Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here


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11:20 am - September 5th 2012

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contribution by Louise Mead

Jeremy Hunt’s appointment as Health Secretary: you really couldn’t make it up.

There are plenty of reasons why his appointment should cause concern, not least his apparently anti-choice attitude to women – made clear when he voted in favour of reducing the abortion time-limit from 24 to 12 weeks.

This is partly why it was disappointing to see certain voices on the left skipping over serious arguments against his appointment in favour of the claim he ‘believes in homoeopathy’.

Let’s take a quick look at the facts.

In 2007 an Early Day Motion was tabled to express concern at NHS cuts putting some patients at risk of losing access to treatments they had found comfort in – including but not limited to homoeopathy. Jeremy Hunt was one of 206 MPs who signed the EDM along with 87 other Conservative MPs, 72 Labour MPs, and 41 Liberal Democrat MPs.

One of Hunt’s constituents decided to write to Hunt to express his concern at him signing the EDM, stating that homoeopathy is a waste of NHS funds.

Hunt wrote back explaining that in an NHS that was supposed to be ‘patient-led’, it was his view that such treatments should be available where both doctor and patient felt they would be of use.

I would surmise that, inconvenient as it may be, the only thing we can really assume Jeremy Hunt believes in is patient choice.

You could argue, if you wanted to nit-pick, that Hunt’s choice of words was poor and could be interpreted as supporting homoeopathy if taken out of context. However, I’m pretty sure that pointing out a poor choice of words is even less of a devastating argument than the sweeping assumption that he believes in homoeopathy based on said choice of words.

Time spent lambasting Hunt over an exaggerated story serves as a distraction from more useful points in the debate. At worst it plays up to some of the more negative stereotypes about the left and gives the appearance of being incapable of reasoned, fact-based debate.


Louise Mead tweets from here and is a Britist artist.

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Reader comments


I’m inclined to disagree in that his response is indicative of a particular mindset.

Homeopathy is unproven nonsense. The fact that he is happy for “patient choice” to trump actual evidence is very worrying. Where would that end? Prayer on the NHS? Crystal therapy? Blood-letting.

OK, I exaggerate with that last one but my point is treatments that have no basis in evidence have no place in a publicly funded health system. By condoning Homeopathy in this way he undermines an important precept.

It is also worth bearing in mind the opportunity-cost that alternative* medicines inflict. For every pound spent on it, that’s a pound not being spent on what works. And despite Homeopathy’s official body claiming otherwise there are countless examples of ethically dodgy practice where practitioners have advised patients to forgo conventional medicine for serious diseases in favour of a compound that has no proven effect beyond placebo. A Newsnight investigation a few years ago showed that. Surely Hunt cannot be unaware of that?

I only hope his officials set him straight on this sharpish.

*I only use the “alternative medicine” label as a shorthand but it is a misnomer. If it was proven to work it would be “medicine”. Otherwise it can’t credibly be given this label even caveated.

First, the number of MPs that support a motion, or their usual loyalties, does not absolve any individual MP of responsibility.

Second, let’s read the text of that EDM again:

“That this House welcomes the positive contribution made to the health of the nation by the NHS homeopathic hospitals; notes that some six million people use complementary treatments each year; believes that complementary medicine has the potential to offer clinically-effective and cost-effective solutions to common health problems faced by NHS patients, including chronic difficult to treat conditions such as musculoskeletal and other chronic pain, eczema, depression, anxiety and insomnia, allergy, chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome; expresses concern that NHS cuts are threatening the future of these hospitals; and calls on the Government actively to support these valuable national assets.”

This goes considerably further than: “express[ing] concern at NHS cuts putting some patients at risk of losing access to treatments they had found comfort in”. It specifically cites homeopathy, and explicitly suggests that complementary “medicine” has actual beneficial medical effects.

So, let’s talk about “reasoned, fact-based debate”. What the EDM called for can reasonably be called BS, and there are plenty of fact-based resources (as in decades of actual medical evidence) which back this up. There is also plenty of evidence that complementary “medicine” is actively harmful.

“I would surmise that, inconvenient as it may be, the only thing we can really assume Jeremy Hunt believes in is patient choice.”

Notice you don’t publish the letter but are happy to misrepresent it because it suits your argument. Coward!

Hunt has a great many flaws as a health secretary – even before he’s started in the job – but believing in magic water is probably still one worth mentioning mainly because it is fun.

All for people believing in magic fairy dust, vampires, gods and other silly things – but it is always pointing out the stupidity of anyone who believes in eternal traces remaining in water but not realising that means every glass they drink presumably carries with it such traces of herpes, rats urine and industrial waste, as well as whatever “nice” thing they imagine it offers.

After the BSkyB affair, I’m more concerned that Hunt now has his hands on such a massive budget.

Aside from that, 206 MP’s is a pretty shocking number isn’t it? And two-thirds of Lib Dem MP’s? Yikes. Even if we assume that this was about patient choice and not Homeopathy in particular, there’s still a problem. The NHS can’t simply meet everyone’s wants (as opposed to needs) on demand. Where would that end? “BS” is right.

I would surmise that, inconvenient as it may be, the only thing we can really assume Jeremy Hunt believes in is patient choice.

If that ‘choice’ is based on the lies of quacks it is right to oppose it. There’s no reason the tax payer should financially support bullshit because it makes the gullible feel better.

But surely “patient choice” should mean “patient choice between treatments with proven outcomes” not “patient gets to spend NHS money on whatever new-age nonsense they want”.

Thanks for your comments so far. In response:

@Mark Thompson My point wasn’t really an attempt to open debate on homoeopathy – granted, what little I do know about it is concerning. However, I think that’s a topic best served as a separate discussion which is likely to be tackled far more eloquently by individuals who know more about it than I do. What I was actually attempting to say is twofold really: 1. There are far more concrete and urgent concerns to be raised regarding Jeremy Hunt’s appointment than an EDM he signed and a single piece of correspondence he wrote in 2007, and 2. To suggest that said correspondence and wording of the EDM are absolute proof he definitely believes in homoeopathy simply serves to support the stereotype of the left being hysterical and reactionary. The consequences of behaviour that appear to support that stereotype do nothing to win the trust or respect of voters and therefore it should be avoided, particularly when there are so many far more convincing arguments to be raised in objection to Hunt’s appointment.

@Ian I think you do raise a good point regarding the number of MPs signing and EDM not absolving them of individual responsibility. However, I would refer you to my response above stating that my point was not to ignite a debate regarding homoeopathy itself.

@Richard I hardly think taking the time to make my observation of this situation public falls within the definition of cowardice. For your information, the article does contain a link to the correspondence I mention – but seeing as you missed it here is the link again http://moteprime.org/article.php?id=31.

@marginforerror I suppose if fun is your priority then yes, it is quite humorous in a ‘you couldn’t make it up’ fashion. However, as I mentioned above, I’m not how beneficial such ‘fun’ is when trying to demonstrate to voters that left-leaning politics is a credible alternative to the government we have now.

@Jack C I think you make some good points, nothing I particularly disagree with. Again however, these are separate issues that distract from the stronger arguments available to be raised regarding Hunt’s appointment.

@Dave Cross I think my comments so far apply as a response.

“You could argue, if you wanted to nit-pick, that Hunt’s choice of words was poor and could be interpreted as supporting homoeopathy if taken out of context.”

Unless the words immediately preceding were “Only a drooling imbecile would claim….” I can’t see what context you believe would excuse it.

@Jimmy – I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Principle of Charity? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity

12. Raymond Terrific

I never knew the idiot was dumb enough to believe in homeopathy. It all makes sense now. Should be hilarious. Totally out of his depth. The chinless wonder couldn’t believe it himself – he looked like a five-year-old on xmas morning when he found out..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVV3QQ3wjC8

Come on boffins! Let’s get this sorted.

Jimmy,
I can’t believe that those 206 MP’s signed because they all support Homeopathy. This is a huge proportion of the Commons (particularly once you’ve taken out all of those MP’s in government and opposition who wouldn’t have been available).

I suspect they were signing-up for the bit about supporting treatments where both doctor and patient thought there was a benefit. That’s a pretty reasonable position, even if vague to the point of uselessness, and would explain the wide and cross-party support.

Jeremy Hunt signed a statement that said he
“believes that complementary medicine has the potential to offer clinically-effective and cost-effective solutions to common health problems”
His very concise letter referred only to patient choice rather than effectiveness, but the motion that he signed goes further

But that aside, your article implies that there is a one-or-other choice on what to focus on. I disagree, both are important. The pro-life campaign is led by Nadine Dorries, who has frequently relied on shoddy and scientifically inaccurate claims in order to give the impression that she is driven by facts rather than faith. The BMA and scientists do not accept that there is a case for reducing abortion times, yet Jeremy Hunt voted for it. The two issues are not unconnected.

“his view that such treatments should be available where both doctor and patient felt they would be of use”
Some patients will want it, but it should be cause for concern that there are doctors that will support its use. Doctors are supposed to be scientific, using treatments that have been scientifically tested and shown to be effective. If a doctor is using something which lacks evidence or plausible explanation of effectiveness as treatment then questions should be asked about their judgement. If evidence is not necessary, why not any quack cure they’ve heard of? Faith healing? Magic crystals? Blood letting? A recommendation to avoid passing underneath ladders and to take care with mirrors? All equally effective.

@John I don’t think my article does imply a one-or-other choice and that most certainly wasn’t my intention. In case my point wasn’t clear – I believe there are numerous better, indisputable arguments to be raised than making assumptions based on a vaguely-worded EDM from five years ago.

My concern about Hunt being aparently in favour of “complementary medicine” is the fact that the placebo effect it is ultimately based on is simply nowhere near effective enough. So pushing it in the NHS could result in an increased death rate, which would be blamed on, er, the NHS.

18. margin4error

Louise

In the grand scheme of things I’d like to agree with you – but attacking hunt on any level won’t demonstrate that Labour have a model that is right for government. Doing that is about establishing with the public what Labour plan to do and how they’d do it. Labour are struggling to do that, which is no surprise only two years after being booted out – but signs are emerging of a more cohesive economic view than the tories (yellow or blue) have managed in office).

And in the mean time – the old addage that when the public are ranting the government is fine, but when the public start laughing the government falls – is not so far off the truth.

Making Hunt look like an oddball and a fool might not be a bad strategy.

@Jimmy – I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Principle of Charity? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity

Funny you don’t seem to apply that principle to left-wingers standing up against the tide of epistemic relativism, and instead attempt to smear them as playing up to hysterical and reactionary stereotypes .

The consequences of behaviour that appear to support that stereotype do nothing to win the trust or respect of voters and therefore it should be avoided, particularly when there are so many far more convincing arguments to be raised in objection to Hunt’s appointment.

We can do without the trust and respect of people who believe in magic water.

20. Chaise Guevara

Hi Louise

Richard’s response @3 was hardly a sensible invitation to debate, but the letter does seem to say that Hunt believes in homeopathy (or is prepared to claim that he does to gain political points).

The relevant paragraph:

“I understand that it is your view that homeopathy is not effective, and therefore that people should not be encouraged to use it as a treatment. However I am afraid that I have to disagree with you on this issue. Homeopathic care is enormously valued by thousands of people and in an NHS that the Government repeatedly tells us is “patient-led” it ought to be available where a doctor and patient believe that a homeopathic treatment may be of benefit to the patient. ”

As I read it, that says “Homeopathy does work because people like it and it suits my politics”. Not the kind of mind you want on a Health Secretary, or any politician really.

And yes, his attitude towards the NHS as a whole is probably a bigger issue. But it’s understandable that Labour and others have jumped on this. It shows quickly and clearly that the guy who’s been put in charge of our NHS doesn’t understand the first thing about medicine.

@ Louise 16
You may not have meant that but you spent more time downplaying the importance of his views on homeopathy than arguing for the importance of his views on abortion. You didn’t actually need to talk about homeopathy at all to argue that there’s not been enough discussion of his views on abortion.

Unlike homeopathy, he doesn’t seem to have said anything about abortion that I can find. No letters, no statement, his wikipedia page doesn’t mention a religion. Maybe he wants to keep his views quiet, or maybe no one cared until now. We don’t know what led the man who cares only for ‘patient choice’ and won’t interfere when doctor and patient are in agreement to decide to restrict the right of women to choose and to go against medical opinion. I hope someone asks him to explain himself

@Shatterface but that’s just it – we don’t know whether Hunt does or does not ‘believe in magic water’. To assume he does on the strength of the evidence provided is unwise and adds nothing of any real value to constructive debate.

@John As I have already stated several times now, the intent of my article was to draw attention to the problem of reactionary hysteria instead of focusing on the real issues. It was not intended to be a critique of Jeremy Hunt’s appointment in itself. Two key reasons for that – there simply wasn’t room within the word limit for the article, and I did not want to conflate the two issues at risk of my initial observation being drowned out.

@Louise Mead

“I would surmise that, inconvenient as it may be, the only thing we can really assume Jeremy Hunt believes in is patient choice.”

This is an area where patient choice is simply not relevant. The issue of homeopathy is a matter of science. It has been more or less absolutely proven that it is useless, and it has, indeed proven dangerous, even fatal, where the magic water has been taken in place of real, proven medical treatments. It is dangerouse nonses, and should not even be legal, let alone offered by the NHS.

Tying this issue to patient choice weakens my already weak liking for the whole patient choice nonsense.

24. Chaise Guevara

@ 21 john

“Unlike homeopathy, he doesn’t seem to have said anything about abortion that I can find. No letters, no statement, his wikipedia page doesn’t mention a religion. ”

Does voting to cut the abortion limit to 12 weeks count as expressing a view?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/05/abortion-campaigners-anne-milton-exit?newsfeed=true

@marginforerror I agree with you that attacking the government isn’t the key to success for Labour & the left. However, I also see little value in influential individuals wasting time on tabloidesque sensationalism when instead they could be using their platform to educate people on the more serious issues at stake.

“I believe there are numerous better, indisputable arguments to be raised than making assumptions based on a vaguely-worded EDM from five years ago.”

I’m struggling to see what is vaguely worded about an EDM titled “NHS HOMEOPATHIC HOSPITALS” and containing the phrases:

“this House welcomes the positive contribution made to the health of the nation by the NHS homeopathic hospitals”

“believes that complementary medicine has the potential to offer clinically-effective and cost-effective solutions to common health problems”

@Chaise Guevara comment 20 – you may have a good point regarding his understanding of medicine. However I still stand by my original point that making such an absolute statement as ‘Hunt believes in homoeopathy’ is stretching it and therefore hardly a constructive contribution to the debate.

@MarkAustin That may be so, however that doesn’t detract from the fact that the accusation Hunt definitely ‘believes in homoeopathy’ is rather too assumptive based on the EDM and correspondence dated five years ago.

3

I have no doubt that Hunt is making a case for patient choice and that’s fine when patients are spending their own money (there are plenty of private alternative health-care practioners and snake-oil therapists) or they are paying into a private insurance scheme. It seems to work OK in the US but, unfortunately, patients demanding specific medications which are little better than a placebo, pushes premiums up, putting them further out of reach for those on a poor income.

Desperate people pursue desperate measures sometimes seeking-out tarot card readers and chrystal ball gazers (I joke not) and the wealthier they are, the more outlandish the ‘cure’

Yep, Hunt the .unt is peddling the ‘customer is king’ crap in a fairly novel and covert appeal to ‘choice’ and the ability to pay for said choice. The market rules ok, it’s a pity that the market didn’t deliver universal care for all before the NHS.

“I also see little value in influential individuals wasting time on tabloidesque sensationalism when instead they could be using their platform to educate people on the more serious issues at stake.”

@Louise

I really think you should be careful saying things like this. People have died after following Homeopathic treatments when there would have been a good chance of that not happening if they had sought conventional treatment. It *is* a serious issue and we shouldn’t play top trumps with it against the other serious issues the NHS faces. It’s not a tabloidesque distraction from the “real problems”. It’s one of the real problems!

The revolution which is known as ‘patient-led’ care is not without it’s considerable problems (as Mr Hunt is banging on about it in his defense of homeopathy, ridiculous in my opinion).
It’s all great if patients are reasonably behaved people but that is not always the case. Although I believe in and defend the principle of patient-led care it would be naive of me to tell you that it is all a bed of roses out here. Consequently, I think Mr Hunt’s statement is limited in it’s understanding of the principles it subscribes to. He should be aware of some of the issues which impinge on the effectiveness of this principle in practice.
I refer to personal experience of some choice elements of patient-led care in practice, as witnessed by myself and my colleagues, based on religious or racial preference of the patients in our wards. I don’t want him or her looking after me etc…..
In any other walk of life, this would be called bigotry. In the NHS it’s called ‘respecting the spiritual needs of the patient’ and there is no audit trail for this state sponsored prejudice. In any case, it’s personally and professionally insulting to be on the end of that type of ‘patient choice’.

@Shatterface but that’s just it – we don’t know whether Hunt does or does not ‘believe in magic water’. To assume he does on the strength of the evidence provided is unwise and adds nothing of any real value to constructive debate.

I didn’t say he believed in magic water: I don’t know whether he does or not. Frankly I’d have more respect for him if he did believe in it and thought tax payer’s money is worth spending on it than if he knows homeopathy is bullshit and still insists on pissing money up the wall.

And you don’t understand the Principle of Charity: whether you think he’s a gullible idiot who believes in witchcraft himself or a cynic who would rather people died of cancer while chasing magic potions there really isn’t a charitable interpretation of his endorsement of people’s right to choose.

@Mark Thompson I’m certainly not trying to defend or play down the potential issues surrounding homoeopathy. My intention was not and is not in any way to defend homoeopathy. My point, as I have repeatedly said, is that for anyone to say with confidence that they know Jeremy Hunt definitely believes in homoeopathy based on what we know so far is foolish and flies in the face of the most basic rules of constructive debate.

34. margin4error

Louise

I suspoct democracy needs its degree of theatre and farce – otherwise things can get even more pompous and remote.

@Louise

Well hopefully one of the things that this being reported so widely will do (there have been various phone-ins etc. on radio stations) is encourage him to clarify his position. So far the evidence is that he either does believe in it or doesn’t care enough to acknowledge that it’s woo and is happy to let it carry on under the auspices of “Patient choice”. Either way is not satisfactory for me but greater clarity would be appreciated.

@Mark Thompson I’m certainly not trying to defend or play down the potential issues surrounding homoeopathy. My intention was not and is not in any way to defend homoeopathy. My point, as I have repeatedly said, is that for anyone to say with confidence that they know Jeremy Hunt definitely believes in homoeopathy based on what we know so far is foolish and flies in the face of the most basic rules of constructive debate.

Okay, lets make the charitable assumption that he doesn’t believe in homeopathy but – for electoral advantage – he’s willing to waste tax payers money on something that doesn’t work rather than invest it in something which might.

37. Chaise Guevara

@ 27 Louise

“However I still stand by my original point that making such an absolute statement as ‘Hunt believes in homoeopathy’ is stretching it and therefore hardly a constructive contribution to the debate.”

Well, it’s entirely possible that he was just doing what he thought would be politically expedient. And that he wouldn’t have done it if he’d been entertaining ideas of being Health Minister at the time. Certainly his actions now should overrule his words then.

@Shatterface A charitable interpretation would be not to assume, on the basis of a vaguely-worded EDM and a single piece of correspondence dated five years ago, that Hunt must definitely believe in homoeopathy. Whether you agree with patient-choice or not is a separate issue. Whether you look upon patient-choice favourably or not is entirely different to whether or not you should choose to follow the Principle of Charity when trying to criticise Hunt.

I’m not really sure how many more ways I can say it: it absolutely was not my an intention to debate the merits and pitfalls of different approaches to NHS care. it most certainly wasn’t my intention to advocate or indeed play down some very real and very reasonable concerns about homoeopathy.

The sole intention of my article was to criticise those who chose to state categorically and without question that Hunt believes in homoeopathy. Whilst I think some of the comments raise very valid points, nothing anybody has said so far has dissuaded me from my original observation.

39. Chaise Guevara

@ 26 Lee

“I’m struggling to see what is vaguely worded about an EDM titled “NHS HOMEOPATHIC HOSPITALS” and containing the phrases…”

As someone pointed out to me today, “homeopathic hospitals” do more than just homeopathy, and some of this does do a small amount of good. Long doctor-patient sessions; diet and lifestyle advice; prescribing traditional remedies that have some evidential support but have never been put through full clinical trials because you can’t patent them. It would be better if they were called “alternative medicine centres” or something.

Homeopathy itself, the whole magic water business, is straight-up bollocks. And Hunt’s reply to his constituent does say that he believes homeopathy works. So the EDM is actually less revealing than the letter, as the latter reveals that he either a) believes in homeopathy, b) is prepared to pretend to believe in it, or c) doesn’t know the difference between homeopathy and alternative medicine.

On a side note, my spellchecker wants to spell it “homoeopathy”. How psychoeopathic of it.

@Mark Thompson I definitely agree with you there – I hope Hunt does move to clarify his point. Whilst no amount of foolishness from this government would surprise me entirely, I suspect if he does decide to clarify the point, he will focus on the issue of advocating patient-led treatment rather than setting himself up for further ridicule by formally endorsing homoeopathy. If he does as I suspect then we’ll be faced with exactly the ‘typical reactionary left’ response I was trying to get at in the first place. Which is exactly the sort of nonsense that has left so many people disenfranchised with our political system in the first place. Perhaps if parties, key voices, and activists were to spend less time taking cheap shots at each other and more time on clearly commentating on the real issues, more people may feel inclined to sit up and take notice.

PS! I’d just like to say I’m sorry for my terrible typos in these comments – I’m trying to respond to as many as I can whilst working so am writing many of them without a great deal of time to check!

I’ve not seen anyone “skipping over” other aspects of his jaw-droppingly blatant unsuitability for the post, and like most halfway intelligent observers I’m perfectly capable of holding more than one opinion at a given time.

Also, surely focusing on any one of the many reasons he shouldn’t be let near the post is less distracting than arguing amongst ourselves about what we should be arguing about?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. All this man has shown thus far is that he is interested in numero uno. He’s dodged his taxes, demonstrated stupidity, fiddled his expenses and been a downright nepotist.
He should’ve been sacked weeks ago.
Now he has the NHS to play with.
Seems that the autocratic Tory model is firmly back in place.

Hunt should not be health Secretary because he wants to destroy the NHS. Period. He has also shown his slimey, dishonest dealings with Murdoch. In a functioning parliament he should have been put out to grass. But thanks to the perpetual morons called the lie dems who have shown themselves to have zero principles, zero understanding of political tactics, and jelly spines he has managed to stay in the govt.

This was Cameron’s big fuck you to all the people who don’t think Murdoch is a great man. What was it Cable said about “going to war with Murdoch?” Sorry Vince, but Millie Dowler did more to stop Murdoch than any lie dem.

We expect this kind of shit from tories, which is why you never appease them, and you never go into coalition with them. It is staggering to watch just how naive Lib Dems are. It is a fascinating example of battered wife syndrome. The more tories kick them the more they believe they will be nice next time.

45. Chaise Guevara

“Also, surely focusing on any one of the many reasons he shouldn’t be let near the post is less distracting than arguing amongst ourselves about what we should be arguing about?”

This.

@sally
Yes indeed. Can you imagine the chaos in the ranks of the constitutional Labour party if we’d joined ranks with this bunch of nepotistic autocrats.
It’s all about Karma in the end I suppose but it’s deffo time for Andy Burnham to come to the party.

@Chaise 24
Yes I know, I just mean that he doesn’t seem to have defended his position or said anything about why he voted for reducing the abortion time limit to 12 weeks. We can only speculate what was going on in his head. That doesn’t make it OK though.

@Louise 16 28 38
You keep saying that the EDM was five years ago, implying this makes it less relevant; the abortion vote was four years ago, so not much different. The EDM may be vaguely worded, his abortion views are completely lacking in words (apart from “twelve weeks” given a choice where that was the lowest). We are dealing with vagueness, but he chose to put his name to these views as an MP so it cannot be dismissed.

You can make lots of other arguments about Hunt: but a large chunk of the population will think those are arguments /for/ the man, rather than against him.

Pointing out that he’s either a fool (believe in homeopathy) or a knave (pretends to for electoral advantage,w hen he knows it’s false), however, makes him look bad to both sides – and has the delightful bonus of reflecting on the idiot who appointed him.

49. Chaise Guevara

@ 48 akicif

“Pointing out that he’s either a fool (believe in homeopathy) or a knave (pretends to for electoral advantage,w hen he knows it’s false), however, makes him look bad to both sides – and has the delightful bonus of reflecting on the idiot who appointed him.”

Endears him to fans of homeopathy, of course, but I’m willing to bet that people who care enough about new-age crap to vote for the most new-age party going will not be voting Tory.

“I can’t believe that those 206 MP’s signed because they all support Homeopathy.”

Any more than those who sign EDMs extolling the virtues of their local football team genuinely believe in their excellence. They’re simply a way of placating constituents and getting their names in the paper. I may find a doctor prepared to endorse my belief that two weeks in Bali is exactly what I need but some would question whether that was reason enough to deplete public funds for the purpose.

@44. Sally: “Hunt should not be health Secretary because he wants to destroy the NHS.”

Perhaps, Sally, you can identify the last Health Secretary who did not want “to destroy the NHS”?

(What follows is about England.)

My understanding is that “free at the point of use” ended in 1952 with prescription and dental treatment charges. That gives us two Health ministers (Bevan, who established it, and his successor, Marquand) who did not change anything.

And considering the importance that the Labour Party places on the NHS, why has the party consistently failed to give the role to a heavy weight politician? Who held the job?

Kenneth Robinson: light weight but probably very good at the job.
Richard Crossman: heavy weight but not around long enough to make a difference.
Barbara Castle: ditto.
David Ennals: who? Light weight who must have had talent to manage through industrial conflict.

But when the New Labour years arrived, the party dumped bad policy on competent people (not heavy weight but able) or offered John Reid.

I can’t help acknowledging that when Cameron placed Ken Clarke in an MoJ role, he was following through on the promise to create a more liberal justice system. It may have been against popular Conservative party beliefs but Cameron delivered it. Clarke is a heavy weight and bashed a few heads (also making mistakes like his comments about “rape difference”).

It’s a big myth that the right hates govt spending. What they hate is that spending going to the “wrong people.”

In fact socialism for the rich is now top priority of the tory, republican parties. We have the military industrial complex, and we have the industrial private prison complex in the US. Add to that bailing out bankers, and right wing plans to sell off education to the 1% elites in both Uk, and US.
Train companies, bus companies, farmers, land owners. The list goes on and on.

So Homeopathy is just another example of getting the state to give money to private business people.

Shatterface:
“Okay, lets make the charitable assumption that he doesn’t believe in homeopathy but – for electoral advantage – he’s willing to waste tax payers money on something that doesn’t work rather than invest it in something which might.”

Except I think it does work, doesn’t it? It works at the same level as placebo, which has been shown time and again to have a measurable positive effect. Now, given that there are many chronic, non-life-threatening conditions where there is no definitive treatment and the doctor has to get the patient to just manage the best they can, what is wrong with giving the patient this sort of placebo, if the doctor thinks it may have a beneficial effect?

If an NHS doctor gives watered-down eye of newt for lung cancer then I’m sure they would be struck off. But if a patient’s rheumatism won’t settle down and they tried several pain killers, what is wrong with the doctor offering homeopathy?

I take it John McDonnell and Diane Abbott are no longer blessed with Lib Con’s favour either? After all, they both signed the EDM.

55. Robin Levett

@Mr Portarto #53:

But if a patient’s rheumatism won’t settle down and they tried several pain killers, what is wrong with the doctor offering homeopathy?

2 things:

1 Homeopathy could be no better than painkillers in inducing a placebo effect;

2 Professional ethics – lying to the patient is a big no-no.

I don’t expect the Tories to appoint good people to ministerial posts.

57. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Sad to see this topic overwhelmingly dominated by would be Doctors evidently confusing the role of the Homeopathic hospital. If regular medicine was so good why would people seek out alternatives? The fact is and has been the same for many years is that much of modern medicine does little in the way of cure but merely ameliorates illness (often to limited extent) until death. Moreover, modern drugs regularly kill so lets not get ahead of ourselves and imagine Modern medicine is necessarily the way to go at all times.
Finally people may like to reflect on the fact for many,often dying, expelled with no hope from modern medicine alternatives are the only thing left for them to try.


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  1. Jason Brickley

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here http://t.co/o5Wy61H5

  2. Hamish Mackintosh

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/ZbLrpZ1h via @libcon

  3. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here http://t.co/lidbbcCj

  4. cwilliams

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/za3aTjsa via @libcon

  5. Un giro a la derecha de Cameron para aparentar | GUERRA ETERNA

    [...] es, por cierto, partidario de la homeopatía, o al menos estaba en contra de que desapareciera por completo de la sanidad pública, como reclamó hace un año una comisión [...]

  6. Marcus Chown

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here http://t.co/6eQSOmNy says @themrsfong in response to @TomChivers @bengoldacre

  7. Sonia

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here http://t.co/6eQSOmNy says @themrsfong in response to @TomChivers @bengoldacre

  8. Tom Rafferty

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here http://t.co/6eQSOmNy says @themrsfong in response to @TomChivers @bengoldacre

  9. Neal Shepperson

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here http://t.co/6eQSOmNy says @themrsfong in response to @TomChivers @bengoldacre

  10. Mark Chivers

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here http://t.co/6eQSOmNy says @themrsfong in response to @TomChivers @bengoldacre

  11. sean

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here http://t.co/6eQSOmNy says @themrsfong in response to @TomChivers @bengoldacre

  12. John Dougherty

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here http://t.co/6eQSOmNy says @themrsfong in response to @TomChivers @bengoldacre

  13. S.W. Surrey Lib Dems

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here http://t.co/6eQSOmNy says @themrsfong in response to @TomChivers @bengoldacre

  14. BevR

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  15. Foxy52

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/WDmBV5b1 via @libcon

  16. Chrissy

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  17. Jeni Parsons

    Jeremy Hunt’s views on Homeopathy aren’t the real scandal here | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/vxQPCooQ via @libcon

  18. graham

    Jeremy hunt's views on homeopathy aren't the real scandal. http://t.co/AqzHlKl1

  19. Shakey

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  20. Liberial beliefs | Valorcg

    [...] Jeremy Hunt's views on Homeopathy aren't the … – Liberal Conspiracy [...]





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