Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘integrity

Alan Johnson – An Absence Of Integrity

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Shadow

I used to be an admirer.  Even as a rabid Tory, in fact, very much as a Tory, I thought the story of postman to Minister of the Crown was Boy’s Own stuff.

He has a sharp intellect and an easy charm with nothing of the snide trade union whinger that he might have been.   Then came Professor Nutt and, almost as never before, a politician’s true colours were revealed.  Not the gentle pink blush of embarrassment but a black deception and dishonour.  It was an astonishing position to take.  As David Nutt recalls, “Alan Johnson famously said in the House that he was “big enough, strong enough, bold enough” to sack me for saying cannabis was less harmful than alcohol.”  And he did.  See here.

Even worse, as a replacement he appointed Professor Les Iversen, author of  “Cannabis, Why It Is Safe” and  countless other publications extolling the innocuous nature of the plant.  He is on the record as saying that “cannabis should be legalised, not just decriminalized”.  The complete absurdity of Alan Johnson’s actions were astonishing.  He was stating boldly and without apology that whatever the science said he wouldn’t listen to it.  Even more than that, he would try to silence the truth.

This is a politician without a shred of integrity.  A man of great achievement and intelligence who has shamed himself and destroyed his own career.  He is not fit to be in the shadow cabinet.  That he has been appointed shadow chancellor is a hollow and sickening joke.

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Home Office Backtracks On Cannabis – Part 2

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See the original article here.

The Home Office has been denying to me all week that it had changed its story.  It claimed that it had said “Drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis are extremely harmful and can cause misery to communities across the country.”  It claimed that cannabis was never included in this statement.

Today it finally owned up.  It issued this statement at 5.18pm this evening:

A Home Office spokesperson said:

“There is clear evidence that drugs such as heroin and cocaine are extremely harmful substances.

“There is also clear evidence that cannabis is a harmful drug which can cause both physical and psychological problems. Even the occasional use of cannabis can be dangerous for people with diseases of the circulatory system, and it can contribute to heart disease and lung cancer.

“In this instance there was a drafting error with the original version of this statement, which was subsequently rectified.”

Does It Look Dangerous To You?

Now, I understand and respect the professional efforts of the Home Office PRs to damp down this story.  It just doesn’t wash though does it?

Why did it take nearly two weeks to correct this error?

Why did they try to cover up the error in the first place?

All this from a government department that emphasises how important are its “health and education messages” and that it must not send “the wrong message – to young people in particular.”

Of course, the truth is that the Home Office sends inaccurate and misleading messages about drugs all the time.  Everyone, except the Home Office ministers and mandarins, agrees that the present drug classification system is nonsense, that it amounts to nothing less than misinformation.  In fact, the Home Office is currently less than seven days away from a judicial review of its political manipulation of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  The Drug Equality Alliance co-founder, Casey Hardison, has taken it upon himself to challenge the Home Secretary and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in the Administrative Court for its irrational, unfair, and possibly illegal exclusion of alcohol and tobacco from control under the Act.

Even David Cameron agrees that ecstasy should not be a class A drug – see here.  The debacle and embarrassing nonsense about the ever-changing classification of cannabis destroyed Alan Johnson’s integrity for good.  Young people have been watching the government’s “messages” for years, comparing them to their own experiences and realising  that the government talks rot when it comes to drugs.  The Home Office is inconsistent, unreliable, contradictory and nothing short of dangerous when it comes to messages about drugs – as they’ve just proved, yet again.

As for the revised statement, there is evidence to show that smoking cannabis can cause the same damage to the cardiovascular system as smoking tobacco, but no one smokes anywhere near the same amount of cannabis as they do tobacco – they’d be asleep!  In fact, the very latest research shows that cannabis has an extraordinary protective effect for tobacco smokers and may actually reduce the likelihood of lung cancer.   Other recent research has also shown cannabinoids to have remarkable effects in shrinking brain, head, neck and breast cancers.

The Home Office is so far out of date it’s difficult to believe.   It still talks sensationally about the dangers of “new stronger strains of cannabis known as skunk”.   The truth is that skunk has been the predominant type of cannabis available in the UK for more than 20 years.  That’s how up to date the Home Office is.   Finally, the “psychological problems” story.  Sure, any psychoactive substance has the potential for harm but increasingly there’s evidence to show cannabinoids actually have an anti-psychotic effect.  One of the most useful applications of medicinal cannabis is in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

To those who don’t already know the facts, I say simply google your questions.  Even the Home Office, much as it might try, has not yet found a way of silencing the truth.

Tony Blair With Andrew Marr

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Showdown

I have to admit I was impressed.

I do not begrudge it all.  It was fantastic, riveting television – if you’re a politics junkie like me.  I know there will be vociferous opinion against but I thought he was marvellous, quite inspiring and utterly convincing.

He always was the best possible successor to Margaret Thatcher and that shone through in the interview.  He’s explicitly not a socialist, so why he persists in the Labour Party I don’t know.  I can see why he supports the coalition.  In fact, he’d make the perfect coalition PM with Dave and Nick as his deputies!  Now there’s a thought!

I never voted for him but always rather liked him.  I confess I allowed myself to be swayed by the Bliar and anti-Blair brigade but yes, even I am susceptible to propaganda.  Recently, I have given serious attention to his involvement in the Israel Palestine dispute.  I have been deeply impressed at his even-handedness.   It is a talent to remain so impartial in such a heated and emotional situation.  It convinced me of his integrity.

That is the quality that shines through.  It is the quality that matters to me most, that I think means most of all.  He is a man of integrity.  I do not agree with him on everything by any means but…

He is a great man.

Child Abuse, Bombing – All In A Day’s Work For Catholic Priests

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Devil Incarnate

Are we seriously going to welcome the Pope to our shores next month, the personification of an institution that has been responsible for appalling evil throughout the last 2000 years?

The monstrous scandal of child abuse by priests and nuns continues and so does the Church’s shameful attempts to cover it up.  Today we learn that Father James Chesney was an active IRA bomber.   See here.  There should be no more allowances made.  The cult of Catholicism is evil and beneath contempt.

Terrorist In A Dog Collar

The Catholic Church is an out of date, irredeemable hotbed of wickedness, sin and shame.   It is all to do with the greed and venality of man, disguised in a power mad, money making machine that has no integrity or worth at all.  It has nothing to do with God whatsoever.  It looks more like the devil to me.

We should deny the Pope entry to Britain and proscribe his church from any privileges accorded to charities or religious bodies.  It has proved itself time and time again to be guilty of the worst possible crimes.  Enough is enough.

“Too many have died in the name of Christ for anyone to heed the call”

These are the immortal words of Crosby Stills & Nash.  Substitute “Christ” with any deity you care to mention.

Teach Your Children

A Fundamental Problem At The BBC

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I am very close to being the BBC’s biggest fan.  It is a remarkable and entirely unique institution.  Somehow it occupies a place between the state and the people which I can find no comparison for.  It would be easy to define it as some sort of socialist idea but it is genuinely independent from the state.  I do, however, have some concerns about its accountability.  I am very concerned about the way it handles complaints.

No Complaints Accepted Here

I have grown up with the BBC and I trust it.  In fact, I think that it’s done a better job of maintaining Britishness and values of integrity, tolerance, fairness and justice than any UK government of any political complexion.  That’s why the curmudgeons in all political parties turn against it.  I think Jeremy Hunt’s recent attacks and comments were particularly poorly judged.  He hasn’t a had a good start in government at all has he?

I made a complaint to the BBC recently and I am very, very unhappy about the way it has been handled.   The subject is not relevant here.  I shall write about it in future but for now it would distract from my point.  I am horrified to discover that the BBC does not handle complaints itself.   They are outsourced to Capita in Belfast which describes itself as “the UK’s leading outsourcing company…at the leading edge of redefining and transforming services to the public.”  For me that needs a huge pinch of salt, a mountain in fact and even then I’m choking on it.

Handling complaints should be at the very heart of an organisation.  It is the essence of your brand.  There is no more important management function.  Contracting them out is an abdication of responsibility.  More than that, it is a complete failure of integrity, a massive mistake.   If an organisation is truly committed to meeting its customers’ needs it must be as close to them as possible.  This irresponsibility strikes at the very heart of everything I value about the BBC.  I am deeply disillusioned.

If this disastrous decision had resulted in a well administered service then that might be some consolation but not a bit of it.  It is dreadful.  Every bit as bad as any horror story you’ve heard about British Gas, BT or yes, even a bank.  This is the British consumer experience at its very worst.

Not What It Used To Be

In sharp contrast to the rest of the BBC’s websites, try making a complaint online.  It’s like something from the very early days of the internet with clumsy, badly aligned fields and an archaic feel.  I almost expect to hear a modem whistling away in the background.  From a complainant’s point of view it’s quite useless.  You don’t get any option to save a copy of your complaint or email it to yourself.  You don’t even get an acknowledgement once you’ve completed it so you’re left with a completely unsatisfactory feeling of uncertainty.  Did they get it or not?  Will I get a reply?  When?

It gets worse.  Complaints are lost.  They don’t get answered at all.  They certainly don’t get answered within the 10 working days promised.  One answer I received was just laughable in its anodyne, crass simplicity.  It was nothing more than an patronising acknowledgement of what I was “unhappy about”.

Useless

I could go on even further but I won’t.  It does get even worse and it becomes embarrassingly so when Capita start to trot out the oldest excuse of all about “system problems”.  It is an excruciatingly bad, defining example of appalling customer service.  I’d say it takes the biscuit.

All this is the inevitable result of outsourcing your complaints procedure.  That aspect of business that should be one of your most important tools.  What’s worse is that Capita are absolutely useless at doing the job.

It is no exaggeration to say that, for me, this rocks the very foundations of everything I believed about the BBC to the very core.  It is not the organisation I thought it was.  I feel betrayed.  I am “disgusted of Tunbridge Wells”.   In fact,  I am very, very, very disgusted of Weymouth, Dorset.

Obama From Britain

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After Bush, to my knowledge, the worst US President ever, I was excited about the prospect of Hilary Clinton in the White House.  The election of Barack Obama was simply stunning.  For me, it rejuvenated the whole idea of America – the noble principles of the  Constitution, the idea that anyone can rise to the very top based on merit alone.  It updated that dream by transcending race, prejudice and history.

Ordinary And Extraordinary

As it happened, I  watched his inauguration with my parents.   I  wept at Obama’s words, at the huge symbolism of his achievement, at Jesse Jackson’s overwhelming moment.  My Mum & Dad said that it was like Kennedy was for their generation – the sense of new hope and optimism.  The same idea that makes me think of Churchill’s “broad sunlit uplands”.

So what’s going on now?  I ‘m sure I don’t understand a lot about American politics.  I can only see it from my perspective.  That means I get most of my news from the BBC.  I balance that with a daily trawl through the blogs and online newspapers on the issues that interest me.

In some ways I think the BBC is more British than Britain.  In fact, I trust the BBC more than I trust any politician.  Its standards and independence preserve our national integrity better than any political leader.

Going online gives me a broader view, often composed of ridiculous extremes as well as mainstream media.  There are so many highly literate, super clever bloggers who are completely deluded and beyond any reason.  Going online provides an overall summary of all different points of view and sources of information.

I think Obama is a fundamentally decent man.  There is a coterie of bloggers who believe he is a Chicago politician just the same as when Al Capone was in town.  I think he is bigger than that.

There is also a sisterhood (men and women) of Democrats, bitter supporters of Hilary, who are determined to undermine him.  Republicans say he is un-American and claim that he won the election through fraud.

I still have faith in the man.   In the horribly murky world of American politics I don’t think he would have risen to the top unless he was very special.  I detect authenticity.

The oil spill has been his greatest challenge. I feel that when he speaks for himself, from his heart, he speaks the truth.  When he is confused and manipulated by those around him he fails.  Many will say I am naive but how can anyone triumph without support?  We need leaders who can inspire, who can make us believe in them.

From the very beginning Obama has “extended the hand of friendship” towards Iran but it becomes clearer every day now that the current regime must be condemned without reservation.   He has stood up against Israel better than his predecessors and in the overall moral balance that was well overdue.  I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on the attempted kidnapping of Gary Mckinnon  It’s probably not high enough in his priorities to have had his proper consideration yet.

No one was more critical of Gordon Brown and his foolhardy, self-serving government than me but the way that some Americans criticise their leader horrifies me.  Some of the conspiracy theories and charges levelled against Obama are worse than those against Hitler or Mengele.  There are are so many complete nutters in America I really do wonder what they put in the water.

After re-consideration, from my British perspective, I still have faith in this extraordinary man.  I urge him to continue to have the courage of his convictions.  I wish he could put aside short term political considerations.  I think, almost whatever happens,  he will win a second term so he can afford to look at least six years in advance and ignore his critics.  I still believe in him.

The Oil Spill. The Bottom Line. What Obama’s Forgetting.

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BP hired them so it is taking responsibility but…

Catastrophe

…the oil rig was American.

…the crew was American.

…the blowout preventer and other safety equipment that failed was American.

…six of BP’s 12 main board directors are American.

…40% of BP’s shareholders are American.

So when the first black American president suddenly starts calling it “British Petroleum”, a name it moved away from 12 years ago because it simply wasn’t accurate anymore, what is it but blatant racism?

This is shockingly grubby behaviour from a man who I was trusting on his platform of integrity.

He’s blown that idea just as sky high as Deepwater Horizon.  He’s also forgotten who are his and his country’s most steadfast friends in the world.

If the Yankees, who squander the world’s resources and pollute the environment more than any other nation on the planet, think they’re going to stick this one on us, they need to think again.  They need to get their collective brain into gear and start doing something useful.  The anti-British rhetoric that has been coming from the States, from whining journalists and politicians as well as Obama,  is ludicrous, disloyal and not worthy of them.

We are entitled to expect much, much better from those with whom we stand shoulder to shoulder.  When the chips are down we are the only ones you can always rely on.  You are a young nation in the history of the world.  Now is the time to grow up and take responsibility.  Stop passing the buck.