Posts Tagged ‘Conservative Mps’
Hardly a day passes but someone arrives at the allotments witha tale of woe about the latest cuts. The housebound now spend most of their days in bed as a result of the home carers services being slashed, meals-on-wheels are but a distant memory, the local children’s charity has closed.. the list is a long one. Those of us of a less volatile nature than Albert tend to trot out the cliches about all being in it together and money not growing on trees, but even we are stunned by the government’s ability to turn a blind eye to tax evaders and to produce, as if from a magician’s hat, buckets of cash for its pet projects.
Over £32 billion has been earmarked for the 100-mile high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham. This incredibly expensive brainwave will eventually reduce journey times by 35 minutes, and we are supposed to believe that the top businessmen likely to use it will, as a result of the time saved, be able to transform our economy. The fact that such wizards tend to work on the train has been swept aside, as has the fact that the existing rail network desperately requires investment.
But, with the final approval for this madness due at any time, a number of senior Conservative MPs, who represent constituencies around the Chilterns, have let it be known that they may rebel given the certain scarring of an area of natural beauty. Indeed, Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh Secretary, has let it be known that she just might resign. No problem. Justine Greening, the Transport Secretary, will announce next week that she has found £500,000 and will use it to fund a one-and-a-half-mile tunnel under the Chiltern Hills near Amersham.
Clearly money is no object when it comes to what many leading lights have described as a white elephant in the making. To hell with the housebound, this is a prestigeous asset we must have despite the fact that we are a small island and the time saved via higher speeds – trains on that route already run at 125mph – is inevitably small.
We can take it as read that, despite all the protests about priorities, the project will be approved. Then we can await revelations in Private Eye about the contractors and their connections with senior politicians.
Even in good times this venture would be open to debate, to pursue it so frantically right now beggars belief. But it is nice to know that there is still plenty of spare cash available!
LANSLEY IS STILL SOMEWHAT SECRETIVE!
My story about the refusal of the Health Secretary to publish the government’s own risk assessment of his much debated NHS Reform bill caught the eye of the Deputy Speaker of the Commons, Lindsay Hoyle
I have a letter from him making clear that he believes it “essential that the risk register is published immediately”, and he goes on to confirm that he has written to the Secretary of State for Health “urging him to release the information so that it can inform the debate currently taking place in parliament about NHS reform”.
But the register remains under wraps. We don’t need too much imagination to work out the reason!
TEST YOURSELF WITH THIS WEEKEND QUIZ! ANSWERS TOMORROW!!
1. Alan Shearer’s league career finished with a game against which team? 2. Which Kenny Rogers hit starts, “On a bar in Toledo…”? 3. In which sport is there a piste other than skiing? 4. Which member of Queen would have been 60 in September 2006? 5. Which Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced TESSA? 6. Which character was played by Dooley Wilson in “Casablanca”? 7. Who wrote the play “Private Lives”? 8. Who invented the bagless vacuum cleaner? 9. Whose hits include “Waterfront” and “Alive and Kicking”? 10. Voords, Krotons and Autons have all appeared in which TV series?
When I penned my recent piece on the death of democracy I underestimated the willingness of at least some MPs to stand up for it. In last night’s debate in the Commons on the need for a referendum on Europe, an impressive number of Conservative MPs made it clear that having been party to a promise to consult the people, they had no moral alternative than to vote for a national vote. Despite a three-line whip imposed by the prime minister, 82 voted for a referendum and a further 15 abstained. In all about half of all Conservative members, outside the “payroll vote” of ministers and their aides, defied Davd Cameron and the barrage of threats to which they had been subjected. Of course the motion was lost since Cameron can rely on his lapdog Lib Dem partners, and his dormant Labour opponents, to support him.
The point here is that the vote was not about leaving Europe, loosening our ties, or staying in. It was simply about the right of the people to express a view on an issue that impinges on every family in the land. If truth be told when, in the run-up to the election, Cameron pledged to force a referendum at the “earliest moment” he was of course indulging in the type of politics that has brought the art so low in the public view. The reality undoubtedly is that whilst he does have reservations about Brussels, he has even greater reservations about the concept of listening to public opinion. For different reasons Miliband feels much the same way.
One of the most dramatic moments of the debate came with the resignation of Philip Hollobone, an aide to David Lidington, the Europe Minister. He pointed out that the debate was the result of a public petition and said that supporting the referendum motion could help to “restore public confidence in politicians and Parliament”. He went on to say: “Heres our opportunity to show people that actually the system can work; that representative government does actually continue to function in the land where it was nurtured and developed; that patriotism, putting your country rather than your own interests first, is not foreign to this House”. He was followed by Stewart Jackson, another PPS, who also resigned, accusing Mr Cameron of “catastrophic mismanagement in terms of my party”. He in turn was followed by a large number of other Conservative MPs most of whom emphasised the importance of keeping promises conveyd by them to their constituents.
None of them were heard by the prime minister who left the House after giving his own version of things. He didnt have a good day. His analogy of helping a neighbour to put out a fire was ridiculous. Yes, one would do that but that doesnt imply that one would also allow the neighbour to impose countless rules on ones own household. But, as is often the case anything daft said by the king of spin was more than matched by Ed Miliband. He said that when the French President told the prime minister to shut up he was speaking for Britain. Mr Miliband clearly hasn’t spoken to many of what he terms ‘ordinary people’.
A new poll out today reveals that almost 75 per cent believe that the British people should have the opportunity to express a view on the EU. Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Miliband have shown total contempt for that view, clearly they hold a very low view of the people and of the democratic process.
I suspect that their view of us all is reciprocated. I thought I would never say this, but I admire the 97 Conservatives who at least demonstrated that not all MPs are simply ‘voting fodder’ and there is some point in electing representatives.
JOIN ME TOMORROW FOR THE MIDWEEK QUIZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Almost every book on hen-keeping stresses the importance of keeping chooks off wet ground. None explain how this is to be achieved and, after a lifetime of the hobby, I am still none the wiser. I would defy anyone to find fault with the care we allotmenteers bestow on our many broods, but even we find impossible the task of keeping the runs free of mud in conditions like those of recent days. We’ve tried gravel, sand, and even yelling but nothing works. It all illustrates the difference between theory and practice! And that is the trap that David Cameron has fallen into in backing Lansley’s mad plans for NHS reform.
There are many things to admire about the prime minister but his tendency to prove his NHS credentials by harping on about his gratitude for what it did for members of his family is not one of them. Countless families across the land could tell similar stories but it doesn’t follow that they would wish to support its demolition at the hands of a complete fool. And if you feel that is harsh on Lansley just look carefully at the horrendous errors of judgement he made over swine flu. Children and adults alike have died as a result of his arrogance.
Not surprisingly the coalition is under attack from the British Medical Association over its reform plans. They are not alone for a host of Conservative MPs plus ex-ministers such as Stephen Dorrell have expressed great concern at the speed at which major change is being imposed together with £20 billion worth of cuts. The abolition of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) was well merited but the switch to a new commissioning method needed careful planning. It also needed to be free of ideological change such as privatisation.
Today the prime minister has assured us that GPs are ready to take over the role. They are not and never will be given that practising family doctors have neither the time nor expertise. What has happened is that a number of areas have offered to set up commissiong organisations run by private health care providers, most of whom are from the USA. They in turn have links straight in to private medical services prepared to invest in buildings and the provision of non-specialist diagnoses and treatments.
The idea is not dissimilar to that tried by Patricia Hewitt. She wished to set up a trial in the North West which would involve a private company opening outpatients clinics near large hospitals. They would employ junior doctors from overseas and would offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ within which patients would be seen, diagnosed and, if the condition was trivial, treated wthin one day. It was only when it was revealed that the loss of income from ’easy’ medicine would effectively bankrupt the hospitals that a major public uprising began. The cost structure of the NHS is such that surpluses from routine work subsidise the cost of cancer, coronary and other acute medical procedures.
I have nothing against private enterprise competing with state service providers but there must be a level playing field. If the private sector is to be allowed by commissioners to compete it must offer the total range of services and not ‘cherry-pick’. And it will not do that for the simple reason that all the potential profit lies in the straightforward work.
The Hewitt proposals were ditched at the eleventh hour and the one-stop-shop is now operated by the NHS in Lancashire with great success. I know because I, together with deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, led the campaign. I also know something else.
Lansley’s plans were on the verge of being ditched a la Hewitt. If David Cameron’s intervention saves the day for Lansley there will be several outcomes. In the short term we will see waiting times doubled with the result that those with deep pockets will jump the diagnosis queues. In the medium term many hospitals will close with the result that patients and visitors will be obliged to travel big distances. And the quality of care will deteriorate as patients are seen by less experienced clinicians.
We all empathise with Mr Cameron’s personal tragedies and problems. But by his own admission they were handled well by the NHS. If he continues down the Lansley road other families will not have the same quality of care.
Yes the NHS has improved enormously but, yes, it can improve further. But the profit motive and life or death decisions are uneasy bedfellows and, if Cameron really cares as much as he claims to, he will apply the brake of caution to the madman at the controls.
ALASTAIR CAMPBELL CONTINUES TO SELL SECRETS!
The Alastair Campbell Diaries Volume two will be published on January 20th and already some cash is being raked in by newspaper serialisation. This edition will cost £25 which ensures another big pay day for the former Labour spin-doctor.
Just reading today’s revelations in the Guardian turned my stomach. Intimate details concerning the Royal family, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are all featured. And I have read all I want to read of this political version of kiss and tell.
Call me a stick-in-the-mud if you must, but I find the making of money out of confidence-breaking sickening. Of course Mr Campbell didn’t sign the Official Secrets Act and is not committing a crime. But one wonders if at the time he warned people that he was noting down their every comment with a view to revealing all for cash at a later date.
If my ire causes just one reader to keep their twenty-five quid in their pocket I shall feel glad to have spoken out!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; “I’m a wonderful housekeeper. Every btime I get a divorce I get to keep the house”…Zsa Zsa Gabor. “A neighbour is someone who has just run out of something”….Robert Benchley. “Our terraced house was so small the mice walked about on their back feet”….Les Dawson. “I hate housework. You make the beds, do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again”…..Joan Rivers. “I’m years behind with my ironing. It’s no good doing it now, it doesn’t fit anyone I know”…..Phyllis Diller
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Watergate 2. Horatio
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Did the population of London rise or fall between 1961 and 1971? 2. What year were the British people asked to vote yes or no to stay in the EU?
I knew that I was in for a ribbing when I arrived on the allotments well after daybreak and noticed Albert’s bike propped against the shed. But my old pal was in a good mood and contented himself with raised eyebrows. It turns out that he had a win on the gee-gees yesterday but was keen to avoid the news reaching his better-half. It reminded me of the scene from Fawlty Towers and I found myself wishing he hadn’t told me lest I bump into Margaret and, like Major Gowan, get betrayed by my tongue. Albert’s forecast on the horses must have been more accurate than the one he put forward on the Oldham and Saddleworth byelection!
In common with several of those who were swept along in the Nick Clegg euphoria at the general election, Albert had been convinced that Oldham would prove to be Clegg’s swan-song, the Lib Dems would be anihilated. In fact, although they lost by over 3500 votes to Labour their share of the vote held up well. At 31.9% it was certainly light-years ahead of the present national poll rating of 8%. Despite the Woolas factor, Labour took a share of 42.1%, a huge increase of 10.27%, so Ed Miliband will be reasonably content and the only massive fall was that of the Conservatives who dropped by over 13%.
The probability is that the people shaking their heads this morning are Conservative MPs and supporters. Some weeks ago this site revealed details of a memo from David Cameron making clear that a Lib Dem victory was the real aim. Although the prime minister did make a token visit, those from these parts who canvassed in Oldham returned to report that the Conservative campaign was in a lower key than Paul Robeson’s voice. It was the first example of the coalition parties working as one and the outcome will not have pleased many Tory activists one little bit.
But the objective observer must concede that Cameron called it correctly for, if the threatened Lib Dem collapse had occurred the odds are that the coalition would have crumbled too. And right now, with Miliband out in front, a general election is the last thing that the Old Etonians want.
To me at least the most astonishing statistic concerned those who didn’t vote. Over half of the good people of Oldham and Saddleworth boycotted the polling booths. Inevitably that included the usual flat-earthers who either didn’t know that there was an election or who wanted to watch something on television. But so great was the abstention that one can only conclude that many thousands decided that they have lost faith in politicians of all parties.
I have never been able to undertsnad why voting in a parliamentary election is not mandatory given that people can opt for a postal vote. But the likelihood is that no politician would like to see the results include a huge number ticking the box marked “None of them”.
Yet such a development would surely be good for democracy and would certainly introduce a note of humility on the part of those who love to defend their lunacies by declaring that they are merely carrying out the wishes of the people!
But for now we can imagine the degree of relief at the Clegg breakfast table this morning. The only problem is that as the butler serves the Camerons there may well have been mutterings about ‘now they really owe us’. Clegg has emulated Houdini but the grip around his throat has tightened and the day may well come when his boss will feel less inclined to come to the rescue!
HONOURS LIST FARCE CONTINUES!
As always the government was keen to include lollipop men and women in the New Year Honours List. Sadly the latest awards for ‘this incredibly important safety service’ coincided with decisions right across the country to make the gallant pole-bearers redundant.
But at least the government’s best friends, the Finance wizards, did well. Philip Remnant was but one of those honoured. He was appointed by Grumpy Gordon to U K Financial Investments, the body managing government stakes in bailed-out banks. UKFI has overseen a system where publicly-financed banks continued paying big bonuses but stopped lending to small businesses!
Nice to know that not everyone to be presented to Her Majesty is on the dole queue!
ANTI-SMOKING LOBBY TRIUMPHS AGAIN!
In December, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom decreed that Live XXXBabes, a free-to-air unencrypted adult sex chat services channel that until recently broadcast on Sky’s channel 950, had breached its rules during a daytime broadcast on 5 October. The channel offered the opportunity to “chat to the hottest, filthiest babes” on premium rate phone lines with the promise that they would “do anything you want…whatever turns you on”.
Presumably Ofcom was upset with some of the things that did turn punters on? No. It was concerned that “a female presenter wearing skimpy lingerie was smoking heavily…the prolonged sequence of smoking drew attention to the activity of smoking as a desirable activity..”
Purveyors of soft porn be warned. Encouraging people to smoke is the greatest evil!
SAVE OUR FORESTS!!!
In a previous blog I outlined the crazy government proposal to sell off all of the forests controlled by the Forestry Commission. This will lead to 20% of the UK forests being taken over by developers. And we all know what that means.
’38 Degrees’ is attempting to organise a massive protest and that looks the only hope. So far 135,000 have visited their website and ‘signed’ the petition. It will take a bigger number than that to stop this destruction.
Do please give your support!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. 800,000 2. Australia
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which British tennis star married Chris Evert? 2. Which government minister of the 90s appeared in 1974 as a guest on the Morecambe and Wise TV show?
As we arrived at the allotment this morning Phil commented that it was a beautiful morning. It wasn’t, for the sky had a steel-grey look about it and it would be easy to imagine that the sun has long departed to shine on luckier folk. But Phil was falling into the old trap of relativity, it wasn’t pouring and was thus more beautiful than of late. Still plenty of evidence of the monsoons and yet more debate about the effects of global warming which, like relativity, joins the long list of things we don’t understand yet constantly pronounce on.
Another one is economics. Depending on which financial wizard one talks to the country is either bankrupt or recovering well, and it is usually impossible to follow what they are talking about. But it is worrying when the attack on the harsh line being pursued by Osborne is led by his own parliamentary colleagues, Conservative MPs. When they join in the claim that the harshness of his cuts are driven by ideology and will endanger recovery it is time for the worry-beads.
I mention this having watched part of yesterday’s Treasury select committee meeting. One could confidently expect the opposition representatives to breathe fire but the most vicious attack came from Osborne’s own supporters. That is a misnomer for they clearly don’t support him at all, one gained the impression that to some Tories he is as the Glazers were to Manchester United.
The committee is chaired and led by Tory MP Andrew Tyrie, a finance buff who could easily win selection for Ennui United. Tyrie said that the Chancellor’s use of inflammatory language to justify public spending cuts was counterproductive. He was particularly incensed at Osborne’s claim that Britain was on the verge of bankruptcy which was “over the top”. As for the budget being progressive, the Chnacellor had “over-egged it somewhat”. And things got even worse.
The dashing multi-millionnaire George eventually managed to get a word in edgeways to remind the committee that the situation was serious. “That isn’t the same as saying that we were on the verge of bankruptcy” barked the chairman who went on to eliicit the information that major economies such as France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the USA all have higher debt levels than Britain. I hadn’t known this and my tea turned cold as it sunk in. So we are making the most drastic cuts in the developed world yet have debts well below most of theirs!
Then followed a lot of pressure about possible further ‘quantitive easing’, a subject that leaves me as bemused as the success of Anne Widdecombe in a dancing competition. According to the committee, should the Bank of England resort to this again it will be proof positive that the dashing George has dropped us into a hole deeper that a Japanese wrestler’s belly-button.
At this point the level of discourse deteriorated somewhat and the group spent for ever discussing the fact that the multi-millionnaire before them draws child-benefits. It seems that he does but what one is supposed to conclude from this was less than clear. In vain I studied the body language of Osborne’s aides. Such noble beings always accompany Ministers when they face court-martials but rarely give anything away. In this case Sir Nicholas Macpherson bore a permanently puzzled expression. I tried to deduce whether this signalled a view that Osborne had lost the plot or that the MPs were three pence short of a shilling. I couldn’t, maybe he always looks as puzzled as a Times crossword solver? Either way the committee decided that the Chancellor had “misled the public”.
I confess to a track record when it comes to watching parliamentary committees. I seldom understand what the various members are saying but usually shrug and dismiss them as inferior intellectual beings ( my self understanding often overrates my own capacity) but this time I felt genuinely concerned.
We know from surveys that around half the nation believes that the Chancellor is living in cloud cuckoo land with his belief in the private sector creating jobs to replace those he is hacking down by the day. What I for one did now know was that various supposedly eminent experts in his own party feel much the same.
I shouldn’t have tuned in. I have always tended to go along with the belief that ignorance is bliss. It now seems dangerous. In 1942 William Temple, then Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote that human status should not be dependent on demands of the economic process. By his measure gorgeous George is way off course. Mind you the same man described cricket as “organized loafing” so I am even uncertain about his judgement.
The only conclusion I can draw is that someone on high is an Eddie the Eagle. For all our sakes I can only pray that it isn’t Osborne!
FOOTBALL HAS LOST ITS SOUL!
Weather permitting, we armchair potatoes can this evening watch FC United of Manchester take on Rochdale in the F A Cup. FC United were formed in 2005 as a gesture of disillusionment with the self-satisfied world of Premier League football in general and the arrival of the Glazer family in particular. Since then the club has flourished and is rocketing up the non-league pyramid.
Their captain is Dave Chadwick who will come rushing out of the Bolton care home where he works with troubled children at ,mid-afternoon and will head for Spotlands, the home of Rochdale. He contrasts the situation with the haggling at Old Trafford over an extra £20,000 per week for the so-called megastars. He reflects that money such as that would pay for the youngsters in his care to have activities and outings, something that simply cannot be afforded in such cash-strapped homes. What Rooney and the rest demand as a mere addition could change lives. Inevitably those like Dave who are leading the revolt called FC United are bemused at the widening gulf between “everyday football folk and the high-rollers of Old Trafford”.
The fledgling club born only five years ago is already showing that football does still have a soul even if it has vanished in a morass of greed at its pinnacle.
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Sly Stone 2. Cliff Richard
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who played Mr Abbott in ‘Bless this House’ ? 2. What happened on 15th February 1971?