It is now universally accepted by competent health professionals that the MMR triple vaccination jab is the safest protection presently possible against measles, mumps and rubella. The present outbreak of measles in South Wales is entirely attributable to the discredited (and probably fraudulent) “research” of Andrew Wakefield in 1998, falsely linking the MMR jab with autism. Wakefield’s dodgy “research” was widely promoted by the Daily Mail and other media (including the South Wales Evening Post) from the moment it first appeared until well into the 2000′s, even after Wakefield’s “research” was officially discredited and the man himself struck off. As a direct result teenagers who did not receive the two MMR jabs that are required, as infants, are now the main group suffering from infection.
But still opportunist quacks are (literally) cashing in on the fears of gullible parents: The Children’s Immunisation Centre (see below) ran a clinic last weekend in Swansea supplying the less effective single measles vaccination privately for £110 for each jab plus a £50 registration fee. MMR is available on the NHS free of charge.
The Children’s Immunisation Centre website gives telephone numbers for private clinics offering single measles jabs in England and in Swansea and also links to old newspaper articles suggesting an autism link to the MMR vaccine.
It also claimed that the single vaccines are “the only safe option” to immunise against measles – but that demonstrably false claim has now been removed from their website.
Why has no government minister spoken out against these quacks? In particular, why has health minister Jeremy Hunt had nothing to say? It surely can’t be because the government rather approves of both “parental choice” and private medicine for profit – or that Hunt himself is on record as being sympathetic towards quackery?
H/t: BBC Wales
The profiteers’ fraudulent publicity, below:
The Children’s Immunisation Centre Ltd operates The Immunisation and Medical Centres. Our centres operate Nationally London, Manchester, Kent, Dartford, Birmingham, Southampton, (Leeds-Harrogate, Nottingham-Sheffield Coming Soon), has been specialising for ten years on all types of vaccinations but particularly in single vaccinations against Measles, Mumps, Rubella: MMR single vaccinations; baby jabs and other childhood and new vaccinations to protect adults and children in the UK, and for all your travel vaccinations such as Yellow Fever ,Typhoid rabies and Cholera to name but a few.
We are particularly proud of our 100 per cent safety record and have over 18,000 registered patients and we are one of the UKs largest and friendliest injectables company.
Our group was established in 2002, and for the last 10 years has brought PEACE OF MIND to thousands of patients for affordable private single baby jabs of single Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR single jab vaccinations) -currently no mumps vaccine available in the UK.
All our thousands of patients are healthy, with no autism, no hospitalizations or fits (anaphylaxis shock) no febrile convulsions. We have a 100% Safety Record and have given over 70,000 vaccinations.(over 18,000 patients)
Our Measles, Mumps, Rubella single jab (MMR single jabs) immunisation clinic was the first private health clinic to obtain its Care Quality Commission. We have been independently audited and checked by Care Quality Commission Assessors;
FOR YOUR PEACE OF MIND.
Our clinics are in Birmingham, London Harley Street, Manchester, Kent-Dartford, Southampton, (Leeds-Harrogate, Nottingham-Sheffield Coming Soon). All our clinics are open on Saturdays so that parents can conveniently bring their children for their single MMR jabs (single immunisations). It is essential children and adults keep up with all their immunisations and check booster requirements.
Apart from MMR single jabs, we also protect against the following diseases, especially for travelling children. No NHS referral necessary.
Wodehouse’s idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in - Evelyn Waugh
Most of the people whom Wodehouse intends as sympathetic characters are parasites and some of them plain imbeciles, but very few of them could be described as immoral - George Orwell
Wodehouse is back on TV (BBC 1, Sundays), in the form of the Blandings stories about Lord Emsworth, his fearsome sister Constance, the ambitious secretary Baxter and Emsworth’s prize sow, The Empress.
Those of you not already aux fait with the Wodehouse oeuvre will have gathered just from the above, that this is pretty lightweight stuff, completely devoid of any pretensions to social commentary or psychological insight. It’s pure entertainment and – more to the point – pure escapism.
Wodehouse’s published writings began in the very early years of the last century and continued right up to his death in 1974, when he left an unfinished manuscript that was published posthumously as Sunset at Blandings. But (as Orwell pointed out) the world of Wodehouse was outdated even by the 1920′s: Emsworth was a throwback to a bygone Edwardian age and Bertie Wooster really died in the corner of some foreign field round about 1915.
Wodehouse’s reputaton has by now just about about recovered from his appalling misjudgement when, living in France in 1941 and having been interned by advancing German forces, he agreed to broadcast some lighthearted “chats” on Nazi radio. These were apolitical in tone and content, but naturally laid him open to the charge (made most forcefully by ‘Cassandra’ of the Daily Mirror) that he’d been a willing tool of Goebbels’ and had agreed to broadcast in order to get himself released. George Orwell considered Wodehouse to have acted like a bloody idiot, but wrote an essay (In Defence of P.G. Wodehouse, February 1945) that strongly defended him against charges of treachery. It turns out that the British authorities reached the same conclusion, but decided not to tell him, and Wodehouse spent the rest of his days brooding in self-imposed exile in America.
When considering what was undoubtably a dreadful error on Wodehouse’s part, it is worth remembering that he was the creator of Sir Roderick Spode, a thoroughly unpleasant bully and demagogue who turns up in several of the Wooster stories, described as “founder and head of the Saviours of Britain, a fascist organisation better known as the Blackshorts.” Not conclusive proof perhaps, but pretty persuasive evidence that Wodehouse had no love of fascism.
But why on earth would any person of even vaguely leftist inclinations actually enjoy these farcical tales of dotty aristocrats, domineering aunts and over-privileged wastrels?
The sheer escapism has a lot to do with it: I know that I am very far from being the only leftie who’s found solace at Blandings Castle and/or the Drones Club when life’s become difficult one way or another. Then there’s the sheer craftsmanship of his plots, and -especially – his use of language.
When Bertie Wooster describes “Aunt calling aunt calling to aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps” you know you’re in the hands of a writer of comic English to rank alongside Wilde and Dickens. Which, come to think of it, may be why BBC 1′s effort on Sunday was just slightly disappointing: the irreplacable descriptive and narrative voice of Wodehouse himself was missing.
Oh no! Another mouth (for us all) to feed…
“It was pitiful for a person born in a wholesome free atmosphere to listen to their humble and hearty outpourings of loyalty towards their king and Church and nobility; as if they had any more occasion to love and honor king and Church and noble than a slave has to honor the lash, or a dog has to love and honor the stranger that kicks him! Why, dear me, ANY kind of royalty. howsoever modified, ANY kind of aristocracy, howsoever pruned, is rightly an insult; but if you are born and brought up under that sort of arrangement you probably never find it out for yourself, and don’t believe it when somebody else tells you. It is enough to make a body ashamed of his race to think of the sort of froth that has always occupied its thones without shadow of right or reason, and the seventh-rate people that have always figured as its artistocracies — a company of monarchs and nobles who, as a rule, would have achieved only poverty and obscurity if left, like their betters, to their own exertions…
“The truth was, the nation as a body was in the world for one object, and one only: to grovel before king and Church and noble: to slave for them, sweat blood for them, starve that they might be fed, work that they might play, drink misery to the dregs that they might be happy, go naked that they might waer silks and jewels, pay taxes that they might be spared from paying them, be familiar all their lives with the degrading language and postures of adulation that they might walk in pride and think themselves gods of this world. And for all this, the thanks they got were cuffs and contempt; and so poor-spirited were they that they took even this sort of attention as an honor.”
-Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
The government has blocked the publication of 27 letters from Charles Windsor to Labour ministers over a seven month period between September 2004 and April 2005. In doing this, the Attorney-General Dominic Grieve has overturned the decision of three tribunal judges who last month ruled in favour of a freedom of information request from the Guardian. The judges had ruled that the public had a right to know how Charles had sought to change government policy.
In an extraordianry admission, Grieve argued that releasing the letters “would potentially have undermined [Charles's] position of political neutrality.” The letters, says Grieve, contain the “most deeply held personal views and beliefs” of the heir to the throne and are part of his “preparation for becoming king.”
So much for the myth of a passive, apolitical constitutional monarchy.
We may never know what the “views and beliefs” expressed by Charles in those letters are, but we do know that he holds some profoundly reactionay and downright cranky views on a range of topics from architecture to homeopathy.
The decision to veto the publication of these letters is an affront to democracy; the prospect of an opinionated, political monarch seeking to exert an influence over government policy is an even greater affront.
The would-be Marxist left in Brtitain has, in recent years, tended to down-play the call for the abolition of the Monarchy. At one time that demand, like our insistence upon secularism, was one of the crucial issues that distinguished us from various varieties of reformists and soft-lefties. Now is the time to once again proudly raise the republican banner in Britain.
As for Charles Windsor: he has a perfect right to express his personal opinions if he renounces the throne and becomes a private citizen.
NB: the pressure group Republic has launched a “Royal Secrets Campaign.”
I’m worried about Bob Diamond.
Barclays‘ new boss first came to my attention in January when he told MPs that the “period of remorse and apology for banks … needs to be over”. I didn’t like that, partly because I hadn’t really noticed any period of remorse and apology, unless you count “I’m sorry our various scams didn’t work” as an apology; and partly because it’s not for him to say. If you’re really sorry for something, you should just keep being sorry. It’s for others to decide when you can be let off the hook. If you’re the first to be asking whether you’ve apologised enough, then you haven’t - David Mitchell, The Observer, 18 Dec 2011
From the FSA:
Barclays fined £59.5 million for significant failings in relation to LIBOR and EURIBOR
27 Jun 2012
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has today fined Barclays Bank Plc (Barclays) £59.5 million for misconduct relating to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (EURIBOR). This is the largest fine ever imposed by the FSA.
Barclays’ breaches of the FSA’s requirements encompassed a number of issues, involved a significant number of employees and occurred over a number of years. Barclays’ misconduct included:
- making submissions which formed part of the LIBOR and EURIBOR setting process that took into account requests from Barclays’ interest rate derivatives traders. These traders were motivated by profit and sought to benefit Barclays’ trading positions;
- seeking to influence the EURIBOR submissions of other banks contributing to the rate setting process; and
- reducing its LIBOR submissions during the financial crisis as a result of senior management’s concerns over negative media comment.
In addition, Barclays failed to have adequate systems and controls in place relating to its LIBOR and EURIBOR submissions processes until June 2010 and failed to review its systems and controls at a number of appropriate points.
Barclays also failed to deal with issues relating to its LIBOR submissions when these were escalated to Barclays’ Investment Banking compliance function in 2007 and 2008.
Tracey McDermott, acting director of enforcement and financial crime, said:
“Barclays’ misconduct was serious, widespread and extended over a number of years. The integrity of benchmark reference rates such as LIBOR and EURIBOR is of fundamental importance to both UK and international financial markets. Firms making submissions must not use those submissions as tools to promote their own interests.”
“Making submissions to try to benefit trading positions is wholly unacceptable. This was possible because Barclays failed to ensure it had proper controls in place. Barclays’ behaviour threatened the integrity of the rates with the risk of serious harm to other market participants.”
“The FSA continues to pursue a number of other significant cross-border investigations in this area and the action we have taken against Barclays should leave firms in no doubt about the serious consequences of this type of failure.”
The BBA is currently undertaking a review of the way LIBOR is set and will publish its findings shortly. The FSA, along with the other tripartite authorities, is working to support market-led reviews of existing arrangements, with the goal of ensuring such arrangements continue to command the confidence of all stakeholders.
Barclays co-operated fully during the FSA’s investigation and agreed to settle at an early stage. The firm qualified for a 30% discount under the FSA’s settlement discount scheme. Without the discount the fine would have been £85 million.
This was a significant cross-border investigation and the FSA would like to thank the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) (together with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for their co-operation.
The CFTC brought attempted manipulation and false reporting charges against Barclays for similar failings, which the bank agreed to settle. The CFTC imposed a penalty of US$200 million. In addition, as part of an agreement with the DOJ, Barclays admitted to its misconduct and agreed to pay a penalty of US$160 million.
Notes for editors
- The Final Notice for Barclays Bank Plc.
- LIBOR and the EURIBOR are benchmark reference rates that indicate the interest rate that banks charge when lending to each other. They are fundamental to the operation of both UK and international financial markets, including markets in interest rate derivatives contracts.
- LIBOR and EURIBOR are used to determine payments made under both over the counter (OTC) interest rate derivatives contracts and exchange traded interest rate contracts by a wide range of counterparties including small businesses, large financial institutions and public authorities. Benchmark reference rates such as LIBOR and EURIBOR also affect payments made under a wide range of other contracts including loans and mortgages. The integrity of benchmark reference rates such as LIBOR and EURIBOR is therefore of fundamental importance to both UK and international financial markets.
- LIBOR is published on behalf of the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) and EURIBOR is published on behalf of the European Banking Federation (EBF). LIBOR and EURIBOR are calculated as averages from submissions made by a number of banks selected by the BBA or EBF. There are different panels of banks that contribute submissions for each currency in which LIBOR is published, and for EURIBOR.
- LIBOR and EURIBOR are by far the most prevalent benchmark reference rates used in euro, US dollar and sterling OTC interest rate derivatives contracts and exchange traded interest rate contracts. The notional amount outstanding of OTC interest rate derivatives contracts in the first half of 2011 has been estimated at 554 trillion US dollars. The total value of volume of short term interest rate contracts traded on LIFFE in London in 2011 was 477 trillion euro including over 241 trillion euro relating to the three month EURIBOR futures contract (the fourth largest interest rate futures contract by volume in the world).
- Until February 2011 the US dollar LIBOR panel consisted of 16 banks and the rate calculation for each maturity excluded the highest four and lowest four submissions. An average of the remaining eight submissions was taken to produce the final published LIBOR.
- Throughout the Relevant Period, the EURIBOR panel consisted of at least 40 banks and in each maturity the rate calculation excluded the highest 15% and lowest 15% of all the submissions collated. A rounded average of the remaining submissions was taken to produce the final published EURIBOR.
- The FSA Enforcement Conference 2012 – ‘Credible deterrence: Here to stay’ takes place on Monday, 2 July, 2012.
- The FSA regulates the financial services industry and has four objectives under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000: maintaining market confidence; securing the appropriate degree of protection for consumers; fighting financial crime; and contributing to the protection and enhancement of the stability of the UK financial system.
- The FSA will be replaced by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority in 2013. The Financial Services Bill currently undergoing parliamentary scrutiny is expected to receive Royal Assent by the end of 2012
Peston’s Picks here
I’m shocked, shocked!
The chancellor said he had seen “anonymised” tax returns submitted by multimillionaires using aggressive avoidance schemes to dramatically reduce their tax bills.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found that the income tax rate among some of the highest earners was, on average, only 10%.
Osborne said the HMRC study convinced him of the need to “take action” to ensure high earners pay more income tax.
In last month’s budget he limited how much people could offset their tax bills by investing in businesses or donating to charity.
Anyone seeking to claim more than £50,000 of tax relief in any one year will have a cap set at 25% of their income from 2013.
HMRC found hundreds of millions of pounds of income tax is avoided by using legal loopholes.
The main methods included writing off business losses, offsetting the cost of business mortgages, and borrowing on buy-to-let properties.
Others took advantage of tax relief on donations to charity.
“I was shocked to see that some of the very wealthiest people in the country have organised their tax affairs, and to be fair it’s within the tax laws, so that they were regularly paying virtually no income tax. And I don’t think that’s right,” Osborne told the Daily Telegraph.
“I’m talking about people right at the top. I’m talking about people with incomes of many millions of pounds a year.
“The general principle is that people should pay income tax and that includes people with the highest incomes.”
Protest outside ‘Winning Business in the New NHS’ conference, Wednesday 29 February, 8.00 am at the King’s Fund, 11-13 Cavendish Street London, W1G 0AN.
Protest called by the Health Alarm 11:59 mobilising committee.
The conference is a briefing session (at £354 a head) for private profiteers dealing with the NHS, run by a communications firm, GB Communications PR, whose bosses have strong NHS connections. The philosphy of these profiteers is succinctly and frankly outlined in a recent letter to the Guardian:
I find the logic of your editorial (23 February) somewhat lacking. Neither vested interests nor the vagaries of public opinion can be allowed by an honest government to stand in the way of difficult decisions. On your logic, the unions would still be holding us all to ransom, the Bank of England would remain under the government’s thumb, and Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi would still be in business. Radical reform of the NHS is essential. The proposed reforms are rational and modest. The lurid and shameless resistance movement has been managed by the usual suspects. Unless the NHS is at long last de-Sovietised, it will collapse in bankrupt ruin, to be followed by thoroughgoing privatisation.
Professor David Marsland
Conference speakers include Mark Simmonds, Tory MP and shadow Health Minister 2007-10, probably the highest-placed Tory able to speak on the issue without the constraints of a current government position. Simmonds is paid £50,000 a year, on top of his MP’s salary, to work just 10 hours a month as “strategic adviser” to Circle Health, which on 1 February became the first private firm to take over the running of an NHS hospital, Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire.
As NHS experts Alyson Pollock and David Price have written: “up to £100 billion annually of taxpayers’ money is likely to be handed over to large corporations that will run and operate our NHS services for profit…
“The winners will be shareholders, CEOs and directors of new companies while the losers will be the poor, the elderly and the infirm — those whom the health service was designed to protect… The reforms mean that the NHS will remain as a brand name only with health services will be run on US lines by, and largely for, shareholders and profit.”.
The 29 February conference is about profiteers positioning themselves to get their slice of the £100 billion.
There is still time to stop the Health and Social Care Bill, which is set to strike a massive and grievous blow to the NHS. We need a mobilisation of the labour movement to demand the bill is withdrawn and to put forward a positive plan to rebuild the National Health Service.
We demand also the repeal of cuts to the NHS, the liberation of the NHS from extortionate PFI charges, the reversal of the marketisation already imposed.
We call on the Labour Party to publicly reaffirm Andy Burnham’s promise that a future Labour government will reverse marketisation of the NHS by this government.
We will demonstrate against the private sector vultures, with a simple message: no to the Health and Social Care Bill! No to privatisation – hands off our NHS! Please join us!
More details: firstname.lastname@example.org or Rosie, 07734 088 243.
Over at Dave‘s:
scotCH nationalism is shit. in all its forms. disgusting little wannabe hitlers the lot of them. Och aye the noo we are ohpressed!
opposition parties twice reject his £30 billion spending plans.
Cross-posted from ‘Obliged to Offend’
Sir Richard Branson is widely held up as an example of entrepreneurial success.
Not in the mould of the ruthless tycoon sat atop a shiny tower counting piles of
cash, but as the face of a new breed of capitalist who, at the end of the
20th-century, “tore off their ties, threw open their shirt necks and fretted
about their employees’ spiritual well-being,” as Terry Eagleton puts it.
Richard Branson is essentially a man of the “Cool Britannia” era. “We
are seriously relaxed about people becoming very, very rich,” Peter Madelson
said at the time; and this was reflected in people like Branson. It was no
longer a source of shame to have “loadsamoney”. Class, that old chestnut of
20th-century politics, was no more, or so the establishment liked to think.
Still lingering here and there like a bad smell, but on the way out,
Unsurprisingly perhaps, it didn’t take long before the rich
began to view the payment of tax as something they could be seriously relaxed
about, too. What would at one time have been shameful became over the course of
30 years something like a badge of honour. This did not restrict itself to those
at the top of society, either. Even members of the working class – those on the
receiving end of today’s government cuts – can at times be heard referring
disparagingly to the “tax man”, implying a dark, shadowy figure in it simply for
what they can get. Perhaps it is indeed language that is of greatest importance
in this respect, for one can hardly boast of “asset maximisation” when
well-aware they are depriving not an anonymous and shadowy “tax man”, but
terminally ill children of otherwise affordable cancer treatment, or pensioners
of the ability to heat their homes for more than a few hours a day.
Recently I wrote an article highlighting the behaviour of Bono and U2
when it came to the payment of tax. In it I quoted Jim Aiken, a music promoter
who helped stage U2 concerts in Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s. What he said
epitomised Bono and the new breed of ego-driven capitalist in a sentence: “U2
are arch-capitalists – arch-capitalists – but it looks as if they’re not.”
Looking beyond the self-glorification and ferocious publicity campaigns that
characterise Bono’s “charitable giving,” U2 were simultaneously cutting the feet
from under their own government’s ability to provide for the very poorest in the
world – the very people Bono feigned the greatest concern for.
A similar thing could be said of Branson, whose first company, Virgin Music, started amid
a sophisticated purchase-tax fraud that Branson himself admitted in 1971. The
company was sold in 1992 for £560m and Branson went on to build his business
empire from there. Despite a public persona as the amiable People’s Capitalist,
Branson, according to Tom Bower, author of the book Branson, has spent “a lifetime building
a fortune on hype, misrepresentations and…a criminal conviction for tax
Branson’s business interests would always come ahead of any
notion of the public good. For years Branson campaigned in Westminster for the
privatisation of the rail network, one of the most disastrous sell-offs of
public assets during the Thatcher era. Today Virgin Rail remains dependent on
state money, aggressively protects its monopoly, and is subject to an exorbitant
number of passenger complaints. (Bower, 2005)
Another of Branson’s obsessions, his “lifetime ambition,” according to a millennium
lecture he gave at Oxford, was to take over the running of the National Lottery.
As Bower points out, “possessing the lottery would bequeath a vast cash flow in
management fees and endless free publicity to Virgin by association while
Branson anointed the lottery’s millionaires. By controlling the lottery, Branson
would never again need to bother with dicey enterprises like cola, clothes,
cosmetics or even mobile phones. Most important, he would reverse the crushing
humiliation he suffered by two rejections”.
News surfaced today that Branson is planning to
move Virgin’s brand division to Switzerland in a switch that is likely to save
the company millions in tax revenue. The move is being undertaken, in the words
of Virgin, “to co-ordinate…international growth and brand management,”
whatever that means.
Commenting on Virgin’s historical tax record in
Britain before the latest move was announced, Richard Murphy from Tax Research
was already less-than complimentary, saying: “I didn’t think
Virgin paid any tax here, let’s be blunt about it. It’s been remarkably poor at
Whatever the case, the British treasury – and by that I mean
hospitals, schools and care homes, to name but a few – is about to become
several million pounds lighter, and no amount of rolling-up the shirtsleeves,
hairspray or aspirational rhetoric is going to change that.