Cynical? Me? Surely Not?

I must apologise for the language but I really have just about enough of this Government’s Total Bollocks. It’s Bullshit in my humble opinion designed to cover up the most monumental incompetence within government departments and make us, the public, suffer.  Austerity? Begone!! I should think Gideon and Call Me Dave fell about pissing themselves when the bankers gifted them that one. Manna from Heaven, just the vehicle they needed, a right Win Double, Dave gets to push through his hatred, sorry, Reform, of the Police, and others, and Gideon gets to soften the blows of some of the more monumental up-cocks of any government in modern history.

A while ago I wrote a series of posts for another blog on the subject of Government Wastage. What I found out staggered me.

I’ll try and bring you the highlights, you do the maths!!

I started off with

NHS Connecting For Health

An initiative by the Department of Health in England to move the National Health Service (NHS) in England towards a single, centrally-mandated electronic care record.  Eventually things came to a head in 2011.The project to “modernise” the NHS computer systems, replacing them all with a single system that would enable any doctor to access any patient’s records stalled.  After a decade, and nearly £12 billion spent, the project was abandoned.  £12 billion would pay the salaries of 60,000 nurses (that’s SIXTY THOUSAND, not a typo) for 10 YEARS.

Then I progressed onto

A Little Bit More Government Wastage, No-One Will Notice

AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

These may not float your boat, but they’re a pet hate of mine.  Not Aircraft Carriers per se, we need those, it’s what the government has done with them that winds me up.  Once again I don’t blame any particular colour of political party, once again they all seem to be tarred with the same brush, but I do think Dave had a hand in it.

Government routinely makes an appalling mess of things. Some years ago a single edition of The Daily Telegraph reported that a nuclear submarine suffered £5 million of damage after crashing into rocks because trainee commanders covered vital charts with tracing paper; that a government efficiency drive in the Department for Transport to save £112 million was likely to cost £120 million while sending messages to employees in German and denying them annual leave to which they were entitled; that hundreds of thousands of immigrants were excluded from official statistics by a counting system which was so unreliable that it was not possible to know the true population of Britain; and that more than 8,000 patients had died in dirty hospitals after contracting superbugs. And that was just one day’s headlines.

Defence, whose dreadful procurement record – including boots that melt in hot weather, helicopters that won’t fly in the rain, radios that don’t fit into battle tanks, naval frigates with no weapons, aircraft carriers with no fighter jets, and military transport aircraft that can’t fly into war zones – amply justifies Ernest Fitzgerald’s maxim that “there are only two phases of a weapons programme: ‘Too early to tell’ and ‘too late to stop’

It couldn’t get any worse, could it?

Well it could actually.

£500m jump jets may melt the decks of aircraft carriers: Latest MoD plan shambles

NEW Harrier-style jump jets set to fly from Navy aircraft carriers could melt their decks, US trials show.

I will let the then Shadow Defence minister Kevan Jones have the last word

“Only this Government could melt aircraft carriers.”

Just A Quickie Then She Said

This addressed the issue of Chinook Helicopters.

In 1995 it was decided that the country needed to buy 8 Chinook Mk3s in 1995 for £259million but they have been kept in storage since they were delivered in 2001.

They were ordered as dedicated special forces helicopters

It has always said the helicopters have not been able to be passed as fit for use because officials negotiating the deal to buy them did not ask for the access code for the software used to fly them and Boeing refused to hand the code over once the mistake was noticed.

But the Times reports the MoD never asked for the code because, under pressure from the Treasury, it told Boeing it planned to install its own software, thinking it could do so more cheaply.”

Now that does sound like the sort of thing a cheapskate arrogant government might say don’t you think?  Another example of The Treasury interfering in front-line issues. Sadly though the software didn’t work (quelle surprise) and the 8 Chinooks are no longer hi-tech fighting machines, but are now good old transport aircraft.

A village somewhere must be missing an idiot.  Didn’t ask for the software access codes?  Can anyone really be that daft?

It’s an old story and that’s why I’ve kept it brief, but it’s another £300-500 million pounds worth of government wastage to add on.

Then;

Reform and Wastage, Together, And It’s Happening NOW

Universal Credit.

Emperor Dave told us that he was reforming the benefits system.  He was going to save the country a small fortune.  His grand ideas included linking benefits to wages instead of inflation, a cap on Housing Benefit, adjusting regional benefits to the cost of living and apparently no-one under the age of 25 needs Housing Benefit anyway.  All in all he’s looking to save £10 Billion from the Welfare Budget.

It has become apparent that this innovative, flagship project has been hit by an IT glitch, somewhat reminiscent of the NHS farce.

The Independent reports that the scheme has been placed on a Treasury list of projects in crisis.  That sounds quite bad to me.

Universal credit has a development budget of £2 Billion. It is supposed to be a paperless on-line IT system for claimants that would bridge the DWP’s data with the Treasury.  However, the project is already suffering a £100 Million overrun. There are also concerns that a further £300 Million is being hidden by rising costs reallocated to child support payments.

A reorganisation of the complex IT system, following the departure this month of key senior civil servants in charge of universal credit, could mean an overrun of £500 Million by next spring.

There you are, we’ve just saved the Met’s Budget again.

Then I moved on to

Not Very (HMS) Astute – Just a little bit more Government Wastage

A confidential Ministry of Defence memo says that corrosion on the UK’s new fleet of hunter-killer submarines was caused by cost-cutting and warns that quality controls have been ignored, the Guardian can reveal.

Written by a senior analyst at the MoD, the memo says the corrosion is a “cause for major concern”, and that the first three Astute class boats are likely to experience “severe problems” in the future.

The £9.75bn fleet was commissioned 15 years ago to become a cornerstone of the UK’s naval attack capability, but a range of design and construction flaws have emerged.

The boat has yet to start formal service, Astute – four years overdue and £2bn over budget – has been surrounded by controversy since it was first commissioned 15 years ago.  Is this really acceptable?  Do we have to live with such apparent incompetence?  What would be the outcome if we behaved as incompetently as that?

Submarines that leak, whatever next?

We Told You About This Months Ago – More Govt Wastage, £74 Million

A government U-turn over fighter jets for the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers cost taxpayers £74m, says the National Audit Office. The decision to scrap an order for jump jets, which was later reversed, had been based on “immature data and flawed assumptions”, it says in a report. Labour says the report “lays bare this government’s incompetence”. But Defence Secretary Philip Hammond says the U-turn will save money in the long run and is backed by the NAO. “Not only did it save £1.2bn; it also means that by 2018, we will have fifth-generation stealth jets flying off the new Queen Elizabeth Class carrier,” says Mr Hammond.

My last was this one

Government Wastage Revisited

Firstly our old friend Iain Duncan Smith and his Department of Work and Pensions.  It seems that they are quite likely to have to scrap their entire IT system for Universal Credit and start again from scratch.

£300 Million wasted. #Austerity? Not in Whitehall apparently.

A review by Universal Credit director general Howard Shiplee will apparently recommend two options for the future of the IT developed so far, which go even further than previous reports have suggested.

Option one would mean scrapping all the work done so far, thereby admitting it is not fit for purpose, and bringing most of the development of new IT systems in-house under the control of the Government Digital Service (GDS).

Option two would involve continuing to use some of the existing IT to support the current Pathfinder pilot projects, but developing new systems for the full roll-out – effectively delaying any decision to throw away all the work completed so far.

Option 1? Option 2?  Both of them seem to involve scrapping everything at some point, whatever.  The Cabinet Office, which controls GDS, is understood to favour the first option, while the DWP prefers to continue with the current IT for as long as possible. Two branches of the same government with opposing views, where have I heard that before?

The final decision will probably be made later this month by the Ministerial Oversight Group for the troubled welfare reform programme, led by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,  Iain Duncan Smith.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said in a highly critical report on Universal Credit in September that £303m had been spent so far on IT. Of that amount, the DWP has already admitted to writing off £34m of IT work, although that figure is likely to end up even higher whatever happens.

Labour’s shadow secretary of state for work and pensions Rachel Reeves wrote to the Prime Minister last week, urging him to “start taking responsibility for this fiasco”. She added: “David Cameron has serious questions to answer about how he has allowed things to get to this stage and how his complacent, incompetent and out-of-touch government has wasted scandalous amounts of money on a half-baked plan IT now can’t deliver.”

Don’t sit on the fence Rachel, what do you really mean?

But if all of the IT were to be scrapped, the NAO report suggests that the final figure for the write-off would be in excess of £300m.

Most of that money has been spent with the four key IT suppliers for the project – HP, IBM, Accenture and BT.

The other piece of disastrous news that caught my eye this week was in relation to my old favourite – Aircraft Carriers.

The cost of two new aircraft carriers being built for the Royal Navy is expected to be almost twice the original estimate, the government is expected to confirm this week.

In the latest budget, the Ministry of Defence is set to estimate the cost of the two ships at £6.2bn.

£6.2 BILLION. What on earth are they doing? How many hospitals, schools, police officers etc etc could be funded by just the difference in cost between that and the original. Six years ago, when the contract was approved, costs were put at £3.65bn

The shadow defence secretary, Labour’s Vernon Coaker, said: “This is the latest in a series of financial fiascos in the MoD under David Cameron.  It’s that word fiasco again (see above).

This government seem to be very good at cut cut cut in just about every public sector. We must all pull together, this is a national crisis, a time of severe austerity, and all of these cuts have to be in place before 2015 because we know we don’t stand a snowball’s chance of being re-elected.

Whilst, at the the very same time, they are increasing their salaries, increasing their pensions, and their expenses have almost returned to the excesses of the bad old days.  Only a few days ago was there news about how they were claiming for gas and electricity in their second homes, and as one of my Twitter colleagues put it “Why do they need to do that, because if they’re heating their second home they’re not heating their main home, or cooking etc?”

So nothing has really changed since we spoke last. We are most definitely NOT All In It Together and the ConDem government that NOBODY voted for has shown just how arrogant and uncaring they can be.

Trouble is, it’s left me the dilemma, Who the hell do I vote for in 2015?

Answers on a Postcard please, assuming that Royal Mail still exists when you read this.

Since my last, our friends in the media have come to our aid and published this

Hideous £5bn government waste: including £6m on useless earplugs

Government departments have apparently poured £5.1 billion down the drain as the result of mistakes, write-offs and compensation.

The Department of Health, for example, was said to have wasted £761 million – including £49 million to exchange Tamiflu vaccines which were ordered just in case there was an avian flu epidemic, and went out of date

That was just part of the £255 million worth of vaccines that went out of date and had to be thrown away.

Likewise the Department of Health spent £28.5 million to make staff redundant during the reorganisation of the NHS.  Yes they have to pay redundancy, and they are spending money to save money, but £28.5 million? Really?

Other payments are hard to put down to anything other than incompetence – including £1.2 million lost to the Department for Education because a school made a payment to the wrong account.  WTF??

£11 million lost by the Department for Work and Pension because it overpaid work programme providers.

£1.74 million spent by the Home Office on scheduled flights that it later cancelled.  This is not the biggest up-cock but it’s up there amongst my favourites as it involves our dear and sanctimonious friend Cruella and her Department.  Pots and Kettles dear.

The Ministry of Defence wasted  £4 million on the early withdrawal of the Sea King helicopters, and £7.2 million on a mobile mine detection system that didn’t work.

Boots and Aircraft Carriers that can melt, submarines that leak, Flights never taken or cancelled, Mine Hunting System that plain doesn’t work, Withdrawal of the Sea Kings too soon, Shall We, Shan’t We? Fighter Planes, Let’s just pay this money into the wrong account, the list goes on.  If you were a Finance Manager and this on your CV what would the likely outcome be?

So yes, I am cynical, whilst I do believe #Austerity exists, I also believe that it’s a highly convenient hook for this government to hang its hat on and slaughter all those public services in its sights, and we, the Public, don’t know any better, kept in the dark and fed Bullshit – The Mushroom Syndrome.

#CutsHaveConsequences, but not, it seems, for the criminally incompetent Bar Stewards that re wasting BILLIONS of our Taxpayer pounds, spending it like it’s their own, but it’s not, it’s ours.

Tot up the figures above (loosely OK) and tell me how many Cops, Servicemen, Nurses, Doctors etc etc could be retained even if only for a few years more.

Then Call Me Dave and his cohorts can try and convince me where I’ve gone wrong and that it truly is necessary and NOT a Vendetta.

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The State Of The Nation

The American President gets to give a State of the Nation speech so, in an Election Year, I thought I’d give it a go.

Unaccustomed as I am to Public Speaking here are the Highlights

Police – Threat levels rising, the threat from International Terrorism is at unprecedented levels and what are we doing about it? At the last count we’ve got rid of nearly 17,000 fully trained and experienced Police Officers and we’re promising to shed more over the next 5 years. An unconfirmed rumour circulating is that Camoron and co want to cull the total down to about 80,000. Can you imagine that? 135,000 a few years ago, down to 80,000, cracking idea.

How many Police Stations or Front Counters have closed across the country? Too many.

The Armed Forces, they’re very important right now. In my humble opinion they deserve the best kit, and basically the best of everything because I’ve always been immensely proud of our fighting heroes, they’re well-trained, do a fantastic job, often in the worst conditions, and are regularly shat upon by successive governments. Having already been decimated to nothing much more than a decent-sized Defence Force rumours abound that they too are to be cut further, to as little as 60,000. Under the Government’s current Army reforms, the number of regular soldiers is already being cut from 102,000 to 82,000, and the number of Territorials is meant to increase to help take up the slack, only it isn’t, they’re actually getting smaller too, not by a huge amount but over 10,000 short of the government’s target of 30,000.  At the end of 2014 our Army consisted of 14,080 Officers and 80,101 Other Ranks. Current plans appear to call for an Army of 112,000 by 2020. This would result in a Regular Army strength of 82,000 and a Reserve strength of 30,000. Figures include 2,790 Gurkhas and 1,240 Full Time Reserves. (FTRS).

The National Health Service – despite Camoron’s constant reassurances that the NHS is safe in Tory hands, there appears to be a shortage of approx 20,000+ Doctors and Nurses, whilst the pay of NHS Chief Executives is climbing so much that one of them now earns more than the Prime Minister (allegedly).

Social Care cuts for Local Authorities have resulted in NHS Bed Blocking as Councils no longer have the funding and resources necessary to care for many patients on their discharge from hospital. This results in the patients failing to be discharged even though though there is no medical reason for them to remain and blocking a bed needed by somebody else.  Government blames Local Authorities, but in reality it is Government Cuts that have brought this about.

The Fire and Rescue Service. I don’t know what the figures are nationally, but almost every region has seen Fire Stations closed, Fire Engines sold off or scrapped. Jobs lost or at risk this is another example of an area we can’t take risks with.

Her Majesty’s Coastguard Service (or Marine & Coastguard Agency). There’s another Emergency Service that’s been decimated Camoron and Co. I’ve blogged about them numerous times before and I make no apology for including them here. We don’t think about them enough. The one thing I will repeat is this, if you swim in the sea, scuba dive, surf, let your kids on the water on inflatables, take a ferry to France, Ireland or anywhere else for your holidays then you absolutely NEED the Coastguards when this go wrong. According to Ordnance Survey the UK coastline is a smidgen over 11,000 miles long. Other agencies, however, have the coastline as anywhere up to 24,000 miles http://coastguardsos.com/how-long-is-a-piece-of-string/ After Camoron and co have had their way there will be just NINE Coastguard Stations left open.

The new National Maritime Operations Centre plus

Stornoway
Shetland
Aberdeen
Belfast
Humber
Holyhead
Milford Haven
Falmouth
Dover
Plus a 1 man station in London Port Authority (which so far failed to be manned at least once)

Do you REALLY, HONESTLY think that’s enough? Human lives are at stake daily. How many major incidents at sea have we heard about just since Christmas?

The last one I shall mention today is the Border Force and the monumental cock-up by the Home Office there (remind me someone, who’s in charge of the Home Office? Anyone we know?)

The Home Office has managed to come up with its own version of an IT catastrophe. Having hired Raytheon, a US company, to put in place “e-borders”, a computer system to log every person who crosses the UK border, it now turns out that Britain will not only be without the e-borders system, we will also have to pay more than £220 million for not having it. That’s in addition to the hundreds of millions of pounds that have already been spent on a system that does not work as intended. Thousands of people are slipping into Britain illegally and in-noticed. How many of them are returning Jihadists?

So there we are. The State of the Nation? Comprehensively ‘Cattled’ would be my assessment. In addition to posts lost, both the Police and the Armed Forces are ‘losing’ experienced personnel and replacing them with cheaper, untrained personnel. The loss of experience to this country is staggering, and cannot be replaced or reversed quickly.

Camoron and Co think that it’s all about saving money, well it isn’t. We can’t go on haemorrhaging skills and experience yet still expect our response to assorted threats to remain the same. That doesn’t work. Those that are left behind are disenchanted, having seen their pensions and terms of employment turned on their heads. Work Longer, Pay More, Less Pension seems to be the Mantra these days, unless you’re an MP That is. They claim that the Law does not allow them to decline their over-generous pay and pensions package. Well I’ve got a suggestion for you there Dave; change the bloody law like you did for hundreds of thousands of decent, hard working folk in order to make your unlawful pension reforms lawful. There’s a challenge for you.

I no longer care which party or parties form a government in May, but I do care about TWO things. They should have the good of the country in their hearts and all of their policies should be for the benefit of the country, not themselves or their fat cat business associates.

The State of the Nation is perilously poised.

Call Me Dave’s Five Best Promises

Can we get by with only 5? was my biggest concern.

  • In 2011, in a speech to NHS staff in London, the Prime Minister admitted there were areas of the reforms that needed to change.

He said: “Hospital doctors and nurses – not just GPs – would now be involved in commissioning, clinical senates would bring together healthcare professionals to oversee the integration of care over wide areas and the health regulator Monitor would have a duty to promote integration.”

Acknowledging widespread concerns about the Health and Social Care Bill, Mr Cameron promised there would be no “selling off” of the NHS, that waiting times would be kept under control and that competition would only be used as a means to improving services.  My favourite bit was  “I know other governments would announce reforms, and just plough on regardless of the concerns people had for fear of appearing indecisive or worrying about admitting something could be improved…..But this is too important to get wrong”

And at the 2012 Conservative Party Conference we got “Some people said the NHS wasn’t safe in our hands. Well – we knew otherwise. “

Speechless, and that’s only #1.

  • In 2012 Mr Camoron again made us a promise, that Coastguard Stations would remain open until the new structure came into operation in 2015.

In reality Coastguard Station closures commenced later in 2012

This letter would appear to prove that he cannot keep his promises;

camoron

  • In 2010, the Ministry of Defence was ordered to cut £4.7billion – or 8 per cent – from its budget.

But speaking at the time, Mr Cameron promised ‘year on year real-terms growth in the defence budget in the years beyond 2015’. In 2013 Downing Street was forced to admit spending will not rise until after 2016.  Defence Secretary Philip Hammond insisted the promise was only that equipment spending would rise by one per cent a year, but other areas would be cut.  This comes on the back of his 2007 promise:- In the wake of Labour defence cuts, a promise to increase the size of the army.  The reality of that promise is that no battalions were restored to the Army. In fact, military commanders estimate that up to eight of the existing 36 battalions could be lost as the Army shrinks to 84,000 by 2020 – its smallest size since Victorian times – relying on an enlarged reserve force.

So that’s another broken promise then.

  • In  2010  a coalition agreement promised to: “Bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.”

This proposal was subsequently watered down by Camoron last year, apparently to avoid “vexatious” attempts to remove sitting MPs.   It has now emerged that the legislation has been dropped altogether and will not appear in this year’s Queen’s speech, the last opportunity for it to do so this parliament.  Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, who has long championed the proposals, said that voters would feel deceived by the government.

And finally;

  • In 2010 (before the General Election surprisingly) Camoron said “Any Cabinet minister, if we win the election, who comes to me and says ‘here are my plans and they involve front line reductions’ will be sent back to their department to go away and think again.”  Theresa May was insisting that “lower budgets do not mean lower numbers of police officers”.

The breathtaking disingenuousness of these soundbites was exposed when Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary published the first authorised estimate of how the government’s 20% cut in police funding, announced in October’s spending review, would affect police numbers – and in particular how it would affect the front line.

The 16,200 police officers that will be cut between 2010 and 2015 entirely undoes Labour’s investment between 2000 and 2010, taking police numbers back to 1997 levels.

These figures do not take into account my blog in January this year where I revealed that 42%  of the 43 Forces in England and Wales are already reporting that their establishment is currently LOWER than their planned March 2015 Target.

So there you have it, 5 pretty major broken promises in my humble opinion.  The tragedy of it all is that I could have kept going beyond 5.

Will I be voting Tory in 2015? Have a guess.

101 Things We Should Never Forget

Well maybe not quite 101, but I’m sure you get the idea.

When you reach my ripe old age the grey matter isn’t as sharp and efficient as it once was, so I find it helpfulo to write things down so I don’t forget.

Here’s my list of things I don’t want to forget, please feel free to add your own in the comments at the bottom if you feel I might benefit from them.

THE NHS IS SAFE IN OUR HANDS – funny that because I thought it seemed like it was being dismantled and sold off, but it must be true Camoron said so and I mustn’t forget.

Tom Winsor never got paid for his far-reaching reports – I must have missed something somewhere because people ALWAYS want to be paid for work they’ve done, don’t they?

Tom Winsor was appointed Chief Inspector HMIC despite having no previous (or current) policing experience. I’m sure there’s no connection between these two, it just seemed convenient to list them both together.

Andrew Mitchell MP never said ‘Pleb’ He refuses to tell us what he did say, but he never said ‘Pleb’. Although he did feel it prudent to resign his Cabinet post a month later.

Andrew Mitchell MP is offered the post of UK European Commissioner at a salary approximately TWICE that of his Cabinet post.  Well, that’s the most recent story I heard, and absolutely nothing to do with the above.

G4S made an absolute shambles of their commitment to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

G4S and Serco face a multi million pound fraud enquiry into alleged charging for non-existent services in relation to Electronic Tags.

G4S and Serco are both able to bid for new Government contracts despite being subject of an ongoing fraud enquiry.

The 6 day a week service of the Royal Mail is enshrined in law and is therefore protected.

Pension conditions for existing members are protected by law and therefore safe. That’s why the government changed the law, so that they could change the conditions, so must remember not to be taken in by promises that something is protected.

Coastguard Stations will remain open until at least 2015, said David Camoron. Apparently this was a drafting mistake in his letter and he didn’t really mean it.

The Police have only ONE Target and that is to cut crime, said Theresa May.  Police and Crime Commissioners think otherwise, have over-ruled Theresa May and set a whole raft of targets for Police Forces to meet.

There will be NO Frontline cuts. Damn good job too, my dog’s got fleas and needs dome Frontline, shame they won’t reduce the price though.

There will be no Tuition Fees – well we all know where that one went.

There will be no increase in VAT – not since they raised it to 20% anyway.  As an aside to this VAT in France is dual band, 19.6% for most things, and 5.5% for renovation works (i.e. building work on a property you have owned for more than 2 years), cafes, restaurants and numerous others. Certainly helped to kick-start the economy and get people back into restaurants and have work done to their houses.

We will provide 3,000 extra Police Officers – still waiting for them to turn up, late on Parade.

There will be no bonuses for Bank Directors – Bankers are even being given bonuses for making a loss, what chance do we stand with that one?

That’s about all my ageing brain can think of at the moment, if I think of any more howlers I’ll certainly add them, but as I said at the beginning, please feel free to add your own.

What Every Member of the Public Needs to Know

Well, in a nutshell, what you all need to know is that this great country of ours is under attack, and it is under attack from the enemy within – the ConDem coalition.  They seem intent on destroying everything that is good (in my opinion) about this country, and once it’s gone, it won’t be easy to get it back.  I make no secret of the fact that I have been a life-long Tory voter, but NEVER again.  I believe that if you don’t for somebody then you have no right to complain when it all goes wrong, so I will be voting for somebody in future, but never again for this shower of s**te.  I would rather vote UKIP of Monster Raving Loony Party.

Much has been said on my blog, and those of my fellow bloggers, about the ConDems reforms of the Police Service, so I won’t take up too much of your time repeating it all again except to remind you all that by 2015 the Police Services of England and Wales will collectively have their budgets cut by 20% and 16,000 police officers lost from our streets.  That in itself is a big enough undertaking with some very serious implications.  Make no mistake,  even the Met, the largest Police Serice in the country, is going to struggle to meet its targets post Olympics, and we haven’t even heard the last part of their austerity plans yet.   If you want to see how your local force is shaping up to the cuts go to the HMIC website and choose “Find Your Force” then look at the austerity report for your area.

But the Condems haven’t stopped there, oh no.

Then we have the creeping privatisation of the NHS.  Our government has abolished its obligation to provide us free healthcare.  Our government has privatised the NHS without us knowing,  Our government has been paid by healthcare firms, they have worked alongside them, they have worked with them, they have worked FOR them. They even employ former employees of these private healthcare firms. None of that can be contested, they’ve declared their corporate interests before.  Our Lords are benefiting to the tune of millions, if not billions, by privatisation of the NHS, but no-one seems to notice. When 6,000 nurses got the sack, and Lord Ashcroft’s business replaced them with temps (earning him untold fortunes), no-one seemed to notice.  Interestingly, like the Police reforms, the BBC chooses not to report these things.  New hospitals are PFI funded.  I went to visit my sister in a brand new hospital recently (Kings Mill, like the bread) and the first thing I noticed in the entrance were the 2 Car Park Pay Stations, no way are we going to get away without paying for the car parks.  Then as I ventured further in I encountered Costa, WHS Smith, a jewellery shop (a jewellery shop in a hospital FFS?) and a hairdressing salon.  Where were the League of Friends I ask?  I read recently that Interserve has taken over the Royal Marsden NHS Trust (amongst others) arguably the finest Cancer Research and treatment facility in the UK and right up there in the whole world.  The Financial Times also reports this from behind its paywall

Three NHS Trusts have pooled together to outsource all their hospital, community and primary care facilities management to one provider, Interserve, in one of the largest deals of its kind.  Around 2,000 staff will transfer to Interserve, the FTSE250-listed outsourcer, under the agreement, which is worth £300m to the company over seven years.”

Does this sound familiar?  Does this give you cause for concern?

And don’t think that the Ambulance Service has escaped either.  As I reported in a previous blog, earlier this month the Public Accounts Committee published its report entitled Transforming NHS ambulance services.   As soon as the government understand how the Ambulance Service works, it has made it clear that it intends to reform it.

The Fire Service.  Heard much about that recently? Last year central government cut 1,500 front-line fire service jobs.  So far this year a further 1,000 have gone.  Fire Brigade pensions are going the same way as the police, pay more, work longer, get less.  Countless fire engines have been mothballed and fire stations closed, and government are making plans to privatise parts of the Fire Service. Sound familiar?  See the FBU website for more detailed information about what is happening in your area.

The British Army.  Did you know that there are now approximately 35,000 more Police officers in this country than there are full time soldiers?  In mid 2012 the full-time strength of the Regular British Army stood at a mere 99,670.   I do hope I don’t get thrown in the Tower for revealing this statistic, but it shocked me to the core to see that the Police Service, even after its shrinkage, was much bigger than our Army, and it will only get worse with the next Defence Spending Review.  If only Adolf had waited, he could have taken us easily.

And finally, I am indebted to fellow blogger Tom Pride for bringing the plight of our Coastguard service to my attention.  We have long read on twitter how the Coastguard service is under attack also, how Coastguard stations are threatened with closure, pleas to sign their petitions also.  Well, it’s actually worse then that.  Tom has blogged again today and provided absolute proof of the lies spouted by David Camoron.  He produces a letter signed by said Camoron, and dated 12th July 2012 in which he categorically states that no Coastguard stations will close before 2015.  Well, it’s now the end of  September and closures have already begun.  Not worth the paper it was written on.   You can find Tom’s blog here and read the full story, be sure to read the Comments as well, quite illuminating

Each of these issues is major in its own way, each of these issues impacts in some way on our safety and/or well-being.  What scares me most is that they are all happening AT THE SAME TIME.  The Government are determined that by 2015 the shape of this country will never again be the same.  I assume that neither the Tories nor the Lib Dems will be re-elected but who knows?  Whoever forms the next government will undoubtedly be unable to reverse these decisions, and that is why we need to do something about it now.

The only action plan that I can think of is that old rivalries are put aside, the Federation and the Unions work TOGETHER (I know, it will never catch on will it?) and fight these reforms with a united front. Together we stand and all that.  Divide and Conquer.  We’re all facing the same problems and we have a common enemy.  I don’t pretend that I know how it can be achieved, but I do believe that individual fights are doomed to failure.  The ConDems have proved that they are too arrogant to consider anything other than their own proposals.  Some of the Lords and MPs stand to make quite nice tidy sums thank you out of privatisation.  But can we afford to let it happen without that last fight.  Dunkirk spirit and all that.

If this is the last that you hear from me, you will know that I have been thrown in the Tower, or that the Blog Police have confiscated my quill.