Having heard that the arctic weather is to return in a few days time we decided to dig in the muck accumulated whilst the ground was rock-hard. Sadly one probe with the spade revealed that the ground is not as it appears, a soft top conceals granite. A robin followed our abortive efforts but worms were off its menu yet again, we could offer only corn as consolation. It has taken to following us into the shed and we are beginning to wonder if it is some kind of spy, micro-chipped by the Guardian perhaps. If so it learned nothing today other than that most of those gathered loath both Clegg and the violent students equally.
Without the mindless violence yesterday’s London protests would have been an impressive demonstration of the strength of feeling against the increase in tuition fees. Sadly the thugs – were they really students – have turned the bulk of public opinion against the protesters. The statue of Winston Churchill was defaced, the Cenotaph mocked and damaged, the heir to the throne attacked. And a lot of young policemen, many of whom have not had the privilege of several years of relative leisure at the taxpayers expense, were badly injured. It was for most decent people an absolute disgrace.
In fairness we are not yet sure of the identity of the morons. Those interviewed on TV did not strike one as students, if they were the intelligence levels of those at university have sunk somewhat!
All of which was a disaster. The cause is just and deserved massive support with which we could all relate. The cause of the cause was easy to identify. The Lib Dems built up the hopes of the National Union of Students by signing their pledge. All politicians use weasel words but they actually signed their names to a commitment to oppose any increase in fees. Clegg duped the students and their rage is understandable, if not their method of expressing it. When the vote came, half of the Lib Dem MPs acted honourably and either voted against or abstained but those in the cabinet were talked by Clegg into voting in favour.
This morning’s polls show the Lib Dems with their lowest ever rating and it is hard to envisage a recovery. In effect Clegg and Cable have become stooges to a Conservative group that must be privately rubbing its hands with delight. Unpopular and unfair policies are being rushed through and their subservient partner is picking up the tab of blame. Last evening’s Question Time featured one of Clegg’s cronies who said that when they signed the pledge they did not envisage being in government. That makes the action even less honourable. And his subsequent claim that Labour also favour the increase was irrelevant. It was the Lib Dems, and they alone, who signed.
Under the terms of the coalition agreement all Lib Dems were free to abstain. Why Clegg refused to do this is a mystery, in so doing he has split his party and condemned his own career to the lost deposit file. His actions are every bit as shameful as those of Phil Woolas who has been banned from politics.
The coalition scraped through but it was a hollow victory. The antics of its junior partner has created a situation every bit as volatile as the Poll Tax. And if that proves an accurate analogy the tuition fees will never be implemented. However the leaders of the protest movement must find a way of staging peaceful demonstrations for public opinion is becoming soured by the mindless and gleeful violence. Desecrating the memorial to millions of young men and women who gave their lives for freedom is a sure way of making enemies of the vast majority of the population which has never seen the inside of a university.
And Nick Clegg? He clearly lacks self understanding for the only way in which he can save his party and avoid driving the final nail into the coffin of an already tainted democracy, is to resign. But a man who cares not for even his own pledge is unlikely to do that. In which case it is, to misquote the two Ronnies, goodbye for him and goodbye for them.
NHS “CLOSE TO BREAKING POINT”
The Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians ( RCP) yesterday said that the NHS is on the verge of collapse. Attendances at A & E departments have climbed by 5% this year and the number of patients being admitted to hospitals likewise. Since 2004 the workforce has increased by 12% but the workload has climbed by 19%. And implementation of the European directive on Junior Doctor’s hours has made a bad situation even worse.
The NHS is now being forced to make savings of £20 billion and the most dramatic changes ever are being imposed by Andrew Lansley. The result is forecast by the RCP to be wards closing and waiting times lengthening to the point where patient care reaches depths previously unknown.
The RCP is not known for exaggeration and it is surely time that Lansley gave serious consideration to his present policies which will ultimately hit every family in the land at a time when they are most vulnerable.
What do you think? Is the NHS safe in Andrew Lansley’s hands?
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. In an air accident 2. Aldo Moro
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. What firsts did Ann Hays and Elizabeth Hoisington achieve in the USA? 2. Where was Clifford Dupont sworn in as president?