Category Archives: Democracy

As the misnamed Health and Care Bill goes before MPs, here’s what it will do

Not for sale: sadly, this is just an aspiration now – held by those of us who still think healthcare should be based on patient need and not on provider profit.

[Vox Political first published this article in July. As the Health and Care Bill goes before MPs tomorrow and Tuesday (November 22-23), this seems an appropriate time for a reminder of how they intend to butcher your health service.]

Services will be cut or rationed and the NHS will become an unregulated market for healthcare firms under Sajid Javid’s contradictorily-named Health and Care Bill which – if enacted – will support neither.

That’s the message from Keep Our NHS Public campaigners.

The Bill will break the NHS into 42 separate ‘Integrated Care Systems’ (ICS), each with its own – tight – budget that could lead to cuts in care.

These new organisations would be open to the private sector – and the removal of competitive tendering means contracts could be handed straight to asset-stripping profiteers.

Already, 200 firms are connected to the new ICS structure, including at least 30 US-based health insurance companies.

Companies could be given access to confidential patient information, more patient care will be given by less qualified staff who are cheaper, and non-urgent referrals to hospital delayed or refused because of pressure to make savings.

A drive towards cash-saving digital services means face-to-face GP appointments may end.

The long-awaited overhaul of the care system may end up being a demand on already-overworked family carers to take on more unpaid work as unprofitable community services are stripped away altogether.

National agreements on pay, terms and conditions for NHS staff may be swept away with employees ordered to work wherever private-sector employers find it easiest to make a profit – undermining team working, union organisation and continuity of care.

Oh, and you remember the much-anticipated return of responsibility to the Secretary of State? It means a politician will be able to make devastating decisions about the NHS without any democratic accountability.

The Health Secretary will be able to deregulate jobs – offering them to candidates who don’t have the right qualifications but are available for the right price, risking harm to patients and interfering with professional judgement and staff development.

The NHS will be exempt from the Public Contract Regulations 2015, meaning it will be impossible to reject bids for contracts on the grounds of non-compliance with environmental, social, or labour laws guaranteeing Freedom of Association and the Right to Strike, or on the basis of a bidder’s previous history.

The Health Secretary will also impose local service reconfigurations, weakening or abolishing the right and power local authorities currently have to scrutinise significant health changes.

According to Dr John Lister, Secretary of Keep Our NHS Public and health policy academic

This Bill will not treat even one extra patient, or recruit one extra nurse

He asked why the new law is being deemed so urgent and important – but isn’t it obvious?

Javid, Johnson and the other Tory parasites want to turn your health into a profit-making industry for their donors as soon as possible.

I’ve just picked out the headline issues. Read more details here: Health and Care Bill means lucrative NHS contracts will be dished out ‘without competition’ | Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate

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‘Private healthcare’ is an oxymoron. Its supporters are ordinary morons

If you’re British, and haven’t been living under a rock, you’ll know that the Tory Bill to accelerate privatisation in the National Health Service is to be debated by MPs again tomorrow (Monday, November 22).

It has come under sustained attack from health experts and campaigners who are committed to maintaining the high quality of care that we have come to expect from the NHS – quality that will be abandoned in favour of profit if the Tory Bill is passed into law.

And let’s make this clear: Profit Harms Patients.

Of course it does. If you’re running a health service to make money, then you don’t want people to get better.

You want them to stay sick so you can keep leeching money off of them.

And private health companies are likely to achieve that prolonged sickness in any event as many of their operations are botched so badly that the NHS needs to come in and clear up the mess in many cases. Or it did, the last time I heard anything about it.

That’s why people are saying things like

and

If you haven’t contacted your MP to demand they oppose the Bill, there’s an obvious question you need to ask yourself: Why not?

Don’t tell us, “Aw, well, s/he is a Tory so there’s no point.” There is always a point. If you show these people there’s enough opposition out here to mount a serious challenge to their career come election time, they’re going to start wondering whether it’s worth the risk.

If you’re outside England, don’t tell us, “Aw, well, it’s only in England so it won’t affect us.” It will affect you. I live in Wales and some procedures aren’t available here; if I need them, I’ll have to go across the border. The same applies in Scotland and I understand in Northern Ireland too.

And don’t tell us, “Aw, well, Labour’s going to try to amend it so it’s not quite as bad.” Labour cannot amend this Bill in any way that will help! And the simple fact is that Keir Starmer’s party doesn’t want to. It’s filled with Red Tory weasels who say they don’t like private health while actually supporting it (with a few honourable exceptions).

It’s past time ordinary people in the UK woke up and realised what they voted for.

My honest opinion is that it’s probably too late. I doubt many Vox Political readers were stupid enough to vote for the NHS Privatisation Party (Conservatives) in 2019 but your neighbours probably did, or you have family or friends who did, on the basis that the guy who opposed it once saw a mural (or for some other nonsense reason).

And we all politely let them vote to turn healthcare in the UK from a right into a privilege for the very wealthy.

Put it all together and calling on your MP to oppose the Bill is the least you can do.

You can write to them via They Work For You – it’s easy.

Will you?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Will #BorisJohnson call a #GeneralElection in 2022 – or will one be called in spite of him?

Boris Johnson: time up?

What do you think of this?

It’s a valid interpretation of events, I think.

After Owen Paterson, we’re seeing questions being asked about more Tories – and they won’t be the only ones.

Plus, of course, there is the question of what will happen when Boris Johnson’s latest expenses claims are examined by the Parliamentary standards commissioner.

The trouble – for Establishment influencers, at least – is Keir Starmer. Nobody likes him and that isn’t going to change.

(Labour’s base-line 36 points in the opinion polls is down to tribal voters who either still haven’t worked out that he’s a Tory in a red tie or simply don’t care, as long as he isn’t Boris Johnson.)

So if an election is held between a Johnson-led Tory Party and a Starmer-led Labour, we’ll probably end up with a Hung Parliament and the balance of power going to the Greens!

That could be fun..!

The next few months could be about finding replacements for both main party leaders who are acceptable to the Establishment and the media pundits who represent it.

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Aftershocks of the Paterson scandal: qui bono?**

Owen Paterson: he quit his job as an MP, but will he – and his corrupt Tory party – be REWARDED for it?

If you’ve been locked away for the past couple of days, here’s the situation:

The primary result of Paterson’s fall is that there will be a by-election in North Shropshire.

No indeed. It will be an opportunity for Keir Starmer to parachute his ex-Tory trophy John Bercow in (perhaps), but Bercow would not be an acceptable choice for the Labour Left, so such a decision may lead to a further split in that party.

Labour has refused to countenance the possibility of a single Opposition candidate, chosen from among all the non-Tory parties. Presumably Starmer sees no advantage for him, especially if such a candidate – from another party – wins and then reneges on any agreements.

So the Conservatives are likely to retain North Shropshire, even if they put up a shaved monkey for the seat (and they probably will) – because the other parties are squabbling among themselves.

Meanwhile, the Tories who are actually occupying Parliamentary seats have been disgracing themselves all over the place. Here’s Nadhim Zahawi, admitting that he didn’t bother to read the report on Owen Paterson’s behaviour before voting to support him last Wednesday (November 3).

Note his scrabbling attempt to backtrack with a claim that he didn’t take in every detail. It’s nonsense, of course; he didn’t read the report. He was told to support Paterson so he did, without thinking. That’s Fascist Britain for you.

Here’s a good question:

The fact is that Zahawi would not have been able to answer, as he would know that either position would be unsafe for him.

Still, his choice seems to have been less difficult than that faced by other Tory MPs who (presumably) were leaning against supporting Paterson.

We are told that they were threatened with sanctions if they didn’t vote the way Boris Johnson wanted:

So much for justice, honesty and decency in Boris Johnson’s Conservative government. Even if you’re on his side, you have to do what you’re told, without thinking, or face sanctions. There’s another fairly recent national government that did much the same but I can’t quite recall where it was…

To prove the point, Tory Angela Richardson was fire from her job as a secretary to Michael Gove, because she stuck to her principles and refused to support Paterson. The following morning, when it had become clear that the Tories would not be able to save him and their plan to corrupt the standards system had failed, she was reinstated:

One would hope that her stand would put her in a much better position than her blindly line-toeing colleagues (including This Writer’s MP, Fay Jones. I’d like to know her reasons for supporting corruption!) in a general election. But in tribal England, that seems unlikely. Sad.

And what of Owen Paterson himself?

Perhaps we should all lobby the production team of HIGNFY, never to invite a corrupt, disgraced former MP to guest on the show?

As for the knighthood, why stop there?

So it seems he’ll be heading for the House of Lords – which is already bursting at the seams with Tories after previous efforts by David Cameron and Boris Johnson to fill the place with people who don’t deserve to be there:

Crime really does pay in Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, doesn’t it?*

It seems the Tories will keep the Parliamentary seat that their corrupt MP just vacated, even though their conduct throughout the affair shows that none of them deserve to be in Parliament at all.

And Paterson himself is set up for a nice little peerage and more than £300 per day for turning up at the House of Lords.

*All right, what he did is not defined as a crime, otherwise he would be facing criminal charges. But it is certainly not acceptable behaviour, as this entire affair demonstrates.

**What an illiterate! I meant cui bono. After realising my mistake I decided to leave it in, mostly because I reckon more people might read the article, simply to correct my spelling! What a world we live in.

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Backlash against ‘subjective’ Online Harms Bill may harm policing of social media trolls

Who would have thought the Online Harms Bill could reverse the roles of the aggressor and the victim in social media abuse?

A plan to base prosecution of online trolls on subjective judgements by lawyers could derail a perfectly good law.

The Times has reported on changes to the planned Online Harms Act:

Trolls could face two years in prison for sending messages or posting content that causes psychological harm under legislation targeting online hate.

Ministers will overhaul communication laws by creating new offences in the forthcoming Online Safety Bill, the flagship legislation to combat abuse and hatred on the internet.

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has accepted recommendations from the Law Commission for crimes to be based on “likely psychological harm”.

The proposed law change will shift the focus on to the “harmful effect” of a message rather than if it contains “indecent” or “grossly offensive” content, which is the present basis for assessing its criminality.

A new offence of “threatening communications” will target messages and social media posts that contain threats of serious harm.

The sticking-point is the issue of “likely psychological harm”. Nothing else in the article is new – and This Writer has already supported much of what is planned.

I can’t support a clause that allows conviction based on nothing but wishful thinking.

How would a lawyer gauge “likely psychological harm”? Would they seek reports from medical experts? Would they examine the effect of the messages on their victim? Or would they just take the word of a social media user who may be a good actor with their own axe to grind?

It’s too subjective; it’s wide open to abuse.

The benchmark for criminal prosecution must always be harm that a person has definitely suffered – that can be proved by showing evidence. It can’t be based on hearsay or the wild claims of someone who makes a profession out of being offended.

So, for instance, the teenage girl in Rachel Riley’s libel case against me had genuine anxiety issues that, it could be argued, had been worsened by the dogpiling she suffered as a result of her Twitter encounters with Riley; she was terrified of leaving her home alone for a period of months afterwards.

If this law had been in force at the time – without the subjective element – I am satisfied that it would have been possible to show the harm that had been done.

The fear with the new measure is that it will allow people with a political axe to grind – most probably right-wingers, as usual – to victimise others by claiming psychological injury from social media posts that simply engage in robust debate.

See what I mean?

And note how The Times misrepresented the story; Twitter ‘pile-ons’ (more properly known as dogpiles) were already going to be criminalised before the subjective element was added in.

We all got the point:

Even a former Conservative chairman and Brexit minister has come out against this offence to justice: David Davis.

According to Sky News:

Mr Davis criticised the bill as “a good example of the best of intentions leading to the worst of outcomes” and warned that it was “a censor’s charter” as a result.

He warned that as the law is backed up by fines potentially stretching into billions of pounds for companies that fail to tackle this content, they will err on the side of caution.

“You can be sure that in any area of controversy – political issues, culture wars, or even COVID science – there will be plenty of people complaining and demanding a post be taken down.

“And with Silicon Valley mega corporations as arbiters of the truth, anything that appears online and can be characterised by someone as misinformation could be censored.

“The chilling effect on free speech will be terrible,” he added.

Still, being British, we can laugh at it:

We laugh because it’s funny, and we laugh because it’s probably true. It shows how low the UK government has fallen.

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Budget responses: will there be an election next year?

Keir Starmer: an election will be a chance to get rid of HIM.

To be honest, This Writer had not expected it, but some people are claiming that Sunak’s Budget is heralding a general election next year.

And my first response was:

Good! We’ll be able to get rid of Keir Starmer.

Wait – what? Shouldn’t I be hoping to get rid of Boris Johnson?

Sure. But Starmer represents a more long-term threat to the UK.

You see, Tories do what Tories do. But by turning Labour into Tory-lite (or more accurately Tory-Hard-Right), Starmer is deliberately ending any chance for a better future, for millions of people who are being plunged into poverty by Johnson and Sunak.

Think about all the socialist policies that you support:

These are now FORMER Labour economic policies. They’re still popular but now neither of the main UK political parties will support them. Instead, they’ll try to force you to choose between the very similar policies that THEY want.

How are you going to get any of them if Boris Johnson or Keir Starmer is running the UK? You won’t.

Water re-nationalisation may become a test case now. The companies running water services in England are run by the national governments of eight foreign countries who have chosen to dump raw sewage into our waterways rather than progressively update the Victorian sewerage system from the time they took over the system – as the terms of the sale demanded.

The government now says the public would have to pay for improvements. If that happens, shouldn’t the water companies come back into public ownership? After all, we’re still paying for everything.

We need leaders who will campaign for the changes – and the services we want. Some are saying that Labour’s Socialist Campaign Group should step up.

But they’re too scared of being expelled from the party by the Starmtroopers in the Governance and Legal Unit.

So where’s the Opposition going to come from?

A recent local election saw Labour lose a seat – and come a distant third – to an Independent candidate.

They’re usually Tories in disguise but wouldn’t it be welcome if we had socialists standing independently and winning elections?

Who’s up for it?

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If a party won’t do what you want, why would you vote for it?

He couldn’t care less about you: Starmer welcomed heckles at his Labour conference speech because he wanted to humiliate left-wingers by claiming they don’t matter to him. He thinks they have no choice but to vote for his RIGHT-wing policies. But that would be an act of self-harm. We need to teach him that he is badly mistaken.

Labour has just suffered a heavy by-election defeat.

In the Newark and Sherwood by-election, Labour dropped from first to third:

Here’s a charitable commentary on that:

There is a simple explanation for this precipitous fall: people don’t like Keir Starmer and – more importantly – they don’t like his policies.

We know from opinion polls that a majority of the UK public want our public utilities and railways re-nationalised and private businesses removed from the National Health Service, along with a swathe of other socialist policies.

More than 70 per cent of the population support these changes – but both the Tory government and Starmer’s Labour “opposition” are telling you that you can’t have them.

They demand that, in elections, you support the policies that they want to force on you, whether you want them or not.

Why should you?

The answer is easy: the party leaders assume that you are naturally tribal. If you were brought up among Labour supporters, you’ll vote Labour no matter what daft right-wing policies Starmer foists on you. Similarly, if you were brought up among Conservatives, the assumption is that you’ll vote Tory.

They want you to vote against your interests, by lying to you that you don’t have any other choice.

Of course you have another choice: You don’t have to vote for either of them.

In fact, voting for Labour under Starmer would be a vote against the very policies that (according to the polls) you want!

I read an article in the Morning Star that explains the situation:

If Starmer does well at the next election, it will now explicitly be on the basis of his gratuitous and open repudiation of socialist values and principles.

Look at the Green New Deal, housing, Palestine or workers’ rights: no sooner had members passed policy at this conference than a shadow front bench minister was brought forward to renounce the policy and insist that it was not going to make the next manifesto.

The contempt for members, their values and the commitment to socialism under former leader Jeremy Corbyn was made clear in repeated public statements from the front bench, as well as at length in Starmer’s speech.

It further explains:

Is repudiating our entire tradition, our entire worldview and weakening our cause for decades, the price we are willing to pay for a slim (practically non-existent) chance of ending that, in favour of Starmer’s brand of washed-out liberal elitism?

The extinction of socialism from mainstream British politics would have far greater long-term effects on the lives and living conditions of working-class people than another Tory term. It would be a defeat for decency in politics, a defeat for morality, truth and reason.

And it says:

Success for Labour in the present conditions would be detrimental to the development of a truly progressive political agenda, and the advancement of our cause.

Whether you remain a member of Labour or not, unless you have particular mitigating local circumstances (such as a properly socialist local candidate running for Labour) then Labour is currently asking you to vote for the destruction of everything you believe in.

The people making this demand are well aware of how humiliating this is — and how depressing. They are also aware that a socialist movement cannot ever thrive if it is not proud of itself, dynamic and confident. This is yet another intended humiliation to put our ideas and principles back in the box.

Don’t do what you are being asked to do. Don’t vote to trash your principles or our hopes for a better world.

The people of Newark and Sherwood didn’t vote to trash their principles – and most of them are unlikely to have read the Morning Star piece.

This Writer feels sure that Thursday’s result is not unique; Labour is losing ground across the UK because Starmer’s policies are rubbish.

There is a dilemma for party members, who are not allowed to campaign against the party or show support for any other political organisation.

But that doesn’t mean you have to campaign for Starmer’s Labour. And it doesn’t mean you have to vote for policies that would harm you, either.

Starmer and his right-wing headbangers are trying to gaslight you into thinking there is no alternative to them.

They are wrong.

But it’s up to all of us to explain that to them.

Source: Should socialists vote Labour under Starmer? | Morning Star

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Tories oppose ban on ‘fire and rehire’ – supporting oppression of employees by foreign bosses?

Apologies for using the ‘foreigners own UK businesses’ line but it is important to make the point that Brexit hasn’t stopped people from foreign countries interfering in employment practices here.

On the contrary – foreign ownership of UK businesses and assets is higher than ever. Weetabix was taken over by a US corporation four years ago – after the decision to quit the European that was motivated partly by a (racist) desire to stop foreigners from taking our jobs.

How is it better for foreigners to dictate increasingly worse pay and working conditions for people in this country?

And why is the UK’s Tory government – that pushed through Brexit as a way to counter foreign interference – supporting the exploitation of our workers via fire-and-rehire?

It doesn’t make sense, does it?

Look:

Exploitative bosses? Our Angry Yorkshireman must mean the Americans who are now in charge of Weetabix:

So, what’s the message?

Johnny Foreigner coming to the UK to do work that British people won’t touch is bad…

But Johnny Foreigner owning UK businesses and attacking employees’ pay and conditions is good? For whom? It certainly isn’t helping you.

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Starmer wins vote to make Labour ‘paler, maler and staler’

Pale, male and stale: this is the future of the Labour Party – a white man in a suit with absolutely no ideas at all.

Keir Starmer has succeeded in changing the rules on Labour Party leadership elections that makes them racist and sexist.

A vote on his proposed rule changes means that at least 20 per cent of Labour MPs will have to endorse a colleague’s candidacy to lead the party – a threshold that has previously been reached by just one female candidate, and by nobody who is not white.

If they had been applied before the 2020 leadership election, the only candidate on the ballot paper would have been Keir Starmer. You can see why he likes them.

Grassroots party members will not be allowed to vote on their preference until MPs have decided who they will be allowed to vote for. And there are too few socialist (left-wing) MPs left in the Parliamentary party, so if members want to vote for a left-wing candidate, they will not be offered the chance.

The sexism and racism of the new rules was pointed out before the vote was taken by James McAsh, a delegate from Camberwell and Peckham whose party membership is likey to be revoked in the very near future.

He said the change meant Labour’s future debate would be “paler, maler and staler”:

The vote was very tight indeed – 53 per cent for to 46 per cent against. This Writer understands that Starmer only won because Unison was persuaded to support him with its block vote.

I would urge Unison members to ask their leaders why they support racism and sexism, and why they chose to undermine democracy.

It is also possible that Starmer gerrymandered the result with his mass expulsions. This Writer would like to know how many actual votes were cast, and how this figure compares with those for votes in previous years.

Also included in the rule changes:

It will be harder for grassroots members to deselect unwanted MPs, with more than half required to demand a reselection procedure before it can take place.

And registered supporters, who pay a one-off fee to vote in party elections, are abolished.

Boris Johnson is probably laughing so hard he may bust his enormous gut.

It is bitterly sad that Labour is now more sexist, more racist, and less democratic because a right-wing trade union supported a leader who is more right-wing than the Conservatives. The members most affected by this – constituency parties – overwhelmingly voted against the change.

Of course, Starmer lied in order to fool party members into voting for him – and that should be enough reason to demand his resignation and a new election under the rules that existed until today, on the grounds that the change would not have been brought in under an honest leader.

Sadly, Labour doesn’t have an honest leader.

And he certainly isn’t going to allow anything like decency to take power away from him.

Of course, it doesn’t make any real difference. The only votes he can win are rigged.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Labour left-wingers send message to Keir Starmer ahead of rule-change vote

The message couldn’t be clearer, as this image – made after Starmer’s Labour decided to expel Ken Loach – epitomises.

Left-wing members of the Labour Party have sent an unequivocal message to Keir Starmer ahead of the vote on his proposed rule changes that would strip party members of electoral rights – in video form:

The singing may leave a little to be desired but the point is well-made, isn’t it? At one point, a voice makes it very clear exactly where Starmer can stick his rule changes.

The clip also makes it clear that “None of the people in these photos are linked in any way with the making of [this video] or any of the other photos that appear or the music. Their photos being in this slideshow DO NOT represent any sort of support for any particular organisations or people”.

I think we may conclude that this is to prevent the attack dogs in Starmer’s Governance and Legal Unit from using the video as an excuse to expel any more left-wing members.

The expulsion are continuing mid-conference, with police called in to deny entrance to party members who have been expelled overnight – as the dishonest Starmer scrabbles to gerrymander votes in his favour.

By the time he makes his speech, he’ll be doing it to an empty hall.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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