Friday, 24 August 2012
Letter 81: Schemes to sell social housing and NHS abroad? Duh! It's the economy, stupid!
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"