Johnson Chunterings

It was pretty despicable of Boris Johnson to start blaming Labour for the release of Usman Khan when he clearly still posed a danger to society. Usman was sentenced in 2012 to Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP). He would serve at least eight years but could not be released unless he had convinced the Parole Board he was no longer a threat. The Conservatives (and Lib Dems) were in Government at that time, and months later IPPs were abolished. On appeal, Khan’s sentence was reviewed and he would serve 8 years before receiving automatic parole subject to license conditions.

The fault lies in the sentencing rules in force in 2012. It does not matter under whose Government those rules were devised. Labour had been out of power for 2 years at that point and there was plenty of time for Tories and their Lib Dem partners to review the rules and update them. We know they did actually did this because IPPs were abolished. That review failed completely to deal with the impact on prisoners such as Usman Khan. Seven years on and innocent citizens paid the price for this error. The error was 100% the fault of the Government at the time of sentencing and in the seven years since when they did nothing to mitigate for the risks. It would be nice if Tom McNally owned up to the Lib Dem culpability to set an example of how politicians should act when events prove them lacking. I’d have more respect for that stance and I think most people realise hindsight is a wonderful thing and it would have been impossible to predict what would happen in 2019 back in 2012. An apology is all that is really needed, nothing more.

It was notable that Johnson did seem to try and distance his Government of 120 days from the Cameron and May administrations in order to try and wriggle out of having to accept even a modicum of responsibility but the bottom line is Conservatives, the party he leads, have been in charge of the Justice, Prisons, and Probation services for nearly 10 years.

Next to the appalling event on London Bridge on Friday, it seems trivial, but Johnson and his cronies seem determined to try and claim that they are creating 50,000 new nursing jobs, when they are actually retaining 19,000 due to be cut and adding 31,000. Same as police – recruiting 20,000 new police officers having already cut 20,000. Net result, zero. The maths involved is worthy of Diane Abbott on a bad blood sugar day.

I’m struggling to work out how, given every conceivable version of EU Exit carries a hit on the economy, all Johnson’s spending plans are dependent on getting brexit done. Magic Money Forests I guess.

In the meantime, the Daily Express (is that still going?) reports that “BBC viewers turn TV off as Andrew Marr ‘loses temper’ in interview with Boris Johnson”. This seems to be based on a number of Johnson’s cronies going onto Twitter and ranting that their Glorious Leader had been prevented by Andrew Marr from deflecting every question asked and rambling off onto a different subject, usually guesswork on what Corbyn would do. Marr, rightly, wanted to hear what Johnson would do on all the issues. This does seem to be a Tory tactic to avoid the awkward questions – tell the questioner what the opposition would do about something completely different followed by “get brexit done” to cure all ills. Corbyn is perfectly capable of burying himself and doesn’t need Johnson’s help with that. Back to the Express, I guess technically if two Johnson-supporting viewers switched off the headline is truthful. Putting “loses temper” in inverted commas means even the Express doesn’t think Marr lost his temper and they were just quoting. It’s good to know that fake news is alive and well in the UK and the Express are leading in that particular skill set. The Express now has a readership of 320,000, down from their high of 4,320,000 when they were a real newspaper. Is it any wonder?

Labour: Free Steak Bakes for All

I shouldn’t watch Question Time. I always end up yelling at idiot politicians spouting nonsense and/or not answering the questions asked. Tonight the victim of my rant was Alex Phillips of the Brexit Party (not the Green Party MEP of the same name) as she attempted to address a question on the NHS. The Brexit Party doesn’t appear to have a Health Policy or any other policy other than Brexit and they can’t make their own minds up about what that is it seems.

That aside, Labour today pledged free broadband for everyone. Yesterday it was a 4 day working week whilst being paid for 5. Tomorrow, I am assured, it will be a free Steak Bake and Cup Cake for everyone, paid for by nationalising Greggs. I’m sure that a future Labour Government will find a place for Nicol├ís Maduro as an economic advisor should the people of Venezuela ever achieve democracy. And yet I might vote (tactically) for them. And the reason is that 75% of Labour MPs are not far left loonies and will act as a brake on their “leadership”.

And then we come to the Tories. Under their stewardship hospital waiting times in England are the worst since records began. It is an incredibly damning position for any Government to find itself in, especially during an election campaign. People are literally dying and it is Government policy to blame. Brexit, discouraging medics from other EU states from coming here, makes matters worse. But I don’t see the Opposition capitalising on this breathtakingly incompetent performance as they should be.

Instead Labour’s 32 hour week policy, and confusion about what that really means, would also do immense harm to NHS productivity. Welsh Labour and the SNP are not doing great things themselves on their devolved NHS performance. Which leaves the Lib Dems. Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Luciana Berger said the Tories had a “shameful” record according to the BBC. Berger is our Health spokesperson? When did that happen? She only defected in September. However, 1p on income tax to pay for additional spending is at least honest and quite easy to understand.

To my mind it is a complete mess. I don’t trust the Tories with the NHS. Their semi-privatisation and internal market have clearly failed. Labour has confused thinking – a 16% fall in hours = a 16% fall in productivity, basic maths. The Lib Dems at least have an honest funding approach but I have no real confidence that someone who served most of her political life as a Labour MP is now a true Liberal Democrat.

On health alone, hard Brexit aside, my vote is… drum roll… spoilt ballot. A pox on all your houses. But if I had to choose, at gunpoint, it would be the Lib Dem approach as long as Berger is closely shadowed by someone with more than 2 months of party membership. But here’s a suggestion… stop reforming the NHS every couple of years; give it some stability and consistency. I know it is so tempting for a politician to tinker but don’t, just don’t. Leave it alone and let the professionals run it at arm’s length from the politicians.