The really nice thing about December is that the festive season offers various opportunities to indulge in activities collectively described as “traditional”. The requirement to eat too much, drink too much and then argue with your nearest and dearest is compulsory. Being completely baffled by the Dr Who Christmas Special is as traditional as watching the Queen read a script and the traditional January salutation “did you have a nice Christmas?” is gradually being transmogrified into “so, you survived Christmas then”.
Sadly, in these enlightened times, very few of us still paint ourselves blue and jump over open fires to celebrate the winter solstice. Fewer still slaughter a sacrificial goat in the traditional hope of keeping sabre-toothed tigers away or to encourage the return of the warm shiny thing that travels across the big blue thing just above our heads. Tradition, like language, is constantly evolving and it is a blessing that buying enough food and drink to last until doomsday because the shops are shut for a day is not further complicated by the need to purchase those hard to find gifts such as frankincense and myrrh. Gold and lamb chops, however, continue to retain their traditional charm. What better way to celebrate the birth of the saviour of humanity than the gift of an already time-limited obsolete gadget, a bottle of scotch and the onset of obesity. (more…)
Image via nhs.uk
Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of the NHS and Medical Director of the NHS Commissioning Board, is undoubtedly a very clever man. The former cardiac surgeon has undertaken a thorough, detailed examination of hospital mortality rates at weekends and has diagnosed that consultants need to work seven days a week. Funny that; I thought the NHS already worked seven days a week.
Sir Bruce might believe that consultants still spend the majority of their time playing golf only to occasionally descent upon a hospital in the form of James Robertson Justice to shout at and belittle junior housemen. The reality, however, is rather different and it does not require a god-like consultant to diagnose that a drunk with a pint glass embedded in his noggin on a Saturday night is not very well. (more…)
Power to the people
Any suggestion that the big six energy companies are operating an illegal cartel to fix gas and electricity prices to ensure massive profit is entirely erroneous; there are a magnificent seven gunslingers in the illegal cartel.
Akira Kurosawa`s superb “Seven Samurai”, released in 1954, told the story of noble warriors protecting simple farmers against evil, pillaging bandits. Hollywood updated the scenario into the wild-west with “The Magnificent Seven” released in 1960. Later, in 1998, Pixar used the same story in “A Bug`s Life”. The 2013 version is a little more complex. We still have the evil, pillaging bandits and the slightly camp cowboys and the hopelessly inept circus troop but we simple farmers might be a little confused as to who the mercenary protectors are and who the pillaging bandits might actually be. (more…)
Image via theguardian.com
During the evening of Saturday 30th November 2013, the War on Welfare petition reached its target of 100,000 signatures which means that the backbench Business Committee will consider if the systematic punishment of people in need of most support is worthy of a debate in the House of Commons. It is an indication of just how vile this coalition government is and how ineffectual the opposition has become, that it requires a petition to secure half a chance of a possibility that some sort of scrutiny of callous, vindictive and brutal oppression might or might not take place.
The WOW e-petition was created by comedian and disability rights activist Francesca Martinez and calls for a meaningful assessment of the effects that abandoning any pretence at humanity, or “Welfare Reform” as the vile coalition government prefer to style it, will have on sick and disabled people, their families and their carers. So rapid has the descent into venality been, that it is necessary for the petitioners to also request (more…)
Screen grab via BBC parliament
Imagine the managers of Manchester United and Chelsea deciding before a vital cup tie to play ten against ten and not field any goalkeepers. The resulting goal fest might delight match sponsors and broadcast sports media but the fixture could not under the current FA rules, be described as a game of football. As ridiculous as this appears, it is a common procedure in what is laughingly known as parliamentary democracy.
On Tuesday, the parliamentary Labour Party called an Opposition Day debate on Housing Benefit in an attempt to kick into touch the utterly vile and pernicious Bedroom Tax; a sanction designed specifically to punish people for being poor, vulnerable and disabled. As commendable and well-intentioned this enterprise by Labour might be, it was not considered an important enough issue to impose a three line whip and so the pairing system of House of Commons voting allowed MPs to be absent as long as an opposing MP wanted a day off as well. Out of a total of 650 elected representatives, 478 turned up to vote leaving 172 otherwise engaged and able to claim that the “pairing system” ensured that their potential vote was meaningless. (more…)