Saturday, 18 August 2007

Picture the hypothetical, scene. A group of senior politicians are discussing party finances. “Right” says one, “we can’t sell any more seats in the House of Lords, so how are we going to raise cash?” The assembled group look glum until one bright spark pipes up” I know, we’ll promised some big potential donors lots of public money in return for private donations to our party. OK so it will cost the taxpayers millions but will raise millions for us” General merriment and good will all round, “Ah” says the top man “but how?” “Simple” comes the reply “We’ll give them a PFI project or two. New Schools or Hospitals should do the trick. A new hospital is best, the developers can make a fortune charging the Heath Authorities to use the facilities, keep all the money from Parking and charge patients a fortune to hire of TV’s or use bedside telephones, etc. The people using the hospital pay the developer and then he can bung us some cash”.

Everyone agrees it’s a good plan, but which hospitals to close? First on the list are those in safe seats held by the opposition parties. Closing their hospitals won’t make any difference to the votes because they are lost causes anyway. Unfortunately not enough of them! So where else to close? Not a marginal seat that’s for sure, too risky. Out come the “Heat Maps” which show the potential risk to votes by closing a hospital. What they need are seats where the people will continue voting for them no matter how badly they are betrayed. “Got it” says one “we’ll close Hartlepool Hospital, they have proved they will always vote for us anyway so we’ve got nothing to loose” Problem solved, all retire to the heavily subsidized members only bar. Of course an imaginary conversation like that could ever take place in a free country like ours, would it!

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