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Showing posts from October, 2011

Isn't it time the Lib Dems saw a shrink?

Chutzpah is a great Yiddish word. It describes the kind of bare-faced cheek that takes your breath away and leaves you scratching your head in amused bewilderment. It’s always good to have a word like this at your disposal when the Liberal Democrats are in your neighbourhood delivering their propaganda sheets.

The latest edition of “Twickenham & Richmond News” (sic) arrived on my doormat in the past few days, thankfully proclaiming that it is ‘paid for by individual donations at NO cost to local taxpayers’. It shows the Liberal Democrats to be stalwart campaigners for local services, sworn enemies of the Conservatives and valiant crusaders against government cuts.

Let’s just take a pause at this point while we slap ourselves vigorously, stick our heads in a bucket of ice-cold water and check that we’re actually awake.

CUTS TOO FAR screams the splash on the front page of the tawdry tabloid, which is packed with endless snaps of Munira Wilson, a Lib Dem candidate in next year’s G…

If the Euro goes down, democracy may fall with it.

It’s impossible to tell exactly how the Eurozone crisis will play out, but there’s a danger the political dimension to the ongoing drama is often overlooked amid the economic tumult. When we talk of worst-case scenarios, involving Greek default, countries withdrawing from the single currency or maybe even the collapse of the Euro itself, the financial consequences are almost too big to contemplate. Bank exposures to sovereign debt may lead to a complete unravelling of global markets and a worldwide depression. But what of the politics? Can we be positive that the democratic certainties of modern Europe aren’t in danger of collapsing into the Mediterranean?

One thing that’s easy to forget for those of us born from the late 1960s onwards is that there is not a strong history of democracy in southern Europe. Up until 1975, General Franco ruled the roost in Spain – a fact which didn’t deter the growth of package tourism, as Brits and many other northern Europeans are notorious for putting…

Is there a doctor on the ward?

The findings of the Care Quality Commission in relation to the appalling treatment of old people in many NHS hospitals will come as no surprise to many families. If you’ve visited anyone on a geriatric ward recently – as I have – the sorry story of neglect and disinterest will ring an awful lot of bells. Unfortunately, you can ring those bells for 45 minutes and nobody takes the slightest notice.

There are a number of fundamental problems at the heart of the UK’s National Health Service and they have nothing to do with the total amount of money in the system. Lack of cash can exacerbate the problems, to be sure, but the problems actually revolve around culture and organisation.

The first thing I’d observe is that many hospitals have the right procedures and approaches in place. They can show you paper policies which sound entirely reasonable and forward-thinking, but they struggle to put any of them into practice on the wards.

A few months ago, I conducted a survey of London NHS Tru…