Friday, June 29, 2007

Poetry in Motion - or I feel a Brown moment coming on!

I thank Devil's Kitchen for this contribution to great British poetry (even though it was penned by Trixy.) They are a truly wonderful couple - just like Tony and Gordon at that last romantic meeting.

Dedicated to Polly Toynbee and the new Prime Minister

The lady wept as she listened to his voice
Drone on in his monotone about 'tax and spend'
They think the country we will mend
And then they will rejoice.

Dear Gordon, how I love you so
Said Polly, who of course you know
Is the guardian of all that's right
If you're really not very bright.

Come whisper prudence in my ear
And feel my heart start to beat fast
My love for you won't be surpassed
No matter what you hear.

Come fill me with your big hard taxes
I, like the nation, will be on my knees
But unlike them I want to please
It's not just my legs the lady waxes

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

David Cameron - Please Mind Your P's and Q's!

Michael Portillo, and now his alter ego, Quentin Davies (see photograph of them in a recent conversation before Davies's defection to Brown's New Improved Labour Party) have both delivered their barbed spears into the heart of the Conservative Party that made them what they are today - traitorous hypocrites.

How on earth either man has the gall to attack Cameron as all PR and lacking substance with their records? Remember the famous "SAS speech" from Portillo? Davies has consistently attacked Gordon Brown's economic competency and now says he's a great leader!

David, don't let these two pricks on your progress deter you from doing the right thing. Beat the sh*t out of Brown and his spin machine!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Underclass of the Brown Years

However long Gordon Brown lasts as Prime Minister he will not be able to deny that he was one of the architects of the dumbing down of large parts of the population - and I'm not talking about Big Brother-type television programmes.

No, since the 1970s Labour dominated councils (and their associated Local Education Authorities) have created an educational system that has failed hundreds of thousands of people and condemned them to life in an underclass of under-achievement. His answer to that has been to create an incredibly complicated system of tax credits and welfare benefits - the so-called New Deal - which has only perpetuated their dependence on the State. He's now waffling about his passion for education but consider these facts: in 2006, 20,000 pupils who sat their GCSEs did not take Maths; 26,000 did not take English; and 46,000 did not take a science. Moreover nearly 60,000 students obtained no GCSEs at all. Multiply these figures by ten and you get a feel for the number of young people who have not had a good start to their adult lives. What will the New Deal do for them?

His record is not defensible and he can't shift the blame to Blair. He will have to answer for this disaster that he's helped create.

Friday, June 22, 2007

What will Boris do when he's old and grey?

Last Sunday we travelled south to the Land of Boris. No, not a mythical world inhabited by hobbits or some such half human hairy creatures with obscure origins. This was the real heart of the middle class of England - or, at least, as I imagine it was when I once lived in that part of England about 35 years ago.

We were there to see my niece and her family who had recently moved into a little village on the side of the Chiltern escarpment. This is Boris Johnson country (MP for Henley) and, indeed, my niece's eldest daughter had met him at the Chinnor fete the day before and found him his usual affable self. This is the sort of circle in which they move! I was impressed.

The reasons for the gathering of Diablo's clan were manifold: a housewarming party; my niece's 18th wedding anniversary; her mother-in-law's 75th birthday; and it was Father's Day too. It was a great opportunity to catch up with all the old folk we don't see very often. And the barbecued lamb was amazing! A great family event.

As one of the older folk myself I naturally gravitated to the "wrinklies". I don't normally talk politics at social events but I couldn't stop the discussion going in that direction. The "greys" are not a happy group: too many immigrants; the NHS is useless; council tax is far too high; good riddance to Tony Blair; Gordon Brown will be a disaster; Cameron is not talking to us; as for the LibDems they are opportunists not worth discussing - except that most thought Ming Campbell was too old! Phew! I didn't realise the older generation could be so vociferous.

It seems to me that while everyone is concerned with the 'yoof' vote politicians could be forgetting that the older end of the voting spectrum is more likely to be listening to what they have to say. Even Boris could be old and grey one day.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Iain Dale's Diary: LibDems to Prop Up Labour?

Iain Dale's Diary: LibDems to Prop Up Labour?

I think I'm just beginning to get the hang of this blogging thing and realise that you have to get in early with your comments if anyone is going to take any notice of you.

Take this blog from Iain Dale at about 10.30am on Wednesday 20th June. The Guardian story ran all day in the media. I was fascinated why this had emerged as major story but did not get around to reading it until well after midnight. By that time there had been 59 comments but no one had noticed one posted at 11.11am that said "you are missing something. love from a guardian staffer".

I looked at the original Guardian article and spotted this sentence: "He (Brown) may also make a move on Iraq that could require the help of other parties."

My comment was : "Brown will be looking for a big hit and what better than to announce a very quick withdrawal from Iraq? The devil is always in the detail."

None of the other commentators (I use the term loosely) had seen this as a potential reason for Brown's overtures to Campbell. I might be proved wrong but it seems likely that Brown doesn't want to spend all his time sorting out the aftermath of Blair's war on terror.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Psst! Fancy a bung for your school?

OK, the title of this post is a bit obscure. It's not on the scale of the BAe case - no Saudi princes are involved (or were harmed in the writing of it) nor does it involve Lord Levy or Bernie Ecclestone - or, indeed, Inspector Knacker of the Yard. No, this tale does not contain any accusations of illegal acts by Government ministers. But it does concern the use that all that extra tax that Gordon Brown has sucked out of pockets over the last ten years has been put to in the cause of "Education, Educashun, Educajun-R-Us" or whatever the slogan was.

At Madge and Badger's dinner party on Saturday evening I sat next to an interesting lady who happened to be a school governor. When the talk turned naturally to how well her child was doing at the local primary because of the strong team of staff led by a very inspirational headteacher she mentioned her involvement in a discussion with the Head and a representative of the LEA about the uptake by pupils of after school activities. This was running at 71% which was considered to be very good. However, the LEA person said that the Government wanted to see 100% participation to demonstrate how well their policies were doing. My governor friend, who seemed to know her subject very well, pointed out that not all children want to stay at school after home time and were not interested in the sporting or cultural experiences available to them. And why should they?

But the LEA person said that £8,000 was available from this year's budget for the school if they could boost attendance for, say, a "shaded area" or something similar. (So, a bribe was on the table to meet a Government target?)

Madge was able to trump this. At her newly built secondary school, where she teaches, the LEA had recently offered £84,000 for landscaping the grounds without any prompting from the school.

The more worldly of us around the table immediately said that the LEA must have more money in their budget that they can spend so they were casting around for ways of getting rid of it before the year end. After all they have jobs to protect, mortgages to pay and reputations as w*****s to keep.

I had another brandy.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Patricia Hewitt and the rest of them must go - and soon!

Dear Reader - this is not just another rant (though it may turn out that way!) about the disastrous changes in the NHS that NuLabour have subjected us to in the last ten years. Rather it is a salutary tale that could affect anyone of us at anytime.
Our near neighbours have a ten-year old daughter - let's call her Molly - who was born without the ability to hear in either ear. Thanks to clinical advances that were first developed when the Conservatives were last in power (and I promise that is not a party political point) she was able to benefit from a cochlear implant in one ear. (You might remember that Jack Ashley who was a hearing impaired Labour MP led a very successful campaign to establish this procedure as a standard form of treatment in the NHS.)
Molly has benefited enormously from her implant and has been able to attend the local primary school where she has shown that she is a very bright and able pupil and more than capable of keeping well ahead of the standards expected of a child of her age. She does have help from a specialist teacher to compensate for the fact she only has hearing in one ear. Now she and her parents are keen that she receives a cochlear implant for her other ear so that she can fully realise her potential as she moves into secondary education.
Guess what? The local primary care trust has rejected her application for a second cochlear implant on the basis that it will cost £20,000 and there will be ongoing annual "maintenance" costs. Their rationale appears to be that she is functioning well with one ear's hearing.
So her parents must now appeal (with little prospect of success) and so will have to put a tremendous amount of effort into lobbying their local (LibDem) MP, writing to the Prime Minister, the local newspaper, etc, etc.
At the same time their application to the Local Education Authority for an additional six hours per week specialist teaching support when Molly goes onto secondary education - which they were obliged to submit by March 2007 - will not be considered until she actually moves to the school in September 2008. They have been told that it may not be possible to agree these additional hours. Six additional hours a week! For goodness sake.
At this point I am about to explode. And maybe, you credulous reader, may feel the same. What the heck has been happening with all the extra money that has been poured into the NHS and education over the last ten years? I have resisted the opportunity to rant about the incompetence of NuLabour. What's the point? We all know they are incompetent at handling other people's money despite the fact we have let them take so much of it from us.
More importantly, what will happen to Molly over the next few years. Will she suffer because we carry on believing that Gordon Brown has been a competent Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reid Returns to Haunt the NHS

It's a couple of years ago that I attempted my first sally into blogging and one of the few blogs I posted concerned John Reid (see latest photo) when he was Secretary of State for Health and his intention to bring in corporate manslaughter legislation. This was aimed at making managers in the NHS criminally liable for deaths on their premises where there is a a gross breach of the relevant duty of care'.

Today the Health Service Journal reports that the Corporate Manslaughter Bill is proceeding through Parliament. See NHS organisations advised to prepare for 'corporate killer' stigma

Interestingly, the government is trying to avoid the provisions of the Bill applying to deaths in custody. So , if you happen to die as a result of picking up an infection at your local hospital heads will roll. But if you "accidentally" fall down the stairs at your local police station it's just bad luck! The devil is really in the detail.