Doctor and activist

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Tag: UK

Victory of Liz Truss in UK: Style over Substance

7 August 2022

Liz Truss is Britain’s new Prime Minister.  A few things are worthy of comment.  She was elected by the members of the Conservative Party 81,326 votes to 60,399 for Rishi Sunak. 

Prime Ministers used to be elected by their Parliamentary colleagues, which is obviously a lesser number but at least has people doing the job assessing the candidates’ competence.  I am not a huge fan of Presidential systems, but the 141,725 Conservative members who were in the ballot are only 0.002% of the UK population and the Conservative party members are 63% male, 58% over 50 and 80% in the top half of the class demographic spectrum.  So much for government ‘by the people’.

Her defeated rival, Rishi Sunak, had at least been Chancellor of the Exchequer (Treasurer) and had resigned to force Boris Johnson’s resignation.  He was a multi-millionaire in his own right, having worked for Goldman Sachs and being involved in hedge funds.  His wife, Akshata Nurty was one of India’s wealthiest women as an heiress of Infosys and worth 690 million.  Together they were said to be worth 730 million pounds.  He was also dogged by stories that his wife had the money offshore in various trusts and paid minimal tax. ( )   Some commentators said that his Indian heritage may have been a problem with the Conservative party membership.

It is part of the continuation of mediocre candidates winning in Anglo elections. Trump, Johnson, Morrison, Truss.  Something is clearly wrong with our systems.  My view as often stated is to go to Swiss-style Direct Democracy. Politicians are part-time and keep their previous jobs, which they return to after the maximum two terms. People can collect signatures to force debate on issues or even overturn Federal legislation with quarterly referenda. Political parties exist as here and the Parliament in similar, but the party hierarchies are much less powerful as there is no long-term career as a politician.

Here is a better summary of Liz Truss than I could have written.  It has been in a number of papers and journals:

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Management of COVID-19 in the UK

12 April 2020

Prof John Ashton CBE, Ex-President of UK Faculty of Public Health is extremely critical of the Johnson government’s management of the corona virus epidemic.  He says that the idea of herd immunity was an absurd one and amounted to an unlikely theory being preferred to information that had come from overseas, including China, which had initially covered up but once the WHO had come in were forthcoming of their experience in managing the epidemic. 

The current problems include lack of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), ventilators and even oxygen are because of the lack of recognising the seriousness of the problem and failure to order equipment and to prepare.

He urges more attention to cleaners and porters who are as important as doctors in nurses in the spread of virus in a hospital environment, but the class system, which lessens their importance, has meant that they have not had enough attention to their PPE and this will lead to spread. 

The other aspect is Private Public Partnerships, which have seen the creeping privatisation of health in Britain.  He makes the point that there are no longer Community Nurses to trace contacts of the corona virus in the community as private corporations only do what is in their contracts, and are only of peripheral use in a pandemic.  He wants a fundamental re-think of the privatisation of health, and a real investigation of who made what decisions when, not merely the outcome of awards to people who were high in the hierarchy, however incompetent their decisions.

Many countries have had health systems inappropriately evolved to deal with an infectious disease pandemic. How well countries have done is measure of the flexibility and responsiveness of their political systems as well as their health systems.  His view is the UK has not done well.

We all need to look at our governments in the light of how well they responded to this challenge.  The danger is that initial dilatoriness will then be replaced by authoritarianism, imposed on people while they are frightened.

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