Live 8 – The Hidden Sting

The party is over and the guests are all gone. While people are asking “will it do any good, will anything really change? while we all have our eye off the ball, we have already been hit with the sting.
You will have all seen the insincere grin of Tony Blair hovering around the proceedings not actually accompanied by the Prime Minister himself. Like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, the substance of Mr Blair’s being has gradually faded until only the grin remains.
Live 8 gave Blair something to grin about of course. Just as September 11, 2001 was for the government a great day to bury bad news, so was the day we all became caring sharing human beings for a few hours.
After the scandal of the September 11 “bad news” memo was exposed the insincere grin, in one of its first independent appearances promised us such a thing would never be allowed to happen again. The grin lied (lusty chorus of “tell us something we don’t know Ian.”) It happened again late of Friday afternoon while we were all in the pub talking about Live 8, struggling with the Friday traffic or watching pictures of the build up to the gig. The government, after being harassed by a leading newspaper for months finally released, as there are obliged to under their own freedom of information act, details of the work of Mr. Blair’s “Blue Skies Thinking” consultant John Birt. You may remember Mr. Birt from his days as Director General of the BBC. His was the regime under which our state broadcaster virtually abandoned the concept of entertainment in favour of “reality” programmes featuring Lawrence Llewelyn effing Bowen turning some poor unsuspecting punter’s living space into a replica of a Babylonian Brothel egged on by the ubiquitous Smiley Smiley Carol Smillie (another grin that we have to bear.)
Birt is an accountant with an accountant’s mindset and an accountant’s mindset only sees the difference between a dramatisation of Vanity Fair and another banal makeover show when looking at the bottom line.
I suspect nobody truly knows what Blue Skies Thinking is, not even Tony Blair. It is the kind of phrase that an insincere grin might invent without the need for any human intervention. Details that have emerged suggest however what is going on is not so much clear blue skies as the murky, grey overcast of bureaucracy and obfuscation. Birt’s project is all about juggling statistics to pull the wool over our eyes so we think everything is hunky – dory as society disintegrates around us. Pull that off and it is Blue skies, nothing but blue skies all the way to a fourth term for Blair and buddies.
A major Blue Skies initiative is to create a method of quantifying the notional cost to the nation of a crime in order that a police accountant may decide if investigation would be cost effective. If the scheme is implemented it will probably cost so much to hire the crime accountants that there will be nothing left to pay police officers.
Another Birt promotion is the scheme to establish the differential between the cost per mile of urban travel against rural travel. Everybody knows that it costs more per mile to travel in town, whether by bus, car, or train than in the country but That is countered by the fact that you have to go a lot further to get anywhere in the country. So this scheme can only be a prelude to banning everything that moves from towns.
The real stinger though is Birt’s cost analysis of NHS patient care. Now although this project has been acknowledged, no details have emerged. Could it be that Mr Birt is developing a way to calculate the cost – benefit ratio of treating each individual patient. The thought of that has really got me crapping myself because as a disabled person I am well up that creek of brown smelly stuff.
Might I go to the surgery in a couple of years only to be told “your problem is easily treatable Ian but we have run a cost analysis and as you have not been economically active for quite a while now we can’t see any financial benefit in curing you. Here are some pain killers, now fuck off and die.

Downing Street says
John Birt
G8 conference protest

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