Happy Birthday NHS

I love the NHS. Not just because they helped me when I was run over. Or nursed me through an eight month bout of glandular fever. And not because they have kept my Dad alive for years as his kidneys failed and he needed dialysis. I also love them because we have a rich seam of comedy because of it.

Do Ron Ron Ron

It shouldn’t be possible to take a topical sketch from the mid 80s, and just change a few words for it to still be topical today. But here we go.

It’s also interesting to see Spitting Image being performed live of course, and as Ben notes at the end, that’s Chris Barrie doing the voice. You might recognise the questioners from the audience too.

Scripted jokes can of course win you an election …

Mondale himself believes this was the moment that he lost.

If TV can tell the truth, as you say it can, you’ll see that I was smiling. But I think if you come in close, you’ll see some tears coming down because I knew he had gotten me there. That was really the end of my campaign that night, I think. [I told my wife] the campaign was over, and it was.

In case, like me, you don’t know much about Walter Mondale, here’s Rich Hall getting to know him better, on Saturday Night Live.

Mondale took Reagan to the wire, winning exactly two states (Minnesota and DC) for a total of 13 Electoral College votes.

What’s Past Is Prologue

Continuing on from yesterday’s theme that comedy from the 1980s resonates today much more than feels comfortable.

Here’s Phil Hartman’s Reagan on Saturday Night Live, in a sketch which aired the night before Regan resigned, on 28th February 1987.

And here he is again, playing Robert MacFarlane, in a sketch from 16th May 1987.

Norway Shares The Wealth

In the 1990s, Norway realised that its windfall from the discovery and exploitation of North Sea Oil would eventually come to an end. Where the UK had used this new revenue to fund massive Thatcherite tax cuts, Norway realised that it had to protect this money for future generations. With audacious foresight, the country began investing all of the oil revenue into assets abroad.

The sovereign wealth fund is now worth over a trillion dollars.

It owns 1.3% of every listed company in the world, and is ethically managed, sometimes even voting against large companies such as Apple on corporate governance issues.

It is worth $192,000 per person in Norway.

And the Government allows itself to use 4% of the fund in its own budget.

The fund is growing so big that this number might need to be revised downwards.

No doubt there are valid counter-arguments to this approach, and that the way the UK did it was sensible too, but I can’t help feeling it’s another way we pissed everything up the wall (see also Right To Buy).