Last week there were several EU referendum polls showing movement towards Remain. Individually the changes were not significant, but collectively it was starting to look as though something may be afoot. Today we’ve had two referendum polls from ORB and ICM with movement in the other direction, suggesting there is no such breakthrough after all. The telephone poll from ORB has topline figures of REMAIN 51%(-1), LEAVE 46%(+3), DK 3%(-2), the weekly online poll from ICM has topline figures of REMAIN 44%(+1), LEAVE 46%(+2), DK 10%(-3).

Fieldwork for ICM was Friday to Sunday, ORB was Wednesday to Sunday, so both were conducted in the context of President Obama’s visit to the UK and call for Britain to remain a member of the EU. Neither of the changes though are necessarily anything more than normal sample variation, so I’d advise caution before jumping to conclusions about the impact of Obama’s visit.


78 Responses to “ORB and ICM referendum polls”

1 2
  1. ” I’d advise caution before jumping to conclusions”

    That violates the first rule of politics!

  2. “That violates the first rule of politics!”

    And journalism, as today’s inquest result demonstrates amply.

  3. Thank you Anthony.
    I would be very interested in to what extent Labour voters will take part in the Referendum vote.

    I think if only 50% of ‘the Labour Vote’ turns out then Leave will win

  4. @Allan Christie
    ‘Oh dear I see some of the peeps on the left are regurgitating the tired old Callaghan thing. Way before my time but I’ve read quite a bit on this and from what I can gather the old bugger was on his last legs and the SNP just accelerated the inevitable.’

    Even in Spring 1979 it was far from inevitable that Thatcher would gain power. Had Callaghan called the election for June 7th – to coincide with the first direct elections to the European Parliament – the Tory lead over Labour would probably have been more like 3 /4% rather than the 7.1% margin on May 3rd. That would have given Labour over 20 additional seats and the SNP might well have managed 4 or 5 rather than 2. As a result Thatcher would probably headed a minority Government needing Unionist support to survive

  5. ‘I’ve read quite a bit on this and from what I can gather the old bugger was on his last legs and the SNP just accelerated the inevitable’

    That’s certainly not true.

    Callaghan was the more popular of the two main party leaders in the late 1970s, and remained Labour leader in opposition (and seeing opinion poll leads over the Tories) until resigning in November 1980, 18 months after the General Election. He remained active after leaving the House of Commons in 1987, and has the distinction of being the most long-lived British Prime Minister ever.

  6. Graham

    Just to bring you into the present, the Press Association have published their estimate of declaration times for Wales and Scotland on May 6th.

    The Scottish ones are here.

    http://election.pressassociation.com/Declaration_times/scotland_2016_by_time.php

    Since I’ll be child-minding as usual on that day, I’ll wait till I get up to find out just how low the SLab vote was.

  7. Alun009

    Could it be that political parties will now be desperately trying to avoid endorsement by the Sun?

  8. These polls suggest that it’s going to be squeaky bum time for Cameron as we head into the vinegar strokes of this Referendum campaign and I think any prospect of a resounding win for the Remain side is fading fast. They need a game-changer but what could that be, I wonder? Farage, Johnson and Gove come out as long-standing participants in a gay ménage-a-trois? Hang on, that might actually bolster the Brexit campaign. What about getting the Pope to claim that the UK would “go to the back of the queue” in terms of any future canonisations and beatifications if we were to desert the EU? Crikey, that could backfire, certainly in Ulster. It’s a real pickle this EU debate, isn’t it, and it could be that Crosby-ite dog whistles are the last throw of the dice. If I was Farage, Gove and Johnson I’d be checking my bins for anything potentially incriminating although, thinking about it, who can old Lynton get to ditch the dirt now all the tabloid attack dogs are off message? As I say, what a pickle old Dave has got himself into? Tangled webs and all that.

    The question remains for a neutral like me, though. How do I cast my vote in June to bring about what I most desire? I ponder further as the clock ticks towards the fateful day. Much to (a)muse before my decision is made. :-)

    On a much more serious note, I was deeply moved by the news of the Hillsborough Inquest verdict today and watching the reaction of the victims families. As the great Jimmy McGovern said, it was a victory for love as well as truth and justice. A victory for the love of friends and family and the determination of relatives to ensure that the vile lies and smears promulgated by that odious trinity of the tabloid press, police and politicians were finally exposed and disproved. A triumph of the powerless over the powerful. Eventually. After 27 years.

    We should celebrate the Hillsborough victim’s families. To lose a loved one is appalling enough but to then have that person collectively traduced and slandered by powerful vested interests covering their backsides must have been an agonising torture for them all. A constant source of anguish which they bore heroically and with great dignity for over a quarter of a century.

    The beginning of some belated solace for them today. A solace they richly deserve.

  9. CB11

    “How do I cast my vote in June to bring about what I most desire?”

    Why don’t you ask her/him which vote will give you the best chance?

  10. @ Alun009 and OldNat

    Was it Mr Cameron, PM,,who in 2011 said, that the relatives of the victims were blind men in a dark room looking for a black cat that’s not there?

    I suppose not only the Sun, but Mr Cameron is toxic too (I wonder if he ends up in court too – I don’t think so, but who knows).

  11. On the polling (on exit)

    There will be massive regional differences in England, if the polls can be believed. That could have serious repercussions in the medium term.

    There is no local election in our ward this year (but there is mayor and police commissioner ones). The number of posters in the windows increased – about 3 to 1 between Labour and Green (no other poster).

  12. Good evening all from rural Hampshire..

    1st……”@Allan Christie
    ‘Oh dear I see some of the peeps on the left are regurgitating the tired old Callaghan thing’
    ……….
    Sorry Graham I never discuss regurgitated stuff from previous threads.

    2nd…..Two better looking polls for the Brexiters.

    3rd….CROSSBAT
    On the Hillsborough Inquest verdict today. Great post and well said. :-) :-) :-)

    Night night peeps.

  13. @CB11
    I agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve said about the Hillsborough tragedy.

    Despite what the inquest said though, would there have been a problem if the fans outside the ground had
    (a) not pushed forward so hard that people were being crushed against the gates, thus giving the police a reason to have them opened, and
    (b) Once inside the ground they had proceeded in an orderly manner (i.e. walking pace) into the stand?

    This does not excuse the mistakes and subsequent cover-up, but I do question whether it could all have been avoided by better fan behaviour.

    On the polls, it does seem that the Remain bandwagon has stalled for whatever reason, but Leave probably has to rely on differential turnout to carry the day. I am now getting interested in the effect on the political landscape whatever the result is.
    If Remain wins, whither UKIP? Who knows?
    Will the Tories survive undivided? Yes
    What about Labour? Weakened

    If Leave wins, whither UKIP? Play a part in negotiations?
    Will the Tories survive undivided? Yes
    What about Labour? Weakened

    Just MHO of course

  14. OLDNAT:
    “Could it be that political parties will now be desperately trying to avoid endorsement by the Sun?”

    Alas no. All parties are necessarily too highly focused on the near future. Some more than others.

  15. I have to admit, I find the “Unlawful Killing” verdict a bit of a stretch (however bad the reaction to an event might have been, that has no bearing on the responsibility for it) but due process has now (finally) been followed and the jury were in a much better position than I am to weigh the facts.

    Any expectation that there will be criminal prosecutions of individuals is unlikely to be realised though. The fevered atmosphere would make it virtually impossible to hold a meaningful trial.

    My general view is that incompetence, by the police and others, is utterly endemic in the UK and that the difference between a tragedy/farce and “a normal day” is largely down to luck.

    In any given week I see at least 2 or 3 decisions that, subjected to the cold light of public scrutiny and the forensic probing of a QC would look like the ramblings of an imbecile.

    And I happen to believe that the UK is one of the least incompetent jurisdictions in the world, so Heaven knows what goes on in some of the murkier corners.

  16. @PeteB

    Despite what the inquest said though, would there have been a problem if the fans outside the ground had
    (a) not pushed forward so hard that people were being crushed against the gates, thus giving the police a reason to have them opened, and
    (b) Once inside the ground they had proceeded in an orderly manner (i.e. walking pace) into the stand?

    I understood the events that led to the tragedy to have commenced before fans got to the ground.

    Hillsborough is surrounded by a network of streets of terraced houses. In previous semi-finals there, the Police set up barriers away from the ground, where only people with tickets were allowed to pass and get close to the ground. This reduced the numbers at the ground, and made sure the fans trickled in more slowly. Mr Duckenfield stopped this, so all fans were allowed to converge on the stadium in bigger numbers and more quickly.

    As someone who deals with serious root cause analysis in my job, I can see that the big decision that caused the tragedy was the opening of the gate (which Mr Duckenfield lied about for years). However, lots of smaller, bad decisions were made prior to that that contributed to the ‘gate opening’ decision. I also understand that Mr Duckenfield did not heed the advice of Senior Officers who had run this operation in years past, who had put good measures into place.

    I am very impressed by the work of the inquest, and the meticulous breakdown of the different counts that the jury considered. They considered matters in great depth for two years, so I am happy with their decisions.

  17. pete b

    “Despite what the inquest said though, would there have been a problem if the fans outside the ground had
    (a) not pushed forward so hard that people were being crushed against the gates, thus giving the police a reason to have them opened, and
    (b) Once inside the ground they had proceeded in an orderly manner (i.e. walking pace) into the stand?”

    Perhaps you should look at the latest inquest verdict (or even taylor Report from original enquiry)

    The answer to both your questions is a resounding “no”.

  18. neil a

    “I have to admit, I find the “Unlawful Killing” verdict a bit of a stretch (however bad the reaction to an event might have been, that has no bearing on the responsibility for it”

    Ah but the bloke in charge of safety and crowd control WAS responsible, not just by omission afterwards by his actions and inactions actually causing the tragedy (opening the gate, not closing the fill pens) as well as not doing any of the bare minimum in preparatory work before the match to find out what his job would actually involve. We’ll see if he gets charged and we’ll see if he tries your defence – i wasn’t very good at my job but it wasn’t me wot done it, guiv alongside the failed drunken ticketless fans pressing at the gates lie.

    There were less people in the ground than capacity and less people in the ground than tickets sold. The problem was the pillock did what he should have known was the one thing he shouldn’t do and tried to squeeze them all in to one tight overfilled space – perhaps he should have asked the guy who policed the previous semi final how to do it.

  19. There’s an interesting piece somewhere about the inquest about why Duckenfield was in charge instead of the previous experience guy (forget his name) who had kept everybody alive in previous years. Appears he was put in charge as some sort of disciplinarian to punish the force for something or other. It appears he was put inch are because he was a bully, in fact to be a bully and he obviously knew nothing about his job except how to be a bully.

    There should be some punishments for the negligence, for the cover-up and the lies and possibly even for perjury. But should and will are far apart.

    Might be a good idea if people stopped repeating the “fans played a part” mantra because it is infuriating. Yes, fans could and did behave badly elsewhere, but the only evidence of such behaviour at Hillsborough on that day comes from police statements that have been discredited.

  20. Good Morning everyone.
    It is a lovely day here in Bournemouth East.
    The LEAVE side seem to have picked up some votes. Time will tell.
    IMO the Tory Government and Corbyn Labour people are not very well regarded. Alan Johnson, sadly for Labour, has been on the sidelines for too long.
    Therefore REMAIN may well be in trouble. Big contrast with 1975

  21. It is difficult from this distance, to put the Hillsborough disaster and the undoubtedly poor decision making by the various authorities, into context, but I’ll try.

    I stopped attending football matches some time before the disaster because of the thuggish behaviour of fans. Following the Heysell stadium disaster, four years before Hillsborough, Liverpool fans had a particularly bad reputation and some of them did their best to live up to it. Liverpool was the main cause of all English clubs being banned from European competition. The behaviour led to all grounds having high fences around the pitch, the reason that there were so many casualties.

    Given the above, it is hardly surprising that the situation was completely misinterpreted by the police and others. They probably thought “here we go again” and thought they were faced with a riot situation. It doesn’t excuse the cover up, but it does explain some decisions which may seem perverse. I think we should remember that nobody meant this to happen and people thought that they were doing the right thing at the time.

  22. Re: Hillsborough

    There were multiple failings by the police, not just the opening of the gate – by which time the previous failings were already causing a problem.

    The root cause, though, is the treatment of football fans as a de-humanised mass that needed to be caged and controlled. That attitude – and maybe a particular antipathy towards the people of Liverpool – was behind the immediate blaming of the fans themselves for the tragedy. In fact, as the inquests have shown, it was the police behaviour that directed the fans in towards their deaths.

    There were many opportunities for the police to behave differently, both by preparation in the lead up to the game and on the day itself. I would accept that the general atmosphere of football fans = hooligans prevalent in the 1980s in some quarters contributed to the way the police treated the fans on that day – but the police actions created the problem. They didn’t try and keep the crowd safe; they lost control through lack of preparation and did not try to alleviate the problem; instead they shepherded people towards their deaths.

  23. CROSSBAT11
    Hello to you.
    England is at the back of the line or the queue for papal canonisations anyway.

    On the football tragedy: I remember the 1970’s when the fans were terrible and my late Dad stopped taking me and my brothers to Selhurst Park.

  24. RMJ1
    Far too charitable. More likely they thought they could get away with it given the Liverpool reputation. No reasonable way to think there was a riot from the CCTV footage.

  25. @HAWTHORN

    I think you are being far too cynical. Hindsight is with 20/20 vision. Don’t get me wrong. The victims and the vast majority of fans there, were almost certainly completely blameless. I just think the unlawfully killed verdict is itself perverse.

  26. @Neil A (and others posting on the Hillsborough Inquest verdict)

    “My general view is that incompetence, by the police and others, is utterly endemic in the UK and that the difference between a tragedy/farce and “a normal day” is largely down to luck.”

    I’m a believer too that there is far more cock-up than conspiracy in public life but Hillsborough was both. A colossal and tragic cock-up followed by a gigantic conspiracy, largely mainly involving the police but including others too, that rumbled on until it was magnificently nailed yesterday as the lie it always was. 12 good men/women and true never better demonstrated.

    I’m much persuaded by some of the post inquest commentary today that talks about the danger of “othering” groups of people and, in so doing, allowing vicious canards and lies to be be visited upon them. Many were complicit in that, including the tabloid press, and probably quite a few mainstream opinion formers too, and Liverpudlian football fans were “othered” in such a way that the police’s false narrative settled, and became rooted, on fertile soil. We sort of wanted to believe that scouse football fans picked the pockets of the dead, didn’t we? Kelvin McKenzie obviously thought so.

    Of course the spectre of hooliganism stalked football in that dreadful decade for the game (the 80s was a pretty dreadful decade for crime generally and for corrupt policing too) but that shouldn’t have allowed those responsible for crowd safety at Hillsborough to let their fateful decisions be couched in lazy assumptions about the people they were policing and whose safety was their specific responsibility. The fact that they did so led to an appalling loss of life, then compounded by their instant preoccupation, which continued over decades, to shift blame on to those who lost their lives. To think that the people we put in place to protect us behaved in such a way is beyond scandalous. It’s truly frightening.

  27. @NickP.

    I don’t disagree with any of the basic findings of fact. It’s just that “Unlawful Killing” is a high bar, or at least Manslaughter is.

    It’s not enough that your decision was wrong and was the direct cause of a death. There’s more to it than that. The fact that Dukenfield was the wrong person to be commanding that game would be part of the defence, not the prosecution. The fact that he was a clueless idiot with no idea what he was doing would be part of the defence not the prosecution.

    My point really is that the police promotion and rank structure leads directly to a situation where there are hundreds, probably thousands of officers in supervisory roles who have little or no clue how to do their job. The wiser ones identity junior officers under their command who can effectively tutor them in their new role, and discreetly heed their advice. But even this can go horribly wrong as a devious, experienced officer can manipulate their boss.

    I once had a female Detective Sergeant, who was quite experienced but came into a Child Protection team without any previous experience in that area. We struck up a rapport, and she was very open that she “didn’t know anything about Child Protection”. For several years she would come to me to ask questions, and to proof read (and sometimes even write) her reports. The last I heard she was a well thought of DCI in the domestic abuse world (although I expect she’s long retired now). My current Superintendent came into post without an iota of relevant experience in the business area she now leads.

    I bet you every year there are at least two or three football matches commanded by an officer who really has no clue what he/she is doing and has no business occupying that role. The fact that Duckenfield was put in that position is not unusual. His sin was to be stupid and proud, as well as ignorant.

    I doubt this phenomenon is restricted to the police. I can’t say for certain, but I’d be extremely surprised if there aren’t quite a few operations every year that surgeons without sufficient recent experience carry out, largely because they’re not willing to admit that they’re not the right person to do it. My wife watches (far too many) TV medical dramas and this seems to be a routine storyline. My only direct experience is having worked in an A&E department for a year, and certainly the staff would talk openly about how rubbish some doctors were and about serious mistakes that had been made. Young doctors would frequently take their lead from experienced nurses, as pretty much anything that came through the door that wasn’t completely routine was new to them.

  28. @ rmj1, Hawthorn et al

    I am afraid I was not present throughout the two years of hearings and neither do I believe I have a complete picture of the oral and documentary evidence from the reporting of the inquest by print or broadcast media.
    In those circumstances I feel it appropriate to accept that a Jury that did so, and which was made up of ordinary people doing their best to achieve a true verdict, is better placed to come to conclusion than me.

    just sayin.

  29. @ Neil A

    I think you are wrong in your conclusions that incompetence can necessarily form part of the defence to a gross negligence manslaughter charge: the test as set out in R v Adomako [1994] 3 WLR 288 is that: the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim and was in breach of that duty. Thereafter it must be shown that the breach of duty caused the death and the defendant’s conduct was so bad in all the circumstances as to amount, in the jury’s opinion, to a crime.
    In other words if the Jury conclude that intransigence in maintaining a particular course of action was so bad given what was happening it does not have to conclude that incompetence is a defence.

  30. @”the police promotion and rank structure leads directly to a situation where there are hundreds, probably thousands of officers in supervisory roles who have little or no clue how to do their job.”

    Gulp !

  31. @”the police promotion and rank structure leads directly to a situation where there are hundreds, probably thousands of officers in supervisory roles who have little or no clue how to do their job.”

    The Peter principle ( Laurence J Peter): the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.”

    Long and well understood management theory, yet it still seems to occur

  32. This is of some interest – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32011R1174&from=EN

    I hadn’t realised that Euro states not only have to avoid government deficits greater than 3%, but under the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure, the Euro states can’t have a current account surplus greater than 6%.

    This is all sensible stuff if you are in an single currency economic zone without significant fiscal transfers, as you have to find other ways to correct imbalances.

    It turns out Germany has broken the current account rule for 6 years, with the surplus now up to 8.5%. Under the enforcement rules (see link) the Commission should fine Germany 0.1% of GDP for each year this has happened.

    It also says – ” The procedure for applying sanctions to those Member States which fail to take effective measures to correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances should be
    construed in such a way that the application of the sanctions to those Member States would be the rule and not the exception.”

    While there are get out clauses about avoiding punitive measures that create economic instabilities, it seems pretty clear from this Regulation that the Commission should be taking measures to fine Germany around EU3.3b for each of the last six years.
    The Commission hasn’t even announced that it is looking at this, so it is clear that this regulation is being ignored.

    This is an example of one of the reasons that I am very much wavering in my decision for June 23rd. The Euro is a terribly badly constructed currency, with the rules applied assymetrically, and with plenty examples of how the big nations can do as they please and with the rules only enforced on those weaker states.

    The same general approach applies on non Euro matters. The EU is meant to have human rights as a central foundation stone, but come the migrant crisis, urgent agreements with Turkey are fine, even when they breach agreed international human rights.

    Until I see some evidence that the EU is getting to grips with the technical problems within the Euro construction, and also an end to the enduring EU habit of writing rules to be selectively applied, then I’m going to struggle to be able to support such a defective institution.

  33. @RMJ1 – “Given the above, it is hardly surprising that the situation was completely misinterpreted by the police and others. They probably thought “here we go again” and thought they were faced with a riot situation. It doesn’t excuse the cover up, but it does explain some decisions which may seem perverse.”

    It might be worth your while reading a little of what was said during the inquest from the key players. The policeman in charge (Duckenfield) was inexperienced in this situation, but nonetheless admitted to a string of failures in terms of his own personal preparation for the match. This was the S Yorks police force’s biggest policing event of the year, yet Duckenfield admitted that he didn’t even know that the police were responsible for monitoring overcrowding.

    He was completely unprepared for the event, which is partly the responsibility of the man who appointed him (now dead) but Duckenfield opted not to use what little time he had before the match to fill in some of his knowledge gaps. Because of this, he bears some level of responsibility.

    He then lied about what he saw and did, both on the day, and for 26 years afterwards – as he himself admitted during the second inquest.

    There is very little room to be charitable here.

  34. @ALEC

    As I said, it doesn’t excuse the cover up. The officers concerned are probably guilty of perjury – but that is not the same as manslaughter. The verdict was 7 – 2 on the unlawfully killed verdict, which shows that at least two jurors had doubts.

    I also agree with NEIL A on people being promoted to their level of incompetence. This happens in all spheres of life but only in the public sector do those people get to stay there. It is most noticeable in the Police, Armed Forces and the NHS. Until recently, it was possible for public sector organisations to early retire these incompetent managers with a barrow load of cash, so they did. Unfortunately they were often rehired because of their seemingly unblemished CVs.

  35. @RMJ1 – I completely disagree with you, and certainly have an element of sympathy for Duckenworth, in the sense that he was patently ill prepared for the task in hand.

    However, in my view, that merely extends the responsibility to the more senior officers who appointed him and the force management as a whole. A sharing of the blame, rather than a reason to absolve Duckenworth.

    I have, several times in my various working careers, been asked to do tasks that I considered to be beyond my experience and training, if not necessarily my abilities. Some of these tasks involved an element of risk, in various ways, and purely to protect myself, if nothing else, I ensured that I informed my senior managers of my misgivings, in writing, along with suggestions for how to mitigate against any risks.

    It was up to my managers as to whether they took notice of my conserns, but I was clear about the need to make a reasoned judgement about my own abilities and make sure I had evidence that these had been relayed up the chain of management. I would consider this to be a basic step for anyone involved in the world of work, and had Duckenfield done this I doubt very much whether he would be potentially facing charges now. He also wouldn’t have spent a third of his life telling l!es.

  36. Ooops! – I meant to say that ‘I don’t compleletely disagree with you……..’

  37. @Graham @James E

    Couple of points:

    First the reason the SNP voted against the Callaghan Government was because Labour had denied Scotland a parliament by putting in place a 40% rule amendment to the Referendum Bill. So in effect Labour denied Scotland a parliament which might have protected against Thatcher. So not the smartest point for Labour to bring up.

    Second it was 37 years ago! Where only 18 months ago Labour were shoulder to shoulder with the Tories in the Better Together campaign – How long will it take for Scotland to forget that? 37 years +++

  38. @Couper
    The 40% rule did not come from the Callaghan Government at all – rather it was a result of an amendment successfully tabled by the Scottish Labour MP for Islington South – George Cunningham.

  39. @WB

    “I am afraid I was not present throughout the two years of hearings and neither do I believe I have a complete picture of the oral and documentary evidence from the reporting of the inquest by print or broadcast media.
    In those circumstances I feel it appropriate to accept that a Jury that did so, and which was made up of ordinary people doing their best to achieve a true verdict, is better placed to come to conclusion than me.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    I would only add that it’s a striking irony that those who often profess the greatest preference for ‘British justice’ with its heavy reliance on the jury system are frequently the first to question the judgements of juries when they are ‘inconvenient’ or do not concur with their own views.

  40. @WB & @NeilA

    “I think you are wrong in your conclusions that incompetence can necessarily form part of the defence to a gross negligence manslaughter charge: the test as set out in R v Adomako [1994] 3 WLR 288 is that: the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim and was in breach of that duty. Thereafter it must be shown that the breach of duty caused the death and the defendant’s conduct was so bad in all the circumstances as to amount, in the jury’s opinion, to a crime.”

    Quite right.

    In fact, if a person accepts a role, position, commission or project knowing that they are not suitably qualified or competent to to carry it out rather than being a defence it may assist in their prosecution.

  41. @ASSIDUOSITY

    I’ve always thought that if I was guilty, I’d like my case to be considered by a jury. If I was innocent, I’d prefer a judge to make the decision.

  42. @NeillA

    “I doubt this phenomenon is restricted to the police. I can’t say for certain, but I’d be extremely surprised if there aren’t quite a few operations every year that surgeons without sufficient recent experience carry out, largely because they’re not willing to admit that they’re not the right person to do it.”

    Performing a procedure without the necessary competence (except in truly exceptional circumstances) is one of the most serious transgressions that a clinician can make. It results in most instances in removal from the register by the General Medical Council – a doctor being struck off.

    Obviously it does happen, and the matter has to be brought to light in order for action to be taken, as in any sphere of life. However, the processes and systems for dealing with alleged misconduct in medicine are regarded worldwide as being an exemplar.

    The GMC acts as the standard setting and investigatory authority and the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service as the adjudicating body. The MPTS carries out its work in public, making case by case decisions based on examination of evidence and testimony by a panel of professionals and independent members. You can actually go onto the MPTS website and see all the doctors who are due to answer cases for alleged misconduct scheduled for the next six weeks – with more serious and complex cases scheduled up to six moths in advance.

    The contrast with the way the alleged misconduct of police officers – and most other professions – are handled, could not be more acute.

    To draw a direct parallel, there is no way at all that the catalogue of deceit, cover up and incompetence that the police officer at the heart of this tragedy has admitted to publicly could, if repeated in a clinical context, result in anything but a doctor being struck off from the register and being barred from ever practising in the UK again. Certainly they would not be the medical director of a large NHS Trust – the equivalent position to that of a Chief Constable.

    Beyond this, all GMC registered clinicians now have to ‘re-validate’ their competence to remain in practice and in their given specialism on a regular (5-7 year) basis. This is in addition to the appraisal requirements of their employer. Failure to do so results automatically in removal from the register.

    No system is perfect, but the UK’s is about the toughest anywhere in the world for ensuring medical competence and handling incompetence and malpractice. It is currently being expanded to midwives, nurses and other medical staff.

    Finally, it should be noted that the case law on ‘negligent manslaughter’ (involuntary manslaughter by way of criminal negligence), is based to a large extent on medical cases, meaning that clinicians have been fully subject to these provisions for a long time. This despite the fact that many of their decisions are matters of debatable judgement made in extremely pressurised conditions.

    None of this came about as a matter of accident. The medical profession has always been rigorously supervised, but these additional layers came about as a result of Harold Shipman’s terrible crimes and, specifically, Dame Janet Smith’s excellent review into the failures in oversight by the GMC and others.

    Now that Dame Janet has finished her work for the BBC looking at that organisations failing over the Saville affair, perhaps she could turn her undoubted talents to matter of the oversight of the professionalism, conduct and investigation of misconduct in our police services.

  43. @RMJ1

    “I’ve always thought that if I was guilty, I’d like my case to be considered by a jury. If I was innocent, I’d prefer a judge to make the decision.”

    Well, on this matter you would have failed to take account of the evidence.

    Judge led systems have an invariably higher rate of prosecution, and also of reversal of decision on appeal.

    Indicating that they are both more prone to conviction and error in so doing.

    Of course, you have some limited choice under English law as to whether you will be heard by magistrates or juries and there some other jurisdictions which operate a hybrid system i.e. that of professional jurists.

    In whichever case, I would advise for your own sake that you be guided by the evidence rather than your desire to follow your own undeniably elegant maxim.

  44. MORI/STV Holyrood poll

    http://stv.tv/news/politics/1352023-scottish-labour-set-to-finish-third-behind-the-tories-poll-finds/

    Party : Const VI : List VI : SV seat pred : Cutbot seat pred

    SNP : 51% : 45% : 71 : 67
    Con : 18% : 19% : 23 : 25
    Lab : 19% : 17% : 20 : 20
    L_D : 6% : 7% : 6 : 6
    Grn : — : 10% : 9 : 11
    UK : — : 1% : 0 : 0
    Oth : 6%

    As usual 6% “Other” in constituencies is rubbish,

    It does Lab no good to be ahead of the Tories (by a point) in constituencies – Lab unlikely to win any of them. Being behind the Tories on the List VI is what is most damaging.

    Aidan Kerr the STV reporter who wrote the article is a right-wing Tory – which may explain the rather overblown interpretation of the data!

  45. Good afternoon all from a mild grey Reigate here in Surrey. I was hoping for a secondment to the Caribbean but instead I got sent to Reigate for the day…Oh well. Anyone visiting Reigate then I highly recommend Bill’s restaurant for a great lunch and equally I highly recommend their Holborn restaurant in central London.

    I’ve spent about 20 minutes reading peoples comments on Hillsborough and I can’t really add anything to the comments of HAWTHORN CROSSBAT NICKP ALEC SORREL LASZLO WB CATMANJEFF except that I think the vast majority of the public including myself would agree with your comments.

  46. @Assiduosity,

    Thanks for that, very informative (and reassuring).

    My brief experience of working in a hospital was way, way before the detection of Shipman, so it may be that what I experienced was an example of a previous culture that the Shipman case helped to reform.

    There certainly needs to be a cold, hard look at the management of the police. Anyone who has witnessed senior officers (trying) to explain themselves at a public enquiry or a Commons committee must surely have thought “really?”

    That taints the whole profession, I think. Most of the officers at Hillsborough acted professionally and had no responsibility either for what went wrong or the way it was portrayed afterwards. In fact they were victims too. And yet criticism always gets laid at “The Police” or “South Yorkshire Police” as an institution.

    If someone dies due to mistakes on an operating table, they weren’t killed by “The Medical Profession”, they were killed by the doctor operating on them.

    I’m not sure the government’s proposals for direct-entry superintendents etc are the right answer, but perhaps they are at least asking the question. The College of Policing is probably also a step in the right direction.

    Of course, procedures are only of value if people operate them. Medical scrutiny still requires accurate accounts from co-workers about the sequence of events in an incident that went wrong. If the medical profession is being successful in persuading health workers to report the misconduct of their colleagues, there would definitely be lessons that the police could learn from that.

    Culturally, it is still very difficult for a police officer to “kick up a stink” about something.

  47. OLDNAT

    “Aidan Kerr the STV reporter who wrote the article is a right-wing Tory – which may explain the rather overblown interpretation of the data!”
    ______

    That maybe so but I’ve had a look at other parts of the poll and Dugdale is well behind Davidson and light years behind Sturgeon in leadership and trust.

    Labour have a problem in Scotland and poll after poll have shown that problem is their leader. Whatever happens to Labour next May can’t be attributed to ol ole (old?) Corby because Dugdale was elected on her platform of making Scottish Labour more autonomous from the party in England.

    The party in Scotland are in free-fall.

  48. Allan Christie

    “The [Labour] party in Scotland are in free-fall.”

    However, I gather that they have a new strategy planned! Much talk about Dugdale being ditched after May – to be succeeded by Sarwar.

    What happens when Lab do badly in the 2017 locals hasn’t been suggested yet but in a year’s time we should have a good idea of Sarwar’s successor – Willie Rennie perhaps? :-)

  49. @NeilA

    “Most of the officers at Hillsborough acted professionally and had no responsibility either for what went wrong or the way it was portrayed afterwards. In fact they were victims too. And yet criticism always gets laid at “The Police” or “South Yorkshire Police” as an institution.
    If someone dies due to mistakes on an operating table, they weren’t killed by “The Medical Profession”, they were killed by the doctor operating on them.”

    I think this is an excellent point and one which the medical profession has learnt – after centuries of ‘protecting their own they realised the best way to safeguard their reputation was to ‘police’ their profession rigorously. Perhaps this accounts for why they enjoy such high levels of public trust.

    On medical professionals calling into account each others practice – I’d still say there is a long way to go on this. Medicine – particularly hospital medicine – is a very hierarchical profession and there were many career reasons in the past to keep quiet.

    These are becoming less and less as processes of recruitment are opened up – for example most permanent consultant’s jobs are appointed by a panel that includes a representative of the relevant royal college, the board of governors of the Trust, a patient representative and a lay person – often a magistrate, judge or QC. That level of public oversight is again, almost unheard of in any other profession. Though was more common in the past.

    The other ingredient of course is that complaints against doctors are made by patients, who are mostly, if not believed, then not actively disbelieved. The same cannot be said of all those who would make complaints against the police.

    I personally think a College of Policing would be an excellent idea – and one of the real failures in public policy has been not to extend the principle of such organisations into other spheres especially teaching and social work to name two.

  50. @OldNat and AC

    These are appalling times for the Labour Party in Scotland.

    So scant is the reporting of the devolved elections at a UK level that it’s difficult to get a real flavour of the changing face of politics in the nations.

    But the Conservatives ‘in opposition’ in Hollyrood and Neil Hamilton and Mark Reckless sitting in the Senedd in Cardiff are propositions that will take some getting used to.

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