Last weeks poll was about the HIPs fiasco - should the government admit they have messed up, cut and run and scrap HIPs; or having taken it this far, should they steam ahead? 57% of you were in favour of scrapping the whole shambles (a position I agree with). 27% of you felt that just the information pack element should be scrapped but the EPCs should still go ahead. A tiny 16% of you wanted the government to steam on ahead.
In less than two weeks the English smoking ban will come in to force. Anyone who lights up in an enclosed public space will likely to be jumped on by a health and safety "officer" and fined £50. I am a little torn by this policy - on the one hand those who wish to be free of smoke can have it forced on them in pubs, but on the other hand who is the government to tell us whether we can smoke or not? If there was a demand to ban smoking, wouldn't the pubs already have banned it themselves
Richard Granger has resigned. Never heard of him? You will know his work. He is was Britain's top paid civil servant (£290,000 a year no less) and was responsible for upgrading information technology (IT) systems and introducing electronic patient records within the NHS. Yes, that £12bn upgrade system that has run well over budget, is two years late, is littered with problems and will not have that much benefit to actual patient care at all.
I get a distinct feeling that the Tories are rapidly moving back to square one at the moment. It may well be too early to say with any conviction that they are back in Hague/IDS/Howard territory, but the signs are there. They have had a miserable month with the grammar schools debate, the rise of Gordon and ever bubbling worry that no one wants to be a Tory Mayor (and that includes Greg Dyke, as we all found out much to the red faces at CCHQ).
And so to the BMA's annual conference where GPs voted on various issues. There were unanimous votes to carry the following motions:
This conference has no confidence in
1) the UK government's handling of the National Health Service,
2) the Secretary of State for Health in England
So after all the fuss, u-turns, backtracking, re-packaging, delays, spin and farce it seems that HIPs may not be enforceable after all! That is right, even if the government does go ahead with its pseudo-implementation on 1st August, there are loopholes which will mean houses can still go on the market with that all important information pack. According to the FT:
(Picture - Hat tip: Guido Fawkes)
So incredibly one person in our poll thought that the new Olympic logo was worth every penny of the £400k it cost. Maybe Lord Coe reads Picking Losers..?
An overwhelming 76% of you thought £400k was a complete waste of money regardless of the what it had ended up looking like. I have to say, I agree.
So yesterday, as promised, Ruth Kelly outlined the plans for the implementation of HIPs. All houses with four or more bedrooms will be required to have them from August 1st, then it will be a phased implementation with three bedroom houses next and then the rest of the market to follow. That is that all cleared up then. Thank goodness for that.
Education. Education. Education. The opening lines of ten years of spin, let downs and failed policy from New Labour. A report published by Civitas today confirms that whilst this government has talked about education and pumped a load of extra money in to it, it doesn't follow that government interference is the best solution for getting the best out of our children.
The HIPs saga rumbles on. The latest is the news that the government may well be getting sued over the whole matter. That is to say, we are going to have pay for their incompetence if legal action goes ahead - because there is no chance they would win! Since the scheme was "delayed" last month to start on 1st August and is now to only include houses with four or more bedrooms, companies have been laying off trained inspectors as they are no longer needed - many firms have even gone out of business.
I went to listen to a talk by Boris Johnson last night out in Berkshire at an independent school. The TV personality and occasional shadow spokesman for higher education did not disappoint and also inadvertently answered a question Picking Losers asked a few months back- is Boris an individualist or an interventionist? He is quite clearly an individualist I am pleased to report.
Peter Hain has come up with the most incredible solution to the housing market and I can not believe no one else had thought of this before. The Secretary of State for Wales and NI and also one of the candidates for the Labour deputy leadership proposed that stamp duty could be switched from home buyers to sellers to help young people get on the housing ladder. This, of course, would increase the supply of affordable housing. He told Simon Mayo on radio Five Yesterday, "We should consider whether it would be more appropriate for the seller of a property to pay
Rather brilliantly, Mayor Ken Livingstone has come out and publicly said that the London-based LIVE agency that made the 2012 logo film that has been causing epileptic fits should not be paid. It is rumoured that he hates the logo and stated "I wouldn't pay them a penny... Who would go to a firm like that again to ask them to do that work? I mean, this is a pretty basic thing." (Urmm, London 2012?) There have been 22 reports of epileptic fits so far and the film was withdrawn on Tuesday.
As predicted, yesterday was a bad day for Patricia Hewitt - admittedly it didn't take Mystic Meg to predict that one, though! However, it is hard to have any sympathy with her; she is heading a department that is spinning a genuinely bad news story in to something which doesn't sound so bad. The headline "NHS saves £510m" is not only misleading it is actually bad news for all of us. In an effort to hit targets and not go in to the red yet again, Hewitt has effectively taken away funding
It looks like the government have been caught out over plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport. Incredibly, the Times is reporting that The Department for Transport has secretly passed key information supporting the expansion of Heathrow to BBA six months before it is due to be published in a consultation document. Not only does this prove that a government consultation is merely a closed decision dressed up in democracy clothes, but it also stinks collusion and corruption.
"Political meddling has brought the NHS to its knees." So says Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee. "We are angry with the government for a woeful dereliction of duty - towards patients, towards the profession and towards the future. We have lost all confidence that the government can solve the problems it has created." Pretty damning stuff.