Archive for September, 2010
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
A few months ago I examined the upside and downside of Cleggmania on these pages. It got quite a response, so now that Labour have finally decided which Miliband they want, let’s have a look at Red Ed from the Green perspective.
Upside: He seems to get the importance of climate change.
Downside: He was Sec of State for climate change while Labour carried on with their anti-environment policies; they even approved the Heathrow expansion on his watch!
Upside: He’s the son of a Marxist.
Downside: He’s the son of a Marxist but he sat happily in the cabinet while the PFI monster ate big chunks of the public sector.
Upside: He’s clever and probably an ok bloke.
Downside: No sign of any Hinterland. None at all.
Upside: He’s not Blair or Brown.
Downside: He’s not Bevan or Attlee either.
Upside: He shows some signs of being capable of independent thought.
Downside: As with Cameron and Clegg, he’s never had a proper job. (What is it with these people? Will we never again have a PM who’s actually been part of the workforce?)
Upside: He didn’t go to public school.
Downside: He looks, speaks and behaves exactly as if he had been to public school.
Upside: He claims to have opposed the invasion of Iraq.
Downside: He kept bloody quiet about it until it suited his leadership campaign, didn’t he?
Lots of Lib Dem huffing and puffing about the banks at their Liverpudlian conference. True to form, they want it both ways – snuggling up to the Tory cuts while still nattering on about left of centre values when they’re herded together.
There was St Vince Cable, striking poses on the platform making a speech billed in advance as ‘Marxist’. Of course it was nothing of the kind, but he did talk the talk on cutting bonuses for those lovely ‘talented’ people whose talents have been employed to screw the rest of us. However there’s a pattern here; they’ve had 5 months now and there’s been lots of anti-banker rhetoric and absolutely no anti-banker action. While Vince is salving the Lib Dem consciences, little Georgie is busy ripping the heart out of our welfare state, and the bankers are laughing – well all the way to the bank.
Anyone surprised by that? Nah, me either.
The rabid right is all a-quiver on account of The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (see ‘Some are more equal than others’ 26 April) I urge you to buy/read the book itself, but in case you missed it, these nice epidemiologists found strong statistical evidence for links between income inequality and other forms of unpleasantness (infant mortality, gun crime, prison population blah blah).
Granted, those of us on the left are more likely to be receptive to this message ‘cos it chimes in with what we think. But the forces of darkness are trying to undermine it and have plenty of support in the Murdoch press (imagine my surprise….) Wilkinson and Pickett have done a pretty good job of defending their stats so far, but battle is joined even as I write. Being of a naturally optimistic bent I choose to see the upside of this: at least the book’s had an impact!
Regular readers know that I’m an NHS Speech and Language Therapist, trying to fit a quart of needy children into the pint pot of under-resourced clinics. My current place of work, which for obvious reasons will be nameless, is a clinic which had no service at all for 7 months till I got there. When I leave at the end of the month the hopelessly inadequate staffing levels will be cut by 50%. Let no-one tell you that the NHS is ‘protected’ ….utter hogwash! Cuts are happening right here right now, and that’s before Mr Lansley unleashes his privatisation programme – sorry, “reforms”.
However, it’s not all gloom and doom. The lovely Patricia Hewitt, who as Sec of State for Health was responsible for making NHS Trusts ‘balance the books’ (when we stupidly thought our job was to provide healthcare), is comfortably ensconced in her nice plush jobs in the private healthcare sector. I know the other lot are in now and we should all forget about Patsy. I shall do so very soon, but I need a little longer to get her out of my system. Labour. She was a Labour minister. And she’s a director of Bupa.
Conference season again, so off we trotted to Birmingham to celebrate being In Parliament. As usual, we caused a run on Guardians and soya milk in the local retail establishments, and the till guy in M&S said to me “You don’t want a bag do you? I know the Greens are in town” I should add that this was meant nicely.
Conference was a very positive experience, with sunshine, lots of people there and a good venue right in the middle of Brum. My personal highlights included workshops from the Anti Academy Alliance (the name says it all) and cramming in with a cast of thousands to debate our stance on the AV referendum. I was even part of the winning team (wittily named ‘AV Plus’) in the Young Greens’ Quiz on Saturday night – hurrah for the Hinterland!
Obviously a series with this title could run and run…..
The current installment refers to the high jinks at the Commonwealth Development Corporation, which started life as the Colonial Development Corporation. The original idea was to fund and encourage projects in the developing world, with a view to them eventually being self-sustaining. So far so good, but in the 1990s New Labour went where even Thatcher hadn’t, privatised a chunk of it and transmogrified the rest into a quango for venture capital-lite.
Hearty congrats to Richard Brooks of Private Eye for burrowing away in this dungheap. This bit of the DFID (funded by us, let’s remember) keeps trying to stop Richard from uncovering their serial nest-feathering activities. Nothing new in that, but these people are supposed to be RELIEVING WORLD POVERTY. The current Eye has a full exposé, which I urge you to read. I’ll offer this teeny taster: we taxpayers paid for some CDC functionary to take a Goldman Sachs banker out to dinner…and it counts as aid spending! Delicious!