Sunday, 31 March 2019

Monty's been suspended!

Are you an irritating and conservative obstructionist bent on defying your employer?

Do you think that people suffering extreme pain should grin and bear it, in order that you don't have to sacrifice your principles?

Do you just really hate your patients?

Well, the hospital may soon be looking for a new leading pain specialist, and methinks it sounds like just the job for you?

This week in Jersey politics, our culture minister has been suspended for the heinous crime of emailing a few States members, calling for a pain specialist at the hospital who refuses on principle to prescribe medicinal cannabis to be sacked.

I think we all know that he's essentially correct (if a little crass), and that someone who hoards drugs away from their patients based upon moral principles rather than empirical evidence would be better placed in the hospital's chapel, rather than its pain clinic. However, what really interests me about this case is the justification that JLF and his cronies have given for Monty's sacking, which is a paragraph in the ministerial code that gives ministers a "duty" to uphold the political impartiality of civil servants and "should act with courtesy and respect at all times towards officers".

Do we really think that setting a precedent, where ministers can be sacked for suggesting a civil servant may not be of the highest possible calibre, is really a good idea?

I support our civil servants, and I think the way they've been treated recently is appalling. However, it is a fact of life, inevitable in any government of any size, that some civil servants will be bad at their jobs, will be corrupt, will be pursuing political agendas of various sizes and scopes. We're told we live in a democracy - our elected representatives, whatever you might think of them, have a right to hold these unelected civil servants to account and ensure they're executing the government's will properly. Sometimes, that means asking awkward questions and saying things that might ruffle a few feathers - but that's part and parcel of representative democracy, if that's what you believe in.

(I can't say I do, but that's by the by.)

We've got to be honest about the failings of our civil servants, just as we've got to be honest about the way they're treated by the States Employment Board and other bodies. If we can't criticise, if we can't point out flaws, if ministers can't ask difficult questions and say difficult things, then the agenda is not being set by the politicians, but by the bureaucrats, and that isn't democracy.

Otherwise, this island is nothing more than a bureaucratic dictatorship.


  1. I wish you a happy April Fools Day.

    I thought I would recycle a comment from a much better blog (sorry) and give you the opportunity to call me all sorts of nasty slurs.

    From what little I know I think it is very unlikely that anyone is going to get sacked from their employment unless there is a real issue of clinical competence (again unlikely with the vagaries of medicinal cannabis).

    There may be a prejudice against medicinal cannabis because of it's recreational use and the potential welfare of youngsters and their mental development. Medicinal cannabis is appears a fringe area judging from the MHS site:

    Very few people in England are likely to get a prescription for medical cannabis.
    Currently, it is only likely to be prescribed for the following conditions:
    -children and adults with rare, severe forms of epilepsy
    -adults with vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy
    And it would only be considered when other treatments weren't suitable or hadn't helped.
    Long-term pain
    There is some evidence medical cannabis can help certain types of pain, though this evidence is not yet strong enough to recommend it for pain relief.
    The main risks of THC cannabis products are:
    -psychosis – there is evidence that regular cannabis use increases your risk of developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia
    -dependency on the medicine – although scientists believe this risk is probably small when its use is controlled and monitored by a specialist doctor

    After taking medical cannabis, it's possible to develop any of the following side effects:

    decreased appetite
    feeling sick
    greater weakness
    a behavioural or mood change
    feeling very tired
    feeling high
    suicidal thoughts


    Monty may have specific patients in mind, for whom cannabis is known or claimed to benefit. How do they know? ;-)
    I don't know the precise contents of Monty's email but pressurising medical professionals into a particular treatment may not be the way to go.

    I hope Monty has a good defence for his actions and if not I hope he recovers quickly from any consequences.
    It is worth noting that if a member of Jersey's Cover-up-Club or even Team-Paedo had been equally indiscreet there would likely be no consequences.

    1. Is this from VFC?

      If so, I agree - they're a much better blog. I'm a gob on a stick, not an investigative journalist like Neil McMurray is.

      On the point - it's all very well scaremongering about the effects of medicinal cannabis, but this sort of "reefer madness" stuff has been knocking about for decades. Sure, if you smoke pot every day for a few decades, you'll probably go crazy. That shouldn't prevent a few people who are in extreme pain from being kept from the one treatment that actually works for them - especially not because of one pain consultant's obstructionist machinations.

      Monty's decision to send that email might have been a bit crass, but I can imagine it's quite frustrating when something you've worked to get through the States is then strangled in its cradle by the pain consultant.

      You also make a good point that Team Paedo have survived far worse with no consequences.

      Regardless, it should not be a suspend-able offence for a minister to suggest that a civil servant is not doing their job properly.

    2. Yes, from VFC.
      Thank you for your civil reply.

      I am no expert but from recollection the main risk was for youngsters under 20 or so who's brains and minds are still 'growing' or developing and the "go crazy" risk being schizophrenia [!]
      Not sure if high doses in adults had the same effect.

      Can I interest you in this youtube interview:

      It is a discussion between Classical Liberal Prof.JBP and Lefty Liberal Dr. Martin Daly, author of "Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide"

      The discussion begins with rap artist Baba Brinkman's "Survival of the Fittest".

      I hate rap but the content of that blew me away!

      The rap song and the interview are mostly about the strong link between Economic Inequality and Homicide. This has little to do with cannabis unless you want to use the alcohol/homicide data to suggest that males should not be allowed to drink UNLESS they simultaneously also smoke pot to keep them chilled LOL.

    3. That sounds fascinating. I'll give it a watch.

      According to my (extremely limited) knowledge of the field, the link between cannabis and the development of schizophrenia and psychosis is suspected by a significant portion of the medical community, but the science is not conclusive. Several studies *have* made the link - and you're correct that, if the link was proven, it would follow that this could affect developing brains worse than those of adults.

      It is, however, also a fact that the sorts of problems that these doctors reckon are caused by cannabis - schizophrenia, psychosis, paranoia - are only developed after several years, or even decades, of regular and fairly heavy usage. Most people with any sort of social life have used cannabis at one point or another, and the vast majority don't end up as jabbering maniacs.

  2. JMLR.

    A few questions surrounding the suspension of DEPUTY TADIER.