Category: UK

A New Challenger Has Entered the Ring

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn is joining the Labour leadership race. I cannot begin to tell you how happy it makes me that someone whose views not only align with my own – or indeed has any views at all beyond ultra-bland, blue-Labour populism – is potentially going to be on the ballot paper. A quick glance at his profile on They Work For You shows that he is a man of conviction, something that seems to be sorely lacking in a lot of politicians these days.

I joined the Labour Party specifically to vote for a new leader and help, in some small way, to rebuild the party. But until yesterday, when my choices were Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, or maybe Mary Creagh, I was seriously considering spoiling my ballot or voting ‘none of the above‘. (As an aside, if there was a single politician in the UK who displayed even a half as much candour as Richard Pryor’s character does in that clip, I’d vote for them in a heart beat.)

He’s got a lot of support to drum up and not a lot of time to do it,  but I really hope he gets on the ballot. Even if he doesn’t win – and I’d be very surprised if he does in today’s political climate – having someone to play devil’s advocate and make the debate an actual debate excites me.


An Unhealthy Development

This Guardian article makes for pretty grim reading.  There’s one section in particular that really stands out for me though:

Bournemouth and Poole are smallish district general hospitals needing to merge to share services and stay solvent. But their overseer, Monitor, has the new duty to ‘prevent anti-competitive behaviour’. Monitor say the hospitals should be competing for patients, so they referred the merger to the Office of Fair Trading – unknown in the NHS.

Hospitals competing for patients? That seems utterly ludicrous. What possible benefits could there be for patients in Bournemouth and Poole by making the already-pushed hospitals fight for their “business”? Who could think that this is a good idea?

Clearly someone who does not have patient care as his or her highest concern. Someone with a very different agenda in mind. Someone who would like nothing better than to see the NHS dismantled and privatised.

I suppose it might not be a bad thing.1 After all, the privatisation of the railways has been entirely trouble free. Same with the utilities: it’s been nothing but plain sailing since they were turned over to private interests.

I firmly believe that despite its failings and problems, the NHS is one of the best things about the UK. The horror stories you hear from the US about the cost of treatment or the difficulty in getting insurance in the first place make me very glad I can go to a doctor when I’m sick and can go to a hospital without having to worry about going bankrupt.

I appreciate that mine is not the only point of view on this issue; a more right-leaning person might believe that smaller government and reduced spending is a fair trade for our current system of socialised medicine. But at the moment it feels like the Coalition is rigging the game against the NHS. Cutting funding and then complaining that standards have dropped is like taking the roof off a house and then complaining when the rain gets in. You can’t have it both ways – not that the Coalition really wants it both ways. They just want to hound the NHS until it collapses from exhaustion.

  1. That’s right; it’s time for a sarcastic interlude! *jazz hands*

Singing the Anthem

This is bullshit.

Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly support people learning more about history and science, but there’s a time and a place for everything and a handbook for people hoping to move to a different country is not an appropriate place for a quiz about Churchill.

Besides, the average person on the street would struggle to answer questions about Brunel and the structure of DNA – and if the average British person would fail, then is it really a proper test of “Britishness?”