12 Jun 2011

Did I mention, new blog?

Lib Dems may be being Outmanoeuvred by Tories on NHS

The Lib Dems appear to be being circumvented yet again in their attempts to make the coalition more liberal and fair.

Following Vince Cable's removal from the Murdoch competition review, where Jeremy Hunt MP took over and approved the Sky News deal, we now see Clegg about to be sidelined by Sir Stephen Bubb's biased review of the NHS competition body.

As Lib Dem MP John Pugh observes, "asking Sir Stephen to sum up on competition laws is as neutral as asking Simon Cowell to tell us about the merits of TV talent shows". Or, indeed approving the reform of the NHS by a Tory MP who's election campaign was funded by a donation from ATOS healthcare (Lansley).

The so-called independent review is quite aptly referred to as a 'trojan horse' by the Observer, and looks again likely to see the Lib Dems outmanoeuvred by the Tories.

It seems that Orange Booker mentality of senior Liberal Democrats is no match for the free market capitalism of the Conservative party's approach to the public sector.

I would prefer to see the Lib Dems pushing for greater scrutiny in the great 'commissioning drive'. This mistake was made with the part-privatisation of railways, where commericial sensitivity has coated provision of services thickly and opaquely. This would at least demand that all services were subject to public review.

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11 Jun 2011

An Experiment: Wearing a Hijab in Ashford, Kent

We don't see a great deal of ethnic minority in Ashford. So in preparation for the slutwalk I had to go to the town centre and station to catch a train.

I probably do not have the body language of someone who wears a hijab regularly, I'm nosy and curious and I tend to meet anyone's eye.

Therefore, I was astounded to have people actively looking away as I walked across the car park. I'd turn, catch someone staring and then look away guiltily. It was rather like when I used to walk with sticks (that's another story).

Interestingly, I'm a decade older and a great deal less ashamed of how I dress and look to others. So I met stares, it felt like my left eyebrow was on a spring with the amount of challenging smirks I gave.

What amused me the most (aside from the fact I have heavy progressive power metal in my headphones) was a moment on a platform. I walked past a woman and her 6-7yr old daughter. And I heard;

'Don't stare dear, you must learn to respect diversity'.

This is when it hit home that Ashford doesn't see a lot of people in hijabs at all. Let alone white women who are five foot nine and striding down the platform with the Guardian under one arm!

I will continue to update as the day progresses!
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8 Jun 2011

Move to New URL

This blog can now be found at:


Please have a look!
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7 Jun 2011

Why the sexualisation debate is about both genders

The sexualisation debate is in the news following Cameron's commissioning of The Bailey Review.

Jane Fae makes a strong argument against the report in today's Guardian, pointing out the research is not academic, the debate is geared towards blaming women and that we should be geared towards solutions not blame.

However, the fundemental flaw I see is surrounding Fae's argument 'this is all about girls- what girls wear and how girls may be perceived'. I would suggest that this is largely what the report has been about in newspapers, rather than the report it's self.

The arguments presented in the papers surrounding this debate do centre on examples of female pop-stars, pole dancing kits and gender targeted publications, which are dominated by a market geared towards hetereosexual males.

As a result, it is very difficult to read such reports as being about anything but 'how girls are perceived', because men simply aren't portrayed as commodities in the same way.

The result of marketing and commercialism deliberately targetted at maintaining gender differences means that unvalidated fallacies such as cave men mentality are exploited and portray a two dimensional and flawed analysis of what primal behaviour is composed of.

Men are just as maligned by such misconceptions as women, discriminated against for not 'keeping their libido in check' and expected to conform to a hetero-normative existence to satisfy public perception.

As much as the new woman is meant to be sexually liberated, so the new man must embrace that liberation.

And to me, this is the crux of the debate. The media, in shaping women as physical commodities to be bought and sold, is also perpetuating the idea that men must undertake the buying and selling.

Men are therefore engaged from a young age to observe the 'liberation' of women and adhere to it as a cultural representation.

Then we can enter into the slut walk debate. There are bilateral implications of allowing young girls to dress in 'sexy' outfits, both the effect on a girl's sense of acheivement and self validation, and of the perceived behaviour of that girl in the eyes of the man.

For, in spite of efforts, the madonna/whore dichotomy persists: men embrace a woman's liberation but they'd still rather marry a Kate Middleton-epitome of decorum.

It is these structural ideologies that must be challenged, and if the beginning of this is a report commissioned and written by a Bacon chief exec, then I welcome it. There must be a start.

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Cameron's Rhetoric on NHS Reforms Tells Us Nothing

The five pledges Cameron is proposing today with regards to reforming the NHS are simply the rhetoric that he patronised the country with in his election campaign.

Not endangering universal coverage means nothing where there are clear signs of postcode lottery with a range of services, including IVF in today's news. With consortia at a 100,000 person level, not every one will contain a hospital, nor will all midwifery services be available. Therefore what Cameron is saying is nonsense, he cannot increase existing services on 80% of the current PCT budget therefore the gaps already in existence will stay, and new ones will form.

The same applies to improving efficient and timely care, with limited budgets, which are currently below EU average in any case, and rising costs, the timeliness of care will obviously be effected. When thrown into the mix the debate of 'concentrating hospital services', one must recognise this means closing other hospitals and services.

Cameron says there will be no sell-off, but it is prudent to observe he does not echo Clegg's announcements on potential problems with competition introductions. Therefore he is still intending to commission services to private contractors, which amounts to the same thing.

As well as this, such reform will create an opaque layer of bureacracy which will mean reviewing performance will be virtually impossible with commercial sensitivity, something we already see with Council service contracts.

The only solace in Cameron's rhetoric is he will maintain that services will be free at the point of delivery. But even this silver lining has a cloud, one can still receive retrospective invoices.

I have little faith in the report published next week, and remain as ever cynical.
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