Breakdown of Jeremy Hunt’s statement on #JuniorDoctorsStrike

“I’d like to thank the junior doctors who ignored the BMA national advice and did go back to work. And I think that shows the values of the vast majority of junior doctors”

Yes Jeremy. The 10,000 who turned up were scheduled to do so to cover emergencies or else were not members of the BMA and not part of the strike action. They didn’t ignore BMA advice. 98% of the 37,700 BMA members agreed with the action and advice on a 76% turnout. That means 74% of all eligible junior doctors supported strike action. A vastly greater mandate than the 24% of the eligible public who voted for the conservative party.

“In the end this is a completely unnecessary dispute”

If you feel it is unnecessary they why are you disputing? It is not a unilateral dispute. We are not disagreeing with ourselves here. If it is unnecessary you could simply concede to our demands?

“We have some disagreements with the BMA over pay”

Much as Boris Johnson did with the tube strikes the government are attempting to re-frame the argument to one that makes Junior doctors appear greedy. As though we are asking for more pay. At the very most we are asking to not have our pay cut. We are not striking to ask for more pay. A fairer wage to reflect our skills. Or even a wage that would allow us to consider buying a home in most London boroughs these days.
Repeatedly junior doctors make clear the dispute is not about pay. Repeatedly in their sound bites Hunt and Cameron refer to pay as though it is THE issue we are fighting over. If you repeat a lie often enough people can believe it is true.

“But we all want to promise every patient who uses the NHS the promise of the same high quality care every day of the week”

I think most doctors would agree this would be fantastic. To be clear we have a 7 day service in the NHS. Doctors work 7 days as do almost all healthcare professionals in the NHS. What Hunt wants however is not to provide a 7 day NHS by increasing staffing or funding. He simply wants to redress Saturday evenings as being normal working hours. When my bank is open at 9pm on Saturday evening I may class it as a normal working hour. Until then it is unsociable.

“And at the moment we have an NHS where if you have a stroke at the weekends, you’re 20% more likely to die. That can’t be acceptable”

This statistic appears shocking and this is exactly what it is meant to do. Hunt knows full well most of the public will not look into the source of this statistic. This comes from one journal. The authors themselves admit a large part of this difference is likely due to the fact that only the most severe stroke cases are admitted on the weekend. Undertaking a multi-million pound reorganisation of the NHS based on one piece of evidence could be extremely dangerous and foolhardy. Sadly for our government it would not be the first time.

“And the right thing to do is not to strike, but actually sit round the table and talk to the government about how we deliver a truly seven-day NHS.”

Amazing that Hunt thinks that the right thing to do is to sit around a table and talk. Considering he was the one wanting not to talk but to impose the contract upon us. Considering most doctors have fairly strong opinions on how to deliver a seven day NHS and would be happy to talk about it. Considering Hunt has not involved us or our ideas in how to go about that process. Considering the thing most doctors agree on is that the way to a 7 day NHS is NOT via this junior doctor contract. Well we will look forward to the invite to the steering meeting Mr Hunt. I don’t mind sitting between Richard Branson and Lynton Crosby.

Breakdown of Jeremy Hunt’s statement on #JuniorDoctorsStrike

I stand against bombing Syria

The logical idea goes that ISIS attacked Paris, ISIS is the threat to our safety and therefore we must bomb ISIS. Bombing ISIS is then going to ensure our national security by getting rid of the threat. I am sure if you stop for a second and think this through at some point this seemingly logical idea falls down. For me it fails at every step to be true and I stand against us joining the bombing in Syria.

I am not convinced ISIS attacked Paris. This is not a conspiracy theory. I am not suggesting it was Israel or the Freemasons who done it. Obviously ISIS played some part but I look at the attackers that perpetrated the Paris attacks. The individuals who actually pulled the triggers and detonated the bombs. I may not have access to all the information but from what I can gather at most two of the eleven people involved had ever set foot in Syria. Almost across the board those attackers were poor, petty criminals, aged 18-30, second-generation immigrants living in deprived areas of France and Belgium. If we look at the perpetrators of every major terrorist attack in Britain and France since 9/11 you will find these characteristics to be present. Charlie Hebdo, 7/7, 21/7 and Lee Rigby’s murder. Those characteristics are as constant as the religion of the perpetrators yet only one characteristic is ever mentioned in the media as the source of the problem.

Now ISIS may have been in communication to help to plan these attacks. If ISIS called you tomorrow and asked you to strap a bomb to your waist and kill innocent people would you do it? There has to be something more to this. The something more is not their religion as I have discussed before. Blaming Islam is easy for the media and the west as it prevents them from having to address what I see as the true issues underlying radicalisation. That requires more detailed analysis but the simple point is the attackers came from within Europe so how will bombing Syria stop that? Are ISIS a threat to our safety or is it poverty, disenfranchisement of youth, hopelessness and the persecution of immigrants we should be targeting.

Will bombing ISIS remove the threat? Ok. A Pro-lifer just committed a terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood centre in the USA. His religion is not being reported nor is it being called a terrorist attack. I’ll leave you to ponder the reasons for that. I could imagine he may be Christian or Catholic. Now would bombing the Vatican remove this threat? The answer is obviously not. You cannot bomb the ideology.

In fact in regards to this particular ideology we know that it grows out of the collateral damage of western bombing campaigns in the Middle East. We know that these campaigns strengthen the process of radicalisation. ISIS are terrorising more innocent Iraqis and Syrians than they are westerners and when we drop bombs we do not discriminate who they hit. How many innocents must die to avenge the innocent deaths in Paris?

Following the shock of the atrocities in Paris we feel as though we must do something. We must be cautious against making rash decisions while our judgment is clouded by this very recent tragedy. The last time we allowed our government to rush through a decision like this we turned Al-Qaeda into ISIS. We must follow the principle that we first do no harm. I stand against the UK joining the bombing of Syria.

I stand against bombing Syria

I see

The events in Paris are truly heartbreaking for all of us. It is clear from the response I see that this tragedy has deeply effected so many of us. It is so hard to see so many innocent people killed or injured and our thoughts can only be with those people and their families who must be in turmoil right now. I can only think back to the fear that was felt through London after the tube bombings to imagine what Paris must feel like today.

What further saddens me is that the response to this act of terrorism seems to take on none of the lessons we should have learnt from recent history.

I see Hollande has referred to this as an act of war. This was not an act of war it was an act of terrorism. In order for it to become a war it must become an armed conflict between France and ISIS. It appears, based upon the emerging rhetoric amongst Western leaders, that we are not too far away from another ‘war on terror’. The last war on terror is the one responsible for the rise of ISIS and their growth into the vacuum that war created in the middle east. For me a real war on terrorism would be a war on poverty, ignorance, poor education, inequality, lack of justice and discrimination.

I see people blaming the refugees for the act of terror. Firstly as stated elsewhere the refugees are in fact fleeing the people responsible for the act of terrorism. If we choose to label all the refugees as terrorists well there are 3 MILLION refugees from Syria alone and there were 8 attackers. It seems a little unfair to tarnish 2,999,992 people due to the crimes of 8 people. Even more so since as far as I am aware not one of the attackers has been shown to be a refugee!

I see some people are blaming ‘All of the Muslims’ and using the events as a reason to unveil Islamaphobic ideas. Firstly simple maths shows this to be completely untrue. There are 1.2 BILLION muslims in the world and once again there were 8 attackers. In fact if you combine all of the members of Boko Haram, ISIS and Al Qaeda it would number no more than 50,000 ‘Muslims’. That is 0.0042% of all muslims. Quite an unfair proportion to deem representative.

I see the actress Ruby Rose is being criticised for daring to combine her sympathy for Paris with that of Lebanon. In Lebanon 50 people died and 250 were injured in another attack by ISIS. Many of those people would have been Muslim which exposes another flaw in the ‘All of the Muslims’ idea. You can only ask yourself why there is such a vast difference in the media coverage for those attacks and the ones in Paris. That difference is indictment enough however it is then more troubling that some consider it wrong to express sympathy for those 50 people alongside the 128 Parisian victims.

I see Islam being regarded as a religion of terror and violence while Christianity is one of peace, love and harmony. I can give an extensive history lesson on the recent and past episodes of terror pursued in the name of Christianity, Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism and even Buddhism if you wish. This idea that islam is a religion of terror is then being used to push the idea that ‘they’ cannot live with ‘us’. Anyone who feels this way should realise that their ideas are essentially identical to those of ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and indeed Hitler/Nazi Germany. That should really give you some food for thought.

I see

On the immense potential of humankind

It is often quoted as scientific fact that we humans only use 10% of our brain’s power. As a child I remember watching a documentary about this and being fascinated by it. The documentary presented some of the wondrous feats we would be capable of if we were able to utilize the silent 90% of our brains. Would we be capable of telekinesis, telepathy or remote viewing? This fact was presented as part of the reason the USA devoted time and research to activities such as ‘The men who stare at goats’ who looked into the above skills and their possible use in warfare. Many people across the world have been inspired by this idea. They push themselves to reach and extend their limits in the hope of awakening even a small proportion of that 90%. Unfortunately this fact is not strictly true. What I will say is true is that humankind has achieved only 10% of it’s potential. I hope to clarify this idea in the coming paragraphs. I then hope this idea will lead us to try to find ways we can utilise the other 90% of the power of humankind. I hope you will begin to imagine what we would be capable of if we did so.

In fact I think 10% is an overestimate of the potential we have realised over the last 10,000 years. It is interesting to think that all the advances we have made have been based on a small selection of our top achievers. Advances such as the the steam engine, electricity, the telescope, invention of antibiotics, the theory of relativity, putting a man on the moon and the internet have all been based on a few spikes of achievement through mankind’s history. These spikes of achievement and bursts of progress are often catalysed by the outliers and geniuses of society. We can look back through history and see the giants upon whose shoulders we now stand. People like Einstein, Edison, Newton, Hawking, Khayyam and Darwin provided huge leaps forward in our understanding of the world we live in. I feel sport is a useful analogy here as it provides a far more visual representation of these spikes. Jesse Owens, Bolt, Bannister, Messi, Pele, Laver, Federer and Jordan could all be considered outliers. They drove the bar on the limits of human physical achievement higher. They changed the way we thought about ourselves in a similar way to the aforementioned intellectual giants. I will use the example of sport here to try to illustrate my ideas.

One idea of a capitalistic society is that the cream will always rise to the top. This is the premise I think is fundamentally flawed and leads to our failure to utilise our potential. Take for example Usain Bolt who has provided the most visible leap forward in athletic performance in recent years. Were he born in America it is unlikely he would have ended up being the greatest sprinter in history. He would have ended up trying to forge a career in Basketball or American football. If he were even born two Caribbean islands away from Jamaica he would still not have become a sprinter and he may have wound up playing Cricket. If he were born in England he would likely have played football and been Peter Crouch with pace. The 100m world record would be a tenth of a second slower and we would still have the false idea that sprinters could not be tall.

A lot has been done to try to discover the secret of Jamaican sprinting. Is it the diet, the weather, genetics or even the aftermath of slavery and ‘selective breeding’. As Yannis Pitsiladis suggests in David Epstein’s book ‘The Sports gene’ the truth probably lies in the fact that every Jamaican child will engage in running races. Every child will also want to be a sprinter. For school PE teachers and amateur coaches it is easy to identify the fastest children. The ones who win the race are clearly the quickest. They can then be passed on to better coaches and clubs and be trained to improve and become even faster. If your sample size is 2.7million (Population of Jamaica) you are far more likely to find the outlier. The Usain Bolt. The one who rewrites the rules of sprinting and pushes the boundaries of human physical achievement. If you restrict your sample size by banning certain groups from running you are far less likely to find this outlier. Yet this is exactly what we have done in the past and continue to do in the present.

If we look back to scientific achievements Einstein’s father was an engineer. If he were a chimney sweep there is a good chance we would still not have the Theory of relativity. If Stephen Hawking’s mother and father were not Oxford graduates we would still be many years behind on our theories regarding black holes. No doubt those advances would have come in time but perhaps not just yet. With the same intellectual capabilities it is easy to see how vastly different the stories of these two giants could be with only slight changes to their social situations. I understand there is some degree of genetic component to your IQ. Stephen Hawking’s parents being Oxford graduates is not entirely coincidence. Regardless there will be many IQ outliers born in situations that fail to allow them to achieve their potential. Just as there are almost certainly humans faster than Usain Bolt who never had a chance to put on a pair of spikes. The latter is simply a shame. The former is a serious failing of an entirely capitalistic society.

Within a 1st world country such as England we can see a huge variation in the opportunities available to us. We know that going to private school gives us a far better chance of becoming a Lawyer, Doctor, Journalist and even an Olympic athlete. Statistics show that 7% of the UK goes to private school but their students comprise 70% of judges, 54% of journalists, 37% of Olympians and 35% of MPs. There are many factors behind these statistics but I guess my fundamental point is that if Stephen Hawking had attended a state school in Peckham there is very little chance he would have attended Oxford or Cambridge let alone both.

Within the UK of course our education is free and even said state school in Peckham likely provides a better opportunity to recognise your potential than most children in the 3rd world. The fact that we have 1st and 3rd world countries and have this disparity in equality of opportunity is not a chance occurrence. It is almost a requirement of the capitalistic society we live in. We can observe the current exploitation of Africa, the burden of third world debt and the limits this places on the progress and development of those countries within the African continent. This is where I feel we need to change. Inequality is devastating for the potential of humankind.

The beauty of capitalism is the idea that anyone can make it to the very top and have it all. The failure is that not everyone can make it. There must be haves and have not’s for the system to work. I could write this as an appeal to your altruistic nature on the basis that every child deserves an equal chance. Unfortunately that would fail to resonate with some. From a selfish perspective this should still hit home if we can imagine the world we could live in if we allowed human potential to flourish. Our current situation, though far from ideal, is a vast improvement on the way things have been in the past.

Imagine that up until 100 years ago being female completely excluded you from the chance to explore many career and educational opportunities. There have been exceptions but for vast swathes of our history we oppressed 50% of the potential of humankind in this way. Even today the dividing line exists though it may not be as thick as it once was we have a way to go to achieve true equality between the sexes.

More recently the film ‘The Imitation game’ highlights how people were ostracised for being gay. It is impossible to say how much of a part this played in Alan Turing’s decision to take his own life however we can be sure that it did not help him to deal with his mental health issues. One of the most brilliant minds Britain has produced was lost in part due to his sexual orientation. Not only has there been a lack of opportunity for some but also history is littered with examples of downright oppression of many groups of people.

We can look at the history of slavery, which claimed the lives of so many throughout the centuries. Not only American slavery of black people but beyond into the long history of slavery within almost all nations. Sadly slavery is not just consigned to history. It exists in some places even today. Slavery does not just claim lives through death, the whole life is taken as the moments lived are constrained to predetermined limits. There is good evidence that black slaves would be punished for attempting to learn to read and write by their masters. Being intelligent was deemed dangerous. If only such terrible oppression stopped upon the abolishment of slavery in the USA. Unfortunately segregation meant that black schools were often far behind the standards of their white counterparts for long periods. Nowadays there remains an invisible segregation though this is based more on rich vs poor than black vs white. I wonder if there is as much difference in equality of education now between wealthy private schools and poor state schools as there once was between white and black schools.

We have lost many lives to war throughout the history of mankind. It is estimated there were one hundred million casualties in the two great wars alone. Human history is also pockmarked with episodes of genocide from the Holocaust, Rwanda and the Killing fields of Cambodia. Pol Pot actively sought to kill people who were intelligent as he deemed them a threat to his plan. Being a doctor, a lawyer and even wearing glasses could lead to your death. With each of these examples that estimate on the achievement of human potential falls further.

This is not to claim that everyone can be Usain Bolt or Einstein. Usain Bolt could not beat Mo Farah over 10,000m for example. As brilliant as his mind was Einstein could not compose the works of Shakespeare. Humans may be brilliant in one area and woeful in another. Not many humans may have Marilyn Monroe’s looks and Einstein’s brains but there are plenty who have one or the other. It is my belief that everyone has something they are good at. You may not run like Farah or Bolt but you could make a damn good shot putter. I believe variation of human physical talents is matched by an equal variation in the mind. The only trouble is making sure you find your niche before you run out of time. If we deny people the opportunity and restrict them to certain avenues we are losing potential all the time. On top of that we are fishing for the true outliers with a minuscule net in the Atlantic Ocean.

Out there somewhere is the mind that will discover the Theory of Everything, a solution for climate change, a method for interstellar travel and a cure for cancer. Unfortunately in our current model of society there is a higher probability of that mind never getting the opportunity for university education than doing so. Even within the UK only 27.2% of the population aged 16-74 had a degree in 2012 according to the ONS.  We could expect to find similar figures in most 1st world countries.  It is likely that figure would be far lower across the 3rd world. Those great minds have as much probability of being born in sub-Saharan Africa as they do Hampstead. Yet we place limits on the realisation of that potential based on birthplace.

Over the last 10,000 years we have made huge advances in society. We have slowly recognised for the most part that discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or sexuality is morally abhorrent. Yet we continue to allow inequality and discrimination on the basis of parental status or birthplace to exist. There are genetic reasons why this model of society has developed and continues to be maintained. We can accept we are simply a vessel for our genes to be transmitted from generation to generation or we can use the consciousness and intellect we have been gifted with and look for a better way. It may be impossible to turn society into a model of utopian socialism however there must be a better model than this. If we can wonder and wish we could find a way to utilise the silent 90% of our brains we must also wonder and wish we could utilise the silent 90% of humankind. It is scarcely imaginable what we could achieve if we did.

On the immense potential of humankind