Carillion – The Latest Government Contract to Backfire……

29 Jan

For the past 30 years successive UK Governments have been selling off or contracting out this country’s assets in one form or another.  From Nationalised Industries to the Gold Reserves held by the Bank of England.  Carillion is just another failed initiative in a catalogue or errors…..’

Government’s Bad Planning and Expensive Mistakes for Tax Payers……

Although the underhanded ‘quid pro quo’ dealing of the country’s ‘elite’ is as old as government itself.  The particularly damaging policy of ‘privatisation’ was Mrs. Thatcher’s personal priorities.  We’ll get to the whereabouts of the gold reserves and other costly mistakes later but for now here’s a partial list of some the country’s assets they sold:

  • British Petroleum  – 1979
  • British Aerospace – 1981
  • Cable & Wireless – 1981
  • Amersham International – 1982
  • National Freight Corporation – 1982
  • BritOil – 1982
  • Associated British Ports – 1883
  • Enterprise Oil – 1984
  • Jaguar – 1984
  • British Telecommunications – 1984o
  • British Ship Builders – 1985
  • British Gas – 1986
  • British Airways – 1987
  • Rolls Royce – 1987
  • B.A.A. – 1987
  • British Steel – 1988  
  • Water – 1989
  • Electricity – 1990

The party line was that competition was better for the consumer and released the government from its financial obligations to Nationalised Industries.  The empirical evidence would suggest otherwise.  There is an obvious reason why a public services and business are totally incompatible.  The number one priority of a public service is precisely that, to deliver the best possible service to the public. Whereas, a company’s main priority is to deliver profits for its shareholders, increasing year upon year.  This appears to have worked perfectly.  The level of service and investment has fallen whilst profits have risen…

In some instances there were sectors of publicly run companies which made wholesale privatisation untenable, so they were broken up; the profitable parts sold off, leaving the unprofitable parts in public ownership.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the nuclear power industry.  Due to the uncertainty and long term nature of decommissioning, cleaning, storage of toxic and radioactive waste, the nuclear industries were put under the umbrella of British Nuclear Fuels in 1971.  However, in 1984 it became British Nuclear Fuels Limited, floated on the stock exchange, under the control of a Government appointed, ‘independent’ regulator

The profitable parts of the industry, such as power generation were given to the privatised electricity companies whilst the ‘hot potatoes’ remain in government hands and have been, you guessed it, contracted out.  The current estimates for cleaning up range from £119 billion to £220 billion over the next 120 years.  In all probability, as solutions to some issues  remain unresolved, the final bill could be 2 or 3 times the current estimate.  I fail to imagine that any company can give an accurate estimate of an as yet undecided way to proceed.  We currently have nowhere to store highly toxic, radioactive waste.  It isn’t only the nuclear power industry that has these problems.  Many of the privatised industries were broken up before sale, leaving a burden on the tax payer……

What Happened to the Country’s Gold…..?

The ‘gold standard’ existed into the 20th Century.  With an internationally agreed price it was a way of standardising currency exchange and demonstrating a country’s wealth.  On a  $10 dollar bill it used to state ‘This $10 bill is redeemable for $10 worth of gold’.  Not anymore.  The whys and wherefores of the gold standard was decided at a large meeting between the US Government, the banking dynasties and major company bosses during the Great Depression.  All of the key players attended:  Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Chase, Rockerfella, Rothschild; the list goes on.  Now that gold was no longer a measure of a country’s wealth the ‘Federal’ banks were free to sell gold on the open market.  They also used the country’s financial crisis to buy out smaller banks leaving us with monopoly of banking institutions we are all so familiar with…

Between July ’99 and March ’02 Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer sold 58% of the Bank of England’s total gold reserves.  Some 395 tonnes of the 715 tonnes in the vault.  Not only did he sell it but he sold it in a depressed market.  Its value increased from the original $256.20 per ounce in July 1999, to $1,780.65 in just over 10 years…


The Private Finance Initiative – The Labour Parties Worst Policy Ideas……

The policy was so bad, as was the burden on UK Tax Payers that it was rebranded the Public Private Partnership, although this did nothing to improve public perception, change policy or lower the cost.  The basic premise of PFI/PPP was simple and sounded almost plausible…

How PFI Works……

The traditional way for the government to build a new piece of infrastructure, such as a hospital, a school, or a new road, was to raise the money in taxes, or borrow it from the Bank of England, and then pay contractors to deliver the project.  The finished project was then handed to the relevant Government department to run.  After that, the public sector would own the asset.  However, under PFI it was the builders who borrowed from private markets.  But how could the builders afford to make loan repayments until the endowment ended.  Simple, if you have the exclusive contract for maintenance… 

The state then pays the builder (or a separate company that buys out the contract) to effectively lease the building or piece of infrastructure over several decades; like an endowment mortgage the asset becomes wholey state owned.
The theoretical justification for PFI is that the private sector is more efficient at delivering and managing infrastructure projects than civil servants. PFI also supposedly transfers the financial risk of a construction project over-running from the public to the private sector.  Another benefit sometimes cited is that PFI financially incentivises builders to improve the quality and speed of their work too, since they will be the ones maintaining the asset after construction.  To top it off the U.K. Tax Payer also has the capital expenditure removed from the Treasury’s accounts.  Giving the impression that the economy is doing well.

Although in principle this seems like a workable idea which places hardly any burden on tax payers it came with one big caveat; the contractors had an exclusive right for the maintanance of the building until it was handed over, and this was to be covered by the tax payer.  It soon became obvious how a company can build and lease it back to the Government whilst turning over big profits for the duration.

Here are just some of the ridiculous bills for one hospitals maintainance:

  • £466 to replace a lightbulb 
  • £242 for a padlock
  • £75 for an air freshener 
  • £13,704 to install 3 new light fittings in a corridor
  • £8,450 installation of a dishwasher
  • £997 for a TV cabinet 
  • £929 to swap a single socket for a double
  • £676 putting up 4 fire assembly point signs
  • £198 to mend a door handle 
  • £112 putting a whiteboard 

And the list goes on.  By the time the 20 year leasing arrangements are completed the cost to the tax payer will be over £20 billion.  Hardlya good deal for UK Tax Payers when you consider the cost of undertaking the work itself…

The Mamoth IT Blunders……

Alongside the many costly policies the Government is well known for its expensive IT blunders that either, didn’t work at all, worked partially or were simply ‘not fit for purpose’.  The cost overruns and time delays are legendary.

An IT scheme designed to integrate the Department for Transport hyping it’s human resources and financial services, and also save the taxpayer £57 million? If this sounds too be true, it’s because that’s what it turned out to be. Far from saving money, the scheme ended up costing £81 million due to management ineptitude described by the Public Accounts Committee as an exhibition of “stupendous incompetence”.

An IT scheme designed to allocate subsidies to farms was originally forecast to cost £155 million, but the programme has ended up costing more like £215 million. The scheme has delayed payments to farmers and incurred increasing penalties from the European Commission.

According to a Public Accounts Committee report, the three key bodies trusted to deliver the programme could not work together effectively. It found that there was a lack of consistent priorities and changes in leadership, which caused havoc and delay. Its focus on developing a digital front-end was “inappropriate for farmers” due to the frequently poor broadband in rural areas.  

The Scottish Parliament Building has been controversial for a host of things, including its location, architect and design – it’s described by one particularly glorious TripAdvisor review as a “grotesque brutalist mess” – but the reason a public enquiry was made into its construction was because of constant delays and its escalating cost. Initially scheduled to inaugurate in 2001, its doors finally opened three years later with an estimated cost of £414million, much higher than its original estimate of £10-40 million. The inquiry found incompetence in the management of the entire project, including fulfilment of cost and the way major design changes were added.

The cost hasn’t stopped there. Figures have revealed that the building’s average repair bill has reached £141,000 per month, five times the figure during the building’s first year. This means that since 2004, maintenance costs have set taxpayers back by £11 million, which of course is higher than some of the initial estimates for the cost of constructing the building itself.

The Greatest NHS IT Blunder…

Instant access to patients records from anywhere.  It sounds like the Shangrilla of vital information. In September 2013, an NHS patient record system that would have been the world’s largest non-military IT system was abandoned, in what could be the most catastrophic IT failure ever seen by the government. The failed centralised e-record system cost the taxpayer over £10 billion, £3.6 billion more than ministers had anticipated.

From the outset, the project was plagued by delays. The delivery of core systems was stalled due to fears that some software was not fit for purpose. After seven years, only 13 acute trusts out of 169 received the full patient administration systems they were agreed under the National Programme. The new systems also caused chaos for many users; a newly-installed IT system lost Barts NHS Trust thousands of patient records, delaying the treatment of urgent cases, costing millions in additional staff and warranting an internal investigation. The Milton Keynes Foundation Trust wrote a cautionary letter to the times about the inefficacy of their system, and warning others not to use it. 

The Ministry of Defence’s secure military network was built to help British troops operate more effectively around the world. The MoD gave parliament a figure of £2.3 billion, but a report by MPs has shown that they knew that the project would cost at least £5.8 billion. The true figure has since risen to at least £7.1 billion. By 2008, the programme was running at least 18 months late, had provided only 29,000 of a contracted 63,000 terminals, and had supplied none of the contracted Secret capability.

According to the then chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Edward Leigh, there was no suitable pilot carried out for such a multifaceted programme. The condition of the Department’s buildings where the system was to be installed was badly miscalculated due to insufficient research.
These disasters could all have been adverted by better planning and listening to expert advice. 
The cost to the tax payer in relation to these failed IT projects is exceptional.  Every major IT project cost nearly 3 times the original quotes and took 3 times as long as predicted.  Many still don’t work and although we see doctors and nurses with their Tablet computers, the system is deemed so unreliable that notes are transcribe to paper for safe storage……

Carillion – A Company with Almost No Assets…..


Carillion is more of a management consultantcy than a subcontractor.  I’m sure the latest PowerPoint presentation looked great but if the Government had been listening to the Office of Budget Responsibly and Public Accounts Committee things may have been different.  Profit warnings and a gaping hole in the pension pot (remember BHS) should’ve led to a complete end to any further contracts being awarded, however, Carillion continued to pick up more and more contracts.  As I said Carillion is just a huge management consultant rather than a subcontractor.  Its flags wave above thier prestige projects but it owns almost nothing on the site apart from the flag.  Its assets are virtually worthless considering the size of the contracts they have in their portfolio which is made up almost exclusively of Government contracts…

Too big to fail……

Carillion provide school meals, cleaning and maintenance in hospitals, alongside dozens of other services to nursing homes etc.  That is why a solution must be found.  So far the Government’s only solution is to fund this disaster itself, at an estimated cost of £200 billion.  While loyal Carillion workers worry about how their pensions will be paid, the board have chosen to keep their astronomical bonuses and unnecessarily large pay chequers…

The Classification “Too Big to Fail” is Wholly Down to Bad Government Policy…..

Carillion is no different to the financial institutions we had to bailout 10 years ago.  If you put all of your eggs in one basket as they say.  We could’ve simply taken the banks into public hands instead of handing over tens of billions in bailouts.  Even though most people you ask will tell you how bad things have been during the recession, the banks have continued to make money.  It would suggest that it’s the tax payer is responsible for the ‘to big to fail’ payouts whilst the profits made post bailout is still reaching the pockets of the ‘one percenters’.  If the majority of contracts go to one international organisation they become by definition too big to fail, which if distilled to the basics is this; ‘the club’ relies on these unbreakable contracts to make money for both sides.  It’s just that we’re not one of the sides.  As per usual with these badly thought out policies and certain ‘select’ companies benefitting hugely, we have yet to see any politicians or board members loosing their jobs and being stripped of their ill gotten gains…

It Isn’t Over Yet……

Capita is yet another favoured service provider to the DWP and many local councils.   However, they too are balanced on a knife edge.  If/when Capita fails they too will, doubtless, be deemed too big to fail.  And as for BREXIT, I voted in or out; not for ten or more years of a negotiated contract at great cost to the UK economy.  God only knows how many companies will deemed too big to fail during the exit process.

We don’t live in a Democracy.  We live in a Duocracy where we have a choice of Labour and Conservative, and both have a proven track record of making things worse for us and better for a select few.  Isn’t it time for a major rethink?

And Finally……
‘One of the major problems in society today is the Internet, our manufactured way of life and the way in which all politicians lie or give the answer to a question that wasn’t even asked. People add thier name to an online petition which is the least effective way to protest. If we ever want change it will only come from direct action……’

Stephen P. Walker

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Confusion……

5 Jul

‘The ability of a child to understand their feelings is limited.  Confusion can easily arise, especially between shame and guilt.  If it persists into later life it can become extremely counterproductive……’

Confusion……

Confusion is nothing new to me.  At six years old sexuality wasn’t something I understood.  I was different and, it was made abundantly clear by those surrounding me, intentionally or not, that it was wrong and shame was something I did understand so I kept quiet, terrified of being ‘found out’.  There was a simple solution to this dilemma; be someone else, which is what I spent my childhood doing.  Soul destroying though it was I needed something to hide behind for fear of the consequences of the truth becoming known and with it, the shame……

Guilt or Shame……

Substantive, tangible guilt is easilly dealt with.  I’m talking about doing something definitively wrong, like theft or vandalism.  You can admit or deny them, but once dealt with any guilt can be let go.  Shame, on the other hand is less easy to reconcile and can become guilt in ones own mind.  It’s the perceived, self-imposed guilt that isn’t so easy to draw a line under.  It has a tendency to to have a cumulative effect over time.  Even things about which you should feel no guilt whatsoever somehow end up in your bag.  I think it’s because guilt and shame are easily exchanged for one and other, to the point where you can feel shame for actions taken against you due to other people’s predudices……

Twisted Reasoning……

I was abused when I was a child.  Not by anyone in my family, but once again shame was at the forefront of my thoughts.  My immature reasoning and fear of shame stopped me from speaking out so it carried on, and worsened.  I had convinced myself that I had been ‘chosen’ because my abuser had worked out what I was and knew that coming forward would ‘out’ me and shame would keep me quiet.  He programmed me to that end.  Yet again guilt and shame became interwoven.  This should never happen to anyone and shame, guilt, embarrassment and fear should not stop you shouting it from the rooftops to make it stop……

A Sad Irony……

Having kept my secret for years, at the age of 21 I finally found the courage to tell my Mother.  Although now I would have done it face to face, I revealed all on the phone.  She was kind of sympathetic but being from a different generation was about to drive in a nail which hurt more than anything I had experienced before.  As if to reinforce the confusing emotions.  This secret could not be revealed to my Father as she was convinced he’d disown me.  To this day, 20 years later, friends and neighbors could not find out for fear of the shame it would bring.  In one telephone call which had taken me 21 years to make, and which could have reconciled the confusing emotional turmoil I had suffered for years, had the opposite effect, making me feel everything I had thought was indeed ‘normal’.

Maybe it’s me, maybe there are others who feel the same but I’m uncomfortable with my sexuality.  This might come as a surprise to anyone who knows me.  Although, it isn’t so much that I’m uncomfortable with who I am, rather, I’m uncomfortable with the ‘scene’ that somebody of my orientation is supposed to inhabit.  Maybe it’s all the guilt and shame bestowed upon me that makes me feel that way.  Either way it has made it very difficult for me to sustain any kind of long term relationship.  I feel like an alien that has no place in this world……

Epilogue……

In yet another twist of irony which I blame on my life experiences, but in reality are the result of my own bad choices, I have more guilt and shame over some of the things I have done.  Although, anybody carrying so much emotional confusion would likely have made similar bad choices; choices that have only added to my feelings of guilt, especially towards the people closest to me, who are affected by the fallout.  I have on many occasions considered putting an end to everything, only to be stopped by the powerful feelings of guilt that are inherent in such a definitive action, but I would know nothing about and be unable to feel by virtue of not being around; yet it still has the power to control……

So, guilt and shame have made me who I am, ruined my childhood, strained family relationships, been at least in part responsible for bad choices and, ultimately, prevented me from taking definitive steps to end my suffering.  And all they are just transient feelings that will end when I am gone……

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Democracy……

12 Jun

‘Demos – The People: Kratia – Power, Rule (Greek).  The power of the people, or maybe not……’

Following the latest debacle of an election, you can give it whatever label you choose, but ‘democracy’ is most certainly is not.  The Conservative Party received less than 50% of the votes cast. So, if more than half of the population wanted the country to be administered by someone other than the Conservatives, how can this be in any way democratic?  Yes, they have formed a minority Government but due to our lack of proportional representation and The Parliament Act, they will still be able to put in place whatever policies they deem fit whether more than half the populous agree……

Regardless of the self serving flaws in our ‘democratic’ system whoever is in control they are under no obligation to deliver their manifesto promises. This is clearly demonstrated by the previous two administrations (although this stands ad infinitum); in both of the last two elections the key promises of economic stability, economic growth, a better standard of living, improvements in public services, control over immigration and the reduction/elimination of public debt failed in all cases……

In reality the gap between rich and poor has never been wider since WWII. The economically disadvantaged have little, if any, chance of improving their situation. Our public health services have never been in such disarray, police numbers are down on previous years and education has become yet another victim of private sector interests. Despite the promises of the past 7 weeks, nothing will change…..

Good news, however, if you happen to be a multinational company. Workers’ rights continue to be eroded by zero hours contracts, tax avoidance is just as easy as ever and worth every donation to political parties who are making no attempt whatsoever to end it……

The real result of the general election is the certainty that the rich will get richer whilst everyone else either stagnates or moves further down the economic ladder. The Military Industrial Complex will continue to grow and who knows where ‘Brexit’ will leave us but it won’t be better off……

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Charity Begins at Charities……

21 May

‘It’s not true that charity begins at home. Charity begins in the boardroom, probably a plush boardroom surrounded by antiques, in a nice office, situated in a nice part of town. And, the men in suits sitting around them, because they are mostly men, have a combined income of millions of pounds……’

It is not my intent to detract from the good work done by many unpaid and dedicated people on behalf of charities. However, as we all too aware, everything in the global economy has become a business; why should charities be any different? There are countless well known charities which have become a Golden Goose to support wealthy people. Some, it could be argued are not even charities at all and are using charity status to gain tax breaks.

Follow the Money……

You don’t need to be a forensic accountant to see what I’m writing about. imageRecent figures show that the top 10 bosses of charities are paid almost £4million. Ten people, £4million; charity really does begin ‘at home’. I imagine the 25 year old Scotch in the drinks cabinet will be covered by the ‘company’ credit cards which also pay for the first class travel to the galas and conferences that are crucial in keeping the machine running. Remember, “Your £2 per month could stop Aliesha walking 8 miles a day to collect the contaminated water she needs to keep her and her family alive”; but not before she’s made the equivalent of 2,000,000,000 journeys just to keep the 25 year old Scotch topped up…..

Stealth Tactics……

In this era of ‘social’ media, information is available to those with the money to pay for it and charities love to know our income bracket, occupation, the value of our property and type of car we drive. Older people are generally more generous when giving to charity. Therefore, if you new their age, income, the types of charities they already give to and, sadly, they have been personally affected by illness, they can become a target. Now, I believe charities are a good thing but it makes me very uncomfortable to know that elderly relatives are being targeted. Companies and Charities have been warned about this behaviour and claim that it allows them to collect monies more efficiently. I can speak from personal experience; shortly after we lost a family member to Cancer we made a donation. Within weeks we had received requests from dozens of Cancer charities. My Mother gives to one of the Cat charities and she receives endless requests.  It’s a competition sign you up.

Last year the equivalent of 200 targeted requests were made for ever man, woman and child in the UK……

Opportunities……

A whole new industry has formed around this new model of collecting which doubtless came from a firm of highly paid management consultants. It works like most business models today, using conpartmentmalisation. There are call centres dedicated to collecting, all for a fee of course. Marketing, research,, logistics, efficiency, the list is endless; all doing their bit for charity/a fee……

It’s a sad world when even charities are exploiting people, not for money to help others, but to make money to help themselves. The argument surrounding salaries goes as follows; a person in a similar position on the board of Fortune500 company can earn 10 times what they are paid by a charity. I’ll pause while we all laugh at the irony of that statement;e then point out that they are charities. There are Graduates and people with Ph. Ds in business management who would jump at the chance of earning 1/10th of the salaries paid to the old boy network, who probably have other jobs too……

If it Was Me……

Before I gave a penny to anyone I’d be checking the CEOs salary online. We gave £80 billion as individuals last year. It makes the States contribution look tiny in comparison which is why almost every ad break tells us 1 in 3 will get Cancer and half will suffer dementia. It’s only companies with big budgets and big profits we hear from the rest of the time. What a sad place the world has become when, what had admirable ambitions, has become another cog in the 3 percenters money making machinery, churning 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year…….

A Piece of the Pie……

What really worries me is the conditions created by the Military Industrial Complex. They create a great need for charitable interventions. I’m sure they were near the bottom of the list when 9/11 was at the planning stages but there’s a significantly larger slice of the pie available now……

GIVE GENEROUSLY TO THE DRIPPING TAP VIA PAYPAL “steve.tproject.gmail.com”.

Or just a position as an article writer, editor or researcher will do……

Life, Death and Other Things

10 May

‘You might think that the biggest killer of people aged between 15 and 45 in the UK would be road traffic accidents or maybe one of the many cancers we’re reliably told will affect 1 in 3 of us, but it isn’t. The biggest killer of young people in this first world nation is suicide……’

Suicide outnumbers road traffic deaths by 2:1. The latest statistics put the total number at over 6,000 per year; that’s almost one every hour. So, the question is why? What do such a large number of otherwise healthy young people in the prime of their lives find so unbearable that ending it becomes a viable option?

From a personal perspective there is a big difference between life and living. Life is the mechanical process of converting food and Oxygen to the sustain a heartbeat. Living is gaining satisfaction and enjoyment whilst doing so. In the global model of living which we are forced to accept inequality has never been greater, the basic requirements for taking part can become all consuming, leaving many people simply treading water and trying to plug holes in the dam behind which the necessities for life continually pile up leading to the feeling that living is a secondary concern. This is not to say that all downward spirals are caused by what equates to financial stress; rich people are profoundly unhappy too, but for what may actually be the same thing, albeit caused by different circumstances.

On a planet with 7bn other people it is surprisingly easy to feel alone. The family unit or the need to belong and feel needed, wanted and above all loved is another contributory factor. This is where unhappiness doesn’t care how much wealth you have but there is undoubtedly a disproportionate number of economically strained people making up the suicide statistics. The more time you spend plugging the holes in the dam, the easier it is to begin the downward spiral of loneliness and feelings of helplessness and worthlessness.

Despite the narrative that we recognise and care about people who may be well on the way down the path to ending their pain, there is very little professional help available. I’ll guarantee the paperwork and time spent evaluating and exonerating professionals of any blame in the aftermath of a suicide far out ways the amount generated preventing it whilst they were still living.

Although everything I have just written may be factual, it’s typical of my personality to attemp to rationalise and quantify but when all is said and done it is my own internal battle with suicidal thoughts that I intended to write about. The flippant remarks and often quoted misnomer that someone who is suicidal acts completely normally and “nobody would have imagined that they would do such a thing”, is a somewhat annoying cop out. Making the choice to take your own life doesn’t happen in a moment of desperation or madness, it is a considered act in many cases. I can only speak for myself but I go around in circles considering method, guilt and a whole host of emotions and rationale.

I have asked for help but nothing ever happens. Over time I have become more isolated, unhappy and desperate to escape the overwhelming feeling of impending doom. It feels like every concerted effort I make to change things fails. The failures mount up and as they do the chronic (untreated) depression makes the basics hard to maintain. I am consumed by guilt at the thought of hurting people and it is that, and only that that has kept me alive. But I don’t know how much more I can take. I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, or for that matter, a tunnel. This isn’t a cry for help; God knows I’ve cried and cried for help but none has been forthcoming. I have posted many times about this and doubtless I’ll be labelled as the boy who cried wolf. Truth be told, I’m distracting myself from thinking because I’m afraid where it might lead. Death doesn’t scare me and the rationalisation that I could never have to face anymore pain is an appealing prospect but for now I’ll just keep plugging holes until the dam inevitably overflows……

The Right to Choose……

1 Apr

‘Regular readers will doubtless know my feelings on the right to self-determination when it comes to assisted suicide.  Well, yet again, another terminally ill man has to suffer the indignity and stress of fighting the British Courts on top of being in an unimaginable position……’

The case of Noel Conway, 67, from Shrewsbury, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease more than two years ago and fears being “entombed” in his own body as his ability to move declines, is the latest to reach the High Court.  He is not expected to survive beyond the next 12 months.

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Noel Conway

It is  completely understandable that people in Noel’s position fear the indignity, pain, inability to communicate and all of the unimaginable horrors that come towards the end of life as the disease progresses.  To have the added distress of having to fight a court battle, when all he is requesting a peaceful death when the disease becomes intolerable, seems cruel and totally unecessary.  We have the medicines required to bring about this ending painlessly when the time comes.

The legal arguments against assisted suicide always seem to come back to the same thing; that relatives will ‘push’ a terminally ill person to prematurely end their lives for some spurious reason, or that the person feels they will become a burden as the disease progresses.  It has been demonstrated in countries which allow assisted suicide that with the right checks and balances in place this is almost impossible.   I know of no instances where relatives or carers have been prosecuted in such situations.  In independent polls a large majority agree that it should be an option.

There are options available to some, but only if their condition and financial status allow.  Dignitas, Switzerland, are one organisation that can arrange a peaceful death for sufferers of incurable, degenerative diseases, however, the cost involved (approximately £10,000) is prohibitive for some.  For others, their condition makes travel impossible, denying access to the service.

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Established 1998

The unfortunate inability of our courts to legalise assisted suicide has led to despairing people taking things into their own hands which can cause more suffering or, in the worst case scenario, a prosecution.

Death is not something to be feared.  The idea that your place in Heaven will be lost is  nothing more than the remnants of outdated superstition.  When you are dead you are effectively in the same ‘place’ you were before you were born; and anyway, surely a loving ‘god’ will understand your need to end your pain.

It is time we removed the superstition and hysteria from the argument and listened to common sense, ended the anguish and suffering of those people who find themselves in the unfortunate position of having an intolerable illness and placed assisted suicide on the statute books.  It is a sick irony that we don’t allow animals to sufifer but our fellow brothers and sisters are allowed to suffer…….

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A Story of a Life……

7 Feb

I have started to write a memoir to tell the story of my life.  Normally, a memoir is something you’d expect to be written by someone much older than myself. However, most of the things that happened to me happened when I was young, during my formative years, and made me the complex person that I am today.  It’s not a happy story, much of which few people are aware of, even my closest friends and family.  It’s shocking and sad. Some of my friends know bits and pieces, but no one knows the whole story.  I am undecided how to publish it?  Whether to put it on my blog a chapter at a time, publish the whole thing in one go, or, publish it in print.  However I decide to do it, my concern above all else is to protect my Mother; the one constant source of love and support in my life.

Whatever the final format, it’s a shocking tale of secrets, fear, abuse and self destruction.  I’m not going to put any punches, although some names will be left out to protect identities.  I suppose it’s a kind of cathartic exercise to try and rid mysel Of some of the demons that still haunt me but, as you will see, some demons stay with you your entire life, like it or not……