So NHS Direct is no more. The service was switched off at the end of last week. It was, in conceptual terms, pure Nulabour and came home from the maternity ward, if you see what I mean, in mid-1998. Being pure Nulabour in manner it tinkered with, but did not solve, a number of problems that were spun out of all proportion to justify its creation. So why did they do it? Well first we admit that Nulabour are obsessed with health 'issues'. So much so that it would, under normal circumstances, warrant a course of treatment for a gross psychological disorder. However, there is method in their madness. For while no sane person would wish the health of the nation to decline, the NHS is an ideal tool to use in the creation of a dependency culture. Then, and upon that, can a whole way of managing society be founded.
The Labour Party, in both old and new forms, sees itself as the owner of the NHS. Set up in 1946 you might have thought that anything so old would have been the target of Tony Blair and his messianic reforming zeal. But following the collapse of industry in the UK it's in the NHS that the trade union movement has its power base. This by virtue of the fact that the NHS employs about 1.4 million workers and a very high proportion of them union members.
According to Gilbert and Sullivan, "A policeman's lot is not a happy one, happy one". Perhaps true then but would seem to be wide of the mark, for some officers, now. For here we are in the age of the cutbacks but for the lucky ones the gravy train chugs along as if there's no problem. The police, we are told, will get £150million in bonuses.This headline from the BBC (see link) is not quite perjury, but then neither is it the truth. The fact is SOME officers will get a bonus, not all. The BBC gives the credit for their source to the Daily Telegraph and even their headline - Police receive bonuses just for doing their daily job, begs a little care, see HERE.
This is the time of year traditionally known as the silly season and it's hard going for people who can't relax and have no sense of humour. I like this time of year, it's a test and passing with flying colours is Edmund Conway. He brings us, in the Telegraph, but with no online version, one of the funniest stories in a while. It has an inauspicious start in that its central character is Mervyn King. But stay with me for that man is more than just an authority on moral hazard. Conway says that King likes to tell of the moment he realised that what he calls the, Great Recession, will be harder to get out of than you might think. King was at a posh conference on the world circuit with the great and the good, the politicians who lead us, and was both amused and horrified to hear them all declare they would get out of the mess by exporting. Clearly for this to work buyers and sellers must come in pairs. But at the conference in question all the world leaders were sellers. King gives the impression that only he spotted the problem, at the conference maybe.
However, the man atop the Clapham omnibus has known this for years.
Does our PM need help and advice with his PR? It is a well know fact that before leading this nation to the sunny uplands David Cameron worked in public relations. Mind you that was a long time ago, has he lost his touch? The question arises as the PM and his deputy have jointly written to the cabinet before it goes off on its summer break - "Dear colleague".... it starts. It's the letter a boss sends to his 'team', designed to both thank and buck-them-up. There's plenty to rake over but one line sticks out -
Our government’s purpose is to make two major shifts in our political and national life: The first is a radical redistribution of power from government to communities and people, to reverse decades of over-centralisation.
There is a tsunami of comment on the home front related to the task ahead of Iain Duncan Smith. Here is a man enjoying himself, and why not? Most contemporary press pictures show a now older, and we assume wiser man, toing-and-froing No10 Downing Street with a pile a papers under his arm. IDS, his political label, was the leader of his party from late 2001 to late 2003; some pictures of this time show an altogether different man but these were different times all around. IDS took over the leadership role, after a leadership election, from William Hague who had promptly resigned having lost the 2001 election; contrast that to the going of Gordon Brown and his subsequent sulk.
In 2001 the age of Nulabour was in full spate, the problems that IDS now has to solve were hardening up too, but they began long before. It remains to be seen if the goal of IDS's work will be achieved. If the sentiments expressed in recent press reports are a guide then as a result of this work it's either the end of life as we know it or a new dawn. The older and wiser people I've consulted suggest it's neither of these and a boring compromise is due. The usual - aim high but have explanations ready- scenario.
The supporters of the IDS initiative might say that welfare leads to dependency which is evil and socially corrosive.