Tuesday 6 January 2015

Some bitter financial truths

Don't judge the Government's dodgy dossier on expenditures the next Labour Government plans by the eighty pages of detailed spending increases the Treasury has been coerced into producing. They're clearly the products of a fevered imagination (though of course, in my view they're not enough)   
Judge it merely as a heavy handed way of creating fear of tax increases in the same way as "Labour's tax Bombshell" did in 1992.

The antidote should be a dossier of things that should be cut if we're to reduce the deficit but which  both main parties support whatever the cost. HS 2 is a white elephant which will probably have to be abandoned in the long run but will cost at least £7 billion to get businesspeople thirty minutes earlier to Birmingham at the cost of enormous environmental damage. The extension to Leeds and Manchester at let's say another £10 billion ( these things over-run of course) is an even worse burden but despite that government is now envisaging HS3 underneath the Pennines.

Then there's replacement of Trident, a weapon we don't need, have never used, and which imposes a crippling burden on defence budgets. And  the SNP wants it out of Scotland. Government admits that the bill will be between 15 and 20 billion pounds. More realistically, Greenpeace says it will cost at least £34 billion but which both main parties are apparently committed to.

The parties insult the intelligence of the electorate by quibbling over the cost of keeping Libraries open while ignoring these expensive white elephants lumbering across the political landscape.

Accident and Emergency crisis: Don't blame the patients.With hospitals declaring "major incidents" and performance  (and waiting times) at A&E  at the lowest level for a decade, government is rushing to blame the public for being too fat, too lazy to go to the doctor too drunk or too worried by trivial problems. Apparently they're not "proper poorly" or not poorly enough.Take up your bed and walk Jesus might have said. Hunt probably puts it differently but points in the same direction.

Balls. Sick people need help where they can get it  and the A&E crisis is caused by staff shortages and closures.The answer is more staff and more money not lectures to the poor old patients. Frank Field is right. The NHS needs more money and the  only way to provide it quickly is to increase  National Insurance contributions A rise of 1% would bring in 15 billion over five year. Add to that an increase in the higher earnings charge to make it less regressive and we're on the way to  deal with shortfall of £30 billion the NHS by 2020. No one has found better proposals to tackle this shortfall. But disaster faces us if we don't.

Of course if they hadn't scrapped NHS Direct people would have had access to expert advice from qualified nurses which in many cases would have made it unnecessary to go to hospital in the first place. scrapping NHS Direct has made the whole thing worse.

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