Wednesday 29 August 2012

Letter 82: Nick Clegg and his mansion tax - "Man for All Seasons" or just Conference season?

"Dear Nick,
I saw an article in the Guardian today reporting in preparation for the return to Parliament this autumn, you are calling for the redistribution of wealth. I wonder...does this show that you are"a man for all seasons" ie: prepared to stand up for your beliefs, or really just a man for Conference season? Though I'd like to believe your fine words, it's so hard because we've been caught out before. And we all know that whilst you call for a "mansion tax" today, just a few months ago you gave a tax cut of over £40,000 to many thousands of millionaires. Very hard to square in these tough economic times.

While I have your attention, I'd like to also request that if you SERIOUSLY intend bringing David Laws back into the Cabinet (and might I stress here that I am not suggesting Mr Laws has broken any criminal law) might you also consider offering some work to ***** I*****? Ms I***** (name withheld) is a single mother of four, who whilst unemployed failed to declare living with a partner and claimed something like £40,000 in Housing Benefit. She received 6 months imprisonment for doing so. I'm sure she had her reasons and all credit to her, is now paying back the money she owes. She might appreciate some fairness and equality. After all, didn't you yourself say when writing about MP's expenses in The Telegraph, 2009: "If we want to rebuild faith in politics, there can be no half measures." 

Best wishes, etc

PS The parsnips? Painted because I'm wondering about your fine words."

Friday 24 August 2012

Letter 81: Schemes to sell social housing and NHS abroad? Duh! It's the economy, stupid!

"Dear Dave,
You're not serious are you? All that talk on Monday suggesting the sale of council houses in more affluent areas so people who are poor can live over there somewhere (at this point I shall control the urge to flick my nosegay about in a dismissive, Marie Antoinette manner) with the other, less wealthy people. I know it's one of those inspired, "blindingly obvious" ideas from one of your favourite right wing think tanks, but really? Surely if you were going to address the issues of homelessness, lack of social housing or even affordable housing come to that you would have:
a) Already given George the nod to borrow money to build some council houses. (Without waiting for stagnation, of course).
b) Encouraged councils to invest in their current housing stock.
c) Dealt with all those landlords making a killing, which the taxpayer frequently gets to pay for(Why do you blame people on benefits for the inflated rents charged by landlords, by the way?)

Just think, if you had done these things, the nation would see you providing a boost for the building industry, meeting the needs of those on lower incomes, stopping exploitation and decreasing the bill to the taxpayer. How good would that be for you in the polls? More importantly, you wouldn't be accused of favouring the rich, creating possible ghettos, nor failing to see the importance of a mixed community for social cohesion. 
(Coughs quietly, remembering August LAST year).

Ok, lets leave that for a while... How about the other news story of the week, that your government is thinking of selling NHS services abroad to generate revenue? Sorry to repeat myself, but really? I don't even understand why you want to raise the international profile of our health service - you've been telling us for the past two years that it's a shocking mess and need to be overhauled. Who'd want to buy into it if it's such a disappointment? Isn't there enough going on to worry about a new money spinner? It's surprising you are not concerned that you might appear more interested in commercialisation than patients. Especially when people realise that private healthcare companies seem to be registering in the Cayman Islands - aren't all those millions of pounds of uncollected UK tax a legitimate revenue stream for HMRC to pursue? Significantly more would be brought in that way and the NHS would then be allowed to focus on patients, not profits. I was stumped - why would you even contemplate such ideas, unless of course there was something else on your mind, distracting you... And as Wednesday's one o' clock news rolled in dragging behind it those (much) worse than expected borrowing figures, the penny dropped. 
Duh! It's the economy, stupid!

Best wishes, etc"

Saturday 11 August 2012

Letter 80: An Economy without a pulse and life-threatening cuts to ambulance cover

"Dear Dave,
Just another quick question...
I tore myself away from the Olympics earlier this week to watch Mervyn King announce that the Economy currently has no pulse. He also suggested that though there will be jam tomorrow, he doesn't know when exactly it will arrive and warned us not to expect too much of it. Reading that the UK trade deficit had hit a new record, I wondered how much worse it has to get before you cut back on cutting back.
"Good job" I thought to myself, "that George doesn't need to call out an ambulance to revive our financial fortunes. Reason being, he might be as shocked as I was to learn that NHS medical staff with only EIGHT WEEKS TRAINING are doing the jobs of qualified paramedics because of cuts to budgets. The Daily Mail reported that Emergency Care Assistants are being put in charge of ambulances attending life-threatening incidents such as heart attacks, chest pains and breathing difficulties. Is that true? And is it also true that these ECAs cannot administer life-saving drugs because they haven't had the three years of training given to paramedics? Surely this is all putting people's lives at risk?
Best wishes, etc"

Friday 10 August 2012

Letter 79: "Bottling the Volunteering Spirit" v Advice from the Olympians

"Dear Dave,
In a week that marks a year since the riots, it seems that everyone is talking not just about how well Team GB has done, but also about how we can nurture all the enthusiasm and goodwill brought by the Games. Things would not have run so smoothly had so many people not offered their time for free and today I heard that you, so impressed by their generosity, want to "bottle the volunteering spirit" and carry it forward. However, before you begin yet another relaunch of the Big Society (sixth, if I'm correct) might we stop and look at your own government's "Olympic Legacy"? These are the bald facts: having permitted Michael Gove to scrap the £160m School Sport Partnership Scheme, approved the sale of more than 20 schools playing-fields, removed the targets requiring all schoolchildren to take part in at least two hours of sport per week, you yourself then blamed state school teachers for a reduction in the number of hours dedicated to school sport. All your talk of keeping that Olympic spirit alive appears to be empty rhetoric. Your legacy currently appears to be a series of misjudged policies which will effectively squander the hopes of future athletes and benefits to schoolchildren in general. Why are you wasting the perfect opportunity to build on the fantastic achievements of people like Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford, Andy Murray, Bradley Wiggins, Helen Glover and Victoria Pendleton - the athletes from state schools and role models to us all. Though it's commendable to want to inspire people, why do you talk of the Olympic spirit and competitiveness and yet offer no government funding? If you really seek a healthy, motivated, inclusive society where people live tolerantly and peaceably together, surely government funding and policy has to properly underpin it? And there is no point inspiring young people if you do not give them the resources to fullfil that ambition

That bottling of the volunteering spirit concerns me... wouldn't it be awful if, in your enthusiasm to save money and relaunch the Big Society, you failed to heed the very clear messages sent by the experts in the (sports) field?
Because I'd hate for you to go off on the wrong track, I'll repeat them for you : 

Laura Trott, (TWO cycling golds on her Olympics debut) :
“Funding is very important - it is the key to our sport, really. We would be lost without it.”
Chris Hoy : 
"Me and Jason Quealy, and some of the others, remember when it was run on a shoestring budget. It was very different, and we weren't anywhere near as successful."
Lord Moynihan, British Olympic Association Chairman : 
"It is right some (teachers) would not choose to stay on after school to teach sport but there are a lot that would...We need to give them the tools to do the job - the time and the facilities."
Darryl Seibel, spokesman for The British Olympic Association : 
“You have to have the funding to attract the best coaches, the best technology and the best team. So the money is not everything but it is an absolutely critical element."
Dame Kelly Holmes :
"my view for what it's worth: PE compulsory min 2 hours, Designated Primary school PE teachers and make stronger links between schools, communities & sport clubs."

With best wishes, etc"

Friday 3 August 2012

Letter 78: Dave serves Nick a Cleggie on Lords Reform

"Dear Nick
How upsetting... It would appear that you have after all, been 
strung along 
by Dave on Lords Reform.
Can you remind us again just what the Liberal Democrats are getting out of Coalition?
With best wishes, etc"

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Letter 77: "I'll cut the deficit, not the NHS"

"Dear Dave,
 Is it true?
That Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust is spending £30 million of NHS money on reorganising our health service while nurses in the Trust clean wards, as due to cost cutting measures, cleaners are not available?
Nurses are trained to NURSE. Cleaners are trained to CLEAN. Compromising cleaning puts patients at risk. And cost cutting makes us all ask: What happened to "I'LL CUT THE DEFICIT, NOT THE NHS"?
With best wishes, etc"