The BBC is leading this morning with the ridiculous Chatham House paper on Blair's Foreign Policy record. Who are these people? The author of the document (all five-and-a-half pages of it) is Professor Victor Bulmer-Thomas, who had a background in Latin American politics before taking over at the RIIA [Royal Institute of International Affairs or "Chatham House"]. It's an astonishingly thin, intellectually hazy, and lazy piece of work. He writes that:
"Tony Blair's successor(s) will not be able to offer unconditional support for US initiatives in foreign policy and a rebalancing of the UK's foreign policy between the US and Europe will have to take place."
And that's as detailed as the argument gets - basically an assertion of the random political preferences of Prof. Bulmer-Thomas. Margaret Beckett has hit the nail on the head with her response: "This paper is threadbare, insubstantial and just plain wrong. Chatham House has established a great reputation over the years, but this paper will do nothing to enhance it."
So why does this ludicrous piece of junk get on the top of the news? It coincides exactly with the BBC world-view: Blair's a poodle, Bush is an ape, we should bin the yanks and "get deeper into Europe" in some unspecified way. Quite apart from the headline message, the paper is a frustrating read. For example there is a throwaway line about how "The emphasis on aid and debt relief for Africa in return for an improvement in governance may come to look strangely old-fashioned." What does this mean? We are not told.
The sniffy tone doesn't help either: "Tony Blair has learnt the hard way that loyalty in international politics counts for very little." That sort of stuff obviously does it for the BBC in a big way, but it doesn't leave any of us any the wiser about how the RIIA think we should run our foreign policy. The only good thing about the report is that it's a good distillation of the intellectual incoherence / fantasy politics at the heart of the pro-euro movement.
TWO YEAR WAIT FOR SOME IN BRITAIN'S NHS
Some patients needing orthopaedic surgery are still waiting more than two years for treatment, according to new figures.
The latest official statistics on NHS performance with regard to the 18-week waiting times target showed that some specialities were performing particularly poorly.
In what is widely considered to be the most ambitious target for the health service, the Government has pledged that no patient should wait more than 18 weeks from GP referral to the start of treatment, whether they are an in-patient or an out-patient, by the end of 2008.
Figures released yesterday by Andy Burnham, Health Minister showed that most specialities - including gynaecology, dermatology and cardiology - treat between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of in-patients within 18 weeks. But that figure falls to below 20 per cent in trauma and orthopaedics - which includes hip replacements and broken bones - where the average patient waits an average of 39 weeks for treatment. The new figures show that an average of 70 per cent to 80 per cent of patients who do not require hospital admission are treated within 18 weeks.
When it comes to patients needing hospital admission, only 35 per cent are seen within the target.
Britain: Some political opinions are beyond the pale of polite society
It's getting as politically intolerant as Germany. The BNP is an anti-immigration party.
"The Sugar Plum Fairy in English National Ballet's production of The Nutcracker had to confront angry colleagues before yesterday's matinee performance after she was revealed to be a member of the British National Party.
Clarke said she believed that immigration had "really got out of hand". She added: "If everyone who thinks like I do joined, it would really make a difference."
Here's betting she loses her job soon.
U.K.: Leftist policies bad for employment: "More young people are out of work now than when Labour won power in 1997 by promising to cut youth unemployment, official figures obtained by The Times reveal. There are now 37,000 more unemployed people aged 16 to 24 than in May 1997, with the total rising from 665,000 to 702,000, according to the Office for National Statistics. The unemployment rate has risen to 14.5 per cent among young people, overtaking the 14.4 per cent rate Labour inherited from the Conservative Government. The figures are acutely embarrassing for the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, who in 1997 described the youth unemployment he inherited as a "human tragedy", "sickening" and "an economic disaster". Tackling youth unemployment has been one of Labour's priorities, and the target of billions of pounds of public spending on schemes, including the New Deal for the young unemployed. The rise is particularly startling since it has occurred despite ten years of sustained economic growth and the creation of more than two million jobs."
British army recruitment solid too: "Recruitment to the Army has jumped 16 per cent over the past 12 months, indicating that the casualty tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan have not put off teenagers from considering a career on the front line. Defence sources said that the reasons for the rise were complex, but that it was clear that the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan had provided an incentive for many young men and women to join up because of the excitement involved."
Crime a career for young British blacks: "Young men in deprived urban communities see crime as a better career opportunity than the legitimate labour market, ministers have been warned. Dealing drugs and committing other crimes gives those with little education an opportunity to overcome deprivation and gain wealth and status in their neighbourhoods. A report on gun crime commissioned by the Home Office warns: "Dealing in illegal drugs appears to significantly underpin the criminal economy in many locations and seems to be instrumental in legitimising crime as a career option for some individuals. "There are many indications that drug-dealing and other criminality are `out-competing' the legitimate labour market. "For individuals whose employment prospects are limited by a lack of qualifications, and an existing criminal record, a criminal lifestyle can be seen as an attractive proposition."
Charming British illegals: "Three members of an armed teenage gang who killed a woman as she cradled a baby at a christening party were illegal immigrants with a string of convictions. Diamond Babamuboni, 17, and his brother Timy, 15, were under supervision orders when Zainab Kalokoh was shot in the head. Jude Odigie, 16, had been given a conditional discharge. They were convicted of manslaughter at the Old Bailey yesterday. A 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of murder. All four face long prison sentences. The conviction of the Babamuboni brothers and Odigie, all from Nigeria, raises questions about the Home Office's immigration service and the criteria for deportation. The trio could be sent home after serving their sentences, but John Reid, the Home Secretary, is certain to be asked why this had not already happened."