Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Misconceptions of one kind or another!

It seems that Donald Trump has been telling us what is wrong with our health service. Well, not so much what is wrong with it in detail but the fact that it is not working. His tweet went:

“The Democrats are pushing for Universal Healthcare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working. Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!”

Apparently he got most of his information from an item he saw on television on Fox and Friends. Where else would presidents get information about other countries and their various social systems? Who needs advisers?

The news segment featured a guest described by a writer in the Guardian today as “everyone’s favourite seven-time failed parliamentary candidate”, Nigel Farage. As you might expect from Mr Farage, he blames the crisis in the NHS on immigration. I am fairly sure that Mr Farage is aware that “of the NHS’s 1.1 million staff, 138,000 are immigrants – a figure which doesn’t include many immigrants and their children who have taken British citizenship”. But I would never expect him to say that in public. Here’s a link to the article. And here’s just a little bit of it, outlining why the NHS is in crisis:-

“In reality, the UK is facing the same challenges as many other developed countries: as people live longer and have fewer children, the population is ageing, and older people are requiring much more and more expensive care than they used to, increasing pressures on the system.”

So far I am still not demanding a lot from the NHS but I would like it to be there if/when I do.

I suppose we should expect Mr Trump to have some misconceptions about things. Other people, however, I suspect of suffering from false memory syndrome.

First of all there was Jenni Murray, someone I enjoy listening to on the radio, featured in one of the weekend papers. Here is something she said in her interview:

“Late in the decade, the sexual revolution did have an impact as we children of the 60s went to university. The pill felt out of reach. It was expensive until the early 70s and only prescribed to married women. The Family Planning Association was a source of barrier contraception but, again, only if you could demonstrate you were married or about to be. Woolworths did very good business in cheap wedding and engagement rings, and I recall having a rather good time.”

It’s a funny thing but I remember that Student Health at my university would happily prescribe the pill to unmarried female students. Was the University of Hull, Jenni Murray’s university, very different from Leeds, where I studied at around the same time?

Then there was Harriet Harman.

It’s 100 years since (some but not all) women got the vote in this country and the news media have been making a thing of it, naturally enough. Last night’s Newsnight lined up politician Harriet Harman, artist Tracey Emmin, writer Anne Atkins and someone else whose name and occupation escaped me. Harriet Harman spoke first and was asked if she remembered a time before feminism, or something along those lines, as if, as Anne Atkins later pointed out, feminism was invented in the late 20th century.

Harriet Harman started to go on about remembering a time when a woman’s only ambition was supposed to be to find a husband! She spoke of advice to girls to get an education but not too much of an education as nobody wants to marry a clever girl! I was somewhat flabbergasted. So much so that I almost stopped listening to the other women on the panel.

Now, Harriet Harman was born in 1950 (I checked!), not 1920. So we are almost contemporaries. Nobody ever suggested to me that my main ambition in life was to find a good husband. The headmistress of my girls’ grammar school would be spinning in her grave at such a suggestion. We were HER girls and we were going to go out and conquer the world! A bit “Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”, I suppose.

I wondered where this idea of  Harriet Harman’s had come from. Certainly not from her mother, a solicitor, who surely must have encouraged her daughter to go out and be independent. And I doubt if it came from her school or university. Maybe she meant to refer back to time before ours (hers and mine) but it didn’t sound like it.

Sorry, Harriet, there was a lot wrong with the sixties seventies but we young women of the time thought we were out to change things. We got our qualifications and entered our professions, we were union reps in the work place and we stood up and spoke in meetings.

And it’s still going on. And it still needs to go.

Polly Toynbee, writing in another article about the centenary of women’s suffrage wrote:

“In the 1970s we thought it done and dusted with the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts. But laws and votes are only steps on the ladder. #MeToo is another step up in brutal honesty. No more grid girls, darts walk-on girls or Presidents Club dinners – that’s another rung, though Miss World 2018 will strut on, and-the POTUS is a pussy-grabber.”

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