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Saturday 31 January 2015

Trying To Put A Price On Life:

I wonder how anyone can hope to accurately put a price on someone else's life, let alone make a deliberate choice between who should live and who should die, a moral conundrum that would almost surely challenge the wisdom of Solomon himself.
I only ask the question having watched a news item regarding a young female patient who needed a particular drug to treat her life-threatening condition and who had previously been receiving supplies of the vital medicine from the drug manufacturers free of charge. However, because the manufacturers were seemingly unable to keep supplying the drug for free, at least on an ongoing basis, the girl's family had approached the NHS, to see if they would pay for the drug once the free supplies had come to an end. It transpired that the annual cost of the treatment to the national health service would be between £150,000 and £200,000 a year, although it wasn't immediately clear from the report, whether or not, or indeed by how much the continued provision of the drug would actually extend the young lady's life. Ultimately though, it was clear that if one assumed that the annual cost to the NHS would be closer to £200,000 than not, then for every five years that the girl's treatment was funded by the public health service, it was likely to cost British taxpayers the best part of a million pounds.
Now that isn't to suggest that the young lady in question, or indeed any of her fellow sufferers shouldn't be able to have such treatments, it is merely a recounting of that particular news report and an illustration of the sorts of wider individual financial costs that our health services face on an almost daily basis. Clearly for the family and friends of those suffering from life-threatening diseases, you simply cannot put a monetary value on the life of a loved one, but like it not, the reality is that in a situation where health budgets are severely constrained, one person's gain is almost always another person's loss.
This particular young girl's situation got me to wondering about how our society balances such vital needs, because whether we like it not, with a finite amount of resources to pay for life-saving drugs and treatments, essentially people's lives and their deaths can become something of a lottery, irrespective of their age, their gender, their race, or their religion, but instead having more to do with where they live or whether or not their drug or treatment has actually been approved by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).
A newspaper article in the Guardian reports that the NHS has recently agreed a financial cap on the cost of drugs and treatments supplied to our health services amounting to £12 billion per year, with a further £2 billion set aside for additional generic and out-of-patent drugs, which are generally far cheaper and much more widely available. In theory, this means that the maximum amount that can be spent on various drug treatments from all of the various international pharmaceutical companies is £14 billion per year, which is still a massive amount of money and a significant proportion of the entire NHS budget. According to the same report though, any financial cost for NHS drug supplies, over and above the agreed £12 billion cap would subsequently be borne by the pharmaceutical companies themselves, thus ensuring that the national health service wouldn't and couldn't overspend on its drug's costs.
The only problem is however, is that as medicine advances; and medical researchers begin to tackle some of the more serious and complicated diseases, so the cost of the resulting drug treatments become prohibitively expensive. It was truly shocking to read of one particular drug, Soliris, which is reputed to cost in excess of £350,000 per year, per patient; and that could potentially be prescribed for each of them over a 25 year period, bringing its overall cost to around £10 million per person. According to the same report, approximately 200 people in the UK might benefit from being prescribed Soliris, making a potential overall spend of around £2 billion. Several newspapers at home and abroad have reported that this particular drug is the most expensive medicine ever prescribed by the NHS; and perhaps illustrates the sorts of financial pressures that our health services are suffering now; and will no doubt continue to do so well into the future.
At about the same time that NICE has approved the use of Soliris for a couple of hundred patients in the UK, they have also announced the cessation of public funding for at least 25 other separate cancer fighting drugs, which were previously being prescribed for up to eight thousand seriously, or terminally ill patients who were said to be suffering from either bowel or breast cancer. Quite how government and the health authorities manage to justify such a seemingly inequitable situation remains unclear, but what seems apparent is that hundreds, if not thousands of cancer patients will now run the risk of an early death, whilst a couple of hundred others may well have their lives extended at a considerable cost to the taxpayer. Again, in an ideal world no-one would have to make such arbitrary choices, but from a purely pragmatic point of view the cost of preserving a few hundred lives, at the cost of a few thousand others doesn't seem to be moral, equitable or indeed sustainable.
Any argument over the provision of Soliris is not an entirely isolated case. Only recently the European Drug Agency, the EDA, has granted a licence for another cancer drug called Vervoy, which has been specifically designed to fight malignant melanomas, one of the most common and destructive forms of the disease. In their turn NICE have approved its use for UK sufferers, at an average cost of £90,000 for a single course of four injections, which studies suggest will extend the lives of around 45% of those patients who receive the drug by 12 months on average. Approximately 25% of sufferers who are given the drug will survive for around two years. According to the manufacturers themselves, the annual cost of the drug to the NHS would be an estimated £30-37.5 million; and for that sum of money approximately 4-500 patients would gain a substantive benefit.
Now in itself £90,000 may not seem to be a great deal of money in the great scheme of things, but when one considers that roughly half of those receiving the treatment will die within 12 months anyway, it starts to put things into some sort of meaningful perspective. After all, if a patient gains an additional 12 months of life for £90,000, is that better value for money than the patient who only lives for six months, or three months, or shouldn't value for money come into it at all? And if something as base as value for money shouldn't be a consideration, then exactly what criteria should be applied to prescribing such vital life saving drugs? Do we just keep dipping into our finite pot of healthcare money until it's exhausted, on a first come, first served basis? Do we allow governments or health authorities to decide who and what our healthcare budgets are spent on, thereby handing them the power of life and death over us? Or do we keep on increasing the healthcare budgets, to match the ever increasing costs of newly developed drugs and treatments, drawing much needed monies away from other areas of vital public expenditure, such as education, defence and welfare, or any of the other social safety nets that we now take for granted?
Even though the estimated £2 billion cost of the drug Soliris is potentially spread over the period of 25 years, is any single person's life worth £10 million, while someone else's is worth £90,000 and yet another's is deemed to be a waste of public money? Are the elderly, the one's who have generally paid more into our national healthcare system, more or less valuable than the youngsters who have not? Is the rich man, or the educated man, any more valuable than his counterpart who is poor and uneducated? Should our healthcare system remain a lottery, decided upon by faceless bureaucrats and health professionals, or do we need to start putting a reasonable price on an individuals life and simply accept that we're all going to die at some point, it's just that some will do so, sooner rather than later.           

Wednesday 28 January 2015

The Confederate Captain And The English Castle: Part 1

Nobody still living quite knows the entire truth about the life and times of John McCafferty, the supposed Confederate Captain who was said to have not only served with one of the most notable "rebel" guerrilla forces of the American Civil War, the notorious Morgan's Raiders, but was also rumoured to have led the Irish Republican Brotherhood's much feared assassination squad, known as the Invincibles, who were held to be responsible for the killing of the British diplomat, Lord Cavendish, in Phoenix Park in 1882. In addition, McCafferty was also known to have masterminded and led a fairly audacious attempted raid on Chester's historic castle complex, in an effort to secure the nine thousand muskets, four thousand swords and nearly a million rounds of ammunition that were being held there, which had the raid been successful, would then have later been used against British troops serving in Ireland.
England's and later Britain's relationship with what is now the Irish Republic was always a troubled one, as one would expect where an indigenous native population struggle to free themselves from what they regard as the oppressive rule of a foreign power. Add into that struggle several hundred years of political intrigues, armed military invasions, widespread social engineering, as well as highly divisive religious fundamentalism; and it is not entirely surprising perhaps that for the best part of eight hundred years the island of Ireland remained a political, social and economic powder keg that would almost regularly explode beneath the generally well ordered British establishment.
However, as one of the most pre-eminent military and economic powers in the world during the 18th and 19th centuries, Britain was both willing and able to confront any sort of challenge to its dominance whether through sheer force of arms, or by economic sanction, whichever proved to be the most effective in the particular circumstance. The fact that by doing so they might alienate a sizeable proportion of the indigenous population and thus breed a bitter underlying public resentment that would subsequently create even more conflict for the Empire, either never occurred to them, or was simply judged to be a price worth paying.
Certainly within specific parts of the indigenous Roman Catholic communities in Ireland the sense of nationalist grievance against Britain and its rule over Ireland was palpable, although with such a huge military and economic power to confront, virtually every attempted rebellion, revolution, or opposition to it ultimately proved to be futile. As a result, those nationalists who were fortunate enough, brave enough, or even wealthy enough to escape what they regarded as the British yoke, began to look elsewhere for a place to live, taking with them the hatred, resentment and the tales of British oppression that some would almost inevitably pass onto their children and grand-children who would be born in these new faraway lands.
And that was thought to be the case with our American Captain, John McCafferty, who was said to have been brought up at his grandfather's knee listening to tales of British imperialism in Ireland, their cruel oppression of the Roman Catholic religion and their suppression of the nationalist cause in the McCafferty family's spiritual homeland. According to some sources, the reason for the young John McCafferty spending so much time with his grandfather and thus being weaned on these tales of British maliciousness was quite simply that he had been orphaned at a relatively young age and had been placed in the care of his grandfather, though no more is known than that. 
Quite who the purported grandfather was is unclear, although it has been suggested that the McCafferty surname originates from the northern part of Ireland, possibly from County Fermanagh, or even from Londonderry. Because exact records are unavailable, or incomplete it is almost impossible to know who John McCafferty's grandfather was, although it is known that a labourer called James McCafferty travelled from Ireland to the USA onboard a ship called "The American" destined for New York on the 4th September 1803, whilst a second man called Edward McCafferty travelled from Ireland to the USA onboard a ship called the "Harmony" on the 31st October 1811. Even though it seems highly unlikely that either one of these men were in fact related to our American Captain, it does help to illustrate just how difficult it can sometimes be to keep track on one individual when so many people finally decided to make that journey from their ancestral homes in Ireland, to the unknown future that awaited them in the United States.
What does appear to be a matter of record, or at least accepted as such by most reporters, is that John McCafferty, the subject of this tale, was born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1838, although there is no specific record as to who his parents were, what they did, or how and when they died, assuming of course that they did indeed pre-decease him, thereby leaving him as an orphan to be raised by his grandfather.
Named from the Wyandot word for cold water, Sandusky lies close to Lake Erie and was reportedly established by a plantation owner called Charles Johnson in 1808, after he had purchased the land from its previous owner, John Lynch. Johnson was said to have built his own home on the site in around 1808 and from that point on increasing numbers of properties were thought to have been constructed in the area, mainly by Johnson's business partners and other incoming settlers. From around 1818 onwards, much more large scale building and construction were reported to have been undertaken; and it is perhaps during this period that members of John McCafferty's family first arrived in Sandusky. In 1838, the same year that our subject was said to have been born the Ohio authorities reportedly created Erie County and established Sandusky as the county seat of the new administrative region.
By 1846 several thousand residents were inhabiting the town and due to its close proximity to Lake Erie and the presence of its two railway lines Sandusky was an important economic centre, exporting hundreds of thousands bushels of wheat to the nation and playing host to many thriving businesses, including numerous merchants, fishermen, print shops, banks and forges. It was also during this time that the town was thought to have been an important stopping point on the "Underground Railroad", the trail used by fugitive slaves as they made their way North to freedom in Canada.
Of course, much of John McCafferty's personal history would have been and has been written after many of the reported events associated with him had taken place, which is to be expected, given that most people didn't keep a record, or a diary of their daily lives, as is much more the case nowadays. So apart from having accepted that he was indeed born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1838; and may have been orphaned, then raised by his grandfather who had Irish nationalist tendencies, which he instilled into the young McCafferty, we have very little idea of where he lived or what he did for a living during his formative years, until after the American Civil War had started, been fought and ultimately won by the Union.
It is perhaps worth making the point though that despite the fact that Irish Americans undoubtedly fought for both sides during that bloody conflict, it does seem a little bit odd that MCafferty having presumably been brought up in Sandusky, where anti-slavery sympathies seemed to have been more common than not, why then would he support a pro-slavery administration? Also, for a young Irish nationalist, who one would imagine would be instinctively opposed to any sort of inequality and oppression, let alone the legal ownership of a fellow human being, to then support a government which promoted such things, seems extremely strange, to say the least. But that perhaps is one of the abiding features of Captain John McCafferty's entire story, the seemingly inexplicable occurrences, the glaring omissions and the blinding inconsistencies, which have caused many researchers to seriously question whether he was really called John McCafferty or not?
(To be continued......)

Tuesday 27 January 2015

The Premier Liar, Who Wants To Cheat Us All Again:

It never fails to astonish me that some people still seem to regard David Cameron as a successful Prime Minister, despite the fact his Coalition government has proven itself to be one of the most dishonest, divisive and economically illiterate political administrations that the people of Britain have had to suffer for the past twenty-odd years. That is not to suggest for one moment that the previous Labour governments of Blair and Brown were any better, or that a possible Miliband cabinet would be any sort of improvement on the current Coalition, although it might well indicate that the British people have been and will likely continue to be poorly served, if we keep repeating the common mistake of re-electing the same sorts of inexperienced, out-of-touch, professional politicians that Cameron and Miliband represent.
Ordinarily, it might be difficult to keep up with all of the various mistakes, u-turns and fibs that a serving government commits during its four or five year term of office, simply because there are generally so many of them that it's hard to keep track. However, with the advent of the internet and the emergence of the professional political blogger, it is now comparatively easy to remind oneself of the often numerous and various faux pas that the traditional legacy parties commit on an almost regular basis. And despite the fact that some parts of the right wing Tory press continue to refer to the Cameron administration as "competent", the following list of political gaffes, howlers, misrepresentations and outright lies would tend to suggest that for anyone to describe it thus, is not only a travesty, but a tragedy of epic proportions.
Where to start with the extensive litany of political boo-boos that we can directly attribute to Mr Cameron and his Coalition government? Well, clearly there's his employment of Andy Coulson, who Mr Cameron continued to defend, even in the chamber of the house, but who ultimately was found to be a "wrong 'un". Then of course there was his government's top-down reorganisation of the NHS, despite having given his assurance that there would be no such reorganisation in the run-up to the election. Next, there was the unexpected rise in the rate of VAT, once again despite his personal assurance that no such rise was being planned.
In the months before the election Mr Cameron was telling the British public that any future public spending cuts, to help cut the deficit, probably wouldn't be that severe, but once in office introduced some of the most swingeing austerity measures ever introduced by a British Prime Minister. In the early months of his government he promised that anyone caught carrying a knife would likely face an automatic jail term, a policy that was eventually dropped over the course of his tenure in No10. Even though he promised to retain the EMA, the Educational Maintenance Allowance, monies designed to encourage youngsters to remain in full-time education, his administration subsequently dropped the funding, preferring instead to see these same youngsters on low paid work programmes, turned into NEET's, or forced to take on thousands of pounds of Student debts.
Along with his Liberal Democrat deputy, Nick Clegg; and despite any assurances given before the election their joint administration introduced a tripling of tuition fees for those taking on further education courses at university or college. Then of course there was the infamous cast-iron guarantee for a public referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which Mr Cameron somehow contrived to weasel his way out of, once he had been given the keys to Downing Street, courtesy of Mr Clegg and his Lib Dem MPs. And that's not forgetting of course his government's scrapping of the RAF's Nimrod aircraft, which were broken up, forcing us to rely on other NATO nation's goodwill in order to defend our coastline from enemy submarines and aircraft. And maybe we shouldn't forget the selling off of the Harrier Jump Jets to the Americans, leaving the UK without an effective Fleet Air Arm, (although given that we didn't have a serviceable aircraft carrier anyway; and still don't) that can probably be best described as a relatively moot point.
Quite apart from the numerous policy u-turns, empty promises, gross misrepresentations and blatant lies that David Cameron has committed and uttered, just a few of which are mentioned above, it is perhaps indicative of his character that he shamelessly continues to do so, despite knowing that the truth will find him out. Over the period of the past few weeks he has readily repeated the lie that the UK's economic performance under his government's stewardship has outperformed all other major economies, when in reality a number of other G20 nations, including China, India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and South Korea have delivered greater increases in their national economic performances than Mr Cameron's Britain. In the House of Commons, where he is protected by parliamentary privilege, he has regularly misled the watching TV audiences and live spectators regarding the opposition's future intentions, including his statement to Mark Reckless MP that UKIP were planning to privatise the NHS, even though he knew this to be untrue.
A bully, a liar, a charlatan and a deceitful personality, why would anyone choose to believe that Mr Cameron displays any semblance of economic competency, when he can't even be bothered to be honest and straightforward with the British electorate? Deliberately sucking money out of the UK economy, whilst at the same time borrowing billions from the international markets to simply give it away to foreign despots and tyrants isn't competency, but criminal incompetence! To publicly promise to deliver change, only then to rescind those promises once you're elected isn't honesty, but sheer unadulterated dishonesty! To publicly promise to protect the most vulnerable in our society; and then renege on those promises once you've got your feet under the desk at Downing Street isn't the mark of a caring Prime Minister, but rather the mark of a deeply unsympathetic individual, who will say, do or promise whatever is necessary to achieve his personal objective of attaining and retaining power!
Just under five years ago Mr Cameron promised much; and despite standing against one of the most unpopular sitting Prime Minister's of the modern age, he still failed to achieve a working parliamentary majority to push forward his party's political agenda. Now, it might well be argued that the Liberal Democrats have blunted what would have almost certainly been an even sharper Conservative knife, which would have inflicted even more severe and deeper economic cuts, but for their political interventions. That's as may be, but it is still hard to get past the fact that electoral promises that were made by both governing parties, many of which were broken, whilst at the same time significant numbers of policies were literally foisted on the British people that have brought about fundamental changes to our society and the way we all live.
So now five years later Mr Cameron is asking us to trust him again, with the assurance that under a Conservative only government things will be better and the level of competence greater. A proven liar wants us to trust him, so that he can cheat us all again? Well, as the old expression goes, fool me one shame on you, fool me twice then shame on me, so if it's all the same I don't think I'll bother!

Monday 26 January 2015

The Coming Election Is All About Ownership:

I kind of take the view that the forthcoming British general election, the most important and the most uncertain for a generation, according to most polling experts, represents perhaps a final opportunity for the British public to take back ownership of the country from a political elite, who for far too long have contrived to serve their own narrow self interests, rather than those of the people they purport to serve.
If the British electorate wants to re-establish some form of ownership, or control over their population numbers, their international borders, their legal systems, their health services, their armed forces, their welfare state, their native languages, their culture, their history, their schools, their transport infrastructures, their economy; and perhaps more importantly their political governance, then they each need to be brave enough and bothered enough to vote for the sorts of changes that will bring such electoral ownership about.
It is precisely because the British people have surrendered their control over the executive, which has allowed unrepresentative minorities, special interest groups and well paid lobbyists to not only drive the cultural, social and economic agenda of the country, but to also shape the personal views and political ideologies of those who we have elected into office. After all, how many of us willingly and consciously voted for mass migration, the widespread adulteration of our native British culture, the establishment of foreign ghettoes in most of our major towns and cities, the legalisation of same sex marriages, the protection of criminals by the British legal system, or the wholesale transfer of executive competencies to a foreign parliament? I know that I wasn't asked to approve those measures through my vote at the public ballot, how about you?
How many people were asked if it was okay for the Coalition government to spend billions of pounds reorganising the NHS, just to make it worse? How many of us were asked for our permission to spend around £12 billion every year on Foreign Aid, ingratiating ourselves with foreign states, whilst significant amounts of that same money was being used to fund armed conflicts, build presidential houses, finance pointless job creation schemes, or encourage corruption in third world countries? Just how many English, Irish or Welsh voters were asked if they wanted Scottish citizens to be treated more favourably than them, or for Scottish MP's to be allowed to vote on purely English, Irish or Welsh issues? I know I wasn't asked, how about you?
I wonder how many voters were asked how they felt about having their landscapes destroyed by forests of unsightly and highly inefficient wind turbines, whilst paying hundreds of pounds extra per year on their electricity bills, in order to pay for the privilege? In fact, how many of us are being asked, or consulted about the latest carbon based technology, "Fracking"? After all, isn't it our country, our homes, our regions, towns and cities that are going to be most directly affected by these new technologies, so wouldn't you think that it should be all of the local people who decide whether or not they want fracking in their area, not just a few elected parliamentary representatives who rarely visit, or a handful of un-elected hippies? At the end of the day, with potential problems like earth tremors and water pollution resulting from such activity, shouldn't it be the people who might have to live with such problems the one's who must decide whether they want to expose themselves to such risks? 
Just how many of us were asked how we felt about halving the numbers of our armed forces personnel, at the same time that the world is becoming a far more dangerous place; and our non-existent national borders pose an even greater risk to our communal safety? How do most voters feel about having their most vital utilities, their water, their gas, their electricity, their railways, etc. owned and run by foreign companies, corporations that not only ruthlessly exploit their market position for their own national interests, but also owe not a shred of allegiance to Britain or its people?
How many people would consider having a national debts of £1.4 trillion to be a success story, when so few of those same people are feeling any direct benefit from the so-called economic recovery that Mr Cameron and Co. keep telling us about? Even though most impartial commentators might credit the Coalition with having reduced the Deficit by 33%, as opposed to 50% claimed by the clearly financially incompetent Chancellor, George Osborne, ultimately, what has been the social, economic and personal costs associated with imposing those savage austerity measures; and how many of us would have willingly voted for them, had we known the severity and extent of them? How many voters in 2010 would have signed up for a massive increase in VAT, or for real wage levels to remain stagnant for the best part of four years? Just how many people feel that the pain and the suffering caused as a direct result of the Coalition's cuts have really been worthwhile? I know I wasn't asked for my approval for the government to do so much damage to the lives of so many people, were you?
The point is, that most if not all of these issues, these often life-changing decisions, are sometimes so big and so important that they simply cannot be left to the 650 individuals that we commonly elect to serve as our parliamentary representatives, much less the un-elected mix of activists, minorities and paid lobbyists who seem to regularly hijack many of the more vital issues of the day. Quite how we make our elected politicians more representative, or neutralise the often damaging effects of these generally undemocratic activists, minorities and lobbyists is unclear, although obviously the only way at present is through the ballot box, where what you vote for, isn't necessarily what you get, as has often proved to be the case to date.
Of course, until such time as all MP's are forced to stand by their electoral promises and are properly penalised for their often glaring manifesto omissions or non-disclosures, then the situation, as it stands, is unlikely to change. For the most part, party political allegiances and dogma will always outweigh specific promises made to the wider electorate, as was the case in 2010, when guarantees on Student Fees, VAT Increases, an EU referendum and top-down Reorganisation of the NHS were all obviously sacrificed in pursuit of a specific political ideology and irrespective of anything that the electorate had previously been promised.
The only likely change to such practices, of breaking electoral promises, as and when it suits the governing party, will only finally be brought about when the electorate start demanding change to the parliamentary system itself, by insisting on a proper recall bill to hold MPs to account and by allowing individual representatives to vote with their consciences, or to reflect the will of their own constituents. No matter how much the traditional legacy parties might try to justify the existing party political system, of selecting, sponsoring, incorporating and even disciplining individually elected representatives into one single voting group, the very act of subsuming the votes of potentially millions of wholly different constituents into a very narrow policy band, some of which they voted for and others that they didn't, could be deemed to be both undemocratic and unrepresentative. Given that they didn't win an outright majority in the first place, just how many Conservative voters in the last election voted for a VAT increase, or yet another top-down reorganisation of the NHS, costing an estimated £3bn? How many Liberal Democrat voters wanted exactly the same things, or a tripling of Student fees? How many of these combined Coalition voters wanted to spend £12bn a year on Foreign Aid, when the UK is struggling to reduce its own national debt?
Just how many people who voted Labour at the last election actually want a referendum on our country's membership of the European Union? How many of them willingly voted to increase their utility bills by several hundreds of pounds every year, in order to meet the requirements of the Climate Change Act that Ed Miliband steered through parliament? How many of those same voters voted for limiting their rights to a freedom of expression under Tony Blair's legislative programme? How many voted for Gordon Brown to sell off the nation's gold reserves at a knockdown price, or to ruthlessly raid people's pensions? The truth is that they didn't vote for any of these things deliberately, but indirectly, by having made the mistake of voting for party candidates who only gave them part of the story, the parts of the manifesto that were deemed to be palatable, rather than those which were not, or that were introduced at a much later date.
Until such time as we're able to hold MPs and political parties to account for their omissions, their misrepresentations, their lies and their transgressions, then we're almost certain to suffer the same sorts of executive incompetence and wrongdoing that we've witnessed over the past few decades; and in truth we probably deserve to. Only be depriving them of a winning electoral mandate will we start to convince the larger legacy parties that they need to change, that they are elected as our representatives; and that each of them needs to reflect the wishes of their own constituents, rather than those of the party's leadership, management or its financial sponsors.
As a huge fan of the electoral system generally, but not of the traditional legacy parties, it's encouraging to see an increasing number of smaller parties beginning to emerge onto the British political scene, as more parties means more choice for the voter. Whether you vote Green, UKIP, Respect, SNP, Plaid, NHA, or even for one of the various Independents who will doubtless stand around the country. it's vital that every eligible voter in the UK takes advantage of their right to vote in the forthcoming general election, if only to exercise their hard won franchise. Unfortunately, doubtless millions will still continue to vote for the two big parties, ensuring that nothing much will change in the immediate future, although one can only hope that enough people will decide to take back their ownership of the electoral process; and maybe give the legacy parties something to think about.

Friday 23 January 2015

Yuck! Allow All Party Leaders To "Mass Debate" On TV?

Personally I can't see what the big attraction was about the televised debates back in 2010, other than to definitively prove that style won out over substance in the case of Nick Clegg, which is surprising when you consider how things have subsequently turned out for the Lib Dems ever since that particular high point for the supposed third party of British politics.
I have to say that I have better things to do with my life than to sit there watching three, four, five, six, or even seven generally overpaid, overrated and out of touch party leaders try and outdo one another in front of the television cameras, as well as the purportedly live mixed audience that will no doubt have been specially bussed in by the various broadcasters. Well no thanks, if I wanted to watch an entirely artificial stage-managed political stitch-up on my telly then it's easier and quicker to view any of the weekly episode of the parliamentary Punch & Judy show that is PMQ's.
If I want to see David Cameron being personally disparaging to his political opponents, or to see him prove beyond doubt that he has a superiority complex, that he's arrogant, out of touch and desperate to have his colleagues approval, then you can see that any Wednesday lunchtime on the BBC. Any party leader that requires his brown-nosing backbenchers to offer up a highly questionable statistic about how well their individual constituency is performing, just so Mr Cameron can bask in the faux success of his governments economic policies, is probably not worth listening to anyway. After all, without the supportive audience he regularly turns to and addresses in the House of Commons, he's almost certainly not as clever, as funny, or as concise, as he no doubt thinks he is.
Then of course we'll have Mr Miliband, the PM's usual political sparring partner, along with his pointy index fingers, which should really be classed as a lethal weapon, because one day he going to take somebody's eye out with them. It's clear that he's an intellectual, although maybe he's too clever for his own good, to the extent that he doesn't seem to do so well when he's being barracked, or talked over, which shouldn't really be a major problem, as he seems quite happy to repeat himself and his points, again and again and again! Quite whether his own unique brand of statesmanship and gravitas will work in a television studio, where he'll be surrounded by hostile opponents and strangers remains to be seen, but so long as he doesn't come across as being a bit of a "Beaker" and isn't asked to eat anything live on stage then he will probably survive the ordeal.
The third and final "major" political figure in front of the cameras will of course be Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and Mr Cameron's Deputy Prime Minister. The broadcasters continue to refer to them as a "major" party ostensibly because they have fifty-odd MPs, garnered from the 2010 election when everyone "agreed" with Nick and he was mildly popular with significant swathes of the electorate. But that was before the Lib Dems put price over principle; and decided that personal access to ministerial offices and limousines was far more important that keeping any of their major manifesto pledges. Nick rather reminds me of the young and beautiful homecoming queen who thought it was a good idea to use her good looks to make money and to advance her career, but after five years then found herself in the most squalid of circumstances and with the most tarnished of reputations. No doubt though, Nick is still hoping that a little bit of lippy, a new hairdo, fresh underwear and come-take-me approach to either Labour or Conservatives will help re-establish their reputation as the fresh faced young girl of British politics.
Next; and entirely dependent on what particular criteria you choose to use when measuring political importance, there is either UKIP or the Green Party, both of which David Cameron has decided are "minor" parties, simply because it makes him feel better to believe so. As things stand at present we're asked to accept that the Greens are the fourth largest party, by virtue of their party membership, but that they don't automatically count dead or departed members, that they haven't made their subscriptions particularly cheap and that they're not currently achieving around 8% in most public opinion polls. They have one MP in the House of Commons, three MEPs in the European Parliament, they achieved a quarter of UKIP's vote in the last European Elections, control one of the worst performing councils in the country and have 172 local councillors.
However, all such things aside, now that Mr Cameron has spat his gold-plated dummy out and has got his way, the inclusion of the Greens into the leaders debate should certainly makes things interesting, if only for the variations of the speakers accents. No doubt the supporters of wide open borders will point to the sheer presence of Australian born Natalie Bennett as to why having no meaningful immigration controls is such a positive thing; and indeed is something that Ms Bennett herself is an advocate of. Unfortunately, anyone that might be hoping that the inclusion of the Green Party into the leaders debate might offer an alternative, reasonable, well thought out, or even partially costed set of policies for the future of our country might well be disappointed, as the running of Brighton & Hove council will testify to.
Quite why Nigel Farage is even bothering to participate in what is certain to be a fairly shambolic, tribal and misrepresentative affair is beyond me really. Bearing in mind that the media generally are unsympathetic to anyone other than the three mainstream legacy parties, it is difficult to imagine where the upside is for UKIP, whose message will doubtless get lost or diluted in the various verbal exchanges that are bound to result from seven or eight people all trying to trade insults, party representations and policy clarifications at the same time. Given their previous history, it is hard to imagine that the broadcasters won't, either deliberately or inadvertently, give extra airtime to the likes of David Cameron and Ed Miliband, not because they have anything more important or intelligent to say, but simply because they are the Labour and Conservative party leaders, so therefore most likely to be the next Prime Minister of the UK.
Even though Mr Farage might be successful in a straightforward television interview, or even in his one-to-one debates with Nick Clegg, television appearances can often be a double edged sword, depending on whose taking part, whose asking the questions, whose allocating the time to each participant and what part the actual audience plays in the proceedings. On the basis of only seven or eight party leaders attending the proposed televised debates, it has been calculated that each participant will only get about thirteen minutes of airtime throughout the entire program, which would be great if there were no challenges, interruptions, nobody taking more time than they're entitled to, but what are the odds on that happening? In the event that Nigel Farage was given less time, or asked fewer questions than any of the other main party leaders, wouldn't that have the effect of making him and his party more peripheral and therefore less important? Where's the party's electoral advantage in that?  
Even today, we have had more regional political leaders threatening possible legal action over not being invited to participate in the planned leaders debate, with both Nigel Dodds of the Democratic Unionist Party and George Galloway of the Respect Party arguing that they too should be included, along with the likes of Sinn Fein and any number of other smaller parties. What began as an act of selfish political pique by David Cameron has now developed into a mockery of the democratic process, ostensibly because Conservative Prime Minister has been advised by his political strategists that he just might win an electoral majority without having to run the risks associated with having to publicly debate Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and more importantly Nigel Farage, in a far less secure and controlled environment than he usually finds in the House of Commons.
Where typically during Prime Minister's Questions Mr Cameron can lie, prevaricate and even deliberately misrepresent without any sort of immediate rebuttal or redress, in a televised debate he would then be open to counter; and for a political coward like David Cameron, he would much rather be thought a liar than proved to be one in front of millions of potential British voters. How else could one explain his obvious reluctance to take on the challenge of facing his main political opponents, in a medium that Mr Cameron is said to be so at home in, especially as he is said to have honed his much talked about communication skills in a professional business environment as a Public Relations executive?
The very idea that Mr Cameron's insistence on the Green Party's participation in the debates is to enable the democratic process to be more widely available to everyone is risible, as is his assertion that UKIP is a minority party, unless of course he's willing to publicly admit that in European terms at least the Conservative Party is even more minor than Nigel Farage's? The truth is of course that Mr Cameron wants to deprive UKIP of the electoral status that it deserves and has earned, as the third mainstream party of British politics; and in order to do that he is maliciously using the perceived popularity of the Green Party to underpin his own highly tenuous political argument and to preserve his own current electoral polling position. There is nothing democratic, fair or equitable about Mr Cameron's argument, unless of course you regard narrow political self interest as being democratic, fair or equitable?
One can only hope therefore that in order to bring the very idea of this sorry shambles to a speedy end that one or more of the various regional political parties are forced to seek a legal redress to their potential exclusion from the leaders debates, thereby bringing an end to the entire concept before it becomes any more of a soap opera than it is already! 

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Farage Is Both Right & Wrong On The NHS:

Today's reports of UKIP leader Nigel Farage once again talking about the future of the NHS and the part that private healthcare provision might play in it, will undoubtedly be manna from heaven for some of his political opponents, who will almost certainly claim that his remarks represent positive proof that Farage and his party are not only ardent supporters of an entirely privatised healthcare model, but are also being dishonest with the British public about their  plans to safeguard our existing and highly valued free at the point of delivery National Health Service.
Of course what these same opponents and critics of UKIP will probably fail to mention is that the part privatisation of the NHS has already begun, with around 6% of the service's total budget, approximately £6bn, regularly finding its way into the private healthcare sector, where a corporate profit motive is just as important, if not more important than the actual clinical outcomes. It is also worth recalling that it wasn't UKIP that approved any of the contracts with these private healthcare providers have benefited from, but rather it was the three big legacy parties, the Conservatives, Labour and latterly, the Liberal Democrats. In addition it is these same three mainstream parties who have been responsible for saddling the National Health Service with tens of billions of pounds worth of long-term debt in the form of PFI's, the Private Finance Initiatives that have allowed private building consortiums to make vast profits through the provision of overpriced and expensively maintained clinics and hospitals. So right from the outset, it would be extremely hypocritical of any Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem supporter to point any fingers at UKIP, a party that has played absolutely no part in helping to undermine the NHS, when the likes of David Cameron, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband, Jeremy Hunt, Andy Burnham, Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Shirley Williams and the rest of their individual party cohorts have done exactly that, not only undermined the service, but also aided and abetted in the part privatisation of the NHS, both directly and indirectly.
Those obvious, undeniable and historic facts aside, even those of us who value the existence and daily live-saving performance of the NHS probably recognise that in its present form and with increasing levels of clinical obligations foisted on it by an ageing population, the current NHS model is neither sustainable, nor easily affordable. It may be an unpalatable truth, but at some point in the future we're going to have little choice but to either scale back what the National Health Service does or doesn't do on a daily basis, or we're going to have to pay a great deal more through our taxes, or through personal private subscriptions, ie: private healthcare. It is absurd for anyone to suggest that the NHS can keep being given increasing amounts of taxpayer money to meet increasing numbers of clinical treatments, because the logic of such an approach will inevitably mean that public monies will have to be drawn from elsewhere, such as our Armed Forces, our Welfare Services, our Schools, our Transport infrastructure, until eventually every penny of revenue is being sucked into the financial black hole that the NHS becomes.
However, although Nigel Farage runs the risk of being shot as the messenger, simply for delivering an unwanted and unwelcome message about the NHS and its future funding, in his own personal view, as is the case with most of these things, there really is no right or wrong answer, no absolute, when it comes to figuring out how to pay for an entire country's health needs. Different countries around the world employ different healthcare models, some are based on public subscription, others are based purely on private means, while others again are based on a mixed public/private model. Each in their turn have their benefits, just as they have their underlying problems, but we can argue until the cows come home which is the better system and which is the worst, but ultimately they're nearly all based on the patient having put their hands in their pockets at some time or other, they just do it in different ways and at different times.
The main problem for our beloved NHS seems to be that as each year and each government passes, our healthcare service is required to do more and more treatments with less and less resources, even though we're currently thought to be spending in excess of £100bn a year (£100,000,000,000) looking after people's physical and mental health. And as has been pointed out on numerous occasions, it's because we're all in better physical health, with fewer deadly communicable diseases, better diets and increased access to regular medicines, our bodies are lasting longer than they have ever done before, which should be a reason for celebration. Unfortunately, the down side to this glorious state of affairs would appear to be a rapid escalation in the numbers of age related degenerative diseases, such as Dementia, Alzheimer's,  Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes affecting increasing numbers of our citizens; and all of which are not only long-term conditions, but are extremely expensive to manage and treat.
In reality of course, these are not the sorts of long-term degenerative diseases that the private healthcare providers would willingly choose to treat, as they tend to be expensive to manage and thus impact negatively on the bottom line of any commercial profit based company. In order for them to make such patients economically viable in the long run, either individual healthcare premiums would have to be extortionately high, or companies would be forced to cherry-pick patients who were less likely to suffer from such ongoing expensive conditions.  
Less than 7% of the UK population, around 4 million people actually use private medical insurance and most of those only do so because it forms part of their basic employment packages, so in some way only reflects an added benefit, rather than being a conscious decision by the employee to sign up to it. In fact, rather than private health insurance being a growing market for commercial medical companies, most of the evidence would appear to indicate that the popularity of private healthcare is falling within the UK, instead of increasing. But then, why would people choose to incur the additional cost of private medical insurance, when they already contribute to a compulsory NHS, which is funded through their taxes? The obvious answer is, that they probably wouldn't and almost certainly don't!
Where Nigel Farage is probably right, is in his assertion that sometime in the future, we're going to have to have a national conversation about our free-at-the-point-of-delivery National Health Service, about how much it costs us, how exactly we fund it, what part private healthcare will play in it, what specific treatments it will offer and even perhaps what our own expectations should be from the NHS. All too often nowadays there seems to be a commonly held view that hospitals should be regarded as publicly funded hotels, where malingerers can stay for a much deserved break, where troublesome and expensive to treat old people can be parked by their relatives, where the purposely obese can go for some taxpayer funded weight loss treatment, or where alcoholics can go for a period of drying out and detoxification. That was never the purpose of the NHS when it was first founded all those years ago, although successive Labour and Conservative governments, plus a growing sense of public entitlement have helped to ensure that what began as a basic health service has been morphed into a "I don't have to take any personal responsibility" service, which in the long-term is simply unsustainable.
It simply isn't a solution for the traditional legacy parties to try and out-bid one another with promises of bigger and bigger healthcare budgets, or to try and out-reorganise one another in the way that the NHS is actually structured. More fundamentally, what ALL political parties should be doing is to take the NHS out of the political arena entirely; and find the answers to two basic questions, what services should a National Health Service offer to the people of the UK and how should they be paid for? Clearly these are complicated issues, but until politicians of all parties agree to sit down together and find acceptable and realistic answers to those two big questions, then it's unlikely that the future of the NHS will ever be truly secured.
If certain individuals are willing and able to pay for an enhanced NHS experience, would that be wrong, especially if those extra revenues were being used to improve the NHS generally? Should sometimes selfish and conniving relatives be able to have a veto on elderly patients being returned to their homes, causing them to block valuable hospital beds? Should the state be held responsible for the health of those who choose to overeat, drink too much, smoke, or do drugs? Is body augmentation surgery really a valuable use of public money, just because an individual wants a different nose, bigger breasts, or believes that they were born in the wrong sort of body? Can we really afford to allow health tourists from foreign states to use up our limited healthcare resources when they have paid nothing into the system, when those who have contributed for years have to wait, or go without? These are just some of the sorts of questions all of our elected representatives should be asking, rather than trying to outdo one another over the size of the healthcare budgets, for entirely party political ends.
Although I think that Nigel Farage is right, in that the country will undoubtedly need to have that national conversation about the future of healthcare and the NHS in the years to come, I fundamentally disagree with him in his view that private medical insurance is the only obvious answer to the problems that we face. That is not to say though that if Mr Farage is willing and able to pay for his own private healthcare then he shouldn't be able to do it, as he obviously can at the moment, but wouldn't it be much better if he could do that; and the wider NHS get the benefit of his money too? 

Saturday 17 January 2015

Most Opposition To UKIP Is Just Plain Lazy And Wrong:

If you were to listen to and take seriously some of the more ridiculous claims made about UKIP and its leader Nigel Farage by some of their political opponents, you could be forgiven for thinking that they represent a modern day reincarnation of Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin,  Genghis Khan and all their supporters rolled into one. If you believed some of the same type of nonsense written about both individual UKIP voters and Mr Farage himself, they are not only racist, fascistic and homophobic, but xenophobic as well and are fully prepared to destroy the country's entire economic well-being, as well as their own financial futures, in order to ensure that not a single "Johnny Foreigner" gets to remain in good old Blighty. After all, it's worth recalling that UKIP members and their leaders still think there'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover; and that Nightingales still sing in Berkeley Square, well, at least according to their critics anyway!
Of course, according to some of the more insane ramblings of UKIP's opponents there is a much more sinister and serious side to UKIP, other than its longing to be transported back to those heady days of the 1950's, when things like rationing were fashionable. Some of the party's more seriously deluded adversaries would have British voters believe that on taking office a UKIP government would instantly announce a pogrom against anyone who happens to be black, brown, Irish, or otherwise foreign-looking. Don't speak English? Out you go! Don't have a Union Jack indelibly emblazoned on your forehead? You'll be out as well! Don't know the words to Rule Britannia? Better start packing now then!
Clearly, it goes without saying, according to these same opponents, that UKIP and its leadership are so economically incoherent that although throwing out all of the foreign born investors, doctors, nurses, dentists, scientists, cleaners and nannies might have a marginal effect on the economy, at least the country that they will be left with will be almost entirely white and British, so things will be fine! No doubt according to these same anti-UKIP sources, Mr Farage and Co are already planning to hire a fleet of ships to transport these millions of unwanted foreigners back across the Channel, just before he has England's coastal waters  mined and orders the Royal Navy to conduct regular live fire anti-smuggling drills along the length of the South coast, specifically targeting any French owned ferries that might have the temerity to bring foreign tourists for a day out to England.
Needless to say, if you believe a word uttered or written by UKIPs opposition, especially in the forms of Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, then foreign owned companies will automatically up-sticks and sod off back to the country that they came from, leaving behind three million mostly white, English speaking Britons without a job. However, looking on the bright side, most of those could probably be employed doing the jobs that were previously held by those millions of recently deported foreigners? Obviously, it goes without saying that virtually every country in the world whose citizens had been deported from the UK would be extremely cross with the new UKIP government, but hey-ho! like they say, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. More seriously though, the likes of Spain and Portugal would almost certainly retaliate by forcibly deporting all of those "squillions" of British ex-pats who have relocated to their countries in search of a peaceful retirement, bringing with them their often extensive pension savings. But clearly the Spanish and Portuguese governments would spit in the face of these much needed foreign revenues, because after all, who needs valuable foreign residents, or highly skilled migrants in this day and age?
Obviously for most of UKIP's opponents, the worst and most dangerous thing about the party is its leader, Nigel Farage. For them it is inconceivable that he is what he purports to be, a normal everyday bloke, who likes a drink, a fag, likes to go fishing; and likes to get on with people. How dare he be so normal? So from the opposition's point of view, there has to be an unseen angle, something about Farage that is nasty, dangerous, or worrying, a dark side that he has somehow managed to hide from the British public for the past twenty-odd years; and despite having spent most of it in front of the cameras. Maybe he has a nice doppelganger that he parades in front of the public, while the real nasty Farage kicks the shit out of kittens and small kiddies in the privacy of his own home? Maybe he stands in front of the bedroom mirror at night throwing Nazi salutes at his own reflection? Maybe he's a foreign plant, paid by the EU to severely disappoint and confuse the British people? After all, he's got a foreign sounding name, so for some of his opponents and critics that would be fairly conclusive evidence of wrongdoing!
It's just not right for some of UKIP opponents, that a guy who has been privately educated, smokes, drinks, who has held down a regular job, who has admitted publicly that he admires Margaret Thatcher; and who thinks Britain deserves better than simply being a region of an unrepresentative, overarching socialist United States of Europe, should be so popular with a large section of the British public! How dare he? God forbid that someone normal like Nigel Farage should seriously challenge the well established duopoly of the Conservative and Labour, which have helped to fatally undermine daft ideas about British sovereignty, culture, history and all of those other apparently quaint ideas that nation states are supposed to value and cling to.
Doubtless there are any number of groundless, bizarre and frankly quite ludicrous charges that will and would be levelled against the UKIP party and its leader Nigel Farage, including of course the old chestnuts of it being a single issue party, a one-man band, its divisive policies, or the purported damage that it causes to Britain's reputation abroad, most of which have no real substance when looked at with real cold logic.
Firstly, if one accepts that the European Union is a fully functioning international government, bringing together the various functions of 28 separate member states; and incorporating common issues such as trade, tax, transport, immigration, welfare, law, defence, policing, international affairs, etc. then the EU per se cannot ever be regarded as a single issue topic, simply because all of those various areas of national competency are subject to EU intervention at some point and some level. It is blatantly absurd for anyone to suggest that our UK membership of the EU is a single issue, when our immigration, transport, energy, welfare, defence, policing and tax policies are directly affected by decisions that are taken by what is after all a foreign parliament. So that is a lie! Our membership of the EU is and never was a single issue topic.
Secondly, although Nigel Farage is undoubtedly the man most closely associated with the UKIP brand, having steered it to its current position in the polls, why is that any different from associating David Cameron with the Conservatives, or Ed Miliband with Labour, they are after all leaders of their national parties. For anyone to suggest that UKIP lacks alternative spokesmen or women to speak on its behalf is ridiculous, given that the party contains any number of perfectly qualified individuals, including the likes of Suzanne Evans, Paul Nuttall, Diane James, Tim Aker, Jane Collins, David Coburn, Steven Woolfe, Patrick O'Flynn and many others who have appeared on various television and radio broadcasts. Based on making that simple link between media appearances and importance within the individual party might mean that Grant Schapps has now supplanted David Cameron as Conservative leader, or that Andy Burnham has replaced Ed Miliband as Labour leader, both of which suggestions are laughable!
Thirdly, part of the problem with UKIP's opponent's entire argument is that they seem to believe that modern Britain is one great big happy homogenised society where discord and distrust has been outlawed, largely for our own community good, which if it were true would make the UK almost unique in the world. In truth, all that the failed experiments of mass migration and multiculturalism has brought us is a highly divided patchwork of communities and neighbourhoods, more identifiable through their ethnicities, their languages, their cultures than through any form of commonality with the native white British population. Rather than being the cause of such problems, UKIP has simply acted as the identifier of these already underlying issues, bringing them into the mainstream debate, rather than leaving them on the margins, where the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats would rather they remain. Were it not for UKIP and Nigel Farage, it is impossible to imagine that mass migration, or the EU's free movement of people would have even been discussed in polite society, let alone forced a serving Conservative Prime Minister, or indeed a leader of the opposition to form policy around resolving the underlying issues. UKIP's opponents may choose to employ a lazy and by now well worn out tactic of shouting about latent racism, or even outright fascism, but the truth is that such community issues have been built up over the past 50 years and will need to be addressed at some point, sooner rather than later. Simply closing your eyes to the problem, sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting "tra-la-la" at the top of your voice is no longer a viable solution I'm afraid, unless of course you're happy to wake up one morning and find the entire country in ruins.
Finally, as for Britain's international reputation being damaged by the country having such open and honest debates regarding mass migration, our EU membership, the free movement of peoples, the inexorable loss of our national sovereignty to a foreign power, the obvious dangers posed by religious fundamentalist's who live amongst us, why shouldn't we have such national conversations; and why should we care how other nations perceive us because of it? The truth is that unrepresentative overarching organisations like the EU probably create much of the danger that they purport to prevent; and it's not as if the likes of Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Spain and others are not beginning to have similar conversations themselves, for the very same reasons as ourselves. Fundamentally, each of the EU member states will look out for their own national interests first and foremost; and they would not give any special consideration to the UK or to anyone else, if they believed that that would hurt their own narrow self interest, so the idea that Britain should somehow put aside its own best interests for the benefit of another foreign state is quite frankly ludicrous.
As for anything else, it's all pretty much "playground politics". Suggesting that just because an individual person who happens to be standing under the UKIP banner is a reflection of the entire party membership is a complete nonsense, a bit like saying that every Labour member is a cheat and a thief, or that every Conservative member is a complete nut-job, or that every Liberal Democrat member is a sex pest, a lazy generalisation made by lazy people. So what if one person somewhere says they don't like "negroes", I'm sure there will be a black person somewhere who still calls white people "honky" in an equally disparaging way, so f*cking what, who cares? If you don't like somebody's politics, don't vote for them!
So what if a potential representative of a political party calls someone a "poofter", or believes that their God has caused flooding to punish the legalisation of gay marriage? Who actually cares? If it's that much of a problem then doubtless that person is going to be unsuccessful at the public ballot, assuming of course that a majority of the electorate actually disagree or disapprove of their views. However, for the media, or indeed their political opponents to suggest that one person's opinion somehow reflect an entire party's views is just plain stupid.
But I guess therein lies part of the problem. Today, what with social media, online newspaper comments, sound-bites and the rest there is virtually no requirement to substantiate anything that one cares to write or say about individual politicians, or indeed their parties. One only has to look at the online "trash can" that is the Guardian newspaper to witness the level of personal bile, serial untruths and unfounded allegations that are regularly levelled, not just against UKIP the party, but pretty much anybody that might even consider offering them their electoral support. But then why wouldn't they when you have archaic political dinosaurs regularly being put up by the likes of the BBC to disparage and denounce UKIP and its policies, but without a shred of evidence being asked for or demanded by the broadcasters.
It is interesting though that for all that their supporters might denounce and denigrate UKIP on social media and in the various online forums, the two major English political parties, Labour and Conservative have found themselves being influenced by UKIP, whether they like it or not. Who would have imagined that both David Cameron and Ed Miliband would have found themselves compelled to move on the subject of immigration, not because they wanted to, but because they were driven to it by electoral pressures, initiated in large part by UKIP and its leadership. But then sometimes that's the problem with entirely lazy and wholly incorrect accusations, because they're so transparently and unbelievably wrong, people start to see through them!