The Politics of ...

The Politics of ...

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Nothing is Fair in Politics

I might have told this story before, but it's only short, so I'll tell it again.

When I had my comic shop in Wellingborough, my landlord was an old Chinese guy called Mr Chan. He ran the Golden Dragon Chinese Takeaway next door to Squonk! and he was a genuinely nice and considerate man.

I was standing at his counter one day, just chatting and this was back in about 1991 when interest rates had hit an all time high and there was another of those recessions sweeping across the country. Thatcher was gone, but moderate John Major wasn't doing anything to enhance the mood of the poor or disenfranchised, despite it being pretty much nowhere near as bad as it is now. Mr Chan looked at me over his glasses and said, "I don't want or expect a better life, I just want a fair one."

I've probably misquoted him slightly, but the gist is there. I think, but I might be altruistic that if you offered the majority of the population the chance for everything to be fair rather than some have and some not, I still feel that's what most people want. A fair life is hardly a difficult aspiration.

When I listen to the 30 minutes of pantomime that is PMQs, I just hope anyone else watching it gets the same impression of the government sitting there being smug, while being led by the two smuggest people in the country - Cameron and Osborne. What is the point of PMQs if the PM's answers are not actually answers at all, but just a way of blaming the Labour party for the mess we're in. What angers me is the insipid responses of Millband, unless protocol prevents him from producing figures and statistics that categorically prove it wasn't just their fault, but also Cameron's for voting for a lot of the things that dumped us in the crap in the first place.

I wish there wasn't this etiquette in parliament, but equally having some passionate Labour MP tell the PM he's a callous, uncaring buffoon who stands at the box and lies through his teeth, or obfuscates the truth to suit his purposes, probably would mean some terrible reprimand for the offending MP, probably a public apology for saying what 50% of the country agrees with. It isn't just Cameron; since PMQs has been televised it has been a way for the government to pretend to be Leonard Sachs and lord it over the rest of the ineffectual opposition MPs. Any casual observer would wonder why we even have these things if all that is going to happen is 30 minutes of bluff, bluster and lies. No wonder people are switching off from politics, they are just so detached from these people who walk into that chamber and become something we probably didn't ask for.

PMQs isn't a fair representation of anything, but fair isn't a word that sits comfortably with Tories. It's not fair that if they get elected in May they'll dismantle the NHS while telling us its for our own good and it will improve things - unless you can't afford it, then by the time you've waded through the pages of bureaucracy you'll probably be dead.

Had someone close to you who has been saved by the fantastically free NHS? Don't crow about it in five years, you might get a backlash from those who lose someone special because there wasn't enough proper nurses or doctors, or they couldn't prove they were on benefits. I'm not suggesting the nurses and doctors who do fabulous jobs will stop doing it, but with no resources, no investment and no fairness, they will become overworked and probably patients themselves. Most Tory MPs will have private medical insurance anyhow; they wouldn't want to be in an NHS hospital through choice.

I was talking to someone at the NBC - Northampton Borough Council - who told me that most councils owe the government money, the government owes money; every one owes money to someone and suddenly there's this Greek leftie suggesting he's going to make sure Greece is not the pooh on the sole of Europe's shoe any longer. What's he been met with from the European politicians and the right wing leaning media is a mixture of incredulity, hostility and ignorance. Greece's people are fed up with being a Third World country; they are a proud race with a rich culture and they, or rather someone in their usually right wing government, messed up and the people have been paying and paying and paying and if you kick a dog for long enough it will bite back.

Politicians should be worried; this isn't a UKIP moment; this is a tide of people, in a country that usually has coalitions, who have voted one party in with more seats than anyone for a long time. The people want this guy to change things and he'll try, even if it means getting into bed with the Russians and the Chinese. Greece could signal the end of the EU because the poor and disenfranchised have spoken and if it spreads to Spain and Portugal and maybe Ireland, it will grow and the left and the right will struggle to coexist harmoniously.

What the new Greek PM wants is fairness. Less stringent measures, more hope for his people. It's a good ticket; it's one that people with little hope for the future will look at and grasp for. UKIP, the Tories, even Labour and the LibDems don't offer fairness; they offer the same in different measures.

If you get doorstepped during the election, ask whoever it is why we have to pay for their mistakes, when there's over £120billion in corporation tax avoidance that has been ignored by HMRC, while persecuting those with nothing for less than £1billion? Ask them why we have to pay for rich people to stay rich and get richer? Ask them if they think it's fair and if they say they think it is then tell them they're not getting your vote.

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Knives Are Out

My wife, often quite unassuming when it comes to politics but not averse to the odd conspiracy theory, made a very pertinent observation: why is the NHS suddenly setting the news agenda rather than having its agenda set? This was in direct response to the sudden media exposure of the so-called 'Winter Crisis' - for this is the media season of hyperbole with Weatherbombs, Thundersnow and Omnishambles! Suddenly and obviously not sanctioned by the appropriately named Jeremy Hunt, the NHS is informing us that it's going to the dogs and without pointing any fingers it has made this year's General Election all about the future and present of the NHS.

Forget Farage - immigration was so yesterday and besides, who's going to look after you when you have that hip operation? There are not that many British nurses because despite having the mickey taken out of him in 1992, Neil Kinnock said that the nurses needed protecting and now without those plucky Romanians cleaning pus and wiping bottoms, the NHS would be a bit like one of those pop-up car wash places.

The Tories have tried to swing the agenda away from the NHS - because there isn't much they can say about it without making them look even more like the key holders to Auschwitz - but the NHS swing it right back and unlike many things the press likes to manipulate - there's simply too much NHS to ignore.

This pretty much would suggest that Labour will, at least, be the party with the majority of seats, even if they won't have a mandate and will have to form coalitions - probably with the SNP, possibly with Plaid Cymru, who knows, the five LibDem MPs left might have a say in the matter, while they sort out who their next leader is going to be. I think the NHS as an entity proves that the next Tory target will have to be the NHS, as there's barely anything left for the Tories to slash and burn and it costs a lot of money to just stand still. This means a Tory government would realistically see a rise in the death rate over the next six years; more dead babies, more dead parents, more Logan's Run style diplomacy in Oncology departments - if Tory sympathisers cannot see, from the last five years' evidence, how the NHS will only be a provider of health care for those that can afford it, or afford to wait, then there is no hope for them.

I'm of the opinion that a vote for any party apart from the two right wingers is okay. You only vote Tory if you're all right and likely to stay all right. You only vote UKIP if you are a racist or believe that the lies that spill from Farage's mouth on a daily basis are worth believing (normally because you are too ignorant fat and lazy to find out the real facts).

If you vote Tory, just hope you have enough money to cover your medical bills for cancer, when you get it; or for when your grandchild faces death because there are no midwives or your heavily pregnant daughter is told she's simply going to have to hang on to it because there are no beds available! Even if you think they look after the economy better; they just want to sell off the NHS to all their own people to make even more money from you for something you've paid for all your working life. They've taken away just about everything good people fought for you to have; are you going to let them steal and sell off the NHS the way they did with energy, the railways, phones, so someone who doesn't care one jot about you can afford to buy 25 yachts this year?

That's what a Tory vote will do. If you're happy with that then let's all hope you're an exception rather than the rule.