Sunday, 14 February 2010


Why am I finding the world so bizarre?

In almost every direction there is nonsense. I believe there is a connection between these seemingly random events / decisions / behaviour.

1)  The question of alleged torture in GBay of a suspected terrorist, with the connivance or at least active involvement of the Security Services. Of course we can not have our public servants engaged in inhumane and illegal acts. However there needs to be some context here. The old systems and values can not necessarily apply in all situations in the 21st Century. If there were grounds for believing that a British Citizen has been or is engaged in terrorism and has knowledge that may prevent a further atrocity, we would expect our security services to do all they can to find the information out. It is of course wrong to torture people, and one wonders what evidence there is that this will work to get the truth, especially if the victim has no knowledge. My point however is that I suspect that in war time, such allegations against our services, made publicly would have been treason. We have to believe that there is a more subtle way of conducting such investigations, if indeed one is necessary. It cannot be in anyones interest to undermine the Security Service in this way when they are engaged in a serious battle to protect us. The public interest is not served by these debates being conducted in public as what this also means is that the terrorists are seen to be the victims not the real victims who are those killed and maimed by their actions.

2) On a more mundane level the decision by the Government to give Unitary Status to Norwich City Council, on its existing boundaries, while leaving the rest of the County as it is. This seems to me to be political corruption of the worst kind. It flies in the face of all the evidence, gathered independently by the Commission, which has at great expense gathered it. Further the choice is the least economically sound. The reason given is that in this way the City of Norwich will be best placed to generate wealth for Norfolk. How will having the service currently run very efficiently by the County Council under its wing, possibly make it easier to create better development opportunities that are not there already. It beggars belief that this decision is taken, at all let alone at a time when front line services are under huge financial pressure as a result of the economic crisis.

3) One year on Obama is under attack even from his own Democratic colleagues. The so called exemplar of democracy the USA seems to be unable to avoid now falling into the category of a second rate nation, when the big lobbying interests, particularly the health industry can seriously undermine a modest aspiration of the President to make his country just a little bit fairer to all. What has happened when he was so overwhelmingly elected on what seemed to be a very clear mandate. But after all I guess this is the same country where Sarah Palin is taken seriously be worrying numbers of potential voters.

4) Our own health service is about to become an area of battle in the uk election. However good it is, and it is fantastic, the small number of problems are exploited for political purpose. In the meantime the managers and clinicians are working themselves beyond sensible limits to meet the totally unreasonable expectations upon them.

5) Why in NSW is there a labour government that seems to be so unpopular, and allegedly corrupt but they fail to see that their own actions are compounding the problem and they are incapable of cleaning up their act.

6) In the UK there are those who hate Blair and those who love him, but very few of those now. Yet we have this charade of an Inquiry into the Iraq war, that costs money we don't have to produce a result that we know will satisfy no-one. What is that about?

7) Lastly I think it can be summed up by our government in all seriousness expecting in league tables for everyone to be in the top centile. Does not that tell us everything?

The thread is that the media, 24 hour news, the internet, mobile phones, instant evidence, public expectation, human rights legislation, have all in their way led to such a changed world that the old ways of doing things are no longer relevant. But equally public expectation and the media's role in raising it, has to be challenged, otherwise the organs of any public service will sooner or later stop working. This can be seen in the climate change debate. Here what by any standard are normal emails between colleagues have been allowed to assume an all important value. Whereas we need scientists to be able to have even loose discussions amongst themselves and decide between them how the present the evidence that only they really understand. Absolute raw data and the freedom of information requirements are a lethal combination.

Thus there are some fundemental challenge in the next decade to allow professionals and politicians to get on with it, without necessarily having to answer every detailed question whilst developing a new kind of journalism that illuminates rather than blames, but always holding to account. An impossible challenge but no worse than expecting everyone to perform to the top centile.