Friday, 17 April 2015

Ed's Groundhog Day

I shared a video on Facebook yesterday. It was a video of Ed Miliband repeating himself rather than listen to the questions from an interviewer. I would have left it there but I got a comment that the reason why poor Ed had to repeat himself was because of bad interviewing typical of right wing media.

Here is the clip and the responses. You can make up your own mind.

My initial comment was:
I am saddened by this video. W.S. Gilbert told us over a century ago that politicians leave their brains outside the House of Commons. It's still going on.

The reply:
Interviewers ask questions but don't listen to the answers. This is typical of the right wing media. Hence poor Ed having to repeat himself. There has been reckless and provocative government action but the interviewer still doesn't get it!

And my reply:
The first question was about Ed's leadership. The second was about the Tory Party's private and public image. Ed almost answered the third question about whether he has spoken privately with union leaders but then goes on to repeat himself. The fourth question is whether Ed, as a parent has been personally affected and again Ed almost answers the question before repeating himself. I remain saddened and it is Ed who should put aside the rhetoric.

This video is from 2011 and maybe the most surprising aspect is that I haven't seen it before. How did this ignorance and repetition not make headlines? I don't think Ed will have improved with age. In fact he is being backed by his supporters even now. They will say that the tape is obviously fake. Well here is the original BBC video.

It looks like we live in a world in which a potential prime minister can act like a broken record and nobody notices.

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Monday, 13 April 2015


The election campaign has started and leaflets are being delivered, mostly by the post office. So if you get more than one leaflet from a party then the chances are that they have used their free delivery service and they have gone on to pay a lot of money to get their message over to you twice.

There is another way that you can hear about the views of your candidates and that's at a hustings meeting. No individual party can organise this as all the others would refuse to attend. Often these meetings are organised by Churches Together and unlike the TV debates you usually only get one chance to listen to local candidates.

If you live in Morecambe and Lunesdale then your chance is at More Music in Morecambe from 7pm on Tuesday 14th April. I'll be there and so will many of the party faithful of all the candidates. That's the trouble. These hustings don't reach out to the electorate. In fact the sitting MP didn't attend in 2010 probably because there must be a feeling that there are no votes in it.

It is worth attending the hustings meeting as however important this meeting is to the candidates it is the only chance that the electorate gets to see through the party propaganda and let's them make their own mind up.

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Thursday, 5 March 2015

More Role Models

I've just seen Jonny Evans from Manchester United and Papiss Cisse from Newcastle try to foul each other a few times. I didn't see much of the football. Oh yes and they spat at each other. Louis Van Gall, the Manchester United manager was reported to have said that his player should not be found guilty. On the BBC website he is reported as saying "I don't think Jonny Evans is a spitter. Maybe spitting on the floor, but we were on the bench and you cannot see from there." It's a nonsense quote based on ignorance. Sounds like poor management to me but Lous gets paid a lot for this nonsense.

The reason for this post is not Manchester United's poor management. It's not even the spitting - thank goodness we still have some lines that can't be crossed. The reason is not even that we have two players trying to foul each other and nobody mentions that they are doing anything wrong. The reason is that we continually hear that football players are role models. No they aren't.

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P.S. Jonny comes out fighting. He would never spit at an opponent. It is possible that he has seen the evidence and chooses to ignore it. This makes him (....) fill in your favourite word. Alternatively he did spit at an opponent and this make him (....) fill in your favourite word. Regardless of whether he has any idea of what he has done ignorance is not a defence in law and you don't need a judge to find him guilty of ignorance.

P.P.S. It's the same day and later reports use the word 'deliberately'. It doesn't matter Jonny. It certainly didn't matter to Papiss.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Whoever said footballers were role models?

Chelsea played Liverpool yesterday and the Chelsea player Diego Costa may face retrospective punishment for two stamps on Emre Can and Martin Skrtel that were not seen by the referee. In the press conference Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho did not understand what reporters meant by the word 'stamp'. Let me help him. To stamp means to bring down one's foot heavily on the ground or on something (or someone) on the ground. 

I think Mourinho's point concerned the intention to stamp and this is important when an opponent is on the receiving end but I don't think intention is that important to the person who is being stamped on. Jose Mourinho reckons both incidents were 'absolutely accidental'.  It may be that many people see the stampings as accidental and others may see them as deliberate. What is definite is that Diego Costa knew he stamped on other players and reacted as if they had not been there. 

Am I to presume he knew he had stamped on another player but was so carried away with the game that he could put the possibility of a serious injury out of his mind? Could it be the case that all professional footballers are trained to ignore possible injuries because the game is more important? Could it even be possible that the stampings were intentional, in which case footballers may be trained to carry on as if nothing had happened?

My one certainty is that Diego Costa knew that he had stamped on two players and chose not to react. Whoever said footballers were role models?

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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Andrew Mitchell and 'Plebs'

Andrew Mitchell probably called the police 'plebs'. This is according to Mr Justice Mitting.

It is a shame it has cost £2 million to find this out because I told you over a year ago.

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

GP Appointments

I have to share this wonderful story that I heard two days ago and relates to my last blog entry on the NHS. Bear in mind that this story is third-hand but I bet it resonates with many.

A lady went to the GP surgery and asked for an appointment. She was told that the surgery only accepts telephone appointments and was asked if she had her mobile phone with her. She did. It was switched off because the signs told her to switch it off. She was advised to go outside to phone the surgery. She did and spoke to the receptionist who had given the advice.

This is a story that would make a good comedy sketch. I didn't hear what happened next but for any comedy sketch writers the conclusion could be that there were no appointments left for that day and she could be asked to phone back the following day.

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

NHS: The best in the world?

I have had three conversations in three days that are all linked. Three days ago I was chatting about the NHS and the person with whom I was speaking agreed that it is not popular to criticise the NHS. It is seen as the best provider of health care in the world, looks after us from cradle to grave and is free at the point of access. My point was that the NHS is great if your experience is great but the opposite is also true, and I have heard and read about many bad examples of care.

Just yesterday I was speaking with a mother who was concerned about her daughter who had moved to another county. She had informed all the relevant authorities that she was moving and had even asked for evidence from some of them that they were aware of her change of address due to previous bad experiences. Needless to say things had gone wrong again. Her daughter has a chronic condition which is obvious to even the most casual observer. There is no doubt that treatment is necessary but she was told that there was a question of funding for her treatment.

The treatment is essential. Someone has to pay for it but she was now being told that there was a doubt over funding. Why had she even heard this comment? It had raised her stress levels on top of her medical condition. It also raised the stress levels of her mother, and this is from a service which has 'national' in its title.

My third conversation was earlier today and I was speaking with a doctor. I didn't know he was a doctor at the time but it came into the conversation because he was talking about someone who had been injured and gone to hospital. We also spoke about how maternity procedures had changed in twenty years. When my children were born it was common for mother and baby to stay in hospital six days. Now it is not even a day. This may be seen as a great improvement in efficiency and if this is true then it also makes you consider how inefficient things were not so long ago.

The conversation went on to consider the strengths of the local NHS service. He felt that we had a great maternity service. I was surprised to hear this view because of the recent maternity scandal and subsequent suppression of the CQC report.  I was also aware that earlier this year my local Trust had been placed in special measures. The reply I received was that this was almost entirely due to poor management. However I also know that mortality rates were high and I remembered something about the maternity department at Furness General Hospital, FGH having the highest death rate in the country. I had read that in 2011 "leaked figures revealed that FGH had the worst mortality rate of any hospital in England".

There is a lot of good and excellent work that is carried out within the NHS. The trouble is that there is also a lot of bad work. I couldn't sum up my feeling any better than by quoting Jackie Daniel, my Trust's chief executive. "The reports reflect the fact we are part-way through a process of significant improvement which is still going to take a number of years to complete...It isn't an overnight job to change the culture of a large, complex organisation." There's something wrong with the NHS culture.

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