Posts Tagged ‘No Doubt’
The TV was switched on in the clubhouse yesterday and, for want of something better to do, we sat around clutching our mugs of hot tea watching Geiorge Osborne perform at the Conservative Party conference. Just a few days ago we laid on the grass for our break, now we are back to shivering in the face of a fierce and penetrating wind. And the chancellor, who always reminds me of a school prefect lecturing the fags, did little to warm our hearts.
In fairness there is little of cheer that he can say right now, although it did prompt us to thank heavens for Grumpy Gordon’s veto of Blair’s plan to take us in to the Euro. But in reality Osborne is right, we cannot relax our attempts to reduce the deficit. But what irks us old codgers is the amount of money being poured into futile projects, money that would be better spent providing some of the essential services being cut.
An obvious example is Afghanistan. Ten years on, the Taliban is stronger than ever and no one seriously believes that we are going to succeed where the Russians failed anytime soon. Yet we continue to pour £4.5 billion into the project each year. There are many other examples, but the one that strikes us particularly is the £3 billion being poured into the so-called NHS reforms which yesterday attracted more vitriol from the medical profession with warnings that the whole system is sliding into chaos.
The biggest single factor are the massive cuts being applied to the budget of every hospital. If someone less half-witted than Lansley occupied the Secretary of Health’s seat they would surely by now have dropped the reforms in favour of halting the culling of nursing staff. Right across the country the numbers of nurses per ward are being slashed, and there is no doubt that we are reaching the point where the lives of seriously ill patients are being put at risk.
In a poll conducted last week 52% of nurses said that the cuts are affecting patient care. Over half of those surveyed said that they are now too busy to give patients the necessary level of care, and 32% insisted that the overall quality of nursing care is in sharp decline. A massive 57% said that they are now having to work over and above their contracted hours as a result of staff shortages. The poll was conducted by the Royal College of Nursing which questionned 8000 nurses.
The chief exceutive of the college is Dr Peter Carter who said yesterday; “Nurses are at the heart of everything that is good about the NHS and this is yet more evidence that the frontline is not being protected. Nurses are wilting under the strain of longer working hours, taking on the burden of unfilled vancancies and reduced staffing levels. All these short-term measures are likely to leave patients with poorer care and a worse NHS”.
Almost every hospital Trust reports a deteriorating situation. Plymouth hospitals have axed 145 from its nursing care team, and the Royal College has claimed that patient safety is now at risk. In Portsmouth some of the posts axed include specialist nurses which give care to people with long-term medical conditions. In London, Camden and Islington 69 posts have been axed, most of which dealt with the mentally ill. The list is a long one and is growing by the day as Foundation Trusts are summoned to the lush London offices of the regulator Monitor and ordered to achieve cuts whatever it takes.
It is now just a matter of time before deaths resulting from insufficient nurses will hit the headlines. Even the Daily Mail, which seems to specialise in condemning the NHS, will be forced to concede that this government has totally misread the situation.
There is talk of the Lords refusing to endorse the NHS bill which is now before it. If it does the house of privilege will have performed a rare public service. But even if it does, Lansley will undoubtedly press ahead with a resubmission. Meantime the changes are being enacted and huge amounts of taxpayer’s money are being squandered, money that could have been used to maintain at least the safe level of nursing.
We ancient chicken-keepers often mock David Cameron but we do believe that there is compassion behind that bland exterior. We can only assume that he simply doesn’t realise what is happening on the front line of nursing. Pethaps he is listening to Lansley whose nature prompts him to regard any warning as unenlightened opposition. Frankly the man is incapable of running a chip shop let alone the service that, in extremis, is the one likely to impact most severely on every family.
The vast majority of nurses are caring and dedicated. Last week, when on a visit to a busy ward, I was chatting to one who is both of those things and more. She seemed exhausted and dispirited. She said that she feels shame at the little time she and her colleagues now have to attend to patients needs. Her buzzer called her away and, as she rushed off, she remarked that the roof has fallen in on her world.
It is about to fall in on all of ours too unless someone can stop the madness. We are not talking about more money, all that is needed is a switch from ‘reforms’, opposed by every clinician in the land, to safe levels of staffing.
Gadaffi, the bullying chicken, has responded to isolation by going ‘broody’. More and more people are keeping hens these days and it may well be that many of you know exactly what that means. In case you don’t I should explain that broodies yearn to hatch out eggs and spend up to three weeks just dozing, or doing a Ken Clarke as they say in the trade.. They have to be regularly lifted out for food and exercise at which time they peck the hand that feeds them and emit a constant angry tutting-like noise, a bit like Capello when he can’t find the right word. Great if you have fertilised eggs, a pain in the neck if you don’t. But at least its not in a position to maintain its feather-pecking reign of terror.
Oh that its namesake, the mad Colonel, could be sidelined as easily! If reports are accurate the coalition (about to become NATO-led) has blasted to kingdom come every strategic military site and every plane supplied to Gadaffi by the French and Brits. But still the forces loyal to Gadaffi are proving more than a match for the ragtail bands of rebels. So what do we do now? If the British and French have their way we will begin to provide arms to the rebels plus ‘advisers’ to help with strategy and, no doubt, a little fighting in cognito. But is this morally justified? Clearly anything that prevents Gadaffi slaughtering any civilian that happens to defy him is right. But clearly once we in effect take up arms with his opponents there is a risk that we are then putting at risk the civilians that happen to support – adore may be a better description – the Dictator.
Either way the NATO operation faces a huge dilemma. But it is even more complicated than that. Yesterday Admiral James Stavridis, a senior American military commander and Supreme Allied Commander in NATO, warned that US intelligence had picked up indications of terrorist activity among the rebels. The Admiral said that whilst many of them were “responsible men and women”, he was concerned at reports of al Qaeda and Hizbollah involvement. Of course Gaddafi and his son have for some days claimed that the rebellion is led by terrorists but, as Mandy Rice Davies once famously remarked, they would say that wouldn’t they. But what if they are right? Given that Libya has effectively been closed to the West for forty years, our knowledge of its internal politics is limited. But what is not in doubt is that since the uprising, various al Qaeda spokesmen have surfaced to condemn Gadaffi and to call for the creation of an Islamic state. And last week Abdel-Hakim al Hasidi, a leading rebel figure, admitted to an italian newspaper that many of the jihadists who had fought Allied troops in Iraq were now fighting to overthrow Gaddafi.
We do know that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group(LIFG), a militant Islamist group committed to the establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic state of Libya, was set up in 1995 by groups of Libyan jihadi fighters who had fought against the Russians in Afghanistan. We also know that LIFG has established ties with like-minded organisations, some of which have claimed responsibility for various attacks against European countries. We also know that it was his fear of the growing influence of jihadist groups in Libya that led to Gadaffi agreeing to give up his nuclaer programme in exchange for a working agreement with MI6 and the CIA which would involve sharing information on al Qaeda’s terrorist activities.
As a result of that the Britsh Government in 2005 made the LIFG a banned organisation and banned its leaders from visiting the UK. But LIFG continued its reign of terror and played a prominent role in attacking our forces in Iraq. At that time US officials went on record as saying that many of the insurgents facing American and Britsh troops came from the Benghazi area, now the stronghold of the anti-Gadaffi rebels.
So we come to a difficult crossroads. If we merely support preventing Gaddafi attacking civilians all well and good, although a stalemate may be the result. But if we actively arm and support the rebels to the point of victory what have we created? Getting rid of the mad Colonel only makes sense for the West if he is replaced by a pro- Western, secular government committed to a democratic process. The fear now growing is that his removal may result in the creation of a miltant Islamic state on the oil-rich shores of North Africa.
If that is what we achieve it will surely rank as the greatest own goal in our history!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; ” A gorilla in boxing gloves wielding a paair of garden shears would have done a better job of editing ‘The Boyfriend’…….Ken Russell ” They only got two things right in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’; the camels and the sand”……Lowell Thomas “What did I think of ‘The Titanic’? I’d rather have been on it”……Miles Kruger “The two key words in ‘Last Tango in Paris’ are ‘tango’ and ‘Paris’. ‘Last Hokey-Cokey in Macclesfield’ wouldn’t be the same at all”…..Mark Steyn “Table for Five’ would be an ideal movie to watch on a plane. At least they provide free sick bags”…..Simon Rose “All movie bartenders, when first seen, are wiping the inside of a glass with a rag”…..David W Smith “Popcorn is the last area of movie business where good taste is still a concern”…..Mike Barfield “What do you have when you’ve got an agent buried up to his neck in the sand? Not enough sand”…..Pat Williams “Night watchmen in horror movies have a life expectancy of twelve seconds”……Sam Waas “The only problem I have with Film Festivals are the films”……..Duane Byrge
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ; 1. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2. Running marathons
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which European country passed anti-aerosol laws in 1978? 2.Who took over from Mike Brierley as England cricket captain?
Not quite so warm today as we cleaned out the chicken coops but everyone seemed in high spirits. ‘Calamity’ Clegg does much to raise spirits here as his clangers follow in quick succession. Yesterday saw yet another. When challenged about the cuts to pensioner’s fuel allowances he replied that it was just another scare story dreamed up by Ed Balls. Clearly Kenneth Clarke was not the only coalition minister asleep during the Chancellors oration! But it has to said in the Lib Dem leader’s defence that he makes us laugh and we should perhaps be grateful for small mercies.
Laughter is becoming a rare feature of our community where the cuts are beginning to bite. Some of our libraries face the axe, the number of beat bobbies is to be halved, a number of centres for the severely disabled are to close. In fact no part of our daily lives will be untouched by the severest cuts ever experienced. No doubt the politicians will reply that times are hard and every penny counts. And they would be lying through their teeth!
Hidden away in the Budget are statistics capable of sending even the mildest amongst us into a rage. Our annual contribution to the European Union is set to soar to £9 billion by 2015 and we face an almost immediate rise of 17 per cent. In the past year our contribution rose from £4.7 billion to £7.6 billion and it is planned to rise again sharply this year. And that is far from the total bill, the near certainty is that we will have to follow up our massive payments to bail-out Ireland with bail-out contributions to Greece and Portugal.
Tory bankbencher Bill Cash yesterday said that the expenditure is “totally unnecessary” and added “I’m utterly opposed to the EU enlargement process”. Fellow Tory MP Douglas Carswell described the figures, and the latest news of payments for pros[ective new members Croatia, as “absolutely shocking”. He went on to complain that “this week we are cutting public services in my constituency while planning a huge payout to Croatia”. This shows, Mr Carswell said, that it is high time we had an ‘in or out’ referendum on EU membership. ” The EU project is a debt union and whatever the politicians promise, Britian seems to keep on paying”, he added.
Matthew Sinclair, director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, was also in a rage. He described our contributions as ” extrememly worrying”. He added; “A combination of the grandiouse ambitions of European politicians and the needs of new member states are set to make EU membership a worse and worse deal for British taxpayers. If Eurocrats won’t embrace the austerity measures that people here have had to, the government should refuse to finance that and not just accept Brussels’ demands for more and more money”.
It really is extraordinary that at a time when so many are facing extreme hardship in this country we are still pouring money in to the EU. Slowly but surely we are being bled dry by the Brussels machine. Bailout follows bailout, subscriptions continue to rocket, regulation after regulation encircles us. To say all this is not be be anti-European but simply to recognise that the more we pay out the greater the domestic cuts will have to be.
In fairness to David Cameron it was the concessions made by the Blair government that landed us in this horrific situation, and it is his need to placate Calamity Clegg that prevents him even considering a referendum. The irony is that we are to have a pointless one about a tweak to our voting system but are not prepared to consult the public on a far more important issue.
In defiance of the views of member-states the EU parliamentarians have just voted themselves another huge increase and hardly a day passes but we read of chauffered limos, massives expenses for which no receipts are required, and perks the like of which would have our Westminster crowd on the front page of every newspaper. It surely has to stop and if it doesn’t we should be heading for the exit.
Despite what the right-wing press says this morning not everyone marching in London is a left-wing militant. Coachloads of people who have never demonstrated before are on the road. They are demanding that the rate of cuts be slowed down. They should also be demanding that our ever escalating payments to the money-grabbing Brussels empire-builders be cut too!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; SPORT “I never comment on referees and I’m not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat”…..Ron Atkinson “The entiure contents of the Manchester City trophy room have been stolen. The police are looking for a man carrying a light blue carpet ” …….Bernard Manning “If that had gone in it would have been a goal”….David Coleman “You’d think if any country could put up a decent wall, it would be China”….Terry Venables “The first time I went skiing I wasn’t very good, and broke a leg. Luckily, it wasn’t one of mine”…..Michael Green “The manager has a fresh pair of legs up his sleeve”……John Creig “Games are the last resort of those who do not know how to be idle”….Robert Lynd “The English football team – brilliant on paper, shit on grass”…..Arthur Smith ” The Premier League is a multi-million industry with the aroma of a blocked toilet and the principles of a knocking shop”……Michael Parkinson “I never make predictions and I never will”….Paul Gascoigne “I went to a fight the other night and an ice hockey game broke out”……Rodney Dangerfield “For me the worst part of playing golf has always been hitting the ball”…..Dave Barry
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. A rocket 2. They died durinbg the return to Earth when the cabin pressure failed
TODAY’S QUESTIONS 1. How many pennies made up a shilling in Britain’s pre-decimal currency? 2. What was a shilling worth in new pence after decimalisation?
Despite the mild weather the football fans amongst our allotment gang seemed slightly uneasy this morning. On the one hand they all want their team to succeed but the price of doing so has just risen to ludicrous levels. Torres was deemed to be worth three times the amount that the coalition wish to save by selling off our forests and even a new boy on the block from Newcastle is apparently worth twice the saving. Express those amounts in policemen or nurses and you have the final proof that our society has lost all sense of values. Of course the money is being provided by cash-rich tycoons from abroad but it still leaves a nasty taste. No doubt the seemingly benevolent will hike up admission charges again for next season, so the fans will ultimately pay if they still have jobs to provide the readies.
Who knows, we may be heading for foreign ownership of the NHS once the overseas speculators tire of playing with Premiership football clubs. If the prestigious Lancet is to be believed the NHS is heading for an inglorious end so anything is possible. The Lancet is THE organ of the medical profession and is not given to hyperbole. It’s editorial is therefore worrying in the extreme. It predicts the end of the NHS and goes on to say that “for the Tories to call themselves the party of the NHS was a commitment that seems particularly hollow now”.
Yesterday the results of a survey carried out by the Royal College of General Practitioners were published. 1800 GPs took part and a clear majority said they were concerned the reforms would not improve patient care. Chair of the College, Clare Gerada, said that GPs are worried about the pace at which the reforms are being implemented, the danger of fragmentation of services, and the great emphasis on competition. She added “GPs fear that these reforms could cause irreparable and irreversible damage to the NHS”.
Having been involved as a Chair of both a Primary Care Trust and an acute hospiotal I had already realised that to make such drastic changes at the same time as imposing cuts of £20 billion will inevitably lead to chaos. Yesterday I learned that the government’s bill incredibly includes a payment from the NHS budget to private sector providers. For each billion contracted out, the NHS must pay a ‘subsidy’ of £140 million. The logic here escapes me, it is a further blatant example of the Cameron/Lansley determination to privatise services.
As I have commented before this will lead to cherry picking with the NHS hospitals left to provide acute services from a limited number of hospitals.Expect whiolesale closures, expect postcode medicine the like of which we have never seen before, expect waiting times to double, expect already overworked GPs to simply delegate commissioning back to the PCTs wearing a different hat.
Perhaps the most telling judgement of all came yesterday from a member of the health select committee, Andrew George. Mr George is a leading Lib Dem MP. He told the BBC that “most of the informed and authoritative commentators on this all agree this may result in a race to the bottom, and it certainly will. And I think it will compromise quality of treatment too”
Can everyone, including members of the coaltion, be so wrong. I think not. David Cameron remarked that even his brother-in-law (a doctor ) is apprehensive. We should all be, for on the rare occasions when the Lancet has taken up a position, it has always been proved right.
When every member of a family is in good health it is easy to laugh at the antics of someone like Andrew Lansley. But to current users the man is a walking nightmare. We should perhaps remember that there will inevitably be a time when the whole family is not well!. By then it may be too late and right now we have to decide whether we trust the professionals or Cameron/Lansley. Easy choice really isn’t it?
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; ” A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”…Florynce Kennedy ” Ask a woman how she feels and she will tell you all about every relationship she’s ever been in. Ask a man and he’ll tell you he feels like a pizza”….Diana Ford ” A man has to be Adolph Hitler to be called ruthless. All a woman has to do is put you on hold”….Marlo Thomas ” Feminism is a wonderful idea – until the car goes wrong”..Nicola Zweig ” The Woman’s Movement would be a lot more successful if men were running it”……. Alan Clark “In Newcastle being gay means ’owns a coat’ “….Jimmy Carr “Do men who like to dress up as women find that they can no longer parallel park?”…Roseanne “Its better to be black than gay because when you’re black you don’t have to tell your mother”….Charles Pierce “Most women are attracted to the simple things in life. Like men”….Sophia Loren ” Remember if you smoke after sex, you’re doing it too fast”….Woody Allen ” My wife and I were happy for twenty years, and then we met”….Rodney Dangerfield
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1.Michael Crawford 2. Last of the Summer Wine
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Where was Gough Whitlam once prime minister? 2. What organisation did the Rev ‘Tubby’ Clayton (died in 1972) found?
At least it wasn’t raining as we slid about in the muddy autumn leaves this morning. There was the usual banter directed at Colin who each day brings a large plastic container filled with amber liquid to pour over his compost. The rest of us prefer Garrota but it has to be admitted that he produces the best compost. But much of this morning’s chatter centered on the demise of Jack Duckworth who was written out of Coronation Street last night after a run of 31 years.
Jack was played by Bill Tarmey but for many became real. Some years ago I attended a business meeting with the Granada bosses in Manchester, they told me that Tarmey was no longer able to wander about in the city. It seems that he was subjected to constant abuse most of which related to his poor treatment of his ‘wife’ Vera and his general tendency to be idle. Amazingly thousands of viewers had come to believe that Jack was real. No doubt they felt bereaved last night especially when Liz Dawn returned as Vera’s ghost and the pair performed a posthumous and ghostly dance around the room in which so many of their dramas were enacted.
It seems that we as a society love make-believe. Perhaps that is just as well for much of what fills our lives is no more real than dear old Jack. A classic example is the national deficit which supposedly drives the coalition into ever more bizaare actions. It may surprise you to learn that the current amount of tax avoidance, evasion and non-payment stands at £123 billion per year which represents three-quarters of the much discussed deficit. Compare that with the highly publicised benefit fraud which amounts to £1.1 billion!
The actual breakdown of the tax loss is £25bn through avoidance methods, £70 billion through illegal evasion and outstanding tax debts of £28 billion. So presumably the government has equally penal measures in hand for those at the top-rate tax end. Actually no. In fact it is enforcing cuts on the revenue service that will make a clamp-down even less likely than under the previous government, which also did little to tackle the big evaders.
In truth the Inland Revenue is hopelessly outclassed by the corporate ruses. The Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Lord (Matthew Oakeshott) compares it to a “fat policemen chasing a speeding Ferrari”. Now it will be even less capable since its staff is to be cut further (the merger with Customs and Excise had already lopped 30,000 off) and morale is said to be at “rock bottom”. The amount spent on tackling tax aviodance has fallen from £3.6 billion in 2006 to £1.9 billion today.
So who are these people who gayly carry on robbing the State? One doesn’t have to look far for clues. Research by Incomes Data Services has revealed that the pay of boardroom bosses has risen by 55 per cent in one year. And new clues emerge each day. Today we learn that Barclays Capital has set aside £4.5 billion to fund this years pay and bonuses, this despite a downturn in investment banking profits. The state-owned RBS has maintained its salary, pension and bonus pot at £2.1 billion even though revenue has dropped from £9 billion to £6.3 billion.
The inability, or reluctance, to pursue big tax avoiders means that taxation shifts from the rich to the poor. Regardless of the exact amount Vodaphone avoided, the protesters are right to picket its shops ( and they might have a go at Boots while they are at it). We are living in a country where the poor bail out the banks, while the rich keep their millions intact.
The mass of the people are living in a giant soap opera conducted by governments only prepared or brave enough to hit those on lower incomes. But we all go along with it, we all believe the millionnaire politicians when they declare that the cuts are fair.
Our self understanding should warn us that the fact that we believe does not make the claim true. After all neither Bill Tarney nor Liz Dawn are really ghosts!
TRUTH IS ELUSIVE!
My Gran used to warn me not to believe all that I read in the newspapers. Every day brings proof that she was spot on!
Today’s Guardian features an ‘exclusive’ revealing that Chelsea Football Club is on the verge of agreeing a move from Stamford Bridge to the site of the now defunct Earls Court exhibition centre. Today’s Telegraph also has an exclusive but this one reveals that Chelsea will not be moving.
What does one do. Follow cricket’s example and spin a coin perhaps?
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Sylvester Stallone 2. Middle East truce supervisor
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. In which country did Felix Malloum become head of state in 1975? 2. Who was head of the Metropolitan Police at the time of the Spaghetti House seige?