Just months from the General Election, the Conservatives had hoped to be riding high in the polls as economic growth returned to Britain, welfare and education reforms began to bear fruit and the Labour Party was left floundering for credible policy ideas.
And, of course, this scenario has indeed come to pass – apart from the bit about the Tories heading for election victory.
Instead, as the Conservatives gather in Birmingham for their pre-election conference, David Cameron is struggling to contain a fractious, divided party, with Mark Reckless living up to his name by following colleague Douglas Carswell into the UK Independence Party and, to add insult to injury, Civil Society Minister Brooks Newmark being forced to resign following a sex scandal.
That the Tories are still coming up with good ideas is shown by the plan to lower the benefit cap and spend the savings on three million apprenticeships. But few people are looking at the policies. Instead, all voters can see is a party at war with itself. And a divided party is a virtual guarantee of election defeat.
Mr Cameron, therefore, has much work to do if he is to have any hope of appeasing those disaffected MPs who believe he has failed to adopt the tough positions on Europe and immigration that would have countered the rise of Ukip. It is clear, for example, that Ukip leader Nigel Farage is talking to these MPs, but is Mr Cameron doing the same?
Of course, the logical effect of the rebels’ actions is the very thing that they might be expected to want least: a Left-wing Labour government raising taxes, increasing spending and handing over more and more powers to Brussels.
Can it really be the case that the rebels are willing to risk economic disaster for Britain and see livelihoods destroyed, purely in order to teach Mr Cameron a lesson and move the Conservative Party further to the Right? If so, that would not only be reckless. It would be irresponsible beyond measure.
Denied drugs: Thousands dying unnecessarily
ALBEIT WITH a heavy heart, the public has just about come to accept the reality of drug rationing and recognise the depressing logic of a health service with a limited budget being forced to opt for those treatments that will bring the most benefit to the most people for the least amount of money.
What is simply inexplicable, however, is doctors being forced to ignore a drug not for cost reasons, or because it
would only help a small minority of patients,
but because it is impossible to get at it behind a
thicket of impenetrable red tape.
Yet, astonishingly, this is the case with an old drug, anastrozole, which has been subjected to new research that shows it could prevent 4,000 cases of breast cancer a year for only 7p a day per patient.
What possible reason could there be, then, for not pressing ahead with mass prescription of anastrozole for all those deemed at risk of this appalling disease?
Answer: because the system is not geared towards using old drugs for new purposes.
Ridiculously rigid regulations, therefore, prevent doctors using anastrozole for prevention as well as treatment.
There can be no starker illustration of how the system for prescribing medicines actually works against the interests of the patient and no clearer reason for as many people as possible to support the campaign for these absurdly inflexible regulations to be overhauled before more lives are needlessly lost.
Odeon plan is right for Bradford
TO ITS detractors – who once, astonishingly, included Bradford Council – the city’s former Odeon cinema was nothing more than a derelict eyesore, waiting to be pulled down to make way for a bold new vision for the city centre.
A decade later and that bold new vision
has long since disappeared along with the self-
styled visionaries who backed it.
But the Odeon is
still standing, a tribute
to all those who campaigned to save it and who rightly saw it as a symbol of Bradford’s pride and heritage.
One of those people, businessman Lee Craven, also has a vision. But this is the far more pragmatic and down-to-earth idea of turning the 1930s Art Deco structure into a concert venue to bring much-needed life back to the city centre.
As plans for this transformation near completion, the hope now is that Bradford Council will take a more sympathetic view and realise that this is precisely the sort of scheme that the city desperately needs.