Archive for August, 2016

NHS Outrage: Southern Health Trust: Time For Hunt To Go?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

If this were a private corporation it would beggar belief. But for a taxpayer funded arm of the NHS to exhibit such contempt for the bereaved relatives and taxpayers, that it thinks it can get away with the formal resignation of its Chief Executive, on whose watch hundreds died without proper reason, and then re-employ her as an adviser on the same salary of £200,000 a year, shows that the  authorities of this organisation are administratively unhinged. What was a cause of great public concern is now a public outrage and it can go on no longer. This Trust must be at once wound up, its entire board of management sacked, and the Secretary of State must put in an emergency management team to take control.

In addition Prime Minister May should reconsider just how suitable Hunt is for leading the NHS, when so much is going awry whilst he rings his hands in indecision before washing them of responsibility.

Brexit Brainstorm: But What About The EU?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

You could be forgiven if you think it rather peculiar that the government is still clueless about what it wants Brexit to look like and that the Prime Minister feels it necessary to hold a special cabinet meeting to explore the options. The situation is not made easier by reports, far from reassuring, of quarreling among the Brexit trio supposedly in charge; Davis, Fox and Boris. Today this blog will hold back on commenting until some clarity emerges of at least the general direction of travel. Instead let us look at the opportunities this Brexit crisis may offer a flustered EU.

There are those who say that the EU is threatened by GB’s departure. They may be wrong. Britain has never really been part of the ‘family’. Always on the outside looking in and wanting opt outs  and concessions and forever ranting against federalization. Something of a spoiler at the party. GB wants to be free of Europe, but it may very well be that Europe will prosper free of GB. The decision to create the Euro made federalization inevitable. As this blog is forever saying, you cannot have a currency without a government. That means not just a Central Bank, but a single finance ministry and economic policy, with a minister in charge.

That requires a pooling of sovereignty, some democratic components through which that can happen and an outcome which ensures that the economic policy treats the Eurozone as a unified whole in which opposing interests must be balanced, rather than allowing the strengths of the richer countries  to be used to exploit and bully the poorer ones. Ideally this would include the EU Parliament becoming a Federal Parliament with some reduction in the numbers of councils of ministers and overlapping presidencies, none of which has a democratic origin.

Without GB in the Union it will be possible to put into effect the inevitable consequences of the decisions already taken towards the goal of ever closer union, of which the setting up of the euro is the most decisive. It might even go so far as to save the euro itself. There are some in the Remain camp, the majority of the British cabinet in fact, who hope that somehow the EU will loosen its structures to create a less formal arrangement of which we can remain a part. This is wishful thinking. That way the EU would unravel, euro and all. Germany knows that, so it will not happen.

Ten Minute Doctors.

Monday, August 29th, 2016

The BMA is right to point out that the widespread practice, driven by necessity, of GPs expecting to treat patients in a ten minute consultation is wrong by every measure. Ten minutes is not enough to deal with any but the most trivial of conditions or mundane of routines. These should anyway be carried out by pharmacists or nurses, who incidentally are collectively a lot less well used in this regard than in some European healthcare systems.

If a patient is ill enough to see a doctor, that patient is too ill to be fixed in ten minutes.

Colombia: Wars Can Be Ended

Monday, August 29th, 2016

The deal between the Colombian government and the Farc rebels, brokered by Cuba assisted by Norway in four years of talks, proves that even after fifty plus years of fighting wars can be brought to an end. And not by violence, but by talking. Talking between enemies, no matter how bitter and guilty of what atrocities. That is how Great Britain ended the insurgencies which developed as its empire unwound, and as it finally brought peace to Northern Ireland. In the end there are no red lines; only the need to find common purpose.

There are now wars or insurgencies in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq and and Afghanistan. There are many threads to each of them and the violence varies in intensity from place to place and from and time to time, but it never goes away. The humanitarian disasters incorporated as part of daily life in these stricken areas are known and lamented but defy long term solution until the fighting stops. And stop it must. All the rival coalitions engaged in an extraordinary tangle of international breakdown must sooner or later see that there is no other way forward. If there were a military solution available it would have happened years ago.

So Is Clinton Winning?

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Well that depends. If you know about US politics, if you listen to pundits and you believe opinion polls the answer is a resounding yes. But if you have an instinct for danger when out in the wilds, you may have doubts. Because this election for President is very much wild when it comes to being sure about anything.

First of all it is not a contest between Republicans and Democrats. It is between the social/political/business establishment backing Clinton and the anti-establishment forgotten patriotic citizens rooting for Trump. Money on an unprecedented scale pours into the Clinton campaign; by contrast although Trump is rich, his campaign coffers are pretty empty. Not only is the Clinton campaign far superior in organization as well as money, it is skilfully directed and smooth running. The Trump campaign is accident prone, resignation heavy and largely chaotic. But Trump is not over yet. There are more anti-establishment folk out there than establishment smoothies inside, the political weather, right across the democratic world, blows anti the status quo, and they have huge commitment and enthusiasm for their cause. They toil long hours for little and sleep well in anticipation of the morrow.

By contrast the Clinton campaign flows on the roller coaster of money rather than passion. Its people do not sleep well and they fear the morrow. Because they know there is one big ticket item on which every pundit and poll is agreed about Hilary Clinton. Two thirds of the American people do not trust her.

Labour Leadership: Another Brexit Referendum?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

This is the plan of Owen Smith, if elected leader of the Labour party. The idea misses several important points.

Immediately after the Brexit vote I said the people had voted for a mirage, that what was promised could not be delivered, there was no majority in parliament for Brexit and it would be constitutionally proper for there to be a second referendum to approve the terms of exit. But I was wrong about all of that. All of it was technically correct, but something much bigger had happened.

People had voted simply to leave; they did not care on what terms, because they had a gut feeling that GB could do well in the world given the freedom and given the chance. They saw the establishment, the political parties, the bankers and the vested interests all ganged up against them so that no matter what, when or for whom they voted nothing ever changed. But this time it would have to. Brexit was the detail. The issue was the command of the people. Deny that and you will finally admit you deny democracy.

The hundreds of thousands entitled to vote in this election triggered by Owen Smith are in the majority recent joiners who have joined Labour because they see it not as a conventional political party, but as the anti political party; the movement which is against every aspect of the status quo, which has faith in real people and believes they deserve better and in return will deliver world beating outcomes.

Like Team GB. Team GB which beat all the world to stand right behind the mega power of the United States. Just ordinary people all of them, but very special too. From nearly sixty down to sixteen from every social class and ethnicity united under one flag.They were given the backing and the chance and they took it for their country. And their country cannot recall being so proud and it loves them to bits.

Corbyn is the antithesis of the career politician. He has never put party before people, nor winning above principle. He plays to a hostile media and conforms to not one single requirement of a successful politician or spin doctor. But he is the man of the hour. The notion of another referendum will not help Owen Smith, because democratic betrayal is what people hate the most. And that ploy would be seen as the greatest betrayal of all.

Mid-East Mess: Signs of Diplomatic Shift.

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

While we have been focused on the triumphs of Team GB in Rio, things have been happening in this cauldron of death and confusion, which was supposed to be a beacon of democracy to light the world, according to the pea brains who inaugurated the biggest military and foreign policy failure in centuries. There is no need to rehearse the course which led us here, nor to rant once more at the fools, stooges, wishful thinkers and nut cases who led it. But here we are with no clear plan anywhere which will exit us and free the suffering people from the dreadful violence, repression, starvation and death which is their daily and in many cases only diet.

Yet there are critical shifts beginning in the sterile posturing which has blocked any kind of progress. Turkey is moving closer to Russia and Iran, Washington and Moscow are in continuous dialogue and there are increasing signs that a new but fragile unity driven by realism among these five key players may chart both a decisive assault on the military capacity of IS and some kind of deal to end the conflict in Syria.

For the sake of everyone we can only hope so. Enough is more than enough.

Olympic Legacy: How About The Economy?

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

No rational person predicted that Team GB would beat the entire world apart from the US and come second in Rio. Especially not of my generation, fed on almost a lifetime of Olympic under achievement until the breakthrough in Beijing. There is of course much talk about sporting legacies, with inspiration seeping into every park and playground motivating champions of the future. Yet there is a bigger lesson here than people realize. This winning medal hall is the result not of chance or luck, but of design. The old notion that the gifted amateur would burst forth to triumph was cast aside when John Major inaugurated lottery funded Olympic development. Rather than throw the money indiscriminately at potential stars, an infrastructure was established covering every single facet of the requirements to achieve world class competitive excellence with a clear focused objective; to win. And to go on winning.

This lesson is transferable and to no better place than the economy. Brexit demands that after bumbling about for decades, drifting first from Empire, then falling as an industrial super-power to an economy which is now 80% shopping, funded by borrowing secured by house price inflation, in which every kind of inequality grows, we at last reconfigure our economic model in a fundamental way no less dramatic than Germany and Japan at the end of WWII. To do that the Olympic triumph tells us the government will have to come up with two key elements to set the economic reboot going. A comprehensive strategic plan with exemplary tactical execution, and a pile of cash to ignite it, at least £1 trillion.

So far there is no sign of any of this. We wait upon May and her do nothing government with interest.

Olympic Boxing Judgement

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

I am not a sporty person so I am very much a spectator, but as a youngster I was taught boxing, so when I watch a fight  I understand exactly what is going on. There is no doubt at all that Joe Joyce won his bout by a margin and should have been awarded the gold medal. He was very gracious in his disappointment and must be commended for that. There is always the potential for controversy with judged competitions in any sport and it says much for judging quality across many disciplines that arguments are rare. In this case, and once the dust of Rio has settled, some further examination of what exactly was going on is certainly justified and I think essential. Doping is not the only threat to Olympic integrity.

Khan For Owen Smith

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

It is difficult to see whether this will make any difference to the contest. If the vote were close or if Smith were followed by enthusiastic crowds to match Corbyn’s on his itinerary across the country, it might very well be a clincher. But that is not apparently the case. Party members, all but the baseline hundred thousand or so who were there before, have joined because everything about the old party offends them and everything about the political establishment needs changing. Maybe that includes Sadiq Khan, for although he was elected with a good majority as Mayor of London, the surge in his support was almost certainly more to do with Corbyn than it was to do with him. So his intervention will change few, if any, minds.