Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Before I head out and get too drunk to type, I just wanted to wish everyone a very happy new year. I've always thought it's a bit of a daft thing to celebrate, but frankly in this day and age we don't have enough opportunities to see friends and family and have a good time. So here's to to calendar!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Burnham Flip-Flops On NHS Parking

A story from September:

"Health Secretary Andy Burnham says Labour hopes to scrap hospital parking charges for in-patients in England if the party wins the next election. He said patients would get a permit to cover the length of their stay which visitors could use to park for free."

A story from today:

"Andy Burnham has outlined proposals to phase out hospital parking charges for inpatients and some outpatients which he says have caused 'great resentment'.

The health secretary pledged a 'fairer' system for relatives and friends of people admitted to hospital in England. He said an eight-week consultation would ensure plans were affordable at a time of pressure on NHS finances.

The consultation is looking at whether to abolish fees for all inpatients' visitors - or just those admitted for a long stay."

It's as clear a flip-flop as you're likely to see. First, the plan is for visitors to have passes allowing them to park for free. But now that particular aspect of plan needs to be consulted on. I also love the way the word 'fairness' is creeping in to every single Labour announcement, in an attempt to draw Brown's famous dividing lines with the Tories. Quite how it's fair to charge anyone for parking when they visit a hospital is beyond me, but I'm sure Burnham knows what he's talking about.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Government Stealing From NHS Charities

This story in the Mail is doing the rounds this morning:

"Ministers have been accused of planning to seize control of £2billion in assets managed by hospital charities.

Critics called the move a secret plan to slash NHS spending. More than £300million handed over every year in donations to children's hospitals and cancer charities could be 'nationalised'.

Under new rules coming into force in April, hospitals will have to list the income and assets from their charitable arms on their main balance sheet.

There are fears that this will see donations to health charities subsumed into the general health budget, which already faces huge strains due to Britain's soaring budget deficit."

What I find interesting about this is that I've already seen it happen. When an old lady in my village passed away a couple of years ago, leaving no family members - she bequeathed her entire estate to the local cottage hospital that had cared for her during her final months. However, because of a technicality - she had left the money to the hospital, rather than the hospital's charitable fund - the Department of Health swooped in and claimed the money for itself, to incorporate into the central NHS budget. It took over a year to rectify the situation, even with the support of a local Conservative MP and the media.

The fact that the Department of Health now looks to be making this sort of money grab a more commonplace occurrence is very worrying indeed.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

I know I mentioned it yesterday, but it was somewhat entangled with bitterness.

I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and - as is customary - a fantastic New Year as well.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Leftie Christmas Hypocrisy

Large-bottomed leftie and general annoyance Arabella Weir once said, regarding the possibility of Boris Johnson winning in London:

"I will go on hunger strike and throw myself in front of the next horse at Ascot if he wins. Failing that I was going to say I'll sleep with him, but he'd probably say yes. So instead I'll chain myself to the railings of his house. And then I'll move out of London. How do we trust a guy who says he knows about London, when he's just taken three of his kids out of state school and put them into private schools? That's a man in touch with the people. He's loathsome. He's everything that's wrong with the upper classes at their worst. Limited, pompous, without any breadth of vision or sense of inclusion. But I don't even think he thinks he's up to the job. He said it for a laugh, is my guess, and now he's got to go through with it."

As far as I am aware, she is still to move out of London. I certainly haven't seen a self-important press release stating as such and, as she's a self-important leftie, you could bet your house on one being forthcoming if she were actually to do it.

But it's also very interesting to see her prattle on about the 'upper classes', especially in the light of her latest TV appearance. She featured as one of the guests on three-Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal's Christmas Feast programme.

That's right; Ms. Arabella 'I'm in touch with the common folk, would never send my kids to private school, and aren't rich people awful' Weir, agreed to be a series known for producing extravagant and luxurious dishes cooked by one of the best chefs in the world. I presume that had, say, Boris Johnson, gone on this programme, that would have been absolutely ghastly? But of course it's absolutely okay for a champagne socialist to gorge themselves on caviar, ambergris, silver-dusted chocolate and loin of venison.

A very merry and absolutely non-lefty Christmas to you all.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Classic Irony

Driving through the home counties earlier today, and saw a sign for 'Lapland Experience'.

Stuck over the sign was a piece of paper saying "Sorry, closed because of snow."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another BBC Moment

Observe the screenshot below, taken from the BBC Politics page at 5.30pm today. You'll note that a Conservative MP has been ordered to repay £9,500. You'll also note that an MP of indeterminate party leanings has denied making a claim for repairs to a bell tower - even though the evidence clearly shows he didn't differentiate between the bell tower and the other items in his claim. As we know, it's Jeremy Hunt in the first case, and Labour's own defecting toff Quentin Davies in the second. Can anyone fathom a guess as to why 'Labour' is missing from the headline about their naughty MP, whereas 'Conservative' is not? Or, for that matter, why in the Labour MP's case it's the denial that's the angle of the story, rather than the claim itself?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Who Is This Man?

Yes, just who is this slender-faced, smiling, confident and youthful looking man? Apparently it's the Prime Minister himself, though you'd never guess it without the caption. This is the image Labour currently use on their website for Brown's biography page; either it's from several years ago, or he has been treated to an epic amount of airbrushing.

Brown has form in this regard. I remember last year - and if someone finds it for me I'll give them an online pat on the back - Guido had a story about a photo of Brown used in a new policy document about health and fitness, or something along those lines. The photo was from 1995 or thereabouts, and captured Brown looking far more appropriate for the paper's subject.

Don't You Know Who I Am?

I'm wondering if Harriet Harman has secretly been promoted to some level of importance beyond that of the Queen. Because, if not, I'm struggling to understand how the following stories are consistent with each other.

From the Mail:

"The Queen is to be forced to go through an identity check every time she flies into and out of Britain.

For the first time, Her Majesty will be compelled to give her full name, age, address, nationality, gender and place of birth to immigration officials, who will then check that she is not on a list of wanted terrorists."

And from the Guardian:

"Harriet Harman was facing the prospect of acute political embarrassment today after a decision to prosecute her for allegedly driving without due care and attention and driving while using a mobile phone.

A witness was reported to have said that after the accident Harman wound down the window of her red Fiesta and allegedly said: "I'm Harriet Harman. You know where you can get hold of me."

So the Queen, who is on our money and stamps, and who is one of the most recognisable people in the world, has to confirm who she is every time she enters her own country? But Harriet Harman, known principally for hating men and being a thorn in the side of common sense, appears able to leave the scene of an accident with a cursory snifter of information?