I am very sorry to have been so dilatory in my blogging, but as you all know by now, i am just a potemkin figurehead in this blog – the real star is of course Melissa.
I want to make three points today.
The first is that David Cameron offers the Tories a real chance of winning the next election, reconquering huge sections of the electrorate that think we’re a bunch of space cadets, and so on and so forth blah blah fishcakes (see last article).
The next is that we must launch a national crusade to save cottage hospitals. Across Britain there is an undeclared war to close valued local hospitals, such as the one in Henley. These institutions were created and funded by local people, usually out of public subscription. They were then of course nationalised by the NHS in 1948. Now people are finding that their hospital is about to be shut, and there seems to be not a damn thing they can do about it. I object to what is being done not just for clinical reasons, though these are powerful in themselves – it is very useful to have step-down hospitals, relieving pressure on the acute sector, and of course providing a local service for people who need immediate treatment. It seems insane to shut the smaller local hospitals, when so many beds are blocked in the acute sector with patients who shouldn’t really be there, and when we are still afflicted by waiting lists unknown to any other western society. There is a further point. It is an outrageous hollowing out of local democracy that a hospital built by local people, funded by local people, loved and treasured by local people, can be shut on the say-so of a healthcare hierarch who is ACCOUNTABLE TO NO ONE. It is time for people across the country to seize the initiative and stop this national campaign of demolition, and any interested parties can begin by coming with an Oxfordshire delegation to Downing Street on October 20, when we will present a petition to Tony Blair.
Last point: paternity leave. I can think of nothing more calculated to drive young fathers up the wall than to be required or otherwise pressured into taking six months off on the birth of a child. I can think of few things more maddening for small firms already struggling with regulation of one kind or another, than to be required first to fill in for these absent fathers, and PAY them during their absence, and then to make way for them again on their return. And frankly, folks, is it really in the interests of the babies that they should be incarcerated with their fathers, otherwise loving and doting men who will, I am afraid, be driven mad with cabin fever in an intensifying hell of milupa and perfumed nappy sacks?