The Breakthrough Generations Study has 111,000 women voluntarily taking part in a longitudinal (long-term) study to research aspects, including genetic predisposition, which are risk factors in developing breast cancer. Not only is the sample size very large but of particular significance to the study, are the numbers of mothers, daughters and sisters, who not only share genes but also often have similar lifestyles and environments.
The study will provide an enormous amount of additional data which may well be significant in identifying many other aspects of women’s health and fertility. For example, already it seems likely that initial research may lead to a test capable of predicting a woman’s reproductive life-span which could facilitate informed family planning decisions … unfortunately, many older women find that they have left it too late before starting a family.
However, it seems that the Breakthrough Generations Study have had to discontinue a second round of blood sampling from participants because of financial constraints resulting from the ‘downturn in the economy’. This is an appalling lost opportunity because it is precisely the sort of research which is bound to produce unexpected spin-offs. Spin-offs which, in addition to advances in healthcare, might well lead to economic growth and job creation. Unfortunately, it is exactly the type of short-termism in research funding that was experienced under the Thatcher government. It is to be hoped that a Labour government would ensure that funding for such ‘blue-skies’ research was available, and in particular, funding for this study was re-instated.
Following the recent riots the clamour among politicians to sound the toughest has been very loud indeed.
One aspect that has emerged has been the plan to evict families from local authority housing upon the conviction of one family member for offences during the riots.
Wandsworth Council started by issuing an eviction notice to a mother because her 18 year old son has been charged with offences committed during the riot.
I strongly believe that such punitive action is against natural justice. How is it right for a mother to suffer homelessness because of the actions of her 18 year old son? It is easy for a teenager to get out of a house without their parents permission, and commit criminal acts. What should they do? Bar the doors and windows?
If the family is in some distress and difficulty as a family unit, eviction will either leave them homeless or put them in the hands of a slum landlord somewhere worse. Putting such a family in this position worsens the chance of them addressing the issues affecting them. They are more likely to be stuck in poverty, suffer worse health, get involved with further crime and impact their community in a very negative way.
These are evictions are unjust as well. When David Gilmour’s son was convicted for violent disorder, was the the Pink Floyd guitarist evicted from his luxury homes? Of course not. How can it be fair to treat those who live in local authority homes differently?
What leaves me deeply ashamed is the fact that this policy of punitive evictions is being enacted by Labour run Councils in Nottingham, Salford, Greenwich and Manchester. This policy runs so against the grain of Labour Party ethics, if I were a Councillor in those areas I would fight to end against it. If I were in a ward where the local Councillor supported this, I would no longer be able to vote for them, and seek their de-selection at the first opportunity.
What’s required are calm heads, and not to get caught up in the heat of the moment. What seems a way to appease public anger is nothing more than a travesty of justice, which will deepen the issues driving the riots, cost the tax payer more through poor health and funding prison places and further worsen social divisions.