In light of the recent Cabinet re-shuffle Jeremy Hunt has been moved to the portfolio of Health Secretary. It also turns out Hunt endorsed Homeopathy in 2007. Maybe the NHS may end up like this soon:
In light of the recent Cabinet re-shuffle Jeremy Hunt has been moved to the portfolio of Health Secretary. It also turns out Hunt endorsed Homeopathy in 2007. Maybe the NHS may end up like this soon:
Andrew Lansley recently showed a prime example of how not win your case by describing the ever growing opposition to his NHS reforms as being motivated by “political” reasons.
I’m sorry but “political” reasons? The British Medical Association (BMA), Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Nurses, the Conservative dominated Commons Health Select Committee and Norman frigging Tebbit all oppose the reforms, which will open up the NHS to EU competition law, for “political” reasons? These are not organisations (with the exception of the latter obviously) that sit from the outside and attempt to vaguely analyse the inner workings of the NHS. No, these are organisations that deal with the inner workings of the NHS every single day. They know how it works. They know what will be detrimental. And they are the ones that will know that these reforms will fundamentally destroy the NHS.
Cameron said it himself, no top down reorganisations of the NHS. Now drop this bill!
I think most of us can agree that sex education has an important role to play in public schools. But to what level of importance would you say it is?
To Conservative MP, Andrea Leadsom, it seems not very. Let’s put this into context. In England and Wales sex education is not a compulsory subject for public schools (I know for one that I personally received nothing at my High School) and that parents are allowed to “opt out” their child if the school does teach it. And you wonder why we have the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe.
Anyway, back to Andrea Leadsom. It seems she believes that parents should have to “opt in” their children to sex education classes and that current sex education books are “inappropriate”. This is while a report published by Ofsted last year pointed out that a quarter of schools in England are not providing good enough lessons about sex, relationships and health. At the same time new research in the last couple of weeks provided information that “81% of 14 to 18-year-olds said their information came from the internet, the television and their friends.” and “one in four pupils do not have any sexual and relationship education in school.“.
Now some may say that abstinence only sex education is the only sound and “moral” way forward. But when we analyse this claim, it’s quite apparent that this argument is not grounded in research and facts. The Council of Scientific Affairs states that ”Current research findings do not support the position that the abstinence-only approach to sexuality education is effective in delaying the onset of intercourse.”.
I have already done a similar post on sex education before. But the point still stands, we need more not less sex education. If we truly want to tackle STDs, teenage pregnancies and yes, even abortions (again look to my previous post and subsequent comments regarding abortions) we need sound and effective sex education with no “opt-outs” for pushy and insecure parents.
So please Leadson, could the education system have some more.
In light of the NHS reform bill being pushed through the House of Lords, I’d like to draw attention to what many Tories may be thinking now because of it.
David Cameron is set to announce a new set of proposals for child-proofing the internet. A new opt-in scheme to be unveiled today would have internet providers blocking access to pornographic material to all but those users who request it. Clearly children, some teenagers and even adults can be shocked and upset by explicit imagery.
I don’t think we should run (seek to understand exotic acts and complex power games) before we can walk (understand a basic ideal of sex between adults who respect each other). But wouldn’t it be nice if the government were to replace one (misleading, fantasy-based) source of sex information with another (safe, inclusive) source?
The classically repressed British are living proof that ignoring sex does not make STIs or unwanted pregnancy go away. Only proper education, support networks and open adult discussion can do that.
I think we have some things to learn from our friends down under: http://www.sexparty.org.au/index.php/policies
You’d think after eight years of George W. Bush as President you would have thought the Republican party would ensure its front-runners for the 2012 Presidential bid would at the very least appear to seem to know what they are talking about. But sadly, they got Michelle Bachmann instead. Now I thought the American right (specifically the Tea Party wing) had lost most of its credibility (primarily) in regards to modern science when one of its darlings, Sarah Palin, said this:
Now, yes you may well be reeling laughter/pity for the Palin. But this has turned out to be nothing when compared to the Tea Party’s newer rising darling, Michelle Bachmann. This is the woman who wishes to close down the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regards homosexuality as a “disorder” and a “sexual difunction” and wishes to repeal all health care system legislation.
What she done now? You may ask. Well she, like Palin has delved into the realm of scientific ignorance. Bachmann claimed that the HPV vaccine, which is a well-proven preventer of cervical cancer, causes ”mental retardation” in children. Yup, you heard right, “mental retardation” in children.
Now I’m not even going to go in to the long long list of scientists and scientific institutions that lined up to show how ridiculous Bachmann’s comments are. But I will provide her with two specific facts:
9/11 – A Warning from Recent History
For someone of the age of the current crop of Labour Students, it is particularly difficult to believe that it is ten years tomorrow since the lives of millions were changed forever on September 11th, 2001. Most of us were still in primary school at the time, and it is perhaps apt that our generation – one that was constantly told we were growing up too fast – had our innocence of the world around us robbed so suddenly on that bright Tuesday morning. Hearing and seeing the images of the planes hitting the World Trade Center still transfixes all of us, and as much as we might want to look away having seen enough, we can’t quite bring ourselves to stop watching.
However it is our generation – the 9/11 generation – who will be the politicians and headline-makers of the coming years, and if anything good can come of the last decade, it is surely the lesson that those in power have a responsibility not to overreact when faced with such onslaughts. Our party’s most successful leader (in electoral terms) no doubt had good intentions, but made the grave error of marching the troops gung-ho into an unplanned and illegal war, probably creating a whole new generation of terrorists in the process, while at home him and those around him were complicit in eroding many of the freedoms we were meant to be protecting, including detention without charge and freedom from torture. If the horror of terrorism reaches us again, we must pause and assess the causes before acting. The same rule should apply for other crises, like the riots this summer.
Backbench Tories Have Nothing To Worry About
Today is the final day of the Plaid Cymru autumn conference in Llandudno, north Wales. The outgoing leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, made his final conference speech yesterday after an electoral drubbing for the nationalist party in the Welsh Assembly elections in May. Unlike in Scotland, where the SNP have been successful, he argued that coalition government in Cardiff Bay (of which Plaid was the junior party) meant Plaid’s achievements in government were smothered by Labour, and that the party was punished by voters for not claiming credit for them.
Aside from the fact that Plaid achieved very little in government in a time of economic turmoil other than a referendum with poor turnout which managed to bore even political anoraks, their experience in coalition should serve as a lesson to Westminster politics. This week Tory backbenchers, angry over law and order, Europe and abortion, moaned that the Lib Dem ‘tail’ was wagging the Tory ‘dog’ and that Nick Clegg was being given too many concessions by the Prime Minister. However come the election in 2015, the Tories will have nothing to worry about, as the voters are likely to give them sole credit for any successes – particularly if the economy picks up (not a given considering Osborne’s slash-and-burn approach) – and they will certainly not be looking to make some sort of permanent alliance with the Lib Dems, contrary to what some commentators are predicting. The coalition dog will probably have his tail docked when the voters are next given a choice.
About Bloody Time
This week the ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood for life in Britain was finally overturned (although you’d be forgiven for not noticing the leap forward because the BBC thought Strictly Come Dancing was more important on the news bulletins that night). This is a triumph that equality campaigners have been working tirelessly for for years, and at last gay men will be able to save lives and help tackle the urgent need for more donors. No more will the official policy imply that gay men cannot be trusted to practice safe sex and ‘probably have HIV’.
Although the ban was only replaced with a one-year time lag since a donor’s last encounter, it is still progress, and puts us more in line with the situation in similar countries.
In the light of Nadine Dorries’ plans to require “independent” organisation to consult with pregnant women, I’d like to point out the true facts of abortion and sex education in the UK and across the world. These are facts that the religious “independent” organisations seem to ignore and the same for many in the so-called Conservative Christian Fellowship.
Here are some facts about abortion and sex education.
Yesterday a young man in his prime died needlessly following an incident with the police where a Taser gun was allegedly used by officers. The case has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It would be premature for me to claim that police had been unreasonable in this case or to cast aspersions on Dale Burns, however the case has led to calls for a rethink over the use of Tasers by Amnesty International, and I echo their sentiments.
This is not the first time someone has died suspiciously not long after being subject to a Taser ‘shock’, yet still this and the previous government have both ordered their wider usage to please the ‘hang-em-and-flog-em’ brigade – no doubt they will be used more extensively as a method of crowd control following the riots. If police leaders can question politicians’ orders to use water cannon and rubber bullets where needed, citing Britain’s century-and-a-half long tradition of unarmed community policing, then why have they not criticised the authorisation of these brutal weapons? Anyone who has seen a video clip on Youtube where someone has volunteered to receive the shock treatment will tell you that it does not look pleasant.
Police officers are only human beings who can overreact like ordinary citizens, and in many public order situations can fear for their lives. However these weapons have not only been used against armed assailants but also when carrying out routine arrests on the most unthreatening of suspects, and in the US it has even been reported that sick and bored police have been ‘testing out’ their device on farm animals to pass the time. These weapons are lethal and do not discriminate between those bent on harming others and innocent bystanders caught in the wrong place at the wrong time; they do not ask questions. There are millions of people walking along Britain’s streets with heart problems – what if one of these went on a legitimate peaceful protest which turned violent and were Tasered trying to restore calm or quickly leave the scene?
Since the tragic cases of John Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson, the tuition fees protests and following the riots of this month, police are in an unenviable position where they don’t know whether they are being too harsh or too soft in the heat of the moment. Despite this, however, the monstrous Taser should have no place on our streets.
There’s been a tsunami wave of comment and opinion about ignorance and what to do about the riots in the last week, most of which has been speculative and, in some cases, downright prejudiced (I am of course referring to David Starkey). However what I want to shed some light on is the ignorance that I see every day surrounding disability and conditions that inflict millions of people.
I was on a bus this week where an elderly lady got on with a walking stick and was clearly unsteady on her feet. When she struggled to find her bus pass and got into bother, the bus driver continued to harass her, demanding that she either produce her card, pay or get off the bus. There was tutting and sighing from other passengers, and I even heard the word ‘drunk’ whispered by several people. It was 10.30 in the morning, and although regrettably some people do start drinking early in the day in areas like mine when they’d be better off doing something constructive, I think this woman would have had a tough job getting plastered this quickly.
The lady was not drunk as it turned out, but she had Huntington’s Disease, as another lady pointed out to me as she helped her with her heavy bags. Huntington’s Disease is an hereditary neurodegenerative disorder affecting muscle control which only begins to take effect in middle age, and leads eventually to dementia and in many cases untimely death. The bus driver in question was not a bad man, and was only in his twenties; he was probably concerned about losing his job if someone got away with not having their pass. However it struck me that this lady, who had a perfectly intelligent and coherent conversation with another passenger before she struggled off the bus, undoubtedly has to put up with this ordeal every time she leaves the house, with people commenting and assuming and speculating whenever she goes shopping or to visit relatives.
Why are we not educated about conditions such as this? Why do people with diseases or conditions that are not self-inflicted have to put up with social stigma and embarrassment every day by people who are not discriminatory, but are completely oblivious to the existence of the disease they cannot escape? It’ll never happen in the current climate of cuts, but I believe we should make our children attend compulsory awareness classes, not in school as the curriculum is already stretched, but outside, perhaps in the summer holidays, alongside first aid and financial management tutorials. Ideally it would inform people of ‘invisible’ conditions such as autism and tackle the taboos surrounding common illnesses like cancer. Perhaps then people’s lives would be less of a struggle and allowances would be made for the disabled by other members of the public. If the classes were to take place at 16 it would probably be more of a benefit for society as a whole than national service or leaving young people on the street; it may also encourage more volunteering, which will go some way towards creating a big society and boost young people’s employability at the same time.
Thought you’d like this one. Not sure of the actual date but clearly it is before the general election in 2010.
If there’s one thing politicians need to do above all else is listen. Listen to experts, listen to other opinions irrespective of political allegiance and most importantly of all, listen to the people. Naturally then, I do welcome the pause in the break to the NHS reforms to allow Ministers to listen. Now, I’m not going to go onto the NHS reforms themselves as I’ve mentioned them enough on previous blogs. But, what I will blog about is the listening exercise itself.
After the Royal College of Nurses voted in favour in a vote of no confidence on Andrew Lansley a few days ago, the Health Minister claimed “I’m sorry if what I’m setting out to do hasn’t communicated itself…Listening to the vote this morning, if I’ve not got that message across then I apologise.”. Usually, I welcome apologises. Rather than showing a sign of ‘weakness’ they actually show a sign of humility and maturity. However, this so-called ‘failure to communicate’ is nothing less than patronising. What this is really saying is that we have failed to simplify the argument enough for you to understand, but we are still right and you are completely wrong. This don’t forget was just after 99% of delegates at the Royal College of Nurses conference deciding to vote in favour in a motion of no confidence in Lansley.
If the Health Minister is truly arrogant enough to believe that the Royal College of Nurses are too stupid enough to understand his proposals, he really has another thing coming.
I’ve now returned to Birmingham after a week in which the Coalition managed to look incompetent and shambolic as well as cruel. We’ve had Willetts admitting he is content to see poorer students having to settle for a degree at their local sixth form, rather than enjoying the full university experience; Norman Tebbit joining the near-univeral coalition against the NHS transformation; U-turns on defence spending and health to add to the growing list which includes school sports and buildings, forests, and even the Downing Street cat; and of course Nick Clegg. When he hasn’t been complaining that he is the nation’s ‘punchbag’ or facing criticism from his own son, he has been making some interesting comments about social mobility.
I am not going to slam the Deputy Prime Minister for having had a leg-up from his neighbour (a peer of the realm) in order to get an internship at a bank (it had to be a bank), because I challenge anyone reading this – assuming I have a readership – not to have seized the opportunity in the same way if they were in Nick’s position. A Labour party which wants social justice and equality of opportunity from birth should not be blaming someone for a background thay had no control over, and that even includes Cameron who had someone put a word in from Buck House. However, Clegg’s attempts at addressing the age-old problem of the ‘It’s who you know’ culture were embarrassing, coming at the same time this government is slashing Sure Start centres, EMA, univeristy budgets and allowing socially divisive ’free’ schools to blossom up and down the country.
I spoke to people this week in the valleys who have Masters’ degrees who have spent over a year unemployed – young people with ambition, drive and what should be a promising career ahead of them. I overheard sixth form students on the bus complaining that they had not been accepted for any of their UCAS choices, despite the prediction of 4 As at A-level. I have personally had difficulty finding summer placements when I am not lucky enough to be able to work unpaid for six months in central London. Nick Clegg’s diagnosis was correct, but there is far more to it than setting an example to almost-bankrupt businesses by paying interns at Lib Dem HQ.
We need a new cultural shift in this country, brought about by government, where the disadvantaged are caught as soon as possible and at every stage of their lives are helped to gain the same opportunities as the better off. This should not involve positive discrimination or handouts, but should involve investment in our young people which other European countries manage while they bail out their neighbours, but we seem to think is unaffordable. A national internship scheme or national bursary programme, complementing investment in careers education (which at the moment is dire) to inform young people that they are just as talented and ambitious as the more privileged, and what opportunities are out there for the taking, is desperately needed. The underlying factors, such as affordable transport, need to be subsidised so someone who lives in the middle of nowhere with no ‘contacts’ can get work experience in a city near them.
There are important elections coming up in the devolved nations and local councils in England. Young people should be demanding better from the government and their local councils at the ballot box, and should express their dissatisfaction with the Coalition, which just doesn’t get it.
Apologises for the lack of blogging lately. Been rather busy with essays, football match against BUCF (kinda) and general stuff back up north. Anyway, in that time there have been HUGE events in which I’d like to focus on. The NHS reforms (naturally), Portugal bail-out (naturally again) and University Minister, David Willetts, on Feminism.
First off, all I have to say on the NHS reforms is, thank god! No one wants these reforms. The BMA opposes it, the Lib Dems oppose it, 60% of GPs oppose the reforms and none other than Lord Tebbit opposes the reforms. If your too right-wing for Lord Tebbit, you know your policies have huge issues. Ian Duncan-Smith (IDS) even admitted that waiting times were already rising due to real term cuts to the NHS. Lansley has been hung out to dry by Cameron, lets only hope his reforms can also, permanently.
Now, naturally with the announcement of the bail-out for Portugal, Gideon jumped on the austerity bandwagon to claim that the cuts were right to prevent a similar situation occurring here in the UK. But if you stop, think and compare us, Portugal and other nation-states that have been bailed out you’ll see that this isn’t the case. For one thing, it’s important to note that prior to the bail-out, Portugal had had two austerity measures and three rises in VAT. Similarly, Ireland had been praised by the IMF in 2008 for “courageous” action for its austerity measures in an attempt to deal with its deficit. This naturally says something more about the problems of austerity than the problems of deficit/debt. For another thing, to say that Britain’s economy is anyway similar to Portugal’s/Ireland’s/Greece’s is absolutely ludicrous. We for one have a far, far larger economy than that of those countries, we have far more time to pay back our debts and most plainly of all, we’re not in the Euro so we can devalue our currency raise and lower interest rates. So please Gideon, don’t jump on the scaremongering bandwagon.
Finally, probably the least well known of the issues I’m focusing on is David Willetts’ comments on Feminism. Now, if you’ve been living in a cave the last couple of weeks what he said was that feminism was the “single biggest factor” for the lack of social mobility in Britain, as women who would otherwise have been housewives had taken university places and well-paid jobs that could have gone to ambitious working-class men. Now this is wrong and completely degrading on so many levels. Don’t get me wrong, Labour really didn’t do enough to tackle social mobility while in government. But feminism is in no way the cause of the problem. The true problem is the lack of aspiration from schools and deprived regions of the country to want young people to aim higher and also the problems of money that entail that. These comments also leave a more distasteful message. It is the assumption that women are out there, taking men’s jobs. Willets’ idea that women’s primary place is in the domestic household represents nothing less than a subliminal form of sexism. This is only exacerbated when he went onto excuse his comments with “It is not that I am against feminism,”.
This hasn’t been a good couple of weeks for the coalition.
When I say EVER, I mean done properly. Thank you Jake (former BULS Secretary) for finding this, unique, video.
It was never going to win, but an attempt to repeal Obama’s healthcare reforms passed last year have been squandered in the Senate. This has to be Obama’s pivotal piece of legislation, whatever its flaws it represented a true change in the American Health Care system which over the past few decades its cost has spiral out of control with Insurance companies dictating more and more over who is granted such care. Despite all their attacks that this would sap any resources the Federal Reserves might have left, it is important to note that prior to the legislation, America was spending twice as much on Healthcare as a percentage of GDP than we do, any move towards a system more like the NHS, theoretically at least, is going to be cheaper.
I do hope one day Republicans will look back and have the humility to accept their dogged attempts to prevent around 40 million Americans receiving proper healthcare was nothing less than disgraceful.
Now, I’m not usually one for using conservative language, but in regards to the new NHS reforms, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Now of course we all remember the famous airbrushed poster of DC and his pledge for a real terms increase in the NHS budget and no top down reorganisations which were both broken. Now if you thought this was bad enough, this bill coming into parliament is something more deeply disturbing.
For a start, shifting the £80 billion budget onto GPs is just something clompletely ludicrous, no patient wants their GP to be distracted from their real task of helping their patients. But, sadly enough, it goes deeper than that. For the first time in it’s entire existance, the NHS will be subject to EU competition law, that’s right, subject to competition law. The NHS is a service, it is literally in the name, nothing less. When it comes to people lives and health it´s intrinsically wrong to have price competition to ordain which sevices live or die.
Labour made huge improvements in the NHS over 13 years in government. Yes, it is still far from perfect, but these reforms could well destroy the Coalition. But this is what can happen when you gamble with people’s lives and health.
It’s always easy to kick someone when they’re down. We all know it and we’ve all done it, metaphorically. Before, it was Gordon Brown and before that it could be argued it was John Prescott. But it seems now it’s the Lib Dems, or more specifically, Nick Clegg (Cleggy). And yes, the 90% of the population (approximately) agree with the “kicking”. Like John Denham (Shadow Business Secretary and now boss of former-BULS Chair, Tom Guise, well done on the job), we should rise above this natural instinct to further lambast Lib Dem MPs and supporters and resist being a “tribal” party. For this is what the true “new” politics, rising above petty point scoring and reaching out to disenchanted voters and MPs in a hope to win them round. On Thursday, the Lib Dem elite threw away any chance of being progressive. With 70% of Lib Dem party members regarding themselves to be on the left, this could not be a more opportune time build a broad progressive church to argue against the real enemy (so to speak).
Now that optimistic note is out of the way, I can now return to being generally p****d off with the government on the whole. How better than to point out cuts to the number of coastguard control centres. A report recently stated that half of the 19 centres could close. That’s right, half of the centres!! The necessity for deep cuts can be argued for (though I’d have to disagree), but cuts to services that literally save lives is downright disgraceful. These centres probably save hundreds of lives every year in some of the harshest conditions known to man (and woman) kind. So to almost half the number of centres is nothing less than a travesty.
I only hope to god that the Coalition rethinks this particular policy.
It’s the fear of childbirth, and it’s on the rise.
Some women are refusing to have any more children, begging for caesareans, or demanding heavy dosing of powerful pain-relieving drugs. Others are preaching about their natural births, boasting about the 18-hour marathon that was their third experience, or scoffing at those who are deemed too “posh”, too “lazy” or now, to “scared” to push. The official view of Dr Tracey Johnstone, a consultant in foetal maternal medicine at Birmingham Women’s hospital, is for women to simply “realise that childbirth is painful” and suck it up.
Why do we do this to ourselves? We should rejoice in the medicinal progress that allows us to have safe, healthy, and yes relatively painless births, not try to out-compete each other for ever more natural and gruesome experiences.
Becoming a mother is scary enough. The first couple of hours aren’t going to make a difference to how much you love and care for your child for the rest of its life. Pregnant women have too many psychological, nutritional and emotional hoops to jump through already. Let’s stop judging and preaching, and for God’s sake let them eat painkillers.
Following the recent HIV scare in LA’s “Silicone valley” all prominent US porn companies have suspended business until those at risk can be quarantined and carefully checked. Once again the question of condom use in the industry has been raised by The Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation.
Meanwhile South Africa’s first porn film to feature an all black cast was produced this week. In a nod to the growing AIDS-awareness campaign both male actors wear condoms throughout.
Health-concious porn is highly important for three reasons. Firstly because diesease can spread through the worldwide industry very quickly and affect a huge amount of people. Secondly because it’s often the first exposure young people have to the act of sex itself, and therefore has a duty to educate. Thirdly because the good health, self-respect and self-worth of porn actors are crucial to bringing the idea of legitimate sex work into the 21st century and promoting a dialogue around safe and healthy stripping and prostitution.
Feminism needs to acknowledge that putting paper bags over lads’ mags in shops is not going to make sexuality go away. Extensive legislation is necessary to protect those involved, but also necessary are a greater awareness and a broader dialogue of and around the subject. Tarring the entire industry with the brush of “chauvanism” is not doing anybody any favours, because it makes it difficult to tell what is sexist and what is simply sex.
To end with a quote from the wonderful Wendy McElroy: ”What I am saying is that truth is usually more complicated than any one perspective can capture. Prostitution is not a monolith. Each woman experiences the profession in a different manner. And nothing can be gained by having different groups of feminists or prostitutes — all of whom are probably telling the truth of their own experiences — attempting to discredit each other.”
Actual footage of a Tory MPs views on the NHS……………………………..thankfully not, but funny all the same, enjoy. (Sorry it’s slightly out of sinc)
The personal is political, and never more so than on the issue of abortions. What can be more political than a debate which includes facilitates the inclusion of gender, religion, age, class, nationality and health? And, not to put too fine a point on it, what can be more personal than what goes on inside a womb?
I’m so pro-choice that I’m literally incensed about having to describe myself as such, with the alternative implied by the term. And I’m sick of a moral case being made by the “pro life” side which is supposed to have all sexually active women cowering in shame.
In a society that sets great store by scientists that show us exactly how to make perfect babies, and politicians that tell us exactly how to have stable families, surely the biggest pre-requisite for producing healthy children is for the mother to want it in the first place, because no amount of scientific development or government programme can ever supercede parental love.
In the 21st century quality of life is to be favoured over quantity. Rather than having more babies we should be spending more time and attention on the ones that are born, and the ones that we want to have. Choosing the time and father are essential, unquestionable rights for women. The most moral thing to do is to defend abortion rights.
But the coalition is making very worrying noises….
Well it’s taken some time but finally, the end is now in sight. The House of Representatives narrowly passed the Healthcare reform bill last night meaning the President should sign the bill by Tuesday. President Obama has delivered on his campaign promise, Change HAS come to America.
Whatever your view on the actual contents of the bill you have to give it to Obama, given the system of governance (with separation of powers), the sheer dogmatic (and often wholly ignorant) opposition from the American right and the fact that so many of his Democrat predecessors have failed (Roosevelt, Clinton, etc) shows how successful Obama has been in the given context. This presents the biggest reform to American healthcare since the introduction of Medicare in the mid-1960s. Personally, I think (not that I’m anyway biased at all, lol) think his proposals are brilliant as this will now extend cover to 32 million Americans, that’s a phenomenal number and I hope the Republicans will have the dignity to apologize one day for denying full health care to around 40 million Americans!
Yes we can and yes we did!
Just another Labour week…ish.
Gordon Brown today pledged to offer free, one-to-one home care by specialist nurses to those suffering from Cancer. This in turn would save £2.5 billion a year by reducing hospital admissions. However, some people seem to not get the message, Andrew Lansley the Shadow health secretary said that “Gordon Brown needs to make clear to patients which other schemes he plans to cut” and claims that this will in fact cost £100m. I’m sorry, but so much for “I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS” and also, I personally think that if it leaves £100 million more in debt but saves lives (which it will) it is money well spent.
This frankly is rightly so, if you decentralise administration too much of any governmental department it will lead down the road of blatant inequality on the part (in this case schools) of the ones using the service. This is very much similar to the NHS checklist, where the Tories quite frankly oppose a measure (theoretically at least) that grants a minimum standard to all patients who are admitted. Now this is the same again, some schools will be put in the most ridiculous locations and so degrading the minimum standard which should be guaranteed to everyone, not just to help a small privileged few.
It has recently been revealed that if they won the general election, the Conservatives would in effect; treat new schools like major infrastructure projects. But Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said, “With no planning restrictions schools will be able to open in pre-fabricated buildings and rented office blocks, as they do in Sweden, without the sort of decent facilities all children should have like places to play and do sport outside.”.
I just recently received my organ donor card and I remembered this sketch from Monty Python, hopefully this doesn’t happen! (Warning! If you’re little big squeemish don’t watch)
Moving onto something more relevant, it is a shame that more people don’t register to the card, there are far too many people who do end up waiting for the call that a donor has become available (can’t remember the exact figure). There was talk a couple of years ago of introducing a system whereby everyone would be viable to donate their organs once unless they specifically asked not to be which personally would be ideal (well actually personally I take David Mitchell’s idea on Mock the Week that all bodies should revert to the ownership of the state after death, but humans can be insecure creatures at times).
A recent article written by Political scientist Dr David Runciman on the BBC really got me thinking. Why do so many Americans oppose such motions (such as the current health-care reform bill) that will in fact improve the well being of their lives? One of the many reasons this may be so is as Oli pointed out, “strangely irrational fear of – “socialism”…well, that’s the Cold War for you.”. However, while this is certainly evident, it can’t be applied to all Americans. In Texas where 1/3 of the population are without health insurance and a 1/5 of children are without it also, still 87% oppose the reforms. But, national polls show that the number who think the reforms go too far while nearly matching it are those who say it doesn’t go far enough.
Another idea pointed out by Dr David Runciman, is that its stories rather than facts that means the right wins out. He uses the example of one the Presidential debates during the 2000 election between Bush and Gore with saying,
Gore: “Under the governor’s plan, if you kept the same fee for service that you have now under Medicare, your premiums would go up by between 18% and 47%, and that is the study of the Congressional plan that he’s modelled his proposal on by the Medicare actuaries.” but then Bush intellectually (as ever) replied with, “Look, this is a man who has great numbers. He talks about numbers. I’m beginning to think not only did he invent the internet, but he invented the calculator. It’s fuzzy math. It’s trying to scare people in the voting booth.” (not that this was a hint of things to come or anything) but Bush won the Debate.
Thomas Frank, the author of the best-selling book What’s The Matter with Kansas and he argues that, ”You vote to strike a blow against elitism and you receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, workers have been stripped of power, and CEOs are rewarded in a manner that is beyond imagining. It’s like a French Revolution in reverse in which the workers come pouring down the street screaming more power to the aristocracy.” the “elitism” being the ‘snobbish’ democrats.
It is a pity that such a large group of the American people believe such trash and so easily, despite the US being a country founded upon tolerance.
Now this is undoubtedly going to be a contentious issue. A recent poll conducted by Comres (http://www.comres.co.uk/systems/file_download.aspx?pg=545&ver=1) for Panorama shows that 74% of people support the right for those who are terminally ill to be granted the choice of assisted suicide. Now personally, I do think this is a good thing, obviously it should not be extended to anyone, but if you are severely suffering you should be granted that choice to end the pain a torment which is not only inflicted upon yourself but also those loved ones around you.
This Morning saw the US senate gather to pass the all important bill which will mean healthcare for as many as 30 million Americans. It has been baffling for all but the most right-wing of English people how a country as civilised and wealthy as the US can happily demand that its people hold valid car insurance while failing to do the same for people’s healthcare.
Here in the UK it is generally seen as a given that if you get sick you’ll have someone to look after you, in the form of the NHS. If you break your leg you will not have to pay for the medical costs. Not so in the US of course, their love of the free market and innate fear of anything left has meant that despite attempts by several presidents to change the way Americans are treated regarding their healthcare, a system in which healthcare insurance is optional has remained until now.
The bill focuses on two general areas. On the one hand it supports individuals. The bill expands the government-run program to provide insurance to the poor and mandates insurance companies to offer patients insurance whatever their medical history. It also improves subsidies for those who cannot get insurance through their employer.
And on the other it places restrictions on companies. They will no longer be able to drop customers arbitrarily. Similarly for those who have conditions that are long-term, such as diabetics, the bill creates a high-risk group which will have focused support to enable them to have a healthcare plan. Finally it stops companies dropping customers who are made redundant.
What the bill means is that those 30 million people will be legally obliged to perches insurance from a private company. It does not seem to solve a problem but merely adds an extra layer to an existing one. People do not have insurance because they cannot afford it; the fact of the matter is that many Americans are feeling the brunt of the recession, just as we are across the Atlantic. 15 million Americans, about three per cent, are out of work, and millions more are on the minimum wage $7.25, about £4.50. Even when you include the government subsidies it still seems rich for politicians to ask people to part with more cash. Better surely to cut the middle man, as many democrats wanted, and produce as system which did not include private companies. What this bill does then is to make the healthcare system in the US more privatised not less, the arguments that it will provide support for millions don’t seem to add up if those who it is trying to support cannot afford the premiums.
Joshua Lindsey-Turner, Editor of BULS Social Resources
I think the policies outlined in the Queen’s Speech are a real indication of which party really cares about the people of this country.
For the financially disadvantaged: – a savings gateway
For young people: – the ambitious aim of eradicating child poverty by 2020 will be enshrined in law, in order to force the incoming government to protect Britain’s youth at all costs.
– the widening of access to apprenticships
– early action for poorly performing schools
For minorities: – representation and respect for example through kosher and halal options of meals on wheels
– increase in positive action and closing the gender pay gap
For the sick: – further improvements to Labour’s NHS
For us all: – greater access and openess through strengthening local governments, constitutional reform and increasing the transparency of party donations
– security from the whims of banking elites through greater government control
I know who I’ll be voting for.
A Catholic school has banned the cervical cancer vaccine from being given on its premises. It cites possible side effects as its reason.
I don’t believe that for one minute. How can they justify denying young women access to life saving vaccinations? That doesn’t sound very Christian to me.