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The 'news' story that is showing up everywhere else, but not here.

This being Save the Children's Mothers' Index.

STC is one of the less obnoxious household-name charities, and seems to do a reasonable job of spending money on its charitable aims rather than on administration and so forth. Anyway, its Index supposedly rates 140 odd countries on how good or otherwise they are as places for mothers to reside. The Swedes, naturally, are rather pleased that they are top of the league, and Spain is quite chirpy about making ninth. The UK rates twelfth, bettering France but losing out to the Netherlands.

However, as with all of these surveys, even if they are forms of virtual tin rattling, a little attention to detail is worthwhile. Firstly, the grouping of countries into developed, less developed and least developed is just a little curious. Israel, Korea and Cyprus rate as 'less developed', despite GDP's per capita of $26K, $24K and $31K respectively. How they must envy their neighbours in the mansion on the hill, 'more developed' Moldova ($2K), Macedonia ($7K) and Albania ($6K). The Moldovans keep company with Switzerland, Japan and the US, whereas Korea is slumming it with Swaziland and well nigh post-economic Zimbabwe.

If that did not have you reaching for the safety catch on the Browning, perhaps the considerations that go in to making the top tier countries better or worse for being a mother will:

  • Lifetime risk of maternal mortality (reasonable enough)
  • Percentage of women using modern contraception (Hmm. The UK comes top at 81% , by the way. Italy manages 39%)
  • Female life expectancy at birth (Also reasonable enough)
  • Expected number of years of formal female schooling.
  • Maternity leave benefits and percentage of wages paid. (The US is bottom at 12 weeks, compared to one year in Albania and Bosnia)
  • Ratio of female to male income
  • Participation of women in national government - % seats held by women. (Right, might it be that STC had decided on the results they wanted and threw this in as a deal maker? The US is only just over half as good as the very Elysium for women that is Belarus)
Added to the women's issues are three categories concerning children - infant mortality, nursery school enrollment and gross secondary school enrollment. Naturally there is no explanation as to the finer points of statistical method, weighting and so forth.

Tier Two sees Israel, Singapore and Cyprus ranked on availability of safe water (I am NOT making this up) and percentage of moderately or severely underweight under fives, and parallels them with, inter alia, Papua New Guinea, India and the 'People's Democratic Republic' of Korea. In this category we also find Cuba, which makes 7th for children beating out South Korea.

So, why not a peep out of STC UK? Are they not very quick on the uptake, did they have misgivings about the methodology, or was the UK's twelfth position insufficiently bad to make it worth making a song and dance about?

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Blogger MJW said... 12:29 pm

These types of things rarely hold up to close scrutiny, but then they’re usually about sound bites rather than serious research. A couple of months ago Unicef came up with a report suggesting the UK was the worst of a group of industrialised countries for raising children. On close inspection it turned out the report was cobbled together from inconsistent, incomplete and out of date sources. However, some wet-liberal commentators I came across suggested that what mattered was not that the findings had more holes in it than a colander, but that they agreed with the sentiment. I wrote something here: http://observationsfromthehillside.blogspot.com/2007/02/children-in-danger-or-danger-from.html  



Blogger Croydonian said... 12:46 pm

MJW - I remember it well, and aided and abetted by my comment makers did quite a hatchet job on it. May favourite hole in the data was that data only applied to England, but they referred to the UK nonetheless. More here  



Anonymous this guy said... 1:22 pm

Surprised StC Sweden didn't mention smacking of children, which they lead the cam-pain on & regard as worse than child soldiers, slavery etc.

For lovers of rhyming slang, their Dansk branch is called Redd Barnet.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 1:31 pm

TG - A splendid anecdote, which I will make much use of in future.  



Anonymous verity said... 3:24 pm

All these agendas are compiled one-worlders and adhere to received politically correct goals that are not wanted by normal people.

"Participation of women in national government - % seats held by women."

No! No! No! No more interfering busyboots bossybritches in national governments. Save very few, as in Margaret Thatcher, Anne Widdicombe and a couple on the Labour side, women should be the exception rather than the rule. They are mumsy. They know best. They want the government to be run on "child friendly" hours. (Why, certainly! Let us reduce the national governance to an even lower infantile level.)

Here is a secret that Iain Dale and Dave have had a brain block installed: women don't want to be governed by other women.  



Anonymous verity said... 3:58 pm

BTW - Hands up all those who think Tony Blair is going to step down as PM tomorrow.

A dreadful foreboding informs me that it won't be that straightforward. Either he is going to step down as leader of the Labour Party, or he is going to give up all power.

What do others think?  



Anonymous Anonymous said... 4:23 pm

Verity - if Blair goes to the Palace tomorrow and turns in his key to the executive loo he is obliged by the Labour Party constitution to advise HM to send for Prescott, and she is obliged by precedent to follow his advice. He could. if course, stuff the Labour Party and advise her to send for Brown, and this would be more likely if Prescott had already resigned first as deputy leader. The NEC could appoint a stand-in deputy leader, but Tony's strad will be in the van long before they convene.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 4:25 pm

Dizzy thinks that he will do a number on Brown by resigning as Labour Leader, but not as PM. Newmania thinks otherwise, and I am the honest broker keeping an eye on the twenty quid the two of them put up on the proposition.

The betting markets are far from locked into place - Betfair is trading at 1.35/1.36 on Blair going between now and June, and 3.25/3.85 for July-September. I cannot see Blair going gently into the good night and the repeated, and rank, disloyalty of Broon more than deserves a touch of passive aggression from Blair in return.  



Anonymous verity said... 4:54 pm

I agree with Dizzy, but Blair is such a sneak that I don't feel confident in putting any money on my instinct.

Unless he something absolutely mega lined up, I do not see him abandoning his privileges and perks as the British PM.

In addition, if he goes now, he abandons all patronage and power, meaning people might start telling what they know about the selling of peerages.

Too, I don't see that he has many, if any, actual friends. The perks offered to Blair as the PM of Britain will dry up and I don't see any hordes of rich and powerful people racing in to replace them.

I do not believe he will go. I believe he will step down as the party leader, and make another announcement about when he is actually leaving. (Never in this lifetime is the short definition.) I do not believe this flim-flam man does not have a few more marked cards up his sleeve.  



Blogger hatfield girl said... 8:21 pm

Anon. 4.23. The cabinet, in consultation with the NEC, will appoint the Leader's successor, should the Leader become permanently unavailable, when the Party is in government and the Leader is prime minister.

When the Party is not in government and the Leader etc.,.. then (and only then, i.e. not now) the deputy Leader is Leader pro tem until a ballot is held under rules I cannot bear to look up. But you can, so try the Labour party Rule book,which is what they call their constitution, if you can access it, which is harder than might be expected.

If Blair is resigning as Leader this week, which is possible as he can hardly wait to be formally shot of that prehistoric, reptilian, minority organisation, what he does about the office of prime minister is really interesting.

If he doesn't resign that straight away, on the grounds that the Party needs time to choose a new leader for the palace to send for (which it doesn't and he could tell HM to send for Brown both as chosen leader by the cabinet and as able to command a majority in the House anyway; but then, bear in mind, anyone he told her to send for could do that as long as they are PLP members, so desperate are the Labour MPs to avoid a general election), then what is he up to?

Trading the time to sign away the UK to the EU in return for not upsetting the applecart by recommending a general election?  



Blogger Newmania said... 8:54 pm

On the subject of women in politics this is rather good fun

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4698222.stm

MJW is virtually quoting your own work on that unicef report as I recall C...oops I see you said that.
I am starting to regret that £20 actually I think Verity may have a point . I see Blair dying over a protracted period like a pantomime ham or indeed like an endlessly retiring performer. Gary Glitter leaps to mind.  



Anonymous verity said... 9:48 pm

I honestly think tomorrow will be a smoke and mirrors job - as usual - and when the smoke clears, people will realise he hasn't actually resigned per se, but more said he will be going at some point after he completes the programme for which he was lovingly elected by the brain dead among the electorate (an alarmingly large swathe).

I could be wrong, but I think his situation vis-a-vis peddling peerages means he would be safer with the protection of being prime minister and having patronage. Once he's given it up, it's going to be a piraña pool in there. Stripped to the bone in 30 seconds. (Cherie will take longer.)

The other option is, he will name a date when he is going (please, God!) but it won't be for another year. Then Gordon Brown could jump up and cry madly, "Am I bovvered? Do I look bovvered??" Then he could run to a window and climb out (well, he may need a little push) and start climbing up Big Ben until he reached the top and could hear the cries of the friendly British electorate crying, "Jump! Jump!"

It gladdens the heart, does it not?  



Blogger Newmania said... 10:28 pm

Gladdened mine anyway Verity .  



Blogger Croydonian said... 10:34 pm

I make 'mania right there.

I still consider that Blair's greatest error was not putting the Dour One in his place when he had the chance(s). Intriguing that there has been a 'leak' today suggesting that Blair nearly did that in 2005. Knowing how lacking in backbone, or even basic character, Brown is (although credit due for being a textbook passive aggressive) Blair must rue not having faced him down.  



Anonymous verity said... 12:13 am

Says our host: "a 'leak' today suggesting that Blair nearly did that in 2005. Knowing how lacking in backbone, or even basic character, Brown is (although credit due for being a textbook passive aggressive) Blair must rue not having faced him down."

Um.

You don't think this points to how weak Blair is in fearing to "face him down"? Why did Blair face him down? The British nation is at the mercy of two highly psychologically flawed power fantasists. How sad that Labour voters didn't get it. The rest of us did: They're a pantomime horse.  



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