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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘experience

Home Office Backtracks On Cannabis – Part 2

with 12 comments

See the original article here.

The Home Office has been denying to me all week that it had changed its story.  It claimed that it had said “Drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis are extremely harmful and can cause misery to communities across the country.”  It claimed that cannabis was never included in this statement.

Today it finally owned up.  It issued this statement at 5.18pm this evening:

A Home Office spokesperson said:

“There is clear evidence that drugs such as heroin and cocaine are extremely harmful substances.

“There is also clear evidence that cannabis is a harmful drug which can cause both physical and psychological problems. Even the occasional use of cannabis can be dangerous for people with diseases of the circulatory system, and it can contribute to heart disease and lung cancer.

“In this instance there was a drafting error with the original version of this statement, which was subsequently rectified.”

Does It Look Dangerous To You?

Now, I understand and respect the professional efforts of the Home Office PRs to damp down this story.  It just doesn’t wash though does it?

Why did it take nearly two weeks to correct this error?

Why did they try to cover up the error in the first place?

All this from a government department that emphasises how important are its “health and education messages” and that it must not send “the wrong message – to young people in particular.”

Of course, the truth is that the Home Office sends inaccurate and misleading messages about drugs all the time.  Everyone, except the Home Office ministers and mandarins, agrees that the present drug classification system is nonsense, that it amounts to nothing less than misinformation.  In fact, the Home Office is currently less than seven days away from a judicial review of its political manipulation of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  The Drug Equality Alliance co-founder, Casey Hardison, has taken it upon himself to challenge the Home Secretary and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in the Administrative Court for its irrational, unfair, and possibly illegal exclusion of alcohol and tobacco from control under the Act.

Even David Cameron agrees that ecstasy should not be a class A drug – see here.  The debacle and embarrassing nonsense about the ever-changing classification of cannabis destroyed Alan Johnson’s integrity for good.  Young people have been watching the government’s “messages” for years, comparing them to their own experiences and realising  that the government talks rot when it comes to drugs.  The Home Office is inconsistent, unreliable, contradictory and nothing short of dangerous when it comes to messages about drugs – as they’ve just proved, yet again.

As for the revised statement, there is evidence to show that smoking cannabis can cause the same damage to the cardiovascular system as smoking tobacco, but no one smokes anywhere near the same amount of cannabis as they do tobacco – they’d be asleep!  In fact, the very latest research shows that cannabis has an extraordinary protective effect for tobacco smokers and may actually reduce the likelihood of lung cancer.   Other recent research has also shown cannabinoids to have remarkable effects in shrinking brain, head, neck and breast cancers.

The Home Office is so far out of date it’s difficult to believe.   It still talks sensationally about the dangers of “new stronger strains of cannabis known as skunk”.   The truth is that skunk has been the predominant type of cannabis available in the UK for more than 20 years.  That’s how up to date the Home Office is.   Finally, the “psychological problems” story.  Sure, any psychoactive substance has the potential for harm but increasingly there’s evidence to show cannabinoids actually have an anti-psychotic effect.  One of the most useful applications of medicinal cannabis is in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

To those who don’t already know the facts, I say simply google your questions.  Even the Home Office, much as it might try, has not yet found a way of silencing the truth.

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A Fundamental Problem At The BBC

with 3 comments

I am very close to being the BBC’s biggest fan.  It is a remarkable and entirely unique institution.  Somehow it occupies a place between the state and the people which I can find no comparison for.  It would be easy to define it as some sort of socialist idea but it is genuinely independent from the state.  I do, however, have some concerns about its accountability.  I am very concerned about the way it handles complaints.

No Complaints Accepted Here

I have grown up with the BBC and I trust it.  In fact, I think that it’s done a better job of maintaining Britishness and values of integrity, tolerance, fairness and justice than any UK government of any political complexion.  That’s why the curmudgeons in all political parties turn against it.  I think Jeremy Hunt’s recent attacks and comments were particularly poorly judged.  He hasn’t a had a good start in government at all has he?

I made a complaint to the BBC recently and I am very, very unhappy about the way it has been handled.   The subject is not relevant here.  I shall write about it in future but for now it would distract from my point.  I am horrified to discover that the BBC does not handle complaints itself.   They are outsourced to Capita in Belfast which describes itself as “the UK’s leading outsourcing company…at the leading edge of redefining and transforming services to the public.”  For me that needs a huge pinch of salt, a mountain in fact and even then I’m choking on it.

Handling complaints should be at the very heart of an organisation.  It is the essence of your brand.  There is no more important management function.  Contracting them out is an abdication of responsibility.  More than that, it is a complete failure of integrity, a massive mistake.   If an organisation is truly committed to meeting its customers’ needs it must be as close to them as possible.  This irresponsibility strikes at the very heart of everything I value about the BBC.  I am deeply disillusioned.

If this disastrous decision had resulted in a well administered service then that might be some consolation but not a bit of it.  It is dreadful.  Every bit as bad as any horror story you’ve heard about British Gas, BT or yes, even a bank.  This is the British consumer experience at its very worst.

Not What It Used To Be

In sharp contrast to the rest of the BBC’s websites, try making a complaint online.  It’s like something from the very early days of the internet with clumsy, badly aligned fields and an archaic feel.  I almost expect to hear a modem whistling away in the background.  From a complainant’s point of view it’s quite useless.  You don’t get any option to save a copy of your complaint or email it to yourself.  You don’t even get an acknowledgement once you’ve completed it so you’re left with a completely unsatisfactory feeling of uncertainty.  Did they get it or not?  Will I get a reply?  When?

It gets worse.  Complaints are lost.  They don’t get answered at all.  They certainly don’t get answered within the 10 working days promised.  One answer I received was just laughable in its anodyne, crass simplicity.  It was nothing more than an patronising acknowledgement of what I was “unhappy about”.

Useless

I could go on even further but I won’t.  It does get even worse and it becomes embarrassingly so when Capita start to trot out the oldest excuse of all about “system problems”.  It is an excruciatingly bad, defining example of appalling customer service.  I’d say it takes the biscuit.

All this is the inevitable result of outsourcing your complaints procedure.  That aspect of business that should be one of your most important tools.  What’s worse is that Capita are absolutely useless at doing the job.

It is no exaggeration to say that, for me, this rocks the very foundations of everything I believed about the BBC to the very core.  It is not the organisation I thought it was.  I feel betrayed.  I am “disgusted of Tunbridge Wells”.   In fact,  I am very, very, very disgusted of Weymouth, Dorset.

Obama Stoops To Bully

with 17 comments

It's A Tough Job

I suppose it was bound to happen eventually but I am deeply, deeply disappointed in President Obama’s treatment of Tony Hayward.  It’s not worthy of him.

As I’ve written previously, Tony Hayward undoubtedly made some mistakes in his earlier handling of the oil spill crisis but,  apart from two or three minor gaffes (which have no substantive effect on the real issues at all), I’d like to know who could have done any better and how?

As Barack’s biggest fan I’m not going to give up on him.  I’m just sad to see him playing Big Bully Yankee.  It’s undignified, unnecessary and he should reflect on how often when America exercises its power without proper thought it ends up hurting its own.  No country on earth has sustained more friendly fire, blue-on-blue casualties.  I thought the era of dumb and dumber was behind us.

Tony Hayward is a brave man probably doing the most difficult job anyone in the oil industry has ever been faced with.  Obama should be backing him up, not undermining him.  BP shareholders should be asking themselves who they could replace him with.  There is no one with his experience.

Idiotic Israelis, Insane Islamists

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It astonishes me the bigotry, intolerance and crass stupidity demonstrated by so many who write for one side or the other on the terrible conflict in the Middle East.

Many of them are erudite and eloquent, passionate and caring – but only of their own cause.

I thought (maybe I’m wrong) that part of the idea of blogging was to comment on each other’s writing and participate in debate.

No chance!

So many of these obviously intelligent people censor comments that they disagree with and deem anyone who disagrees with them as a fascist, racist or xenophobe.   The vitriol I’ve attracted from some is almost unbelievable. They can’t understand that in one article I can condemn the evil behaviour of the Israelis and in the next I condemn the great evil that Islam has become. I can call some Israeli behaviour fascist.  I can call some Islamists perverters and defilers of Islam.

Some of these bloggers write (rant) at the most incredible length. They probably don’t have the benefit of my experience from which the most important thing I’ve learned is that even those people who agree with you will get bored if you go on and on and on and on and on…

It’s just a tip which you can ignore if you want but if you can’t get your point across in a couple of hundred words then maybe you should think again!

One individual (who I won’t embarrass by linking to), told me today that offering a link to my post on the subject was “an advert”, referred me to his “comments policy”, suggesting that I am a “xenophobic bigot”.

I explained to him that my comments policy is “please do”!