Theresa May’s call for “an end to the division” over Brexit is doomed to fail. For many Britons, being European is part of their identity, and for a substantial number they are European first and British second.
For these people, Britain being torn out of the European Union means that part of their identity is being torn from their bodies. It is naive to imagine that such a trauma can ever be overcome or forgiven. The division will remain for all of our lifetimes.
I have long thought that philosophers inhabit a different world to the rest of us. AC Grayling [in his open letter to Theresa May] argues that as the 51.9 per cent of those who voted in the referendum is only “a mere 37 per cent of the of the electorate”, the choice of what Brexit means is a matter for Parliament. Grayling then strays further into the realms of fantasy with the bizarre notion that a general strike to fight against a hard Brexit is both legitimate and feasible. Yet the majority of those who are instructed to strike would sacrifice pay to support a policy that counters their reasons for voting for Brexit in the first place.
Theresa May has been much derided for her mantra that Brexit means Brexit but what was it that the Brexiteers promised us? First and foremost an extra £350m a week for the NHS but also control of our borders, an end to the supremacy of European courts, and freedom to do trade deals with the rest of the world. While the first was a big fat lie, the rest are eminently achievable – but only by the so-called hard Brexit. Anything less leaves us in hock to the EU and is not really Brexit at all, keeping most or all of the disadvantages of EU membership and rather less of the advantages.
As anyone who has been through an acrimonious divorce knows, it costs time, money and has to end in compromise if the courts do not side with one party in the dispute. The end result is the extra cost of maintaining two separate establishments and the prospect of other relationships perhaps even worse than the first.
But don’t blame me for what is about to come to pass. I voted to remain.
Pulling the NHS out of its current crisis
I have just read Will Worley’s article, (“Theresa May vows to press ahead with 7-day GP services”, Saturday 14 January) concerning the PM’s call for all doctors surgeries in England to be open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
A laudable aim, however, the real problem is not opening hours but a lack of GPs.
Say a surgery has four doctors all working 9am to 5.30pm and each taking 30 minutes for lunch, then from Monday to Friday 160 hours of appointment time has been made available to patients.
By changing the shift patterns so that Doctor A works 8am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, Dr B works 11.30am to 8pm; Dr C works 8am to 4.30pm Wednesday to Sunday, and Dr D works 11.30am to 8pm, a full 8am-to-8pm seven-day service is provided. But there are still only 160 hours of appointment time available to patients.
Such a change may be of benefit to some patients, such as me, as I have the ability to take time off work to see a doctor. But this will only be at the expense of someone else who is faced with fewer appointments during “working hours”.
This measure won’t take any strain off hospitals; it will only demoralise GPs further because they would like to have weekends free just like the rest of us.
The government must train more GPs and to do that it must spend money.
If I know something is going to happen in the future, I plan for it accordingly.
For decades we have been told that people are living longer, and it has been obvious that extra medical and social care would be required.
The opinions that are being expressed about what needs to be done to help the NHS should have been aired years ago. I, and so many others, could see what was going to happen – why couldn’t our MPs?
May and Hunt could unleash hundreds of thousands of hours of additional GP time overnight by permanently abolishing vast swathes of administrative burdens and politically imposed “must-dos”. Simply allowing GPs and their staff to do their jobs properly, without interference, denigration and distraction, would transform the productivity, quality and morale difficulties – and would cause recruitment to rise dramatically too.
Doctors and nurses ought to be full-time clinicians, unless they choose to be full-time managers as a distinct career.
Criticising Corbyn creates a self-fulfulling prophecy
I wonder if commentators like John Rentoul (“Can Jeremy Corbyn win by becoming a leftwing Donald Trump”, 15 January), or indeed all the bitter Labour MPs who have poured out destructive criticism of Corbyn since he became leader, ever stop to think about the harm they are doing to the many people whose only hope at present is a Labour government.
The incessant mantra from these quarters is “Corbyn can’t win a general election”. This self-fulfilling prophecy is bearing fruit already with poor poll ratings – and no wonder, as surely some people are not interested in the minutiae of politics and will simply accept that this must be true, since it is being repeated everywhere they look.
My own main concerns are animal welfare and environmental matters. Unless we can dispose of the current Government, these areas are seriously imperilled, to put it mildly. I cringe when I read the apparently unstoppable flow of disdain and contempt heaped on Jeremy Corbyn’s head every single day, as it is so unfair, unkind and destructive.
The future of Tristram Hunt, Ukip and the V&A
The news that Tristram Hunt has triggered a by-election in Ukip’s number one target seat is not the least of the problems Hunt has created. When Ukip made the seat its main target, it recognised accurately that the hostility to the metropolitan elite was its major electoral asset, and Hunt – who was imposed on the local party, not selected by it – was the best possible example of this.
However, the task now is to stop Ukip taking what should be a safe Labour seat but is now up for grabs. And local anti-fascist groups are playing into the hands of Ukip by seeking to campaign against it. Nothing wrong in that, but a high-profile campaign will give it the very publicity it craves. The best tactic to use is to play on the issues which plague the local community, like the NHS crisis, where Ukip is weak. Playing to its agendas would be a mistake. Be careful what you wish for!
I’ve been thinking about Tristram Hunt’s views of charging to enter museums and galleries as I contemplate paying £16 for one of three current pay-to-see shows at the V&A (the others are £12. The planned Pink Floyd show will be at least £20 a head). No doubt extra income would be welcome to top up the reserves, currently almost half a billion pounds, and improve the net £80m a year profit – but would that mean a drop in the exhibition prices to something affordable for most visitors?
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