Monday, 30 August 2010

Saving Labour's Souls

Labour's rather bizarre obsession with “saving” NHS direct is a very timely reminder of their completely arse over tit approach to public services.

Let's not lose sight of one basic fact here. NHS Direct is not a front line service. It is a helpdesk. Helpdesks exist to do one thing, to take cost out of an organisation. At the most basic level, they are there are a buffer between the customer and the service delivery function and that is true of all organisations from British Gas to QVC and especially the NHS.

Think of it this way. The basic need for a person with an illness is to contact their own doctor. This is simply not practical unless access is controlled in some way. It is completely unrealistic for a GP to be contactable at all hours of the day and night direct by a patient and the cost of providing 24 hour on demand GP availability just in case of a call is prohibitive, The more you can intercept and deal with requests for access by utilising resources using decreasing levels of cost, the more efficient the service. It's called demand management. NHS Direct was a model that attempted to reduce costs by deploying fully qualified nurses as call centre staff to serve as medical dictionaries or automated reminders to call their doctor's surgery to book an appointment. This is not a a sensible use of anyone’s money... except in the crazy world of Labour-Leadership-Election-onomics.

The fact that Labour place it up there with heart operations and cancer treatment as worthy of gnashing and grinding of teeth reveals yet another great vacuous hole in their reasoning and exposes them as a party bereft of any sort of raison d'ĂȘtre. They only have one policy now and that is to be against everything that anyone else is for and this extends to things that they previously supported.

I wish them well in their pit of despair. Vacillating between sheer hatred of Lib Dems then sucking up as saviours of the Labour way shows a deeply flawed understanding of Liberal Democracy. We do not accept Labour as having any sort of moral compass that we should follow and the Iraq war destroyed even that belief within their own party. The people who really should be considering their positions are Labour Party members who see nothing wrong with treating their core support like scum, rewarded the rich with tax breaks, shafted the nation to keep their chums the bankers sweet and are as morally bankrupt as their party is financially bankrupt. After 13 years of government a party that left the poor worse off than when they came to power can really does consist of what they themsleves once would call class traitors, all backed by trade union leaders with six figure salaries.

As a Lib Dem, believing in a strong NHS and defending its services free at the point of use does not mean continuing with Labour's predeliction to p!ss public money up the wall.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Only Looney Left in Town

And when the sun is shining down
On this little mining town
People come from miles around
To see the funny snarling clowns
But not you
You were the one I liked best
You were the grooviest dressed
The only looney left in town
Carter USM

It is enormously entertaining to see the Labour leadership candidates vying to be prolier-than-thou.. After painting themselves as the future of old Labour, a quick cold shower is required to scrub away those hard to shift Brown stains. Squeaky clean and invigorated, the new Labour leader will step, Bobby Ewing like, out of the shower into the arms of an adoring public who will be throwing rose petals at his feet as losing the election is revealed to be all a bad dream.

That plan might just have worked if they hadn't started squabbling: "I was completely against the war in Iraq." "I was more against the war more than you were." "My brother and I had our fingers crossed behind our backs so our support didn't count proper." Yes, everyone does wake up but it would appear that everyone is actually in in David Cameron's dream.

Labour has a huge problem hanging over it. All parties run at a deficit to some extent, but Labour's failure, like their reliance on profits from the banks to prop up the state, was to not plan for the bad times. And what genius of a union strategist took their cue from the Arthur Scargill book General Secretarying for Dummies and chose not to pick a fight with Labour when in Government, but suddenly woke up when it was too late, they were out of power and unable to deliver a bag of groceries. Union members have got precious little in return for their political levy.

Whilst Edmilliballs vie for the caretaker position, I'm no fan of hers but Diane Abbott should be their next leader reflecting the views of the rank and file more that the Parliamentary Party. But they won't because she's a girl.

Labour will have another leadership contest before the next election, that much is pretty much guaranteed, so the winner this time doesn't really matter. It really doesn't.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The People's Republic of Reading Festival

Last year I wrote about Reading Festival. I admit that it's always been my favourite festival and that was before I moved to Reading.

I was on standby to do some humping (it's a technical term so stop giggling at the back) for the 1986 festival, but in the end they had enough stage crew so I missed the cut. My first Festival was in 1987 which started with the Friday night goth fest of which a few bootleg tapes may exist. Okay, one set of bootleg tapes exist. Okay, I admit it. I taped: The Mission, Zodiac Mindwarp, Fields of the Nephilim and The Bolshoi. That's when I learned that Festival crowd recordings aren't a good idea.

Not only was it my first Reading Festival and bootlegging the bands but also smuggling in cans of beer for my mates in my stage pass encrusted flight case. So it's not without a certain irony that 23 years later I find myself responsible for a large number of areas in the council that make up the Festival. Licensing, food safety, health & safety, environmental health, litter and trading standards.

In 1990 I was offered a job working for See Factor, who were a major world wide tour company, working on lighting in New York and I have many friends still in the industry. I decided to carry on with IT. Yet, one way or another it seems I was going to end up here!

Now I wonder if I can have a word with the Libertines and ask one of their members why they stole my guest pass for the 2007 festival from Creation Records' office? Any no, it wasn't Pete Doherty!