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Current Edition: | Thursday 23rd February 2017

Current Edition: | Thu 23rd Feb 17

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Ed Lines

Friday 17th February 2017

I DON’T mind paying taxes. No, really – don’t laugh. I’d like the bloke sawing into my guts to be using a super-sharp and sterile scalpel, not a rusty knife and fork.

And as and when I’m sat dribbling down my daytime jim-jams and clamouring for the commode (any day now, quite possibly) I’d like to think it could be in a clean and well-staffed elderly care home.

It isn’t so long ago that we could take such things for granted. I can still remember going into A&E and being home before I’d grown a beard. The sparkly-eyed lady my kids called Supergran – my grandma, Mary Lockwood – spent her latter years being wonderfully cared for in a council-run home in Batley.

It’s been demolished some years now.

Our hospitals are in crisis, elderly care is a national scandal, the two are inextricably linked – and yet all either seems to elicit from the people actually in a position to do something about it, is finger pointing.

I don’t care whose watch this happened on, Labour or Conservative (and both are to blame, Blair and especially Gordon Brown every bit as much as the continued neglect of David Cameron and Theresa May).

I don’t care if mass uncontrolled immigration is a factor in the frontline pressure on the NHS. It’s not the point.

I don’t care that central and local government bodies can’t agree on who’s to blame or who has the responsibility to fix stuff.

Just someone, please, bang heads together and get something done.

Which brings us smartly back round to taxes, because the solution as ever in these cases, should be financial. It costs money.

So why are politicians suddenly so shy about even discussing income tax rises? About how we pay for it?

Successive chancellors dating back to Brown have become adept at the Liar’s Budget, at masking tax rises and revenue-raising schemes. They announce grand gestures of generosity and bury their schemes to loot.

You’re paying as much or more than ever, but it is disguised. National Insurance rises mean combined rates are higher than income tax without attracting the same headlines.

Do you know what basic rate income tax is? Most folk probably do – 20% on everything above the earning threshold.

But NI? Any ideas? As an employee you pay 12% (meaning your effective tax is 32%) but employers have to pay £13.8% on top. An almost 14% tax for the honour of giving someone a job.

Some people probably still fondly imagine that NI pays for our universal health service, for elderly care and their old age pension.

Dream on. It all goes into the exchequer pot so that we can give billions to countries like India, with their world-leading space programme, or fund Ethiopia’s equivalent of the Spice Girls in an idiotic attempt to promote female rights in Third World countries. Go fathom.

Time here, however, to give the Remainers their regular poke in the eye over the £350m a week (£200m nett) that we are still pouring down the bureaucratic black hole of the EU.

The snowflakes still persist in wailing that the NHS still isn’t getting the Leave campaign’s promised £350m. There’s a reason, petals – because whatever the real figure is, we’re still in the damn EU and haven’t got control of our money yet.

But again, not the point.

Ignoring the elderly care crisis will not cure it, and the longer it endures the more it will back up and choke our hospitals.

Sure, I’d pay extra tax to help towards a solution, but I suspect the problem goes even deeper than money – this Conservative government has neither got a clue, nor the guts, to tackle the problem head-on.

They are rabbits in the spotlight, hoping that winter turning into spring might bring warmer weather and a temporary salve for the beds crisis. Wow, that’s a plan, isn’t it?

Where’s a strong opposition Labour Party when you need one?

Ahead of next week’s Stoke-on-Trent by-election at least, they were busy getting local mosques to whip the faithful into line, telling Muslims it’s their duty to vote Labour.

Now where have we heard that before…?

 

I’VE BEEN in a lot of courtrooms (for good and bad!) during a lifetime in journalism. I have never, ever, witnessed anything remotely resembling the kindergarten theatricals in part two of The Moorside.

When the Karen Matthews trial judge invited witness Julie Bushby to basically give a speech to the jury I thought I’d lost the plot, never mind the scriptwriters.

Unbelievable. But so was most of it – a tawdry platform for star turn Sheridan Smith, regardless of what actually happened. Talk about ‘don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story’! But it wasn’t even that.

The entire plot could have been summed up in one ridiculous scene – Bushby and her “tree for Shannon” (when she planted a 10-bob sapling in a hole that looked like a bomb crater).

A march for Shannon, a balloon release for Shannon, posters and t-shirts for Shannon, a tree to welcome Shannon home. No, sorry, really not about Shannon – all about another attention-seeking moment.

I see serious critics are lauding it as a shoo-in for a raft of Baftas. Good grief, for what? For making an already unbelievable drama even more incredibly ridiculous?

I’m sure Ms Bushby is revelling in her latest brush with ‘fame’. And I note, according to the final credits, she apparently kept visiting Matthews in prison. That says more about this pathetic affair and these people than any amateurish BBC drama.

And if you’re one of the many people who thought it was great, can I recommend you get a letter fired off to Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing? Enjoy the regular community choir practices where locals gather to sing ‘Kumbaya’. FFS.

The one moment that rang true was when Matthews confessed to the botched plan to leave Craig Meehan for Mick Donovan. It makes even more embarrassing the fact that at no point did the show attempt to explain the kidnap/ransom plan.

I make no wonder West Yorkshire Police wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole – too much of their own to explain, like how a nine-year-old girl, having gone willingly with ‘Uncle Mick’ to his house and eaten junk food, sweets and played video games for three weeks, could be ‘found’ and a huge reward claimed, without giving the game away. I expect there are barristers who still blush over how that got past a jury.

In reality, Matthews and Donovan got eight years for wasting police time, money and making them look idiots into the bargain – which actually is fair enough.

I could stomach this farce if it had at least tried to get close to the real story, but it was a chick-lit cop-out – guilty parties all round, and not just off the Moor.

 

PS: It was quite surreal, sitting on a wall outside Donovan’s flat in the minutes after Shannon was found, chin-wagging with a couple of neighbours before Lidgate Gardens became a circus.

At that point I nipped up to Moorside Avenue where the news was just getting out.

TV producers were arriving with bottles of fizz to use as props for the ‘impromptu’ celebrations, but I saw a couple of blokes walking past swilling cans of Special Brew.

I asked if they were celebrating, but they just gawped back through their alky mist, as if I had a screw loose.

Those locals were oblivious to what was going on. Proper Moorsiders then…

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