There has been so much going on this week that I have had to miss out a few of the less interesting topics; but there's plenty of good material available via the links below, and hopefully my accompanying notes will be useful too. I am doing this with a less-than-clear head, so it might not come out quite right in places, but I'll do my best...
Covering It Up
Probably the biggest story of the past week (and more) has been the ongoing revelations about just how much trouble within the National Health Service (NHS) was kept hidden by the then minister Andy Burnham, especially toward the end of the previous decade because of the electoral damage the truth might well do to Labour in the May 2010 General Election.
The Standard has a useful item on Basildon and Thurrock hospitals, and of course we already knew of the mid-Staffs scandal. There are no doubt others, as the sheer numbers of reports of issues seems to keep growing by the day, from scores to hundreds, and now (apparently) thought to be somewhere around a thousand, plus or minus. In fact, no-one seems to have reached the end of the trail as yet, so that number is likely to continue to grow – unless it is suppressed, that is.
The whole contention that has inevitably been propounded is that the NHS was not safe with Labour, and certainly wasn't fit for purpose. Anecdotes from several trustworthy sources I know personally reveal a true catalogue of poor practice and, frankly, idiocy in many areas. It would be embarrassing to the decent NHS staff to have these revealed here, tempting though it is to use a few examples to show that this is all genuine.
I could provide at least another half-dozen links to good, useful articles on this topic; but I don't think they are needed at this time. If that should change, I'll post additional links (probably updated or new) in the weeks to come.
As I have mentioned before, the NHS model is not a good fit for today's world and its needs and capabilities, and the NHS is regarded by many with knowledge of other countries' medical services to be considerably inferior. That's why it needs a proper reform exercise, to bring it up to a standard fit for the twenty-first century. These issues are fundamental and can no longer be metaphorically swept under the carpet: they need to be tackled, and now.
It's A Gotcha!
As regular readers will by now have got the message I keep exemplifying, Lefties tend to be dishonest, manipulative and hypocritical. Indeed, I have never in my (fairly long) life met even one that hasn't been at least one of those, and most have repeatedly demonstrated at least two of those traits.
The truly ghastly Mehdi Hasan has been caught out in respect of his attitude toward the Daily Mail, switching around completely from one occasion he has reason to mention them to the next. See Mr Steerpike's post at The Spectator, complete with a short clip from BBC Question Time on which he appeared last week and where the hypocrisy became evident.
Now, there might be a little leeway one can allow, bearing in mind that a job application was one side of this picture and the first part of story dates to a couple of years or so ago; but this was way beyond what could be allowed for in that context. Read Mr Steerpike's post, also this by Guido and this at Trending Central, and then think about how it would be if you were in the same position. It's a good little exercise to try...
On the topic of Question Time, this from The Commentator illustrates yet again just how blatantly biased the BBC is, with yet another heavily-slanted programme in the series, as most of them are now. I have to confess I no longer bother with it: as I am no longer a moderator for the old LiveChat for the programme (because CoverItLive broke their 'it'll never cost you a penny' promise and made it untenable) there is no compelling reason for me to sit through all that carefully-engineered Socialist propaganda and manipulation – so I don't.
Another big issue that is still rumbling around Westminster, because a Bill about it is coming up, is press freedom-vs-regulation post-Leveson. Lord Justice Leveson has this week appeared before Members, but gave bo answers, evading replying instead. The whole thing is in danger of more-or-less freewheeling into something like how the old Soviet Union worked, with the government effectively dictating what could and could be said, and how it was to be presented.
We do not need a Pravda/Izvestia type of media scene in Britain! The criminal law as it exists already covers all angles, so there is no need for any new regulations. Perhaps Fraser Nelson has the best approach to tackling the issue once and for all: by enshrining media independence and freedom (within the law) in a Bill of Rights. Otherwise it's going to pop up again and again, whenever there is a media scandal, rather than correctly applying the relevant existing law or laws to deal with it properly and to most if not all people's satisfaction.
Shuffling the Deck
All three major parties have been having a re-shuffle of their ministers/shadows this past week. Labour's was most notable for keeping Andy Butnham, despite all the revelations as I mentioned above. A junior shadow minister for health has been moved instead. Either Burnham 'knows where the bodies are buried' as the saying goes, or Len McCluskey told Ed[ward] Miliband to keep him in post as shadow health secretary.
I can't think of any other likely reason; but it makes Ed-M look weak by not having what it takes to get him out of the shadow cabinet. Overall, it does look like a McCluskey-driven set of changes, as any Blairite members (such as Jim Murphy, Stephen Twigg and Liam Byrne) are now out, and hard Left types are in. It has been a true lurch to the left by Ed-M, as many pundits predicted and have also recognised once the news came out.
The Lib Dems' reshuffle was fairly low-key, and doesn't really warrant further mention. For the Conservatives, David Cameron made some interesting changes to some junior appointments, but (as expected) left the front-bench team untouched. There was no secret made of this plan, though it seems to have surprised one or two commentators...
Guido ran a rolling 'blog of the reshuffle details as they came in, and the completed record is here. I find it convenient because of its colour coding that makes it easy to concentrate on one party at a time if desired, or to simply go through it chronologically if that is preferred.
Energy Price Fixing
?The Labour leader's big new populist policy is to rig (i,e fix, or dictate if you prefer that term) energy prices for 24 months if he should become Prime Minister in 2015.
Sounds good, doesn't it? Well, it was supposed to. Of course, those of us with experience of Labour governments trying this sort of stunt in the past well remember the blackouts because the power supply couldn't be maintained to all customers at all times.
With the decay in our own power station capability, EU directives closing down perfectly serviceable power stations and a lack of any proper energy provision for the future during Labour's previous thirteen years in government, the situation is likely to be a lot more severe this time than it was back in the 'seventies. I still have powerful and enduring memories of those times, and it was not good. Price fixing will mean insufficient funds to invest in whatever is required to meet future need.
The National Grid is already warning of blackout risk this winter, although that shouldn't happen in practice as other sources are available to us.
Not that Ed-M cares about that: all he wanted was something attractive that he could 'sell' to enough of the less alert sections of the electorate, simply to help him win the next election. That was and is his only consideration, and it is obvious with a couple of moments' thought. As this at Trending Central indicates, several major energy providers already offer fixed-price tariffs for even longer periods, as well as providing other information to show that this 'policy' is in reality essentially a con-trick – and it will cost us all a lot!.
Actually, all forms of Leftward politics ends up killing people, as oppression and fear are the only way they can maintain their steely grip on the citizenry. The fabled New World Order of which James (a.k.a. Gordon) Brown spoke so often is to be a totalitarian dictatorship, and is largey in place in key chunks of the world.
Often the Left-wing régimes we have encountered during the last century or so have been mass-murderers as well, though trying to ascertain accurate numbers is difficult for various reasons, from lack of record-keeping to artificial famine in areas without accurate census data, and suchlike.
I don't have all the information – though longer-term readers of this 'blog will recall that I have posted a table showing recorded and estimated numbers murdered, by date, country, régime and event. The middle column of that table seems to be borne out by a new book that seeks to document it all as authoritatively as possible. That number was around a hundred million.
The third column in the table I posted showed what it might have been in reality – more than founle that number – but this will almost certainly never be possible to verify or refute. The bottom line is that Communism (or Socialism, which is essentially the same thing, as the likes of Stalin and Lenin have both attested) is in that business and does not care how many it kills.
The iron grip, reinforced by fear, is all that counts with the evil that is all Leftism, without any exception. Those who claim otherwise are either being dishonest or just aren't bright enough to understand the overwhelming and unambiguous concrete evidence that is easily found in general terms. For the closest to accurate figures, though, Stephane Courtois' Black Book is probably the best source currently available.
The Cancer Called Labour
Not my words, but Sean Thomas in The Telegraph. Although he tends to lay it on a little thick, he is correct; and this also follows on neatly from my previous item in this digest. The contention is that the Blair/Brown government was 'the worst ever' – which is very much a judgment call, though I'd agree without hesitation that it was one of the very worst, and one of the most evil, too.
Beyond that is hard to be definitive on, but Sean could well be right. Anyway, it's not all that long and worth going through, if only as a reminder of some things that might have slipped our minds with the passage of years. The section on education, toward the end, is a sobering reminder, expressed in stark terms, of just how bad we had become.
And that's it for now. I have some other quite usable material, but this is starting to become long again, so I shall stop here. I might do a supplementary digest after an overnight think: we shall see...