Thursday 30 July 2009

EC budget shock

The Lords EU Committee published its report into the 2010 EC budget today, and guess what?

Too much money is being spent on farming. Never saw that one coming.

They argue that a large chunk of the £54 billion allocated to the management and preservation of natural resources – a heading that includes the scandalous Common Agricultural Policy – should be redirected.

Instead the Lords say it should go to boosting economic and employment growth. How Anglo Saxon of them.

As highly influential as Lords committees are, I can’t see Brussels rolling over on this one.

Chilcot's track record

I’m a little uneasy about the launch of the Iraq War Inquiry – Sir John Chilcot will set out his terms of reference later on.

It’s one of those issues which, on the face of it, is clear cut.

The inquiry should be open, witnesses should be under oath, only evidence that is a grave threat to national security should be heard in private and anyone who is relevant, including Tony Blair, should be questioned.

Unfortunately there is too much politics involved, and too much at stake for all of that to go smoothly.

Much of what happens will depend on Sir John, who also sat on the Butler Inquiry, which was lenient with Blair’s Government over the use of intelligence in the run up to war.

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Lazy blogging

I’ve noticed that Kevin Maguire has returned to the blogosphere.

I hadn’t looked at the Maguire and Friends site for yonks because they never seemed to post anything.

Then after months of no new posts, one of the first two entries consists of the entire transcript of a publicity e-mail sent out by David Cameron.

You can do better than that can’t you boys?

Clear cut

It must take a lot of will power to stop saying the word "cut", but Labour is having a good go.

They need to if the PM is going to keep up the weary call that the Tories want cuts and his party wants investment.

A previous favourite replacement word of ministers was "reprioritisation", but Mandy seems to favour "fiscal adjustment" now.

I imagine to really cut out "cut" comprehensively one would have to stop using it in all its forms.

Ministers probably only go for “hair curtailments” these days, and at the weekend go outside to “shave” the grass.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Rose tinted specs

There was an uncomfortable moment for Lord Mandelson just now as he announced the Government would hand £45m to Rolls Royce to help it build four new UK factories.

Sir John Rose the company’s chief exec was pondering Rolls Royce’s future when he found himself wanting to say – I thought – that the recession was going to be longer than we thought.

Realising who he was sitting next to he smiled and tempered his words, saying instead that no one expected a sharp up-turn in the near future.

Mandy stared straight ahead.

Monday 27 July 2009

Targets ARE a problem...

When it emerged that up to 1,200 people might have died needlessly at Stafford Hospital due to “third world” standards the Healthcare Commission said an obsession with targets was a key problem.

The Government argued the failure was a one-off and entirely the fault of the Mid-Staffs trust’s management team.

But David Bowles, the chair of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust who resigned recently, isn’t so sure.

This is what he said on stepping down.

“I refuse to work in a system which seems not to have learnt the lessons of Mid Staffordshire and to have lost sight of the critical issues of patient safety; a system which places unacceptable pressures on the Trust…

…Furthermore, mindful of patients and my personal responsibilities for safety, I can not continue to be involved in the NHS where it seems to me that bullying from outside of the Trust is simply met with a shrug of the shoulders and ‘well that’s the NHS’.”

It makes you wonder how many more Staffords there are waiting to happen.