Posts Tagged ‘Videos’

Simon Webb Now Pushing NHS Privatisation

February 6, 2023

With the NHS crisis the Tories the Tories have created, the sharks really are circling in the water. Nana Akua of GB News seems to be one of those plugging its privatisation, along with broadcaster, stalker and jailbird Alex Belfield. And now they’ve been joined by Our Favourite Internet (non)Historian, Simon Webb. He put up a post this morning with the title ‘What’s So Bad About Privatising the NHS?’ It’s short, but I haven’t watched it on the grounds that I’d find it too infuriating. Webb is, of course, far right, and seems to get most of his views from the Torygraph, which has also been pushing this nonsense. As someone who takes history seriously, Webb should know what an immense difference the NHS and the welfare state made to the lives of ordinary Brits. I’ve blogged about it, citing my sources. But some of those I’ve used were by social worker types, the kind of people the Tory party has been trying to discredit for donkey’s years, and so someone like Webb would simply ignore them out of hand. But I’ve also used books from the time looking forward to the foundation of the NHS, as well as Jackie Davis’ and Ray Tallis’ excellent NHS – SOS. In contrast to what the privatisers will tell you, private healthcare is not more efficient. It’s less. Private hospitals are smaller, and in order to make a profit private healthcare largely ignores the long-term sick in order to concentrate on people who are mostly well. When private healthcare companies have taken over doctors’ surgeries in this country, they’ve closed down those they consider unprofitable, leaving thousands without a doctor. Also, private healthcare spends a large proportion of their running costs on administration, so as a consequence these costs have risen in the NHS as a consequence of its privatisation.

At the moment there seems to be a trend among the political class to be looking at the continental healthcare systems, where medical costs are paid by a mixture of state and private health insurance. But this also neglects the simple fact that these countries also spend much more on their healthcare generally than we do. The privatisation of the NHS won’t improve healthcare, but it will give private healthcare firms the support of the state sector, which is what they want.

And it seems to me that what the Tories really want is a completely private healthcare system, funded by private health insurance, like America. And that really would be disastrous. Except for their corporate friends, of course, who would get all those great profits.

A few years ago I wrote a book and a pamphlet against the privatisation of the NHS. Here’s their description. The pamphlets are available from me, if you want one, while the book’s available from Lulu.

Privatisation: Killing the NHS, by David Sivier, A5, 34 pp. This is a longer pamphlet against the privatisation of the NHS. It traces the gradual privatisation of the Health Service back to Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, John Major’s Private Finance Initiative in the 1990s, the Blair and Brown ‘New Labour’ governments, and finally David Cameron and the Conservatives. There is a real, imminent danger that the NHS will be broken up and privatised, as envisioned by Andrew Lansley’s, the author of the Tories’ Health and Social Care Act of 2012. This would return us to the conditions of poor and expensive healthcare that existed before the foundation of the NHS by the Clement Atlee’s Labour government in 1948. Already the Tories have passed legislation permitting ‘healthcare providers’ – which include private companies – to charge for NHS services.

The book is fully referenced, with a list of books for further reading, and organisations campaigning to preserve the NHS and its mission to provide universal, free healthcare.

Don’t Let Cameron Privatise the NHS, David Sivier, A5, 10pp.

This is a brief critique of successive government’s gradual privatisation of the NHS, beginning with Margaret Thatcher. Tony Blair’s New Labour were determined to turn as much healthcare as possible over to private companies, on the advice of the consultants McKinsey and the American insurance companies. The Conservatives under David Cameron have continued and extended Blair’s privatisation, so that there is a real danger that the NHS, and the free, universal service it has provided for sixty-five years, will be destroyed. If the NHS is to be saved, we must act soon.

Here’s the video I made years ago for my book against the privatisation of the health service.

I also put up this video, which only four people have watched, asking people to vote Labour to defend the NHS. I hope people will, as some Labour MPs will defend it. But I’m not at all sure about Starmer.

Right-Wingers Outraged at Trans/Gay Pop Video, But It’s just a Return to the ’80s

January 31, 2023

Now for a bit about the latest right-wing rage about pop music. This morning there were a number of videos on YouTube by various pundits, right-wing and otherwise, discussing or denouncing a pop video. I honestly don’t know who the pop star who made it is, and have actually forgotten his name. I gather he had quite a successful career a few years ago, after which he came out of the closet and revealed he was gay. A little while later he said he was non-binary and now he seems to have gone a bit further in declaring his sexual identity. The video showed him in a revealing dress or robe, surrounded with dancers wearing chaps to expose their rear ends, during which he mimes various sex acts. Right-wing American YouTuber Matt Walsh was outraged, while somebody on GB News defended it, and claimed the video’s critics were homophobic.

What struck me, as someone who grew up in the 1980s, was how familiar it all was. I can remember when Frankie Goes to Hollywood were shocking the press and provoking scandal and outrage with their single ‘Relax’. It’s video seemed to be about a man in suit being pushed and pulled about the dance floor in a gay club by people dressed as gay bikers, watched by a fat bloke dressed as Nero. The single was banned, so say, by the BBC, although I’ve heard since that it was simply that one particular DJ refused to play it. This was entirely counterproductive, as the moment people heard it was banned they went out and bought it, with the result that it got to No. 1. And then there was Divine, an overweight drag queen and friend of American underground filmmaker John Waters, who starred in several of Waters’ deranged productions. Divine also had a hit in that decade, ‘Walk Like a Man’. Of course, Divine was a drag queen, rather than trans, but he wasn’t too far away from this latest attempt to climb the charts. The video’s shocking now, but it’s little different from what people were listening to and watching in the ’80s.

And the worst thing that came out of that decade was Margaret Thatcher. Her policies have done far more damage than anything that came out of the charts ever did.

Starmer Intends to Repeal Repressive Union Laws; Sunak Wants to Make Them Worse

January 5, 2023

Okay, I caught just a few minutes of Keir Starmer’s speech on the lunchtime news, and for once he said something I agreed with. He announced that Labour would repeal the repressive anti-union legislation put in place by the Tories. The excellent Irish left-wing YouTuber, Maximilien Robespierre, however, has put up a short video warning and commenting on what Sunak intends to do about trade union militancy. Yup, as a Tory, he has no response except more draconian legislation and repression. Sunak has announced that he intends to pass legislation demanding that unions provide a minimum service during the strikes. If they don’t, then the employers can fire workers and sue the unions. He also wants to raise the minimum proportion of votes necessary to call a strike from 40 to 50 per cent and possibly to the increase the period in which the unions must notify their employers that they’re about to call one from 14 to 28 days. Robespierre has said that the stipulation for minimum services fails, because this is precisely what the ambulance drivers have been providing. He considers that Sunak has taken to make these threats because he expected that the public would turn against the strikers, and they haven’t. He also makes the point that the Brexiteers are now making it very clear that they want to tear up the legal protections for workers under the mantra that this will make the country more competitive. Oh yes, and repealing all that pesky human rights legislation will protect us from the channel migrants. Or something.

I’m right with Starmer on this issue, if he can be believed. And that’s the problem, because Starmer is untrustworthy. He said he would retain Corbyn’s policies when campaigning for the Labour leadership. He didn’t. He promised to unify the party, but carried on the vindictive campaign against Corbyn and his supporters. He was going to improve the welfare state, but once head of Labour a little while later he either watered them down or forgot them. And some of the anti-union legislation was introduced by his hero, Tony Blair. Right at the start of Blair’s leadership campaign he told the trade unions that if they didn’t accept his further restrictions on them, then the party would cut ties with them. I’d like Starmer to keep this promise, but am afraid that, once he gets in No. 10, he won’t.

Here’s Robespierre’s video:

A Happy Star Trek Christmas

December 31, 2022

Okay, it’s New Year’s Eve and the Christmas season is nearly at an end. I thought I’d post this jolly Christmas video up before it’s all over and those who still have jobs go back to work. It was posted by ‘Why, Mr Spock’ on his YouTube channel, and shows various festival scenes from the original Star Trek series while Paul McCartney sings ‘Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time’. I suppose I could also run a quiz for Trekkers asking them to identity the individual episodes from which these clips are taken. Enjoy!

Video from Boston Dynamics: Robots Decorate the Christmas Tree

December 22, 2022

I found this cheery little video a day or so ago on YouTube. It’s from the American robotics company Boston Dynamics, and is of three of their four-legged robots forming a robot pyramid so that one, equipped with a mechanical arm, can put a star on the Christmas tree. I’m posting it up here as a bit of Christmas cheer in this new Winter of Discontent when the Tories are trying to drive us all into more poverty.

Video on the Development of Artificial Wombs

December 16, 2022

Hashem al-Ghaili posted this fascinating and chilling video on his channel on YouTube two years. It begins with a description and images of a hatchery of birth pods containing human babies, almost exactly like that unveiled this week by EctoLife as a proof of the concept. It then goes back and traces the scientific development of the technology. The first artificial womb was designed in the 1950s but not built. Then researchers in Japan built and test one using goat fetuses. It then moves on 2017 and the experiments with infant lambs in biobags at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital before ending two years ago with very elaborate pods which also monitor the baby’s vital signs. The video states that artificial wombs have been designed to help premature babies, especially those born before 24 weeks, whose survival rates are almost negligible.

The similarity between the pods in the video and EctoLifes is very close, which suggests to me that the people developing this concept have been doing it in one form or another for a very long time. While I have no arguments against helping premature babies to survive, there are huge moral questions over the way such technology would lead, such as the complete abolition of natural birth and the mass manufacture of human beings in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Sketch of One of Ken Dodd’s Diddimen

December 2, 2022

One of the sketches I put up a few days ago was of veteran funny man Ken Dodd. But Ken Dodd wasn’t just known for his jokes, but for another set of puppet characters – the Diddimen. I think they took their name from the colloquialism ‘diddy’, meaning small. Terry Wogan used to refer to one of his fellow radio hosts as ‘diddy David Hamilton. They were designed by Dodd’s mother, who helped and encouraged him with his comedy. They were immensely popular but are also quite far back in Dodd’s career. I can just about remember them from when I was very small. They lived in Knotty Ash, actually a suburb of Liverpool but in Dodd’s imagination a land of wonder and magic. They used to have a song, ‘We Are the Diddymen’. In the show I remember, the world was square and there were ships sailing about on its different sides. I’ve been told by my parents, however, that when I was very small, they terrified me, while I was immune to the Daleks’ attempts to spread enjoyable fear among the children of Britain. Perhaps I wasn’t alone, either, as while Dodd continued on our screens, the Diddimen vanished. In their last appearance that I remember, they were played by children in makeup rather than puppets. I also seem to recall that one of the puppets was stolen a while ago, and Dodd appealed for its return. It was later found on a rubbish dump. They were colourful characters, so I’ve drawn them in colour as another experiment.

And here’s a video I found on Rikkyhardo’s channel on YouTube. It’s of a recording of the Diddimen singing their song, accompanied by pictures of them with Dodd, and on merchandising such as children’s annuals, stills from various shows, and mugs.

Sketches of Pat Keysell, Tony Hart and Morph from Vision On

December 2, 2022

Vision On was another cult children’s television that ran from the 1960s to the mid-1970s, when it was succeeded by Take Hart, presented by Tony Hart, one of the preceding show’s presenters. Vision On was aimed at deaf children and so the jokes and action were primarily visual. Pat Keysell had originally been a secretary at the Beeb but got the job presenting as she knew sign language, and so appeared on the programme signing and interpreting the speech for the deaf children watching. Tony Hart was an artist, and art featured heavily in the programme with Hart creating a number of pictures each week. The programme also encouraged its viewers to make their own pictures and send them in to be displayed in their gallery. They were sorry they couldn’t return any, but there was a prize for each picture they showed. Alongside Keysell and Hart were a range of other performers. These included a young, slim Sylvester McCoy, playing a mad Professor decades before he became the seventh Dr Who. When I was watching the programme in the 1970s there was also Wilf Lunn, who looked a bit like the intergalactic showman in the John Pertwee Dr Who series ‘The Carnival of Monsters’. He was an inventor, who every week produced a little automaton. In addition to the real-life human presenters, the show also had a range of animated characters. This included a clumsy dinosaur that fell over its own tail, a tortoise, and the Burbles. These were disembodied entities that lived inside a clock, and who communicated in speech bubbles. But most memorably there was Morph, a small plasticine man with a mischievous sense of humour who lived in a wooden box. Morph could stretch and transform himself into different shapes, often transforming himself into a ball and rolling across the table Hart was working on at the time. Later on, he was joined by Chad, another plasticine man, but who was white rather than brown like Morph. And it wasn’t just confined to the studio. The Professor’s escapades took place in the open air. He even slept there, waking up from his bed, complete with bedside light, in a green area. Hart, meanwhile, could appear at the seaside to draw figures in the sand in anticipation of the great competitions in sand painting and sculpture that have now arisen.

The Beeb has been celebrating its centenary this year, and on one of its other channels it put on some of the favourite children’s programmes it has broadcast. Last weekend one of those was Vision On, and the episode selected show just how surreal the programme was. The programme’s theme was ‘Seaside’, and it featured the Professor losing a fight with a deckchair, Tony Hart drawing figures in the sand and Hart, Keysell and one of the other male presenters creating a picture in the studio of a series of fish eating progressively smaller fish in seaweed. At one point, Keysell and the other guy followed Hart to the seaside through a mirror. And once there, as they had gone through a looking glass, they naturally did everything backwards. The show ended when Keysell lost her ring in a fish tank, so she and one of the other presenters jumped it. They did find it, but emerged with an anchor, which they pulled and hauled in a ship into the studio. But for all the frenetic action, it was also strangely calming. Because it was mainly visual, speech was kept to a minimum and so there was no shouting or screaming. There was also much use of music, with the gallery having its own theme. And sometimes there were just images for the viewer to contemplate, such as in a sequence of footage of the seaside, with people wading in the sea and the waves washing over sand and rocks.

The show is fondly remembered, and references to it occasionally turn up in other programmes. For example, one sketch in the comedy show, Dead Ringers, started off outside 10 Downing Street before becoming an impression of Vision On’s gallery, as the character said, ‘We are sorry we can’t return any, but there is a prize for each one we show.’ Vision On was also the birthplace of Nick Parkes’ Aardman Animations, who went on to create Wallace and Gromit. Parkes was one of the team that created the animated sequences for the show. Aardman took its name from an anti-superhero they created for Vision On. Vison On ended forty years ago, as did Take Hart, but watching it the other night I wished they’d repeat it, so that some of us adult fans could revisit some of the magic it brought us as children,

Pat Keysell and Tony Hart

Morph

Here’s a video I found on TVtestcard’s channel on YouTube of the programme’s title sequence and its theme music, Accroche-ti, Caroline, which gives a good idea of how surreal the show was.

And here’s the gallery theme from the 45RPMsinglesbyMike Evans channel on YouTube. Its real name is ‘Left Bank Two’, and it was performed by a Dutch jazz group, the Noveltones.

Bentine’s Potties Attempt to Steal the Crown Jewels

November 23, 2022

One of the series I remember from my childhood was Michael Bentine’s Potty Time, in which the former Goon presided over the adventures of small puppet, called Potties. Although the series finished a very long time ago, it has been put up on YouTube, where you can find 2 hours and 27 minutes of it. There are also a number of individual episodes, which are just under a quarter of an hour in length. I went looking to see if it was there after I put up my sketch and potted biography of the great man yesterday. Among the other episodes I found this adventure, in which Bentine talks to the Potty police and Beefeaters guarding the crown jewels in the Tower of London. A pair of poorly disguised Potty Italian-American gangsters, Big Louie and Little Louie, try to steal them but are foiled by the Beefeaters and their cannon. The Potty cops also nab their leader, the Brain. When they take of his disguise, the Brain is revealed as a computer. How did the catch this dangerous criminal? While it was vulnerable during a power cut. That very firmly dates the show to Heath’s government, his dispute with the miners, resulting in power cuts and the three-day week. I thought I’d put it up here as another comedic blast from the past.

Video of Robot Doing Push-Ups

November 14, 2022

It’s not a real robot, but a model created by Danny Huynh of Danny Huynh miniatures. Huynh makes these superb model robots and the aliens from the Alien franchise, that move, sing and play instruments, or drive around in souped-up cars straight out of ‘Mad Max’. This very short video, ‘Pumping Iron’, shows a robot with a car engine body doing its push-ups for the day. I’m putting it up here because it’s just a fun video, something we need in these harsh, depressing times.