Tag Archives: snake

BAD HACKS: Andrew Neil is a sewage snake | TheCritique Archives

Andrew Neil: his slant on sewage-related litter on Scottish beaches smacks of deliberate misinformation.

A few weeks ago, my curiosity was piqued by a tweet from right-wing broadcaster Andrew Neil, as follows:

It was an innocent question; I don’t know anything about tidal flows between England and Scotland (why should I?), and there really is an awful lot of ordure being pumped into English waters right now.

The response I received was astonishing – particularly in political terms. Example:

It turns out I was right to question this information; I was just mistaken about the basis for questioning it.

Thankfully we have Martin Odoni of The Critique Archives to put us straight.

Here he is:

Note the pains Neil goes to quite needlessly to stress that the authority responsible for overseeing sewer overflows is a nationalised utility, subtly encouraging readers to imagine that the problem is caused by ‘inefficient public industry.’ But also, look closely at his claim and see if you can spot where he might be fiddling the arithmetic.

The Times offers a similar spin on this in its headline, but look closer at the text, and you soon realise we are being deliberately misled.

Sewage-related debris made up 17.9 per cent of litter on beaches in Scotland, compared with an average of 8.9 per cent on beaches throughout the UK in 2022.

– The Times

What the MCS have actually found is that there is an eight-times-higher proportion of sewage-debris in the litter on Scottish beaches than in the litter on English or Welsh beaches. That would only mean there is eight times as much sewage on Scottish beaches as on English ones if there is exactly the same quantity of litter on Scottish beaches. The ‘eight-times-the-proportion’ figure does not substantiate the claim that there is eight times the total.

It seems the real difficulty that the MCS was trying to draw attention to is there is a lack of monitoring of sewage outlets in Scotland compared with the rest of the UK, so we do not actually know the accurate amount of sewage debris on Scottish beaches, or even of litter in general.

There does appear to be proportionally more litter on Scottish beaches (492 items per 100m) than on English beaches (309 per 100m), but that information only comes from volunteer clean-up operations and so is unscientific.

“Moreover,” Mr Odoni adds,

the English coastline is 2,748 miles long. The Scottish coastline is well over twice as long at 6,160 miles, due to the considerably greater ‘zig-zagging’ of Scottish beaches and the extensive peninsulae, which would substantially mitigate the bare amounts of litter involved.

This is not to say that Scotland doesn’t have a sewage-related litter problem:

On balance from what information there is, there probably is somewhat more sewage-debris on Scottish beaches than on English ones.

But This Writer can wholeheartedly join with Mr Odoni in suggesting:

The snake-ish attempt by Neil to give the impression that it is eight times higher, and that purely to smear nationalised companies, is a vintage example of how misleading his brand of ‘journalism’ is.

Source: Andrew Neil is a sewage snake | TheCritique Archives

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Free’s a crowd in Tory-run NHS hospitals

Free's a crowd (as far as your Tory government is concerned): Our hospital wards don't yet look like this (it's a ward in India during a Malaria outbreak) but it's just a matter of time.

Free’s a crowd (as far as your Tory government is concerned): Our hospital wards don’t yet look like this (it’s a ward in India during a Malaria outbreak) but it’s just a matter of time.

Today, yr obdt srvt spent the morning at Breconshire War Memorial Hospital, where Mrs Mike underwent a few tests before being booked in for an operation at the end of the month.

We didn’t wait long to be seen. The surgeon made his checks, asked “When would you like to have the operation?” and booked it for the very first opportunity available.

We get freedom of choice in the Welsh NHS, you see.

I couldn’t help but comment: “NHS Wales is a mess, says Westminster.”

Conversation ensued, with us all (including the nurse) agreeing that the Tories in government don’t have a clue what they’re talking about – and in any case they don’t have a right to complain because they have withdrawn a disproportionate amount of funding from the NHS in Wales. The surgeon actually compared our politicians to a pit of snakes.

The conversation followed on very well from one I had with a friend last night, about those problems the service is known to be experiencing in Accident and Emergency. They aren’t any different from those affecting the health service in England, and have less to do with the quality of care than they have to do with bed-blocking.

Put simply: Wards are full of people with long-term care needs who have nowhere to go, because they have no family or friends who are willing to take them in and look after them. This means people admitted to A&E cannot be moved into the wards, so their places cannot be taken by new admissions – and this means ambulances start backing up outside the hospitals. Then there are no ambulances available for new emergency calls, because they are still carrying the patients they picked up at the last call.

That’s overly simplistic, but hopefully the point is made.

The Conservative-led Coalition government is perfectly content to let this go on because “Free’s a crowd” in the Tory health system.

Back in the 1970s, when my own grandmother started to get too old and infirm to live on her own, my parents took her into our house. They got the benefit of an extra pair of eyes to look after myself and my brother (Beastrabban), and the household was boosted by the addition of her pension (or rather, the part of it that she agreed to pay for her keep).

It was a very good arrangement.

And it begs the question: Are people now so selfish – so determined to avoid the responsibilities incurred by looking after the people who once looked after them – that they are actively trying to avoid the benefits that can be gained from such an arrangement?

Or (to mess up a metaphor) are we a nation so schizoid that we think cutting off our nose will improve our face?

That’s an attitude that started back in the Tory-dominated 1980s, if my memory serves me correctly.

It occurs to me that (and again, I am oversimplifying) the crisis in A&E is the price we all pay for that kind of behaviour.

It won’t be solved with money.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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