July 2022. Untying the Gordian Knot




That Britain is in a muddle, if not a complete farrago, will be seen as an understatement. But, if it is any consolation, the Italians will not smile and say “Serves you right”, as they too have somehow managed to do away with another Prime Minister and Goldman Sachs pupil embroiled in controversy: the pedantic and slippery Mario Draghi who had a ‘dead ear’ where the parliament was concerned, and believed it was but a short step to President. That is, however, in the will of Parliament, and Mattarella had pushed his nose in once too many times by vetoing their choice of the anti-EU Paolo Savona as Prime Minister, for Draghi to be a push in.  Given his hubris, all that’s left for him is to have a crack at the Papal throne. That being so, supposedly on the 25th September 2022, Italy will finely have a proper election both for President and Prime Minister, though I’m inclined to consider, the outcome will probably be as messy as our own. I say this because ‘The Brothers of Italy’ - a very right leaning group led by a not unattractive, charismatic and determined lady, Georgia Meloni, - have recently become the most popular party. Combined with the somewhat legendary leader of ‘Lega Nord’, Matteo Salvini, and ‘Forza Italia’s once Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, the parliament will almost certainly be dominated by a right leaning government. This will have the remaining left-wing parties and the European Union trembling, as Italy’s possible, I won’t say probable, exit from the EU. This would almost certainly be followed by France, and possibly Holland just now leading the world in High-Tec farming that the EU considers a danger to the environment and must be stopped. That leaves Germany to finance a remaining, far from healthy system made up of mini states reliant on a ‘dependency culture’ to exist. No bets on how long that will last!

We should not laugh at all these shenanigans as the United Kingdom faces formidable hurdles of its own, and not just since the Conservative Party did away with Mr Johnson, and not least, because of him. Net Zero alone was enough to undo him, besides the assistance of the puerile opinions in the degenerate section of the press. In fact, that single policy strikes so many essential and pivotal economic alignments that their direction could only lead to a major disaster. Sadly, neither of the prospective candidates care to face up to this problem and merely, with the odd piece of sticking plaster, seem prepared to soldier on roughly as before. Certainly, passing a law to proceed with fracking would be of great benefit, but is hardly enough to set the boat upright. The purchase of electric cars that caused such a fuss has begun to peter to a halt as the public begin to realize how impractical and expensive the format really is. They are also slowly waking up to the attack on farmland, and the spectre of ultimately relying on foreign food imports for just about everything. No one has yet suggested where the nation will get its money from to pay for it, except the Bank of England putting its presses on overtime. Perhaps a successful renegotiation of the Northern Ireland Protocol would add another paddle, but like all the myriad problems, needs a Prime Minister determined to use parliament to push through any legislation needed to solve the problem. Johnson, besides all his purported talents, never demonstrated a practical grasp of the situation that had to be addressed – and there were many - the remaining marks of the Corona virus; the absolute poverty engineered by the economics of Net Zero, exemplified by the Socialist republic of Sri Lanka; the criminal web of the European Union; the moral disintegration of the Woke culture; Illegal Immigration, et al!

(At this point I should just add that it is parliament that makes the law of the land, not courts or foreign bodies, legal or otherwise. It passes the bills the country needs. The government has been pussy footing around for far too long.)

Perhaps the most glaring disorder in this litany of problems is the National Health Service. We are being told that the Health Service is short of thousands of nurses and doctors despite a hefty budget. Regardless of that, the UK (and Italy) make some of the lowest spending per person on health care. However, one thing is obvious, throwing more money at it won’t fix its service, when the problem is one of mismanagement. One of the annoying points of this matter remains the fact that medical staff are trained at the public expense before some quickly take their expertise into the private sector, leading to massive shortages of man power. It is true that governments of all colours have taken part in the privatization process. Blair leading the charge in privatising the peripheral services needed for maintaining the system – cleaners, kitchen staff etc. But it was Cameron and Clegg’s “Social Care Act” that abolished the NHS and handed responsibility to a series of Quangos, primarily NHS England, that saw a massive increase in its cost., leading to where the UK is now. In a hole!

The sort of problems with the UK NHS, is something that is beginning to be a contemporary problem here in Italy as well. In the UK it absorbs an incredible amount of money, c. 192 billion, of which nearly half goes on salaries. In Italy, it is considerably less at c.103 billion for roughly the same population. Drawing parallels would of course be difficult, but from my own experience the Italian system is competent and seems to work well when the need is obvious – a broken bone, heart problems, cancer etc. Life apparently only gets difficult when the problem is not so well defined and needs a protracted investigation to establish cause, rashes, muscle pains, new epidemics. In such a case there seem to be few specialists catering for a large number of patients. On the other hand, you have a reliable ‘family doctor’ system, appointments being accessed from a central hub. However, there is apparently a caveat. My experience is based on Tuscany, and the word says that the further south you go the less efficient it becomes.

In the UK you used to be able to acquire a private ward, something that was desirable when you might be one of a dozen patients, male and female, crammed in all together. I believe they are still extant, and go under the name of ‘amenity beds’, etc. at c. £300 plus per day – if available! I seem to remember they largely disappeared to some degree in the UK after the 1970’s Nurses strikes, being a stick to beat the government with.

In Italy, except when you need 24-hour monitoring, you share a room with one of your own sex, and this works very well – the company often being amusing just when you’re feeling a bit down.

Perhaps something of the same might be rolled out again, as the insurance cost carried by the patient would not be great, and go a long way to making the NHS affordable. It might even help untie the Gordian Knot. But don’t hold your breath. Alexander the Great is nowhere to be seen with a white coat, stethoscope and a seat in the cabinet!