Junior doctors have been on strike this week, an astonishing thing to happen that, in itself, demonstrates the terrible political diplomacy that Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, has demonstrated as he attempted to push through his agenda.
Mr Hunt’s central talking point is that the policy he is pursuing is a manifesto commitment. In interviews he suggests that the British Medical Association (BMA) is attempting to block the manifesto commitment, and therefore the will of the British people.
That is not quite true, for several reasons. First, the manifesto pledge is for a so-called “7 day NHS”, the idea being that routine clinics and elective procedures should also take place at the weekends, when its more convenient for many people. The manifesto pledge only says that hospitals will be ‘properly staffed’, and nowhere does it say that this will be achieved by reducing the out-of-hours pay for doctors (achieved by re-defining late evening and Saturday work as normal working hours). It would have been an odd sort of voter who assumed that would be the case. Continue reading “No Plan, No Funds, No Staff”
Right. We all got a bit distracted there for a moment. What were we talking about? Oh yeah…
Almost all the debate about #Leveson so far is over whether the Government should introduce statutory regulation of the press. The other grave issues covered by the Inquiry, and Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations for how to fix them, seem to have prompted less discussion.
The tunnel vision of the political class, and it’s obsession with press regulation, is partly to blame for this. But it is also the fault of Lord Justice Leveson himself. He offers a detailed plan for how a new self-regulatory body might be emboldened by some kind of law… but fewer ideas on how to regulate the way the media interacts with the police and politicians.
This is a shame, because the ambivalence of the police to the practice of phone hacking (if not outright collusion) was the most shocking of last year’s revelations. It was the failure to properly investigate the phone hacking that made this controversy into a bona fide ‘gate’. Had the police done their job, and not sought friendship and favour with the News International titles and other tabloids, then the entire controversy would have amounted to nothing more than a few criminal prosecutions. Continue reading “#Leveson recommends self-regulation… for the politicians”