The Big Eye, January 19, 2016

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We’ve now experienced the first of what could prove to be an increasingly uncomfortable series of strikes by junior doctors and although my world didn’t collapse and nothing bad happened to me on the day, I was aware, in the back of my mind, that part of the safety net protecting me had a massive hole in it. The medical ‘union’ that the doctors are members of declared their reluctance to take this action and expressed regret that it has been forced upon them because the Government (in their opinion) is effectively cutting their pay as part of the NHS reorganisation programme. HM Government denies this with all the vigour and downright indignation it can muster and insists that their interpretation of the new rules is incorrect.

Now, unless I’m very much mistaken, on both sides of this argument are intelligent people and all of them probably have ‘O’ level maths and so it would seem to me that either the doctors or the Ministers are mistaken. To put it more bluntly, one or t’other is plainly lying. I’m no expert on their hours or salaries but I do have an ‘O’ Level in maths (Grade C) and I’d have thought with a basic understanding of the principles of multiplication, we could conjure up a current junior doctor’s salary and do the same with the Government’s new offer and see which side has made the ghastly error. Judging by past experience of Whitehall’s ability to calculate the cost of anything from aircraft carriers to computer contracts for the NHS, my guess would be that the Chancellor’s accountants probably need to get some new batteries for the office adding machine and re-do the books before someone gets seriously hurt.

Another set of accounts you’re going to have to ponder later this year (I think) are the ones that will be dreamed up by the opposing factions vying for votes in the EC Referendum. I’m making a wild assumption here but I’m guessing very few of you have the tiniest clue as to whether we, as a nation, really benefit from being members of the EC or are simply contributing to support a ludicrously complex and byzantine bureaucratic nightmare. Simply put, we don’t know! I’ll assume our two MPs will stick to the script and come out in favour of staying in the EC but as they’ve been given a free vote I could have got that wrong. No doubt we’ll see in due course!

Somebody, somewhere, must have the real actual accurate calculations and can crunch the figures and see if the bottom line is in the black or the red. It would not surprise me to be told that there is no such number and that, in reality, there is nobody with a firm enough grip on GB’s finances to be sure which is best. In which case your future may come down to sticking our collective fingers in the air and deciding if we prefer Camembert to Cheddar …easy!