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Friday, 5 December, 2008

Sarah McDermott | 15:50 UK time, Friday, 5 December 2008

Here's what's in store on tonight's Newsnight:

SHANNON MATTHEWS
An independent review is to be held into the contact social services had with the family of Shannon Matthews before she disappeared. Kirklees Council said the review would investigate the dealings of all agencies. It's emerged that a critical psychological report was made five years ago on Shannon's mother, who was convicted yesterday of kidnapping her. The safeguarding and protection of children is at the heart of social work, but with high profile cases - such as Shannon Matthews, Baby P and the rapist who impregnated his daughters 19 times - the role of social work and the coordination between social workers, teachers and health service workers is yet again under intense scrutiny. We'll be discussing whether we put social workers under intolerable pressure, whether the system is failing, and whether some practitioners are simply not up to the job.

ZIMBABWE
"A further illustration of the misrule of Zimbabwe's rogue government" was how the Foreign Secretary David Miliband today described the crisis in Zimbabwe. The outbreak of cholera there - and the declaration of a national health emergency - has led to renewed calls for Robert Mugabe to step down. Zimbabwe's medical and water treatment systems have all but disappeared and an easily preventable disease is turning into an epidemic. David Miliband's statement followed Condoleezza Rice who said it was well past time for Mugabe to leave office. We are bidding for a ministerial interview on how the international community can best help Zimbabwe, and whether we are impotent to influence political change there.

BANKS
Some mortgage lenders say they won't be passing on the interest rate cut in full, including Halifax and Nationwide. Gordon Brown says he is speaking to banks to convince them to reflect the one percent reduction in all of their mortgages. Abbey and Alliance & Leicester are among the lenders who say their standard variable rates are still under review. Alex Ritson will have the latest on this story. He'll also have further evidence of the downturn with half a million jobs lost in the US last month, the biggest monthly rise in unemployment for 34 years.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    THE DOG THAT DIDN'T BARK

    Peter Hain is exonerated. So that's alright then. Whatever happened to the think tank that didn't think? No mention of it in the news. Call for Holmes.

  • Comment number 2.

    energy prices at new lows yet retail energy prices still tied to july high.

    who benefits?

  • Comment number 3.

    TERRITORIAL INTRUDER INHIBITION

    As I never stop insisting - we are animals. It is mooted that with male territorial animals, an 'intruder' male loses some advantage in fighting-resolve, while the incumbent is 'strengthened'. Might it be that this disempowerment, is echoed in the human female? Most social workers are female; do they suffer disempowerment in the home of another female? Has this ever been established/admitted? We are all very adept at avoiding unflattering truths, both to self and others. Could this be an unacknowledged factor?

  • Comment number 4.

    HOME AND AWAY

    There is a telling irony that Condoleezza sees fit to criticise Mugabe, saying: "Well past time he went" when the words are so applicable nearer home.

    Meanwhile, in another part of the wood (that we are far from out of) Miliband D declares - with Oliver Hardy aplomb: "A further illustration of the misrule of Zimbabwe's rogue government". All I can say is: "Well Mr Miliband, you should recognise a rogue government if anyone can!"




  • Comment number 5.

    #2

    "Because gas and electricity companies buy energy on the wholesale market many months before they sell it, supplies for this winter have already been purchased and paid for. Even if wholesale costs continue to decrease, there could be a considerable time lag between price falls for energy providers and those that may be passed on to consumers."

    Taken from:

    http://www.fool.co.uk/news/money-saving-tips/household-bills/2008/11/28/the-future-for-energy-prices.aspx

    The energy companies bought forward to hedge the risk of possible price rises (that many expected). We see, now we know what happened to prices, it would have been better for customers if they had not hedged the risk. If prices had risen it would have been a different story.

    Who benefits? Anyone who sold forward. That is the nature of insurance (hedging is similar). If you sell insurance you keep the premium if the insured does not claim. If you don't claim you wish you hadn't insured. But you still insure for next year. No point criticizing those who sold forward for taking their profits; if they couldn't do that they would not be willing to risk losses next time.

    The energy companies need cash to pay for the fuel they bought forward (payment is on delivery). They cannot borrow that from the banks. They must charge customers. If companies cannot pass on costs to customers they will go out of business.

  • Comment number 6.

    Profit or Prophet?

    An E-Mail recieved today.

    Tam Jefferson
    When we get piled apon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe. T.J.

    The democracy will cease to excist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. T.J.

    It is incumbant on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world. T.J.

    I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the goverment from wasting the labors of the people under pretense of taking care of them. T.J.

    My reading of history convinces me that most bad goverment results from too much goverment. T.J.

    No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. T.J.

    The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in goverment. T.J.

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with blood of patriots and tyrants. T.J.

    To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinfull and tryannical. T.J.

    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow PRIVATE BANKS to control the issue of their currancy, first by inflation, then by defalation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. Thomas Jefferson 1802.



    Are We There Yet ?

  • Comment number 7.

    Emperor Napolion ?

    The British are a Nation of Shopkeepers?

    only half right big nose, take the sh out of shop and the eep out of keepers and it could be a Close Shave

    BAA!

  • Comment number 8.

    Should we ask why we need Social Services to protect children from their parents and/or guardians?
    Should we also ask what sort of listening these children have access to?
    Should we also ask whether the media, so active in condemning, offer few examples of positive imagery and behaviour and are eager to emphasise the negative?
    Should we even ask what examples the general public demonstrate?

  • Comment number 9.

    Looks like the government are doing to try to solve the problem by printing money and hiding how much they are printing:

    http://www.order-order.com/2008/12/something-odd-in-banking-bill.html

    God, I hate this appalling government.

  • Comment number 10.

    #6

    "The democracy will cease to excist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. T.J."

    Good point.

    Democracy ceased to exist when socialism took over. That happened when we gave every person (with minor restrictions) a vote. Socialism puts power in the hands of those who do not earn it.

  • Comment number 11.

    #9

    "Looks like the government are doing to try to solve the problem by printing money and hiding how much they are printing:........

    God, I hate this appalling government."

    Good idea. The money supply has collapsed.

    I still hate them! For everything else.

  • Comment number 12.

    ...there could be a considerable time lag between price falls for energy providers and those that may be passed on to consumers."..

    that would be more believable if british gas had not sent out a letter with a graph in aug showing the july spike and saying that is where prices are and likely to go higher. how much time lag was that price hike?

    We are 5 months from the july high.

    petrol prices have moved down.

    Why is centrica making 70% profit from gas storage.

    they also said at the time only 10% of the price was speculation when in fact we see a drop of 100 dollars from july spike.

    its a trick and a con. just like their obscure pricing. the regulator is in bed asleep.

  • Comment number 13.

    DOES TRUTH/INTEGRITY REALLY MATTER IN LIBERAL-DEMOCRACIES?

    barrie (#1) "Whatever happened to the think tank that didn't think?"

    Well said.

    But sadly, as I said a while back, these people are 'coherence' talkers, they don't do 'correspondence'.

    When much of the (assumed) audience has an attention span close to that of those with ADHD, what does one expect their Focus Group driven advisors to advise? Maybe they need to consider their sampling?

    Those who see through this nonsense just don't count in a democracy.

    As an aside, Kirsty Walk appears to be more feminine these days, at least at the start of the programmes. That's a sincere, positive remark, for what it's worth.

    Anyone watched 'Behind Closed Doors'? ;-)

  • Comment number 14.

    ...Analysts said that the big six gas and electricity firms should be able to cut prices by as much as 10 per cent within weeks - after a year when bills have soared by as much as 50 per cent.

    Gas and electric generation prices are inextricably linked to the price of oil and David Hunter, of energy consultants McKinnon & Clarke, said the ‘big six’ firms should have room for ‘double digit’ reductions as soon as January.....

    yet they companies say they might cut in may. which would be a 10month lag from the july spike. yet prices went up within a month.

    all the evidence points to a rigged market

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1092343/Pass-falling-oil-prices-cut-household-bills-energy-firms-told.html

  • Comment number 15.

    ...AS customers will receive an early Christmas gift from Manx Gas – a reduction of up to almost £400 off annual fuel bills.

    Managing director of Manx Gas Alan Bates said: 'We are delighted to be able to bring the cost of gas down this winter. We are able to bring our prices down.

    We promised we would do this, and are really pleased to be able to deliver on that promise in time for Christmas.'


    if they can do it why not everyone else?

    http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/Gas-price-cuts-announced.4758243.jp

  • Comment number 16.

    13thMan (#10) "Democracy ceased to exist when socialism took over. That happened when we gave every person (with minor restrictions) a vote. Socialism puts power in the hands of those who do not earn it."

    Interesting statement. I take it you appreciate that this was the gist of the argument between the Bolsheviks (Lenin, Stalin etc) and the Mensheviks (which initially included Trotsky) who were essentially taking on monarchy (the Tsar). The Bolsheviks argued for a vanguard, an inner party, as they knew that the majority were not educable enough - ('children' need guidance). Parliamentary democracy up until the Demographic Transition did not comprise universal suffrage. The latter is closer to Trotskyism/anarchism and is more than naive, it's seditious as we are now witnessing.

    Democratic Centralism (Stalinism/Maoism) despite its flaws, is still a form of democracy.

  • Comment number 17.

    Post 16 JJ

    democratic centralism ( ) despite its flaws, is still a form of demockcrapsay

    Eh NAH !
    not in my dook/book

  • Comment number 18.

    Bookhimdano (#14) What you didn't quote from one of your sources was:

    "A spokesman for energy regulator Ofgem said: 'In the findings from our energy market probe we found no evidence that the lag in passing wholesale price changes to customers is greater when they are falling than when they are increasing. But we continue to monitor.'"

    Are energy suppliers tied into time contracts when they make their purchases? If so, how can they cut (or raise prices immediately? I agree that the market isn't working, but surely one has to be fair?

  • Comment number 19.

    dAllen169 (#17) "Eh NAH ! not in my dook/book"

    Then throw your dook/book away. Western (Capitalist?) propaganda has simply vilified a different form of democracy. It may not be the best there is in many people's eyes, but given China's progress (and that of the USSR in its Stalinist decades) one has to look at the system rationally.

    That is not being done by many, possibly at their expense?

  • Comment number 20.

    What a differance a day makes

    nah nah nah nah nah
    and the differance is youooo

    well in tha case of Tam Jefferson how many days since ate teen o 2 ( 2 being the NO )

    30.000 + days later and we have learn ned

    ZILCH

    In the back of me ead son
    Carefull yull have someone's aye out

  • Comment number 21.

    There is no POINT in talking about what African leaders will DO. They will do nothing. They will always protect their own, and to them Mugabe is a hero. They come from the "freedom struggle" generation, they will never do anything against one of their own. The world has been saying "enough" for years, African leaders - not even secretly - adore the absolute power and tyranny he exemplifies. He is one of the brothers, they will never act against him. All their words are weasel, all their "concerns" subterfuge, all their consultations mere window dressing.

    Africa is a profoundly sick continent, and it is nothing to do with distant colonial times, it is to do with the current leaders.

  • Comment number 22.

    As a pensioner with modest savings I am sick of the pressure to reduce interest rates when it will cut my income and , as it seems its the only thing GB is interested in , spending power.
    Does it not occur to anyone that the thing to do is raise interest rates to increase investment and saving which will put money in the banks which they can then lend out? Instead of throwing money at the banks GB should have subsidised mortgages for those in deep trouble by paying the interest on the loan. That way the money would still reach the banks while removing the pressure on motgageholders

  • Comment number 23.

    with an A not an E, JJ

    Fair? comment JJ maybe.

    The other cpl threw and burned books away.
    Not Me.

    Got no real concerns about Russia and China
    at present, The looneeticks running the uk nut house do concern me Greatly.

    Another fine Mess you have got me in to, is the biggest understatement since the big bang.
    I refuse to be jaded Jean.
    keep/gone fishing

  • Comment number 24.

    beachhutman (#21) Or their low mean IQ?

    If this is the case, they are, genetically speaking, effectively 'children' relative to some other nations. As such they need sound management so their populations can grow stronger. This requires patriarchial government, not Liberal-Democracy. Those who assert otherwise are not being kind, or humanistic, just predatory. That, I conjecture, is how the Democratic-Centralists (the PRC), who currently advise them, are operating, and I confess to knowing no better.

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    Zergon (#22) "As a pensioner with modest savings I am sick of the pressure to reduce interest rates when it will cut my income and , as it seems its the only thing GB is interested in , spending power.
    Does it not occur to anyone that the thing to do is raise interest rates to increase investment and saving which will put money in the banks which they can then lend out?"

    I get the Kafkaesque message that this is largely about some (where SOME =NOT(ALL)) leeching from those who don't fully appreciate that ALL=(NOT(SOME)).

    That a minority account for the majority of offending is not in doubt.

    Think wider.

  • Comment number 27.

    MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE? (modified)

    Recently we have heard much of the 'bad guy' being 'taken out' with a rocket from a drone plane in (and around) Afghanistan. I seem to remember footage of such drones being operated by British forces? So, clearly, we are choosing not to molest Mugabe. I can only assume we are hoping someone will tidy up the mess we made, for us? Why don't we get a coalition of the fawning to label him a terrorist (we attached a ‘bad leader’ to a terrorist leader before - can't be difficult to do it again).
    Then we can do a bit of War on Terror.

    Or is there, as usual, a 'long game' being played, of which we know nothing? One that necessitates Mugabe be left free to heap misery on millions, to ensure some future advantage to our ambitions in that country. Ethical dimension eh?


  • Comment number 28.

    (#24)
    African states have a bare half century of independence and self government. They have no roots in what we call democracy. That doesn't excuse the appalling governance, but it helps to explain. (Like the Gulf states, where camels to Cadillacs in a generation created huge problems).

    There is no point the colonial powers beating themselves up over this situation. They were chucked out when their 20th century concern for "human rights" and "democracy" meant they had to leave instead of subdue.

    But there is not the depth of "democracy", "respect of individuals", the inbred history of "western values", value for life, too few educated (in country or out) politicians, to make a difference in the direction "we" would like to see the continent move.

    It will go on as it is. They will go on murdering their enemies for a hundred years. They do not see that is wrong. Rwanda, Congo, Sudan. That is Africa, that is how it is.

    So Mugabe? He is African, he is one of the brothers, and the other brothers see nothing wrong with what he does, killing his people, making himself rich, bleeding the enemy tribes, maintaining power by brute force, with his thugs, his threats, his power of life and death.

    That is not how the powers left the continent on independence, some sort of carelessness or failure, it was there before they arrived, and it reverted when they left. Africa must address its own problems, we are helpless to change them.

  • Comment number 29.

    barrie (#27) You presumably said it too boldly the first time?

    I guess that would be very convenient?

    The problem is that the 1.4 billion PRC would not be too happy diplomatically/economically - and we have no desire to upset such an asset (holder)...doesn't it makes anyone wonder why they took on such a liability...............

  • Comment number 30.

    SOME ETHICAL DIMENSIONS ARE SHORTER THAN OTHERS (#29)

    Thanks JJ. I did wonder, but my geopolitics are not much better than my other faculties).

    I am sure Miliband D has it all in hand.

  • Comment number 31.

    #26
    "Does it not occur to anyone that the thing to do is raise interest rates to increase investment and saving which will put money in the banks which they can then lend out?"

    Raising interest rates would tend to reduce investment. Investment (typically) involves borrowing money and so incurring interest charges. I think perhaps you confuse saving and investment. (Putting money into bank accounts and buying shares* etc. is saving, not investment, even if the bank calls it an investment account. Investment means buying new productive assets or enhancing existing ones.)

    (* unless the shares are new issues, when it might be investment).

    If rates are high enough to encourage extra saving the banks may be paying interest without being able (willing?) to lend. That would deplete capital at a time when banks need to increase it. That could lead to another run and that really would be disaster.

    It is worth noting that apparently low rates may not be as bad as they seem. If inflation is low, the real rate (quoted rate minus inflation) may holding up. (Inflation IS low. Ignore the idiots who say otherwise. All talk about inflation because CPI/RPI changes are at 3 or 4 % is nonsense. Right now, prices are flatish, possibly heading down. The 3 and 4 % tell what has already happened. It is completely irrelevant. If prices are falling, even zero quoted interest represents real interest, as the spending power of money increases.

  • Comment number 32.

    SHANNON MATTHEWS
    i think that there should be some heads of some social services agencies should roll...because this type of incident, never had to happend...

  • Comment number 33.

    ZIMBABWE:
    Robert Mugabe, should be willing to leave office and allow for another free and fair election to happen in Zimbabwe..



    BANKS:
    The banking industry needs some reinvention and rebuilding ...

  • Comment number 34.

    29. At 00:13am on 06 Dec 2008, JadedJean

    ...doesn't it makes anyone wonder why they took on such a liability...............


    Maybe the plan is to lead the world with how 'we' (well, one bloke at least) do things 'here', and simply go 'whoops, we blew it (all). Ah, well, how's about you let us write it off and we'll call it quits. You're rich and we're not, so that was never fair, really.... [manic grin]'.

    Might happen and they'll buy it.

  • Comment number 35.

    shopkeepers

    opkers?

    sheep?

    shoppers?

    abused child in the UK £2/week
    sick child in the UK - no fixed price
    abused animal in the UK £1/week
    abused donkey somewhere outside Europe £3/week
    abused child somewhere outside Europe £4.20/week

    see - shopping can still be fun-ctional

    soical workers - a minister pronounced in a recent Radio4 programme that wrt to case work 'professional judgement alone is not enough' - well, I've heard of getting a second opinion but that's quite different from suggesting that we should never be able to rely on a professional judgement alone. so, if that is the case, what does the professional bit mean? should we stop seeing social work as a profession and take the pressure off social workers who do not wish to decide if abuse is taking place or not? JDimbleby's Any Questions yesterday included pronouncements that 72 visits to Baby P should surerly have resulted in detection of abuse, but this criticism was so painfully delivered and with so much emphasis on the arduous nature of social work that one wonders just how many times a social worker could visit a client and fail to detect abuse and still be considered professional to the professional classes.

  • Comment number 36.

    mugabe - ebagum, says it all really. africa is waiting for change, it won't be long, the barack effect will take hold and we could see immense changes sweep the continent in a short space of time; some deal with China involved too I expect.

  • Comment number 37.

    in the energy tribune we read

    Some analysts have blamed the U.K. s high gas prices on the poor progress of Europe?s gas market liberalization. However, naïve politicians and utility executives are also to blame for their belief that building gas infrastructure capacity alone would solve the underlying supply, contract, and market issues. Indeed, a key problem is that the U.K. gas and power market is still highly concentrated among six major utilities: Centrica, EDF Energy, E.ON U.K., RWE, Scottish Power, and Scottish & Southern Energy.

    Ofgem, the U.K. energy regulator, uses the Herfindahl-Hirschman Indices to gauge competition in the marketplace. An H.H.I. rating of less than 1,000 is considered competitive, with anything over 1,800 a highly concentrated market. According to Ofgem, the U.K.s power market has an H.H.I. rating of 3,137 and the gas market has a rating of 3,356. That type of market concentration leaves the U.K. vulnerable to market manipulation.

    The U.K. needs to move beyond the system in place, which is dominated by short-term gas trading done by a small group of suppliers and utilities. It needs a combination of short, medium, and long-term contracts among a range of pipeline and LNG suppliers and a more diversified group of gas shippers and physical traders with access to additional storage, LNG, and pipeline capacity. This would encourage the commitment of actual gas to the U.K. before winter, rather than having it languish in Europe until a lack of gas in the U.K. pushes prices up to an attractive point for suppliers and utilities.

    so in the uk the regulator has evidence and knows we have a fill yer boots energy market run but the 'more money for us' brigade but do nothing and talk politically..

    the govt like high prices because it makes it easier to sell nuclear.

    and they still um and ah about a feed in tariff.


    http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm?aid=1044

  • Comment number 38.

    EVIDENCE BASED PRACTICE

    doctormisswest (#35) "a minister pronounced in a recent Radio4 programme that wrt to case work 'professional judgement alone is not enough' - well, I've heard of getting a second opinion but that's quite different from suggesting that we should never be able to rely on a professional judgement alone. so, if that is the case, what does the professional bit mean?"

    What it means is that 'professional judgement' is in practice just a tacit application of limited actuarial judgement.
    Another term for the latter is 'Evidence Based (or Driven) Practice').

    This point has been made for some time (decades) but it's still the case that many in the helping professsions prefer to go by their own limited 'professional' judgement. The evidence is that they should not do this as personal experience is always limited. Those who think otherwise are arrogant, ignorant and basically unprofessional.

    In recent years there has been a move towards actuarially driven practice, at least in Offender Management. This is often ignorantly criticised by those who should know better as the 'tick-box' approach.

  • Comment number 39.

    it is now Saturday... apropos Thursday and Frid prog.....

    Dear Newsnight... discuss:
    The answer lies in the soil....

    Deglobalise, let us become self-sufficient in food production by old methods to protect environment.
    Start up manufacturing again so that we are not sending all our spending power cash (whether low wages or the dole) to fascist/communist China.

    Find alternatives to oil fast.... so that we are not sending the rest of our money to Islamist fascist states (and just what did happen to North Sea Oil etc? The Danes preserved theirs I believe Gordon)!

    Start up some 'Grands Projets', e.g. decent transport systems in our cities for starters -instead of the highly poisonous (diesel particulates) so called 'iconic' red bus

    Unemployed bankers and the rest of the (there are 5 million benefit recipients) 'unemployed' could work a 4 hour day for their dole to get all this up and running... Otherwise, indeed, 'what has been going around for a long time in ex -colonial 'poor' countries may come around' !

  • Comment number 40.

  • Comment number 41.

    a professional judgement is based on two premises:

    1. that the person has the necessary education, qualifications and thus knowledge of a topic to exercise expert opinion

    2. that the person with the expert opinion is of sufficient moral standing to be trusted to deliver their educated opinion objectively without inteference from personal prejudices or feelings

    the new professions such as conference organisation, PR, marketing etc. in the corporate sector take the use of the word professional to mean a code of conduct borrowed from the old professions but there are differences.

    of course experience builds a professional opinion into somthing even more robust over time which is why professional elders are respected as commentators on society

    so if i go to a lawyer or a doctor i would expect them to use their judgement based on superior knowledge to advise the best course of actions

    why should that process be any different in social work? why do we not see wise people on newsnight offering us hope that the problems of todays families are understood?

    the reason is because the more socially oriented professions have moved way from objective thinking and have instead focused on processing families based on targets rather than on professional judgement. the police force and education have done the same thing. doctors and lawyers being privatised operations have retained a more objective approach to expert opinion.

    objectively speaking, if several members of a department are concerned with the welfare of a child then that is an indication that something is amiss. for professionals however, the number one aim of any job is to stay in the job and that requires bending to institutional hierarchies. that is how it is possible to breed a distorted professional culture in which judgement is no longer valued.





  • Comment number 42.

    Mandelson is on the front page of The Sunday Post and other Scottish papers
    accused of 'bully-boy tactics' against the Merger Action Group which is arguing for
    a level playing field over the proposed
    HBOS/TSB Lloyds bank merger - where
    the Government waived competition rules,

    The case begins before the Competition Appeals Tribunal in London on Monday
    - but will be heard under Scots Law and
    appeals may go to the Court of Session:

    http://www.sundaypost.com/postindex.htm

    http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/politics/MSPs-hit-out-at-Mandelson.4769090.jp

  • Comment number 43.

    ACTUARIAL VS CLINICAL JUDGEMENT

    doctormisswest (#41) "why should that process be any different in social work? why do we not see wise people on newsnight offering us hope that the problems of todays families are understood?

    the reason is because the more socially oriented professions have moved way from objective thinking and have instead focused on processing families based on targets rather than on professional judgement."

    hat is this assertion based upon?

    We have had people on Newsnight talking sense on this issue. Recently, because of politcial exploitation of the 'Baby P' issue, it's as if what they said was never said. We can not offer greater hope than is realistic because these problems are going to grow as a consequence of changes to our demographics, one of the most important elements being our differential fertility, which means that there will be more people in the future who are in need of services than there will be competent service providers. Given that human abilities are largely genetic, this skew will not be corrected by appealing to more or better training, only by chnaging the population itself.

    Despite what you say, being objective requires social workers (and other professionals) not to follow their own personal judgement but to be guided instead by research driven risk assessments (usually regression based) using 'tick box' criteria. As I have said elsewhere, this battle has been won on Offender Management and is likely to impact more on the other helping professions given the emphasis on 'joined up government' services (e.g MAPPA). We have learned how and why 'professional judgement' is so often flawed, which is why so much work is now actuarially (rather than clinical/professional judgement) driven.

    Many non-professional (or poorly trained 'professional') people either do not understand the logic or research which has taken us to this position, or worse still, ignore it in favour of their limited peronal experience.

    I suggest you look up 'actuarial vs clinical' or 'actuarial vs professional judgement ' (Maybe beginning withteh Dawes, Faust and Meehl paper in Science in 1989 if you are not familiar with it) as this work has made significant changes for the better over the past couple of decades or so. The work is counter-intuitive, but then so is most informative research.

  • Comment number 44.

    Followup: See the reclatively recent review of Meehl's contribution by William M. Grove, "Clinical Versus Statistical Prediction: The Contribution of Paul E. Meehl", Journal of Clinical Psychology 61 (2005): 1233--1243 available as a pdf in the references to this note on this critically important issue for the efficacy of social work and wider behaviour risk assessment and management.

  • Comment number 45.

    SOMETHING TO PONDER

    December 2008. and still no White Paper, (or Newsnight coverage of this, which as ETS acknowledged a year last February, is something which those who have been looking at these things ('Foundations' etc) have been talking about this for well over a decade in preference to talking about 'climate change' and 'the environment' etc.).

    Can anyone hazard a guess why?

    Why did the USA election go the way that it did?

    I guess one might as well ask why Obama sounds like an Evangelist?

  • Comment number 46.

    'The Scotsman' reports this morning that Sir Sean Connery has now sent a message of
    support to the Merger Action Group that is taking Lord Mandelson to the Competition
    Appeal Tribunal over his waiver of normal
    competition rules in the proposed HBOS/
    Lloyds TSB merger. They also report that
    Ian Hamilton QC - who was involved in
    the plot to 'repatriate' the Stone of Destiny
    from Westminster Abbey on Christmas Eve 1950 and who along with John McCormack
    (father of the former Newsnight presenter
    Donald McCormack) challenged the Lord
    Advocate in 1953 over the use of an oath
    of allegiance to 'Queen Elizabeth II' (sic)
    for advocates in Scotland, arguing that
    there was only ever one Queen Elizabeth
    up here in Scotland! - has weighed into
    this latest patriotic battle by arguing that Mandelson's threat to pursue the Merger
    Action Group individually for costs in this
    case if he wins is "stupid and ignorant".
    Hamilton points out that in the case in
    1953 it is established that under Scots
    Law a legal precedent was set that in
    Scotland applicants are not liable for costs under public interest legal challenges. An
    SNP MP is also calling for Mandelson to be brought before the Bar of The UK House of Commons to explain his 'bully boy tactics'!

    http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/latestnews/39Bullying-stupid-ignorant39--.4769763.jp

    NB A new film about 'The Stone of Destiny'
    and Ian Hamilton stars Robert Carlyle ......

  • Comment number 47.

    ANOTHER FADING FACET (#45)

    As our culture, progressively, mediates against individual maturity, the impact of charisma/oratory/rhetoric (tools of the evangelist) on the unsophisticated mind, is all-powerful. (Think Blair.)

    Evangelism is tiresome. Never follow a bloke who says "follow me". (Think Blair.)

    Only by optimising individual competence in living, might mankind ever be less than a mess.

    I'll get me cryogenic chamber.

  • Comment number 48.

    Aha JJ, so what is wrong with the way the USA election went? Interesting that rather than discuss his policy stance on any particular issue, you link, in your usual racially-driven way, to a site which details the ethnic mix of the US electorate. Do you perhaps have a problem with Obama's race or just with that of (some of) those who voted for him? I your first link too, though the evidence shows that there are growing disparities between ethnic groups and increasing skills gaps, this does not have to be put down to the ethnic origin of those in the lowest percentiles but can also be attributed to the normal functioning of a capitalist economy in which the lowest paid also tend to be the most socially disadvantaged and these tend to be in immigrant groups. I realise you will dismiss this as prejudice but I think you should really start to look at your own massive bigotry. The report you link to shows that "More importantly, these skills are not evenly .
    distributed across groups defined by race/ethnicity,
    country of birth, and socioeconomic status. In fact,
    there are substantial differences in average proficiencies
    among these groups that influence their
    social, educational, and economic opportunities." ie, it is a class issue rather than a race issue. The other issue dealt with in this broadcast, namely that of Shannon Matthews, shows that the ill-educated and socially incompetent "underclass" (which, by the way, I come from, having been brought up on the Whitehawk (with the emphasis on white) estate in Brighton in the 70s) is one informed and caused by social dislocation rather than some supposed ethnic difference in IQ or other spurious intelligence measures.

  • Comment number 49.

    citizenthompson (#48) "The report you link to shows that "More importantly, these skills are not evenly distributed across groups defined by race/ethnicity, country of birth, and socioeconomic status. In fact, there are substantial differences in average proficiencies among these groups that influence their social, educational, and economic opportunities." ie, it is a class issue rather than a race issue."

    You appear to have missed the points once again. The first point was that ETS and others have been warning about these demographic trends for some time. The second is that it looks like it is largely genetic. The third is that there has been no 'environmentalist' White Paper from them or anyone else. The fourth is that the link to the USA Census site shows the projected change in the USA's demographics up to 2050 when European Americans will become a minority. Like it or not, it was Europeans not Afrcians or Hispanics who built most of the Amercian culture. The ordering of mean IQ is East Asian Americans. European Amercians, Hispanic Amercians. African Amercians.

    Whilst it is not a skin colour per se which matters, such phenotypes do serve as factors which drive assortive mating and thus sustain gene barriers (i.e races/classes). A class is just a group (and thus a race can be a class). Group membership is one way in which genetic homogeneity is sustained. If you read 'The Bell Curve' 1994 (which is one of the earlier drivers of this 'Perfect Storm' you'll (hopefully) learn two things. 1) That the case made by Herrnstein and Murray was about CLASS not about race per se, and that 2) classes are sustained by gene-barriers, i.e phenotypes. These are physical expression of genes as somatic attributes and behaviours, which limit gene flow. 3) Sadly we have no good evidence that environmental interventions make much difference. The faith that they do is an old discredited, Lysenkoist notion peddled by scientifically ignorant Marxists and others who are unfamilair with all the failed efforts (e.g. HeadStart) to make a difference over the past half century.

    Finally, your personal background is irrelevant. You're just factually wrong and you need to come to terms with that. Given that this has all been explained to you before (and references have been provided), are we to conclude that you have a hard time learning or that you have concrete empirical evidence which is at odds with what I have said? If the latter, why am I unaware of it? Let's see it. I'm telling you how it really is based on what we know from decades of emprical research rather than what some evangelical speechwriter would like their paymaster to have electorates on eiher side of the Atlantic believe.

  • Comment number 50.

    SCIENTIFICALLY IGNORANT MARXIST - MOI? (#49)

    "Sadly we have no good evidence that environmental interventions make much difference."

    JJ, surely, since man eschewed the role of 'enhanced ape' he has progressively become detached from any baseline of 'normality'. We are now so screwed, in terms of pairing, gestation, nutrition, birth, nurture, adaptation (absorbing skills of the day) and a host of other anomalous attachment, that any RECENT intervention is applied to, and measured against, a distorted substrate. I suggest deductions from such are suspect.

  • Comment number 51.

    JJ, why would you think that the past 50 years is any sort of measure. All animals change and adapt to circumstances (it's called evolution) and you do not have to be a lysenkoist (although actually there is some evidence through epigenetics in the past 5 years that he may actually have been partially right) to see that social change brings about change in the way people adapt to their environment, including their levels of "intelligence". You say that my personal background does not matter but the fact that I went from being a functionally illiterate car-stealing chav at the age of 14 to a senior academic today shows that 1. people can change and their characters are not set in genetic stone and 2. I don't actually have a problem with learning things. What I have a problem with is arrogant people who believe that what they think is the pure truth, when, as we all know, scientific truth is only true until it is proven wrong.

  • Comment number 52.

    THE WAY THE US ELECTION WENT (#48)

    " . . what is wrong with the way the USA election went?"

    It was far too much like the election of Tony Blair - that's what is wrong.

    They have elected a lawyer-mind in a money-no-object election, in which his charsima/oratory/empty rhetoric, dazzled a mass of unsophisticated people of all 'configurations' and educational presumptions.

    Britain saw lawyer-mind Blair in much the same light the US currently sees Obama - at the start. It went sour, and ended badly. Who would now put the Blair we KNOW in charge of Britain? Do they really know Obama?

  • Comment number 53.

    barrie, thanks for the, ummmm, support, I think, and I'm glad you put speech marks round the 'normality bit'. I guess the point is that what we have now is normality and it is no good wishing it wasn't. In a hundred years time it will be a different normality and it will be partially based on what normality is now and where it takes us. JJ's wish to show that nothing has changed, that nothing can change because of some a-historical genetic trait is nothing more than the eternal and unchanging ideology of "nothing ever changes, except for the worse" conservatives. He just dresses it up in scientific drapery and then attacks everyone who disagrees with him as a dunce.

  • Comment number 54.

    Barrie I agree that Obama will disappoint in the same way as Blair did. The point I was actually making was about his race, which JJ seems to see as something of a problem, linking it, as he did above in #45, to the changing ethnic make-up of the US. Otherwise I think you are right about Obama and it would be wishful thinking to see it otherwise. I am though, both an inveterate wishful thinker and a sadder but wiser man after the event.

  • Comment number 55.

    HEAVEN HELP US

    citizenthompson (#51) "the fact that I went from being a functionally illiterate car-stealing chav at the age of 14 to a senior academic today shows that 1. people can change and their characters are not set in genetic stone and 2. I don't actually have a problem with learning things."

    Much has changed educationally over the past couple of decades. Now nearly half the population goes into Higher Education.

    People's behaviours are selected by their environments (current and past genetically) and they reinforced (change their frequencies/rates) by their outcomes (i.e. consequences). Behaviours themselves are emitted (operants). They are genetically selected and driven acts.

    What your responses clearly show is that you understand very little of what you are told, at least on the matter at hand. You clearly don't know the professional scientific research literature, nor do you understand the direction which the applied behaviour management professions are moving (see link on actuarial vs clinical judgement).

    But worst of all, you don't know when to listen.

  • Comment number 56.

    UNIVERSAL PERVERSITY - UNIVERSITY?

    Hi citizenthompson. I was never going to get to uni, and was far to cowardly to steal cars (respect) but when I found perversity, I knew it was for me.

    I simply pinched your rhetorical (and we know how I feel about - other peoples - rhetoric) question, and hitched my challenge to JJ onto it. What a mess! (Along with perversity, I am fond of obscurity.)

    Fundamentally, I see a cleverness-wisdom dipole that must be maintained. The problem is, that when we are far down the clever end (as now) we lose sight of the value of wisdom. In that sense, I suspect, it can only get worse. We are trying to cure the money/trade mess with more of the same. We want to address climate change in terms of 'cost now to cost later'. We see aid and trade as the answer to the 'error of subsistence'.

    Wisdom is too expensive to pursue.

    PS Your 'ummmmm' pure eloquence. It spoke volumes. (:o)

  • Comment number 57.

    In #49 JJ says 'Like it or not, it was Europeans not Afrcians or Hispanics who built most of the Amercian culture.' 1. this is doubtful. It depends of course on what you define as American culture but certainly in terms of its musical output alone, the role of African-Americans is enormous. 2. even if it were true, so what? Culture changes. In future it will be different, not necessarily worse or necessarily better but different. UK culture has changed, is changing (I happen to think largely for the better because it becomes more inclusive) not least because of the influence of other external cultures, the US foremost among them. Things change JJ, they get more complicated, racially and socially. Deal with it!

  • Comment number 58.

    You are right, JJ, I am not aware of all the professional scientific research on this but then it is not my area (though i don't think this should prevent me from commenting on it as an intersted participant/oberver), but the links you send me to are either a) written by anti-semitic lunatics and fascists; b) actually much more nuanced and complex then you present them, or c) just simply present factual information which it is then necessary to analyse. Just to be clear, I do not believe in the "Blank Slate" as Pinker calls it, but equally I do not believe that what we think and what we are in the world is entirely reducible to our genetic make-up. Neither does Pinker, I note. What I object to in your thinking is the idea that the "other", i.e. non WASP, is somehow inherently worse rather than different and that as a result any society in which the other has a place, let alone an increasing place, is going to go to hell in a handcart. Societies have changed over millenia, people have changed over millenia with them, it is a reciprocal relationship and it will bring some elements of change which we like and some which we don't like. What we have to avoid is the sort of dogmatism you apply to this change, as the only logical consequence I can see you drawing from your position is that the "other" should be kept out, down and marginalised, if not worse.

  • Comment number 59.

    CONFUSION

    How can anyone - including JJ - be anti Jew and then demand we all look at the statistics for who is clever?

    I am strongly of the view that, even if there had been no systematic extermination (and consequent collective guilt) many would still be inclined to treat the Jews in the same way that the 'class swot' is treated (sometimes quite violently). The class swot does not mix and keeps winning prizes. I don't know about the ladies; but blokes react badly.

    In World War II our blokes hated the Americans for scoring higher, in ways that mattered.

    If we are not open and honest about the simple stuff, the complex is going to be for-ever mired in squabbles.

  • Comment number 60.

    LOGICAL QUANTIFIERS: SOME=NOT(ALL) AND ALL=NOT(SOME)

    barrie (#59) Richard Herrnstein (the main driving force behind 'The Bell Curve' was Jewish, and Art Jensen is half Jewish. Both would, I am sure (having been victims of it themselves, and for other reasons), have testified to the idiocyncractic zeal with which this self-interested (if not 'racist', at one time designated so by the UN) Jewish political lobby pursues hegemony.

    One of the problems here in this blog is that zealots/ideolgues don't accurately read what's written (reading is intensional), instead, they make imputations/inferences. In my view such behaviour reveals confusion/low level of scientific 'literacy'.

    There is nothing clever or wise about such behaviour. It is often incorrigible.

    Just for the record, the author of this article is also Jewish, and when Lynn appeared on The Moral Maze programme on race and IQ a year or so ago, she backed him 100%. Citizenthompson simply does not understand this field, nor does he understand Pinker. People are entitled to their views (it's a tautology), but they should be prepared to have them corrected what their views are wrong. Those who refuse are bigots. Paradoxically, bigots are very common amongst the politically correct who tend to be unwitting Marxists.

  • Comment number 61.

    STEADY ON JJ

    Every time you write that: SOME=NOT(ALL)
    thing, my brain fuses. I have no clue what it is saying. I think it is the brackets. I can see the truth of: some = not all; what do the brackets do?

    Further, I could not define Marxist to save myself from being shot at dawn. (Sorry, that stereotype just me being genetically perverse - there I go again.)

    And that's just the start of my troubles . . .

  • Comment number 62.

    Wow, so many points to comment on. I can't even begin. Perhaps Newsnight should have an After Hours Bloggers Debate, can I be Oliver Read.

    Nobel Prizes, intelligence and ethnicity. Statistics. Iceland has the highest Nobel/population ratio. Also perhaps the wiser aren't interested in the subject areas of Nobels. Having one prize for economics skews the entire statistics.

    If the clever realise it is mostly about 'imaginary' money, will they have any real interest. Other prize areas have a broader catchment spectrum. So more competition.

    JJ puts links which I read. Some reference O'Wilson, Sociobiology. Which I have actually read. A key point is as any society becomes more complex, animal or human (or are they the same), culture plays an increasingly important role. We move away from the 'just genetic' basis.

    There can be faults or mutations in what we believe, so how we organise, or the goals of society can be wrong, or less than optimum. Our problems can be as much cultural, as in what society tells us to be the correct goal(s) are not, as they could be genetic.

    My dog who might suffer on some IQ tests, hampered by difficulty in holding a pen, but knew basic social skills. Not to bite or hurt people, to ask before taking something, and not to mess in the house or destroy things that weren't his (or if only told he could). Socialisation.

    Crime statistics. No academic should have any confidence or work with crime stats if they have no followed all the evidence back to the inception.

    Someone works in a nail bar. Decides they want to become a police officer. Go to Hendon for 18 weeks. Then you are permitted to 'make' witness statements. These are called evidence.

    Do academics working in social 'sciences' really understand, I mean really understand how the CJS really works. No because they have never been given a good kicking or tortured, because they wouldn't admit doing something they hadn't done. Its a numbers game. From bottom to top.

    Who is the real criminal, the boy in prison because the 'witness statement' said he dunnit. Or the lawyer who orders bombs to be dropped on children.

    Reoffending. Give a dog a bad name. Once someone has a criminal record most of societies doors are closed to them. The only jobs available are those you don't have to fill in an application form for. So what are the imposed options? Understand the real world.

    Climate change. Don't even get me started on the 99.9% of nonsense politicians and media present on the subject. I was only the original author of some of the most influential work on the subject. But as the BBC tell, I am not a media celebrity, so my view doesn't really count.

    Lysenko. Not really as daft as he has been made out, was he.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 63.

    LIBERAL 'THINKING'

    barrie (#61) Apart from the 'five' logical connectives (they can be reduced to NOT plus AND or NOT plus OR hence computing) there are 'two' logical quanifiiers: SOME and ALL. They are related as I have said. When discussing matters in earlier posts the assumption is that readers understand the nature of classes, the criteria for class membership, the existential (SOME) and universal (ALL) quantifiers (which are critical to deductive inference which is not a psychological operation, but a mechanical one) and the nature of probabilities/frequencies.

    All my remarks about racial/ethnic groups and IQ (or academic proxies such as our SATs which are highly correlated with IQ sub-tests as they are designed that way) are reliable and demonstrable at the population level (e.g. in our 4 x 600,000 or so Key Stage results in English, Maths and Science each year. Links to government data x ethnicity have been referenced before, as has much else. All of this is well known in the relevent professions, nor is it controversial internationally.

    That I or anyone else should have to keep making this point to people who clearly don't understand it, is, to be frank, tiresome, especially when some assert that they are 'academics'.

    It says in effect that some with 'alternative views' can't tell the difference between argument from ignorance and from knowledge. It's akin to listening to children angrily assert that they think TAN = opposite over hypotenuse or that 2+2 =5 regardless. This betrays a very serious confusion whioch is growing as dysgenesis advances.

    It's getting worse as we dumb down faster through increased differential fertility (education x 3). In time we will become a Third World country although the USA will sink first, and that has clearly started. Along the way, no doubt 'liberals' will argue about whether or not this is happening, proudly proclaiming what they do not believe and understand rather than listening to those who do.

  • Comment number 64.

    On a different note. The Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) has found that the Newsnight Report on Ecuador (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/7113903.stm%29 was inaccurate in its allegations.

    In particular the allegations that Hugo Chávez had given a quarter a billion dollars to Ecuador to face George Bush, and that oil company Occidental Petroleum was “kicked out” from Ecuador by it’s current government

    Will Newsnight be informing it's viewers of the mistakes made?

    If not, that will be a pretty poor show.

  • Comment number 65.

    KingCelticLion (#62) "Do academics working in social 'sciences' really understand, I mean really understand how the CJS really works. No because they have never been given a good kicking or tortured, because they wouldn't admit doing something they hadn't done. Its a numbers game. From bottom to top."

    You appear to be having an 'off-day'. Big-time.

  • Comment number 66.

    AGITPROP: NOT WHAT IT SEEMS

    barre (#61) Just to be clear, loosely speaking, in mathematical logic (and in 4GL programming) quantifiers range over some values of variable(s) which are (for example in a 4GL query) used to select or retrieve data from a database if a conditional is true/false.

    Political Correctness was explicitly a Gramsciist/Lukasian/Frankfurt School creation to undermine the Western status quo as these neo-Marxists didn't believe capitalism would collapse in on itself without a little anarchism to help it to do so. Studnets were to ve the unwitting vanguaged as they end up runing the show. They've largely achieved this in recent times, although many don't see themselves as doing as as their unwitting pawns who beleiev in equality and Human Rights we seem, prima facie rather noble. We're now going through the rather dire consequences. People used to say about Trotskyism (e.g. Militant Tendency and the SWP) that they could never work out what they were FOR. The answer is that they are not FOR anything. They are just interested in deconstruction and deregulation. That is, they are just interested in eroding the power of the state. The state was rather big in Stalin's USSR (see GOSBANK and GOSPLAN) and the Trotskyists didn't like that as they believed in democracy from below, not in 'state capitalism'. Think our old style banking system and Civil Service under Old Labour as 'Stalinist' and benevolent. Oddly enough, many Russians miss Stalin. I think it may be something to do with what the Neocons of the Chicago School did to them in the 1990s. Russians presently have the lowest TFRs in the world I believe. It's a sign that they are not too happy.

  • Comment number 67.

    I'll say that again (with less errors and without links):

    AGITPROP: NOT WHAT IT SEEMS

    Barrie (#61) Just to be clear, loosely speaking, in mathematical logic (and in 4GL programming) quantifiers range over some values of variable(s) which are (for example in a 4GL query) used to select or retrieve data from a database if a conditional is true/false.

    Political Correctness was explicitly a Gramsciist/Lukasian/Frankfurt School creation to undermine the Western status quo as these neo-Marxists didn't believe capitalism would collapse in on itself without a little anarchism to help it do so. Students were to be the unwitting vanguard as in time they end up running the show. Those behind this have largely achieved this in recent times, although many don't see themselves as having done so, as they're unwitting pawns who believe in equality and Human Rights which seem, prima facie, rather noble aspirations. The problem is that they are entirely at odds with what we know from science.

    We're now going through the rather dire consequences (see the ETS report Feb 2007 or Lynn in the mid 90s, Or John Raven for that matter). None of this is new, it was projected back in the 1930s by Cattell, another Watson like victim in recent times.

    People used to say about Trotskyism (e.g. Militant Tendency and the SWP) that they could never work out what they were FOR. The answer is that they were not FOR anything. They were just interested in deconstruction and deregulation. That is, they were just interested in eroding the power of the state. The state was rather big in Stalin's USSR (see GOSBANK and GOSPLAN) and the Trotskyists didn't like that as they believed in democracy from below much as Miliband does, like father like son), not in 'state capitalism'. Think our old style banking system and Civil Service under Old Labour as 'Stalinist' and benevolent. Oddly enough, many Russians miss Stalin. I think it may be something to do with what the Neocons of the Chicago School did to them in the 1990s. Russians presently have the lowest TFRs in the world I believe.

    It's a sign that they are not too happy.

  • Comment number 68.

    A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE

    Here is a century of Home Office crime data, i.e enough to show why it what matters that one looks to a cut off before 1981. Try scatter-plotting data against count for any of them.

    Here's a press report from last October, and one today on knife crime When concern over government statistics was debated in Parliament it was clear to all that this 'open and transparent' government was not too keen on openness and transparency.

 

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