Saturday, 12 November 2011

Another day, another parasitic QUANGO

And as if to reinforce the message from the item below on the drug & alcohol dependency racket, a new scam to ‘protect’ gamblers was announced yesterday at
No surprise to see the Isle of Man Alcohol Advisory Service is behind it. They have struggled for a year or two now to justify further direct government funding, or to use their relationship with government to demand ‘charitable donations’ from local retailers in return for not further infantalising the whole process of buying alcohol. Those who have had compulsory interaction with such ‘advisers’ tell me the service quality, by any professional standard, is so laughable that anyone who thought they had a problem and could afford treatment would be better off throwing money at a passing drunk than employing these bozos. They live off government money because nobody else is dumb enough to give it to them.
Even before checking further into this racket, I could predict that the set-up would be similar to that which has given several prodnoses a steady income from other ‘vices’. The trick is, start a moral panic, lobby for a government advisory body, get invited to be on it and then use it to get (1) a regular payoff from the industry in return for your silence and (2) the perpetuation of the advisory body by offering the odd feelgood, but practically pointless, ‘policy’.
Take, for example, the ridiculous one whereby the employees of supermarkets (many teenage or if older desperate for regular employment) dare not sell alcohol to anyone under 25 (even though they are merely required to challenge anyone who looks under 25 and legally are actually obliged to sell to any sober person of 18 or more who requests alcohol rather than demanding it with menaces). I know of cases where management has sacked employees who sold to 18-25 year-olds in order to scare the rest and impress government watchdogs. Those former employees (even though they have done nothing illegal or immoral) then cannot get other work for months.
Sure enough, when I check out Gamcare (or to give their full and misleading name, the National Association for Gambling Care, Educational Resources and Training) on the England and Wales Charity Register and elsewhere, the scam follows that practiced by various UK alcohol and substance ‘advisory’ charitable bodies.
For example, in 2007 GamCare received 80% of a £3.5 million budget set aside on government mandate by the UK gambling industry to promote responsible gambling. Neither the UK government nor the gambling industry are open about what happened after that, but back in 2008 it was expected £4.76 million in funding would be demanded for 2009, with that number jumping to £5.34 million in 2010 and 2011.
Sure enough, the last accounts submitted by Gamcare reveal that £2.7 million was coughed up, that the ‘charity’ got no other income apart from their gambling industry hush money and that it did not expect to tap anyone else for the cash for the foreseeable future.
In return for what?
Well, companies who carry the GamCare logo at their establishments or on their websites ‘voluntarily comply with a set of guidelines towards the promotion of responsible gaming’, according to the official line. And that’s about it really.
Yes, there’s a website, a gambling helpline, a chance for one–to-one advice (though not necessarily from anyone required to be trained to any obvious standard that I can spot)..blah, blah, blah…bit like the new IOM set-up for this racket, and the established ones for others, in fact.
And like the IOM racket(s), only one trustee for Gamcare has any obvious professional and relevant background. The other names look like the kind of privileged layabouts you see in any average New Years Honours list for…..well, probably for being privileged and getting out of bed long enough to wander into a few government advisory bodies and pick up an OBE in return, to be honest.
Actually, that would be better than the Manx industry standard, which is for an increasingly smaller and smaller, more self-selecting gang of unskilled busybodies to elect themselves onto ever more ‘advisory bodies’ and so avoid having to actually seek employment or pay their own way for yet another year or two.
It strikes me that, compared to that, the average smack dealer is a responsible member of the community. Probably pays more taxes and provides a more useful public service too.

Poor judgement should not excuse poorer new law

You can always tell when the local professional prodnose industry thinks next year’s government subsidy might be trimmed because fact-lite scare stories like this (see and appear.
Two immediate and awkward questions arise: just who are these government ‘drug advisers’ who apparently believe “stricter laws, more research and greater awareness are all needed to curb the spread of such drugs”, and do any of them have any professional expertise?
Knowing that the Chief Minister’s task force on drugs and alcohol was set up by individuals and organisations whose main reference point is the Bible, and who do not have so much as one basic qualification in medicine, psychology (or indeed the ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ sciences in general) between them, I do hope it is not them. Actually, what I really hope is that this idiotic ‘Advisory Council’ is disbanded pretty sharpish, because, on this evidence alone, none of them are capable of interpreting something as basic as a medical report to a coronary hearing.
No, I have not read the medical report either, but I do know that it does not say this teenager was killed by a legal high, and I do know, just from reading local newspaper reports, that that teenager had also consumed quite a lot of alcohol, and I do know, from reading many more reports over the years of inquests into ’drug deaths’, that with the possible exception of purer than usual heroin it is never a single chemical substance (legal or illegal) that kills the victim, but a particular chemical reaction caused by the combination of various substances, plus the victim’s particular medical history and the particular social circumstances of the death event.
I would also have thought that in this particular case other questions which might need answering include why a 17 year old had such easy access to alcohol (which unlike the MDAI really IS illegal -and supposedly the subject of very high profile tough legislation and social control which this case alone proves simply does not work either) and why she was apparently openly having a close relationship with a man twice her age yet nobody personally or professionally related to her thought that was odd.
Again, one of the conditions demanded by and granted to Manx evangelical homophobes for the lowering of homosexual consent to 16 was a clause preventing the ‘grooming’ of anyone under the age of 18 by an older adult. In practice, as UK gay organisations have pointed out, this type of legislation is only ever used to block same sex relationships, and never against the organisations whose employees are most likely to groom teenagers for sex, i.e. religious ones.
You can also tell how close the links are between the court services and the evangelicals who live off such moral panics because, coincidentally, there will always be a high profile case for a helpful coroner or judge to use to call for tougher legislation.
Just think about it. Why would a legal professional call for weaker or better legislation, or for people to take personal responsibility for their lives, or neighbours to look out for each other …..or indeed anything which people in the real world would recognise as common sense? That would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.
Of course, the other thing we can rely on is that either the Manx press were not at the coroner’s hearing, or did not find time to read such evidence as was on public record or the judgement in full, or just chose to concentrate on juicy morsels which ‘prove’ what their bigoted readers always want to think rather than doing their duty as journalists to report the fullest facts and best informed (though probably conflicting) opinion to us so that we can make informed judgements.
Considering the seriousness of some of the issues here, this ragbag conspiracy of self-serving idiots really does need to be treated with utter contempt. And we really should, as their employers, dispatch most of them to the Job Centre as soon as possible.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Care in the Community

I’m pretty sure the Isle of Man Government – and especially the Department of Education – should not be encouraging people to link up with hate groups. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to know it’s actually illegal – even on this bigoted island.
So I was surprised to learn that a recent item on FirstClass, a Department of Education-run website ( homepage at ) informs local mothers that: (an) “event, entitled Mum’s the Word, has been organised by national charity Care for the Family, whose aim is to strengthen family life and help those facing family difficulties. It will take place at The Mount Murray Hotel on Thursday 17th November from 730-10pm.”
So let us get something straight at once. CftF is not a Manx ‘national charity’, but a network of off-island charities, all cross-pollinating faith-based hate and ignorance. It began as an England and Wales charity, but is also separately registered in Scotland and Northern Ireland, though it fails to declare to any of those registries (as legally required) that it is a network rather than a stand-alone charity. As far as I can tell, it also should not be accepting money for charitable activities on the Isle of Man unless it has the specific permission of the Manx Attorney General to do so, because it is not registered here.
Although those with a little experience can track the structure, it also would not be too keen on the public regarding it as little more than a puppet of the even nastier Christian ‘education charity’ CARE (‘Christian Action Research & Education'), which has a strong lobbying team at Westminster, mostly thanks to links with the Conservative Christian Fellowship. The most obvious link is John O'Brien, a Care for the Family trustee, who is also a trustee of CARE, but I have little doubt that behind the scenes the management pyramid structure and policies are even more strongly linked.
To get a taste of CARE, this is a group who in 2005 sent letters to Scottish churches urging them to contact their local councils on the issue of civil ceremonies for same-sex couples registered under the new Civil Partnerships Act due to come into force that December.
The letter read: “CARE believes that it is not appropriate for there to be ceremonies associated with civil partnership registration. To hold a ceremony would suggest that registering a civil partnership has the same status as a heterosexual wedding, which it doesn’t.”
CARE also warned: “Some registrars are unwilling to perform such ceremonies and there may be issues of freedom of conscience if registrars are compelled to perform these ceremonies.”
That was because, from the time the original English Civil Partnership Bill was first passed, CARE put rather a lot of effort into writing to all registrars ‘advising’ them to try and opt out of conducting the ceremonies on ‘conscience’ grounds. As we all know, some did, and years later are still trying to take their case to Europe in a last ditch defence of religious bigotry and privilege.
Care for the Family, via links with Scottish and Northern Irish operations also not averse to taking public funds in return for truly cretinous ‘educational initiatives’, first got the chance to meddle in Manx educational affairs when David Anderson was Education Minister.
By the very oddest of coincidences this was about the same time that the Isle of Man Courier, picturing various happy university graduates, happened to report that: “Rachel Anderson, daughter of David and Jane Anderson, of Ballamoar, Patrick, has graduated from Durham University with a BA Hons in anthropology. She attended Peel Clothworkers' School and Queen Elizabeth II High School, where she was head girl in 2001-2. Rachel is spending the year as an intern with the charity CARE at Westminster, where she is working for an MP.”
The next year a third rate bunch of bible floggers posturing as a ‘theatre company’ got a nice gig at Ballakermeen School’s new ‘community art’ space. One of their trustees, Norman Adams, was another CftF trustee.
Small world, isn’t it?
Actually I spotted something even funnier in the FirstClass posting, which at one point says that: “Experienced speakers Katharine Hill and Cathy Madavan, who between them have six children, will share their own experiences of motherhood.”
I hope their managers haven’t noticed that. Because I imagine even the idea of lesbian mums and artificial insemination would have made CftF go all queer – if you’ll excuse the pun. On the other hand, considering how many desperate wankers seem to be involved in CARE and CftF, maybe the kids were just in-house jobs too. After all, these fundie freaks seem to like to keep everything else in the family.