Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
The Mayor of South Tyneside to cut her weight
The Mayor of South Tyneside Cllr. Eileen Leask told me today that she is on a mission to make serious cuts! No, not more public finances under threat but her waistline!
Eileen is determined to lose a few pounds and will be asking people to sponsor her to raise funds for some of the Mayoress’s charities this year. Having lost a few myself over the past two years I’ll be only too happy to help her out, and a little publicity to start her campaign cannot cause it any damage. More details when I get them – best of luck Eileen
……..they can hardly ever tread a straight path.
In some other European countries such as Belgium and Italy, where the electoral system is forever throwing together pacts and coalitions between parties, they are used to seeing compromises, here in the UK we are more likely to call them “U-turns”. Whether its on deficit reduction, higher education, NHS reform, defence, or justice the ConLib coalition is constantly in flux with policy being driven more by the need to keep the coalition together than what might be seen as the necessities of good government.
In many respects this was to have been expected when David Cameron’s Conservatives and Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats drew up their agreement last year after we failed to make a clear decisive choice at the general election, but by far the biggest flaw at the outset was the agreement manipulated by David Cameron to engineer a five year fixed Parliament. With this new restriction in place Cameron probably felt that he had a chance of carrying through most, but not all, of his party’s programme, with a few adjustments along the way. However, it is inevitable that tensions will arise within government and within the two parties making up the administration, and as one policy after another appears to the press and Opposition as being ill judged or poorly formulated detractors can (almost justifiably) point to yet another U-turn or abandonment of important party principle. During previous periods when we have had either a minority government or a government getting by with a small majority the most important opposition has come from within the ranks of the governing party keeping the executive on its toes, this is not quite so easy to achieve when two parties are involved. The other important position to note was that a major defeat for such a government in The House of Commons might lead to a new general election as the Prime Minister attempts to secure a good working majority.
David Cameron, unfortunately decided to tie his own hands behind his back with the fixed term Parliament and it would take an enormous effort from MPs to force him back to the polls, it has also tied Nick Clegg into a very tight arrangement which so far has resulted in his party becoming the whipping boys for the coalition, some say Cameron has played a blinder! I don’t, and I see this coalition arrangement leading to weakened policy as some on the right wing of the Tories become more vociferous, and more on the left wing of the Liberal Democrats become more rebellious, “fudge” will become the flavour of the month! I would have been far happier with a much more fluid and loose voting arrangement between the parties, without Lib-Dem ministers, that would enable a Cameron government to start out along its path, with the possibility of a sooner rather than later general election to try and cement his position.
The risk of a government falling can actually strengthen its hand with its own backbenchers and fortify its survival measures. There is nothing quite like the threat of losing one’s seat to exercise the minds of those recalcitrant MPs in marginal seats (of all parties), as they huff and puff to try and blow the government off course!
The five year fixed Parliament is a classic illustration of fixing something which was not broken at the outset.
Click thumbnail to enlarge
Unless I am dreadfully wrong Ravensworth Terrace in South Shields still runs from the Stagecoach bus depot at Chichester uphill following the Metro line to the West Park, it has always been thus, even though the lowest part is little more than a footpath. Google Maps does show that Ravensworth Terrace seems to stop at its junction with Hampden Street, but they have been known to make one or two small errors in the past. So, I’m puzzled, is the footpath part of Ravensworth Terrace or not? Has the last small section of highway been legally stopped up and removed from the maps ? (Durham County Council’s Historic maps show that the change from road to footpath happened after 1979)
Foregoing the above digression, I’d like you to take note of the fence on the right hand side of the picture, on the left is a building site growing in the car park of the former central surgery, which has now by and large relocated to the new “clinic” near The Nook (so I haven’t shown it), you might just see a small notice affixed to the railings, which I believe are still the responsibility of Nexus, the Metro light rail operator. Puzzling thing is the content of the notice, seems we now have some sort of semi official designated smoking zone on a public footpath, it is difficult to know which of South Shields’ smokers this is targeted at – all of them, or just the pitifully small number who use this footpath regularly? Perhaps it is targeted at the workforce involved at the former surgery, who knows?
However, after the public complaints surrounding the smokers at the General Hospital gate on Macannany Avenue I’m half expecting the NHS Primary Trust to erect a suitable notice on the adjacent bus stop, I’m sure Nexus won’t mind. Events now are far removed from the original health service that I first enjoyed as a young lad visiting his GP in Laygate Lane, back then you needed a fully operational gas mask, an 18 inch electric fan, and a million candle power torch to find your pipe smoking doctor in the the midst of the thick fog and smoke of his surgery!
I wonder if my two Progressive and one Labour councillor are aware of the emergence of this new public designated smoking area, or if Nexus are aware of the innovative use of their newish fence?
Perhaps it explains the lack of hedgehogs and foxes around there recently.
Labour’s poster aims at their own left foot?
Another good thing about having my feed reader working again is that I’ve seen this Labour poster being discussed all over the place. Once more they are attempting to draw dividing lines, and where the Tories don’t have a policy then Gordon Brown will happily invent one for them, just so he can spend his time cynically attacking said made up policy.
It’s almost laughable, anyway over at Shane Greer’s august and excellent blog, he discusses the negativity of the government’s present campaign strategies:
If any more evidence were needed that Labour are determined to mount an utterly negative election campaign drive by fear, in which truth is sacrificed at the alter of perceived political expediency then one need look no further than their new poster campaign (see picture).
Really!? David Cameron wants to scrap my right to see a cancer specialist within two weeks!? And what’s that you say… the Tories want to put old people onto the street and sell Britain’s children on a completely unregulated free market so that bankers can enjoy massive bonuses!? That’s awful!
Shane then dissects some of the more basic errors in Labour’s arguments about Conservative plans for removing some process targets in the NHS, a health system which, as we all know, David Cameron reveres and has so much time for, Labour forgets the trials and pain that the Cameron family went through in the short life of their son Oliver! On a personal level I have spent many months as a guest in South Shields District Hospital (Harton General) over the years, and the old Ingham Infirmary when I was a teenager, and at least one leading Tory in South Shields spent many years working in the NHS.
Instead of process targets which skew clinical priorities, the Conservative Party would place the emphasis on results. Because, at the end of the day, results are the only thing that matter. And given the choice between a ‘right’ to be seen within two weeks with no consideration given to the eventual outcome, and an NHS which is laser focused only on achieving the best outcome possible, I know which I would prefer.
The tragic thing is that Labour’s poster demonstrates that when it comes to the NHS, for them petty politics will always trump the patient.
Quite right Shane, they have an unshakeable belief that the NHS is theirs and theirs alone, a child of the golden renaissance period of state ownership from 1945 to 1951 and nobody else has any right to modernise, organise, reform, manage, improve, rationalise, or do anything else with it!
Anyway, how many of you can remember what the right hand side of the poster says? Thought not.
One of Shane’s comments read:
Probably worth pointing out, though, that the way the poster is designed draws your eye to the left side and causes you to ignore the right side. Also people don’t read word for word, they look at the whole and the brain guesses what it says. All of which means all voters see is DAVID CAMERON, “we are committed to the NHS”.
When will they understand that the price of alcohol is not the problem, the culture is the problem that needs to be solved!
The crackdown will mark the culmination of a scheme, overseen by Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, to cut alcohol abuse. Tackling the problem will be a major plank of the party’s manifesto.
Except, of course, this idiotic idea will not solve the problem, price has little or no correlation to the amount of consumption and as Timmy points out minimum price setting would be illegal under EU laws and the use of a tax revenue as an alternative would be legal but only supply a never ending stream of cash to those puritanical bodies in advance of those who are far more deserving of taxpayer help.
No, it’s not just the cretinism of raising alcohol prices (looking across Europe there are countries with lower prices and less drunkenness, places with higher and just as many problems with binge drinking), they’ve also managed to come up with the worst possible method of doing it. Illegal and creating an independent bureaucracy with no financial oversight.
Edukashun, edukashun, edukashun! (Tony Blair was right there, so where have they gone wrong?)
Health police launch attack on food
Click picture for story
Yes folks Hilary Benn and Labour’s “health police ” are on the march again as the nanny state establishes a new “Healthy Food Code of Practice” that will ask all restaurants and fast food outlets to clearly label the amount of sugar and fat in unhealthy meals. Not only will they give manufacturers the excuse to score more profit by reducing the amount of crisps in the packet but they’ve even managed to link in the global warming crisis too – ingenious!
They’ll tell us to eat less meat, go vegetarian, and keep a slop bucket in the kitchen, we’ll start digging for victory campaigns in poorly used public parks and become a nation of turnip growers again.
All because Mr. Benn presumably thinks we are all thick and we don’t realise that eating makes us fat!
God save us from the nanny state.
Watching ITV’s X Factor last night confirmed that there can seriously only be one winner this year and I expect it to be South Shields very own Joe McElederry.
Joe has been teaming up with Great Ormond Street Hospital spreading his charm and helping bring a smile to sick children, and he’s joined their campaign to promote fitness for teens, in an interview with GOSH Joe says:
About two years ago, I lost two stone in weight. I was eating rubbish at lunchtime, but at 15 I decided to start a healthy eating plan.
I jog three times a week. It was prompted by just feeling I didn’t have any energy. I was an active child, but when I hit my teens I discovered computers and the weight just piled on.
I started walking and jogging. All my family knew I was doing it and were supportive. I just built it up until I was jogging for 30 minutes five times a week.
Curly knows just what he’s talking about, I’m currently nearing the end of a cardiac rehabilitation programme designed to keep me interested in staying fit and healthy through exercise, it’s hard work but you do feel the benefits. I regularly cycle and make use of a cross trainer at home too, as well as involving myself in group fitness sessions organised by South Tyneside Council’s exercise referral team and South Tyneside District Hospital. I’m delighted that Joe is involved in this campaign which is aimed at promoting a better lifestyle that teenagers can carry forward into adulthood. I haven’t achieved the flat belly of young Joe yet, but there is every chance!
I did wonder at first if it was having any effect and at first thought ‘What’s the point?’ But then one day I suddenly looked in the mirror and thought ‘Oh my god, I have a flat stomach’. It was amazing.
You can learn more about Teens First for Health – here. There is also a Get Fit Game for you to try – here. The Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity will be releasing a video tomorrow to help promote the campaign.
Meanwhile, it looks as though Joe McElderry is set to become South Shields biggest star since Warney Cresswell in 1922 when he became the record breaking signing for Sunderland when they paid The Mariners £5500 for him! Joe has been back to Great Ormond Street Hospital and here are a few more pictures of him and other X Factor contestants meeting the children there, and if you use Facebook you can follow them - here.
Click the thumbnails to enlarge.
South Shields star in charity raising bid
Local lad Joe McElderry somehow found time to squeeze in a visit to his home town South Shields and I know where he buys his pies and pasties, but I’m keeping it a secret. In between his TV recording sessions for ITV’s “The X Factor” Joe has also been recording a single along with the other contestants in a gallant bid to raise funds for the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, we all know how much good work they do on behalf of children in very difficult circumstances. Retailers including W H Smith, Tesco,and Sainsbury’s in the town are donating their profits from the sale of the single, a cover of Michael Jackson’s “You are not alone” to the charity, and on all other sales £1 from each single will go to Great Ormond Street. Here’s the official video featuring South Shields’ Joe McElderry:
It would be great, not only for Joe and the town, but also for the hospital charity to see the single go to No. 1 in the UK chart this week and stay there for Christmas, so come on South Shields folks put your hand in your pocket or purse and get down into the town and buy a copy now. If getting to the shops is a bit of a problem you can also buy it online here.
I might have found a bone to pick with the Westoe pub recently about the posters in the window on Remembrance Sunday but I’m sure everyone will want to get behind this initiative and I’m more than happy to support their efforts. My thanks go to Jess Holland at PassitonMedia for kindly supplying these pictures of Joe McElderry visiting sick children at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, he always looks happy to oblige too!
Naturally all of us in South Shields are all hoping that Joe wins “The X Factor”.
Miliband brothers were talk of the weekend.
Following Lord High Almighty Everything’s visit to South Shields on Friday evening, our MP and Foreign Secretary David Miliband, along with his younger brother Ed have been the talk of the weekend. Various newspapers and commentators have jumped on the bandwagon that has started to roll towards Brussels with David Miliband on board, yet despite his denial in being interested – don’t politicians always deny interest? – the world and his dog now firmly believe that Miliband the Elder will be heading for the EU as it’s Foreign Minister (sorry High Representative of the Commission) as Labour gets turfed out of office at the next election.
If the intense speculation all turns out to be true, then one could perhaps then understand David Miliband’s recent attacks on the Conservatives, painting them out to be almost anti-semitic Jew hating baby killing Nazi types, after all he may as well try and cosy up to the remnants of the EPP, he may need support in other parts of Europe to bolster a bid for the big job. As Dan Hannan points out:
No wonder David Miliband has been waging his jejune campaign against the ECR, a campaign so malicious and misleading that the Latvian Government has called in our ambassador to protest. Suddenly, it all makes sense: what the Foreign Secretary is really after is a promotion. If that means sacrificing British interests in order to cosy up to the EPP, so be it.
In the current climate, with all parties proposing ministerial pay cuts, what national politician wouldn’t gladly slither to a new post in Brussels, complete with housing allowance, personal chauffeur, entertainment allowance, tax-free salary and all the rest? Especially when he expects his party to be voted out of office within a few months.
Yes, quite, the opportunity must have an awful lot of appeal.
Curly, like others, is gradually coming round to the view that Gordon Brown will not be allowed to lead Labour to an electoral disaster, and that sometime in the early part of 2010 he will be forced to admit to his Cabinet colleagues that he is an electoral liability and that his health has deteriorated to the point where it would be wise to allow someone else to carry the flag for Labour. Paul Linford in his column for The Journal suspects the same scenario:
I wrote several months ago now that I did not believe Mr Brown would lead Labour into the General Election if it became clear that the only consequence of that would be a catastrophic defeat.
The recent drip-drip-drip of information about the Prime Minister’s health, some of it emanating from within Downing Street itself, seems to confirm that an exit strategy is being carefully devised.
One slogan heard doing the rounds this week was “New Year, New Leader” – and once again, the name of Miliband seems to be in the frame.
The question of course is which Miliband?
The two sons of Ralph have done exceptionally well for themselves, weaned into the political class in the roles of advisors, researchers, and bag carriers as the NuLabour project was formed under Blair and Brown, given patronage and moved into safe Labour seats in South Shields and Doncaster North, neither of the brothers has had a job outside of politics (which is all too common in all parties these days). Both now of Cabinet rank in a government facing the agony of watching it’s own death. If Lord Mandelson had used his time profitably in the EU, and there is no reason to believe that he hasn’t networked extensively, then he ought to know exactly which ears to drip poison advice into, to further the prospects of one David Miliband succeeding to a highly paid position the High Representative for the EU, just in case EU leaders lean away from appointing Tony Blair as their President.
Should Mandelson win that battle then perhaps, seeing defeat awaiting Labour, he will gently suggest to the one eyed son of the manse that it’s time to play the health card and make way for Ed Miliband to lead the party in the next election and in Opposition. Such a move may rescue Labour’s position in the polls as a young new leader goes head to head with a young new leader of the Conservatives, ultimately of course, it will be the record of twelve years in government and a wrecked economy that will lose it all for Labour.
But, no need to be feeling negative, if all of this speculation materialises then both Miliband brothers will be sitting pretty in much better paid employment than they have at present.
As far as South Shields is concerned, David Miliband would have to give up this seat and the Labour Party would need to find a new candidate to fight the general election, in something of a hurry. Now image, just imagine, that South Tyneside Council Leader Iain Malcolm got the call (he has wanted to represent his home town in the Commons for some years), then the Conservative’s Karen Allen and others would need to have a “plan B” prepared and ready to use. Because, if Labour’s candidate was to be Iain Malcolm, we can be virtually guaranteed that an Independent candidate would enter the fray, giving electors a further choice and creating further electoral confusion with the possible permutations in the anti-Labour split.
Positive outcomes for the Milibands may end up leaving negative thoughts in South Shields, and also at Westminster where David Cameron would also need a “plan B” to deal with the possible prospect of Europe’s top two positions being occupied by the leading architects of NuLabour.
A “Stop Miliband” campaign has already started.