THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Overheard at the hairdresser
En route

Compare and contrast

Sir David Nicholson admits failings over Mid Staffs but refuses to resign - Telegraph.
Sir David Nicholson, were our society organised as the defunct British Communist Party to which he once belonged might desire, would now be put up against a wall and shot. In our wet British version of Soviet Healthcare, however, he avoids all responsibility for the NHS's lethal failures. After all, there are plenty more patients where those came from.

Compare and contrast with one Andrew Mason, who wrote to his staff before leaving;
After four-and-a-half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding, I was fired today ... As CEO I'm accountable.
I rather suspect that Mason has put more efficient and vigorous effort into the success of Groupon than Nicholson has to that of the NHS. Yet he was held accountable by his board on behalf of his shareholders and accepted it with grace. Good for him. He failed this time, but with an attitude like that, I am sure he will yet do great things. I would hire him, if I owned a suitable company. I wouldn't employ Nicholson to clean my boots.

So is the success or failure of a company that organises online discounts more important than that of a whole nation's healthcare system? Should the bosses of an internet start-up be stricter with their CEO than Parliament is with the head of the NHS? What other conclusion, exactly, could a man from Mars infer from these two items of news?

Incidentally, Nicholson claimed expenses of over £50,000 a year on top of a basic salary of £200,000 and benefits in kind of £37,600 at a time when he was in charge of health service "cuts". His current wife, twenty years his junior and a former graduate intern in his office, is the £155,000 a year chief executive of Birmingham Children's Hospital. He wrote references for her during her meteoric rise through the NHS management ranks. Ain't life grand in the public service?

The NHS may not have adopted the iron discipline of the Soviet system, but it seems to have all the other elements. Generally, I prefer gentler market systems of accountability, but for aparatchiks like Nicholson, I could make an exception.


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I do wonder if all this will drive people to taking the law into their own hands sooner of later. Someone who lost a loved one and has the means...
"justice" seems so chancy inconsistent, people don't get held to account..


In fairness, I was a member of a Communist youth organisation myself as a teenager. As recounted here, I saw the light before reaching 18. Nicholson, however, was a member of CPGB as an adult, joining when he was already working in the NHS.

His youthful "indiscretions" (or otherwise) are not really the point - except to provide some useful imagery with which to express disgust. I am much more angry about what he has done as a "grown up" member of the Establishment - and the way they are closing ranks around him despite (or perhaps because) of it.

You make a good point about youthful fascist "indiscretions" though. I can name one beloved member of the Left who WAS a member of the NF - Ricky Tomlinson. But he was "cleansed" of that shame by becoming a trade union thug and using violent intimidation against workers who didn't want to strike. Not only is ultra-leftism not seen as an equivalent disease, it is actually accepted as a cure.

Schrodinger's Dog

I'm apoplectic.

Had Sir David been a member of the British National Party or the former National Front in his youth, it's unlikely he'd even have got a job as a tea boy at the local council. And claiming it was a youthful indiscretion and he'd since seen the error of his ways wouldn't have helped him.

Instead he was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, an organisation advocating an ideology which killed about 100 million people during the 20th century and sent countless more to the gulag camps.
Yet, despite all that, he held a very senior post in the civil service and was knighted.


More shovelee than shovelor, I feel. 

Henry Crun

Sir David is deserving of the glowing reference a former boss gave for particularly inept colleague who had left the firm: People in the office have said he isn't fit tho shovel shit, but I think he is.

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