Feb 082023

Aeons (well perhaps not quite) an ancient Greek (not Ptolemy although he wrote it down on his map) rocked up on these misty islands and after overcoming the initial language barrier asked “Well, who are you”. “We’re the Prydain” replied his hosts.

And thus British Islands, overlooking the fact that Ireland was inhabited by a different branch of the Celts. Of course Ptolemy later used the names Hibernia and Albion, and an awful lot of wasted bits would be saved if those had stuck.

But for better or worse, it didn’t stick. But also it wasn’t the English who invented the term; it was widely used amongst geographers a thousand years before the Saxons invented England (to appease the Angles otherwise we’d be called Sexland).

But to those who like to gloss over 1,500 years of history, it can easily seem like a conspiracy to claim ownership by the English. Which tends to overlook that everyone has been trying to seize power over all the islands; and it was the Scottish who succeeded in the end.

But if we were to translate “British Islands” into modern English it would be “Celtic Islands”.

Entering The Great Hall

Oct 202009

Now we all know that the BNP are the lowest form of scum in the political cesspool … even low and putrid enough that they cause other politicians to feel nauseous. But in a long history of astonishing ineptitude and a quality of thought that would bring shame to any self-respecting cockroach, they have managed a piece of grossly offensive stupidity. They are using various military images to promote their pathetic and ridiculous creed. One of the images used is the that of a spitfire which previously caused a row in early 2009. In addition the BNP have tried to lay claim to the British Legion’s poppy symbol which is also pretty offensive.

The opposition to the BNP using military images comes initially from some old generals. Now I’m hardly a fan of the British military and I’m certainly not normally on their side. But they’re definitely right – using the military images to inflate the BNPs “Britishness” is definitely wrong. And offensively wrong given that many of those involved in the British military (including the WWII military!) were not the kind of people that the BNP would approve of. Personally I’d say there’s a lot to be said to being the kind of person that the BNP would not approve of – after all there is no chance that anyone would mistake you for being one of them!

The BNP would have you believe that the immigration “issue” of today is comparable to the attempted invasion by the Axis forces in WWII. This is preposterous in numerous ways and shows pretty well that the members of the BNP are at best woefully and dangerously delusional. First of all, an invasion is vastly different to a migration; in fact an invasion does not even require permanent residence for many of the invasion force. Even more an invasion is a rejection of our society and standards whereas a migration is an acceptance of the same (the migrant might change his or her mind later on).

Secondly the war against the Axis forces was not simply defeating an attempted invasion of Britain. It was bigger by far than that. The war started before the attempted invasion and went on long after the invasion was turned back. It was very much the realisation that the cancerous beliefs of fascism could not be tolerated and that defeating fascism was of sufficient value that the masters of capitalism felt that allying ourselves with the “evil communists” was the lesser of two evils. Whilst Nick Griffin is no more than the palest shadow of a buffoon alongside someone like Hitler, and the BNP are similarly shown to be inadequate alongside the Nazi party, they are very much cut from the same mould.

Nick Griffin and his mindless thugs (look at their criminal records sometime) would be very happy in a world where Britain had been defeated by Nazi Germany. After all they could persecute their favourite ethnic minorities in any way they wished.

Comparing the “struggle” against immigration to the struggle against fascism and Nazi Germany is a slap in the face of every veteran who fought in WWII.

I notice that the BNP website today still shows :-

  • A red poppy (pah!)
  • A photograph of a spitfire (perhaps not the same photo they used in early 2009 which was flown by a Polish pilot)
  • And a picture of Churchill.

I somehow doubt that Churchill or his descendants would be too pleased about his image being used to popularise the BNP scum. The funny thing is that this great British leader may not have been quite British enough to be allowed to join the BNP – his mother was American and there is a chance that her descendants include Iroquois and/or Jews (neither of which are any form of “stain” of course), and considering his father came from the British aristocracy was likely to be not quite so British as the BNP would like. If you read the BNPs constitution, the clause concerning membership (quite possibly to be removed shortly) restricts membership to a wide variety of different “folk” people (indicating a rather confused grasp on British history), but excludes various proto-French ethnic groupings which could well exclude Churchill (at which he breathes a huge sigh of relief, or would if he could).

The BNPs big “thing” is race. They might well appear on TV or in other forms of media campaigning on other issues, but it’s still written large in their constitution that they want to return Britian to some pre-1948 mythical “white” utopia. Well first of all, the whole white thing is a bit mythical in itself – it’s only when you look at us from a distance that we look white; look a bit closer and you start to see differences (English, Welsh, Scottish, etc.). Secondly Britain has long been a home to people whose ancestors weren’t European.

And it is doubtful that the proto-English that the BNP want us all to revert to were all that concerned about “racial purity”. The Saxon warlord who defeated the last Celtic king around these parts, and went on to found the House of Wessex was called “Cerdic”. His name indicates that his ancestry included some Celtic blood somewhere (the most popular theory was that his mother was Celtic) in addition to his Saxon blood. For the benefit of those whose history is as poor as the BNPs most undoubtedly is, this “House of Wessex” later went on to unite the newly formed kingdom of England – the most important Saxons of the “Anglo-Saxon” peoples.

And now that I’m been writing of the BNP, I’m in urgent need of a long, hot cleansing bath to take away the stench.

Aug 142009

I am taking the unusual step of explicitly reserving the right to update this post – in case someone comments and I update the post to reflect their comments

According to the news, the health care debate in the US brought about by Obama’s attempt to reform the health care system is hot and furious. In particular the UK’s NHS is being targeted as an example of how horrendous socialist health care can be – including one ridiculous comment that Stephen Hawking would be dead if he had been British (he is British, and most of his health care is provided by the NHS).

The big concern about the NHS is the length of time it takes to wait for treatment because of health care “rationing”. It is implied that UK health care is rationed whereas US health care is not – nothing could be further from the truth! At a simplistic level, UK health care is rationed by need, and US health care is rationed by ability to pay.

Looking a little deeper, US rationing is mostly controlled by the insurance companies. Now sometimes (perhaps even the majority of times) this is done with the patient’s best interest in mind. But sometimes less scrupulous insurance companies will restrict access to more expensive treatments; particularly those who have pre-existing chronic conditions such as diabetes, or MS.

Looking around I can see there is particular concern with something called “co-pay” where the insurance company pays 80% of the cost of treatment, and the patient pays 20% (undoubtedly this varies between different providers). Sounds like a not unreasonable way from preventing people signing up for unnecessary treatments? Well perhaps, but 20% of many medical procedures is a lot of money and many people will find it difficult or impossible to fund a sudden large bill that might occur because of a medical emergency.

Apparently there are ways to get assistance with paying the 20%, but that involves scrabbling around looking for people to help. This is probably not the sort of thing that is helpful in a medical emergency!

The NHS provides treatment free at the point of delivery with the exception of Dentistry. Prescriptions are also subject to a flat £7 fee in England, although they are free in Scotland and Wales. In other words, you will not suddenly find yourself paying a huge bill.

The real truth is that most people who need it can get treated whether they are in the US or the UK. Although if you are poor and in the US, your access is likely to be not quite so easy. Are there millions of people in the US who have no access to medical care ? Probably not, but there are enough indications out there that a significant number of the US poor find access to medical care difficult. If you read this article it would seem that the uninsured get medical treatment in circumstances that look suspiciously like a field hospital in a third world country!

As for waiting times, it is easy to pick particularly bad examples of NHS waiting times and wave them around as examples of how bad socialist medicine is. Now the NHS did used to have a problem with waiting times and some people did die as a result of not getting the treatment that they needed. This was indeed a scandal, and was a direct result of a long period of chronic underfunding by the Conservative governments (1979-1997).  The situation now is much improved and people do not have to wait so long for treatments.

In fact the NHS this year reached their target of having no patients wait more than 18 weeks (or more explicitly 18 weeks from referral to when treatments start). This is a bit on the high side, but the average wait for ‘inpatients’ is 8.6 weeks and 4.6 weeks for ‘outpatients’. Still too long, but this is far cry from claims of 18 month waits. And these statistics conceal something – for urgent treatment a certain amount of queue jumping goes on including going to non-local hospitals for treatment. The full details can be found here. Reducing waiting times would be a simple matter of increasing the amount of money invested in the NHS – and we pay a lot less than people in the US do – more on that later.

As a little personal example, my grandmother recently had to wait several weeks to be moved from a hospital to a rehabilitation clinic (for physiotherapy), but my Aunt (with cancer) was seen the same week by a specialist after her initial diagnosis.

Another story going around is that the treatment in the UK is very much worse than that in the US. One of the areas that people target is the cancer survival rates. Indeed the UK’s record of treating cancer is not ideal, but this is just one area. And sometimes simple comparisons can be deceptive. A little story from the US media about prostate cancer – the US has a much better rate of long term survival rate than the UK, but prostate specialists point out that the US does more testing for prostate cancer than anyone else.

That would be good except that once prostate cancer is found in the US, it gets treated despite the fact that many prostate cancers are slow and unlikely to cause death in many patients. The US system inflicts painful and uncomfortable treatment on patients who do not need it, and as a result they boost their long-term survival rates (see here). This illustrates the dangers of doing a naive comparison of health care statistics … which is what I’m just about to do!

In fact if you look at a more widespread selection of conditions, the UK does not look quite as bad. Unfortunately the WHO statistics available are a little dated, but can be used to do a naive comparison.

Lets have a look at the mortality rates for all cancers – in 2002, the US had 134 deaths per 100,000 and the UK had 143. It is quite possible that the US rate has improved since then, but if so the UK is likely to have improved more – the NHS was asked to concentrate in this area because of the UK’s poor record here. Still even with the 2002 figures, the UK isn’t that much worse!

Now lets have a look at mortality rates for cardiovascular diseases – in 2002, the US had 188 deaths per 100,000, and the UK had 182. What’s this ? A country with a socialist health care system does better than the US? Obviously I am excluding lifestyle differences, but even so this does not look like the UK has a chronically bad health care system.

And now let’s have a look at mortality rates from injuries – in 2002, the US had 47 deaths per 100,000, and the UK had 26. That’s quite a big difference! The rates for deaths from non-communicable diseases were 460 (for the US) and 434 (for the UK). Again we have the UK apparently doing better.

If we look at more recent figures (2006) for rates of infant mortality, we see the US had 7 per 100,000 and the UK 5. Again the UK looks better!

I would rather like to include some more finely tuned statistics here such as more recent figures for how many people with a set of conditions are successfully treated, and will indeed update this post if I find some.

Because of the lack of recent figures I am not going to say the UK health care system is better at keeping people alive than the US system … or visa-versa. But it should be clear that the UK system is not dramatically worse (or better) than the US system at actually treating people.

What does become obvious when looking at health care statistics, is just how much more the US spends on health care than the UK. The UK spends about 8.4% of GDP on health care and the US spends 16%. That is dramatically more. For that much more, you wonder why the US health care system is not dramatically better than the UK health care system, because it should be! Let’s have a look at some more statistics (sorry, but facts are needed when comparing two systems) … a table from the UK newpaper The Guardian (specifically their “Datablog”) :-


United States

$ per person



(per 10,000)



and Midwives








United Kingdom 2815 23 128 39 80

With only one exception (the number of doctors), the US does worse than the UK in terms of number of health care personnel. Of course this by itself does not show anything about the quality of what is provided (although we covered that earlier). The question seems to be what does the US get for all that money they spend on health care ? Looking at the full table in the relevant Guardian article, we see that the US spend far and away the highest per capita cost on health care than any other country in the table.

For the amount that the US spends, it should have a health care system by far and away better than any other developed nation. It doesn’t. It certainly does better in some areas (cancer) than the UK, but it does not do better in all areas. Is the UK health care system as good as that in the US ? Well I don’t have accurate enough figures to say so, but I think I do have the figures to say that it is not immensely worse to the level that US right-wing politicians with an axe to grind are portraying. I have no wish to try and tell Americans what kind of health care they should have, but they should be aware of the facts when considering health care reform.

One thing to be wary of are anecdotal stories of how bad the UK health system is. Undoubtedly many (if not most) are true, but are frequently very dated. And don’t you think that we could come up with very many similar stories about the problems with the US health care system ? I’m sure there’s a number of stories from people who “fall between the cracks” in the US, and essentially get little or no health care.

On the subject of anecdotal stories, apparently there are short videos circulating in the US (adverts?) detailing NHS horror stories. Interestingly enough those same people have been interviewed recently in the British media to indicate that they are disgusted that their stories are being used in this way, and that they fully support the NHS – they just want more money for the NHS!

I very much doubt that Obama is planning on setting up anything that would come anywhere near the socialism of the NHS. The right-whingers (spelling mistake intentional) over there are spreading disinformation – not only in how bad the NHS is, but in what Obama is planning. Please just find out the facts for yourself and don’t count on so-called “facts” provided by people who have a vested interest in the status quo.

The lies about health care by the NHS are grossly offensive to people in the UK. However if I were a US citizen I would also be grossly offended by the spread of disinformation being spread in this campaign. For more information about the lies and how false they are, there are a number of links to further information :-

And as for the UK people, well we moan about the NHS amongst ourselves but as has been shown in the last week we certainly defend the NHS when it comes to outside attack. One way of judging the success of the NHS is that no sane political party would attempt to dismantle it – if they managed it, they would probably never be elected again. If you watch US media, you will probably be familiar with a certain Conservative politician (Daniel Hannan) who does attack the NHS. He belongs (at present – his future is quite possibly in doubt) to the lunatic fringe of the Conservative party and the party leaders have dismissed his views.

Whilst most people in the UK would greatly like to see the NHS improved by the investment of more money, there is no way that they would trade the system they have for the system in the US.