Quangos

The true scandal - is that ministers appoint these people [quangocrats], give them considerable powers, and yet it seems that ministers are completely unaccountable for what they do once they have been appointed. No one seems to be in charge. No one is accountable. It is infamous. Instead of wasting everybody's time and money with politically correct gerrymandering of public sector appointments, Patricia Hewitt should recognise that she is presiding over a massacre of local hospitals, and that it is her job - to justify the actions of her appointees.
Hewitt and her appointees are bad news for our hospitals and health My temperament is so generally peaceable that some mornings I wake up and think I have no enemies in the world. I rub my eyes, and stretch, and wonder what it is I am fighting for, and who it is I am fighting against. And then I open the paper, and I behold the visage of Patricia Hewitt, and it all comes flooding back. I see the Health Secretary, and I see her spectacles glittering with the sheen of politically correct triumphalism. I hear her on the radio, with her bossy Aussie twang. I listen to her set out her latest jargon-laden agenda for interfering in the lives and habits of British families, and after a few paragraphs of Hewitt I am afraid I am fit to be tied. It is this Hewitt who has come from Australia - once a land of burping, string-vested virility, a land where women would actually chase you from the kitchen if you offered to help, brandishing cups of Milo - and who now tells us British men that we are to have six months' paid paternity leave. That's right, folks, six months: when we know that this is likely to be inimical to the interests of British business, of British men, and above all of British babies. How can it possibly be good for very young children to be closeted with their fathers, for six months, when those men by the end are likely to be suffering from such acute cabin fever that they go half-mad in an intensifying hell of spilt Milupa and perfumed nappy sacks? But of course Hewitt is not really interested in the children, or their fathers, or business. She cares only for dogma, and in particular feminist dogma. That is why she has just been caught red-handed trying to force a woman into a cushy £9,000 post in the South West Regional Development Authority, when everyone else agreed that a man called Malcolm Hanney was the best candidate. In a sensational ruling, the High Court has decided that Hewitt was guilty of "unlawful sex discrimination". Across Britain, in every household where there is a mildly paranoid, middle-aged, white, heterosexual male with no obvious disabilities, I can imagine that there will have been a certain amount of glee. Hewitt blew it; she went too far, and she has been forced to pay Mr Hanney's legal costs of £19,967 - almost the salary of a nurse. But there the matter rests; and that is the real scandal. Hewitt's female appointee remains in place, and so do tens of thousands of quangocrats, across the nation, installed at the whim of ministers according to considerations of party politics, gender or simply because they are the wife or husband of someone useful. The true scandal - and one of the biggest problems of British democracy - is that ministers appoint these people, give them considerable powers, and yet it seems that ministers are completely unaccountable for what they do once they have been appointed. It is true that the regional development authorities are not yet as powerful as John Prescott would like them to be, and with the greatest respect to Mr Hanney and everyone who aspires to serve on one, the best thing would be just to scrap them. But there are plenty of other quangos that have awesome powers, and none more terrifying than those in the health service, where Hewitt is now theoretically in charge. If we had any proper democracy in this country, Patricia Hewitt would now be explaining to Parliament and the public why there is an undeclared war on local community hospitals, everywhere from Yorkshire to Suffolk to Wiltshire to Hampshire to, yes, Oxfordshire. Now that the election is over, and now that Gordon Brown is running out of money, we find that in towns across England, the Government is threatening to close local hospitals, in defiance of every promise they have made. Did I say the Government? Forgive me: of course, the Government, when asked about this, denies all responsibility. Not me guv, say ministers, when you inquire why a loved and valued community hospital faces closure. It is, say ministers, entirely a decision for the local strategic health authority, or the primary care trust, and so the Labour people wash their hands of it. It will not do. It is in the first place wrong that these hospitals are facing closure, when we all know that the biggest problem in the NHS is the waiting lists, made far worse by bed-blocking in the acute sector. Why on earth are we proposing to close community hospitals, when they are not only relied upon for immediate treatment by local people, but when they also provide a place for recuperation, and so relieve the pressure on big general hospitals? And then there is the second and more important point. Even if there were a case for closing these hospitals - which there is not - it should be made by Patricia Hewitt. It should not be the job of some worthy health service hierarch, some beleaguered quangocrat, to explain this baffling and outrageous decision. These hospitals were by and large built and funded by local people. They have been loved and used by local people for generations. They were nationalised by the Labour government in 1948; in other words they were taken away from the care and control of local people, to be run by national politicians. It is not good enough for those national politicians now to say that they have no responsibility for whether those hospitals stay open, especially since they have created the quangos. It is not good enough for them to direct angry locals to write letters of protest to the strategic health authority, or to invite MPs to get in touch with the primary care trust. Apart from anything else, the Labour Government, having created the primary care trusts only three years ago, now proposes to abolish half of them. With whom are we supposed to be dealing, if we want to keep a hospital open? No one seems to be in charge. No one is accountable. It is infamous. Instead of wasting everybody's time and money with politically correct gerrymandering of public sector appointments, Patricia Hewitt should recognise that she is presiding over a massacre of local hospitals, and that it is her job - and her job alone - to justify the actions of her appointees.

46 thoughts on “Quangos”

  1. Perhaps the appointees and quangos are the cause of the Chancellor’s black hole of billions – or what else could be?

  2. It does seem a bit odd to come half way round the world just to boss us all. Does she pass the cricket test I’d like to know. Does she even approve of cricket, a sexist game that infringes several thousand health and safety regulations?

  3. Since even mention of Patricia Hewitt can induce the will to live to slip away and in response to a much earlier article about being able to laugh about our religion or lack thereof and because it is Friday I attach a joke sent forwarded to me by a Muslim lady colleague.

    Adam was hanging around the garden of Eden feeling very lonely.

    So, God asked him, “What’s wrong with you?”

    Adam said he didn’t have anyone to talk to.

    God said that He was going to make Adam a companion and that it would be a woman.

    He said, “This pretty lady will gather food for you, she will cook for you, and when you discover clothing, she will wash it for you.

    She will always agree with every decision you make and she will not nag you, and will always be the first to admit she was wrong when you’ve had a disagreement. She will praise you!

    She will bear your children and never ask you to get up in the middle of the night to take care of them.

    “She will NEVER have a headache and will freely give you love and passion whenever you need it.”

    Adam asked God, “What will a woman like this cost?”

    God replied, “An arm and a leg.”

    Then Adam asked, “What can I get for a rib?”

    Of course the rest is history………………….

    Send to all the woman who need a good laugh and the men you think can
    handle it.

  4. In light of the evidence that the number of employees of the Civil Service has grown considerably, and at considerable expense, under successive Labour Governments; why is there a declared necessity for Quangos? It is clear that those persons recruited to work on such bodies as Quangos , do not do it for nothing, which means that the Public Purse is opened ever wider.

    The pockets of the ever suffering Public are not bottomless, and the patience of the Public is not infinite; particularly since a whole raft of services has deteriorated despite GovernmentÂ’s promises of imminent improvements; and the declared inpourings of public money. Is there a governmental policy to spread the possible blame of any non implementation of the promised improvements on such Quangos, and if so , how much of the blame is allocated there? Are Quangos, in fact, another way out of gaol for an increasingly off course Government, anxious to inflict its invidious self on an uninterested Public for even longer than the present sentence?

    Has there ever been any cast iron proof, that those people, chosen to serve on a Quango, are in fact autonomous? Is there non-controvertible evidence that the people chosen have no self; family, or company vested interests in the way a particular decision is made? Is it safe to assume that at no time is governmental pressure applied , in order that a particular recommendation, in line with Government thinking, is proffered ?

    They,(Quangos), along with other bought-in, non governmental experts, appear to be able to sway governmental decisions on a particular subject: is there any reason why should such supernumeraries be given the power to recommend Government spending, excepting in areas, ostensibly, of special national interest, and if so , why are those Civil Servants, employed for just the same purpose, not doing the job sufficiently well , for which they are paid. Is incompetence in the CS the real answer, or is the extra army of operatives just another means to boost employment figures?
    Quangos may not be causing the black holes in the bee chewing Chancellor’s budget, but the money they cost might be saved if the CS did ALL of that , which might be reasonably expected of it

  5. Quangos are merely part of the fringe of the ever increasing expansion of the ruling left-liberal elite. It is only the fifth or sixth echelon of the expansion. Of greater importance is the primary expansion, that is to say the launch of devolution with self rule for the Scotch and the Welsh culturally labour voting masses, with generous English subsidies. Next is the instutionalised, muslim underwritten, postal vote aimed at unregistered voters (to subborn the English vote). Then the multiplied Scotch constituency effect, an excess of Scotch constituencies over English, voter for voter.

    But this all pales into insignificance when civil servants,public employees, and incapacity beneficiaries are multiplied to the nth degree, to banish unemployment from the face of the earth proving beyond doubt that the Greet Broon (who proves beyond doubt that Adam Smith was a fool) is a genius and that the English can be defeated by Gramscian socialism. Like the Natterjack toad, conservatives are an endangered species. Meanwhile the Conservative MPs, regardless of their doom, play “Follow my Leader”. But perhaps they are the newest expression of the left-liberal elite?

  6. When can we get rid of the biggest and longest running Quango – the House of Lords? I don’t remember electing any of those old buffers.

  7. Why is there such an unthinking and unquestioned prejudice that anything elected is good, and everything else bad?

    e.g. GaffaUK said above:

    “When can we get rid of the biggest and longest running Quango – the House of Lords? I don’t remember electing any of those old buffers”

    as though being old and unelected was enough to condemn the institution and its members.

    Actually, House of Lords debates are usually better informed and more responsible than in the Commons, and have far less of the trivial point scoring and childish “yah boo” behaviour that have brought the Commons into disrepute.

    And if the majority of members of the Lords are “old”, i.e. retired cabinet ministers, Governors of the Bank of England and the like, why is that wrong? if it means that they are no longer driven by personal ambition, did not have to make irresponsible promises to win an election, but do have experience of senior positions in government and elsewhere, surely that is sometimes a good thing.

    Democracy has many virtues, but it has serious faults as well. A sensible constitution will try to put a check on some of them. In the USA the House of Representatives elected for two years quite rightly has to take close account of public opinion.

    However, equally rightly, the Senate, elected one third at a time for six years, exists to keep a check on it.

    I am not against youth or democracy, but I am against the prejudiced and doctrinaire assumption that anything old fashioned or undemocratic should be automatically dismissed as wrong, without any further proof.

  8. I agree with evil tim. A free society has to have a balance between conservatism and progressivism. I don’t know if anyone remembers a film called “The rise and rise of Michael (someone or other I’ve forgotten)” in which the hero/villain gets to run the country and then has a referendum on everything until the punters get so fed up they just let him be sovereign. Anyway having referendums on everything is about as ‘democratic’ as you can get if you think ‘democracy’ means rule by the people. It probably does in Greek. However in practice there has to be some sort of body of people whose daily work is attending to government so we have elections every few years. Democracy in an open society means that the government can be changed periodically. So the US model evil T outlines seems to have a good balance. Having our own dear Queen and what are left of the old fashioned House of Lords is actually not tantamount to being ruled by Ghengis Khan or Louis XV. The natural conservatism of such people because of hereditariness can provide a useful brake.

    Does anyone else find it a bit silly when a government spokesperson is introduced as Lord or Lady someone and they sound like the manager of a leisure centre? I miss proper posh accents of the real toffs and the Northern vowels of the trade unionist members of the House of Lords, not to mention the Derek Nimmo like tones of the real bishops. CARL – Campaign for Real Lords – will have its inaugural meeting tonight behind the bike sheds.

  9. Evil Tim lawyer: “Why is there such an unthinking and unquestioned prejudice that anything elected is good and everything else bad?”
    I am unaware that that precise statement was made. The generalisation ‘anything’ was, I believe of your choice.

    My choice of description of what is possibly wrong with the present state of affairs, is the fact that we oft times pay twice for one service: it is of course clear that the now overpopulated Civil Service is not an elected body, but it is paid out of the public purse: is answerable to, and in some measure, bound by Government policies, whilst attending to those parts pertaining to the continuity of Government,(of whichever persuasion). Contrariwise, Quangos, in addition to being expensive additions to a Governments budget, are not so bound.

    Quangos , by their very name are deemed , “Quasi autonomous” :- “as it were , self governing” ,
    (is there some hidden agenda?)

    I agree wholeheartedly with your point about the Lords: continuity is, I think, of great importance, and each successive Government, as this one has done, will add further to its diversity. I do think, however that a ballot on the suitability of some newly ermined people would debar some before the ermine was purchased. No names, but I remember one, who had vowed to rid the country of that institution and is now ensconced in the same place he so hated those few years ago. Ironic?

  10. I just want to take this opportunity to thank Boris for his sterling efforts to save Townlands, our local hospital here in Henley.

    It is a crying shame that no one is listening to him or the residents of this area.

    I share his frustration with this.

    As to the House of Lords, I didn’t used to be a fan. However, with age comes wisdom. The upper house has fought valiantly against the dictator Blair, helping preserve our rights and freedoms from the increasingly totalitarian New Labour policies – despite Fuhrer Blair trying to stack the house in his favour.

    At what point will common sense make a comeback in politics? And when will our elected REPRESENTATIVES cease to act like delegates – and listen to the people that voted for them ?(Boris excepted, as he continually proves by example!)

    Democracy, at present, is a sham. We don’t want it to be…so we should make an effort to put “the power” back in the hands of “the people”. Exactly how this can be done is difficult to envisage…there are better minds than mine to formulate a plan. But I have the will if anyone has a good way!!!

    In the meantime, I wish you all a good weekend!!

    ;o)

    Psi

  11. Psimon

    Democracy is not a sham in this country. We have a vore and the sums involced determine the next government. That’s a qualitative leap or several from living in:

    The Aztec empire;
    The Third Reich;
    The German Democratic Republic;
    The Soviet Union;
    The North Korean Republic;
    Syria;
    etc.
    etc.

    Despite the current governments absurd efforts to introduce laws to outlaw jokes about bacon sandwiches,most of us feel free to say to more or less what we want. We must stop the introduction of new laws where old ones will do the job, but where those laws are definitely and deliberately brokenthen punishment must follow. However where a new law might address a new danger then we need to think about it.

    Democracy lives in this country. That is no guarantee of it living for ever. Nor is it necessarily in tip top health. Involvement in a criical and constructive attitude as opposed to mere protest is the way forward.

  12. It’s no wonder the debate in the Lords is better than the Commons because of the out of date first past the post system and the whipping system. First past the post does not proportionally elect what the people voted for. Only 22% of the electorate who could vote actually voted Labour and yet they hold 55% seats. People cannot choose which order is their preference. And the whipping system turns MPs into robots.

    Because the Commons debate is so poor – that doesn’t follow that the Lords is therefore above reproach and it works so wonderfully because it is unelectable.

    I thoroughly disagree with Evil Tim. The Lords is a sham. 10% is still heredity. The rest are political appointees by Blair and the like. The electorate has absolutely no say who goes in. The supporters love to wax lyrical about how each Lord brings in their speciality – but they get to vote on a range of issues and bring their own prejudices with them which doesn’t often reflect public opinion. Lordships are just gongs handed out to reward people. You may enjoy doffing your cap to the Lords – but I personally find it insulting that ex-cons like Archer can still be a Lord.

    If the Lords is a crony filled Quango – then I don’t know what is.

  13. Got to step in to support Gaffa. There MAY be a case for giving some government responsibility to people who are expert in a particular and appropriate field – and there are examples of this in the Lords. But the plain truth is that the vast majority of people in the upper house are there because they were previously alumni of the lower house – which means they go there with political affiliations, not inclinations. As for hereditary peers, there’s no excuse for their presence whatsoever.

    It’s also very irritating to hear you lot wittering on about the House of Lords ‘fighting valiantly against the dictator Blair’ – by which I take it you mean their attempts to slow down the fox-hunting bill. As ill-conceived as that bit of legislation was, the Lords’ efforts were always going to be meaningless, because it’s not a legislating chamber. They make some claim to be a ‘revising’ chamber, which means that they can slow down the passage of new law until the Commons is forced to invoke the Parliament Act, but when it comes to the crunch, the will of the Commons always prevails.

    That’s not a good thing, but the Lords isn’t the solution. What we desperately need is a second chamber with legislative power – and ideally members that have no direct political connection to a party. That presumably means some sort of electoral process or approval, which of course raises serious questions about how they’re chosen and how their accountability is tested.

    Not easy, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

    Half the trouble with our government is that it’s so steeped in ‘tradition’ that we’re all terrified of making changes in case we throw out the baby with the bathwater. We need a constitution, we need a bill of rights, and we need a second chamber, but every time these things are mentioned they drown in a sea of establishment inertia. Of course we can make changes – and make them good, constructive changes too. All it needs is a little thought, a little debate, and maybe the vision to see beyond our irrational attachment to the processes of the past.

  14. Jack, we are ruled by the Scots. Nothing against the Scots, but they get to direct policy in England whilst the English have no votes in Scotland. How is that democratic?

    Our politicians show no responsibility for their actions, and seem to face no culpability. The public are ignored. How is this democratic?

    If you really can’t see the sham it has become, then it becomes obvious how They are getting away with it.

    Quoting non-democratic countries doesn’t impress me either. Our system should not need to be justified as “better than them”, but seek to excel itself regardless of other benchmarks.

    I reiterate: In this country, democracy has become a sham.

  15. Psi: you are of course right in your analysis of the disparities in the present system of devolutionary “progress” , and the lack of democracy in the classical sense.

    The English have no say in the running of the Scottish,( or for that matter Welsh), assembly, whilst the converse is the case . If devolution is to have any meaning, England must have its own, purely English, Parliament. Great Britain would then become a truly federal State, along the same lines as German or The US of A, and Senators would be elected , proportionately , to serve in a democratic upper chamber, thus obviating the need for The Lords and its present mostly grace and favour make up.

    If a classic car is broken up , the spare parts do not have the final say on what happens to the chassis, and the same should apply in GB .

  16. We need far more of a direct democracy through referenda. People should be free to determine a lot of basic policies as they do in Switzerland e.g. immigration policy, general sentencing policy, defence and so on. The idea that a gang of politicians in Westminster subject to all sorts of lobbying and influence are better able to make some of these decisions is risible. It would also encourage politicians to explain more honestly some of the complexities of policy making rather than resorting to sound bites because there would be real debate.

    Referenda would also possibly provide a way out of the impasse when Commons is at loggerheads with the Lords. If the Lords say reject something with a 2/3 majority that could automatically go to a referendum.

  17. I think field is being pretty free with public money. His idea of multiple referenda is almost as bad as some of the so called Quizzes on TV, where a question is asked in such a way that the multiple choice answers are so infantile ( at

  18. I’m not a fan of direct democracy because I do not think that a majority vote on a single issue is the best way of going about things. Reviled though our politicians may be, an awful lot of sometimes very tedious work goes into balancing out the demands on the nation’s resources. I have known a good number of Labour councillors and MPs who have quietly got on with good work fort hose they represent. No doubt this is reflected amongst Conservative polticians. Unfortunately empty vessles make the most noise. Elections make politicians accountable. If the perception of one group is that another has been favoured at their expense then this will be reflected in the election results. In a referendum people tend vote in their interest or according to their prejudices. Personally my gut reaction is to support flat tax, making prison a punishment, not outlaw fox hunting, deport without fuss foreign nationals advocationg terrorism etc. etc..

    The falling turnout is a matter of concern. However I notice that the people I know that don’t vote do so (i.e. don’t vote) because they cannot find a party that agrees with their whole set of interests and opinions. Well fancy that! There seems to a culture of the ‘mass individual’ where unless it happens exactly as I1, I2….I50,000, 000 want it then it ain’t right. For most people there is a party that reflects their strongest concern. For example in the last election there was at least one anti intervention in Iraq candidate in every constituency. There ought to be more debate on the realities and limitations of democracy not gimmicks like postal votes for all which I fear will lead to community block votes. We have enough of that in the dear old Labour Party with the trade unions.

    Clearly the centralising tendency of TB’s Labour Party is also a matter of concern. Democratic centralism is not democratic in the liberal tradition. I find it very difficult to tell apart the various clones, especially the ladies. Patricia Hodge and Margaret Hewitt are the same person I think. I hope that this is an overreaction to the years of entryism and Bennery, and that a healthier party may yet emerge with people along the lines of Frank Field and Kate Hoey. TB made the party electable again but the price seems rather steep at times.

    The other worry is the lack of an effective opposition. Despite all the ‘liberal democrats’ posturing as opposition they are either a protest party or, when things start looking good for them, there’s a whole section that suddenly discover grownup politics and clone culture erupts.

    So, although on balance I am going to vote Labour next time round, I am very much in favour of a strong Conservative opposition. If the Conservatives doom themselves to permanent and ineffective opposition then it’s no good for anyone. I see no paradox in my voting Labour for the rest of my life but worrying about the fact that we may never have another Conservative government.

  19. Maybe we should each just vote for the person from our community that most represents our opinions, and get rid of political parties altogether.

    Just a thought.

    :o)

  20. Psimon

    It seems that you’re only moving the problem up a level because effectively the representatives then become the electorate insofar as they have to decide on the group/party/clique/cabal to form the government. The nearest you get to no parties in government is absolute monarchies or one part states or Somalia. I think broad based parties are probably essential for practical democracy, with the best arrangement being a conservative, though not reactionary, party, a progressive, though not radical party, and a third party that doesn’t know what it is for but gives the other two something to look down on.

    🙂

  21. Macarnie –

    There is an election in London and most parts of the country virtually every year. The referenda can be tacked on to the elections to office as they do in the USA. Therefore the marginal cost of introducing referenda is very small in reality.

    As to the objection to the wording of the question, I would argue that the wording should have to be agreed by a Referendum Commission, composed of MPs from across the waveband, judges and perhaps people with experience of opinion polling. Any decision of the Commission should appealable to the High Court. I think that would ensure a pretty fair question. OK, it’s another quango, but some quangos are less offensive than others!

    I agree with Jack Ramsey that parties are an inevitable part of the political system. But we do haev to control their influence. Party list elections are highly questionable I feel.

  22. I read Boris Johnson’s article on Patricia Hewitt and quangoes with great relief. There is at least one other person in the country who is alarmed at P Hewitt’s judgement, apart from the members of our Save Frenchay Hospital Group.
    The North Bristo Trust has a plan to bulldoze the world-reknown Frenchay Hospital, famous for neurosurgery, reconstructive surgery, plastics and burns surgery, to mention a few, so that it can sell the land off for development and to sate John Prescott’s meglomania. The Trust intends to build a 300/800 million pound acute hospital at Southmead, which is inaccessible at peak times due to gridlocked traffic. South Gloucestershire
    Council has managed, with the help of a Lib Dem MP, Steve Webb, to ask Patricia Hewitt to refer this daft plan to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for an unbiased scrutiny of the Plan. This referral has been on her desk for three and a half months and still she does not deign to respond. We have collected 43,000 signatures against the proposal to close Frenchay, which is 20% of the population. People have written hundreds of letters, to no avail.
    In South Glos we have the fastest growing population in UK: the population will have a very high percentage of elderly residents;Frenchay is ideally sited at the junction of the M4/M5 motorways and an eastern ringroad;they have gerrymandered committees to get this Plan through; they have not consulted staff and threatened them if they support us (failure to consult staff is against the law); their public consultation exercise was a farce as it did not mention what went where and on which site. A Joint Overview & Scrutiny Committee Report on the Plan, which made 38 points, of which 35 complained of insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion and of people failing to attend when called. Despite all these facts being made known to the Secretary of State, she is still pondering.
    When I read all the earlier comments from contributors, along the lines of ‘shall we have this?’ or ‘let’ have that’ I am reminded of Nero fiddling whilst Rome burned. Forget any notion of changing anything. Our struggles are testimony to the seeming impossibility of getting any point of view across to this Government despite the Government’s own policy that ‘patients and public decide policy’ and that we are ‘equal partners in the decision-making process. Pure poppycock.
    What is taking place now is nothing less than a blitzkreig of the NHS – creeping privatisation by stealth. Despite research, carried out in Bristol, on the introduction of market forces which showed that competition drove down quality and highered mortality, still the NHS ploughs on, hellbent on its own destruction.
    All our local
    Trust is interested in is selling off the land at Frenchay or gifting it to a developer then plunging us all into debt for the next 30 years by building an expensive hospital IN ENTIRELY THE WRONG PLACE!!! They built the Royal Bristol Childrens’ Hospital in entirely the wrong place and now they are doing it again and we are supposed to sit back quietly and watch.
    Meanwhile they expect us to be content with a 44 bed community hospital for a population which will be equal to Bristol’s when Bristol has 9 hospitals, three of them acute.
    So, this is professional planning for you.
    This is the policy of the public having a say.
    Piffle, I say.
    I would like the Telegraph to start a countdown of the days that this Plan is stuck on Patricia Hewitt’s desk and to make the issue of Frenchay Hospital a national one. How long does it take a Secretary of State to make a decision? In commerce and business this indecisiveness would not be tolerated.
    I expect, like Malcolm Hanney and his discrimination case, we shall have to forget democracy, call for a fighting-fund and go to law.

  23. To try to penetrate the armadillo-like carapace of that super feminist P. Hewitt, would require the application of spent uranium armour piercing shells . Not that she is unique in this “Nanny knows best” Government. Take a guided tour round the chamber of apparent aliens which rules us, without actually being introduced:we have a poodle , where a bulldog used to be; we have spin, where good old honesty used to be;we have debt, where a surplus used to be: we have lies , where truth used to be,and we have rehabilitated failures where real honest talent used to be.

    Democracy in the UK has taken a turn for the worse.
    Vee vill arsk ze Kvestchunss und geef ze Arnswers. Halts Maul!

  24. I actually think there’s a case for “Quasi autonomous” government bodies. For example in a number of areas like health, the government should set high level policy and budgets, set up a semi automomous governing bodies, and let them get on with it. No eye-catching short-term initiatives. No meddling. No political targets. Let the experts get on with governing the institutions, and let the government stick to its business.

    Regarding the House of Lords, the current system is simply ridiculous and there is no point in continuing with it. Election to the House of Lords should be on a simple proportional representation basis, and it should assume more powers than its current review role.

  25. Jack Ramsey – you’re good, you are so good.

    Mac – well said, as ever, I can’t stand P. Hewitt either.

    Well you’ve said it all, I can’t compete with this level of expression – I’m going to go back to being silly!

    wibble

    (oops, better go, might break into verse)

  26. averse to that….oh per-lease (giggles)

    Here’s a giggle from the archives:

    PH is like a bacon sandwich

    Like a sunday morning walk,
    you know that in a house somewhere
    something is so hot it sizzles flesh
    and you can have none of it,
    only temtation on the wind.

    Seriously though folks, it has been levelled at me that I’m looking for heroes and I suppose to some extent that’s true. With moves to make testimony from torture legal in this country and more anti-terror legislation being discussed I think we need them. Especially when anti-terror legislation is used against free speech from a pensioner.

    Yesterday, I was called to my sons school to physically remove him from the premises because he refused to line up as he was told. He’s 5 yrs old. It was a health and safety issue apparently, not doing as you’re told. “And you did it?” asked another mother. I didn’t realise I had an option but I told the teacher I wouldn’t do it again and surely the school could employ strategies to deal with such a small child stamping his feet?

    I greatly appreciate what I learn from this online community and when it comes to people with power, when I’m looking for a hero, in my opinion, Boris is it.

  27. We are having the same problem here in North Wiltshire with our community hospitals. Every trick in the book is being used to make Malmesbury appear “unnecessary”.

    First the PCT agreed to delay closure and undertake further (proper in my book!) consultation. However, they then close the maternity unit due to “lack of staff”. Odd then that all known bank nurses who are available have been told not to bother coming in!!

    An aroma more akin to fishcakes than honesty is emanating from the disastrous Kennet and North Wilts PCT.

    How dare they threaten Townlands in Henley. I was born there. But this Government can’t abide heritage can it.

  28. Er…can someone tell me what’s going on please – I’ve just watched a home office minister talk in the house as if ID cards are a done deal? All we need to do now, he says, is ensure we keep the cost to the public as low as possible. What he means is that all decent people will have to pay for these and they will carry 15 biometric tests: all ten fingerprints, iris scanning, you name it. Data collection centres will have to be built around the country in addition to the cost of designing, creating and housing a new database (and we all know how good the government are at that sort of thing)

    Costs of a MINIMUM of

  29. Is there nothing that can be done to stop this Neo-Trotskite govertment and their ID cards ?
    What goes on in the minds of the moronic MPs who line up behind Bliar ?

  30. Larry:
    Labour is not NEO-Trot! That would imply that they had something extra novelty to add. The Government is inexorably leaning; insufficiently opposed; toward a sort of totalitarianism, and its excuse is its own lack of backbone in its Brussels led feeble fight against terrorism.

    It’s time that Nanny Trot did some serious thinking about making the old homestead safe for Brits, ( and others), to live here , without let or hindrance from terrorists; for instance , closing the huge gaps in the borders.

    A piece of plastic , with or without biometric data will not stop the criminal electronic wizards from finding a way to make fakes. The more computer technology advances , the easier the task of making false IDs.

    We need less PC, and more deterrents, without having to ask that hotbed of Nouveau Communisme, Brussels , if we may please make our borders and our citizens safe, using good old british measures.

    Fair but firm, kick out the troublemakers, bring in and enforce secular measures, and punish ALL wrongdoers, according to time honoured British practice.

    The way things are ,our Police Force is hampered by the PC brigade’s strident righteousness in protesting against so called infringements of ” human rights”,thus allowing terrorists and other criminals to operate almost at will. No amount of flexi-plastic will stop that.

    Anyone claiming human rights must also be prepared to accept human responsibilities, which appears to be totally lacking in the vocabulary of certain leaders of the HR movement.

  31. Mac…

    “punish ALL wrongdoers”? Who decides what is wrong? Are anti-terror rules really to be used to silence octagenarians who shout “nonsense” during a speech?

    You’re right. Good old english measures, according to time honoured British practise.

    It’s a shame that “back to basics” has become a tarnished phrase.

  32. Psi: I was of course addressing the civilized portion of society, when I said punish all wrongdoers. Some of those; not included in that description; are of the opinion that they are above the law, and the laxity, with which it is sometimes applied, seems only to emphasise that opinion.

    The law, if only it were always properly applied, each time a suspect were brought before a court , is sufficiently clear as to define the differnce between right and wrong. If the defendant is found to be guilty of the crime with which he or she is charged, after the due process of law, the defendant should then change status and become referred to as the condemned, and be duly punished , according to the severity of the crime.

    Walter Wolfgang, whatever his age,) but especially at the age of 82), should not have been treated, as he was, to a manhandling by mindless bouncers, ( BTW,whoever found it necessary to employ such bruisers at a Party Conference?), no matter what he had said, nor whose words he regarded as nonsense. Almost everyone I know thought the man of Straw’s words were nonsense, but they were not treated to the indignity of bodily ejection from their lawful seat, and even worse, by a gang of out of date hobbledehoys.

  33. re. Macarnies remarks about bruisers at LP conference.

    It is difficult to see what advantage accrues to the organisers by having such heavies since they would be of no use against terrorists and even the most excitable LP member or trade unionist is very unlikely to physically attack a firm steward of either gender.

    A not entirely non-sequitur

    For those who worry about how things are going do you recall how the summer of love with free dope, food, music etc. turned into the likes of the Stones concert where two people were killed by Hells Angels, multi-millionaire stars, Madonna (I think) calling for revolution at Live Aid, John Lennon’s New York air conditioned room for his fur coats etc.. Obvious comment really but politicians aren’t the only people prone to hypocrisy. When someone rich and famous is on the ‘peoples side’ count the spoons and check your wallet.

  34. Having watched a certain ” satirical” TV show last night, about how power corrupts, and how further increments of an increase in such power makes the corruption almost complete; nothing about this Government’s activities can surprise me further. One can almost smell the ankls length leather coats , the swastikas and the jack boots. All too apt when one thinks of the origins of poor Mr Wolfgang.

  35. Mac

    I also saw a satirical film last night – quite close to the bone for the Minister, wasn’t it? (not sure if yours was the same) that is why I am wedded to political life: it is never boring, I am convinced.

  36. Jaq

    Yes, pundits should always be critically evaluated – but I just wanted to finger the ‘friends of the people’ in particular as they are often more dangerous than the government. The Bolsheviks and the Nazis were ‘friends of the people’.

    Macarnie

    I don’t watch much TV so I don’t know what you watched. However it is important not to confuse satire with a genuine critique of reality. Unlike Animal Farm or 1984 much BBC satire today seems to be based on horrors sucked out of the air. Which is not to say that all is of course.

  37. Jack Ramsey:
    I do not know how the idea that the Nazis and Bolsheviks were ever seen as friends of the people, as you state, but I cannot agree with your evaluation.

    If friendship is sought from one person by another, it is hardly likely that employing bully boy tactics would make friends with any but those of equal or similar overbearing tendencies.
    I lived and worked, over a period of a quarter of a century, in Germany and Holland , mainly Germany, I have German family, and, from listening to those who actually lived through the Nazi times,I can categorically say that ” Friends of the people; the Nazi Party were most definitely NOT !”

    Fear is hardly a hand tool of friendship, and the Nazis ruled by fear, of that there is no doubt.

    In every block there was an extra officious Party official,relishing his sudden elevation to “importance”, reporting on any and every deviation, by the ordinary folk, from the Party line, however miniscule. This could , and often did, lead to a “friendly ” visit from some thug belonging to the Gestapo. (Hardly a people friendly gesture, eh, Jack?)

    The Soviet Union was also ruled with such people friendliness,starting with the ‘Cheka’ and metamorphosing via OGPU and NKVD to KGB( and perhaps even beyond), using such people friendly venues as the KGB’s infamous yellow brick bulding “The Lubyanka” as a place to hold their samovar and knuckle sandwich “tea parties”,(and all in the best possible taste),if my reading of history is not completely awry.

    Satire , a definition: A literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn. One does not have to look very far for lots of genuine material with which to interest a fan of satire. With this Government?s record, a genuine critique of reality is never far from the front pages. The word “farce” might come to mind, if it were all not so serious.

  38. Macarnie

    Points taken.

    I certainly do not think either gang of thugs were friends of the people, rather that is how they posed at the beginning.

    My reading is that both the Bolsheviks and Nazis started their rises to power by populism. Lenin adopted the simple slogan “bread, peace and land” precisley because it was simple and addressed the concerns of the peasants and workers. Hitler campaigned on the humiliation and betrayal of the German people by the WW1 victors and Jewish capitalists respectively. That in neither case did the reality live up to the myths formulated to get support more or less makes my point about watching out for people who are very keen to take up the case of the underdog, particularly in a grand and sweeping manner. I think I have commented elsewhere that much of the good work in politics is done by people involved in balancing the various claims of interest groups with each other and reality, compromising with their political opponents and so on.

    OK I’ll accept your definition of satire. My point about ‘satire’ is that a lot of it is not pointing at anything real. Much of Michael Moore’s efforts, for example, have been shown to be based on falsehoods. Because satire is seen to be ‘clever’ then what is called satire often comes to be a (bad) reason for believing something independently of any fact of the matter. Orwell’s satires are examples of what it should be like. At that time many of the intelligentsia were apologists for totalitarianism (no change there then!). In writing his stuff he knew that it would it not go along with the cultural world view. For example Jean Paul Sartre was a disciple of Heidegger and also bemoaned the fact that some people actually dared to point out the truth about the Stalinist gulags. I would quite like to see a satire about the anti war coalition. The SWP stopping debates about gay rights and making their female colleagues wear scarves at demos, the Communists supporting North Korea and moaning about people always banging on about Stalin, the Islamacists all smiles for their atheist colleagues and the poor old BNP not being allowed to join because their particualr brand of fascism is unfashionable rather than because it is fascist. Meanwhile all the somewhat more wholesome supporters, who make up the vast majority, don’t seem to get a look in on the central committee.

    I think this is where I came in.

    Have a nice weekend, what’s left of it.

  39. Off Topic:

    Yoh Jack et al, When I was at Uni another student had some russian poetry pasted on his door. Could’ve been Polish I suppose but I think it was russian (well gee that narrows it down Jaq) I can’t remember who it was by or what it was called but it was very old and the most beautiful stuff I’ve ever read. Anyone got any ideas? Any starting point will do. I seem to remember the description of the scenery was used to enhance the mood and feeling of the piece, bit like John Donne does in The Sunne Rising.

    Well, don’t suppose I’ll get any replies but it was worth a try, it’s been bugging me for days and who better to ask than the most learned band of bods!

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