Spring has Sprung

As you turn these pages, think, did you see a bright yellow daffodil today? Have you seen a lamb in the fields, croci (typing “crocuses” is just fraught with problems!) or buds on the trees?

Spring is sprung! We are looking forward to months of it getting warmer, getting lighter, getting fresher………smile!

We are about to enter that five-yearly exercise in democracy…..a General Election! Half of ’em are going to incessantly tell us everything is awful and appalling and only they know the secrets of success whilst the other half will bore us all with “steady as she goes” talk and “let it be”.

We will all be frazzled, frustrated and (…..er……another ‘f’ please! No, not that one!) hacked off. We mostly live in constituencies where they weigh the votes of the winner, they don’t bother to count them. We don’t feel a vote for a minority party makes any difference. In fact, we don’t feel we matter politically at all to those who rule us from that independent City-State down the M1.  So we don’t bother…….and we feel disaffected…..and glum! But Spring is here…..so smile!

In times of conflict, the first casualty is the truth…….and these great exercises in democracy are no different. There will be lies, damn lies and statistics hurled at us from everywhere. But what about a better look at a few aspects:-

In twenty years’ time, you could give the NHS the entire GDP (the sales revenue of the Country) of the UK…..and it still wouldn’t be enough to “save it”. So why will two billion here, five billion there  do any good?  The NHS badly needs root and branch reform or you can forget it being universally free at the point of delivery; it just won’t exist in a recognisable form. 33% of females born today and 25% of males will live one hundred years. Someone reading this article right now aged forty has a 30% better chance of living to be a hundred than she or he did just twenty years ago. And this is all going to be sorted by giving this great institution a few more billion quid is it? God help us!

Putting up the highest rate of income tax from 45% to 50% might make every socialist feel good and get a huge cheer from that balanced, apolitical, informed audience in the Coliseum that has replaced the BBC’s Question Time but there is a slight snag……..symbolic it may be, but it won’t raise a lot of money. When I hear people say “we’ll fix the NHS by taxing all those rich people” I wonder if they realise that their intention means they will force a few more pounds out of the pockets of head teachers and CEO’s of Local Authorities but not one additional penny will go to the NHS from the seriously rich with their residence, domicile and tax-planning sorted.

So a mansion tax on properties valued at over £2 million will raise squillions for the NHS will it. Here is a typical situation………a couple bought a house in London in the early seventies when those on modest incomes could. They still live in it but now they get by on a modest pension. Their home now happens to be worth three million quid, solely because they live in London. So they are going to be charged with finding a couple of grand a month to…..er….fund the unreformed NHS. We are told that people won’t have to find the cash but that the tax due will become a charge on the property to be paid when they sell/die. Help me with this one, Dear Reader! If the money raised is to sort the urgent cash requirement in the NHS and vast numbers don’t pay til years later, how can the cash get to the NHS now? Ah! Unless the cash the future tax payments represent is paid over right now by the Country …….er…….borrowing the money! But this wasn’t meant to be about borrowing more money……!

Half those leaving school at sixteen cannot read, write or count to the standard expected of an eleven year-old………yet we want to ring-fence 0.7% of our spending to give to other (often corrupt) countries.

For example, our Country will give India £254 million in aid over the next four years; India is the World’s tenth largest economy, it has a £25 billion defence budget, a Formula One Grand Prix and a space programme…..and here at home we’re closing libraries!

Rural Britain cannot maximise the productivity-enhancing global competitiveness and connectivity that broadband gives……..but we are spending yet more squillions on a railway from London to Birmingham that will deliver people like me to my destination twenty minutes more quickly for twice the price! Shome mistake shurely!

I could go on…….but Spring has sprung! The mornings are brighter, the evenings are longer, somehow even the grass is greener…..and no damn politician is going to take that away from me!