Chilcot: a devastating critique of government in the UK

The report of the Inquiry conducted by Sir John Chilcot is a devastating condemnation of the Blair government’s decision to participate in the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. It provides a long list of failures, which demonstrates unbelievable incompetence, which has resulted in death, destruction and suffering on a huge scale. One of the key factors was the crucial role of the reports on intelligence.

The conclusion of Chilcot was that:

“The Government’s strategy reflected its confidence in the Joint Intelligence Committee’s Assessments. Those Assessments provided the benchmark against which Iraq’s conduct and denials, and the reports of the inspectors, were judged.

As late as 17 March, Mr Blair was being advised by the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons, the means to deliver them and the capacity to produce them. He was also told that the evidence pointed to Saddam Hussein’s view that the capability was militarily significant and to his determination – left to his own devices – to build it up further.

It is now clear that policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments. They were not challenged, and they should have been

Parallels with public health

 Although public health might seem to be completely different from a decision to go to war, the similarities in terms of policy formulation are quite striking when considering the present policy on diabetes.

As I will explain, huge numbers of people are suffering from diabetes, especially Type 2 (T2D) and current policies are one of the major reasons why their condition is deteriorating. As a consequence, they are forced to endure a poor quality of life and many of them die prematurely.

The incidence of diabetes has doubled in the past 15 years. It costs the NHS about £10 Billion and all the indications are that it will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. It must be obvious that the existing policies are failing badly. Nevertheless the politicians continue to persist with precisely the same strategy.

Diabetes is diagnosed by raised levels of glucose in the blood. Type 1 (T1D) is the result of damage to the pancreas so that it has lost the ability to produce insulin. It is the insulin which keeps the blood glucose under control. For those who suffer from T1D, insulin therapy is essential for survival. By contrast, T2D develops gradually and almost certainly is caused by persistent high consumption of sugar and foods which contain starch, which is broken down in the gut to release glucose. We now have good evidence that the solution to T2D is to tackle the basic cause by reducing the consumption of sugar and other sources of carbohydrates in the diet.

In the UK, the main emphasis for the treatment of T2D is on the use of drugs to control the blood glucose. With respect to lifestyle, the advice is to take more exercise, which is makes good sense. Patients are also advised to lose weight, even though the usual approach of calorie reduction has a very poor record of success. The conventional advice on diet is to reduce the fat and replace it with carbohydrates.

Policy is just not working

 So the fundamental problem is that the key element of the official Diabetes Prevention Programme is one of the primary causes of the current epidemic. Those who follow the advice to increase the consumption of carbohydrates inevitably get worse, while those who do the exact opposite invariably show some improvement. Furthermore there are numerous examples of individuals who have been able to stop taking drugs altogether by adopting this approach.

The big question is:

“Why does government and the health/medical establishment persist with a fundamentally flawed policy?”

It is quite clear that there is a complete failure/inability to conduct an objective analysis of the issues. There must be another agenda, which is a powerful driving force. All the indications are that any information which does not fit in with the current predominant concepts are simply discounted. This is an exact parallel with the attitude to “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD). A recent BBC radio programme has revealed that there were several intelligence reports, which concluded that Sadam Hussein did not have WMD. One of these cost the Americans $200,000. All of these were rejected on the grounds that “they would say that!”

Failure to challenge the advice from the “experts”

 The standard advice is accepted without being challenged. When I wrote to my MP with evidence showing the benefits of a low carb diet for those with T2D, my letter was forwarded to the junior Minister in the Department of Health (DoH), Jane Ellison. This is the reply:

With regard to low carbohydrate diets, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has published its report “Carbohydrates and Health” in July. In that report, SACN considered evidence from a wide range of prospective studies and randomized controlled trials that investigated the relation between consumption of carbohydrates and various health outcomes. The evidence considered by SACN for this report does not support the suggestion that consuming a diet low in carbohydrates and high in fats would reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, but found that greater consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is associated with increased risk.”

This SACN report is very poor because it ignores much relevant research which provides sound justification for the use of low carb as a means of controlling T2D. The reply from the Minister made no attempt to reply to the specific points which I made.

A lost opportunity

 Although I am writing this when a new Prime Minister has just taken office, Jeremy Hunt will be continuing as the Minister responsible for health. This suggests it is unlikely there will be any change for the better. Yet the reality is that if the present trends continue, the costs will not be sustainable. Eventually, new policies will have to be devised and it would make very good sense for this to happen sooner rather than later.

Conclusion

In the meantime, I have no doubt that pressure will be building up from the grassroots, as more and more individuals find out for themselves that T2D can be overcome by relatively easy changes that can be made to the diet.