I’m a keen follower of all sports but have just about had enough of the endless game of political ping pong that our friends in Westminster are playing with the NHS.
Was it not just before the 1997 election that the arch liar Blair said the country had one week in which to save the NHS? Well, in the 11 years his party was in power – they didn’t. Equally the Tories are unable to grasp the nettle and seem more intent on pouring more money in rather than employing a smaller and more professionally run management team, who would make the budget go further. I have witnessed first hand the waste in hospitals and it is incredible. In its present form the NHS is a basket case – the more you pour in the more that runs out.
This problem is symptomatic of any enterprise that is managed and staffed by civil servants. It is no great secret that civil servants get very generous pension rights – far more so than those in the private sector. This suggests to me that a vast proportion of these employees take up their jobs with one eye on the clock and their other on their eventual bloated pension pot, which incidentally the taxpayer funds in its entirety. In other words, their working life is no more than a conduit to retirement.
I am reliably informed that policemen can retire on a full salary pension after 27 years of service and shock horror – 80% of them unfortunately suffer from stress at this exact point in their working life. Now wouldn’t it be better if they were paid more in the first place, funded their own pensions and perhaps thought more of the job while they had it. This would have several positives – there would be many more experienced Bobbies at the top, you would need less trainees at the bottom and there would be less retired policemen flouncing about at the age of 50 with a full pension and a different profession. I rather suspect that this scenario is applicable right across the entire civil service.
If there was a common sense party it would be music to my ears – and it just so happens that classical music and opera are also music to my ears. It is just a tad surprising though to learn that the part time music director of the Royal Opera House is one Antonio Pappano who is on a salary of £566,000. We are told that this individual works “really hard and gives value for money” to this organisation, which is subsidised by the taxpayer to the tune of £24 million a year. More waste – which just goes to prove that those with their fingers in the public purse have not got one jot of an idea as to the value of one pound sterling.
I know that some readers of this column tend to think I dwell far too much on the bad news, so to pander to their sensitivities I can report some good news for parents who are bereft of ideas to entertain their teenage and adolescent children. They can remind their offspring that they can still buy alcohol 24 hours a day and they can still buy legal highs on any high street.
It doesn’t matter that these items will ruin their livers or addle their brains because our government will pour more money into the NHS to care for them. If you are a fox, a badger or a raptor, there are more people out there who care for your welfare than worry one jot for those who have to work with livestock. If you are a dog lover, not only do you not need a licence to own one, but you can import your chosen breed from anywhere in Europe, not only with a forged veterinary certificate but also stuffed full with a condom containing drugs if you so require.
P&O Ferries can easily export live farm animals from the Republic of Ireland to the continent without any hassle – but this facility has not yet reached Dover. There are fewer reports of rural crime – largely because it’s a complete waste of time reporting it. There are now only 30,000 18 to 21 year olds who are out of work and on housing benefits – not only have they no job, but presumably no parents either. Labelling of food items has been developed into an art form – very informative but you still can’t find which country your processed meat comes from. And lastly if you are an illegal immigrant be sure to ditch your passport before the authorities find you. But if you are a cow or a sheep without an ear tag you’d better hide in the log shed for fear that your owner be hounded by DEFRA and the Rural Payments Agency forever.
I remain calm! Even calm enough to take management to our local supermarket in search of pasta. We found the right aisle after 10 minutes and management pounced on a half kilo packet of authentic Italian penne costing £1.40 (£2,800 per ton). I soon got bored of picking out bargains so wandered off to another aisle and lo and behold found a three kilo bag of exactly the same product for £2 (£666 per ton). Now if I was a hard working pasta maker in Italy, I’d be chucking away those big bags! The moral to this story is that when Tesco finally understands the true meaning of value to both their supplier and consumers, they might have a chance of stopping their shares being in free fall.
Finally, I have just heard the news that Brussels is demanding £1.7 billion from the UK because our economy is better than expected, while France and Germany will get a rebate. This is a political move by the European parliament, who would rather see Labour reelected next year and turn our country again into the lame duck of Europe, rather than the front runner under the Tories. Cameron – stand up for your country – better still, stand up for OUR country!