Whitehaven News column – 26th June 2014

The Criminal at the Heart of Downing Street
One of the reasons for growing dissatisfaction with our political process is because of the relationship between the political class and the national media. To the watching public, the relationship is, frankly, weird. Favours are traded between journalists and politicians, access is granted if certain lines of spin are allowed to go unquestioned, flattering coverage can be guaranteed if no questions are asked – on and on it goes.
The truth is that there always has and always will be a close relationship between politicians and the media, but the relationship between David Cameron and his hand-picked communications Chief, former News of the World Editor, Andy Coulson is a matter of major national importance following Coulson’s conviction this week for conspiring to hack into phone messages.
David Cameron was warned of concerns about Coulson before hiring him, but he hired him nonetheless. Inexplicably, Cameron exempted Coulson from full security vetting before bringing him into Downing Street. David Cameron can hire who he wants in the Conservative Party, and he can pay for it with the Conservative Party’s own money, but when he chose to bring Andy Coulson into Downing Street then he chose to use our money to place, in Ed Miliband’s words, a “criminal into the heart of Downing Street.”
Echoes of the Watergate scandal surround Cameron’s choice to place Coulson at the heart of our democracy. This is about more than bad judgment, more than the innocent victims of phone hacking and the abuse of their rights, it’s about more than the venal character of our Prime Minister, it’s about what kind of country we are and the nature of our democracy. Too many in our national media don’t want to ask the tough questions of David Cameron.
Ask yourself, ‘Why?’
David Cameron has cheapened our politics, damaged the nature of our democracy and brought the highest elected office in our land into disrepute. Whatever your political views, we all deserve better than this.
Copeland Action Group
Lee Butterworth is the community volunteer behind the Copeland Action Group. I’m proud to represent people like Lee, and all of the other volunteers who turn out to help with the action group. More than that, the group is inspirational. Please, if you can, get involved in a community scheme near you.
As for those who want to detract from the work of Lee and the group – that’s extraordinary. The positivity of the Copeland Action Group, and the difference that this is making, is something to celebrate, not destroy.
As usual, the anonymous keyboard warriors will have their say – but this time, they’ve really shown their true character. Want to make a difference? Switch the computer off, get out and get involved. 
Out of Control
If you’ve been following developments in the NHS in the Whitehaven News over recent weeks, you’ll find it galling to learn that Health Minister Jane Ellison has this week admitted that the Government “don’t really have day-to-day control” of the NHS.

Shockingly, amidst growing evidence of decline in service standards, she said “from a political point of view it is a bit like being on a high wire without a net at times, it can be quite exciting.” 

This government has subjected the NHS to its biggest ever reorganisation. The result of this has been that a quarter of the public now say they can’t get a GP appointment in the same week, let alone the same day, last year was the worst year for a decade in A&E, with nearly a million people waiting over 4 hours for treatment, waiting lists have now hit 3 million and the number of hospital trusts missing the cancer waiting-time standard has doubled over the last year.
“Exciting” isn’t the word I would use.

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