her practice. She asked whether I had tried a cheaper alternative. The answer was yes, without success. So I went to collect a month’s supply – eight packets at a cost to the NHS of £124 less my £7.20 contribution.

Yet this is a generic, not a branded, medicine. When in Ghana I buy precisely the same medicine, by precisely the same manufacturer – Dr Reddy of India – in precisely the same packaging, for the equivalent of £2.80 per packet. It is genuine – believe me, with this unpleasant condition you would know very quickly if it was not genuine.

So why is the NHS practice paying £15.50 for a packet of medicine available individually at retail price for £2.80 internationally?

At the international retail price my medicine costs £291.20 per year. The NHS pays £1,612 per year.

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Not Wanted

Apostate, Freeborn and Steelback (who may or may not all be the same person) are not welcome on this site, under these or any other names, for persistent anti-semitism and holocaust denial.

I have deleted the comments which were the last straw. This blog is very tolerant, but not absolutely tolerant.

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