The NHS is going to the dogs, again – or maybe not

Local Labour types were keen to jump on the dumb reporting of the latest numbers coming out of the NHS on cancelled elective operations. Cancelled operations are always unwelcome but the NHS cancels a tiny fraction of its operations.

The headline in the Guardian was “Hospitals cancelling largest number of operations for 10 years”. Even the Telegraph had “Surge in cancelled NHS operations”.

I wondered what the long term picture was. The NHS keep stats going back to 1996/7. The Q4 figures (January to March) are always worst because it is the worst bit of winter and the time in the financial year when all the money is running out.

Q4 cancelled elective operations

This chart give the Q4 numbers for the last 19 years. Yes, cancellations are the worst for 10 years at around 20K. But, they were around 20K in 8 out of 13 Labour years. The worst year in this series was 2000/01 when it almost hit 25,000.

The average Q4 figure in 13 years under Labour was just under 19,000. The average figure for the five Coalition years was fractionally more than 18,000. We are doing more operations under a harsher financial climate but actually cancelling fewer operations.

Call me cynical but what really stunned me about this chart was how there is peak followed by a fall every election year (ringed in yellow). Surely the NHS bureaucracy doesn’t contrive a mini NHS crisis every winter before an election does it?

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What happened in Ealing Central and Acton last week?

We all know that Rupa Huq was elected as the MP for Ealing Central and Acton (EC&A) last week, and that Angie Bray lost. But how did people vote and how did their vote change from 2010 when this new constituency was first contested?

EC&A vote shares in 2010

EC&A vote shares in 2010

In 2010 EC&A was a three way marginal with the Conservatives getting 17,944 votes (38.0% of the vote), Labour 14,228 (30.1%) and the LibDems a very respectable “I agree with Nick” 13,041 (27.6%). UKIP 765 (1.6%) and the Greens 737 (1.6%) remained only minor players.

EC&A vote share in 2015

EC&A vote share in 2015

In 2015 EC&A has reverted to being a two-way marginal with three minor parties.

The turnout increased by a healthy 4% percentage points this year going from 67.52% to 71.5%. The total number of (valid) voters increased by 3,694 (8%) from 47,418 to 50,935 (driven by the rise in turnout, there being 1,000 more registered voters and fewer spoilt ballot papers).

The Conservatives added 3,784 extra voters increasing their vote share from 38.0% to 42.7%. This is a great result. The Conservatives got almost another 5% points of vote share. Their voters increased by more than the overall increase in voters. They upped the number of people voting for them by 21%.

Of course Labour did even better. They got 7,774 extra votes increasing their vote share by 13% from 30.1% to 43.2%. 55% more people voted for Labour.

Vote changes between 2010 and 2015

Vote changes between 2010 and 2015

I think what is clear from these numbers is that both the local Conservatives and Labour party worked very hard for people’s votes this year. The LibDems lost almost 10,000 votes and were harshly punished for their time in the Coalition government. Labour gained almost 8,000 votes as many disaffected LibDems joined them spurred on I think by Labour’s mendacious NHS campaign. The Conservatives picked up almost 4,000 extra voters and disappointingly, for me at least, came within a whisker of keeping Angie Bray’s seat.

Both UKIP and the Greens doubled their votes picking up over 1,000 new votes each. Both lost their deposits. The LibDems did at least keep their deposit but were only about 500 votes away from losing it.

It seems to me that the Conservative vote held up very well in this constituency. The Labour vote increased but one third of their voters are borrowed. With Rupa Huq’s tiny majority of 274 I think she will be spending every spare hour in her constituency or she will be toast in 2020.

My prediction is that the Ealing Labour party will take every opportunity to subvert the council and its resources to promote Rupa Huq over the next five years. Expect to see her elbowing her way to the front of every municipal photo opportunity.

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Labour’s empty NHS promises: Both Miliband and Burnham come to Ealing and offer a review

After five years of blaming their own £20 billion Nicholson Challenge policy, and it local roll out (AKA Shaping a Healthier Future (SaHF)), on the Conservatives we are now starting to hear Labour’s meagre promises on the local NHS system.

First off Ed Miliband came to Ealing on 24th April to address a rally.

When asked about Ealing Hospital he said:

We will obviously review decisions that are being made when we get into Government because I think you have to ask questions about downgrading an A&E at a time when there is an A&E crisis.

Wow! A review. Pathetic. No promise of any substantial change to SaHF. Just a review. Great. We had one of those when the Independent Review Panel looked at it – and they waved it through.

Miliband’s message was underlined only this last Saturday when Shadow Secretary of State of Health, Andy Burnham, came to Ealing.

According to Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter Burnham said:

I am minded not to proceed with those changes (to west London A&Es). Will demand full clinical review.

So after five years of heaping ordure on the heads of the Conservatives for continuing with the Labour party policy as laid out on page 4:3 of their 2010 manifesto Labour’s big offer to Ealing is a review.

Ealing Central and Acton Labour candidate is even more confused in her leaflets.

Huq NHS pledge

She talks about “keep open our remaining hospitals”. Of course no hospitals have closed and none will. Hammersmith lost its A&E but will focus on being a world class cardiac hospital and will take cardiac emergencies. Central Middlesex will focus on elective surgery. The NHS has already promised that Ealing and Charing Cross A&Es will remain as they are for three years after Tory Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt’s intervention following representations from Angie Bray.

So Huq’s promise is to “fight” for what the NHS is currently proposing to deliver. Her number 1 pledge is to change nothing.

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After five years of screaming blue murder over Labour’s own Nicholson Challenge Burnham offers us a “clinical review”

You might think that after five years of complaining about local NHS changes the local Labour types would expect some real meat from Shadow Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham when he came to Ealing on the eve of a general election and talked about changes to our local health system.

Labour NHS event 2nd May

On Saturday night (yes, this really is how Labour types spend their Saturday nights) Andy Burnham addressed a Labour NHS rally in Acton. You can see a photo here tweeted by Labour MP Andy Slaughter showing a nurse in uniform (not very appropriate), comedienne Jo Brand, “Dr” Rupa Huq, Andy Burnham and GP, BMA official and Labour zealot Clare “fear of annihilation” Gerada.

According to Slaughter Burnham said:

I am minded not to proceed with those changes (to west London A&Es). Will demand full clinical review.

Whoah! Strong language!

I am minded …

He doesn’t say: “I will roll back closures of Central Middlesex and Hammersmith A&Es.”
He doesn’t say: “I will keep the current A&Es as they are.”
He doesn’t say: “I will keep Ealing maternity services open.”

No, he says: “I am minded not to proceed with those changes.” But he would not, in law, be able to make any changes without proper process and evidence.

His call for a “full clinical review” is his real offer and is just silly. The Shaping a Healthier Future (SaHF) programme was produced by clinicians and reviewed by a body (with clinical skills) called the Independent Reconfiguration Panel which reviewed it and passed it. The SaHF programme was never very attractive to Ealing residents and the only actor in this drama who has ever given us any respite is Conservative Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt who had representations from our MP Angie Bray and demanded that Ealing and Charing Cross A&Es stayed put.

Now after five years of Labour screaming blue murder Burnham promises us a review. Now we know from Burnham’s own mouth to his own people what his offer is. A review.

The most likely outcome from Burnham’s “full clinical review” is that it will find that SaHF is sound and let it roll on.

Labour has spent five years belly aching about the consequences of Burnham’s own £20 billion Nicholson Challenge and Burnham now promises a review. Talk about weak.

Posted in Ealing and Northfield, Health, housing and adult social services | 4 Comments

Labour sloganeering on corporate tax avoidance – the Coalition has acted already

The Ealing Labour party seems to be pleased with its candidate’s stance on corporate tax avoidance. This rings a little hollow after 13 years of inactivity by three Blair/Brown governments. In the last budget Chancellor George Osborne introduced a well thought out Diverted Profits Tax, or as the papers dubbed it a “Google tax”. Maybe that is why Rupa Huq didn’t mention Google in her short list of avoiders.

Even the Guardian had to admit:

Few, however, deny his diverted profits tax (DPT) amounts to a pioneering and innovative effort to tackle big multinationals with aggressive corporate structures. The DPT, announced in December, will levy a 25% tax on profits that have been artificially moved outside the UK.

The Diverted Profits Tax should ensure that Vivienne Westwood has less cash to bung at the Greens at the next election.

Too often the Labour party poses and sloganises. This is just one of many areas where the Coalition has acted after Labour’s 13 lazy years in charge.

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When Rupa Huq says “this time” she gives the game away

With two words tonight Rupa Huq repudiated 13 years of New Labour and her benefactor Tony Blair. 35 seconds into her summing up at tonight’s CCA Hustings at Acton Town Hall Rupa Huq said:

We do have a progressive programme this time.

What she means is that Labour has put New Labour behind it and will be substantially different if it gains power in eight days’ time. Pulled even further to the left by the SNP we are in for a grim time indeed if Milibandite Old Labour forms the next government.

By the way, don’t be fooled by the loud clapping at the end. It was dominated by six people around me who had the loud handclap technique down pat.

Posted in Ealing and Northfield, National politics | 4 Comments

Rupa Huq’s Christmas present from LibDem Oakeshott

Watching Newsnight just now on Labour/LibDem cross-dressing “Progressive” (Lord) Matthew Oakeshott I recalled that Ealing Central and Acton Labour candidate Rupa Huq is a beneficiary of Oakeshott’s generosity. He shelled out £10,000 on Christmas Eve to her campaign. A nice Christmas present.

Oakeshott's office

Man of the people Oakeshott likes to do his property business out of offices in St James. Not quite sure how that works. I wonder what LibDem candidate Jon Ball thinks of Oakeshott’s “progressive alliance”. Not much I suspect as he is not included.

A picture is emerging of Rupa Huq’s donors. A multi-millionaire property man. A jet-setting millionaire influencer. An accountant who gives through his company rather than use his own cash to make it tax deductible.

Huq’s donors don’t look attractive at all.

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Two Ealingites who are glad to be out of Tower Hamlets today

Today the bent Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, was defenestrated in the High Court. There are two Ealing personalities who will be glad they are well off out of it.

Martin SmithOne is the Ealing Council Chief Executive, Martin Smith. Martin was the Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets until he fell foul of Lutfur Rahman.

Martin is an all round good guy and Ealing is lucky to have him. He is also the returning officer for the three Ealing constituencies that will be contested in two weeks’ time – which brings me to the second Ealingite.

Rupa Huq in Tower HamletsIn 2007 I am sure that Ealing Central and Acton Labour candidate, Rupa Huq, was disappointed to lose out to Rushnara Ali in the competition to become Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the Bethnal Green & Bow constituency.

Huq stood as the Unison candidate and both Lutfur Rahman and John Biggs were on the shortlist. Eight years later and Unison in Tower Hamlets had switched its allegiance from Rupa Huq to Lutfur Rahman.

Both Smith and Huq must be glad to be operating in genteel Ealing in the west rather than bent, broken Tower Hamlets in the east.

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Labour will not spell out the details of the Mansion Tax – because it will be excruciating and it will trickle down

London_from_a_hot_air_balloon

I don’t live in a mansion. I live in an upmarket mid-terrace but given that it is in London the lower threshold of £2 million of Labour’s proposed mansion tax is in sight. It is still a distant sight but it is there on the horizon.

Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie was on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning being challenged on the details. Labour still refuses, two weeks before the election, to spell out how this major new tax wedge is going to be implemented.

The Mansion Tax will essentially be a successful Londoners’ tax and as such may well be attractive to many people in the country who are not successful Londoners. If you are a successful Londoner with a mortgage on a £2 million plus home it is likely that you are paying income tax at the “Additional rate” of 45%. Labour proposes to increase this rate to 50% as well as imposing its Mansion Tax. Leslie did admit on the radio this morning that these people will be paying £250 per month. It sounds modest until you multiply it by 12. You can multiply by 2 again in order to pay the 50% tax on the earnings you need to earn. These Londoners will have to earn an extra £6K a year just to carry on with their lives.

London is already pumping a net £34 billion a year into the UK government’s coffers. Labour’s Mansion Tax will be another £1.2 billion paid overwhelmingly by Londoners.

It is easy to propose new taxes on people who work hard and take risks. Don’t be surprised if they opt out of giving you the cash. Once the principle of the Mansion Tax is established the government will start to look at more modest houses to make up the shortfall and grow the tax base.

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Ealing Labour flaunts its zero hours hypocrisy on the Vale Estate today

Labour Party’s sense of ownership of places like the Vale Estate on Acton Vale is a thing of wonder. I just wish Labour politicians were as keen to put the place right as they are to march up and down with their silly posters.

Labour ZHC on Vale

Today they were larking around with this poster van paid for by the unions who are funding the last days of Labour’s election campaign on a massive scale.

You can judge the facts of zero hours contracts from this piece by Full Fact.

The thing that Cllr Peter Mason (who was the office manager of Labour’s 2010 general election and 2012 mayoral campaigns in Ealing) and Ealing Central and Acton candidate Rupa Huq aren’t telling the people on the Vale Estate is that after five years of a Labour council it is employing 303 people on ZHCs.

Labour’s casual hypocrisy is quite stunning. Four legs good, two legs better.

When this was all in the news in August 2013 this is what officers told us was the situation in Ealing.

Ealing Council zero hours

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