Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Getting Brown to details

Margaret Thatcher is supposed to have had a two stage plan to liberate the UK from excessive bureaucracy. It went:
1) take all power away from corrupt and short-sighted local ward bosses and local civil servants and give it to central government;
2) give it back to the people and truly representative local institutions.
Many conservatives and libertarians say that stage 1 happened but stage 2 did not.

Perhaps that was where the rot started. Maybe that was when national politicians spotted that the British public was so gullible, so naive, and above all, so lacking in perspective that they (the national politicians) can get massive credit for saving Tiddles the kitten from being drowned by forming an action plan to do away with water-butts.

Whether or not that is true, am I the only one to be mortified by this:

In his interview with The Sunday Times, Brown ... announced new measures to improve the health service, including:

— Introducing a programme of “deep cleaning” of hospital wards, in which all beds, doors, fixtures and fittings are scrubbed and steam-cleaned with high-strength disinfectant at least every 18 months.

— All cervical screening test results will be issued within 14 days, benefiting 4m women every year. At present, more than half of patients wait six weeks or more for their results.

— Extending the age range of women eligible for routine breast cancer screening to 47 to 73. The current age range is 50 to 70, meaning an extra 200,000 women a year will be routinely screened.

— Extending the upper age limit for routine screening for bowel cancer from age 70 to age 75 by the end of 2009. As a result, about 1m men and women will be added to the screening programme.

— Delivering the 2005 manifesto commitment to ensure an appointment with a specialist within two weeks of referral for all patients with breast problems.

Is this really the level of detail a Prime Minister should be concerned with? Does this not show how moribund is the political process? Doesn't it also demonstrate why the NHS is totally screwed?

Critics, however, are likely to claim that Brown still lacks a “big idea” to distinguish himself from his predecessor.

You're telling me!

I have a few action points for Mr Brown. I offer them in all humility. I feel confident that one or more of them will address the BIG IDEA issue.

  • create a Ministry for Paper
  • appoint a weights and measures czar
  • institute a weekly national shoe inspection. Don't just check the uppers, either. Who knows what may lurk on the nation's soles.
  • create a Task Force for the Delivery of Waste Collection
  • make compulsory the monthly cleaning of mouse-balls on all publicly owned PCs.
  • require daily multiplication tests for the over-seventies
  • permute the words of the title of the Task Force
  • nationalise Polly Toynbee
  • invite Margaret Thatcher to tea. Oh sorry! You've done that.
  • make everyone stay at school until they're clever
  • introduce capital punishment for losing national sports' teams
  • privatise Tony Benn
  • institute weekly lessons in schools on `How to remove your money from a failing bank'
  • outsource tea-drinking to Mumbai
  • avoid the row about the upper house by populating it entirely with contestants from Big Brother (apart from Jade, of course)

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