Archive for November, 2010

Lies, Damn Lies, and the NHS

Our NHS has probably faced some degree of threat since its inception: there’s something about publicly-financed health services that stirs primordial juices on the rabid right.

 Now, I’m an NHS clinician as well as a patient, and I could literally write a book about some of the stupid misuses of NHS resources that occur on a daily basis. However that does NOT mean that the funding system is responsible for the inefficiencies. But the opposition don’t confine themselves to the truth, and there are outright lies being bandied about. This has always happened, but the healthcare ‘debate’ in the US has upped the ante. Here are my 3 favourite “facts” about the NHS:

  • “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s death panel so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their level of productivity in society, whether they are worthy of health care.” S Palin
  • “In the NHS you can’t get treatment when you are over 65” A German Dentist tells my sister how terrible healthcare is in her own home country.
  • “A full third of the NHS budget (is) dedicated to paying off malpractice suits” – Lionel Shriver proves she hasn’t gone native in The Post-Birthday World.

 Let’s debate the issues by all means. There are some genuine drawbacks to a publicly funded service. But let’s not spread lies, eh?

November 30, 2010 at 11:22 am 2 comments

Quote of the Week

“Ireland stands as a shining example of the art of the possible in long-term economic policymaking, and that is why I am in Dublin: to listen and to learn.”

George Osborne; Feb 2006

(Actually it isn’t funny)

November 29, 2010 at 1:11 pm Leave a comment

Kate versus the cookies

Apologies for another enforced silence, due once again to some glitches in the interface between yours truly, my laptop and cyberspace. Whenever I think I’m getting the hang of this newfangled internet thingy, along comes something else to put me right! This time the blog just disappeared FOR NO REASON and has now been resurrected, eventually, when I messed around with something called cookies. No, but really…..

November 28, 2010 at 5:41 pm Leave a comment

Moving up the pecking order

While the meeja are concentrating on broken windows in central London, our government goes quietly on its way. The latest bit of revisionism to come to my attention? They have just delayed a ban on the mutilation of hens’ beaks which was due to come into force in January. The same Minister, James “call me Jim” Paice, has rewritten the new game-bird welfare code to remove a ban on keeping them in cages. Mmm…lovely!

November 14, 2010 at 9:33 pm Leave a comment

Equality Schmequality

Not sure about my title, but let it pass…..

 A highlight; Wilkinson and Pickett of Spirit Level fame (see Some are more equal than others and Time for the Backlash) were in Hebden Bridge the other night. I need hardly add that I beat a path to the door. There was a gratifyingly big crowd assembled to hear Richard and Kate explain, again, why inequality is so bad for us all. And to mention that the UK is one of the most unequal rich countries, even before the current spate of “reforms”.

 Happily, they are very relaxed about the rightwing backlash they’ve provoked. Richard Wilkinson pointed out, rightly, that Cameron et al are trying to co-opt the language of equality.  Of course, they’re using OUR vocabulary to shape THEIR destructive agenda, bleating about “fairness” while Georgie wields his axe. I’m not alone in finding that a tad hypocritical, but I do believe that language shapes ideas (as well as the other way round) so perhaps The Spirit Level is helping to protect us from even worse atrocities.

 Oh dear. This was planned as an upbeat positive post, but it’s ended up being rather gloomy. A sign of the times, I fear.

November 12, 2010 at 10:28 am Leave a comment

The Right to Vote?

When did this become such an illiberal country? There’s a ‘debate’ about the right of prisoners to vote. The vast majority of spokespeople seem to share D Cameron’s feeling of physical sickness at the prospect. Thank God for Shami Chakrabarti on Question Time and Ian Rankin (yes, that Ian Rankin) on Any Questions for putting the more liberal view – though in fairness the AQ audience was evenly divided on the issue.

I for one don’t want to live in a society in which prostitutes, alcoholics and shoplifters are denied their basic rights. For real nasty criminals there’s a grey area – I can understand why people balk at the thought of murderers, rapists etc participating in the democratic process – but I’d still side with the EHCR.

Surely we all have an interest in the eventual rehabilitation of prisoners, the vast majority of whom will eventually be back living among us? Mrs Thatcher cheerfully expanded the ‘underclass’ (yes, it’s a vile term) with no vested interest in society, big or otherwise. Their children are now of an age to be serving at Her Majesty’s pleasure, and we have the biggest prison population in Western Europe, pro rata. Please, let’s help them to give a damn about who governs them!

November 9, 2010 at 11:34 am Leave a comment

An increase in trafficking

A fellow Green has pointed out to me that our Coalition government has refused to sign an EU directive on human trafficking. This document would have tightened up regulations on international pimping and increased inter-country co-operation to fight it. What’s not to like?

 I’ve tried in vain to find out what reasons Cameron and Clegg gave, but the reason being inferred by Labour is simply the ‘EU’ part; they are asserting their anti-Europe credentials.

 Hang on, I hear you say, since when did the Lib Dems have, or want, anti-EU credentials? And why should the delectable Mr Clegg want to obstruct a measure attacking modern slavery? These are good questions and I’m genuinely seeking answers. Do let me know, Lib Dem readers…..

November 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm Leave a comment

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How cold is my valley?

Who I am

This blog started during the months before the 2010 General Election, in which I was the Green candidate for Calder Valley. It's morphed into an account of green activism...and other meanderings.