On Monday Matters for the 22nd February, it’s been announced that the EU referendum will be held on Thursday June 23rd. But apparently, we Brits are 60 times more likely to talk about reality TV with our friends than discuss the merits of the EU.
The prime minister presented his case for Britain to stay in the EU today in the commons. Well have more on that later. Yesterday Boris Johnson said he’d campaign for Britain to leave the EU – we will hear his statement after 9pm.
George Harrison who would have been 73 years old this week, as it was he died of cancer on November 29th 2001 – aged 58.
A petition which calls on the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to face a vote of “no confidence” has reached more 310,000 signatures.
The petition which was created by Graham Hillman centres on claims that Mr Hunt is “destroying all staff morale in the NHS & will cause recruitment issues”.
The momentum behind the signatures comes just days after Mr Hunt was widely criticised for his decision to “unilaterally” impose a new contract on junior doctors which redefines “anti-social” working hours. However the British Medical Association (BMA) claims an “eleventh hour” offer has been made by the Government and the BMA’s chief negotiator Sir David Dalton will present the offer to their committee in the coming weeks.
Let us hope this offer is one that includes phasing in new contracts which tie into additional resources.
There is not a single person I have spoken to who does not think that the aspiration to 7 days is a good idea. The facts around 11,000 deaths at the weekend have not only been misrepresented but as I commented on before, Mr Hunt (whilst wearing an NHS badge) refused to deny that the deaths were the result of junior doctors not being available at the weekend. This is a monstrous dereliction of actual facts which are far more complicated than Hunt alludes to.
Even the NHS’s medical director Prof Sir Bruce Keogh distanced himself from the Health Secretary’s rhetoric by reiterating a view held by many in the healthcare profession that “the weekend effect” cannot be accurately used to measure how many people die avoidably on Saturday or Sunday.
There is no doubt that a move towards 7 days is a good idea and one that will benefit patients in the long run. BUT if Jeremy Hunt thinks he can bully the health profession into providing a 7 day service by twisting their hours and taking even more from them then he is unbelievably naive.
I personally think that Jeremy Hunt is nothing more than a careerist and political opportunist, of the worst kind, who’s current motive is not to improve our health system but is, in fact, to get this supposed 7 day NHS up and running so he can sit grinning at the cabinet table pontificating about how he has delivered the Prime Minister’s promised 7 days manifesto pledge.
However, at what cost? The NHS struggles with 5 days. How can it cope with 7? This change is not being done by adding more resources – but by stretching and pulling the already tight service – to the point where it is already beginning to snap in some places. Jeremy Hunt is putting his political ambitions ahead of patients and doctors and I think it is shameful.
Jeremy could have had us all on his side by saying that he wanted to create a 7 day service and he will start the process by launching a nationwide recruitment campaign for more doctors and nurses and other healthcare professionals to enable it to happen. He could of engaged the public and professionals by being seen to do things the right way. However, he didn’t. He isn’t close enough to the Prime Minister or Chancellor to get the funds required. So instead, he has been forced into spreading the jam over a much bigger piece of toast. And guess what – there isn’t enough jam…and he knows it.
It is for this reason that I believe Jeremy Hunt is not worthy to continue in his role and why I signed the petition.
Nothing insenses me more than when a group of experts are bullied into agreeing to something which they know is wrong by a government desparate to make good on a shoddy election promise – on paper rather than practice.
And so today we have a strike by junior doctors who are worried that the terms and conditions they thought they had signed up to when they started their careers – is being ripped up and replaced with a new contract which, in its heart, is about doing more with less, for less.
Having squeezed all the juice from the apple – Mr Hunt and David Cameron are now attempting to squeeze juice from the remaining pips! And it is an utter disgrace.
I have used the NHS alot lately and so understand that it is climbersome, slow and at its best when dealing with life or death emergencies. The rest of us – form an orderly and long queue please.
So, I am all for new ideas and reforms. But they must be sensible and reasoned and funded properly.
This is NOT what we are getting from Jeremy Hunt. His proposals are designed to spread what is currently done over 5 days over 7. Let me tell you – the NHS in some parts is struggling with 5 days – never mind 7. WE MUST NOT make Doctors pay the price of over funded and bad management of NHS boards.
I am not saying I don’t disagree with the Conservative aspiration of a fully functioning 7 day health system. It is inevitable.
However, where I am very angry with Jermey Hunt is that he is trying to impose this new way of working – without fully resourcing the other bits required to make the new term and conditions feasible and the aspiration achievable.
On the Andrew Marr show on Sunday 7th February Mr Hunt refused to say that Doctors were not responsible for the 11,000 deaths which are supposedly down to the “weekend effect”.
This made me so angry and the reason is – because it is a total LIE. 11,000 people are NOT dying because everyone packs up at 5pm on a Friday evening in the NHS. In fact, it would appear that Wednesay stands accused of being statistically the worst day to be in hospital. Do we avoid getting hit by a Larry on Wednesay the?
The truth is – you find trends in any data which may not accurately reflect the situation – certainly not to allow you to then base a concrete finding upon eg: if we look at those who died on Wednesay – you might find a majortiy white, male, under 6ft, with blonde hair and green eyes. However if you fit that description- and get hit by a car – you are not MORE likely to survive because it’s Tuesday! It will depend on a variety of other factors directly relating to that incident.
But Jeremy Hunt and the Government are trying to skew the statistics to create fear and get the public on their side. That is shameful and unforgivable.
When I think about how much MPs earn and the fact that as well as everything else the tax payer funds them for – just remember – at any point – MPs are getting pissed in the House Of Commons bar – or some other little function and you are subsiding it or paying wholly for it.
Instead of paying for MPs to get pissed – why isn’t that money used to get more Doctors, Nurses and other NHS specialists?
Oh dear – has the Tory party been “creative” with their accounting? Maybe they asked Google to fill out their expenses?
Channel 4 news journalist Michael Crick obtained hundreds of Conservative party receipts which where accumulated during local by-elections – but do not appear to have been officially registered, as is required by law, to ensure political parties do not spend more than a legal limit which is set at £100,000.
The phrase “electoral corruption” is used in Michael Crick’s investigation into undeclared party expenditure and the police may have to be called in to investigate!
You would think that after Conservative leader David Cameron appointed Sir Eric Pickles as his anti-corruption tsar to “stamp out corruption and restore public confidence” in politicians, the Tory party would be a bit more careful about how they do their own accounting?
As Michael Crick said in his investigation- did the Conservative Party show “contempt for the law”?
Well known campaigner Maryam Namazie had been invited to talk at Goldsmiths University on December 3 by the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society campus group, on speech on blasphemy and apostasy.
However, as she was speaking members of the Goldsmiths University Students Union’s Islamic Society (ISOC), who had already try to ban her from speaking, began to heckle, with one switching off a projector and when looking at the video, it does show hat that Maryam was subjected to intimidation by a group of Islamic men who were set up disruption rather than engagement.
The Islamic students disrupted the speech, entitled ‘Apostasy, blasphemy and free expression in the age of Isis’, because they claimed it “violated their safe space”.
Most surprisingly, Maryam told me how both Goldsmiths LGBT Society and Goldsmiths Feminist society “sent a solidarity message with the Islamists who disrupted my talk, rather than with me, someone who is a women’s rights campaigner, gay rights campaigner – someone who has campaigned for the free expression that these societies are using”.
I couldn’t quite believe what Maryam was telling me however she went on to say “they have labelled me an Islamophobe. They’ve shown solidarity with Isamic Society brothers who actually have invited speakers in the past who defend the execution of gay people, who defend the execution of apostates and it’s such an irony that they would support them”. Maryam said that identity politics had removed politics and choices from being debated and all that was left for some people was their identify as a muslim and “therefore anyone who identifies as a muslim is automatically seen to be the oppressed one in this conversation”.
And in further developments, Zak Thomas from Goldsmiths Students’ Union paper The Leopard wrote that “Members of the Islamic Society (ISOC) and the Atheist and Humanist Society (ASH) could face disciplinary action after a row broke out”. When asked to comment about the investigation into those members of (ASH) – who had tried to restore order Maryam commented “afraid so” on twitter. The Leopard went on to quote Goldsmiths SU and said that the “SU will arrange a meeting between both societies specifically to identify how the incident should be dealt with”.
This particular Monday Matters marks the last of ‘usual’ programming we will do until 2016!! Although I WON’T be playing ANY CHRISTMAS MUSIC TONIGHT! (well apart from beds & jingles!) -although the songs I will play ARE linked to Christmas.
Tonight I’m playing – Non-Christmas – Christmas music!!
All the songs I’m going to play were in the UK Top 20 on the 25th of December on their year of release! So, they may bring back memories of Christmas – but they were not Christmas songs! There are some crackers as well – who remembers…..The Barron Knights; Jellybean Ft Elisa Fiorllo; a cracker of a song by Chicken Shed?; Kate Bush’s – Rocket Man?; Godley & Creme? There are loads of great songs that were in the charts on 25th December – but that YOU WON’T hear on a loop in Asda, Tesco’s or Morrisons!!!
Also, instead of our featured artist -I bring you: Jason’s Christmas December Disco – where I play 4 1970s disco songs that were also in the top 20 charts on 25th December – including: Billy Ocean, Rose Royce, Donna Summer & MJ….
AND Let us not forget – The premiere of the latest Star Wars movie The Force Awakens, takes place in Los Angeles later. There will be a Star Wars – NOT IN THE NEWS…special between 7pm and 8pm.
After Jason’s Christmas December Disco; Kyra brings us this weeks music news (the last of 2015) and then our Roving Reporter Bonnie Britain files her latest report about a MoleculeArt event in London’s South Bank Oxo Tower – where she drank cocktails and sprayed all different types of paint on to canvas as part of an art exhibition.
In the final hour it’s my last interview of 2015 – which is with the author, blogger and writer Lisa Wilson (aka Juror13). Lisa has blogged from various trials and writes her articles from the perspective of a juror.
Tonight we discuss the life and trial of Oscar Pistorius and how he shouldn’t of been at the Olympics at all – but he bullied his way on to the ticket. Lisa has met the family of Reeva Steenkamp and will discuss the continuation of the work that Reeva was embarking by her mother June. The foundation seeks to help and protect women from violent men or relationships. Oscar Pistorius – the man he really is – is after 9pm (GMT).
I love this picture of Prime Minister David Cameron – it really works on so many levels – in that – he could actually play this part in cartoon form!!!
The picture appeared in the Herald Scotland – under the headline “A very Tory Christmas: welfare rules leaving vulnerable families destitute over holidays” – so not a great story -but I do like the artistic impression this gives off.
We are in the middle of a heated debate in the UK as to whether we should or should not use our armed forces to bomb Syria. Whether we do or wether we do not will be decided by a vote of our MPs on Wednesday.
Let’s be clear. If Paris had been London – the discourse would be very different and it is important that we take this opportunity to be thankful that we make such decisions with a cool head and not as a reaction to horrific events. That said – we need to realise the real dangers we face as British citizens – like the horrors that we saw on a beach in Tunisia – or that of in France. The Russian flight that was blown up over Egypt’s Sinai desert could well of been a British flight. Wether we like it or not – we are targets – wether or not we bomb in Syria.
There are those who are totally opposed to bombing. I understand their concerns. However, the truth is that bombing HAS worked. It decimated their high command; helped halt their advance and in many cases pushed them back; spreads fear and dread throughout the ranks of Daesh who worry that every time they step outside or jump into a vehicle – they could be killed or maimed. That in turn helps disrupt their mobility and ability to hold gatherings outside of their strong hold and if they need to communicate over long distances – they take a chance with their lives or use technology which can be intercepted and used against them.
Bombing Has Limitations
That said, bombing has limitations. We know already that there is a complex network of tunnels and command centres placed underneath the houses and hospitals of innocent Syrian people. The extremists use these dug outs knowing that if and when they get bombed – they survive but the innocent men, women and children above ground die; their deaths then captured and edited into slick horror videos distributed to easily suggestible men and women around the world who do not comprehend the context of how they actually died.
The real question for MP’s to ask of the Government on Wednesday is not just whether we should bomb Syria. Whether we do or do not will not make much of a difference. This fact we know. We also know Daesh will be defeated in Syria and Iraq. Maybe not next week, next month or next year. But they will. And we know this because – they are a death cult. They are only interested in death. And before they die they want to ensure they subjugate, kill, terrorise and torture anyone under their control. This is not something desired by the masses – no matter how deep rooted they are to a religion. Daesh has limited appeal.
Even the use of the word “defeat” is a simplification. Like defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan!
So, when we say “defeat” what we actually mean is turn them from a group which controls large swathes of a country and its population – into a small group of bandits and guerrillas who still hold the same ideology but terrorise on a much smaller scale and are dealt with at a local level before eventually being replaced with some other ideology and becoming a footnote in history.
The real question for MP’s to ask of the Government on Wednesday is: What do you think Syria will look like in 1, 3 & 5 years time and what do you base this on? (as apposed to what do you want it to look like). What is our end game? When Daesh is defeated – what could fill the vacuum? Who are they? What are their aims? How far are you prepared to go militarily – understanding that bombing has its limits? Weapons? Training? Our soldiers?
The West is adamantly opposed to Russian backed President Bashar al-Assad – yet backs the free Syrian army – which is adamantly apposed by Russia and President Bashar al-Assad. In order to root out Daesh we may need to work with Russia and Assad – how do we feel about this? Will we need to adjust our policy to Assad – what about the thousands and millions killed or made refugees by his Government – what are our “lines to take” when answering their questions? Can we feasibly have two opposing policies operating at one time? With Assad – but against? With Russia, but against?
And when Daesh are finally sent scurrying off into the desert – who will replace them? Do we know? Do we think we know? Have we post-Daesh plans? What do we do if Assad tries to reclaim control of the country? If we commit to side fully with the free Syrian army and this group of 70,000 militants ready to rout out Daesh from places such as Raqqa – what happens if they are then bombed by Assad or Russia? What if we find ourselves backing an army which finds itself fighting against Assad and Russia. Where are the lines drawn? When do we STOP?
So, whether we bomb or do not bomb Syria will probably turn out to be of less importance than wether we are or are not prepared for the end of Daesh control in the region and whether we finally find the stomach to square up to President Putin – when he tries to exert control in the region.
Unity is often seen as a good thing. And depending on what’s being united – that can be the case. However, the current Labour unity against Jeremy Corbyn is going as well as can be expected.
There is so much bad blood flowing around the Labour party at the moment (from its heart to its toe nails) I’m surprised it hasn’t been wheeled into an NHS hospital for a transfusion! Then again, with the track record of some NHS hospitals (Romford Queen’s Hospital) – maybe staying out is the medicine which is keeping it alive.
The belief is that Jeremy Corbyn is a problem for Labour and it’s election chances of 2020. I don’t actually think that Jeremy is the problem at.
The problem in so far as I can see isn’t with Jeremy – but with the uninspiring nature of the other candidates. Why aren’t they doing better? If Labour doesn’t really like them – who will?
If NONE of them seem able to even come close to Jeremy – in terms of engagement, charisma, warmth, charm & voice- what chance does Labour have in 2020 when fighting a real opponent? This particular Labour leader election – must be, must be – one of the worst managed, handled and executed election ever. It’s a disaster in terms of PR, the available candidates and the future election prospects of the party.
If you believe the polls (and after May 2015 why would we?) Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper haven’t captured party members imagination in the same way that Corbyn has. But maybe this reflects the wider trend away from party suits with plukes (spots for those unfamiliar). Just evaluate the Corbyn effect – with the Nigel Farage effect. Great at grabbing headlines. Great at getting party members enthused and great at getting them active in their communities. The problem with Farage is, of course, no one outside his gabble of groupies – want to see him actually running the country!
So, I understand why the Labour party fear a Corbyn win. It would probably be his last success. Capturing the hearts of your party is one thing. Capturing the hearts of a nation is another. As David Cameron has shown us twice – you don’t need to be a brilliant politician or outstanding Prime Minister. But, as RuPaul would say on her drag race “Good luck….and DON’T fuck it up”. Unfortunately since 2007 – the Labour Party hasn’t heeded Lady Ru’s words of rudom.
But surely the bigger problem here is the total lack of enthusiasm for any of the other candidates. A number of Labour’s ‘big beasts’ or just ‘beastly beasts’ have come out for Liz Kendall including David Miliband, Tristram Hunt, Chuka Ummuna, & Margaret Hodge. Liz Kendall? A future leader? A future Prime Minister on the global stage? Really? She ain’t no Angela Merkel or Barbara Castle. One wonders if some of those names attached to her are giving their backing knowing that the public are as likely to vote for Liz as they are for compulsory syphilis injections (and yes, some will) – thereby giving them time to grow within themselves and prepare for their own Labour leadership bid in 2020?
And then…into the debate tumbles Tony Blair, Alistair Campbell and Gordon Brown – all with one message. A message which appears to go against the ‘holy grail’ in which new Labour was built. Negative campaigning on one subject – in which you force feed a message that no one ordered nor has the appetite to taste – let alone devour.
The lack of a future Prime Minister between here & 2025 is a problem for Labour and the problem is that no one seems to know how to handle it. From Blair to Brown; Burnham to Cooper – the undignified way this contest is being played out should give much comfort to Chancellor George Osborne – whose chances of being PM are now looking stronger than ever – especially as he’s had plenty of time to practice and improve his communication skills. By 2020 he will be a force to be reckoned with & could be “our” Tony Blair to “their” David Cameron. We’ve almost forgotten how insignificant and floundering Cameron used to look at the dispatch box when up against Blair. Cameron never did and never could win when facing formidable competition.
Whoever wins the leadership of the Labour party – will face the hardest tests of their political career. They are up against a Tory party machine that survived a major recession and a rather under performing Prime Minister – who then won an election.
The next Labour leader has to not only get the policy right. They must, as Ed Milliband found to his cost, look and sound like someone who could lead the country. For me, the jury is still out on whether this is possible between now and 2025. And I think that’s a real shame.
Monday Matters is broadcast on 106.9 SFM in Sittingbourne & Swale.
On the latest show, Jason McCrossan was joined on the phone by the Telegraph’s Political Editor Rosa Prince @RosaPrinceUK who is Assistant Political Editor for The Telegraph and was a member of the award-winning team which exposed the 2009 MPs’ expenses scandal.
She has written a book about MPs when they retire – it’s called: Standing Down: Interviews with Retiring MPs.