January 21st 2011 – Informal Political Luncheon (IPL)

The year started on a high with a significant number of luncheon guests including many new faces. Geoffrey Pointon introduced David Lloyd who is the Chairman of the Newark Conservative Association. David had been encouraged to attend one of the biz club lunches as he had heard how they combined both business and politics. The Newark Association are looking to expand and invigorate their membership and so welcomed the opportunity to attend an IPL.

Geoffrey Pointon detailed the next event in Oakham which is an informal debate on Europe and asked where we should stand on Europe.

Frank Simms said ‘Europe is important. We played the common market wrong and the mechanism is not working correctly. We have not kept at the coalface and participated.’

Derick Horsfall added ‘some of the problem is the Conservative’s lack of parliamentary loyalty. They sit on the fence when they get a new leader until they have been in place. David Cameron needs more support from them.’

Phillip King noted ‘that he used to meet many business people and when the topic of Europe came up they felt it was not a level playing field. Businesses in this country felt that they were trying to compete in a competitive market but that they had one hand tied behind their backs.’

Geoffrey Pointon asked ‘is Europe out of control?’

Phillip King replied ‘yes the accounts have not been signed off for 16 years. Any other organisation would be shut down. In the UK there is political imbalance. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales MP’s make unanimous decisions about their counties but English MP’s are not able to influence those countries. The Lib Dems prevent change around Europe for the Conservative party but it is where the public have concerns e.g. Europe enforcing votes for prisoners. People like the trading concept of Europe but don’t necessarily
want to be in the EU. In the UK no-one under 55 has ever had a vote on Europe and it is something we should review regularly as a country.’

The debate then moved onto the proposed changes in NHS funding and control.

Bill Ginns said ‘there are too many middle managers in the NHS that are paid too much. Doctors already have managers and office staff who will do the work.’

Geoffrey Pointon asked if ‘when their responsibilities are increased will they want more money.’

David Radford noted ‘that they will probably employ the same consultants to advise them that will have been dropped the PCT’s in the first place.’

Geoffrey Pointon added ‘that he felt it was a shot in the dark. Too much too soon.’

Bill Ginns remarked ‘Andrew Lansley says the reforms have been considered since they were in shadow government.’

Chris Emmett agreed ‘that NHS costs were going up by around 7% each year and it needed to be reigned in but that the NHS was the priority of voters in all polls. 1.3 million are employed and to restructure such a complex organisation it needs to be thought through in detail. It does not to follow public sector disciplines. Politically the problem is that it will make bad PR when a patient is seen to be kept waiting on a trolley for 24hrs. Government targets did make a difference and removing them may have a negative impact. It will take time to get GP Consortiums up and running effectively.’

David Radford felt ‘that if the reforms started now then it may use the time between now and the next election to be working effectively.’

Phillip King noted ‘that if GP’s become self employed contractors to the NHS where will the public have an input to the system.’

Geoffrey Pointon said ‘the flaw is we don’t seem to want to tell the voters the truth and that is a threat to democracy.’

Terry Forsey added ‘the trouble is the media are too quick to try and discredit politicians and government. Sound bites are often taken out of context – politics is now about presentation as much as it is about substance. The problem is we have instant mass communication of media.’

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