THING OF THE WEEK
Conservative Party Conference Special
BLAST FROM THE PAST… Hundreds of Women Against State Pension Inequality, known as WASPI, dressed as Suffragettes and protested outside Central Library. Chants of “Hey, hey, Theresa May, how many women have you robbed today?” echoed from the ring of steel. The North Wales WASPI branch was among those that made the trip to Manchester for the rally. WASPI were protesting against what they claim is an injustice from changes to the state pension laws in 1995 and 2011 Acts. The Tory’s 1995 Pension Act included plans to increase women’s state pension age to 65. WASPI says it supports the equalisation but does not agree with “unfair” ways the changes were implemented in 2011, and claim there was little or no notice given. WASPI wants a “bridging” pension to provide an income until state pension age that is not means-tested, with compensation of losses for those women who have already reached their state pension age. Rumour has it the protests caused pensions minister Guy Opperman to pull out of a fringe event he was due to take part in.
DATA DOCTORS… Health minister Philip Dunne claimed the NHS will see a “transformation in data” and the UK’s upcoming “precision medicine strategy” will be a “testing ground” in drug discovery, use and care. Dunne said manufacturing data through artificial intelligence will “start to move towards predictability of behaviour” and that “we are going to see many more drugs being produced as a result of data”. Mike Thompson, of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: “The plan is to do a genomic profile of each citizen, and link long-term outcomes with specific drugs. This is precision medicine and will lead to medical breakthroughs because we will treat different strands of diseases with different drugs.” However, a professor from Imperial College London, speaking from the floor, argued back that “the NHS should be focusing its time and energy on bettering treatment for mental health instead of trialing genome projects. It is ridiculous that current issues are not being addressed before technology is implemented. The claim that drugs are bettering patient care is also incredibly insulting to the doctors and nurses that work tirelessly to achieve such care.”
BOOZY BOLTHOLES… Authorities claim the visiting Tories generated £39m in revenue for Manchester. A decent chunk of it seemed to be spent in Champagne bar Epernay, next to the convention centre, and Albert’s Schloss over the road also did a roaring trade throughout the four days. Punters were clearly not put off by memories of the People’s Asembly protest camp set up in the Great Northern ampitheatre, between the two busy bars, during 2015’s conference.
LIFE ADVICE… Say what you want about Prime Minister Theresa May, but her strained performance over the course of the conference started to elicit sympathy from onlookers, no matter what their political persuasion. The solution, according to one property director: “What Theresa needs is to go home, put on her pyjamas, and watch a bit of Netflix.” Sounds blissful.
GOOD DEED… Check out ‘Be My Eyes’, a free app that lends sight to the blind via Facetime calls. Volunteers receive a notification for help, and if accepted, a live connection is made. The blind person then asks the volunteer for assistance, whether it’s finding out scratch card results, knowing the expiry date on milk, or even navigating new surroundings. The people behind Be My Eyes say that the technology matches based on language and time zones, and it’s the largest online community for the blind and visually impaired, with more than 500,000 volunteers in 150 countries. The app can be downloaded from the App Store, Google Play, and Android.
LETTER OF COMPLAINT… Someone describing themselves as a striking rail guard has posted an open letter on Twitter explaining why guards are essential for transport services. Members of the RMT on Merseyrail and Northern Rail took part in a series of strikes this week, as part of the ongoing dispute over plans to introduce driver-only trains. The anonymised Twitter account, @guardonatrain, published the letter titled ‘Why I am striking’ which claims that “we are not looking for more money despite what some people are saying”, and “the safe dispatching of trains is a complex and sadly increasingly political issue”.