Campaigning group 38 Degrees’ response to the announcement that Circle Holdings is withdrawing from its contract to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital.
The failure of Circle Holdings’ management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital has one serious consequence for all political parties – but particularly Labour – and it is this: The British public will no longer tolerate any suggestion that private firms should participate in the National Health Service.
The reason Labour is singled out for special attention in this regard is that Labour has made the repeal of the Conservative Party’s Health and Social Care Act a key campaigning pledge (yes, it was passed in Coalition with the Liberal Democrats, but Andrew Lansley – Conservative – was the MP who spent around seven years working on the legislation in secret while his party leader promised all and sundry, with his ‘sincere’ face on, that the NHS was safe in Tory hands).
Unfortunately for Ed Miliband’s party, such promises are being met with scepticism by the people who should be Labour’s core voters. Only a couple of days ago, Vox Political posted this image to its Facebook page:
Here are some of the responses:
“Labour are just another neoliberal party serving the financial elite,” wrote Max Anstey. “The economic ideology ‘neoliberalism’ involves the privatisation of things. As Labour are neoliberal, they will not renationalise the NHS. A claim to ‘restore’ the NHS is not good enough from a neoliberal party. We need our public services back in our hands.”
Here’s another, by Gareth Jones: “I would love to see an honest resurgence of socialist ideals in this country. I’d love Labour to be Labour again. However, I just don’t see Ed Miliband being the one to bring it about. Ed is no Tony Benn.”
And Janet Kaiser added: “Labour (if it can still be called that) are going to do bugger-all. You can hope as much as you want, but the fact is the party has been taken over by venture capitalists and shouting the contrary is not going to change anything.”
That is the attitude Labour has to overcome. What’s sad is that it is an attitude that, in many ways, Labour has created. Only today, this blog posted a link to an article by Labour MP Michael Meacher in which he criticised his own front bench’s failure to attack the Conservatives over the economy – and much of what he said there can be applied to the NHS as well.
“Why doesn’t Labour hit out against the Tories where it could so easily secure some significant breakthroughs?” he asked. Why indeed.
The voters didn’t want private companies interfering in the NHS when they went to the polls in 2010. Now that they’ve experienced what it means – and don’t forget the Tory NHS crisis that is most clearly being seen in Accident & Emergency departments is also a symptom of this – they are vehemently against it.
Hinchingbrooke is a perfect opportunity for Labour to lay its cards on the table and promise that all of the expensive, bureaucratic and utterly pointless measures imposed by the Tories, to ensure that private firms get preferential treatment in the awarding of NHS contracts, will be removed – and to vow that the NHS will be restored as a state service providing the best care along with the best value for money.
It seems there are very few, if any ‘qualified providers’ from the private sector currently working in the English National Health Service, according to the latest issue of Private Eye (#1382, p38).
It states: “When the government decided to flog off large chunks of the NHS, it insisted that private providers must ‘qualify and register’ before being allowed to offer NHS-funded services.
“But the NHS regulator Monitor never carried out the promised ‘assurance process’ to test whether providers were suitable or not. It confirmed that it held no register of ‘any qualified providers’ and a spokesman even said it would ‘love to know where there is a list’.
“Monitor only licenses organisations that hold NHS contracts worth more than £10 million a year. This leaves the vast majority of smaller ‘alternative’ providers and non-profit businesses unchecked.
“NHS England doesn’t check them either. Not only does it not hold any list, but it has also stopped providing support to local clinical commissioning groups to enable them to check the credentials of companies that are bidding for contracts. It has closed its online ‘Any Qualified Provider Resource Centre’, along with the Supply2Health website which at least listed contracts and current providers.
“All that can be found after a determined trawl through the Care Quality Commission website is a cobbled-together list of 41 mainly small-care providers, many of which have not been inspected, leaving the issue of whether they are ‘qualified’ open to question.
“Responsibility for deciding who ‘qualifies’ to carry out NHS work falls therefore not on those who are supposed to scrutinise and regulate NHS services but on local health purchasers. As the Health and Social Care Act doesn’t define what ‘qualified’ means, health ministers have neatly opened up a postcode lottery in healthcare when certain companies may be accepted as qualified by some local commissioning groups, but not others.”
In fact, it’s worse even than that.
Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) were sold to the public on the premise that they would be composed of doctors – mainly GPs. But the CCGs’ own management teams are in fact steered by private sector consultants – McKinsey, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Capita, you know the names because they belong to all the usual suspects (see NHS SOS, Jacky Davis & Raymond Tallis (editors), pp24-25). Some of these organisations provide their own healthcare services, creating an opportunity for corruption that makes utter nonsense of the assurance ‘no decision about me, without me’ made by Andrew Lansley when he was pushing the Health and Social Care Act through Parliament.
So, if you live in England and you are told you need a health service that is only offered by a private provider – you demand to see proof that they are qualified to run the service. Who checked them? To what standard? Don’t be fobbed off with an assurance that the CCG has given them the thumbs-up – ask what organisation advised the CCG. Get to the bottom of the matter.
You might find that your ‘qualified provider’ doesn’t have any qualifications at all.
And then who’s liable if your treatment goes wrong?
Coalition Health Secretary (and well-known misprint) Jeremy Hunt has admitted ignoring his own advice and taking his children to accident and emergency because he did not want to wait for a GP appointment.
The queue-jumping Conservative has previously – hypocritically – urged the public to avoid A&E in all but the most urgent cases, telling us to go to chemists’ doctors’ surgeries and walk-in centres instead.
In the light of his statement during yesterday’s health questions in the House of Commons, we may conclude that this is in order to clear the way for him and his fat, rich buddies.
It’s not enough for him that he’s selling off NHS contracts to his private-sector shareholder friends just as fast as he can; he wants to push ordinary people – the people who actually pay for the NHS – to the back of the queue.
The NHS is falling further into crisis under his stewardship, with most of the English trusts preparing to record huge deficits at the end of the financial year.
Wasn’t the Health and Social Care Act 2012 supposed to ensure that the NHS stayed on-budget? Why has it made matters worse?
The NHS has delayed publication of its weekly “winter pressures situation reports”, raising fears that people are being denied information about what’s happening on the NHS frontline.
And experts have reported that they believe vulnerable people are having more accidents in the home because of cuts in social care.
The failure of Conservative attempts to manage the National Health Service is complete. Perhaps this is why Tory MPs would prefer healthcare to be entirely privately-run – they would be able to blame someone else.
For those of you who aren’t in the know, Jack Monroe (she of A Girl Called Jack blog fame) has come under attack from pro-Tory Twitter users after she tweeted, as part of the #CameronMustGo drive, the following:
She really did. Let’s have a look at some of them.
Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes (Conservative), stated that Jack’s was “the most shameful tweet; you understand nothing about grief.” She then addressed Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, asking if Jack’s tweet, from her personal account, reflected the values of the newspaper.
Fortunately this miserable excuse for a public representative doesn’t need a put-down from me. Here’s Nick Portch, who did it with ease by asking if Dr Wollaston was “A Conservative trying to get somebody sacked for exercising their freedom of speech?”
Nice one, Nick.
As for understanding “nothing about grief”, back to Jack herself: “And because 2 years later, I can’t open my own front door, suffer anxiety attacks, the mental scars of poverty are ruinous, #CameronMustGo.” Okay, “mental scars” might not indicate grief to you but it seems very likely that if you suffered those effects as a result of them, you’d spend a certain amount of time grieving about it.
Other criticisms were less civilised. Vernon Vega’s ran as follows [asterisks mine]: “Re the Cameron tweet…you really are a bit of a c**t aren’t you?” What a charmer. Absolutely no substance whatsoever.
Sarah Vine gave us: “No one is privatising the NHS.” We’ll examine the stupidity of this statement momentarily.
‘Angela’ tweeted: “I have no idea who you are, but you are a truly disgusting specimen. You deserve the biggest karmic kick in the face,” and Daily Referendum continued the theme with: “If Karma does exist, then you should be pretty worried right now.”
It seems likely there were worse, because Ms Monroe subsequently tweeted: “I can express my opinion on it, so can you. We disagree, debate, discuss. But death/rape threats, & threats to my son, are a crime.” If karma does exist, then it seems likely these are the people who should be worrying.
She remains unrepentant, as this shows: “Doorstepped by @MailOnline. Short statement, politely delivered, don’t regret pointing out that DC closes down debate on NHS & disability and that his experience of caring for Ivan was not comparable to experiences of others, many of whom are now victims of welfare cuts.”
The Mail subsequently – and gleefully – reported that Sainsbury’s is cutting its ties with Ms Monroe (after using her in advertising campaigns for its Value range of food for people with less money). The headline: “Sainsbury’s axes left-wing blogger for vile PM slur”.
In short, there’s been a lot of fuss over this tweet by Ms Monroe.
For Vox Political, this has been fascinating, because she posted it around 21 hours after Yr Obdt Srvt, the author of this very article, tweeted the following:
Who knows what might have happened if the Tories mentioned above had seen that, instead of Jack’s comparatively mild tweet?
Neither this blog nor its author have received any adverse comments in response to the tweet or the article that preceded it.
What does this tell us?
Perhaps it indicates that Ms Monroe was targeted, not because she suggested anything that was beyond the pale or unforgiveable, but because she is a person from the lower orders who certain people believe has ideas above her station.
Her A Girl Called Jackblog catapulted her into the public eye because it offered ideas about how to make decent meals to people struggling to feed their families on a low budget – in other words, people on benefits. She did it to chronicle her own efforts to feed herself and her son on a food budget of just £10 per week – and she started blogging in response to a local councillor who claimed that ‘druggies, drunks and single mums are ruining the High Street’. A book of recipes went straight to the top of the charts at the start of the year, and a sequel may do the same before Christmas.
She built herself up from ‘Benefit Street’ and the blogosphere to become a success – and the vested interests don’t like it. It disproves their narrative that everyone on benefits is a scrounger, a skiver and a sponger – and they need working people to think what they tell them to think in the run-up to next year’s general election.
That’s why the Tories and the trolls have gone after her; it was an opportunity to put down a lower-class upstart and stifle the facts she was broadcasting.
This writer hopes Jack Monroe can rise above the noise created by the Tories, those with vested interests, and the trolls. Their messages are meaningless. Let us all hope that for each of them there are at least a dozen of us who know her message has reached people we could not, and therefore can only offer her our gratitude and love.
Sickening: These are some of the prominent government ministers who have profited from allowing private companies to provide NHS healthcare services. Meanwhile…
Here’s a new wrinkle on an old story: The social media have been publishing lists of MPs with shares in private healthcare companies – and therefore have their noses in the trough as these companies profit from NHS contracts – since before the Health and Social Care Act 2012 was passed. Now the Unite union has published its own list and the mainstream media have got involved.
Good for Unite – at last this corruption is receiving the attention it deserves.
Named on the list of 71 Coalition MPs (64 Tories; seven Liberal Democrats) are David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, along with former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley – proving that corruption played a huge part in the introduction of private firms into NHS work.
Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are also named, providing a clear indication of why the Liberal Democrats colluded in this – we can only call it – crime. Even though none of the politicians mentioned in the list acted against current UK laws, they all acted dishonestly in claiming that the change was good for the country when in fact they meant it was good for themselves.
How many of them declared this clear conflict of interest while voting for the Health and Social Care Act in 2012? None seems the most likely answer.
According to the Daily Mirror, “All 71 MPs named in the dossier voted in favour of the Government’s controversial Health and Social Care Act in 2012, which opened up the NHS to more private firms.”
The revelation comes ahead of Friday’s vote on Labour MP Clive Efford’s Private Members’ Bill, which calls on MPs to scrap key sections of the Act.
This Bill is not to be confused with Labour’s plan to abolish the Act altogether, which could only happen after a Labour government is elected in May next year. The UK Parliamentary system works in such a way that the sitting government can never lose a whipped vote as its members outnumber all other groups in the House of Commons; it is a shame that this blog has to spell it out but some readers have demonstrated a lack of understanding in this regard.
The list includes Andrew Lansley’s now-infamous £21,000 donation in November 2009 from John Nash, the former chairman of Care UK, and Jeremy Hunt received more than £20,000 from hedge fund baron Andrew Law, a major investor in healthcare firms.
… the same government ministers support a benefit system that denies the seriousness of conditions like fibromyalgia. The imagerepresents how people’s bodies would appear if fibromyalgia was visible and is therefore how Mrs Mike would appear.
Here’s the full list – can you find your own MP on it?
1. David Cameron – Prime Minister
Handed a peerage to nursing and care home tycoon Dolar Popat, who has given the Tories more than £200,000 in donations.
2. Andrew Lansley – Former Health Secretary & architect of privatisation
Received a £21,000 donation in Nov 2009 from John Nash, the former chairman of Care UK.
3. Harriet Baldwin – Tory whip
Former executive at JP Morgan, a major player in private healthcare.
4. Greg Barker – former Energy Minister
Held shares in Quester VCT 5 plc ,a venture capital firm with multiple investments in healthcare companies.
5. Henry Bellingham
Former director of Lansdowne Advisory Ltd, which has shares in private healthcare company Circle.
6. Jake Berry
Has registered interests in legal firm Squire Patton Boggs, which workd with multiple NHS trusts on PFI and PPP programs.
7. Graham Brady
Former advisor to PA Consulting, a management consultancy company which has worked with the NHS’s new Clinical Commissioning Groups.
8. Simon Burns – former Health Minister
Attended an oncology conference paid for by Aventis Pharma – a five-day trip to the US funded by a leading drug firm.
9. Nick de Bois
Was the majority shareholder in Rapier Design Group, an events management company heavily involved with the private medical and pharmaceutical industries.
10. Steve Brine
Received almost £15,000 in donations from James Lupton, the chairman of investment bankers, Greenhill Europe which has a global network of corporate relationships in the healthcare sector.
11. Aidan Burley
Received six bottles of wine from Hitachi consultants for a speech in 2011. Hitachi Consulting UK built an online ‘portal’ for NHS commissioners to help them monitor performance.
12. Damian Collins
Spent almost a decade working for marketing agency M&C Saatchi, whose clients include PPP healthcare, AXA insurance, Astrazeneca, Pfizer and Merck
13. David Davis – former shadow home secretary
Received a payment of £4,250 for a six-hour speaking engagement for private health insurance company Aviva.
14. Jonathan Djanogly
Received £1,900 from Huntleigh Healthcare Ltd, which manufactures medical and orthopaedic equipment and instruments.
15. Richard Drax
Received £14,000 in a series of donations from Derek Luckhurst, chief executive and owner of care home group Agincare.
16. Iain Duncan-Smith – Work and Pensions Secretary
Has shares in hygiene technology company Byotrol plc, which sells products to the NHS.
17. Philip Dunne
Was a non-executive director for investment firm Baronsmead VCT 4 plc, which had multiple investments in private healthcare companies.
18. Michael Fallon – Defence Secretary
Former director of Attendo AB, – a Swedish private health company.
19. Mark Field
Was a board advisor to Ellwood and Atfield; a recruitment firm which recruit for NHS positions and private healthcare.
20. Liam Fox – former Defence Secretary
Received £5,000 from investment company IPGL Ltd, who purchased healthcare pharma company Cyprotex.
21. George Freeman
Has shares in Hill House Assets Ltd, formally private health firm 4D Biomedical Ltd.
22. Mike Freer
Provided marketing advice to Care Matters, a financial planning company for care homes.
23. Richard Fuller
Worked for L.E.K consulting, which has six ‘partners’ in European healthcare.
24. Richard Graham
Received £3,000 from asset manager Crispin Odey, a major investor in Circle.
25. William Hague – Leader of the Commons
Received a £20,000 donation from MMC Ventures, which parts owns The Practice plc which runs 60 GP surgeries.
26. Philip Hammond – Foreign Secretary
Beneficiary of a trust which owns a controlling interest in healthcare and nursing home developer Castlemead Ltd.
27. Mark Harper
Received £5,000 from asset manager Crispin Odey, a major investor in Circle.
28. Nick Herbert
Received £15,000 in donations from Caroline Nash, wife of former Care UK chairman John Nash.
29. Jeremy Hunt – Health Secretary
Received £32,920 from hedge fund baron Andrew Law, a major investor in healthcare firms.
30. Margot James
Had a key role at marketing giant WPP Group, which had a long list of healthcare clients.
31. Sajid Javid – Culture Secretary
Received £11,000 from Moundsley Healthcare Ltd last year.
32. Jo Johnson – Downing Street policy adviser
Received £6,000 from asset manager Crispin Odey, a major investor in Circle.
33. Kwarsi Kwateng
Worked as an analyst for for Crispin Odey’s hedge fund Odey Asset Management.
34. Mark Lancaster
Former adviser to property venture capital firm Company Palmer Capital Partners Ltd, a funder of Danescroft Commercial Developments, which has worked in the healthcare sector.
35. Dr Phillip Lee
Has worked as a freelance or Medical Solutions Ltd, which provided medical cover for events.
36. Oliver Letwin – former shadow chancellor
Was a non-executive director of N.M. Rothschild Corporate Finance Ltd, which invests heavily in healthcare.
37. Peter Lilley
Non-Executive director of management software firm Idox plc, which provides services to the NHS Health Libraries Group and NHS Education for Scotland.
38. Tim Loughton
Received £350 for training sessions with Cumberlege Connections, a political networking firm that works “extensively” with the pharmaceutical industry.
39. Mary Macleod
Was a senior executive at Andersen Consulting/Accenture, which has profited from big PFI deals.
40. Francis Maude – Cabinet Office Secretary
Was a director of PR firm Huntsworth plc, which was part of lobbying group Healthcare Communications Association.
41. Maria Miller – former Culture Secretary
Former director of Grey’s Advertising Ltd, an advertising and brand company which worked extensively with clients in the healthcare sector.
42. Andrew Mitchell – former International Development Secretary
Was a strategy adviser to global management firm Accenture, which has worked extensively with private healthcare companies and the NHS.
43. Penny Mordaunt – Communities Minister
Worked for lobbying firm Hanover, where she had a range of healthcare clients.
44. Brooks Newmark – former Charities Minister
Partner in the Allele Fund, which invests in healthcare startups.
45. Jesse Norman
Received £5,000 from asset manager Crispin Odey, a major investor in Circle.
46. Stephen O’Brien
Received payments totalling £40,000 from Julian Schild, whose family made £184million in 2006 by selling hospital bed-makers Huntleigh Technology.
47. George Osborne – Chancellor
Received donation through Conservative Campaign Headquarters from Julian Schild – see above.
48. Priti Patel – Treasury Minister
Worked for lobbying firm Weber Shandwick, which does PR for big healthcare and pharmaceutical firms.
49. John Redwood – former Cabinet Minister
Advised the private equity company which runs Pharmacy2u, the UK’s largest dedicated internet and mail order pharmacy.
50. Jacob Rees-Mogg
Partner of Somerset Capital Management LLP, which has healthcare investor Redwood Emerging Markets Dividend Income Fund as a client.
51. Sir Malcolm Rifkind – former Foreign Secretary
Chairman of advisory board at L.E.K. Consulting LLP, which helps private healthcare firms identify “new business development” and “opportunities with the Government”.
52. Amber Rudd – Energy Minister
Received £3,000 from hedge fund baron Andrew Law, a major investor in healthcare firms.
53. David Ruffley
Received £10,000 in donations from Caroline Nash, wife of former Care UK chairman John Nash.
54. Mark Simmonds – former Foreign Minister
Was paid £50,000 a year as a “strategic adviser” to Circle Health.
55. Chris Skidmore
Received £3,500 for speeches to STAC Consultancy, which specialises in the launch of pharmaceutical products.
56. Julian Smith
Received a £2,500 donation from Principle Healthcare Ltd in September 2014.
57. Nicholas Soames
Received £2,000 from asset manager Crispin Odey, a major investor in Circle.
58. John Stanley
Consultant on financial services to FIL Investment Management Ltd, which invests in healthcare.
59. Andrew Tyrie – select committee chairman
Attended the Ryder Cup as Secretary of the Parliamentary Golf Society, with travel and accommodation paid for by U.S. healthcare services company Humana Europe.
60. Robin Walker
His office received a £2,000 donation from Redwood Care Homes, which owns multiple care homes.
61. David Willetts – former Universities Minister
Has shares in Sensortec, a company that owns Vantix which was working on a contract for a new product to detect MRSI.
62. Rob Wilson
Had registered shares in Vital Imaging, a private screening company.
63. Tim Yeo
Also attended the 2008 Ryder Cup, courtesy of Humana Europe.
64. Nadhim Zahawi
Non-executive director of recruitment company SThree, which specialises in the Ppharmaceutical and biotechnology sector.
65. Menzies Campbell – former leader
Non-executive director of Scottish American Investment Company plc, which took over one of the care homes when Southern Cross collapsed.
66. Vince Cable – Business Secretary
Received a donation of £2,000 from Chartwell Care Services, which is 100% owned by Chartwell Health & Care PLC. It also owns Chartwell Private Hospitals plc, which provide day case surgery to NHS patients.
67. Nick Clegg – Deputy Prime Minister
Received a donation to his constituency office for £5,000 from Alpha Medical Consultancy.
68. Simon Hughes – Justice Minister
Received £60,000 donation to his constituency party from the founder of Alpha Hospitals, a private hospital firm.
69. Stephen Lloyd
MP for Eastbourne. Received £544.92 aggregated over time for office equipment from Platon Medical Ltd – who provides Ear, Nose and throat devices.
70. Robert Smith
Has shares in pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.
71. Jo Swinson – Business Minister
Received a donation of £2,000 September 2013 from private optician firm, Peter Ivins Eye Care.
The Coalition also awarded a contract treating NHS patients with brain tumours to the private healthcare company Hospital Corporation of America, a firm that has been accused by the Competition Commission of overcharging for its services by up to £193 million between 2009 and 2011 – but that has also donated at leave £17,000 to the Conservative Party since it came into office.
According to the National Health Action Party, £10 billion worth of NHS contracts have been awarded to private firms since the Health and Social Care Act was passed in 2012. How many of these have donated money to the Conservative Party, and in what quantities?
Meanwhile, a record five million working people are now in low-paid jobs, according to the Resolution Foundation. That’s around one-sixth of the total workforce. This is a direct result of government policies that threaten people on benefits with the loss of their financial support if they do not take any job available to them – at whatever rate of pay is being offered. The insecurity this creates means firms are free to offer the bare minimum, and keep workers on that rate for years at a time, and pocket the profits for themselves – after donating money to the Conservative Party for making it all possible.
There has been no benefit to the national economy from any of these actions; the deficit that Cameron said he would eliminate is currently at £100.7 billion per year and the national debt is almost twice as high as when he first darkened the doors of Number 10. This is because any improvement in the national finances would interfere with his real plan, which is to dismantle all public services (except possibly national security and the judiciary – albeit a court system available only to the rich) and hand the provision of those services to the private sector in return for fat backhanders from the companies involved.
The evidence is beyond question. David Cameron said he would govern in the national interest but has used his time as prime minister to further enrich his already-wealthy business donors, and consequently his own political party, through the impoverishment of working people and those who rely on the State for support.
What sort of respect is due to a man like that?
By custom, here in the UK, the prime minister is given a degree of respect due to his or her position as the head of the government – but respect must be earned and we judge our politicians on their actions.
Cameron has earned nothing from the British people other than our disgust. He is a liar, at the head of a government whose mendaciousness seemingly knows no bounds. And he is a thief; every benefit claimant who has had their payments sanctioned or their claim denied had paid into the system – via direct or indirect taxation – and had a right to expect the support they had funded.
He should be in prison.
Unfortunately, we (the people) do not currently have the wherewithal to put him there. We have to register our opinion in other ways.
This means he gets no respect at all. He is not the prime minister – he is the Downing Street squatter. There is no need to make way for him when he passes – Dean Balboa Farley was right to run into him. There is no need to pay attention to the things he says – if you get a chance to talk to him, just talk over him as though he wasn’t there. He is a pariah; he should be shunned at every opportunity.
He has disrespected and dishonoured the highest public office in the land. He deserves no better.
What do you think of the Labour Party conference this year? It’s a loaded question and one that is bound to elicit loaded answers.
The propaganda machines of the other parties have been working overtime to discredit Her Majesty’s Opposition, with Scottish people who wanted independence (the minority, let’s remember) claiming Labour lied to them, UKIP supporters adamant that the party is full of child abusers (based on a BNP propaganda website, which should tell anyone with a brain all they need to know), and of course the Tories doing what they usually do – blaming all the country’s problems on the last Labour government while stealing the family silver.
You never hear ‘No’ voters saying Labour lied, do you? You never see UKIP supporters complaining about racism in their own party. You never see Tories calling for genuine reform that helps the 99 per cent, rather than the tiny minority that they represent.
So let’s look at what Labour is proposing. Let’s make a list – because, you know what? Mrs Mike was watching coverage of the conference yesterday, and even she tried to tell Yr Obdt Srvt that Labour wouldn’t keep its promises. If we have a list, we’ll be able to check the promises against what they do, after a Labour win next May.
So let’s see what Ed Miliband promised. He outlined six “national goals”, and he called for 10 years in which to hit them. You may very well ask: Has he been reading Vox Political? Recent comments questioning Labour’s intentions have been answered with the simple observation that it takes time to change the direction in which a country is travelling (or in the UK’s case, lurching), and Miliband’s words echo that sentiment. He can’t do everything in one day. It does take time. Let’s look at those goals.
Halve the number of people in low pay by 2025, raising the minimum wage by £60 a week or more than £3,000 a year.
Ensure that the wages of working people grow with the economy (something that is glaringly missing from the Conservatives’ ‘economic recovery’, meaning that – for the vast majority of us – it isn’t a recovery at all). Miliband said: “What’s amazing… is that statement, that goal is even controversial. It used to be taken for granted in our country that’s what would happen.” He’s right – look at today’s article from Flip Chart Fairy Tales that Vox Political re-published.
Create one million jobs in the green economy – neglected by the Conservatives – by 2025, committing to take all the carbon out of electricity by 2030; start a Green Investment Bank; devolve powers to communities to insulate five million homes by 2025, saving energy and heating costs
By 2025, ensure that as many young people will be leaving school or college to go on to an apprenticeship as currently go to university. It really is as though he’s been reading Vox Political. A long-standing gripe of this blog is that governments have concentrated on academic achievement while neglecting the education of people who have more practical aptitudes. This is a very welcome change.
By 2025, be building as many homes as we need, doubling the number of first-time buyers in the UK. Vox Political would prefer to see far more social housing; perhaps this will come as well but it wasn’t part of Miliband’s promise. Nevertheless, the pledge to build 500,000 new homes should make housing more affordable again for people who aren’t spectacularly wealthy or don’t have wealthy family members.
Finally, to create a world-class 21st century health and care service, funded by a clampdown on tax avoidance including tax loopholes by hedge funds that will raise more than £1 billion, proceeds from a mansion tax on homes above £2 million, and money from tobacco companies. Total: £2.5 billion (per annum, it seems). Some have said this is not enough when the NHS is facing a £20 billion shortfall but we must remember that this deficit only appeared recently and could be the result of Tory scaremongering, or the private companies introduced by the Tories leeching money out of the system to fatten their shareholders. More details were due from Andy Burnham today (Wednesday).
Oh yes, you see Andrew Lansley’s hated – Yr Obdt Srvt really cannot find the words to show how vile this diseased piece of legislation really is – Health and Social Care Act will be repealed by a Labour government. If you don’t care about any of the other measures, you should vote Labour for that reason alone.
So those are his six goals. But what’s this?
“It is time we complete the unfinished business of reform of the House of Lords so we truly have a Senate of the nations and regions.” Considering the way Cameron has been packing it with Tory donors, rather than people of any expertise (as it is intended to contain) this can only be a good thing.
“And it is time to devolve power in England.” What a blow against the Tories who have been claiming Labour want to delay or destroy such a process! Miliband is talking about “devolving power to local government, bringing power closer to people right across England”. That seems to be an indication that he wouldn’t create a new, expensive English Parliament but would give power back to the current councils – power that has been leeched away from them by centralising Conservatives and the previous, neoliberal, incarnation of Labour.
There’s more. He wants constitutional reform. But unlike David Cameron, who wants to impose changes from above, so that they only benefit people who are already rich and powerful, Miliband wants to make it a matter of public discussion. Those who can’t be bothered to take part will only have themselves to blame if they don’t get what they want.
There were promises on foreign policy – to stand up for the UK in Europe, in contrast to Cameron’s strategy which Miliband blasted: “When David Cameron comes calling, people don’t think he’s calling about the problems of Britain or the problems of Europe. They think he’s calling about the problems of the Conservative Party. And here’s the funny thing… If you’re elected the Chancellor of Germany or the Prime Minister of Italy or the President of France, you don’t really think you were elected to solve the problems of the Conservative Party.”
More solid was the promise to recognise the state of Palestine and actively seek a solution to the problems of that part of the world we might call – in an attempt to be fair – the Holy Land: “I will fight with every fibre of my being to get the two state solution, two states for two people, Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side.” Many detractors have wrongly claimed that Miliband is a Zionist, determined to support the Israeli government’s use of vastly superior firepower to eliminate Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank; they had better think again – and look very hard at David Cameron, whose government has done as little as possible to protest at what has been happening.
And Miliband also said he wanted Labour to fight discrimination against same-sex relationships around the world. That may not seem as important to some people, but in some places it is just as easy to be killed by homophobia as it is to be killed because of your religion. Personally, Yr Obdt Srvt finds same-sex relationships unattractive – but it takes all sorts to make a world.
That makes six more goals! Double the value.
These are all good aims. All of them, if seen through, will be good for the UK.
So there’s your checklist, with 12 – not six – goals on it. If you support Labour next year, you’ll be able to check Miliband’s progress against them and you’ll have a chance – halfway through his 10-year plan – to stop him if he’s not making it happen.
Alternatively, you can say to yourself – as Mrs Mike did last night: “He doesn’t mean it. They’re all the same. It’s not worth voting,” or any of the other things the Tory campaign chief Lynton Crosby would like you to believe, and you can sit on your thumbs at home. That would be a vote for the Conservatives to carry on raping your country and ripping you off.
If Labour win in spite of people like that, then they will still benefit from the changes Miliband wants to introduce, along with the rest of us. If the Conservatives win because of those people, then we will all lose – apart from a miserably small band of super-rich, super-selfish, super-arrogant and entitled exploiters who tell Cameron what to do.
Framed that way, it isn’t really a choice at all, is it?
Iain Duncan Smith will be challenged for his Chingford and Woodford Green constituency – not by a major media figure like, say, Rufus Hound, nor by a leading member of the NHA Party… but by a pain management nurse from North London.
Kathryn Anderson works at Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital – but wants to make sure the people of Chingford and Woodford Green have a chance to express their “disgust” at what she calls the work and pensions secretary’s “totally dismissive” attitude towards unwell, disabled or disadvantaged people who need assistance.
Who better to ram that point home than a nurse who spends every day working with people who suffer the chronic pain that is habitually dismissed as non-existent by the man this blog likes to call RTU (Returned To Unit – Army terminology for a failure)?
He might not say it himself but the work capability assessment his Department for Work and Pensions has forced on sick benefit claimants is nothing more than a crude essay in disability denial, written for him by an insurance company that earned a criminal conviction in the USA for using the very same formula to refuse claims on its policies.
“Just because this is considered a safe Tory seat doesn’t mean Iain Duncan Smith shouldn’t be challenged, and challenged fiercely,” the NHA Party candidate told the Chingford Guardian on Monday.
“As the deeply unpopular Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, he has shown just how incredibly cruel and vicious the Tory party can be, introducing the bedroom tax and making horrendous cuts to welfare and in the process, destroying lives. He has been far more interested in supporting the wealthy elite than supporting the vulnerable.
“It is also very clear that Iain Duncan Smith cares little for the NHS. The combination of his support for NHS cuts and privatisation, and his welfare reforms, are leading to an even greater reliance on healthcare support for those most in need.”
If Kathryn Anderson wins the seat, not only will the Monster of the Coalition Government be removed from Parliament, but a critical propaganda victory will be won – simply because she isn’t a political ‘Big Beast’.
She’s a nurse, from a London suburb.
Now, Labour is also fielding a candidate against RTU. Bilal Mahmood isn’t a ‘Big Beast’ either, but in the case of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, this is not an attempt to win a symbolic victory; rather it is a concession that a Labour victory in such a Tory heartland is nigh-on impossible. We should not dismiss Mr Mahmood’s abilities or intentions, but it is incumbent on all of us to admit that he has an uphill struggle ahead of him.
This is something the naysayers – who popped up after Monday’s article – failed to grasp when they claimed the rise of the National Health Action Party showed that Labour had become impotent: The chances of Labour winning in Chingford are tiny. The blue-rinsed brigade would rather chew off their own writing hands than get into bed with a Red.
The NHA Party offers an acceptable alternative. Its members are mainly doctors and other medical professionals who are deeply concerned that a major Conservative Party policy will bring nothing but harm to the nation as a whole – and habitual Conservative voters may sympathise wholeheartedly with that point of view.
Look at Lord Tebbit. He reckons he has been a lifelong user of the NHS and the only member of his family ever to have enjoyed privatised medicine is his dog!
As far as the good of the National Health Service is concerned, the aim of the 2015 General Election must be to remove the Conservative Party from office (and, in the main, from Parliament altogether) and then to remove the private sector asset-strippers from the publicly-funded system. That should come above all party political allegiances.
That is why Vox Political, which supports Labour, is happy to call on all those in Chingford and Woodford Green – and in all the other Tory-held constituencies where an NHA Party challenger has arisen – to support them in their campaigns. In particular, help them overcome media resistance.
Tory-supporting money owns most of the press, and this means dissenting voices that offer an alternative to the Conservatives are likely to gain only a fraction of the Tories’ column-inches or TV exposure. Social media and people power can change all that.
If you live in Chingford or Woodford Green and you want people to know there is a viable alternative to Iain Duncan Smith, then spread the word – not just once, but often, until the message gets through that they don’t have to be the quiescent sheep that Tory High Command wants them to be.
Use the social media. Use newspaper letters pages. Phone in to radio and TV political programmes. Cause a stir.
Of course, if NHA Party candidates unseat RTU, David Cameron and all the rest, it means Labour will be more likely to win the election anyway, so Yr Obdt Srvt will get the desired result. But some readers have expressed misgivings about Labour’s will to go through with the repeal of the Health and Social Care Act.
The presence of NHA Party members in the House of Commons will hold Labour to its word.
If you live in a Tory ‘stronghold’ constituency, this is your best chance to save the NHS.
Fighting for the NHS: Dr Louise Irvine will challenge Jeremy Hunt for his seat in Parliament.
Why is the fight against creeping NHS privatisation no longer gaining national headlines in the mass media? Do editors think it is no longer fashionable, or do they think the job’s done and they don’t have to bother any more?
Thank goodness for the Daily Mirror and its report that Dr Louise Irvine is to stand against Conservative Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt at the 2015 election, as the National Health Action Party candidate for South West Surrey.
She joins Dr Clive Peedell, who will challenge David Cameron for his Witney seat.
Both candidatures were announced at the NHAP’s national conference, which took place over the weekend. You probably didn’t even know it was happening, thanks to the priorities of the mainstream media.
The doctors have a hard challenge ahead of them – Hunt’s majority at the 2010 election was more than 16,000 votes. That’s 16,000+ more than his closest rival. Cameron’s was even higher – nearly 23,000 votes ahead of the pack.
But Dr Irvine told the Mirror she was ready for the fight: “I’ve faced Jeremy Hunt in the courts and beaten him twice. Now I’ll face him at the ballot box.
“He needs to be held to account for what he’s doing to our NHS and the way in which he has bulldozed democracy, changing the law to push through hospital closures when he was beaten in court.”
Of course, Dr Irvine’s pledge to stand against Hunt is a deep embarrassment for the Health Secretary – not only did she lead the successful Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, which won a High Court ruling that Hunt acted outside his powers when he decided to cut the hospital’s emergency and maternity units, but she is also a council member of the British Medical Association, which represents 150,000 doctors.
It is a sign that the medical profession at large is entirely opposed to his money-grubbing, postcode-lottery, health-for-profit policies.
Vox Political calls on voters in South West Surrey and Witney to support their NHAP candidates.
In Conservative stronghold seats like these, it seems realistic to expect voters to respond more to respected medical professionals like Drs Irvine and Peedell; there is also considerable distrust in Labour’s will to reverse NHS privatisation – but this may be alleviated if NHAP candidates are in the House of Commons, holding Labour to account.
The Mirror has been running a poll, asking readers whether they would vote for Dr Irvine against Mr Hunt. At the time of writing, 99 per cent of readers would, while less than one per cent support Hunt.
Other candidates announced at the conference include disability rights campaigner Naveen Judah, who challenges Liberal Democrat leader and Tory enabler Nick Clegg for Sheffield Hallam.
Ex-GP Dr Paul Hobday will take on Tory Sports Minister Helen Grant for her shaky majority in Maidstone.
In Truro, Rik Evans will try to topple Tory Sarah Newton, who has a majority of around 400.
Karen Howell, a popular member of the Support Stafford Hospital campaign, will stand for Stafford.
And Dave Ash, of the Keep of St Helier Hospital campaign, will take on Liberal Democrat former health minister Paul Burstow in Sutton and Cheam.
Kent GP Dr Bob Gill will be against Immigration Minister James Brokenshire in Old Bexley and Sidcup; Brighton University mental health expert Dr Carl Walker is standing in East Worthing and Shoreham and Oxford health journalist Roseanne Edwards will stand in Banbury where Tony Baldry has just announced he will not be seeking re-election.
NHA Party co-leader Dr Richard Taylor is hoping to regain his old seat of Wyre Forest, which he won as an independent in 2001 and held in 2005.
Notably no NHA Party candidate is standing for South Cambridgeshire, the seat Andrew Lansley holds with a majority of nearly 8,000. Perhaps this shows that they consider him a spent force who simply doesn’t matter any more.
This blog considers that it would be a valuable victory to unseat the man who spent seven years working in secret on what became the Health and Social Care Act – the legislation that allowed privatisation of the health service on an unprecedented, and entirely unwanted, scale.
Nobody should forget that the Conservative Party won its 300+ Parliamentary seats with a lie – the pledge, carried on posters of an airbrushed David Cameron, that the NHS would be safe under a Tory government.
You can’t call it a National Health Service any more, can you?
The corruption imposed on the system by the Conservative-led Coalition government has reached new depths with the award of huge contracts to companies that donate to the Conservative Party, and plans to stop the corrupt re-hiring of executives who had already received large payoffs – after this has already happened.
Especially to blame are the Liberal Tory Democrats who made sure that this desecration could take place by supporting it in Parliament.
Did anybody else find it laughable when the Telegraph reported plans for the Queen’s Speech this year to include stopping highly-paid civil servants and NHS executives from receiving large redundancy pay-offs and then being re-hired only a few months later?
The plan, apparently part of the legislative programme to be announced by Her Majesty tomorrow (Wednesday), is effectively fixing the barn door after the chickens have come home to roost; already thousands of NHS executives who were sacked from their jobs in the pre-Health and Social Care Act service have been re-hired – at great cost to the taxpayer – into the new one.
The new law won’t be able to stop any of them from doing what they have already done, and Treasury Financial Secretary Nicky Morgan’s claim that “We must make sure hard-earned taxpayers’ money is not being squandered” is meaningless.
Meanwhile, health companies have been rewarded with ‘NHS’ contracts worth almost 1,000 times as much as the money they have donated to the Conservative Party.
According to the Daily Mirror, Circle Health has been given £1.36 billion of health work after investors gave £1.5 million to the Tories; and Care UK – who bankrolled former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley with £21,000 during the seven years he was secretly working on the Health and Social Care Act while Tory leaders were denying any plans for the top-down reorganisation it would authorise – has won £102.6 million in contracts and its chairman John Nash has been made a lord, in return for a £247,250 donation to the Tories.
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham was right to say, “Nobody gave David Cameron permission to sell the NHS to his friends.”
Nobody did – Cameron lied about his plans for the NHS throughout his 2010 general election campaign, and then failed to win a mandate from the electorate.
But this is what David Cameron’s NHS was always going to be – a gravy train for rich asset-strippers.
The only losers are the sick – and Tories couldn’t care less about them.
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