A snippet from the Twitter feed of Pete Wishart MP:
Wishart is referring to Tory plans to allow English hospitals to fill almost half their beds (49%) with private patients. Presumably 49% private is the magic psychological threshold at which a hospital may still be considered public, and reforms can be termed 'marketisation' rather than 'privatisation'.
NHS hospitals in England will be free to use almost half their hospital beds and theatre time for private patients under government plans.
A recent revision to the ongoing health bill will allow foundation hospitals to raise 49% of funds through non-NHS work if the bill gets through Parliament.
Most foundation trusts are now limited to a private income of about 2%
Unfortunately for Mr Wishart the Tories do have something to do with the healthcare system in Scotland. The increase in revenue that English NHS hospitals receive from private patients will inevitably rebound on the Scottish healthcare system - decreasing Scotland's block-grant over time - just as English university tuition fees have had knock-on effect on the Scottish university sector.
The irony is that Foundation hospitals, and the strengthening of competition and commercial incentivisation that went with them (taking private patients, charging for car parking, additional catering, hotel facilities, cable and satellite TV, etc.), were foisted upon England by the anti-democratic actions of Scottish MPs; just as top-up fees were foisted upon England by Scottish MPs.
There will be some schaudenfraude to be enjoyed when those Scottish MPs realise what their intrusion in English affairs has decreased funding for Scottish Health and Scottish Higher Education and led to an exodus of talent southwards. Hopefully the Scottish electorate will punish them accordingly, Mr Wishart should see to it that they do.
The Government's insistence on promoting Britishness just gets more and more embarrassing for all concerned. First up is Jim Sheriden's Early Day Motion (EDM 2496) on a UK National Olympic Team:
That this House welcomes the assurances given by FIFA that a 2012 Olympics UK football team would not undermine any of the home countries' ability to compete in their own right in future events; and further notes that football should not be any different from other competing sports and our young talent should be allowed to show their skills on the world stage.
I note with some amusement that we've moved from it being a British Olympic team to a United Kingdom Olympic team, even though the United Kingdom doesn't actually compete in the Olympics. Irrespective of the nomenclature Pete Wishart with his amendment has something to say about the whole concept:
leave out from `FIFA' to end and add `concerning a 2012 Olympics UK football team; but remains very concerned about the proposals for a 2012 Olympics football team; believes that any such plans could threaten the independence of the Scottish football team; supports the Scottish Football Association (SFA), the Tartan Army and the vast majority of Scotland fans in opposing a GB team; notes that any assurance from FIFA will not be worth the paper it is written on when other footballing nations concerned about the home nations' separate arrangements will look upon a GB team as a precedent; believes that nothing must be done to threaten Scotland's international football team; and calls upon the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Scotland and hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies to support the SFA and the Tartan Army in resisting a GB team.'.
Well said. Wishart has also complained to FIFA over government interference, which could lead to all four home nations being banned from international competition. It's a hefty price to pay, but it's a price that I - as an England supporter - am prepared to pay in order to prevent the foundation of "Team Britain". Why can't we just do the sensible thing and have a Home Nations Tournament to decide which nation represents Britain? That was my proposal, and it's now been adopted by David Cameron.
The second embarrassing Britishness moment was Andrew Rosindell's call to rename Trooping the Colour "Britannia Day" for all British Israelites to celebrate together, as one:
Any proposal for a British day—whatever it is to be called—would not be a United Kingdom day but would encompass all people from the British isles and all those descended from the people of these islands, wherever they live in the world. I understand that the hon. Gentleman does not agree with the concept of the United Kingdom, but should he not separate that from the idea that all of us, himself included, are people who come from the British isles?
Unfortunately the satire of William Blake was missing from the Commons, but at least Pete Wishart was there to inject some common sense:
I encourage the hon. Gentleman to stop thinking about Britishness day. What is wrong with Englishness day? I see a rise in a good, positive Englishness, which has been reclaimed. I very much welcome that. The day that the Union Jack comes down off this House and the St. George's Cross goes up is the day that our two nations will have arrived at a 21st-century relationship. I very much look forward to that day.
Amen to that. The very idea of a worldwide Britannia Day summons up the alternate nightmare visions of something extremely kitch, a British version of Tartan Day; or a mass demonstration against the arms trade and Iraq war, or perhaps in support of slavery reparations.