Sunday, June 10, 2007

Nick on the HPV vaccine

Nick is probably broadly right in his Observer column today. The NHS has been dragging its feet over NHS vaccination and there are some big worries about the fact the so much of the increased spending on health under NuLab has gone to increasing doctors' salaries, on PFI and on management consultants. But, as usual, Nick can't write a straight column without including a dig at some pet hat figure:

A few doctors imitated John le Carre and warned that the evil tycoons of Big Pharma were behind the demands for vaccination. Undoubtedly, drugs companies would benefit, but as doctors, Department of Heath civil servants and, indeed, ageing thriller writers turn to Big Pharma's products when they need them, the attempt to justify inaction as an anti-corporate pose also got nowhere.

Apologies to Nick [did I write that?] if someone can find an argument from Le Carre saying that the NHS shouldn't funds HPV vaccination in the UK. I know that Le Carre has been a fierce critic of the way the pharmaceutical industry has operated in Africa. Maybe he's wrong in some of the particulars (I don't know). But there's a whole series of issues where LC seems to be a force for good (patenting and generic medicines). Is Nick bashing LC because of unrelated post-9/11 remarks by the novelist? Or because LC has been speaking about the Palestinians for decades? Answers in comments please.

22 Comments:

Anonymous Marc Mulholland said...

The article as a whole is another step by Nick towards coming out as a Tory isn't it?

6/10/2007 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous ichomobothogogus said...

It's not really Toryism, not mainstream toryism anyway. its been obvious for months what the problem is. Nick's been infected by the poisoned claws of Frank Furedi and is mutating into an LM style faux-libertarian technophile, and now anyone who criticises any use of technology or "science" in any circumstances and for any reason whatsoever is a fascist luddite who wants us to go back to living in caves and using stone implements.

its especially ironic considering how much Nick hates the RCPers and how much they hate him, but honestly i can't think of anyone else analogous to some of the shit he comes out with these days, the series of slightly crazed conspiracy theories that revolve around the idea that middle class left-wingers from north london are worse than the nazis and the cause of all the worlds ills. if you criticise drug companies exploiting people in Africa you must want to throw away all medicine, if you care about global warming its because you hate poor people in the third world and want them all to die. giving money to charity is worse than colonialism. etc. etc. At least when the Iraq war's over and the Observer kicks him out he can get a job as science writer for Spiked (under a false name of course)

6/10/2007 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Not so much a Tory as a reactionary - with individual eccentricities of opinion, whatever he perceives the Left to stand for, he'll hate it.

6/10/2007 02:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid this is all bunkum. Cohen has recycled a Zoe WSilliams article which was shown to be non-researched.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2096371,00.html

Cohen would rather bash the NHS than do the most basic research. Par for the course for Nasty Nick.

6/10/2007 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger Marc Mulholland said...

Well, Nick seems to be arguing that the Tories are likely to run the NHS better than New Labour (who are so incompetent and venal that they can only be trusted with minor matters such as invading countries). And if you think otherwise, it because you are a right big sexist! So now!

6/10/2007 03:15:00 PM  
Anonymous ichomobothogogus said...

i think you've got it the wrong way round justin. its not "whatever he percieves the left to be he'll hate it" its "whatever he hates he'll percieve to be the left" hence his annointing of Douglas Hurd and co as part of the liberal left for their pro serb policies in the 90s, which was possibly the weirdest thing he's ever written, apart from his suggestion that Noam Chomsky has been silent about East Timor

6/10/2007 03:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Undoubtedly, drugs companies would benefit, but as doctors, Department of Heath civil servants and, indeed, ageing thriller writers turn to Big Pharma's products when they need them, the attempt to justify inaction as an anti-corporate pose also got nowhere.

This is, I think, another version of the Timothy Garton Ash "Europeans think they're so anti-American, but they keep eating Big Macs!" argument, but even more nonsensical.

6/10/2007 05:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark B said...

This is entirely off-topic, but regarding the post on here last month you wrote about people adding fake signatories to the Euston Manifesto, such as 'Buzz Lappin' and 'Ern Malley', do you happen to know if the dreadful Julie Burchill's signature is genuine, along with her amazingly hypocritical suggestion that she signed because she supports 'democracy for all, not just for white people, unlike the anti-war crowd'? I'm sure I remember reading somewhere that her signature was added as a joke by some hoaxer, but others are suggesting that she is a genuine signatory, even though the 'not just for white people' line strikes me as a knowing joke by someone who is familiar with Burchill's history of anti-arab racism.

Incidentally, I see that someone has added 'Miles Davis' to the list of Euston signatories. Perhaps I'll try adding 'Charlie Parker', 'Denny Gillespie' and 'Theo Monk' a little later tonight and see if they get past the moderators too.

6/10/2007 07:43:00 PM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

Burchill is a real signatory and really holds the view summarised in that sentence (or at least she did when she gave an interview to "Little Atoms" a couple of months ago; I can hardly rule out that she might have changed her mind since). I think it was me that suggested she was a joke signatory, but I was joking.

6/10/2007 08:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark B said...

Well I never, so the woman who back in the 80's said that she had no concern for the plight of mere "smelly arabs" in Lebanon reckons anti-war protestors are motivated by anti-arab racism. I'll assume she didn't explain why "smelly arabs" in Iraq are more worthy of her concern. Even more extraordinary is the idea of a self-proclaimed Stalinist signing up to a manifesto advocating the spreading of democracy. Cohen et al. actually allowed her to sign this document, and they advertise her support?

In any case, I've sent the moderators over there an application by Charlie Parker to sign the Manifesto, so lets see if they fall for it and Parker gets to join Miles on the list of signatories.

6/10/2007 08:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark B said...

Incidentally, I think I got the impression that Burchill might be a joke signatory from the article written by the guy who was responsible for 'Buzz Lappin' and other signatures, he seemed to imply the Burchill being on there was probably another fake name.

6/10/2007 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

It's not really worth pondering Julie Burchill's opinions since there's never been any reason to suggest that they are generated by any process other than a random one. (Except, of course, that among people who are on the make there will always be this strong instinct to oppose the left and to caricature it. Cynics loathe leftists.)

6/10/2007 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In any case, I've sent the moderators over there an application by Charlie Parker to sign the Manifesto, so lets see if they fall for it and Parker gets to join Miles on the list of signatories."

As in the jazz musician or John Connolley's ghost-haunted private detective?

(Either is good. :) )

--IT

6/10/2007 09:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark B said...

Burchill is a bizarre, horrible character, and pondering her opinions is not something I'd wish to subject myself to for very long, but this particular opinion of hers amazes me for both its extreme idiocy and its extraordinary hypocrisy on so many counts. There's actually a blogger somewhere who calls her the most significant British 'intellectual' of the last 25 years and said her books were 'major works'. Seriously. One of these books he lauded as a work of intellectual genius sold a grand total of just 90 copies, which reduced Burchill to tears I remember reading. Thankfully, I don't think anyone anywhere takes her remotely seriously, aside from the aforementioned blogger. I'm just amazed that Cohen and friends want to advertise her endorsement rather than keep quiet about it, I might e-mail Nick and point out to him that Burchill is a Stalinist and a racist, you'd hardly think that her stated opinions correspond with the ideals of the Euston crowd.

6/10/2007 10:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark B said...

In reply to Anonymous, I was thinking of the jazz musician though any other suggestions would be appreciated, famous fictional private detectives sound good. Somebody has signed up on there on behalf of Miles 'Bitches Brew' Davis so I thought it was only fair if Parker gets signed up too. I was tempted to try asking them to sign him up as 'Professor Charles B. Parker, Professor of Ornithology, Cornell University', Parker having been nicknamed 'Bird' and him having a famous composition called 'Ornithology', but I figured even they wouldn't be fooled by that. But then again, they might have dome if they had no real clue who Parker was I suppose. Not that I'm espeically into jazz, I just noticed the hilarious Miles Davis entry and figured I'd try and get a theme going and see how long it takes for Cohen and co to notice that half of the most revered members of the so-called 'jazz royalty' have signed up for their project. I've just noticed that another signatory on there that has somehow got past the moderators is 'Thai Pussy'.

6/10/2007 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Norman G. is a big fan of Burchill. I suspect the feeling is mutual.

6/11/2007 05:20:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/11/2007 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I'm not sure that Marx and Human Nature managed to sell more than ninety either.

(I've probably mentioned on here before that I once considered swiping a copy from the book distributor I was working for, but passed up the opportunity because of the sheer amount of dust covering that particular pile of books.)

PS Sorry about duff entry since removed by self. Made the fatal mistake of posting before first coffee consumption of morning.

6/11/2007 06:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is an interesting article in the most recent Le Monde Diplomatique, by Sonia Shah, about drug testing in Africa. The West consumes more and more medicines but people in the West are less and less likely to want to take part in drug trials. So an increasing number of drug trials take place in Africa, Asia and Latin America (of drugs that will be sold in the West, not those needed in Africa, Asia and Latine America). In many countries in those continents, but especially in Africa, the capacity of the local governments to control what is going on is minimal. So it is quite possible to imagine something like the events in "The constant gardner" happening. There is a case in northern Nigeria that bears a striking resemblance to the events in "The constant gardener".

"The Kano State Government recently sued Pfizer International Limited, the US pharmaceutical giant, as well as its Nigerian subsidiary and seven others for $2.7 billion over the employment of 200 meningitis-stricken children as guinea pigs in a drug trial in 1996. Eleven of the children were reported to have died as a result of the controversial vaccine administered on them without the prior consent of their parents or guardians." (The Daily Trust, Nigeria, 4th June 2007)

As far as I know, Le Carre isn't advocating anything in particular. Like a latter day Dickens, he just wants us to be aware that the drugs we take may have been tested on Africans who didn't give their consent, and that there are a number of risks in that scenario. Nick is probably mad at Le Carre both because he said that George W Bush was mad and because he assumes that Le Carre is a Luddite when he points the finger at the activities of drug companies in Africa.

6/11/2007 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger splinteredsunrise said...

Nick on Hurd as a leader of the "liberal left" has an interesting provenance. The relevant chapter in What's Left? draws on Attila the Hun's little pamphlet "Bosnia - the Acid Test" which argued, essentially, that since Hurd and the SWP were both against military intervention, therefore the SWP supported the policies of the Major government. He obviously missed out all the stuff the SWP put out about the working class uniting against their nationalist leaders.

Nick, characteristically, can't leave it at that, and insinuates (tho' doesn't actually say) that the SWP gave political support to the glorious socialist regime of Slobo. Of course they didn't, nor IIRC did the Furedites who had a formally neutral position. Nick's evidence is that the SWP, Chomsky et al must have cheerled Slobo because that's the sort of thing these reprobates would do.

There's a weird parallelism here, with his retro casting of Hurd as ideological leader of the SWP, and currently Galloway as ideological leader of the Lib Dems. Plus his use of "The Left" as a swear-word for positions he doesn't like. But I'm intrigued by the idea of Nick as a deviated Furedite.

6/11/2007 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

A review I read of the Constant Gardener said the only implausible thing was that anyone would murder the diplomat's wife. Not only does that kind of thing go on all the time in Africa, but nobody there gives a damn. Life is cheap.

6/11/2007 03:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The argument that people who care about global warming actually hate people in the third world and want them all to die is deeply ironic (or moronic). It is people in Africa who are going to be the worst hit by global warming despite having made the smallest contribution to global warming. They are going to have greater difficulty in growing their own food, so will migrate, or fight, or die.

It is surprising how often this argument pops up though: a reminder that some columnists will say almost anything and some newspapers will print just about anything.

6/12/2007 09:11:00 AM  

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