Saturday, October 01, 2005

Saturday's Whinge

There has been much coverage of the inappropriateness of a Headteachers' Conference being sponsored by McDonalds.
But I was more intrigued to notice that the Labour Party Conference stewards who roughed up the 82 year old heckler were sponsored by cable company NTL. The company logo was emblazoned on their yellow jackets. It probably explains a lot.
We know that ethics are not a consideration when New Labour wants dosh from the private sector. But it's not a good idea to associate yourself with one of the most incompetent companies in the country. Just putting those dread initials 'NTL' on a uniform are probably enough to guarantee cock-ups of monumental proportions.

From my own bulging file on NTL I give you, in very brief summary, this classic:

NTL lay a new digital cable outside my front door.
NTL write to me with the good news that I can now upgrade to digital TV.
I ask NTL to carry out the said upgrade to digital.
NTL deny that there is a digital cable in my street.
I say that I saw it being laid and chatted to the men who were doing it.
NTL continue to deny its existence for over six months.
I point out that they sent me a letter announcing the digital revolution had arrived at my door.
"We send those to everyone" say NTL.
They suddenly discover that there is one house in my street with a digital cable.
"Maybe we could run a cable from that house to yours" they say.
They give me the address of this house. I look for it. There is no such address.
In a sudden volte face, they concede that there may be a digital cable in the street. I rejoice.
But, they say, the cable is at full capacity. I would have to wait for someone else to leave the service.

A year passes.
An engineer visits me for an unrelated problem. "Oh, by the way...." I say.
He shows me the digital cable outside my front door.
He confirms that his company's various assertions were, in order, bollocks, complete bollocks and unbelievable bollocks.

One can only hope that NTL's involvement with Labour was confined to sponsoring the Conference bouncers. It's frightening to think that they, or any similar shining example of private enterprise, might have any role in the health service.

Oops, sorry. It has already happened. One of the private companies that has been doing cataract operations for the NHS was found to have neglected basic hygiene procedures which resulted in a number of patients losing their sight.
But hey, these thing happen.
Waiting lists for cataracts are down and blindness is no big deal. After all, Gordon Brown is blind in one eye and a totally blind man is a Government Minister.
Most of the privately-treated patients did not go blind and those that did haven't got cataracts any more.
So maybe I should stop whingeing and celebrate the shining New Labour future of public-private partnership.
In the kingdom of the blind, mad-eyed Tony is King.


At 8:34 PM, Anonymous graham said...

It's interesting watching New Labour's demise and how the same thing happened to the Tories all those years ago.
I had hoped that when Labour got into power that it would get better.
At least when the Tories were in you knew who the enemy was..
What was it Pete Townsend said " Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss,never a truer word.

At 8:59 PM, Blogger patroclus said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:00 PM, Blogger patroclus said...

Hmm, NTL swear blind that there's no cable in my street either, despite the fact that a) I live in Central London and b) there is an NTL socket in my living room. Maybe they'd just prefer to be manhandling pensioners than providing multimedia services?

And your last line made me laugh so much. Thanks for that.

At 7:23 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

graham: the worry is that widespread, and justified, disillusion with mainstream politics can provide fertile ground for extremists.

patroclus: fascinating. I wonder how widespread this is? It's surely unusual for a company to promote a service that it then denies exists. How much money is this idiocy costing them?

I owe thanks to the great Steve Bell for my last sentence.


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