The United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) has made some significant electoral advances since the 2010 General Election, when they secured 3.1% of the popular vote. Not only did the party go on to win the 2014 Elections to the European Parliament with 24 MEPs elected on 26.6% of the vote, but they currently have 430 councillors across 76 local councils, and recently secured their first elected MPs to Westminster following Conservative defections and victory in two volitional by-elections. At the time of writing they are regularly scoring between 12-15% in opinion polls. Christians are deeply divided about the party’s perceived ‘undercurrents’ of racism, nationalism and isolationism which, some aver, put them beyond the pale of religious respectability. But despite episcopal denunciations(1), the party is attracting Christians from across the denominations, including the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church(2). Continue reading →
I know there’s a Lynton Crosby-decreed pre-election purdah on all matters NHS, but…
Dr Poulter: On long-term work force planning, the hon. Gentleman suggests that there is suddenly a crisis in GP recruitment—which I do not think is necessarily correct—but if the previous Government were serious about investing in general practice, they should have trained a lot more GPs than they did (Hansard, 5 Feb 2015: Column 442). Continue reading →
1551. That was the last year – give or take – when there was a grammar school in every town. I know that because Chris Skidmore told me, and he’s a historian.
It’s fairly straightforward. Edward VI was on the throne, and there had been a few tussles between Church and State for the control of young minds. The Church wanted Latin used for chanting; the State for logic and grammar. So free schools were established (Michael Gove was not the first) to liberate the curriculum in order to inculcate the Liberal Arts and raise standards of attainment. Continue reading →
I saw my dear uncle recently – the only one I’ve got left.
Born in 1929, a former manager for Midland Bank (and no fan of HSBC), he proudly told me (again) about the letter he’d received from his excellent MP, Sir Richard Shepherd, congratulating him and my aunt on their diamond wedding anniversary (a family first). Continue reading →
I’ve had terminal cancer five or six times in my life, all cured by the same remedy – a swift visit to my GP. I scare myself quite easily, you see – a consequence of a very real life-threatening diagnosis I was given in my mid-20s which involved months of investigations and eight hours of major surgery. Continue reading →
If we’re all good boys and girls this Christmas, the Department of Health has some treats in store for us next year. Santa Hunt (Jeremy Claus?) is promising improved access to our GPs seven days a week, which is sure to put a smile on a lot of faces if not thousands of votes in the ballot box. That old fashioned, corner-shop style of Primary Care is just no longer fit for purpose, you see. We all now want 24/7 access to GPs like Tesco gives us to microwavable creamy carbonara. Continue reading →
Some wars are fought to subjugate and oppress, others to redeem and liberate. Some are arise out of vengeance and resentment, others in pursuit of justice and peace. There are conflicts of land and wealth or power and glory. The righteous rhetoric of dictatorship carves into the democratic commonwealth. The principalities of theocracy, plutocracy and oligarchy seem to be perpetually ranged against liberty, justice and the rule of law. In the realm of rationality, there can be no concessions: victory is the goal and virtue the motivation. But their morality is our insanity. Their freedom is our captivity. Give me impotence, and I will show you a slave. Continue reading →
Jeremy Hunt was answering Health Questions in Parliament last week, and on the matter of access to GPs he disclosed: “I took my own children to an A and E department at the weekend precisely because I did not want to wait until later on to take them to see a GP”.
Now, it may be that the Secretary of State was acting quite naturally in the best interests of his children. It would be quite wrong to pry into the personal circumstances of Mr Hunt’s visit to A&E, or to conjecture about the nature of the accident or emergency which had befallen one (or both) of his children. Continue reading →
Right across the political spectrum, there is now broad acceptance that there’s a real and truly worrying recruitment and retention crisis in General Practice. Not only are experienced GPs retiring in droves; new medical graduates are avoiding that branch of the profession like a bout of Ebola. Surgeries are starting to close because of their inability to find replacements for retiring partners, with the inevitable knock-on for surrounding surgeries who have to adopt the dispossessed and abandoned patients. Continue reading →
“…that shrewd and knavish sprite/ Call’d Robin”, I tweeted on the #nothingescapesshakespeare hashtag I seem to share with my fellow Bardophile Dan Hannan, when I heard the sad news that Robin Williams was dead. I guess for a certain generation (i.e. mine) he will always be the zany, elfin Mork from Ork, transmitting wry observations about the human condition (i.e. American culture) to his humourless supervisor Orson – “Nanoo Nannoo”. The TV series went stratospheric in the late 70s, and a lot of casting thereafter was done to feed Williams’s whirlwind appetite for comedy – DJ Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning Vietnam, Armand in The Birdcage, or the explosive voice of the Genie in Aladdin, much of which was improvised. Every performance was a spontaneous cyclone of craziness and enthusiasm for life. Continue reading →