May in the Headmaster’s study, the advantages claimed for Brexit, the ethics of Wikileaks and Big Pharma

14 April 2019

My latest discovery is that, with only a little lack of care and attention, one can cut one’s fingernails with a pair of secateurs and cut back the hydrangea simultaneously but secateurs are not precision instruments.  It’s one of those things I could probably have done without knowing but, thanks to the millimetric accuracy with which I prune things, only a small chunk of nail got torn off.  (It’s feeling much better now thank you for asking.)

Isn’t Donald Tusk sweet?  After May admitted that, yet again, the government still hadn’t achieved anything in the two years since they gave notice under Article 50, the EU leaders gave her an extra 6 months and reminded her she was on a final written warning while Tusk patted her gently on the head and said “Please do not waste this time”.

Did you see that Switzerland’s supreme court has overturned a referendum on the grounds that the information given to voters was insufficient?  Couldn’t happen here of course:  the Leave campaign were very specific in the information they gave us in the leaflet they distributed to every household*.  The disadvantages of staying in the EU were:

  • the EU already costs us £350m a week, enough to build a new hospital every week – we get less than half of this back and have no say over how it’s spent
  • millions are spent on limos and expenses for Euro MPs
  • the next countries the EU wants to let in include Turkey, which shares borders with Syria and Iraq
  • immigration will continue to be out of control
  • we’ll have to keep bailing out the Euro
  • the European Court will be in charge of our laws

and the advantages of leaving were:

  • we’ll be in charge of our own borders
  • we’ll be able to save £350 million a week which we can spend on priorities like the NHS, schools and housing
  • we can control immigration based on immigrants’ skills, not the passport they hold
  • we’ll be free to trade with the whole world
  • we can make our own laws.

In the same leaflet, some EU ‘myths’ were ‘busted’ by people like the former chief of MI6, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, a former Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (my emphases), a Labour MP nobody had ever heard of and the chairman of a pub chain.

We were also reassured that jobs wouldn’t be at risk and major employers like Toyota, Nissan, Vauxhall, Honda, Unilever, GE and Airbus had all said they’d stay in the UK whatever the result of the referendum.

Curiously, the leaflet omitted any mention of Northern Ireland.

And wasn’t it fascinating to hear James Cleverly, the deputy chair of the Conservative party, answer Sky News’ question about whether May could lead the party into a snap election, he said: “That is an inevitable possibility.”  That’s a fairly unique oxymoron.

Is anybody else conflicted about Wikileaks?  I believe that there some things that should be exposed to public view so I support the principle, but I also believe that some other things (such as the conversations you have with your toaster) should not be exposed so I’m critical of the practice.  Would it be too hard for Wikileaks to develop a strategy that set criteria for what should and what shouldn’t be released?

Big Pharma ethics were revealed again recently when the US company Vertex admitted destroying almost 8,000 28-day packs of Orkambi, a drug that helps stem the progression of a specific form of cystic fibrosis, because they’d passed their sell-by date while they were arguing with the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) whether £100,000 per patient per year was a fair price to charge for it.  Well, that’s market forces innit?  Loud cheers heard in Chelsea were traced to the resting place of Maggie Thatcher’s ashes.

And the word new to me this week is berm.  This is not something that Inspector Clouseau thought was about to explode in one of the Pink Panther films but a sort of flat step or ledge running along a ridge or riverbank.

 

*          People who think I make these things up can contact me for a scan of the leaflet concerned.

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