Saturday, July 04, 2009

A shock and plaudits for the NHS

So where was I? Back from Paris and ready to start political blogging again. There was just this little visit to a colo-rectal consultant to ascertain the results of a colonoscopy I had before going to France.

Result? A diagnosis of bowel cancer and instant admission to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for an ileostomy from which I emerged yesterday. I now have chemo and another operation to face if the chemo works.

But from diagnosis to surgery in 4 days? What private health cover could better that? And if you have to have colo rectal cancer then have it in Birmingham which is a centre of excellence in terms of treatment.

I have frequently said nice things about the NHS but never before have I been so personally involved in how fantastic it can be in emergencies and I had excellent pre and post operative care and excellent surgeons.

The only sad thing of course is the post code lottery. That not everyone in Britain has the same access to the excellent facilities I enjoyed because of where they live. At the moment I don't feel like postulating too much on this - I am just too grateful for living where I do.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

West is wise to stay on the sidelines

Whether the 'convincing' election victory of President Ahmedinejad was intended to reinforce his position and prove his popularity in clear and open competition, it seems to have backfired badly with supporters of Moussavi continuing to challenge the result in cities all over Iran and thousands taking to the streets despite the use of violence by police and security forces.

President Obama is absolutely right to resist the hotheads in the US - particularly in the Republican camp - who want stronger censure of the Iranian government. Obama is only too well aware that any strong actions from the Americans will lead immediately to the finger being pointed at the US as the eminence grise behind the unrest.

He has felt obliged to say something, after resolutions in Congress condemning the Iranian government, but he has remained as low key and uninvolved as possible, simply asking the Iranian government to stop 'violent and unjust action against its own people.'

Obama has to stay strong and resolute on this issue, not giving in to the hotheads of the Bush years who would have been all for labelling Iran as the 'Arch Demon of Evil' or some such rubbish by now

Friday, June 19, 2009

A wonderful week away

Last week was a wonderful escape from the turgid derrings-do of British political life as I spent a week in Paris with two friends -separately if that makes sense. I had long arranged to meet an old American friend who was holidaying there with her daughter and grandchildren and this I did. It was so good to see her again after a very long time.

My other friend is English and she and her husband are living in Paris for eight months while her husband is on an academic assignment. I spent a day with them and discovered the delights of the 5th arrondisement, a clearly upwardly mobile area on the left bank of the Seine.

It was good to be in a 'lived in' area of Paris full of cheese shops, bread shops, book shops and patisseries and away from all the tourist attractions. Of course I did a few of those as well but I preferred the quieter areas of the city.

Normal service resumes on Sunday

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What a silly blogger!!!

Apologies to readers of the blog for disappearing off to Paris on holiday and forgetting to post that I would be away for ten days. Do I have any readers left? It's clear not much has changed in my absence, MPs expenses and Gordon Brown's leadership still to the fore - although Brown does appear to have ridden the storm for a time. Now he has to be seen to learn from it.

The Iranian elections produced, not surprisingly, a victory for Ahmedinejad but the scope of revolt by the 'reformers' must have taken the Iranian authorities by surprise and now the genie is out of the bottle it will be interesting to see exactly how strong is the current regime's hold on power.

I thought President Obama walked a pretty skilful tightrope in making it clear that he was interested that due electoral process won out, and that was down to the will of the Iranian people.

Anyway now I am back in harness, I will get back to regular opinions and sorry for not letting you all know

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Last Days in the Bunker?

The events of the last few days, for any supporters of the Labour Party, have been horrible. The election results, we knew, were going to be dire but to read of Gordon Brown attempting to reshuffle his cabinet, trying to preserve an air that he had some degree of choice, was more than painful. At the same time, Ministers have been resigning all over the place - Purnell bluntly, Hutton guardedly and Flint bitchily.

Brown has a cabinet in place and, I suppose in practice, can continue to govern but he looks more and more like a dead man walking. Clearly his hands were tied by events and people have stayed in jobs simply because he does not have the clout to move them.

He appeared on television and recited his usual mantra about being the man for the job, pushing Britain out of recession etc etc and there have been calls now to unite around the new government - naturally.

But how long can this frail knocked-together group last. Brown looks like a man with a bunker mentality - going on and on pretending he is leading the nation when everyone else sees him as a lame duck. I'm sure he means what he says. He believes in his destiny. He always has. But can he not see that the ranks of those who agree with him have withered away so fast that he is almost talking to himself.

It is clear he wanted this job so badly that he is going to hang on to it unless shifted by a force of Labour opposition within the parliamentary party. If Gordon Brown really loves the Labour Party, he should bite the biggest bullet of his life - and hand its Premiership to someone else. With Brown at the helm the party is headed for one of its biggest electoral defeats of all time.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Labour Party on the point of implosion

Gordon Brown must today have that uncomfortable feeling of being a General without a command. With his Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, standing down over the expenses scandal and the possibility still of high profile Alistair Darling, Geoff Hoon and Hazel Blears following suit, Brown has had more bad news today when it was announced that, along with David Chayter, another expenses victim, former Minister Patricia Hewitt and Childrens Minister Beverley Hughes both announced they would not be standing at the next election, wanting 'more time with their families'

This time honoured excuse is probably a greater kiss of death for Brown than the expenses resignations. Because everyone knows its polite political speak for 'We are stuffed. I have had it. I have lost confidence in the Party under your leadership and I want out."

There are a growing number of these people and a growing danger for Brown. It is pretty clear that New Labour has fallen apart at the seams and that Brown is hanging on to salvage something from the wreckage.

He may not get the chance. As Labour's fortunes worsen , so the contempt for Brown's leadership seems to be growing within whats left of the Labour Party and he could easily be dumped before the next election. It won't save the Labour Party from electoral humiliation but maybe the Party will get the opportunity in the wilderness to renew itself and rediscover its core values.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sensible voting may be the biggest casualty

Next week on June 4th , we have the European elections and, whether you are in favour of Britain's membership of the EU or not, should provide the opportunity for the electorate to make a rational decision at the ballot box. Of course they never do, and for years the European election has been seen as the big opportunity to work off your beefs about what is happening locally.

But this year the voters anger could take a new and dangerous turn. It's OK letting off steam if your frustration and anger results in a marginal rise in the fortunes of the minor - some extreme - parties but without creating more than a ripple.

This time the expenses row which has consumed Westminster has fired voters with a fierce rage and it looks, from the polls, as if Labour - not surprisingly - is destined to feel the brunt of most of this, and the Tories somewhere behind. Perhaps more surprisingly, even the Liberal Democrats look as if they are going to be punished for being one of the major parties. Voters seem to have a 'plague on all your houses' sense about them and it looks as if the benficiaries of their wrath are going to be UKIP and the British National Party.

UKIP look like making a very strong showing but what is more worrying is that, in certain areas, the BNP could well be sending MEPs to Brussels.

I sincerely hope that British voters have a last minute injection of common sense. For all that the anger with our established politicans is justified, it will not help the cause of politics or democracy to give power to parties like the BNP, even as a knee jerk reaction. Once they get a foothold, there could be very unpleasant and unforseen results for everyone, including those who were blinded enough by anger with the system to vote for them.