Glenda Jackson tells it how it is

The recall of parliament to pay tribute to Margret Thatcher might have turned into the predictable “She was lucky to know me” Tory love-in had it not been for Glenda Jackson. So awesome is Glenda’s speech that no comment is needed from me!


ConDems Sneak Out Plans to Privatise NHS Over Christmas Break

Almost half of each NHS hospital will be given to private patient care under a Government amendment to the Health and Public Care bill made just before christmas by Health Minister Earl Howe. This recent revision to there already controversial health bill will allow foundation hospitals to raise up to 49% of their funds from non-NHS business.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that raising the current 2% limit would benefit NHS patients,  “If these hospitals earn additional income from private work that means there will be more money available to invest in NHS services.” Brushing over the issue of this policy increasing waiting lists he went on to say, “Furthermore, services for NHS patients will be safeguarded because foundation hospitals’ core legal duty will be to care for them.”

Labour’s shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said,  “This surprise move, sneaked out just before Christmas, is the clearest sign yet of David Cameron’s determination to turn our precious NHS into a US-style commercial system, where hospitals are more interested in profits than people. With NHS hospitals able to devote half of their beds to private patients, people will begin to see how our hospitals will never be the same again if Cameron’s Health Bill gets through Parliament.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said it was “a seriously worrying development. At a time when the health service has to make significant efficiency savings, it is only natural, that given the option, providers will look to maximise their income through private patients, This will undoubtedly lead to a situation whereby those who can afford to pay will get faster access to better treatment, with increased waiting times and a decrease in quality for NHS patients.”

He added: “Really, it doesn’t get much more serious than this; the Government has consistently assured us that the NHS is safe in their hands, but if allowed to go ahead, the removal of the cap could lead to the fundamental erosion of key NHS principles.”

Clearly you cannot trust the Tories on the NHS.

The Good, The Bad and the The Ugly.

This year’s conference season has ended with more of a whimper than a bang. Looking back, none of the parties have anything to crow about, but who was the good, the bad and the ugly?

First up was the Lib Dems. You could have been forgiven for missing it; in fact, judging by the number of empty seats lots of people did. We were first treated to Vince Cable’s rather underwhelming speech and then the piteous whining of Nick Clegg. Oh and the Human Rights Act, I’ll come back to that in a bit.

Next came the Labour conference and Ed Miliband leading the party members in the collective booing of Tony Blair. Now I’m not as Blairite by any stretch of the imagination but booing the most successful party leader that Labour has ever had seems perverse at best. The pity is that Ed’s speech was otherwise the single highlight of the whole conference season: honest, forward thinking and positive.

Last and by all means least came Big Dave and his Tory Tigers. Theresa May and her cat flap spat with Ken Clark providing the only bit of interest in the whole week. Cameron wasn’t only unimpressive, he was totally unmemorable.

Now I said I’d come back to the Human Rights Act. Ever since the local elections Clegg has desperately been trying to show that he’s not a pale blue Tory. Well now we have Clegg and May both vociferously arguing different sides of the Human Right Debate. Add to that the fact that  nothing it going to change and the term Put Up comes to mind.

So who was who? Will Ed was the (slightly tainted) Good; Dave the (self deluded) Bad; and Nick? Well maybe not so much ugly as desperate.

Boris: Rethink of Police Cuts

If you ask me whether I think there is a case for cutting police budgets in the light of these events then my answer would be no. I think that case was always pretty frail and it has been substantially weakened.

Borris Johnson 10 August 2011

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson has placed himself in opposition  to the government by saying that the government should re-think policing cuts. The comments were  made on Radio 4’s Today programme where Boris told listens, “This is not a time to think about making substantial cuts in police numbers.”

Last nigh London’s streets remained relatively calm after the Met almost tripled police numbers following three nights of riots. Other cities were not so lucky with Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Salford all seeing significant acts of violence.

Somewhat predictably the government has shown no sign of altering its plans for police reform.

It is rare that I agree with a Tory and even rarer that The Chimera Papers gives one the last word but on this occasion Boris Johnson had the right of to with this pearl of wisdom:

“Let’s face it, what’s happened in our city and in our country in the last three or four days has been a massive own goal.

“Here in London you had people behaving with a complete lack of restraint and a complete lack of respect for the police. It was chilling.

“The lesson is that over 20, 30 years we’ve got into a situation where we have allowed people an endless sense of entitlement. Give adults and give teachers back the right to impose authority.

“I would like the benefit of the doubt to be in favour of adults and those who are in positions of authority.”

Clueless in Downing Street

Does the Government have anybody that is at least competent to do the job they have been appointed to?

Looking back at the past year,  even the most ardent Tory would be forgiven for feeling somewhat embarrassed.  First and foremost we have David Cameron himself, who recently told military chiefs, “You do the fighting and I’ll do the talking.” This from a man who’s talk couldn’t even win a majority at the last election despite the Labour party being in political free fall headed by the most unpopular PM ever. Listening to Cameron talk to NHS staff about the new reforms, he said the word, “precious,” so many time I was beginning to think he was Gollum.

Douglas Hague, the defence secretary who thinks that the best way to open diplomat discussions with Libyan  rebels is to parachute SAS troops onto someone’s crochet lawn so they can bumble around for a while before surrendering to the local farmers.

Andrew Lansley. We told he spent his life working on the NHS reforms. Reforms that can best be described as rubbish.

Ken Clarke, as Tory big gun. His idea? Save money by letting violent criminal serve mush shorter sentences.

Vince “nuclear option” Cable. Sky? The Banks?

Gove? Sometimes I wonder whether our education minister ever had an education. Tuition fees? English Baccalaureate? Raiding teachers’ pension and then suggesting that parents can, “help out,” when teacher are unhappy.

The Ginger Rodent. Yes we will negotiate but this is what the result will be!

I’m not going to mention Nick Clegg, he’s been covered in The Chimera Paper too much already.

These are the edited lowlights of Cam and Crew. This isn’t government it’s a train wreck.

The AV Paradox

One way or another May 5th is going to shake the coalition to its core. In a recent interview Vince Cable said that the coalition would survive a No vote. Whilst I would agree with him, I’m not so sure the same can be said for a Yes result.

Lets consider to two possibilities.

If the No campaign wins Nick Clegg will have a problem. Grass root activists might begin to wonder what they are getting out of supporting the Tories. A  No vote will put the idea of electoral reform to bed for years. This is a fundamental Lib Dem policy and I struggle to see how they could recover. From David Cameron’s point of view this would be the gold standard result. Vince Cable is right to say that his party wouldn’t withdraw from the coalition if they lose. Forcing another election now almost certainly result in a Lib Dem wipeout. Clegg’s political career would be over, his party wouldn’t forgive him.

Now here’s the paradox. If the referendum goes the way the Lib Dems want and the country says Yes to AV. Nick Clegg still has a problem. True Cameron will face a massive backlash from both his MPs and grass root members but Clegg’s problems will be deeper.  With AV his MPs will be less fearful for their seats. Many Lib Dem MPs must feel the coalition has compromised them. At the moment fear of political decimation is keeping them in line. With AV many might think that a rebellion against Nick before 2015 could be their best chance to remain in their seats.


Interest Rate Rises Draws Closer

Image by Getty

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is becoming increasingly divided on whether to raise interest rates. During its February meeting, two of the nine members voted to increase the base rate to 0.75% while a third wanted see rates up to 1%. The remaining six voted for no change.

The main concern for members of the MPC, inflation, rose to 4% in January, buoyed up by increases in VAT, energy and fuel.  The Bank of England’s target for inflation is 2%. Combine this with the contraction of the economy in the last quarter of 2010 and there can be no doubt anymore that the Tories’ policies are harming the country.

Interest rates will rise at some point and hard pressed families, already struggling to pay record high fuel energy cost, soaring petrol prices and ever-increasing food costs are going to find their mortgages increase too, good new for the banks but no-one else.

Wages are stagnant or in many cases falling. The government is slashing spending in every area. Unemployment is rising and the government is blaming the unemployed. Inflation is beginning to spiral upwards with interest rates sure to follow. The poor are getting poorer and the middle classes are being squeezed. The millionaire cabinet are telling us, “We’re all in this together.”

No wonder they call it, “A Tory Led Government.”