the brilliantly leaping gazelle

Category: NHS

How the UKIP is a bit Royston Vasey….

Having read the UKIP manifesto, it’s clear that there is a frankly bewildering lack of detail in phrases such as ‘we will encourage’, ‘we will seek’ or ‘we will campaign.
But my favourite is ’we will aspire’. It’s obfuscation presented as plain talking. My earlier blog regarding political bingo, deals with this. Anyone can aspire to anything. The great thing about an aspiration is that it doesn’t commit you to anything. An aspiration is another, more grown-up word for a wish. Just imagine saying to an excited child on their birthday, “Now take a deep breath and remember when you blow out the candles to make an aspiration.”
Of course, it goes without saying – and so consequently needs saying – that any political party’s manifesto is likely to contain some morsels that are political scrag-end. But at least with the Tories, one kind of knows what a vote for them’ll mean. Admittedly, some won’t like it, but then they won’t vote for them. The same applies to Labour. But UKIP is the reverse political Ronseal; you don’t know if it’ll do what it says on the tin, precisely because you don’t know what it says on the tin.

So lets have a look at my top 5 UKIP manifesto madness’s shall we –there could easily have been more but I don’t want to bore you.

On education, their manifesto states,

“We will also rule that all parents must be made fully aware of the sex education teaching materials being used, before their children see it, and we will continue to respect their right to withdraw children from sex-education classes if they wish.”

Er… hang on? Which country has the one of the highest levels of teenage pregnancy in Europe? Wouldn’t it therefore make sense for them not to respect the right of parents, who due to some utterly spurious notion of freedom want to remove their children from sex education classes? Isn’t true freedom when one is free from someone else’s control?

(And no I won’t point out the glaringly obvious fact that it’s a bit late in the day for the parents to want to withdraw – it isn’t the horse that’s bolted!)

And whist no-one wants a sex education class like this, we might end up with a girl like this.

On the subject of the NHS – for which it condemns both the Labour and Conservatives for using it as ‘a political football’ – it says,

“Numerous EU Directives prevent medical institutions from operating in the best interests of patients. We will scrap the EU Working Time Directive which, by limiting working and training time to 48 hours in any one week, prevents medics learning essential new skills, putting patient care at risk.”

Er..hang on? It’s almost as if the EU is the Scooby-Do gang! “If it wasn’t for those pesky, meddling Europeans then we’d be able to make our junior doctors work until they were dead on their feet. Which is exactly what their patients would be.” Was anyone present at the royal birth suffering the tyrannical limit of working 48hrs? If it’s good enough for baldie and Barbie, then it’s good enough for us.

Whilst earlier on in the manifesto it says,

“We need to get tough on so-called ‘health-tourism.’ Every year the NHS spends up to £2 billion of UK taxpayers’ money treating those ineligible for free care.”

Er…hang on? ‘Up to £2 billion’ isn’t exact. Eye catching granted, but exact – not so much. According to the audit by the Department of Health from which this ‘up to £2 billion’ is plucked, the actual figure is between £1.5 billion and £1.9 billion. And if your thinking thats not much, do please bear in mind that a billion is a thousand million, meaning the tiny difference between £1.9 billion and £2 billion is £100 million.

On the subject of British culture, the manifesto says,

“UKIP will promote a unifying British culture, open to anyone who wishes to identify with Britain and British values, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. This is genuine inclusiveness.

Uphold freedom of speech within the law as a fundamental British value. We believe all ideas and beliefs should be open to discussion and scrutiny and we will challenge the ‘culture of offence’ as it risks shutting down free speech.”

Er…hang on? Didn’t Farage make a complaint to OFCOM concerning comments made on BBC1’s ‘Have I Got News For You’? So a satirical show broadcasts satirical comments and someone who’s appeared on the show as a panellist – Farage – complains. He didn’t complain when he was given prime time exposure on a flagship BBC1 programme. At a time when his media profile needed a boost. Funny that.

And also aren’t British values a rather nebulous concept. Much like ‘sense of humour’ and ‘quality of life’, as a concept its vagueness is its strength. Because everyone knows what is meant by it without the tiresome necessity of giving a specific definition of what it means, or more importantly, doesn’t mean.

On the subject of Heritage and Tourism – of which roughly a third of this part of the manifesto is devoted to measures to save public houses, clearly an issue dear to Nigel’s liver – it says they will.

“Oppose minimum pricing of alcohol and reverse plain paper packaging legislation for tobacco products. “

Er…hang on? Earlier on in the manifesto, when they were banging on about how much extra they’d spend on the NHS, they said,

“We will put an additional £3 billion a year into the NHS in England by the end of the parliament and make sure the money is spent on frontline patient care. We will provide the common sense,…”

Yet according to Pubic Health England, “The total annual cost to society of alcohol-related harm is estimated to be £21bn. The NHS incurs £3.5bn a year in costs related to alcohol. Few other health harms have such high overall costs when the impact on productivity and crime are included.”

So minimum pricing for alcohol isn’t such a bad idea.
And smoking?
“Most of the research in the field derives from estimates made back in 1991. Back then, smoking was said to cost the NHS £1.4-£1.7 billion a year (closer to £2-2.5 billion in today’s prices). Since then, other research has put the cost at £2.7 billion in 2005/6 (£3 billion today) and even as much as £5.2 billion 2005/6 (over £6 billion today).”And that was in 2013!

Again ALL party’s manifestos contain some details worthy of derision; it’s just that UKIP have managed to avoid any rigorous scrutiny until quite late in the day, when their populist appeal has forced both the Labour and the Conservative parties to move ever more to the right, in the hope it’ll garner them more votes. After all, that worked out well in the 1930’s for Germany.

In the spirit of the UKIP manifesto I may not’ve been totally honest when I said I’d only list my top 5.

THIS is by some margin my favourite UKIP manifesto pledge. In the section on housing they state,

UKIP will encourage moves by local authorities to prioritise people with strong local connections when making housing allocations.”

Anyone else thinking of ‘The League of Gentlemen’, and the village of Royston Vasey with its ‘local shop for local people.’

UKIP is rather like Royston Vasey. Charmingly amusing from a distance, but the closer you get, the more one examines what it actually stands for, the more unsettling it becomes.

The Bell’s Palsy diet. Extreme (but effective)…

Last Wednesday the NHS in Devon announced that they were restricting elective surgery for those who were morbidly obese. This was amongst a number of measures that they hoped would go some way towards having reduce their deficit of £14.5 million. Which kind of makes sense if you think about it. Someone needing elective surgery – that is a planned surgical procedure not an emergency – you would think would have a vested interest in maximizing their chances of a successful outcome. You might also think, that given that two-thirds of Britons are overweight and that the change needed to effect better surgical outcomes requires simple lifestyle choices, exactly how comfortable can comfort eating be when one is culinary challenged, the challenge being to say “No!” to food.

(At this point I must point out that I have very little sympathy for people who are no stranger to the light of the fridge at midnight and who consequently look like a bin bag full of yoghurt. If you find this and other comments about the abstemiously challenged distasteful – no, no, no, too obvious – I ask you this. Exactly which part of the first line I ever wrote on my first post did you not understand??)

Therefore in this spirit of wishing to do a public good I give reveal free to the world a revolutionary – some might say unorthodox – approach to dieting. It’s extreme but I say no to the wishy-washy and yes to the demonstrably effective. Because far too many fat people look as if there’s a thin person inside them waiting to get out, the problem being that they look like they’ve eaten the thin person. With this diet ones ability to consume what one used to is severely restricted. This state of affairs is however, not one you can opt out of and can last for some months. Ladles and jellypoons I give you the Bells Palsy diet.

Whilst I concede that temporary facial paralysis might be seen as a radical – some might say idiosyncratic – means to lose weight, as it can potentially be necessitated by having one of your eyes taped shut – seeing things properly isn’t really an argument against it. And not only does it reduce ones ability to eat, it also reduces ones desire to eat as well. It’s a win/win situation (or maybe that should be a thin/thin situation?) The N.H.S could deliberately infect people with it; namely the people you hope don’t sit in front of you on a long flight. With Bells Palsy, if you are lucky one side of your mouth is as much use as a eunuch at an orgy. By this I mean one side of the mouth is effectively on strike. The first intimation I had that anything was wrong with my face was a couple of Sundays ago, was when I was attempting to spit out some mouthwash. It felt like when one is at the dentists and the dentist has finished and invites you to gargle with some mouthwash and you spit it into a bowl provided. Even though you are consciously aware that your mouth has been numbed, you foolishly think it can’t be that bad. Until that is, you realize the mouthwash is dribbling down your chin.

Consequently, I eat only soft food and only then food that has been cut up into small chunks that I then carefully place in the right side of my mouth. If for some reason some the food makes a dash to the left side of my mouth then by a combination of either tilting my head to the right, or by a suction motion borne out of necessity, whereby I maneuver the errant food back on the right side of the mouth. However this suction motion proves that the law of unintentional consequences is undeniably true. Because when I engage in this suction, the noise that is produced invariably leads to what Avril calls ‘mouth farts.’ This occasions much hilarity on her part, but which for some reason I fail to see the funny side of. (Which is ironic, given that I frequently make much ruder and personal comments about her, yet expect her not to be in a grump about. Although to be fair, she hardly ever does.) And because I have no control of the left side of my mouth, food can get stuck there, without me always being aware. Therefore, I wash my teeth in the shower, for reasons of practicality when you consider the dentist comparison of my mouth action given previously.

One of the other less edifying aspects of temporary facial paralysis is that when you do manage to eat it can often feel as if I’m trying to paint using only my feet to hold the brushes; messy, humiliating and ultimately frustratingly annoying, with effort not matching reward. Having only one fully operational eye – because Bell’s Palsy also limits my spatial awareness – is much the same as having a blind spot, so as the eating utensil gets closer to your mouth, the less of the business end of it you can see. Thus it becomes a very messy affair and soon you grow bored of wearing and not eating your food. This again could be of some benefit to people who look like barrels with arms. Because, as we all know, a diet can be summed up in four words; eat less, do more. Everything else is just garnish, which of course you can eat on a diet because they’re low in calories. Another painful lesson concerns the exiting of what goes in. By necessity I can only eat soft foods, which by definition are not high in fibre with, wholly predictable results. (If any does know of a soft food that’s high in fibre, I implore you from the heart of my bottom to share your knowledge in the comment section) So Matthew has been making me high fibre smoothies which are not as worthily tasteless as they sound, containing as they do raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, various seeds, bananas, apples and orange juice. Right now I’ve urgently to take the kids to the pool because I can feel the smoothie working…..

I know I wrote a few posts back that the next series of posts would be about me coping with Bell’s Palsy, and I meant it then but I’m bored now, so next time…How the maxim ‘charity begins at home’ is true in the case of Bono, with his Dublin mansion, New York apartment (and not forgetting his beachfront villa on the French Riviera….)