I spent most of yesterday shovelling poo. This is not a metaphor — I really did load up many, many barrowloads of well-rotted manure to be spread on my garden because apparently I’m a bit weird like that. During all of this shovelling, I learned that there is, unsurprisingly, a limit as to how much horsesh*t one person can shovel in one day – but it seems like Theresa May, our esteemed Prime Minister, is going for the World Record here, because her speech to the 2017 Conservative Conference was choc-full of complete and utter horsesh*t. Have I said sh*t enough? Sh*t.
The horsesh*t started when Theresa May claimed that there are now 11, 000 more doctors in the UK since the Conservatives came to power. Ignoring, for now, the fact that the comparison is between now and 2010, which was a coalition with the Lib Dems who came to power and so quite a bit of the kudos for this should go to them, the actual figure is more like 9,000, according to Full Fact (a UK independent factchecking charity).
This statistic may not seem important, except that the UK has fewer doctors per head of population than the vast majority of EU countries. We don’t just need 9,000 more, we need far more than that, especially if we want to stop them leaving in droves because of high levels of burn out. 9,000 is hardly a sticking plaster on the NHS after all these years of under-investment, and our health service needs more than that.
The horsesh*t continued when May then called to end the stigma surrounding mental health. Sounds good, doesn’t it? If that was really what she would be achieving then I would be sitting here at my laptop giving her the highest of fives. But no. Again. Horsesh*t. All that May was actually proposing was a review of a 30-year-old law. Whilst this law does sorely need reviewing, Theresa May and her government need to do so much more than that to really tackle the mental health crisis in the UK.
DWP practices that penalise those with mental health problems and sanction them for being unable to comply with unreasonable demands need to stop right now, for example, and there needs to be a reversal of the decline in mental health services. The Five Year Forward View For Mental Health said that “Mental health has not had the priority awarded to physical health, has been short of qualified staff, and has been deprived of funds”, but sure Theresa. Reviewing a 30-year-old law will fix all that.
“It seems that the secret to a happy departure from the EU is a spirit of ‘cooperation and friendship.'”
Theresa May didn’t just reserve her horsesh*t for the NHS and mental health, however. Oh no. She was also full of it when talking about what is apparently her favourite subject: unions. She made a great point of talking about the union of the UK, that we were stronger together, that the Conservative party even had ‘Union’ in its name. All of which just made me wonder – why are you ploughing ahead with Brexit then, you great nana? If four home nations are stronger together, then just think of what we can achieve as part of a greater whole such as, oh, I don’t know, THE EU.
Speaking of Brexit, it seems that the secret to a happy departure from the EU is a spirit of ‘cooperation and friendship.’ Forget diplomatic negotiations. Forget economic studies. Forget hard strategy. If we just turn up to talks with a great spirit we’ll be fine, apparently. It’s like turning up to an oral exam on your thesis, having done no preparation, no research, written nothing, and imagining you’ll get a First by smiling nicely. Having already slated your examiners in the student magazine on a weekly basis. Come on, get real, May.
Moving onto affordable housing, and it seems that May’s not done with the horsesh*t quite yet. She promised an extra £2billion for affordable housing, which sounds great, except that it’s only really going to help those already on the waiting list for housing. It’s not going to do anything to tackle the spiralling figures of rough sleepers, which latest figures put at 4,134 people. In 2017. In the UK. A rich nation; one of the globe’s richest. That’s a rise of 134% since 2010. Now if only that percentage increase had been applied to NHS funding, or numbers of qualified health professionals, or wage increases for those on the lowest incomes. If. Only.
In short, I could have picked on any number of other policies and ripped them to shreds, but as it is I’m really tired from shovelling poop. Both literal and metaphorical. So yes, I could have focused on the coughing, the fake P45, the Frida Kahlo bracelet, but no. I chose to shovel some horsesh*t. See, I told you I was a bit weird that way.