The Welfare State We're In, The website of the book by James Bartholomew
July 01, 2005
Oliver Letwin in bad form

Oliver Letwin was on the Today programme this morning and it was pretty depressing. Leaving aside his manner, which I am afraid is getting notaby self-satisfied and pompous, he was talking of the necessity of not scrapping the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). He said that the CAP is important for maintaining the look of our countryside because farmers are paid to keep it looking beautiful.

There are two objection to this line:

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in European Union

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June 07, 2005
The Thatcher years by Norman Tebbitt and others

I went to an event at the Institute of Economic Affairs last night at which several of the authors of a new book, Margaret Thatcher's Revolution, including Norman Tebbitt, spoke. Here are some of their remarks:

Dennis O'Keeffe: "much 'special needs' is about children who have not been taught to read".

David Marsland: Privatising the supply of healthcare (ie hospitals and doctors) is relatively easy. Privatising demand is more difficult. But a start could be made by using tax rebates to enable people to opt out of state-financed care.

James Stanfield: He went to a comprehensive school. He did GCSE in English Literature and did not do any Shakespeare at all. The year after he left, the headmaster was punched by a pupil as order faded. He reckons he got out 'just in time'. He wanted governments, if they are subsidising education, to subsidise the consumer, not the producer. He said he had been to Kenya and was appalled that the British government was exporting the failed British model of 'free and compulsory' education. He said, "British money is destroying education in Africa."

Norman Tebbitt talked of the huge transfer of assets that took place under Thatcher from the public sector to the private sector. He reeled off a list of companies privatised that was far longer than most of us can easily remember. On top of that was the sale of council homes. He said these things combined to make a big difference in social attitudes.

He admitted some failures.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in Education • European Union • Housing • NHS • Politics

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May 31, 2005
European Union obstructs efforts to save people from MRSA

In MRSA, as in so much else, government is not the answer. It is the problem or, to be more precise in this case, the obstacle getting in the way of solving the problem. This article from the Guardian tells heavily against government in general and the European Union in particular. (This, in itself, is something to be treasured.)

Researchers at the University of Manchester said European Union regulations were holding up clinical trials to test the effectiveness of three essential oils, usually used in aromatherapy, in tackling superbugs.

The team tested 40 essential oils on 10 of the most dangerous bacteria and fungi including MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) and E coli. Two of the oils killed the bugs almost immediately, and a third was found to have a beneficial effect over a longer period of time.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in European Union • NHS

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April 02, 2005
Wouldn't that be good?

Admirable ideas from John Redwood:

The Conservatives have also thrown their weight behind a campaign to maintain the availability of hundreds of vitamins and food supplements that are threatened by an EU directive.

A Conservative government would opt out of the directive, which comes into force on Aug 1. In the health service, 686 performance targets, which had distorted clinical priorities, would go.

Britain's opt-out from the EU's social chapter would be revived and Labour's plans for people wanting to sell their homes to pay for "seller's packs" would be scrapped.

Current rules to prevent money laundering by terrorists and drug dealers were too onerous on law-abiding citizens. When he went into his bank to deposit money, even though the staff knew him as their MP he still had to produce evidence of his identity. He said the system could be streamlined for everyday banking without compromising national security.

The full story is in the Daily Telegraph today.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in European Union • General

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