Our entertainers give us facts while our politicians have nothing to say

Speaking their mind: Rufus Hound and Kate Nash had the courage to speak their mind about the NHS and education - but they don't have enough influence to change government policy. What will it take?

Speaking their mind: Rufus Hound and Kate Nash had the courage to voice their opinions about the NHS and education – but they don’t have enough influence to change government policy. What will it take to make that happen?

This could have been designed to follow my rant about politics being about perception: In response to a news report that NHS doctors’ surgeries have been found to be filthy, radio listeners were treated to a lengthy monologue on why the media are running down the health service to make it easier for the government to sell it out from under us.

This lesson was delivered, not by an eminent politician, but by the comedian Rufus Hound. He was speaking on Radio 4’s The News Quiz.

And he said: “Does this not scare anyone, though?

“There are a lot of stories coming out at the moment about all the ways that the NHS is failing. At the same time there is privatisation by stealth. Now, if you’re a conspiracy theorist, maybe those two things just resolve themselves. If you’re a normal person, you’ve got to become a conspiracy theorist, haven’t you?

“The number of contracts being put out to private companies has gone up through the roof. All of the pre-election promises of no privatisation of the NHS, and that the budget would be ring-fenced – it was ring-fenced but not in real terms, so it is a cut in the truest sense…

“The NHS is being sold out from under us, and yet all the stories that come out from the powerful oligarchs who run the media are either about how it’s failing and how much better off we’d be if it was privatised, or why privatisation can’t happen quickly enough for any one of a number of other reasons.

“The reason those surgeries are filthy is, there’s not enough investment to keep them clean and tidy. The argument isn’t ‘privatise’; the argument is ‘invest more’.

“In the Olympics, there was that big moment where they had ‘NHS’ and everybody stood up and applauded, and I think it was Norman Lamont who said, ‘The nearest thing the British people have to a religion is the NHS’ – and we’re just letting it go.

People should be on the streets.

“And I realise that, for this to make the edit, it should have a punchline.”

He knew, you see. He knew that this great speech was in danger of being lost if it wasn’t sufficiently entertaining.

Thank goodness producer Sam Michell kept it in, but it should not be up to an entertainer like Rufus to tell us these things. Such matters are the province of politicians. The simple fact that our representatives aren’t “on the streets” with us about this says everything we need to know about them.

Here’s another example: Education. I was in the unfortunate position of having to sit through Andrew Neil’s This Week on Thursday evening. I’m not a fan of that show, but it meant I was lucky enough to see former pop starlet Kate Nash, there to talk about her film (The Powder Room) and modern manners, slip in a quick observation about education that undermines everything ever said by Michael ‘rote-learning-is-the-only-way’ Gove.

She said, “There are certain things we need to be addressing, that are being completely missed – and that’s to do with education being inspiring and interesting for young people, rather than just about purely passing tests and pressure.”

She hit the nail on the head without even looking; Gove couldn’t find it with a map and a guide.

Again, she is an entertainer; she should not be having to say these things, but we should be glad that she did. The moment was glossed over entirely in the BBC News website report of the debate. Perhaps we should be happy that they didn’t edit the comment out altogether (it starts around two minutes, 15 seconds into the video clip).

We are left with politicians who refuse to do their duty and defend our services from those who would destroy them, and celebrities who are left to pick up the slack – if, with a biased media, they can find a way to keep their words from ending up on the cutting-room floor.

What hope can we possibly have that anyone with any clout will defend our beloved, but beleaguered, taxpayer-funded services?

Worst of all is the fact that it falls to people like myself to even write about these matters, and we all have lives of our own. Rufus and Kate made their speeches on Thursday; it is now Sunday, and I could not have written this article any sooner.

We’ve all heard that a lie can travel around the world several times before the truth has got its boots on. This is because the liars own the media, and those of us who are interested in the truth have small voices, are easily ignored, or can be dismissed because “it’s only entertainment”.

At least high-profile figures have a better chance of being heard. There will be those telling Rufus and Kate and who knows who else to get back in their box and shut up, but I won’t be one of them. I think we should be “on the streets” with them.

I’m wondering if any more members of ‘The Great And The Good’ will have the bottle to speak their mind.

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29 thoughts on “Our entertainers give us facts while our politicians have nothing to say

  1. franklinpercival

    The correct approach to predatory companies sniffing round the NHS is to sequester assets, imprison managers and reinstate RHAs, surely? We have seen what G4S and Serco do. Why do we hesitate?

    1. Paul Trembath

      Ask yourself who “we” – the people with the power and responsibility to do those things – actually are. Not you. Not me. Could it be people who used to work for those companies, or others like them, or who expect to do so in a year or two?

  2. Janice

    Couldn’t agree more, we heard the news quiz too and very impressed with Rufus. It’s just soul destroying how the media seem to “lock onto” the fed lies and how the population seem to lie down and take it.
    How much more proof is needed that we’ve had enough of these manufactured rich boy politicians and lying PR merchants.

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  4. Chris

    Opinions are not facts.
    Politics is discredited because politicians present their opinions as facts.
    No longer does anyone do anything because they believe it is the right thing to do – things get done because they “are the right thing to do”. Opinions are presented as facts and anyone who disagrees is wrong, because only an idiot would consider doing “the wrong thing to do”.

    You’ve repeated the same mistake, even in the title of this article.
    Opinions are opinions, not facts.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Rufus made many factual points about the NHS in his little speech; Kate’s comments were statements of opinion, sure, but it should be self-evident that education needs to attract a child’s interest and also inspire that child to take a further interest. Either way, that doesn’t override what Rufus said.
      I wonder what you are trying to achieve.

  5. Jeffrey Davies

    well cams sais the nhs is safe in his hands yes its very unsafe being sold off bit by bit yet hes getting away with it cant the rest see whot they doing the yanks are waiting in the wings just to get it cost price thuss allowing Unum and its ek into this market

  6. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Mike here discusses the way it is increasingly left to entertainers – actors, comedians and pop-stars- to speak the truth about politics, while politicians make only the most bland comments while presiding over the gradual privatisation of state institutions like the NHS and education. This is essentially because all the parties have adopted the post-Thatcherite consensus that private industry is always good, and will always be better, whatever the facts says to the contrary, than state interference. Worse, the parties and individual politicians are a part of the problem. They have been absorbed into the same military industrial complex they pretend to regulate. Major corporations sponsor political meetings, lobby MPs, and then provide lucrative positions in their boardrooms for MPs and senior civil servants. This needs to end now. Under French law, no civil servant can take a job with a company until two years after they have left the civil service. This is to prevent companies headhunting senior civil servants for their contacts in the rest of industry and the administration, and help close the swing doors between the civil service and the industries they regulate and invite for government contracts. Anything similar over here is roundly denounced as either unworkable or else specious claims are put forward claiming that it is already outlawed under present legislation. See Mike’s comments on the government’s response to his e-petition against ministers voting over subjects in which they have a vested interest. Furthermore, many politicians actually don’t come from the working or lower middle classes, and so are isolated from the hardships the Neo-Liberal agenda has created. This is shown by the comments of a Tory councillor, repeated in Private Eye, who said there needs to be houses built for people on modest incomes, such as £50-80,000 a year. If only that was the minimum salary! The Conservatives have been using the privileged background of many Labour and Socialist MPs and activists against them, particularly on the subject of immigration. The claim is that these MPs are insulated from the harm their policies do to the working class, because they themselves hypocritically belong to and enjoy all the benefits of the middle and upper classes. This argument was first advanced about forty years ago in which a book which argued that as the middle class membership of the Labour party had increased to the point where they were now the majority, the party had lost touch with its working class roots, and was dominated by people who despised them. There is much to this, though the policies that are damaging the working class, formulated and implemented by MPs and officials from the middle classes, are those of post-Thatcherite Conservatism, not Socialism.

  7. dave lee

    …I agree it time more ‘celebs’ spoke up their influence on the public is way more profound than MPs etc…. ;<))

  8. zeph

    I agree with the need for more people to become politically aware, we are throwing away the achievements of our ancestors revolutions and political activism. Soon we will return to being the easily exploited masses we were in Victorian times, complete with workhouses and child labour! I do think celebrities should get involved though, along with people on mass, and politicians. I hear a lot of people saying ‘if politicians want us to vote they should do xy and z; failing to realize that voting is in peoples own interests and that certain corporate concerns would much rather we did not vote because being voiceless increases our exploitability. For now, at any rate, people still believe the corporately peddled meme ‘look out for number one and sell out everyone else at the first opportunity’, when will we realize that we are everyone else! Only around1% of people will ever benefit from this breakdown in collective and social responsibility, the rest of us will suffer terribly from the loss of our social services.

    Other voices we should be hearing from are those of the responsible corporate sector, who should verbally defend great institutions like the NHS,

  9. Norma Roberts

    Private v NHS let’s see…

    In 2011 I had an endoscopy at my local hospital it was carried out by the NHS. The hospital is approx 10 mins away from me by car, the total amount of time I was away from home was one hour and twenty minutes. My results were with my GP within 10 working days. The time between referal by my GP and the appointment had been 3 weeks. Referal to results 5 weeks.

    Late October this year my GP suggested another endoscopy. I received an appointment at a treatment centre, run by care uk, for the 12th of November. Two days before the appointment they rang and cancelled, a further 2 appointments were cancelled in this manner. I finally attended the centre on 12 December at 2pm, my procedure was booked for 2.45. I sat in a cubicle for almost 3 hours before I was seen, nobody told me why I was having to wait for so long. Total time away from home was 5 hours. I have been told the paperwork will be with my GP in the NEW YEAR! Referal to results almost 10 weeks.

    So which do you think is better NHS or private?

  10. Guy Ropes

    Please don’t forget Russell Brand – a guy who quite frankly I had little but contempt for before he apparently began using his position to put facts before the public via the MSM. Go to: “Russell Brand, The Guardian” – there’s quite a file there.

  11. Mhara Costello

    “she is an entertainer; she should not be having to say these things”,

    Excuse me? WHY shouldn’t she be speaking out – “saying these things”?
    She’s not an alien from another planet, she’s a human being, isn’t she? Like the rest of us. In fact, “entertainers”- those in the public eye, have MORE reason to speak out, on behalf of the very people (‘Joe Public’) who put them there, when we have injustice & corruption on the scale we’re seeing now. It’s called ‘giving something back’. Rodger Waters, Russel Brand, Ken Loach, a prime example. I’m not sure where “courage” comes into it either; welcome tho’ they were, commenting on the NHS & Education is hardly a treasonable act. Staying silent on things that matter is.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I didn’t say she shouldn’t be speaking out at all, if she had something to say.
      My words were that she should not be having to say these things.
      We elect politicians to speak up on our behalf, not entertainers. Yes; it is welcome that Kate Nash (and Rufus Hound, and any other celebrity who has entered the political debate because they feel a need to speak out about injustice or impracticality) has done so, but it is not her job.
      The point I was making is that she, and those like her, have done so in order to fill a void left by elected representatives who should be standing up for us, but aren’t.

  12. Thomas M

    Most people don’t protest, when they do it’s either ignored or degenerates into riots. And it’s sad that entertainers have to do Labour’s job.

  13. Sebastian Melmouth

    Thank you! We need to give positive feedback to these Clebs and show that this sort of stuff is what we want MORE of – not less.
    It’s surprisingly hard to find the right channel to make a constructive comment on the BBC Websites.
    The comments that are generally encouraged are a single sentence (Most popularly a Tweet/Twitter). It’s number rather than logic they want.
    If you do comment – AVOID the ‘Complaints’ box. Whatever you type, it will be registered as a complaint about the item rather than a complaint that the item wasn’t featured enough.

  14. Urban Tiger

    I’m going to be the devil’s advocate for a minute. In my experience, French healthcare works very well. You can usually get to see a doctor at a minute’s notice, and they seem to be pretty good at getting stuff done once you’re there, in sharp contrast to Britain. It seems to me that we could learn a thing or two from the French.

    What is their system you ask? Well, it is mostly private provision, but the French govt picks up the bill. Privately provided, publicly funded. And it works.

    It has to be worth taking a proper look at…

  15. Guy Ropes

    My chum went to Belgium to have an operation which he needed quite badly. He was advised to go by his NHS doctor who told him that he would be dealt there far more quickly than he would in the UK. He didn’t have to book. He went by ferry, turned up at the hospital who asked him what procedure he wanted to be done. He told them, they booked him and the matter was completed. He was back home and all within 48 hours The whole thing – trip, meals etc – cost him less than £200. 2 years later he’s still OK. I’m not knocking the NHS because they gave me some much needed care very quickly and very efficiently last year. (I got notice of my 12 month check up last week).

  16. Guy Ropes

    So why don’t entertainers, authors etc come together to form a loose coalition to put their views, and ours, on a more established footing.

      1. Guy Ropes

        Allow me to disagree. It is no part of Vanessa Redgrave’s ‘job’ to get involved in anti-war rhetoric and civic action but she does, as do others. Good on her. That’s the way her frustration has manifested itself. Andrew Lloyd-Webber is attempting to get a miscarriage of justice overturned at the moment. It’s not his job to either but I’ll applaud him for it and help him if I could. Cynics would say that he’s only doing it to engender publicity in respect of the new production he has in the West End, but that’s cynics for you.

      2. Mike Sivier

        Guy, you’re not disagreeing with me there – you’re agreeing. I said it is not their job; you said it is no part of their job. I said they speak out because they feel they have to – so did you. You agree with me.

  17. Guy Ropes

    I said that they should come together to form a loose coalition (in order to collectively put forward their views) I wasn’t suggesting that they should make it their job – to suggest as much is ludicrous – but you said forming a loose coalition; (that) ‘is not their job’. If they want to form a loose coalition let us encourage them in their endeavours, in fact somebody plead with them to do so and we can support them. Make it clear though that I don’t want it to be their “job” nor have I suggested as much.

    1. Mike Sivier

      So when you wrote, “Allow me to disagree”, after I wrote, “That is not their job”, I was mistaken in forming the logical conclusion?
      Either way, we are still in agreement about what we would like to see them do.

  18. Raven

    “Such matters are the province of politicians”? if it is democracy you want, then it it the duty of all voting citizens to be informed and join the debate.

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