If the NHS is in trouble, Tory politicians can be absolutely relied upon to make it worse.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay threatens to impose “work notices” on striking hospital doctors, forcing them to leave picket lines for the wards. If they refuse to comply, they could be sacked, or their union fined heavily. Blustering Barclay announced his crackdown on junior docs and consultants during their first co-ordinated walk-out, which ends today.

It’s now more than 180 days since ministers met the medics union BMA to talk about pay. This dangerous conflict has lasted 10 months and cost the NHS £1billion. From the Prime Minister down, the official line is “No negotiations. This dispute is over”. Except that it isn’t, and it won’t be until arrogant Tory politicians accept that they have to talk and achieve a deal.

More strikes are planned next month, while waiting lists surge beyond a record 7.7 million, operations and appointments are cancelled and the nation gets sicker. We all have skin in this game, literally. Our new great-granddaughter, aged three months, has been in intensive care in Leeds General Infirmary for the last week.

My appointment with the cardiologist at Airedale General on a strike day this week was cancelled and re-scheduled for mid-October. I’ve no idea what’s in store. We are utterly reliant on the NHS. All of us that is except the rich and Tory politicians, who go private and haven’t the faintest idea what life is like for ordinary folk.

I can’t wait to explain it to them, with a simple X on a bit of paper. Meanwhile, I say this to the medics – do your best, and I support you. But remember there is no shame in conceding defeat in a battle with the state. It is more powerful than any group of workers. Shame hangs round the neck of the politicians, not the strikers.


“Old Durham town” was Kenyan-born singer Roger Whittaker’s greatest hit, though he probably only visited it once. The song was covered by crooner Val Doonican, but I can find no record of him visiting the county of Prince Bishops. And Roger himself, who has died aged 87, didn’t bother with an atlas, singing about the River Tyne, which is 15 miles to the north. Immaterial. The song is an eternal message of community, simplicity and the beauty of nature. It will always be sung, when Ed Whatsisname is forgotten. RIP Roger.


The first snapshot of public opinion, in yesterday’s Mirror, suggests that Rishi Sunak’s green U-turn will backfire. In a cynical bid for traditional Labour votes he ratted on Government pledges to phase out new fossil-fuel burning cars by 2030. But our readers voted 67% “No” to the question “Is the Government right to delay our net-zero commitment?” Public understanding of the seriousness of climate change goes way beyond Tory prejudices. We get it, even if they don’t.


I never wanted to know anything about conceited, narcissistic, ignorant, foul-mouthed, intellectually-fraudulent Russell Brand (he speaks well of me, too). And now I never will. The self-styled clever comic is finished, destroyed by hubris. He thought he was different, and superior. He was only a bogus act in a bad year. Who’s next for the Hall of Infamy?

2023-09-21T20:23:44Z dg43tfdfdgfd