Categories
Book reviews Election NHS

Nurses’ public duty

Oh, just look what is being advertised on social media. Now, why would an election period where the Tories are angling for the ‘older’ vote be a good time to advertise ‘affordable’ private health provision? And, as with Tory affordable housing, may we ask ‘affordable to whom’?

Categories
Corbyn Election Labour

Answer to the answers to ‘The answers’

This is a thank you to the many people who commented on my ‘doorstep answers’ blog post here,  or on Facebook or elsewhere. The comments tend to fall into two categories –  “they won’t believe it” and “here’s some better info”.

Categories
Corbyn Election Labour

The answers…

“Where’s the money going to come from?” It’s a question a lot of people ask on the doorstep, when Labour campaigners come around and tell them we have the answers to the problems the Conservatives have created. Surprisingly often, the question wrong-foots the canvassers. It’s because it’s such an illogical question. How do you pay for a revenue generator? It’s like saying where do you find the energy to eat your dinner?

Here’s my answer:

How do we pay for renationalising the NHS? By rejecting deals with private companies that put hospitals expensively in debt, by refusing all corporate ‘services’ that are priced so high to pay for share-holders’ dividends and commercially minded managers’ salaries.

In short, we pay for renationalising the NHS by renationalising the NHS.

How do we pay for renationalising the railways? Pretty much as above, except that we don’t even have to get into arguments about ‘compensation’ for companies that were expecting to get rich out of our railways – we just take them back when their franchises end. We could also drop ticket and season ticket prices so that more people could afford to use the railways, if we re-invested the money currently going to foreign companies in profits.

In short, we pay for renationalising the railways by not paying for any more franchise deals.

How do we pay for all the local authority schools, childrens’ centres, libraries, museums and other education projects we’ve been losing in recent years? By ceasing to funnel vast amounts of government money into private and semi-private ‘academy’ companies.

In short, we pay for education and culture by renationalising education and culture.

How do we pay for running the tax collection system properly?

By adjusting taxes so that those who can afford to pay more – the millionaires, the billionaires and the corporations – do pay more. We can put a small proportion of the revenue generated that way into re-staffing and powering up the HMRC so that it has the capacity to administrate and collect all the tax that should be collected. The result will be a MUCH greater income, with less burden on those who DON’T have large amounts of money to pay taxes with.

How do we pay for setting up a national investment bank?

With the rest of the income generated by sorting out the tax system.

How do we pay for the council houses, the new schools, childrens’ centres and care services, and the green infrastructure we’re desperate for? With the money generated from the national investment bank, once it’s set up and funded by the money rolling in from the HRMC.

How do we get everyone who wants to work back into work so they can pay some taxes and keep things rolling? By employing them to get on with all the things listed above.

Any other questions?

Update added 20th May 2017: some other questions did come up – here are some answers to those, courtesy of We Own It  …

Update added 30th May:

More answers please pass around one more time, with the added message for any Tory-leaning friends that…

the BIG, BIG problem with selling off your assets to gain funds is that it comes to a dead stop when you run out of assets.

Categories
Book reviews Earlyworks Press

Everything Under the Sun

When we at Earlyworks Press were reading the competition shortlist for the stories that would become our 2015/2016 anthology, The Ball of the Future, one story gave the judges pause for thought. We allow for quite long stories – up to 8000 words, in the Earlyworks Press comps, because we don’t like the idea of the whole world being made up of bite-sized quickies – but when a story weighs in close to that limit, we always look suspiciously for rambling, or poor editing. We found no such with ‘Angela’ by Ann Butler Rowlands. Thoughtful and well crafted, the exactly 8000-word story followed Angela through a lifetime of visits to a Greek island, studying all the flips and troughs of her career and her love-life along the way. It left the reader feeling as though they’d experienced a whole novel – and it stayed in the mind, causing thoughtful pauses – in a good way – for weeks afterwards.

Nevertheless, when I saw that Butler Rowlands had produced a whole book of English-people-on-Greek-island stories, it gave me pause. Could she sustain that style and quality through a whole book? – But she has. It isn’t just that Butler Rowlands makes such a fantastic job of using the light of Greek sun and sea to illuminate a wide range of stories – in some cases it is not the glorious light that illuminates, it is “the silence of the island at night” that “settles on us all…as if it came from the sea.” Nor is it just the variety of tones and moods or the skillful variety of narrative voices that make it special – from the jaded, retired academic to the adopted child feeling, but not understanding, her unremembered early years, from the cultured woman recovering from her husband’s last illness to a gossipy holiday maker thinking herself very superior in a hotel “quiet with self-contained Europeans who don’t need any more friends.”

The book is made special by a sad but intriguing theme: “What happens when the European middle classes come out to play on an upwardly mobile Greek island?” The totality of this set of absorbing and self-contained stories is the biography of an island with a bad attack of mixed humans. One of my favourites is the story of Sevasti, who was born into a pre-tourist era Greek community and “Galia” (the locals can’t pronounce “Gloria”) who makes a career of being, first the glamorous blonde on someone’s yacht and eventually a world famous model. It is questionable how much the two women really understand each other’s lives, as Sevasti finds her way to an education, a business and an accommodation with the modern world unfurling around her whilst Galia travels in the opposite direction, eventually consumed by the impossible demands professional glamour make on a woman. But despite the little they have in common, the empathy between them, and Sevasti’s quiet acknowledgement of Galia’s tragedy within the glamour, give the story its truly stunning strength.

Each of the stories is headed by snippets of Butler Rowlands’ own translations of C P Cavafy’s poems, and my favourite sits between Galia’s story and that of the adopted child – perfectly, I think, because it speaks to both of them:

I shall make myself a fabulous caparison…
…no-one will know
…where I am wounded…

Heaven. The title of the book is Heaven – both in the slightly silly way one says ‘Heaven’ when greeting a holiday vista and in the awestruck way that one responds to the numinous. Just think about the endless variety of reasons people with a bit of money to hand might dash off and bury themselves in a Greek idyll, and you’ll understand why these stories are a natural mix of the funny, the dangerous, the farcical and the deeply thought-provoking. If you enjoy exploring the spectrum of human experience, you’ll love Heaven by Ann Butler Rowlands.

Categories
Election Hastings

People are Talking

A small number of careerist politicians are talking about what they’re going to do “after Labour loses the election” – practically all of them are, according to Robert Peston. What does that tell us? It tells us which people the media talk to ie, a small number of careerist politicians, and what they want everyone to think…

Categories
Election media

The mass suicide of newspapers

In recent months, the Guardian online has stolen an idea from a much-loved blog site and started asking readers to forgo the price of a cup of coffee in order to donate money to the hard-pressed publication. Now, this is fair enough coming from Scriptonite, run as it is by one (unpaid) person. The Guardian, no longer a trust, is run by a corporation which is hardly likely to run out of money. They just resent the fact that their newspaper is becoming expensive to run.

Categories
Election Hastings

Are we mocking the afflicted?

A couple of days ago, I was moved to make a Facebook status comment “So long Danczuk and thanks for all the er… er…” It immediately collected some comments of a similar but stronger nature, and then this…