NHS ON LIFE SUPPORT.
It will take something pretty big to knock Brexit off top spot for politician’s concern this autumn. Well I have a candidate, the National Health Service.
What brought it home to me was the decision to close the Accident and Emergency Unit of Chorley Hospital in Lancashire. They could not get enough doctors because of a cap on spending on agency staff. Three issues become obvious. The financial pressures on the NHS, the hand to mouth policy of employing expensive agency staff and the desperate decision to close a badly needed A and E unit. Nearby Wigan was overwhelmed as a result.
There are so many issues to be addressed I can’t list them all here but they range from the explosion in the numbers of elderly people, junior doctors in revolt over working hours, the price of drugs and the complexity of the commissioning process introduced by former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
We got by last winter because it was mild but the issue won’t go away.
It was tempting to think that this year of political upsets was going to end with Donald Trump heading for the White House.
The Republican Presidential candidate has just changed his campaign team for the second time. It begins to look like desperation. It seemed for a while that Trump would successfully tap into the “left behind” section of the electorate that is as big a factor in America as it is here.
However it appears The Donald has been rude to too many people and has increasingly become vulnerable to the belief that he is unstable and not up to the job.
Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and Gerald Ford in 1976 came back from similar August deficits to make the race close, but nobody has ever made up the poll lead currently enjoyed by Hillary Clinton.
God forbid a terrorist attack or more revelations about the Clinton’s past could still affect the race but at the moment the USA looks on course to elect its first female President.
UNHAPPY ENDS FOR PRIME MINISTERS.
Things have gone a bit quieter even in this turbulent political summer so we’ve a moment to contemplate the last Prime Minister who left office at the time of his choosing and in reasonable standing with the electorate. That man would be Harold Wilson who having won two General Elections in 1974 suddenly decided to retire in 1976.
Since then it has been a succession of woes. Jim Callaghan lost power after the Winter of Discontent. Margaret Thatcher was brought down by Europe and the Poll Tax. John Major lost office due to rows over the Maastricht Treaty (Europe again). Tony Blair became haunted by the Iraq War, Gordon Brown was defeated at the polls and for David Cameron it was Europe again.
Perhaps Theresa May will be able to reverse this pattern. There are few threats on the horizon at the moment that suggest her period of office ending under a cloud, but that’s what the other five may have thought during their honeymoon period.