There is again a lot to go through this week, but I shall, as always, attempt to keep it fairly brief...
First, following up something covered in my last digest, it's worth noting that UNITE's Len McCluskey has, as expected, welcomed Ed Miliband's proposal regarding union affiliation fees that will give the unions more of the money they will continue to collect, while making Ed-M seem responsible and competent in the eyes of those who don't realise what a sell-out it really is.
How Much Tax?
The Daily Mirror ran a typical front page headline that tried to suggest that the Coalition Government was placing a higher tax burden on 'the poor' than on 'the rich' – standard Lefty class warfare. Of course, they got it wrong, on two counts in fact.
First, as Fraser Nelson reports, there has already been a significant shift of the tax burden away from the poorer end of society and toward the better off than was operated under the previous government, or indeed any previous government.
Second, the real or effective tax level for some at the lower end can be as high as 84%, not the 36% that the Mirror splashed over its front page; and Fraser has provided the data to back up this claim. Some could even be paying 95% in effective tax.
As he says, the real issue is the slow reform of the welfare system that really needs to move on apace, as the reality of Labour's system and how it was structured was (as some have been saying all along) to trap huge numbers of people within a system that was always intended to make them dependent upon the State and be economically unable to find a realistic way out of in as many cases as James (a.k.a. Gordon) Brown in particular could devise a way to hold onto.
Not that Labour has stopped there: in order to restore and expand on that whole policy, they are secretly planning to make claiming benefits a kind of 'human right', so that it becomes a permanent and unshakeable burden and a trap for even more of us than ever before.
Again, the solution is (as with so many inadequate outcomes since 2010) a Conservative overall majority in 2015. Not only would this release their MPs and Ministers from the compromises and blockages that they are currently having to tolerate – and I have considerable inside info on this, provided to me in confidence – but it would also remove the excuse of the Lib Dems, for those who like to perceive it as such.
As I say, I know more of the truth than to fall for that easy attack line myself, but that doesn't stop others, especially UKIPpers, who seem to have made a career out of it.
Lord Ashcroft has an enormously respected record of extensive and detailed opinion polling, and among his latest commissioned work has been the result that a lot of ideas being floated by some within the Conservative fraternity, including some MPs, is just fantasy politics that has little if any public support. He has been looking specifically at what has been labelled The Alternative Queen's Speech: it is the speech that is different, not the Queen, I hasten to add(!)
As the Noble Lord. says, those policies are not the way to a parliamentary majority in the next General Election. Although there is no harm in looking at these side issues in private (they make for useful mental exercise, especially in terms of inventiveness and thinking outside the box), but it isn't a good idea to promote such ideas in public.
However, now that this had been done, it did at least afford Lord Ashcroft a suitable opportunity to teach us the hard-knock lesson of life regarding such things, so I suspect this is the last Alternative Queen's Speech we shall encounter from this government...
Beeb Traps Itself
Charles Moore looks at the BBC this week, and finds all manner of interesting things, some of which I and others already knew. It is worth going through the whole piece. The most striking conclusions, inescapable though they are (in more than one senses of the word), are that (a) the Beeb has, in effect, trapped itself into reporting only what suits its people's own outlooks, and (b) employing only like-minded people.
This seems to be irreconcilable, no matter what anyone tries to do, so almost certainly cannot be solved in any way that leaves the BBC essentially intact. As a number of commenters and observers have been saying for years, it has to be broken up and sold off as a commercial enterprise that will in future need to compete directly in the marketplace, not hold a privileged position outside and above the real marketplace. The licence fee (in reality an anachronistic stealth tax) must then go as well, and rightly so!
Medway Maritime Hospital
Our local hospital – the one where I was taken when I had my 'incident' a couple of years ago – is one of the fourteen that were looked at specifically in the recent inquiry, and of which eleven have now been placed in so-called 'specisl measures'. Whether or not the media were right to latch onto the 'excess mortality rates' as the single big factor is challenged by FullFact, with some justification, though it shouldn't be dismissed as a measure, having considerably validity nonetheless.
The Keogh report contains a number of colour-coded tables to show the level of quality at each of those hospitals in various areas and a range of aspects of each. It has to be said that the Medway came out not all that badly overall, but a moderate number of areas needing attention did get highlighted.
In a sense, all this is good news, in that it had been going on for years yet nothing was being done about it. The previous Labour government treated the NHS almost as a kind of sacred cow, and it is known that the then Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, refused to countenance dealing with any complaint and instead preferred to hide it all away and pretend that all was well.
That has been documented in several places, though with differing numbers of formal complaints, so there isn't a single source I can quote with a hundred percent confidence on that particular aspect. The 'NHS as a religion' meme is covered very well by Rev. Dr Peter Mullen at Cranmer's 'blog, and helps one understand just what it is like to some and what that means in practice.
It will come as no surprise that Lefties treat the NHS as an entity as the be-all and end-all, and that (as always with the Left, as I have reminded readers numerous times) the individual has no value. Paul Goodman covers this in his piece for ConHome.
When the subject was aired in the House of Commons, perhaps inevitably – and certainly predictably – it became something of a blame game. Now, there are those who don't like that in politics, and I tend to go along with that view myself as an ideal; but if one doesn't realise and understand how we got to a particular point and why, and especially if some are spreading misinformation, then it becomes difficult or even impossible to find a proper and lasting solution.
Take it from an old hand in the public sector who has seen it all before...
Indeed, as Douglas Carswell MP reports, Labour MPs were far more interested in making it out to be about them than caring about the multiple deaths and other ills at the hospitals. Self-serving to the end, their 'phoney rage' (as Douglas puts it) attempts to divert attention away from the actual issues.
Meanwhile, local Medway MP Mark Reckless welcomes the support that the special measures will apparently provide to Medway Maritime Hospital. We shall have to wait and see what this will turn out to be in practice, but Mark's words in the linked article do make for illuminating reading about how the three Medway-based MPs have approached the matter of our local hospital and its deficiencies and needs.