Why? He apologised – and admitted that he’d got it wrong on social care and not understood the issue – when he was working at the Treasury, as an aide and Minister, under Gordon Brown.
This came in the opening of Inside The Care Crisis with Ed Balls, a two-part BBC2 series in which he works as a carer at Saint Cecilia’s Nursing Home in Scarborough run by the leading campaigner Mike Padgham, a frequent contributor to these pages.
Not only is Balls taken aback by the complexity of the work involved – and this was before the staffing crisis was exacerbated still further over mandatory Covid vaccine – but he. too, is truly inspired by the empathy of carers and the rapport that they develop with residents.
There’s a clip when he’s in awe of Cameron, an 18-year-old carer who wants to become a paramedic, and emotional scenes when Balls phones his sister to acknowledge his new-found appreciation of the love and attention afforded to their mother, a dementia sufferer in Norwich.
And then the message that he received, as a public figure, from one carer: “You need to look after us. Stop putting us at the bottom of the list because you will need that care one day and I’m not wiping your bum.”
I tell this because it explains my anger when the aforementioned Padgham appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme to set out the staffing crisis facing care homes.
He’s lost count of the letters, and invitations, sent to Ministers and MPs that have been ignored – and Today presenter Justin Webb did, in fairness, put some of Padgham’s points to Sajid Javid, the Health and Social Care Secretary, later in the morning.
Yet Javid’s answers, and reluctance to engage, revealed an arrogance that he too, just like his predecessors Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock, does not understand social care or want to learn.
It prompted me to ask the DHSC how many times Javid has visited a care home since taking up his current role. The reply, when it came, avoided the question.
What I do know is that Ed Balls has performed a national service with this TV documentary – part two is on Monday night – and that all MPs and Ministers should undertake hands-on experience in the public services. It will make them better politicians, public servants – and also people.
THOSE who question the resolve of red wall Tory MPs should read the intervention in this week’s standards debate by Mark Fletcher – Dennis Skinner’s successor as Bolsover MP.
I don’t know Fletcher – but he challenged the Conservative old guard by pointing out that two years at Westminster has been “more than enough to know the difference between right and wrong”.
And, as a member of the Standards Committee that investigated the disgraced former Minister Owen Paterson, he praised the integrity of officials whose reputations have been besmirched so unfairly.
Fletcher concluded by saying the role of MPs is far more than creating laws. “We are also role models held to high standards,” he added. At least he gets it.
A remarkably mature speech, it also revealed a new political dividing line between red wall Tory MPs fearing the electoral consequences of sleaze scandals and a Prime Minister whose court is out of touch with the seriousness of these matters.
GOOD point by Bradford South MP Judith Cummins – 30 million NHS dental appointments have been missed since the start of the Covid and the backlog needs to be tackled.
Unfortunately, she asked Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg who merely pontificated about the work of dentists in his constituency rather than organising an urgent debate.
The Tories should realise – by now – that they lose a few thousand votes every time that Rees-Mogg opens his mouth and reaffirms his status as the “Honourable (?) Member for the 18th century”.
THIS is what Anne-Marie Trevelyan is saying about Britain’s post-Brexit trade deal with New Zealand and its repercussions for lamb farmers.
“In terms of New Zealand lamb, I’m not at all concerned that my Northumberland farmers will be at risk,” she said. “When I’m eating my Northumberland lamb at Easter I wouldn’t be eating New Zealand lamb but I might now be able to have some lovely New Zealand lamb for my Sunday lunch in autumn which otherwise I wouldn’t have had”.
She’s only the International Trade Secretary charged with promoting – and safeguarding – British produce while, presumably, committed to reducing food miles and carbon emissions after addressing COP26. What hypocrisy.
IF cricket officials – and supporters – are in any doubt about the size of the racism scandal enveloping Yorkshire CCC, look no further than Sky News. It interrupted live coverage of Barack Obama’s speech to the COP26 climate change conference to broadcast – in full – the opening press conference of Lord Patel, the new YCCC chairman, and his apology to Azeem Rafiq.
FINALLY, a first. I agree with football pundit Stan Collymore and his irritation at how spectators now applaud when two minutes of silence is held to mark the Armistice and Remembrance Sunday. By all means clap individuals when appropriate, but not at the expense of remembering the fallen with quiet dignity at this poignant time of year.
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