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Blurred lines in English dementia policy – privatisation in all but name

In case you don’t like the soundtrack, here are the slides.

To some extent, Europe resolved our dispute about whether we should aspire to an ‘early diagnosis’, or ‘timely diagnosis’ for dementia. The overall consensus from the European ALCOVE project was that a diagnosis should be timely, in keeping with the needs of the person with a dementia, his friends, his family or his carers.

This was an extremely helpful move in English policy, although the road had not been that clear.

One blurred line in the public was how dementia so massively became conflated with all memory problems in the elderly. Whilst it was argued that the memory problems in Alzheimer’s disease should no longer be passed off as ageing (and indeed there are strong cultural pressures elsewhere for calling dementia ageing), there was some concern from GPs that older people thought their memory problems were dementia because of the widespread media campaign. Many of these individuals were later to arrive at a diagnosis of minor cognitive impairment, underactive thyroid, or depression. Given that there are hundreds of different causes of dementia which can affect any part of the brain and brainstem (though they all tend to start off in different areas), it’s not altogether surprising that some of the dementias don’t present with memory problems at all.

The drive to make the diagnosis is almost certainly going to be affected by the policy from NHS England to achieve ‘ambitions’ for increasing dementia diagnosis rates. The evidence from the MRC study at Cambridge has demonstrated that this prevalence has in fact been falling over some decades, so there is serious concern that a drive to increase dementia rates will lead to a large number of false diagnoses in 2014. This is definitely one to watch, as a false diagnosis can lead to very serious harmful repercussions. Nonetheless, the number of people who have a MMSE in the region of 10-15 on initial diagnosis is, arguably, staggering, and blatant lack of diagnoses of more obvious presentations of diagnosis most people would agree is unacceptable.

The spotlight in G8, and certainly the presence of corporates there, will lead to increased scrutiny of those people who financially have much to gain from an early diagnosis. An early diagnosis may indeed lead to someone ‘accessing care’, even that care results from a personal health budget with treatments which are not proven clinically from the evidence. The direction of this particular plan depends how far individualised consumer choice is pushed in the name of personalisation. Genetics, neuropsychologists, and pharmaceutical private sector companies wishing to monitor the modest effects of their drugs on substances in the brain all stand to capitalise on dementia in 2014, much of which out of the NHS tax-funded budget. This of course is privatisation of the NHS dementia policy in all but name. One thing this Government has learnt though is how to make a privatisation of health policy appear popular.

Despite corners being cut, and the drive to do ‘more for less’, it will be quite impossible to avoid making a correct diagnosis in individuals thought to have a dementia in the right hands. A full work-up, though the dementia of the Alzheimer type, is the most common necessitates a history of the individual, a history from a friend, an examination (e.g. twitching could be associated with the motor neurone disease variant found in one of the frontotemporal dementias), brain scan (CT/MRI/PET), brain waves (EEG), brain fluid (cerebrospinal fluid), bedside psychology, formal cognitive psychological assessment, and even in some rarely a brain biopsy (for example for variant Creutzfeld-Jacob or a cerebral inflammatory vasculitis).

Analysis by paralysis is clearly not desirable either, but the sticking point, and a blurred line, is how England wishes to combine increasing diagnostic rates; and making resources available for post-diagnosis support; making resources available for the diagnosis process itself including counselling if advised. As the name itself ‘dementia’ changes to ‘neurocognitive impairment’ under the diagnostic manual DSM in 2015, the number of people ‘with the label’ is likely to increase, and this will be ‘good news’ for people who can capitalise on dementia. The label itself ‘neurocognitive impairment’ itself introduces a level of blur to the diagnosis of dementia itself.

The general direction of travel has been an acceleration of privatisation of dementia efforts, but this to be fair is entirely in keeping with the general direction of the Health and Social Care Act (2012). A major question for 2014 is whether this horse has now truly bolted?

Would I want to know if I had a dementia?

Brain scan

Would I want to know if I had a dementia?

The background to this is that I am approaching 40.

For the purposes of my response, I’m pretending that I didn’t study it for finals at Cambridge, nor learn about it during my undergraduate postgraduate training/jobs, nor having written papers on it, nor having written a book on it.

However, knowing what I know now sort of affects how I feel about it.

Dementia populations tend to be in two big bits.

One big bit is the 40-55 entry route. The other is the above 60 entry route. So therefore I’m about to hit the first entry route.

I don’t have any family history of any type of dementia.

My intuitive answer is ‘yes’. I’ve always felt in life that it is better to have knowledge, however seemingly unpleasant, so that you can cope with that knowledge. Knowledge is power.

If I had a rare disease where there might be a definitive treatment for my dementia, such as a huge build-up potentially of copper due to a metabolic inherited condition called Wilson’s disease, I’d be yet further be inclined to know about it.

I would of course wish to know about the diagnosis. The last thing I’d want is some medic writing ‘possible dementia’ on the basis of one brain scan, with no other symptoms, definitively in the medical notes, if I didn’t have a dementia. This could lead me to be discriminated against to my detriment in future.

There is a huge number of dementias. My boss at Cambridge reviewed the hundreds of different types of dementia for his chapter on dementia in the current Oxford Textbook of Medicine. Properly investigating a possible dementia, in the right specialist hands, is complicated. Here‘s his superb chapter.

But just because it’s complicated, this doesn’t mean that a diagnosis should be avoided. Analysis can lead to paralysis, especially in medicine.

I very strongly believe that there’s absolutely nobody more important that that person who happens to living with a diagnosis of dementia. That diagnosis can produce a constellation of different thinking symptoms, according to which part of the brain is mainly affected.

I also think we are now appreciating that many people who care for that person also may have substantial needs of their own, whether it’s from an angle of clinical knowledge about the condition, legal or financial advice.

I think though honesty is imperative.

I think we need people including charities to be honest about the limitations and potential benefits in defined contexts about drug treatments for dementia. It’s clearly in the interest of big pharmaceutical companies to offer hope through treatments which may objectively work.

I think we also need to be very open that a diagnosis of dementia isn’t a one path to disaster. There is a huge amount which could and should be done for allowing a person with dementia to live well, and this will impact on the lives of those closest to them.

This might include improving the design of the home, design of the landscape around the home, communities, friends, networks including Twitter, advocacy, better decision-making and control, assistive technology and other innovations.

The National Health Service will need to be re-engineered for persons with a diagnosis of dementia to access the services they need or desire.

Very obviously nobody needs an incorrect ‘label’ of diagnosis. The diagnosis must be made in the right hands, but resources are needed to train medical professionals properly in this throughout the course of their training.

All health professionals – including physicians – need to be aware of non-medical interventions which can benefit the person with dementia. For whatever reason, the awareness of physicians in this regard can be quite poor.

There is no doubt that dementia can be a difficult diagnosis. Not all dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, characterised by symbolic problems in new learning. There are certain things which can mimic dementia for the unaware.

But back to the question – would I rather know? If the diagnosis were correct, yes. But beware of the snake oil salesman, sad to say.

All universities are needed for the public good


I still remember my time at Cambridge with fondness. I am a Scholar of my College there, as I was awarded the second highest First in the whole University in finals (“Part II”) in 1996. I think it’s very hard to be overtly or covertly disloyal to any educational establishment you have attended, unless you truly had a terrible time. I remember being supervised by some outstanding academics, a few even Nobel prize winners. It’s crazy to think I once sat next to César Milstein, who was  awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology for physiology and medicine, for his invention of monoclonal antibody technology which has subsequently produced massive benefit and outcomes for the medical profession as regards therapeutic value. I also remember sitting next to the Head of Interpol at a conference on economic crime, as we raised a ‘Floreat’ toast to the Queen.

Cambridge then, in the mid 1990s, had too its fair share of appalling lecturers. Paid by one of the ‘best’  Universities globally, some University Teaching Officers were completely incapable of giving a one-hour lecture. At worst, I had almost post-traumatic stress disordered memories of paper aeroplanes and chicken noises during an explanation by a Professorial fellow at Caius College on ‘Starling’s Law of the Heart’. Lectures might over-run, there might be totally illegible acetates, or the sound of delivery was just too awful for words. Ultimately, it did not as such matter, as Cambridge tries hard to allow people to leave with at least a II.1, thought of (and assumed possibly unfairly) by many employers as a badge of merit. At Cambridge, I worked out before my undergraduate time was up that there was a schism between what was lectured and what was subsequently examined. I stayed on at Cambridge to do my Ph.D., where I published on a seminal finding in behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, which has since been replicated many times over. It is even in the current Oxford Textbook of Medicine.

After my health took a turn for the worst, I ‘started again’ in a private learning establishment, known as ‘BPP Law School’ at Waterloo, London. I undertook to do the Graduate Diploma of Law, which is the qualification regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to provide academic competence in the foundation subjects of the English law. BPP Law School’s learning officer, Fiona Dymond, was always at the end of the phone when my late father used to ring her up when he was worried that I was unconscious for yet another day at the Royal Free ITU due to bacterial meningitis. In negotiation with BPP Law School, I changed to the part-time weekend distance learning mode in due course. My late father used to wheel me to lectures in the wheelchair which I used for mobility between 2006-2008.

I received my Graduate Diploma of Law from BPP Law School in March 2009. The graduation ceremony was held at the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn. This was an extremely proud evening for my mother, late father, and me. After that, I then successfully was awarded a Commendation in my Master of Law from the College of Law in December 2010. That course was a course which I did entirely through distance learning, but it was a difficult time for me as I was newly-disabled and starting my recovery from a common mental illness, alcoholism. The pastoral support I received from BPP Law School, which became BPP University this week, and the College of Law, which became the University of Law, was second to none.

My Master of Law in international commercial law, which I did at the College or University of Law, was very tightly focused on international practitioner skills. I was then kindly given permission by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to study the equally “practice facing” Legal Practice Course, after carefully discussing with them the personal troubles I had experienced with alcoholism. In the meantime, I had enrolled to do a Master of Business Administration at BPP Business School, which I completed in early 2011. I don’t regret learning about behaviours, skills and knowledge from the business and legal world for a moment, whatever I decide to do in the future. Giving clear advice (and I probably know how to argue convincingly both sides of any argument now thanks to any legal training) is a totally different skill to evaluating evidence critically for an hour for your finals at Cambridge.

Enough about me, me, me. Enough’s enough. I just wanted to say that if I had my time again and I wished to be a barrister or solicitor I would go to a private university such as BPP or the University of Law. This is because the course materials have clearly been refined to teach the behaviours, skills and knowledge needed to practise the law. I also think the link between the assessments and course is much clearer, but this could be an artifact of the course being so carefully regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. I am clearly not in any hurry, as I am a person who lives ‘just for today’. However, BPP trains up the vast majority of accountants in England, and successfully trained many of those who ultimately go onto be called to the Bar or admitted onto the Roll of Solicitors. I am, though, a card-carrying academic, and wouldn’t swop what I know now for anything.

I have written this fairly short article, as I am very loyal to three Universities where I have been educated, Cambridge University, BPP University and the University of Law. I think the purpose of the law is exactly as Prof Michael Sandel describes it for the US jurisdiction in his seminal lectures on justice at Harvard. I think a superficial purpose of law is for a correcting mechanism for misdemeanours in all spheres of life. A second more absorbing purpose of the law is to enable the ‘public good’. Any person who is truly inclusive in philosophy, and I am a card-carrying socialist, will believe in the need to find value in all agents of society. If there is intense competition for places, as will be evidenced in England this thursday by UCAS in ‘clearing’, with people aged 18 wishing to pursue a University education for the next few years, we should as a society be welcoming the different educations which they all have to offer. No learning institution is wishing to undermine anyone else, so any feeling of suspicion is totally unmerited. Having now completed 8 degrees and my Legal Practice Course, at the age of 39, I wish everyone going up to University this Autumn the very best of luck. Private universities, like public universities, have a critical rôle to play for this public good. What you learn in life, though, will be probably just as valuable, if not more!

The paradox of thrift and bankers' bonuses

Over the last decade, pay at the top of the UK’s largest listed companies ballooned up to £4.2 on average on average for FTSE 100 chief executives from £1 m between 1998 and 2010, while salaries for workers barely kept place with inflation. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) had a huge impact on the world of philosophy, proposing utilitarian value as, ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people works well as a way of doing justice’. This encapsulates why so many members of the general public appear to have a fundamental problem with excessive bonuses for bankers. Whilst people on the left politics-wise do not necessary deny the contribution of bankers to ‘wealth creation’ of the UK economy, many such citizens resent that they appear, along with Premier League footballers, to have levels of pay which represent an excessive contribution to the social value of society. The utilitarian could in fact stress that growth, wealth and GDP contribute much to the happiness of all. These depend upon a functioning banking system. Likewise, banks, in turn, need investment bankers to turn a profit. If those bankers are best incentivised by the promise of large bonuses, then so be it. Indirectly, that makes everyone happier.

Earlier this year, Downing Street appeared to concede defeat in its battle to stop banks paying huge bonuses to their staff; dictating the size of individual bankers’ payments or overall bonus pools was not possible. Instead bank bosses and ministers tried to thrash out a deal that would publicise details of payouts that could reach £7billion this year. The climbdown on bonuses has been a huge embarrassment for Government ministers who had threatened much tougher measures.  The impression conveyed in the UK media that bankers have not been adversely affected by #gfc, and indeed some feel that the bankers have profited. This has been against a whirlpool of accusations and counter-accusations that the taxation policy has been indeed been ‘regressive’. Whilst politicians and economists have latterly been at each other’s necks, both are aware that there is enormous voting capital in ‘getting this right’. Equally in the USA the Obama administration have immersed themselves in a populist attack on wealthy US citizens including corporations.

Rumbling along in the background is a subplot ignited by John Maynard Keynes, an outstanding Cambridge academic, and a Liberal. There has been much discussion about whether Vince Cable, a Cambridge graduate, and a Liberal Democrat, follows in the tradition of Keynes, to some extent fuelled by Cable himelf. Robert Skidelsky, Keynes’ official biographer, has made his concerns patently clear. Cable has extensively studied Keynes for his Doctoral studies. Perhaps playing to the Keynesians last week at the Liberal Democrats’ 2011 Summer Conference, Cable opined that, “Keynes talked about a ‘paradox of thrift’; everyone and every country being individually wise but collectively foolish – leading to a downward spiral”.













The paradox of thrift is a very famous paradox of economics, popularized by John Maynard Keynes, though it had been stated as early as 1714 in The Fable of the Bees, and similar sentiments date to antiquity. The paradox states that if everyone tries to save more money during times of recession, then aggregate demand will fall and will in turn lower total “savings” in the population because of the decrease in consumption and economic growth. However, there have many inward attacks of Keynes’ well-known paradox, not least because of the unwitting conflation of the terms “capital” and “savings”. It is mooted that the classical theory of growth in macroeconomic did not presume that every saver was the ultimate investor of goods, especially in relation to the earlier work of another great economist, Ricardo. Economists have recently been quick to point out that Keynes uses the term “savings” to embrace a ‘hoarding behaviour’, which leads Keynes to his direct proposition of a ‘paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty’. Again, there is a problem with definition, as bankers bonuses might constitute ‘plenty’, but not the growth in the UK economy called ‘pitiful’ by Prof. David Blanchflower, himself a pupil of Keynes.

Should the alleged ‘excessive profits of bankers’ be clawed back by the State for its benefit? David Ricardo is credited with the first clear and comprehensive analysis of differential land rent and the associated economic relationships (Law of Rent). In schools of economic thought including neoclassical economics, land is recognized as an inelastic factor of production. Rent is the distribution paid to freeholders for “allowing” production on the land they control. Of course, corn and money, and farmers and bankers, are not necessarily synonymous.

“As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce. The wood of the forest, the grass of the field, and all the natural fruits of the earth, which, when land was in common, cost the labourer only the trouble of gathering them, come, even to him, to have an additional price fixed upon them. He must then pay for the licence to gather them; and must give up to the landlord a portion of what his labour either collects or produces. This portion, or, what comes to the same thing, the price of this portion, constitutes the rent of land ..”









There has been a wider issue about whether the ‘differential theory of rent’ is due to strong emotions concerning ‘private property’, but prominent liberals such as JS Mill have proven words and deeds on the issue, through for example  the Land Tenure Act. Adopting a populist stance has always been easy for Vince Cable, and most Liberal Democrats heavily tout that St Vince The Cable was apparently one of the first to predict the banking crisis (as indeed objectively evidenced in Hansard). Whilst a synthesis of the economics is undoubtedly interesting to economist, both new and old, people will want to know what Cable can do about it. The answer is ‘not much’, as the FSA’s code on renumeration is considered ‘good practice’ (but relatively ‘toothless’). Cable wishes also to address the ‘disconnect’ between the excessive pay of top Directors and the performance of these companies, where Cable feels that a schism has developed. Many believe that many senior bankers seem virtually unsackable, which makes an analysis of what level of pay is appropriate for bankers from the “wage curve”. Blanchflower and Oswald (1994) how the existence of a wage curve for a dozen countries, defining the wage curve thus: “A worker who is employed In an area of high unemployment earns le than an identical individual who works in a region of low joblessness”. It would be interesting to know what the views of 31-year old trader, Kweku Adoboli, are towards that. Or indeed, what Oswald Grübel thinks: according to the Wall Street Journal this morning, “Oswald Grübel resigned as chief executive of embattled Swiss bank UBS AG in the wake of a trading loss that cost the bank more than $2 billion and now has cut short the career of a giant of Switzerland’s business community.






Is BPP suffering from the "Stockholm Syndrome"? Roll on Friday…

I don’t do ‘undue deference’, which is why I once felt uneasy when a partner at a firm in the Magic Circle carried my bag from one room to the next, when moving rooms in a training contract interview.

That’s why I suppose I love ‘Roll on Friday‘, which, according to them, “provides news, views and gossip on the legal profession – including the top firms’ salaries.” ‘Roll on Friday’ is essential reading for me, as I am thinking about (remotely) applying for a training contract this Summer. However, I am taking my MBA much more seriously, as it genuinely interests me, unlike the training contract application process. We cover in huge detail “organisational culture“, i.e. the importance of what makes a corporate tick to how it involves its members and individuals outside the company.  A really useful introduction to corporate culture is given here in the Times newspaper.

This is precisely why I devour articles by ‘Roll on Friday’ which provide insight into culture in the City: e.g.  on international corporate law recruitment here, “There were red faces at recruitment firm First Counsel, chosen by Slaughter and May to advertise its vacancies, after it posted a pompous and apparently xenophobic job advertisement.” Or this, for example (!), “A City law firm has announced a great temporary opportunity’” for fresh-faced law graduates to, errr, work as catering staff.”

And this is precisely the cheeky humour I love, when ‘Roll on Friday’ (@RollOnFridayWeb) tweeted us the following on 28 June 2011 (status here),

“Stockholm Syndrome? RT @legalaware@carllygo @seeyouatthebar @_millymoo @jfierce_mighty haha. I think BPP is brill #justsaying

I found this incredibly amusing.

So, what is “Stockholm Syndrome“? Not being as cultured as ‘Roll on Friday’, I had to look it up on Wikipedia. This is the current entry for the condition:

In psychologyStockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a real paradoxicalpsychological phenomenon wherein hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors; sometimes to the point of defending them.

Are members of BPP then showing ‘Stockholm syndrome” towards BPP? Looking at this legalistically, we have to be showing a positive emotional response in conditions of extreme stress. Otherwise known as “terror bonding” or “traumatic bonding”, one has to identify what the extreme stress of being at BPP might be? Is it teaching or studying the GDL, LPC, LLM or MBA, for example? Or is it the highly demanding nature of the exams?

And why my outburst that “BPP is brill”? This boils down to my reaction to a rather vociferous article provided by David Mitchell in the Guardian with the rather aggressive title “When it comes to the crunch, private sector knows best”. David climaxes towards the end with this ‘pièce de résistance':

It’s not expertise, it’s ruthlessness, it’s the prioritisation of profit. What Lygo is offering people running universities is the opportunity to divest themselves of many of the problems inherent in their jobs. If you don’t want to take the tough decisions, he’s saying, if you doubt you’ve got the backbone to make the efficiency savings, then we’ll handle them for you. Pass your troubles on to those of us untroubled by conscience. Not only would this be a dereliction of the universities’ duty, it would also help perpetuate the myth of the private sector’s omnipotence and the public’s doltish money-burning idiocy.

Mitchell is of course entitled to his views. He was, indeed, at Cambridge, which some might say is the world’s best University in the World, beating Harvard. Well, actually, to be accurate, he was there for three years, and I was there for eight as a student (doing several degrees, not re-sitting the same one). Mitchell is talking nonsense if he believes that Oxbridge does not have any commercial drivers. Indeed, the Institute of Economic Affairs has even in a blog article mooted the notion that Cambridge University ‘should go private‘.

And yep – I really enjoyed my GDL and LLB(Hons) because of the huge amount of personal pastoral care I received after my life-threatening meningitis (I was in a coma for two months during my GDL), and Carl Lygo, CEO at BPP,  has argued, until he’s ‘blue in the face’, that institutions such as BPP and Cambridge operate in different areas of the education sector, but that ‘there’s room for both of them’ (paraphrasing wildly).  Anyway, I think both institutions are great. Maybe I am, in fact, exhibiting “Stockholm Syndrome” towards Cambridge, having been set free from them after nearly a decade? Anyway, please keep up the brilliant work, “Roll on Friday”!


@legalaware can be followed here. @RollonFridayWeb can be followed here.


My life is brilliant – from Cambridge to the City and corporate law

I thought to myself how beautiful the City of London is this morning. It represents all that I respect in London, hard work based on genuine commitment and intellectual talent. The City exudes this in abundance, with some exceptionally bright people. The sun is shining, as you’re bound to feel good about it, as London represents the competitive advantage of finance in the world for me.

It reminds me of that other great place, Cambridge. I have fond memories of Cambridge, as I obtained the second highest First there in Finals in Natural Sciences (Neurosciences) in 1996. I loved my Ph.D. there, and, like the City, there’s a real buzz to the intellectual energy and personal warmth in Cambridge.

As I sit here studying for my MBA, doing systems and organisations in the morning and leadership, I think, despite the challenges which I have faced which have been numerous and serious (including a 2 month coma in 2007 which I was extremely lucky to survive), I have an extraordinary fulfilling life.

So there! I am looking forward very much to my ultimate career in corporate law. I am merely a student, but as I’ve nearly finished my eighth degree successfully at the age of 37, I can genuinely say not for long!

Dr Shibley Rahman

Good luck to the Light Blues!

Cambridge University’s crew is favoured to beat Oxford University tomorrow in one of the U.K.’s oldest sports contests, an event that generates more wagers than Olympic rowing, according to William Hill, in its fourth consecutive win.

David Lammy is wrong to insult Cambridge by implying "if you're black, don't apply to Cambridge"

There’s no doubt that David Lammy is an incredibly bright and astute guy, having been awarded a First from SOAS at the University of London.

However, David Lammy’s anti-Oxbridge article in the Guardian’s “Comment is Free”, “The Oxbridge Whitewash“, does not nothing to help decades of work that has been happening at the University of Cambridge to encourage applications from ethnic minorities. GEEMA, the Group to Encourage Ethnic Minority Applications, was set up in 1989 to ensure that talented UK black and minority ethnic (BME) students were not deterred from applying to the University of Cambridge. Since GEEMA was founded the number of UK BME undergraduate students studying at Cambridge has increased considerably. They were certainly alive and well I went up as a British Asian undergraduate in 1993 to Cambridge. Further details about GEEMA are on this website. It was utterly irresponsible of Lammy to make no reference to this, therefore grossly distorting the whole argument, giving out the impression, “If you’re a black schoolkid, don’t bother applying to Cambridge”. Apart from the fact that Lammy did not go to Oxbridge, this smacks of a worst kind of loony-left “pull the ladder from underneath you” mentality which I find disturbing.

David Lammy claims,

“You will not find these figures on the Oxford or Cambridge websites. Our proudest universities were obstructive in responding to my inquiries”

I completely disagree. I readily found out from Old Schools and the statistics office from Cambridge (my alma mater) that anyone can get these statistics by sending an email to the communications at the University of Cambridge; the person I spoke to was very pleasant, a guy called Stuart, and far from obstructive.

It turns out that Cambridge has been collecting its statistics, but as yet doesn’t do anything with them. This is because the General Board and the Strategic Board, under the Vice-Chancellor, have not invoked any strategic policy of upping the number of Black lecturers, readers or professors indiscriminately. I actually approve of this strongly, as Cambridge has been famous for appointing the very best in the world, regardless of ethnic background. Take for example Prof Amarytna Sen who won the Nobel Prize for Economics, and became Master of Trinity.

His most offensive accusation in my opinion is,

“Cambridge doesn’t employ a single black academic. “

I do not doubt the accuracy of his statistics as a result of his Freedom of Information request. However, this statement undeniably will be insulting to the following two people in the University of Cambridge Law Faculty.

Dr Okeoghene Odudu

Indeed, Dr Odudu appears to have a glittering reputation of his own.

“Dr Odudu returned to Cambridge in September 2006 as Herchel Smith Lecturer and Fellow in Law at Emmanuel College. He is also Deputy Director of CELS. From September 2004 to September 2006 he was Lecturer in Competition Law at the Centre of European Law, King’s College London, teaching EC Competition Law and US Antitrust, having previously been Fellow in Law at Downing College, Cambridge. He read law as an undergraduate at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and received an MA in Criminology from Keele University (funded by the ESRC), before moving to Keble College, Oxford, to engage in competition law research”

And I’m sure Dr Justice Tankebe, likewise, is not particularly amused, an academic, whose academic qualifications are likewise immaculate: BA (Ghana), MPhil (Cantab), PhD (Cantab).

I found the rhetoric of David Lammy fuming and perjorative, and actually full of innuendo that Cambridge was in some sort of hate campaign against black Academics. I am proud to have supervised Natural Sciences Tripos finals at the University of Cambridge in 1997-1999, and I can categorically state from my personal experience that Cambridge is not anti BME-academics. To state otherwise is extremely offensive, insulting and dangerous.

(c) Dr Shibley Rahman Queen’s Scholar, BA (1st Class Honours), MA, MB, BChir, PhD (all from Cambridge), LLB(Hons), FRSA, MSB

Cambridge graduate – did 4 degrees there, including his doctorate; also received a MB in 1999

Dr Shibley Rahman is British Bangladeshi, in official ethnic terms.

It's even more clear Gordon Brown is man of integrity

Gordon Brown’s book ‘Beyond the crash: Overcoming the first crisis of globalization’ will be on sale next Monday. To order it, please use this link.

Gordon Brown’s book will give an account of the events that led to the fiscal downward spiral and the reactions of world leaders as they took steps to avoid further disaster to build a sound economic future; it is anticipated that this work will help readers to understand what really has happened to the UK economy. Brown believes that we now live in a world of global trade, global financial flows, global movements of people and instant global communications. Our economies are connected as never before, and it is Brown’s central thesis that global economic problems require global solutions and global institutions.

I am particularly struck by the title of Gordon Brown’s book because of its uncanny similarity to ‘Beyond the Crisis’, written by Prof Amarytna Sen, who indeed was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. Prof Sen was the Master of Trinity College Cambridge, and is a Emeritus Professor of Economics, like the Labour peer Lord John Eatwell.

It is plainly obvious that George Osborne is clearly out of his depth in comparison. Gordon Brown has held his beliefs in strong leadership, despite formidable criticism. It is clear now he is a man of enormous integrity. For example, he did not make cheap political points regarding Gary Mackinnon. Whilst David Cameron and Nick Clegg have already achieved some coverage over this, Wikileaks has revealed some ‘behind-the-scenes’ work of Gordon Brown that nobody knew about. Gary McKinnon’s mother, Janis Sharp, is due to testify to Vaz’s committee this morning as it launches a hearing into the extradition demands. Brown made his unsuccessful direct intervention in August 2009, according to a secret cable from the US ambassador in the UK, Louis Susman, to the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Vince's speech at the LibDem conference: Many themes should be a top priority for us too

Vince’s speech, unlike the misreporting of it mainly from the BBC who patently didn’t understand the business or legal issues involved, made for very interesting reading for me as a Labour member with an interest in both business and commercial law. I would like to discuss various intriguing aspects of it for me.

But to hold our own we need to maintain our party’s identity and our authentic voice.

This is now being an increasingly difficult problem for the Liberal Democrats. There has to be by necessity an alignment of the beliefs and values of the leadership of the Party and its grassroot members. It was interesting to eavesdrop on the discussion that the Party had earlier this week on brand strategy, as it was clear from the floor that there is much confusion about the brand identity and brand equity of the members of the Party. Of course, the position on the rate of cuts which ultimately emerged from Vince Cable and Nick Clegg remains for many quite unfathomable, and certain issues are pretty straightforward by the Liberal Democrats, for example strong Liberal (anti-statist) values in civil liberties. However, certain grey areas see problems for the leadership and activists alike; for example, free schools is an incredibly perplexing area for the Liberal Democrats to embrace in a way so enthusiastically as Michael Gove’s fervour.

We will fight the next general elections as an independent force with our options open. Just like 2010. But coalition is the future of politics. It is good for government and good for Britain. We must make sure it is good for the Lib Dems as well.

Yes, indeed. It is now ‘do-or-die’ for the Liberal Democrats. There won’t be an end of ‘boom-and-bust’ in this context, unfortunately, because if the Liberal Democrats get the economic recovery and cuts wrong, even if the recession ends, they will be unelectable for a decade. However, it is argued that if the Liberal Democrats make a success of their new Coalition policy, the Coalition politics of pluralism could become accepted.

There was, of course, a global financial crisis. But our Labour predecessors left Britain exceptionally vulnerable and damaged: more personal debt than any other major economy; a dangerously inflated property bubble; and a bloated banking sector behaving as masters, not the servants of the people. Their economic model combined the financial lunacies of Ireland and Iceland. They built a house on sand and thought that they were ushering in a new, progressive work of architecture. It has collapsed. They lacked foresight; now they even lack hindsight.

If Cable feels Labour is in denial over the deficit, undeniably he has been slow to come to the conclusion that the crisis was global. I remember him pontificating in the Commons about how it was an academic philosophical issue of where the financial crisis came from, but it was necessary to find a solution for it. Vince Cable’s lack of acceptance that this was a global crisis historically speaks volumes.

We know that if elected Labour planned to raise VAT. They attack this government’s cuts but say not a peep about the £23bn of fiscal tightening Alistair Darling had already introduced. They planned to chop my department’s budget by 20 to 25%, but now they oppose every cut, ranting with synthetic rage, and refuse, point blank, to set out their alternatives. They demand a plan B but don’t have a plan A. The only tough choice they will face is which Miliband.

This statement is totally ridiculous. If Vince Cable is so self-effacing, can he not at least give a suitable explanation for this poster?

But I am not seeking retribution. We have a pressing practical problem: the lack of capital for sound, non property, business. Many firms say they are already being crippled by banks’ charges and restrictions.

This is undoubtedly a sensible line of attack for Vince and George to pursue, as it encompasses the Liberal
Democrats’ values of fairness, and Labour’s lack of engaging with the public about how the bankers, who had largely caused this crisis, were not been punished for their recklessness. If anything, it is perceived that Labour pumped lots of taxpayers’ money in it, whilst the leading CEOs in the investment banks received knighthoods and huge bonuses. Labour’s fundamental error, if there is to be one single one amongst the plethora, is the unforgiveable increase in the rich-poor divide, which will forever be a legacy of Labour. It began in earnest with Thatcher, progressed with Blair, and compounded through Gordon Brown’s long stint as Chancellor. This should be a top priority for Labour too.

And the principle of responsible ownership should apply across the business world. We need successful business. But let me be quite clear. The Government’s agenda is not one of laissez-faire. Markets are often irrational or rigged. So I am shining a harsh light into the murky world of corporate behaviour. Why should good companies be destroyed by short term investors looking for a speculative killing, while their accomplices in the City make fat fees? Why do directors sometimes forget their wider duties when a cheque is waved before them?

This is an incredibly important paragraph in my opinion, as short-termism has been identified by many academics in leadership, including William George at the Harvard Business School, as a major cause of irresponsible leadership in business. This, together with failures in corporate governance and corporate social responsibility in a post-Enron age, remain admirable targets for Vince’s wrath. This should be a top priority for Labour too.

??But the big long term question is: how does the country earn a living in future? Natural resources? The oil money was squandered. Metal bashing? Mostly gone to Asia. Banking? Been there, done that. What is left? Actually quite a lot. People. Skilled and educated people. High tech manufacturing of which we already have a great deal. Creative industries, IT and science based industries and professional services. In my job I meet many outstanding, world class, British based companies. But we need more companies and more jobs in the companies we have. It is my job as Business Secretary to support business growth. And this knowledge based economy requires more high quality people from FE, HE and vocational training. Here, we have a problem. Businesses cannot grow because of a shortage of trained workers while our schools churn out young people regarded by companies as virtually unemployable. The pool of unemployed graduates is growing while there is a chronic shortage of science graduates and especially engineers. There has to be a revolution in post 16 education and training. We are making a start. Despite cuts, my department is funding 50,000 extra high level apprenticeships this year – vital for a manufacturing revival. My Conservative colleague David Willetts and I want to sweep away the artificial barriers between universities and FE; between academic and vocational; between full time, part time and continuing life long learning; between the academic and vocational.

The ‘Yeah, but’ is that Vince Cable is making savage cuts in universities such as Cambridge, currently top in the world, at a time when we should be investing in basic research, translationary research and applied research, with a view to investing in our country’s future. This should be a top priority for Labour too.

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