UK 8 August 2008 Rats to NHS patients! Could vermin infestations in Britain's hospitals be turned to the advantage of the nation's sick? Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up Rat attack I smell a rat. No, we did Miliband last week. It’s the twitchy creatures who inhabit our nation’s hospitals, at least according to figures uncovered by the Conservatives- and reported here on June Sarpong’s supercool Politics and the City. The Tories were apoplectic! Conservative Home’s thread on the issue prompted Mary O’Boyle to posit that: “[The] only way to go is back to Seperate Domestic services run in house with adequate budgets. Highly trained management a career for cleaners and porters to give the right Incentives." Sic! However, Dave Osler felt that the responsibility for this infestation of vermin, lay firmly with past Conservative administrations: “The ‘let the market rip’ squad assured us that such outsourcing would free up resources, enabling hospitals to get on with their core business of treating patients.” He went on to explain that the compulsion to accept the lowest bid, regardless of the standards of cleanliness that could be assured. Staffing, wages and service quality inevitably suffered. Meanwhile, one of Guido’s “co-conspirators” reported that Ivan Lewis and his bag-carrier were overheard mulling the deployment of Nye Bevan’s famous claim that Tories are “lower than vermin”. Conservatives actually embraced this jibe many decades ago, young activists forming a ‘Vermin Club’. Thatcher herself joined it. Even non-political bloggers like Jennie Powell had stories to tell about our vermin – and horrified readers with a tale (geddit?) of rats scurrying in the grounds of a Cardiff hospital. I take issue with this all this modish whinging about “hygiene”. Ratties might spread the plague and so on, but if harnessed correctly they could be petted by the patients. This has proven beneficial effects. Just think about it Darzi. What have we learned this Week? Ian Oakley, until this week the Tory candidate for Watford, is what our Americans cousins might call, a “douchebag”. He has brought shame on his party by writing horrid messages to his political opponents, slashing their tires, and accusing them of being child abusers. As Iain Sharpe pointed out, a deathly silence echoes from CCHQ over the issue. Across the Pond Titters echoed across the States as news broke that law enforcement authorities are to take a hard line against prostitution at this year’s Democrat and Republican conventions. Conservative Hot Air prides himself on hard-bitten realism, but seems to have suffered a quite profound lapse, in suggesting that: “Put simply, political conventions keep people too busy to allow them much time for mischief.” Mmm. At least Don Fleischman, ex-Chairman of America’s oldest GOP chapter (Brown County, Wisconsin) won’t be able to get up to any “mischief”. His trial for providing marijuana to a minor, and performing sexual acts on him, begins during Republican party Convention. Videos of the Week It’s my new favourite Boston-based garage band, Hospital Rats. They cite Status Quo amongst their influences – bizarre since they’re not that bad. Quote of the Week “There wasn't the smallest sign that he was, well, basically bonkers.” Comment Central’s Danny Finkelstein, who helped select Ian Oakley. › The politics of love Paul Evans is a freelance journalist, and formerly worked for an MP. He lives in London, but maintains his Somerset roots by drinking cider. Subscribe For daily analysis & more political coverage from Westminster and beyond subscribe for just £1 per month!