A Far Fetched Resolution

I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, you go through the years sticking to that, out-dated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end up in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council, a Labour council hiring taxis to scuttle round the city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers. I’ll tell you.. You can’t play politics with people’s jobs and with people’s services.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

This month I have been mostly

1. Finishing my exams. Jo has good pictures (the first few are not of me...the second lot are of my friend Karim who finished around the same time as I did. My name is Pickles.) I asked her to email them to me. She posted them on her blog instead. That is evil. The tradition seems to involve throwing stuff at the hapless finalist and then making them drink fizzy stuff. The university regulations oblige you to wear white tie. It's just a total farce. See previous posts. ("Pennying" = throwing a coin in someones drink which means they have to drink it all in one go. "Being a bastard" = "Pennying" after inserting a double shot of vodka into a finalist's third post-bubbly pint)

2. Recovering from the hangover induced by excessive drunkenness induced by (1)

3. Enjoying the following facts:

a. The entire population of planet earth helpfully left plenty of drink for me to drink whilst I was otherwise engaged with work.
b. The entire population of planet earth helpfully organised the very best footballers amongst their number to play a tournament almost constantly on my television to coincide with me stopping work and (re) starting drink.
c. The entire planet has so arranged things so that it has been largely sunny here in this corner of said planet.
c. Jobs, exam results, housing, the entire future, are as mere trifles to such momentous events.

4. Blogging comes last (sorry fellow bloggers)

anyway - my head hurts. So I'm slowly rejoining the land of the living. Hello, living; It's been a while. How are you?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"As an extremist..."

According to the British Election Survey 16% of the population viewed Tony Blair as "Extreme" in the run up to the 1997 general election.

By 2001 this had fallen to 15%.

I don't have the figure for the 2005 election but I wonder if these space aliens had revised their views?

Extreme!? leaving the aside what your definition of extremist is, surely the whole point of Tony Blair and the whole New Labour project is not to be "extremely" anything...did these people really think that TB was a closet commie? the mind boggles.

In love surveys. I always imagine having a pint with some of the total buffoons responsible for the slightly loopy fringes of them and asking them to explain, slowly, what wild-eyed logic led them in the split second to betray their lunacy to some bloke from MORI or wherever.

It seems that no matter how batty the question you pose there'll always be some small but not insignificant percentage willing to give their unblinking assent to something unutterably bonkers. Like the surreal percentage of people who text in "Don't know" to tv polls.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Google Alert - Monkey News

I have signed up for Monkey News on Google alerts. However this has so far proved fruitless as I've usually got most of the monkey news before Google sends it to me. (Should I be worried?)

Until now:

Kids get in for £1 at Monkey World!

Unfortunately I need to get a copy of the Tuesday edition of the Dorset Echo in order to participate. And I need to actually be between 3 and 15 years old. And I need a full paying adult to come with me...

Where is Dorset? How am I going to get a copy of their Echo? Was that today's edition? I'm all flustered...

Do you ever want to grab a whole country by the scruff of the neck and shout "WAKE UP!!!"

I do. I do right now.

David Cameron is busy charging round the country (actually not this country, he mostly charges round Norway) telling everyone the Conservative Party has changed.

He's doing what the Labour Party did so succesfully in the mid-1990s, neutralising his negatives. He knows nobody will really ever trust the Conservatives on health and education, but he's just trying to reassure people that they aren't going to wade in their with a big Tory axe and smash the NHS up, so it's safe(ish) to vote Tory.

Well, Pickles is here to tell you it ain't. In 1982 Margaret Thatcher said that the NHS is:

"Safe with us"

A year later Neil Kinnock said:

"If Margaret Thatcher wins on Thursday– - I warn you not to be ordinary - I warn you not to be young - I warn you not to fall ill - I warn you not to get old."

Unfortunately Margaret Thatcher won on Thursday. And then another Thursday. In 1997 nearly 1.2 million people were on an NHS waiting list. Today nobody (or near as dammit) waits longer than 6 months.

So, when at some point in the next few months or years David Cameron tries to claim that the NHS is safe with the Conservatives, or when George Osborne claims he can't promise tax cuts because of the economic conditions (is that the economic conditions which have seen more than 50 quarters of consecutive growth, the best ever?) and we know he means that it's because he doesn't think public service cuts will wash in the manifesto and they'll have to be done by stealth. I warn you, don't be taken in.

For much as the pledges on tax that Labour made have been kept, Labour has also found ways and means to pay for better public services. That's because that's what Labour is about. Just as the Tories will find ways to do the opposite.

Spending on the NHS is going up more than 8% a year at the moment, in real terms. That's nearly triple the annual increase under the Tories. Health spending will have doubled - in real terms. All of this talk of "where's the money gone" is so much disingenuous twaddle. Some of the money has gone to improving the pay and conditions of staff (good thing). Some of the money has gone to reduce waiting lists (remember the pledge to take 100,000 off the waiting lists - done. five times. By 2004.) Some of it has gone on better cancer care and heart treatment, cutting deaths by thousands. Some of it has gone on making sure that every patient now has the choice of hospital, a guaranteed GP appointment within 48 hours, and a maximum 4 hour wait in accident and emergency. I went to a drop in centre at an A&E department a few months ago. I was in and out in 45 minutes. I did the same 6 years ago - it took 7 hours.

But more importantly, much of the money hasn't been spent yet. The big increases are scheduled for the 2006,7 & 8 budgets. That's the whacking great 8% plus per year ones. This is good money after good. Today nobody waits more than 6 months (there were hundreds of thousands of people waiting over 18 months only 8 years ago). By 2008 nobody will wait longer than 18 weeks.

We used to say that long waits and "rationing" in the NHS were inevitable. We used to say that the model was permanently broken.

We used to have a Flu crisis every winter with the elderly sleeping on trollies in corridors. We used to have people living for years without a hip replacement on the NHS they'd paid for in their taxes and National Insurance.

I'm proud of what this government is doing for the NHS. You can shout about job cuts in some trusts, about MRSA, about lots of things that are really unfortunate and regrettable that have happened in the NHS in 10 years. I've got to say, in an organisation that employs over a million people, we just need to remember that some (not all) of the people who raise their heckles at these issues have got an agenda. It's one based on persuading people that the NHS is permanently broken and that their money is being wasted.

So that's why they're moaning about the lack of results from the investment when the results are clear, and the investment has hardly gone in.

I say don't listed to them. And I say remember, that in 1982 Margaret Thatcher told us that the NHS was safe with her. And remember that when smarmy Cameron tries to tell you it's safe to vote Conservative again.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Kids...they say the darndest things!

Guardianunlimited Vox Pop re: Peter Crouch's robotic dancing at Old Trafford

The Grimes family - Jamie, 10, Shaun, 10, Jackie, 30, Liverpool:

Jamie: "When I saw him doing it, I thought he must be crazy, but I think I'm pretty good at it too. I'm better at dancing than he is but I don't think I could score a goal like that one. Can we get the Guardian from a normal newsagents?"