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Mary’s Bottom Line


Posted on 30 March 2012

mbl_1.jpgThe Retail Raptor is developing a social conscience. Hot on the heels of her project to put the High back into High Street, she has moved on to save Britain’s dying textile industry. Following the trend set by Hacksaw’s there is ‘no such thing as society’, which taken to its logical conclusion means there is no such thing as Britain, and the rise of globalisation, Britain’s textile industry has, like many others, gone west by going east. Here at home, the looms lie still, the sewing machines silent, the thread of manufacture first snagged, then cut short. The grim jaws of benefit dependency have bitten across generations; the darkness of despondency and despair lies thickly in the air. This is the kind of blight up with which the Raptor will not put.

Her latest series, Mary’s Bottom Line, was compulsive viewing for Dr No, combining as it did an opportunity for covert frilly surveillance with tear-jerking, cockle-warming can-do social programming. It was, in short, the sort of viewing for which it is advisable to lay in a large stock of Kleenex. Even Mary wept, revealing that underneath the raptor suit, she is no reptile.

The reason Dr No mentions Mary’s Bottom Line is that he believes the Health and Social Care Act will do to the NHS what Hacksaw’s ‘no such thing as society’ and globalisation did to industry. As the healthcare focus shifts from service and patient care to profit and the bottom line, we can expect to see ever more disruption, ever more out-sourcing. BUPA will offer two hips for the price of one. Smart commissioners will ask: why get hernias repaired on the NHS when you can get them done for half the price in the Ukraine? Who, given the austerity, can argue with that?

Well, Dr No can. In the short term money may be saved, but it will be at a greater cost. As NHS work ebbs away, so too will the fabric and spirit of the national health service. Hospitals will be closed, and wards lie empty, chilling echoes of our once great textile industry. Our national pride and sense of community in our health service will be eroded, and then lost: there will be ‘no such thing as a national health service’. Our national health service will go the way of our national industries.

At one point, Portas asked: “What have we done for the sake of a few quid?” Dr No believes that in a few years time we risk asking the same question about our health service. Unless, that is, we learn the lesson at the heart of Portas’ plan for Britain’s dying textile industry: the need to recognise the importance of pride, hope and community, of a sense of belonging. It was Mary’s Bottom Line. It is the NHS’s Bottom Line. One might even say: it is the bottom line for all of us.

1 comment:

Dear Dr no,

I try to buy Briish as far as possible, difficult now that Dr Martens are made in China. It is difficult when competing with the grand scale of Chinese production. See another recent programme : http://m.channel4.com/4od/gok-wan-made-in-china

Mary Portas venture is doomed, too amateur by far. If we want British manufacturers we need to cut National Insurance (a tax on employment) and have cheaper energy. Almost all manufcturing is energy dependent and if we increase the costs to our industry we export the jobs. We do not protect against global warming by exporting polluting and CO2 producing jobs abroad then importing the products.

If we want manufacturing to continue to grow in Britain (and it is on the increase again in terms of export earnings after a decade of decline) and less reliance on service and financial industries we need government policy to favour this. Sadly manufacfuring is unlikely to be a major employer of unskilled labour, more likely to be high tech and high skilled capital intensive employment, such as the new Galaxo factories announced last week.

There is no easy way back to prosperity. It requires a strong work ethic and government policies to favour and reward workers. High taxes and a sick-note culture guarantees economic decline and equality in poverty.

I share your concerns about the export of health related economic activity, hence my dismay at how amateurish our commissioners are. PFI deals show that our negotiators are not a match for their opposite numbers on the business side.

Boots


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