Badgers and ash trees: victims of Tories' bonfire of regulations
Opinion digest: nihilist conservatism, force big pharma to publish, and Theresa May for leader?
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NIHILIST CONSERVATISM IS BURNING THE COUNTRYSIDE
GEORGE MONBIOT ON TORIES’ WAR ON NATURE
There was a time when conservatism meant defending the position of the dominant class by keeping things as they were. Now conservatism achieves the same aim by “smashing other people’s crockery” in a “nihilistic festival of destruction”, writes George Monbiot in The Guardian. The government has issued a “bonfire” of environmental regulations. Among those being downgraded are the rules controlling hazardous waste, air pollution, contaminated land, noise, light and the use of lead shot. “Ministers describe this as the shrinking of the state. In reality it's the shrinking of democracy. Regulation is the means by which civilised societies resolve their conflicts. It prevents the selfish and the powerful from spoiling the lives of others.” Deregulation is at the heart of the thinking behind the “mystifying” badger cull and it threatens to wipe out our ash trees, because we cannot ban imports of ash saplings infected with the deadly fungus that causes ash dieback. “This conservatism does not care what it destroys. It does not care whom it hurts. It will sacrifice entire species rather than contemplate the slightest check on its own self-interest. All else can burn.”
THERESA MAY IS ON MANOEUVRES
PAUL GOODMAN ON CAMERON’S SUCCESSOR
“There can be no doubt about it. The Home Secretary is ‘on manoeuvres’,” says Paul Goodman in The Daily Telegraph. She’s being discreet, but the signs are unmistakable. “A recent newspaper interview compared her to Margaret Thatcher, and was accompanied by a clutch of previously unseen childhood photographs, which are to leadership campaigns what the first cuckoo is to springtime. Her timing is shrewd. In the past month, Abu Hamza has been flown to America and Gary McKinnon has stayed in Britain.” Detractors say May has no discernible views, but they are wrong: she is a determined advocate of modernisation. But to lead the Tories, May “will surely need to give a sharper, clearer sense of what she stands for”. She is currently associated with a kind of M25 Belt modernisation, pitched at liberal southern voters and better-off women. “But the modernisation her party needs most must reach wider - to the kind of women, for example, who toil part-time for relatively low pay in the Midlands and Northern marginals.”
FORCE BIG PHARMA TO PUBLISH ALL TRIAL RESULTS
BEN GOLDACRE ON AN INTERNATIONAL SCANDAL
Doctors are being misled, patients harmed and NHS money wasted because drug companies are allowed to withhold the results of clinical trials on new medicines when it suits them, writes Ben Goldacre in The Times. The best estimate suggests that half of all completed clinical trials are never published in academic journals. “We know that trials with positive results are twice as likely to be published.” The problem is well known and their are plenty of eye catching examples. “The Government has spent £500 million stockpiling Tamiflu, but its manufacturer, Roche, withholds important information about trials on the drug from the Cochrane Collaboration, which produces gold-standard reviews of evidence.” It is time to ensure that all results of all clinical trials - past and future - on all drugs in use are available to doctors and patients. “Without that, doctors cannot make informed decisions about treatments, patients are harmed and money is wasted. Governments cannot continue to ignore this international scandal.”