Friday 5 June 2015 BBC Radio 4 1pm News Here is The News

November 30, 2015

Earlier this week – a week that has been filled with announcements from the newly-elected Conservative government here – and the first week of the sitting of Parliament in this new administration – the government, elected on a platform of ‘reducing the deficit’ but without making known any (public) declaration of how it was to be done, has with great speed and alacrity laid great burdens of loss of services and income on us, its charges, at a stroke, and simply because for it to strike now whilst the electoral term is near its fullest extent remaining, enables time enough to be available for  people to forget over the coming five years, about this mighty, sudden and ferocious assault on their living standards.

Such detailed planning, for making cuts in services and incomes it certainly had before it was elected; only it chose not to reveal its plans to its electorate beforehand.

No such quickfire volley of such fierce assault could have been magicked out of the air otherwise, by the Conservatives, since just a fortnight ago. Like Milton’s Holy Epic this assault has all the signs of ‘long-choosing and beginning late’ and was certainly well drawn up in its detail weeks before we citizens went to cast our votes.

Had the Conservatives done otherwise than hid their fistfuls of slashing razors from us and had instead revealed their intentions prior to the recent election, there is little doubt the result of the election would have adversely affected the Conservative majority win.

And so, what can one conclude from this reasoning so far?  That the Conservatives bowled us a lowball, and took us for suckers: - and we? – we were suckers indeed – and taken for suckers – so maybe we just deserve it all? I think so.

Let’s look at some of this notification of slashing and burning dumped upon us from a great height this week by our Parliamentary representatives (!?!)

Jeremy Hunt, Minister for Health gave a speech early in the week. He launched first into announcing a moratorium of immediate effect on any new money for the UK National Health Service (NHS).  It will have to manage alone on what it has as funding right now.  ‘

‘The Health Service is safe in our hands’. ‘There will be Peace in our Time’

Whether this moratorium allows present funding levels to stay abreast of inflation I did not gather from the news report on BBC Radio 4 news.

BBC Radio 4 news laid out the rest of Jeremy Hunt’s speech something like as follows:

Jeremy Hunt, straight after the stun gun shock of his no more funding announcement, had poured an efficacious tincture of emollient over that wound in this manner. After dishing out his initial body blow to the biggest employer in the UK (the NHS); he quickly hopped back with some fancy footwork and sent the force of another such mighty blow hard upon nursing staff who are hired ad hoc upon need by the NHS from Nursing Staff Employment Agencies.

(Here is the Party which in its election campaign saw no need to prevent zero-hours contracts; a Party which has always encouraged a more accommodative labour market for employers and one able to service employees’ needs for flexible hours working – a party that has always stood for all employers being able to hire and lay off upon need)

Nursing Staff Employment Agencies who are presently supply nursing staff to the NHS ad hoc upon need, so as to fill out staffing gaps occurring due to sickness, vacations, etc, are earning too much from providing this stopgap service. The Nursing Staff supplied by the Agencies are themselves being paid too much for their work also.  A figure of up to £10K plus was thrown by the newsreader into the witches cauldron to add to BBC News’ brew.  It seems that some Agency-supplied nursing staff>  have been getting this sum per day!!  This is no exaggeration on my part, nor was it misheard, nor has it been misconstrued by me. It is reported here exactly as it was spoken, excepting that a more precise sum was spoken than my ballpark £10K plus.

So the NHS is to work so as to claw back money for its additional funding for elsewhere in the Service by curtailing these greedy and unethical Agency nursing staff whose avarice is a serious cause of ‘overspending’ in the wrong places in the NHS. With the same brush were tarred the supplyer Employment Agencies themselves.

Mr Hunt’s fancy footwork thus, had caused the brunt of the blame (for his (snap? - I doubt it!) decision to bar additional funding to the NHS) to fall fairly ( I doubt it!?) and squarely on the Nursing Agencies and the nursing staff whom they provide.

Nice one, Jeremy.

We joe-soaps The Public thus received yet more congealed cold porridge poured down our necks from our political representatives and defenders.  The swingeing NHS swipe of Jeremy Hunt was palliated for us and his accountability for it was deflected and dissipated neatly away; there was no governmental responsibility for the moratorium; it was all placed a the door of the Agencies and the Nursing Staff they provide.

All this was achieved by Mr. Hunt’s – what can I call it? – sly, manipulative and callous jiggery-pokery sleight of hand with his words, arguments, facts, his electorate, and of course, in regard to the £10K+, I must add, this was a lie

I do not know whether the BBC lied, or got its reporting wrong, but I do know a priori that no single person of Nursing Staff gets £10K+ per day pay for working in the NHS, whether Agency provided or not.

Possibly a surgeon might get such an amount for a day’s work when hired for a day from an Agency? Although she or he might have saved a life or made good a half-dozen lives which were on the rocks during the course of that day’s hire?  Only the Conservatives would put a price on this.

There is much, much more to say, particularly on how the News in general is dished out on BBC Radio and TV, the National Treasures of a Public Institution which never tires of bigging itself up and patting itself on the back for being ‘the best’ whatever they might be? ‘in the world’.  A regular listener hears such claims about twice a week over their airwaves.

In the news this week also - another politician, of a different persuasion, and named aptly and eponymously Blears (sic); Hazel Blears, who today Friday 5 June 2015 was called upon by a BBC Radio 4 News interviewer to field a clutch of questions put to her concerning a news story then breaking about a computer hacking scandal whereby certain data held on US political personnel had been stolen, allegedly by China and its government.

The attribution of this hacking to China it appeared in the course of the ensuing news dialogue to have no firm grounding, other than that the USA had firmly pointed the finger at China.  An IT expert spoke and quickly quashed the viability of this allegation with a peremptory ease by explaining very clearly that any attribution of hacking is de facto never obvious or simple to discover.

The Radio interviewer spoke to Ms Blears about the security of data in the UK, especially in regard to the hacking of government organisations, specifically exampling GCHQ in Cheltenham, as a likely target; and maybe a perpetrator too?

Ms Blears is a Member of Parliament who sits on the House National Security Intelligence Sub-committee, and so she knows about these things. The interviewer asked her a brace or two of questions about whether GCHQ does the hacking sort of thing, the sort of behaviour which other Johnny Foreigner countries do in the course of having breakfast. That is; do we likewise hack foreign nations’ government installations?

The interviewer’s questions were not particularly barbed or probing, and the answers given by Ms Blears were not followed through on to dig out any further deeper enquiry. Ms. Blears in short had the field to herself and was given all space in which to say her piece in answer to this fairly superficial breeze of an enquiry which appeared to me to be a set piece of prompts allowing her to provide a raft of stock answers, rather than the interview being truly investigative or incisive.

Ms. Blears managed to avoid giving away anything more than an obfuscatory word or two of comfort to listeners; saying that the British are a people who did not get up to that sort of thing; the drift being that our levels of civilization and understanding of right and wrong are far finer than those many other nations can boast of, and therefore there was absolutely no question of us blah, blah, blah…(sigh).

The interviewer moved on after having elicited these soothing and reassuring purrs and grunts from our Parliamentary representative. The interviewer asked another set of questions to Ms. Blears whose soporific mode of answering stayed homed steadily on Morpheus.  ‘Are we British facing hacking? Are we at risk? Do we need to and do we take precautions?’ Ms. Blears assured the nation that ‘everything humanly possible’ is being done to prevent us from suffering hacking, and to protect the British Public from it. That she had every confidence in our Security Services’ capability to keep abreast of and to keep on top of the rapidly changing, technological world of cybercrime.

There were lesser peoples out there in the world who are ready and willing to get at us, but we are up to the task, and ready and able and willing to take them on. Ms. Blears, by way of not giving one direct answer to any of six or seven questions, had managed sheerly by use of a motherly tone, a ready use of placebo phrases, and a confident, nay, almost imbecilic stance of grand assurance, to offer the nation a good night’s sleep safe in their beds ad eternum.

I would say if I were asked, that no statement of any substance was made by her throughout the interview; that absolutely nothing was said by her that might be empirically testable or anecdotally feasible, or else logically inferable or deducible and which had bearing on the actual situations she was being asked to elucidate. She was all bullshit.

Then Radio 4 went onto its next items of news. The BBC has a way of doing slick transitions like no other can, and it is so exasperating and angry-making. The next item of news discussed a web journalistic venture newly launched by a local newspaper somewhere in the north of the UK.

There had been set up a website which purveys news described as ‘zany trivia’; stories which were so banal and trite and time-wasting that as a bit of light relief after Ms Blears, this news story appeared to be an excruciating attempt by the BBC at offering ‘and now for something completely different…’.  The subliminal message being applied by its placement was that England, the English, and maybe the others here, are a charming engaging lot of eccentric and delightful airheads, who live so far mentally from, so psychically and socially removed from even a half-realised imaginative apprehension of the ravages going on in The Middle East, and get along in life almost unconscious of, kept at arms distance from, the unwelcome habits that go on on the other side of the Channel. We are such a jolly crowd to be with and are a treat to have on your side.

‘Hedgehog rescued from yoghurt pot’; ‘Heat-wave bursts toddler’s balloon’; ‘Loose can lid spoils Mrs Duff’s best carpet’.

After the full weight of slush on GCHQ, coupled with the hacking of US Offices by China, we were brought home to quintessential England: land of ice-creams on the lawn and all’s right with the world.

It was like paying to see Aeschylus and getting Disney instead.  The whole thing, Blears and the zany trivia stories; sorry attempts to sweep reality under a cellophane carpet and to soothe half-listeners with blanket-loads of pap and fantasy – in effect an avuncular and demeaning condescension, carrying with it a certain superiority tinged with easy dismissal and blithe presumption.

That was the news for this week