Wednesday, 18 May 2011


Hello again. I sort of had a day off yesterday - a trip to Sheffield (lovely city, stunning university) and then went to the theatre for Sheridan's 18th Century comedy of manners, The Rivals - beautifully done and still very witty, though the stage-Irishman is rather toe-curling.

Anyway, I'm not the only one who's been busy. That hardworking and diligent MP, Paul Uppal, has been flapping his gums in the House of Commons. As you'd expect by now, his statements are masterpieces of critical thinking, modesty and incisive political acumen.

1) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of national and local co-ordination in cardiovascular services to ensure integrated care for patients who have an acute myocardial infarction;
(2) what recent assessment he has made of the provision of cardiovascular services in the NHS; and if he will make a statement;
(3) whether he has any plans to revise guidelines on the management of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors as part of NHS reforms.
And again:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the availability in the NHS of cardiac rehabilitation for people after they have had a heart attack; and if he will make a statement. 

from which we must assume that this portly middle-aged man (who incidentally resents the existence of a public health service) has a dicky ticker, given the high incidence of self-interested questions on his record. The respective ministers told him to sod off, in parliamentary terms: they sent him to a website, which is pretty much the same thing given Uppal's lack of familiarity with e-comms.

But he soon turned his interests from life, to death, and more specifically, the money to be made from dealing it:
What progress has been made on his Department’s consultation on equipment, support and technology for UK defence and security.
Given the value of the defence sector to our economy, what steps are being taken to ensure that prosperity can continue to flourish, and that the whole UK economy can benefit? 
Uppal, of course, is a noted supporter of a range of revolting Middle East dictatorships, many of which are keen customers for British torture and anti-freedom weaponry. This question enabled the minister to respond that Britain's doing its best to flog this stuff around the world.
I strongly agree with my hon. Friend. Ministers in the Department are committed to the Government’s policy of export-led growth, whereby the Government are making radical steps to ensure that responsible defence exports are actively promoted. This year I have visited India, Japan and Turkey on precisely that mission, and all members of my ministerial team have made similar such visits to ensure that the outcome my hon. Friend rightly seeks is achieved.

Makes you proud, doesn't it? Funny that the Minister missed the biggest weapons sales tour this year: the one David Cameron took around the Middle East just as the oppressed masses were being massacred in the streets.

Finally, Uppal asked this question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department monitors the effectiveness of Jobcentre Plus centres in providing long-term employment.
Oddly enough, I can answer this one. Over the last few years, the New Labour Government and the current Tory one tried to privatise the unemployment services. The independent reviews published said that the state Jobcentres were far, far better at finding work for people than the private corporations paid more money to do the same jobs.

Does this mean that Jobcentres will be retained and the private companies sacked? Don't be ridiculous. You and I might live in the world of facts and testing. Uppal and Co. live in the world of ideology, in which actual facts are embarrassing and need to be swept under the carpet. The only statistics relevant to Uppal's questions are these: how much money do these private companies donate to the Conservative Party?

And so you get this response from the Minister:
From June, we will implement the Work Programme where customers at most risk of longer dependency on welfare will receive additional help and support delivered through private companies. Work programme providers will receive additional financial rewards for achieving job outcomes which are sustained.
Note that the unemployed are no longer taxpaying citizens requiring help: they're 'customers', which revolts me. He avoids mentioning any facts or statistics because they're against him. Instead, the bandwagon rolls on.  2400 Jobcentre works are being sacked - ironic or what?

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