Sunday, 22 May 2011

The real reason we're in debt is electoral fraud

We've all been there; in a doctor's waiting room or on a train listening to some indiscreet individual talking about work. Before they even opened their mouth you already had them clocked as a 'boutique leftist'; they give money to Palestine, they smell vaguely of the humus and yogurt veggie friendly meal they ate for breakfast and even their choice of train coffee is 'fair trade'. They are talking work, or more accurately, they are talking 'health' because these people, despite having absolutely no clinical or other professional qualifications, work for the largest employer in the country - and the 3rd largest in the world - the NHS. 

Let's get a few things straight right from the start. I am not against the idea of a National Health Service and I do believe that  its foundation in 1948 was the greatest achievement of any Labour government before or since. Indeed, soldiers returning home from the second world war (and their families) deserved to be provided with a health service fit for those that would never come back, as their fathers had been denied in 1918. However, the NHS of 1948, as compared with the NHS of today, is not recognisable as the same animal for many reasons; the original NHS was founded as part of a walfare state in order to provide health care for the masses, not as a means of employment for the masses. It is this distinction which Labour deliberately blurred during their tenure in government, and that the other parties did not pick up on, until now.

I believe that this article is the first document of any kind to make the seminal distinction between the NHS's role in the state as a health provider and not as an employer; the two had become deliberately and indelibly interconnected under the last Labour administration in order to buy votes as well as claiming 'investment' in the health service. This is an important moment because, if it allows even one other person to recognise the simple truth, then we have taken one step closer towards the last days of the Labour party as we know it. Moreover, this is further evidence, if any were needed, that we have been deliberately brought to the brink of bankruptcy by Blair, Brown and Balls et al.

In 13 years of Labour government, their trump card at PMQs or moments of electoral accountability was always the 'I' word - 'Investment'. Indeed, Labour's own website declares: 'Since being elected in 1997, the Labour Government has changed Britain ... through investment in schools, hospitals and other public services'. 
It is this kind of 'investment' which saw an increase of 304,000 NHS personnel (28.5%) in the decade 2000 - 2010. Proponents of this policy would argue that this level of 'investment' is a good thing, that patient outcomes have improved and that the Labour government had our best interests at heart. However these people are probably not aware that of those 304,000 only 55% had any clinical qualifications. In short, the rest were not doctors or nurses, or indeed any kind of medically trained front-line staff qualified to look after you or I. When Keynes talked of investment, he meant building things - a short term injection of government capital to build a road or school - not a long-term overhead like a public sector employee and pension and thus new employees of the state should never be called an 'investment', more a 'semi-permanent overhead'.

If the same colossal rate of growth had been allowed to persist for the ten decades following 2010 (i.e. 28.5% per decade), then the NHS would have employed over 50% of the working population of GB inside the century. Clearly then, the expansion of the NHS by the last government was for socialist political reasons, and not necessarily for reasons of health or the public interest. Further, the expansion was entirely unsustainable and would have eventually become all consuming had it not been arrested by the coalition. In fact, between 1997 and 2010, a shameless and deliberate abuse of the NHS's payroll as a party political tool was conducted and paid for with our economy; a system engineered in order to buy the votes of the liberal middle class managers (Mondeo man) by employing them directly, rather than imploring them indirectly, to vote Labour.

Further, in areas of generally low employment, unnaturally high NHS recruitment provided an opportunity to reduce the jobless total and thus engender an illusion of economic progress, thereby ensuring the Labour vote in these areas also. This planning pattern was not limited to the NHS, rather it was widespread all across the Public Sector. 

The Brown/Blair years presided over a mass expansion of the Public Sector which meant that by 2010, it employed well over 6,000,000 persons (25% of all Britons with a job - yep, only 24million of us do; not kidding). The map below shows the expansion of the private sector (left) versus the expansion of the public sector (right) during just 8 of the 13 years of Labour rule between 1998 and 2006.

The left will argue that there is nothing wrong with government creating jobs, after all, the wages of such jobs help fund the private sector; they spend money in the shops which keeps the high street alive and have mortgages which keep the financial services sector ticking over. In short, these people are becoming the back-bone of Britain, no longer Mondeo Man, but Public Sector Pete. Still with a company car and one holiday a year, but now paid for entirely by the public purse. Well, there are, in fact many problems with the economics of this which I may go into in greater depth in future blogs, but primarily it is that the private sector should fund the public sector, it is economic madness to suggest that it should be the other way around. Moreover, it is the political ramifications of spending public money (public debt actually) on votes, which simply must be acknowledged and investigated by the highest courts in the land. 

Finally, if a job has to be 'created' by government, then it isn't a real job. You can not 'create' a job; the need for an employee either arises organically or it simply does not exist

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Friday, 20 May 2011

National Library

Opening Time at the National Library of Wales

A gulf of houses separates me from the ocean

swell that a sun gilded Old College seems to float upon,

Irregular town roofs form the surface of a choppy terracotta sea

which laps the shores of west Wales' Cambrian Galilee.

A rhythm of voices at my stern cackles like gulls

hungry to gorge themselves on freeze-dried chronicles, 

Passive listening blends the two languages together at my aft;

the sound of my ancestors calling to me from centuries back?

Saesneg and Gymraeg or English and Welsh

are the languages audible inside or outside of myself,

A litany of literary men await the solid oak door

to be pulled aside; revealing the womb open once more,

To walk along the well worn wooden corridor

toward the embryonic sanctuary of the reading room floor

"Drws ar agor"

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View from the National Library steps

Thursday, 19 May 2011

DSK Affair and the IMF Succession Debate

Strauss-Kahn: Leered or smeared?
On Saturday the 14th of May, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was arrested as he attempted to board a flight to France at New York's JFK Airport. Accused of sexual assault, forcible confinement and attempted rape, the future looked neither bright or orange for the one-time rising star of France's centre-left. As Ken Clarke found out almost to his cost just yesterday, any press story that includes the 'R' word is often career threatening; but if a specific accusation is actually  leveled against a male public figure then it is always career ending.

The case of TV presenter John Leslie in 2002 (never charged or prosecuted for rape, but accused of it by Ulrika Johnson) and the ongoing allegations (2010 - present) against Julian Assange (founder of Wikileaks) have proven that allegations of sexual misconduct are an extremely effective tool for discrediting the reputations of men in the public eye. Consequently, unfortunately for Professor Strauss-Kahn, whether he is innocent or guilty is now largely irrelevant; a fact I am sure was not lost on him when he resigned as President of the IMF this morning. Just yesterday, British Justice Minister Ken Clarke found himself in hot water for indelicately articulating Government plans to reform sexual assault laws. It seems that for men, even mentioning the 'R' word is dangerous political ground, something unlikely to have been lost on the enemies of Wikileaks' Assange (of which there is a plethora) or indeed, the equally numerous political opponents of DSK

Consuela: No means no.
There has been conspiratorial talk of a possible Nicolas Sarkozy ordered involvement in DSK's tumble from grace. However, this theory is unsubstantiated and most unlikely, as it would risk a Presidential scandal on the scale of the Watergate affair if ever discovered. Indeed, much more likely to be complicit in such a scenario is the French far right party, the Front National (FN) under Marine Le Pen, who took over from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2011. The FN have much less to loose than the incumbent President, as well as a history of bribery and corruption allegations. Further, Le Pen's FN have a clear motive for clearing Straus-Kahn from the left in order to improve the chances of their own electoral successes in the next year's French Presidential elections.

Vines: Intellectually sub-normal?
With DSK's resignation this morning came the inevitable debate over his successor, with former British Chancellor and Prime Minister Gordon Brown being mooted by some, including Oxford University's Professor David Vines. Quite how it is possible for anyone to be both an Oxford University Professor AND still believe in Gordon's Brown's ability to successfully  manage anything other than the destruction of all he surveys, is completely unfathomable. Brown is a man who, as Chencellor and then Prime Minister, took Britain beyond the brink of bankruptcy.

Brown: Socially retarded?
As it stands, Brown is thankfully only an outside choice for the role; his ability to glad-hand for support and schmooze his way to the top isn't exactly well known. However, he does have a proven ability to force his way up the greasy pole if no democratic endorsement is required. With these two points in mind, perhaps it may be worth analysing Mr Brown's bank records for large transfers to either New York or Paris, or both. 

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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Why the country couldn't care less about the Clegg Dems, or AV

It seems strange to be posting about the British AV referendum nearly 2 weeks after the event, but sometimes the significance of such events isn't immediately obvious until a little while later.

So, almost a year to the day since Britain went to the polls in a general election which may yet define a generation, once more the country's church halls and primary schools  were opened for voting. For the first time since A Level Politics, many under 40s were forced to think about AV, and became surprisingly popular amongst friends for knowing anything at all about it. 
"What's this AV lark all about then?" and for a moment, just a moment, the politics geeks became some kind of demi-Rockstars amongst hitherto apathetic friends. Rock stars that is, until they began to explain AV of course, at which point any women who may have been momentarily turned on, promptly turned off. 

You see, the problem with AV is that it is so very boring. Like the Lib Dems who advocated it, the AV campaign completely failed to grasp the basic principles of appeal. Women and men alike are drawn to passionate issues, to polarized opinion; to that which divides us or pulls us together. Thatcher was one such person, the poll tax was one such issue. You may not have agreed with her, or her policies, but for every one that didn't, there was one that did. Thatcher (and Blair to an extent) were the political epitome of the fabled Marmite scenario, either loved or hated, but definitely never ignored, forgotten or bland. When it came to General Elections, Thatcher's turnout never dropped below 72%. The AV referendum turnout? Not even 42%. It seems then, that if you want people to care enough to get out and vote, you need to have a powerful idea, or ideas, but mediocrity certainly does not a high turnout make.

AV was a 'miserable little compromise' between FPTP (First Past the Post) and PR (Proportional Representation). It inspired no-one. To ask people if they'd like to vote one way or the other on a compromise is never going to illicit a large amount of public sentiment one way or the other. It is this lesson that the Liberal Democrats must learn if they actually care enough about themselves to attempt their own political survival. Quite simply, because the Liberals are neither Labour nor Conservative, neither black nor white, they do not cause enough people to vote one way or the other, or in fact to vote at all. 
The Lib Dems aren't Marmite, they aren't left or right; they are margarine - not liked or disliked or simply even noticed. Bland and uninspiring as the middle choice is, the Lib Dems somehow manage to make it even more dull than AV. Indeed, they, like the mediocrity of the AV they championed, will get nowhere by hiding in the centre ground.!/hortoneddison
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