'Lansley Plays 1: Dr N.H. Service, Ms Surveillance, and Sir Lansley Burnham-Balls' is a three-act satirical study of the role which the NHS plays in the information-surveillance complex of the United Kingdom.
Sir Lansley Burnham-Balls, UK Secretary of State for Healthy Minds, seeks to recruit Bavarian mercenary Dr N.H. Service as a consultant - to conduct experiments on patients and produce policy-based evidence for the British government’s risk-averse medical-surveillance technocracy, which is rapidly displacing liberal democracy and due process of law.
Dr N.H. Service is a psychiatrist with an unusual line in research, which she developed whilst working for the CIA in Iraq and Afghanistan. She has links with the security services and the Foreign Office; and unlike the usual providers of policy-based evidence, she took separate sciences at GCSE - by correspondence from Munich. She is an update of the mad scientist from Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove, who was part German rocket engineer Wernher von Braun, and part Hungarian H-Bomb physic-ists Edward Teller and John von Neumann.
Dr Strangelove was obsessed with closing the mine-shaft gap between rival superpowers. Dr N.H. Service wants to close the gap between gov-ernment ministers and the Judiciary by arming the government with arbit-rary powers to target dissident bloggers and climate protesters.
Unfortunately, there is a mole in the Department of Healthy Minds, leaking documents to a radical MP, whom the anti-terror police would like to arrest. Sir Lansley thinks that with her specialist skills in medical sur-veillance technology, Dr N.H. Service may be able to assist in the hunt for the terrorist by screening his staff for depression and erectile dysfunction.
Satire requires an element of realism to be most effective, and this synopsis would suggest that Dr N.H. Service, ... is just an extended, darkly-comic sketch owing a debt to the novelist Tom Sharpe; though it is one based entirely on real events which have taken place in the United Kingdom since Tony Blair’s illimitable ego declared war on civil-liberties around the fin de siecle. One which his successors, Brown and Cameron-Clegg, then continued to wage.
Sir Lansley is clearly part of the present day Coalition government, though all the measures proposed by Dr Service were actually imple-mented by the previous New Labour regime.
The Dr Service character is a caricature intended to make the stodgy didactic wordplay on a serious human rights issue more entertaining to sit through. At quieter moments, her measured droll resembles that of Henry Kissinger; though it should be noted that Kissinger was with the US Army in the Ardennes in 1944/5 in an intelligence capacity, and worked to bring about the downfall of the Nazi regime.
The employment of a darkly-comic German persona is doubly unfor-tunate. Firstly, it is a national stereotype which is somewhat dated and only relevant because the subject of the play is the exercise of arbitrary power by British government ministries and policing agencies of the type adopted by the Nazis in the 1930s and the Stasi in the Cold War. Identify a feared and despised minority, remove from them the protection of the law, and conduct a campaign of threats and harassment-surveillance against them.
The second unfortunate aspect is that it promotes the unlikely propo-sition that Britain does not have equally sinister characters in the Him-mler/Goebbels mould speaking with Home Counties accents, or for that matter, accents from Sheffield or Glasgow.
The human-rights abuses currently being committed in Britain are prob-ably not carried out for purely ideological reasons - but to serve the careers of the state apparatchiks - ministers, civil-servants, and police chiefs - who live in fear of the tabloids and the burgeoning culture of risk-aversion and blame, which may be a product of saturation news coverage in the digital age.
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