Tag Archives: pledge

Tory NHS lies may derail election campaign after health bosses highlight staffing crisis

The reality of the Tory NHS: Jill Woolley, a former NHS worker, who has dementia, was forced to wait six hours for treatment on a trolley inches away from overworked NHS staff. That is what Tory cuts have done to the UK’s once-proud health service.

Remember when Tories from Boris Johnson down were falling over themselves to boast about building 40 new hospitals?

Then they were fact-checked, and it turned out there was enough money for just six NHS trusts that had a hospital in deperate need of rebuilding.

A further 21 trusts were earmarked for “seed” funding, to help plans that would not come to fruition until the end of the next decade.

So the “40 new hospitals” claim was a big lie, really.

And now NHS leaders are making dire warnings about under-staffing at hospitals across England – which is the Tories’ responsibility.

So instead of being benevolent providers who catered for all patients’ needs, the Tories have in fact been shown up as skinflints who are starving the system:

Hospitals are so short of doctors and nurses that patients’ safety and quality of care are under threat, senior NHS leaders have warned in a dramatic intervention in the general election campaign

Nine out of 10 hospital bosses in England fear understaffing across the service has become so severe that patients’ health could be damaged. In addition, almost six in 10 (58%) believe this winter will be the toughest yet for the service.

It seems the Tories know this can cause them serious harm:

The views expressed by senior NHS figures on Tuesday will heighten the anxiety in Conservative ranks that the health service’s growing problems risk derailing the party’s campaign in an election members hoped would be dominated by Brexit.

So what will they do?

Any new announcements will be greeted with scepticism because of the “40 hospitals” deception.

Health will certainly be under discussion in the leader debate on ITV this evening (November 19), so it will be fun to watch Mr Johnson squirm.

Will you be bringing popcorn?

Source: Nine in 10 NHS bosses say staffing crisis endangering patients | Society | The Guardian

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Tory candidates banned from pledges on NHS or climate – so BOTH are in danger

Doesn’t this say everything about the two-faced Tories?

While they tell us they will protect our National Health Service and fight climate change, the Conservative Party leadership has told its candidates not to make any promises about either of them.

The message is clear: The Tories will sell our NHS. And they will pursue policies that will harm the environment beyond the point of no return.

There is only one way to stop this insanity:

A Labour government.

Conservative candidates in the general election will be told not to sign up to specific pledges on protecting the NHS from privatisation and trade deals or tackling climate change, according to a leaked internal document from party headquarters.

The issues on which candidates have been told to avoid signing up to pledges include:

  • Trade deals with the NHS. The memo warns candidates to avoid signing any pledges to “protect our NHS from trade deals with new legislation which ends privatisation”. It says this kind of pledge would “give credence to factually inaccurate smears … The NHS is not for sale.” It says candidates should focus instead on “Jeremy Corbyn’s attempt to override the British people on Brexit”.
  • Climate change. Tory candidates are told that many campaigns to tackle climate change “contain unrealistic targets that would be impossible to achieve” and that it would be better to focus on “practical, reasonable steps to protect our planet while keeping bills down”. The memo claims Labour does not have a credible approach to the problem
  • Women’s state pension age. This highly charged issue could be a significant factor for women in the general election as the age for receiving a state pension rises from 60 to 65. Boris Johnson has promised to review the change, but the memo urges candidates not to engage on the issue. “Avoid signing [pledges],” it says. “Changes to the state pension age are part of a long overdue move towards gender equality and will put the pensions system on a more sustainable footing for future generations.”
  • Standing up for Brexit. The memo says it is unnecessary to pledge to stand up for Brexit because “a Conservative government with a functioning majority will immediately get Brexit done”.

Source: Don’t sign pledges on NHS or climate, Tory HQ tells candidates | Politics | The Guardian

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Remembrance Day travesty: While Corbyn pledges to house homeless veterans, his critics carp about his coat

 

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Anybody catching this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony on television this year will have spotted Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wearing an anoark rather than the black overcoat worn by many of his fellow wreath-laying political leaders – as you can see in the image above

I did. I wasn’t actually taking part in any events this year so I had a chance to sit down and watch it instead. I was pleased to see Mr Corbyn’s choice of coat because it meant he stood out from the crowd that included Vince Cable, Theresa May and John Bercow. Also I dare say it would have protected him from any rain.

So imagine my surprise when I scanned Twitter afterwards and found this:

I did! Fortunately, others had decided to respond before I had a chance, robbing the world of the opportunity to see me letting rip on some poor sap.

Rachael Swindon wrote: “Shocking revelation here. Jeremy Corbyn wore A COAT on a showery day in London today. I think Kev is a bit of a knob.”

So say we all. ‘Gary the opinionated insignificance took it a step further: “Did he do a “jig” on his way there this year or is that lie not being wheeled out this year?”

Remember that silliness? Eoin Clarke does:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1061605175654342656

This year’s wheeze didn’t seem to be working too well, though – as you can probably tell from the results of the poll in the following tweet:

https://twitter.com/jongaunt/status/1061585959815471104

When I voted and checked, it was clear that the majority support Mr Corbyn’s choice of outdoor wear.

So the loonies doubled down. Going back to the image, can you see that Mr Corbyn was sporting a poppy that was considerably smaller than those worn by his fellow wreath-laying political leaders?

I did. I was pleased to see Mr Corbyn’s choice of poppy because I have one very similar to it. They are metal, and cost considerably more than the normal, disposable poppies worn by most of the other bigwigs.

Imagine my surprise when, still scanning Twitter, I found this:

You have to scroll down quite a way to see all the responses to this one.

Rachael Swindon (again) drew the logical conclusion:

I also liked Cllr Cassi Perry’s rejoinder: “As a veteran I say wind your neck in. Ensuring it never happens again is the best way to honour our service and Corbyn is the one fighting hardest for that. And no we don’t care about the size of a bloody poppy. How old are you?!”

How about this from Sandy S? “Guess what, my 96 yr old Dad who flew Lancs in the war has just been to a rememberence parade, wearing the same poppy JC was wearing. Now stick that up your kite and smoke it. PS, he was wearing a raincoat too. You’re a disgrace.

And Clare Hepworth OBE was glowing in her indignation: “Oh for goodness sake! What a puerile , infantile – just plain STUPID comment to make on a day like this! Do you honestly believe that sensible people will take your comment seriously?”

Some focused on the fact that Mr Corbyn’s critics were focusing on the wrong thing. Remembrance Day is about commemorating our war dead and pledging to put an end to wars. Owen Jones tackled the first matter:

And genuine war veteran Harry Leslie Smith made an excellent point that the person standing next to Mr Corbyn in the image (above) is actually making it possible for wars to take place:

Rachael Swindon made it perfectly clear:

Then there’s this:

And Aleesha related it all to a very specific incident taking place as I type this:

By now, the right-wing mainstream media had jumped on the bandwagon and the Daily Mail was kicking up a song and dance:

… only to get exactly what it deserved:

That’s all very amusing.

But it seems there is another reason right-wingers were trying to distract us with nonsense about Mr Corbyn’s choice of clothing. Here’s Richard O’Neill:

He’s absolutely right.

Only the day before the Remembrance parade, Mr Corbyn pledged to put an end to the “scourge” of homelessness among armed forces veterans.

Here‘s the Independent: “Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to end the “scourge” of rough sleeping among armed forces veterans as he calls on Theresa May to officially register the number of homeless ex-servicemen and women.

“The Labour leader will mark the historic occasion by outlining his party’s “social contract” for veterans, including provisions for free education and treating mental health issues as “seriously as physical health issues”.

“He will also call on ministers to use the government’s “long overdue” Veterans Strategy – due to be published later this month – to officially record the number of homeless veterans in the UK, including statistics on those who take their own lives.

“Mr Corbyn said: “The next Labour government will guarantee armed forces personnel the opportunity to have a home, to heal and to retrain when they complete their time in service.

““We will do the right thing by ending the scourge of rough sleeping and helping veterans embark on new careers.””

And this help is desperately needed – under the Tory government, war veterans are more likely to lose their homes than be given one.

According to Mirror Online: “At least 13,000 of our war heroes are homeless after leaving the military, a Sunday People probe reveals.

“Military charities said the shameful figure is a record high and the Government is failing those who risk their lives for Queen and country.

“They also issued a stark warning that the crisis deepens every month.

“Charity bosses say the problem has been made worse by cuts to the armed forces, which has led to almost 30,000 troops losing their jobs since 2010.

“Homeless numbers have soared, despite the Government outlining its duty to serving and former personnel by enshrining the Armed Forces Covenant in law in 2011.

“The covenant says veterans “should have priority status in applying for Government-sponsored affordable housing schemes, and service leavers should retain this status for a period of discharge”.”

It seems all this fuss about Mr Corbyn’s coat is meant to distract us from his commitment to help service veterans who have been failed by the Conservatives.

Is Labour’s plan to relieve credit card debt really controversial?

The shadow chancellor is planning new rules on credit card interest [Image: David/SilverHub/REX/Shutterstock].

Some commentators are tutting about John McDonnell’s plan to limit credit card interest repayments to twice the amount borrowed.

They say it may reduce the discouraging effect – people would no longer be put off borrowing when they can’t afford it.

But Conservative policies have driven people into the hands of payday lenders who charge huge rates of interest anyway!

People are being forced into debt by Tory pay repression and benefit persecution.

In such an environment, Mr McDonnell’s pledge must be welcome.

If not, why not?

People trapped in a spiral of credit card debt would be protected by a cap on their interest payments under a Labour government, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, will say on Monday.

Speaking at the party’s annual conference in Brighton, McDonnell will announce plans to help the more than 3 million people in Britain who are paying far more in interest payments than they borrowed.

Under the proposals there would be a total cap, meaning people would not have to pay back more than twice the amount of their credit card borrowings.

Source: Labour to pledge help for millions trapped by credit card debt | Politics | The Guardian


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Tory NHS pledge is ‘fantasy funding’

130925hunt

Jeremy Hunt: The Coalition’s Health Secretary won’t face up to his failures.

The Conservative Party must be getting very desperate indeed.

Faced with the failure of the plan to belittle Ed Miliband, the Tories are making a belated attempt to take some of Labour’s policy ground with a promise to provide £8 billion extra, every year, for the NHS.

From where?

The Conservatives have already told us they will be squeezing the economy by (at least) £30 billion over the next five years – if they remain in office. The National Health Service is ring-fenced from those cuts, we are told, but that hasn’t prevented real-terms funding from falling during most – if not all – of the Parliament that has just ended.

The Tories had no intention of adding funds to the NHS – or at least, they didn’t until today.

Despite claims that the health service in England alone needs another £8 billion in order to cope (the shortfall is £30 billion but NHS boss Simon Stevens reckons “efficiency savings” – cuts – will cover £22 billion of it), the Conservative Party had been hoping to keep it quiet and let the public service quietly starve while private, profit-making firms strip it of its most lucrative sources of funding; the services that attract the most money.

Like the plan to attack Miliband, this was a mistake; Labour has campaigned forthrightly on the needs of the NHS and the public has responded strongly.

So the Tories have wheeled out Jeremy ‘Misprint’ Hunt to announce a funding commitment that they don’t have the ability to honour.

It is exactly the kind of fiscal ineptitude of which they were accusing Labour, before the other party publicised its fully-funded plans for government.

Asked how the Conservatives would fund the pledge, Mr Hunt said the economy had been turned around and pointed to investment in the service during the last Parliament, when the government guaranteed an above-inflation increase in funding, according to the BBC.

He said: “If you want to be sceptical about the commitment, look at the track record.”

Okay, let’s do that: Look at this table, from the UK Statistics Authority’s monitoring review paper, Real Terms Estimates for Health Expenditure in England over the Spending Review Period, 2010-11 to 2014-15, as published in Vox Political‘s article on funding last year. It shows known spending, according to the most up-to-date statistics available at the time (June 19, 2013), along with estimates for the remainder of the current Parliament.

nhsspending

The rows relating to changes in spending are all minus figures – meaning spending was less than intended, not more.

Mr Hunt also lied: “We inherited an economy that was shrinking and we’ve turned it around.” In fact, the Coalition Government took over an economy that was expanding, thanks to the stimulus budgets of Labour’s Alistair Darling, and killed it stone dead with the unnecessary, ideologically-motivated policy of austerity.

It seems likely the only reason the economy started improving at all is simply that it reached the bottom of its cycle and there was nowhere to go but up; this would have been nothing to do with the Conservatives or the Coalition.

What we’re seeing is fantasy funding – building castles – or rather, hospitals – in the air.

Judging the Tories on their record, they certainly won’t be improving health here on the ground.

Positive campaign announcement of the day: Labour will save Sure Start centres

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A Labour Government will save Sure Start and double the number of childcare places provided at them to more than 118,000.

Labour will introduce a new statutory obligation on Sure Start to provide access to child care – as well as giving them new powers to open up their doors to charities and local providers so the whole community can use them.

The aim is to make the best use of these public buildings, re-establishing them as family hubs in the community and reaching more families than ever before. Labour says the alternative under a Tory second term – in which they have already signalled that they will cut schools budgets year-on-year – is a recipe for national decline.

The Government has allowed Sure Start centres to close or effectively be mothballed. This is disastrous for local communities at a time when childcare places are falling even though demand is greater than ever. Many providers say lack of space or affordable premises is the reason why they cannot set up or expand in an area.

“Sure Start was one of the greatest achievements of the last Labour government but, under the Tories, there are hundreds fewer while others have reduced services and opening hours,” said Tristram Hunt, Labour’s shadow education secretary.

“It is a scandal that these brilliant community assets are being mothballed or even closed at a time when parents are crying out for decent childcare in their communities.

“We will not succeed as country unless we ensure every child has a decent start in life.

“We will not succeed as a country if parents can’t get to work because they can’t get the childcare they need.

“We will not succeed as a country if we waste resources by allowing Sure Start centres to be idle, empty or even close.

“So we’re going to put the lights back on, get the kids back in and restore the founding purpose of Sure Start.”

He said: “This plan won’t cost money, it is purely a question of political will and leadership. The Government seems content to sit back and let Sure Start wither away. If the Tories win a second term, I fear Sure Start will disappear in many parts of our country and one of the great progressive programmes will be lost to the next generation. Labour created Sure Start. Labour cares about Sure Start. Labour will save Sure Start.”

This blog is no fan of Tristram Hunt – he’s an upper-middle-class oik playing at being a member of the Party of the People – but this pledge to restore Sure Start is a genuinely positive move and he is to be congratulated for it.

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What’s the point of a ‘Cameron’ job that can’t make work pay?

[Image: Eoin Clarke.]

[Image: Eoin Clarke.]

There are several reasons we should be sceptical about David Cameron’s pledge to make the UK a nation of ‘full employment’.

Firstly, his campaign poster has lied about his record so far. Why should anyone believe his claims about what he’ll do in the future?

Secondly, everybody knows that the Tories’ rubbish neoliberal ideology demands a large number of people have to be unemployed, in order to keep wages down – and Cameron very much wants the UK to remain a low-wage economy.

Thirdly, look at the jobs he has managed to create: zero hours contracts, part-time work, under-employment rife. If that’s his idea of what we need in order to create full employment, then he should be looking forward to his own P45 in May.

[Image: Eoin Clarke 9again).]

[Image: Eoin Clarke 9again).]

Or, as David Schneider put it on Twitter: “Cameron’s promise of full employment to guarantee everyone in the country a job that doesn’t pay enough for them to live off.”

The social media were quick to dismiss this latest nonsense from the PR genius behind “compassionate Conservatism”, “hug a hoodie” and “Green Tories” – remember those flops?

MagsNews on Twitter reported: “Cameron says everything’s wonderful in the jobs market! [Nine out of 10] new jobs are [full-time] jobs. ITV news asks why, if so, tax receipts are so low?!!”

And the Labour Press Team pointed out: “Tory record on jobs: more than 1.3 million people work part-time because they can’t get a full-time job. Tory record on jobs: 3.5 million people in work say they want extra hours. Tory record on jobs: 1.4 million zero-hours contracts in the economy.”

He doesn’t seem to realise what a diabolical mess he has made of the British jobs market – but don’t worry! Here’s a way to clarify matters for him:

Are you stuck in part-time work when you want to be earning full-time wages?

Have you been forced to accept a zero-hours contract, so you don’t know when you’ll be working but can’t claim benefits when you’re not?

Are you on a temporary contract, rather than in permanent work?

Are you earning less than the minimum wage – on a government work programme, for example – or are you earning less than a living wage in a full-time, part-time or zero-hours job?

If so, it’s time to stop calling it a job.

Call it a ‘Cameron’ instead.

“Hello, Bob – how’s it going?”

“Not bad. How about you? Did you get a job yet?”

“Meh. There’s nothing worthwhile to be had. All I got was a ‘Cameron’.”

Even then, he might not get the message.

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Tories to miss immigration targets despite Cameron’s pledge

Immigration fail: When Theresa May tried to get illegal immigrants to "go home" with an ad campaign on vans driving through London, it caused national protest - and this response from the campaigning group Liberty.

Immigration fail: When Theresa May tried to get illegal immigrants to “go home” with an ad campaign on vans driving through London, it caused national protest – and this response from the campaigning group Liberty.

Remember when David Cameron pledged to get immigration into the UK down from the hundreds of thousands into the tens of thousands?

He and his party are trying to wipe that from history.

They’ve got a history of doing that with their mistakes. Do you also remember when the Tories’ pre-2010 election pledges were wiped from their websites?

On immigration, Cameron pledged to get it below 100,000 per year – but now his own spokesman describes it as an “objective” and Theresa May, the Home Secretary who was charged with achieving this feat, called it a “comment”.

A comment?

From The Guardian: “Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the home secretary made clear that the government was preparing the ground for a public admission of failure on the migration target.

“Asked to explain the missed target, May said: “When we made that… comment, when we said … we would be aiming to bring the net migration down to the tens of thousands and we wanted to do that within this parliament – yes we were very clear that was what we wanted to do.”

“The cautious remarks by the home secretary, who stumbled slightly as she referred to the net migration target as “that comment”, contrasted with the unequivocal “no ifs, no buts” declaration made by the prime minister in April 2011.”

In fact, it is possible that Cameron’s party should be glad that their plans to limit immigration have failed. Recent figures have reiterated the oft-made point that immigrants contribute more to the UK than they take from it – and the measures that the Tories have introduced backfired badly for universities, where the number of foreign Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics students has plummeted due to the UK’s “unwelcoming” stance.

The government has now announced a push to increase the number of British STEM students, and this is clearly to counter the loss to universities. The cover story is that they want more young women taking up the subjects.

Still, there are arguments that immigrants are taking jobs away from British-born people – and that their presence is pushing down wages.

But Mrs May can’t say that to the other EU member states without seeming racist, so she is calling on them to “reform” one of the fundamental pillars of the Union – freedom of movement – on the grounds that it encourages criminality.

She said: “There is a growing concern across the European Union of the way in which the freedom of movement is now being used.

“We’re seeing it being abused, possibly by criminal gangs who are trafficking human beings, we’re seeing it being abused through sham marriages.”

Why not just admit that freedom of movement is being abused – most clearly because people in the less-advantaged EU countries see it as an opportunity for a better life elsewhere?

It could be argued that the EU made a huge mistake in letting some countries – particularly in eastern Europe – into the Union before they were on a level with the rest of us, economically.

If we’re going to let these countries in, then it seems reasonable that we should protect ourselves from this kind of opportunism by working to bring their standard of living up to the same level as the rest of us before allowing freedom of movement to kick in.

It seems certain that far fewer people would want to immigrate into the UK if it offered no material difference in their quality of life.

Doesn’t that seem reasonable?

What a shame reason has nothing to do with the Conservative Party.

Cameron, May and the rest are going to continue pushing in the wrong direction, ever-harder as each successive plan fails.

Perhaps they are the ones who should be shown the door.

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First Tory election bribe is announced – and its about pensions

pensions

The Conservatives have announced the first of what will probably be many pre-election bribes, saying they will end a tax on ‘defined contribution’ pension pots that kicks in when the recipient dies.

At the moment, the government takes 55 per cent of untouched money in such pension pots, and from pensions that have not been used at all. From April 2015, inheritors will only pay the marginal income tax rate, or no tax at all if the deceased was under 75 and the pension is left untouched, according to reports.

The new policy means the Treasury will lose around £150 million per year and 320,000 people will benefit. This is very few people in the national scheme of things, but each of them stands to make nearly £470,000.

But let’s put this into perspective: The total number of pensioners in the UK is around 12,300,000.

So you can see that the Tories are appealing very much to their own constituency – the privileged few who have been able to build up pensions of that size.

It is likely they are hoping most people won’t do the sums and will assume the Conservatives are making another big giveaway to pensioners. This is the population group that is most likely to vote in any election, so the Tories are naturally keen to keep them on-side – especially after a series of announcements earlier in the current Parliament that were far from beneficial to people coming up to retirement and downright prejudiced against young people coming onto the job market, while retaining the pension benefits available to MPs.

In the light of all this, let’s have another poll:

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Ed Miliband’s policies backed by public – The Guardian

Here’s some information that will enrage everybody who has been campaigning so ardently for the downfall of the Labour Party – people who have been duped by Lynton Crosby and (north of the border) the SNP. The Guardian has revealed the following:

Over 70 per cent of the public are in favour of Miliband’s policy to fund the NHS with extra taxes on tobacco companies and mansions, according to a new poll.

Every one of Ed Miliband’s pledges from his speech yesterday has popular public support.

A new Survation poll for Labour List of 1,037 people shows that 72% of the public are in favour of the policy to fund the NHS to the tune of £2.5bn extra a year, partially using taxes against tobacco companies and mansions as well as closing loopholes. Only 12% were against.

The polling suggests this pledge was particularly popular among Labour (81%) and Lib Dem (84%) voters from 2010, which is useful for a leader hoping to woo disaffected voters from Nick Clegg’s party.

[Image: The Guardian.]

[Image: The Guardian.]

Miliband’s pledge to raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour also was supported by the majority of the public and played even better with Liberal Democrat voters (80.1%) than Labour (78.6%).

His pledge to break up the high street banks was the least popular (but still had 43.9% of people in favour of it). Only a quarter of people (24.9%) said they were opposed to it with 31.4% saying they didn’t know how they felt.

In fairness, the article adds: The way this poll is structured may be flattering to Labour’s prospects. By using Labour’s own phrasing, the poll presents each policy in quite a generous light, which makes it difficult to disagree with – not many people would say creating “a “world class” health service” is a bad idea, for example. This has the effect of making the policies look popular – and they may well be – but it may be that if the same policies were presented differently, the poll numbers could change a lot.

Nevertheless, this is exactly the response Labour needed, in advance of next year’s general election. Clearly the general public thinks that Ed Miliband is on the right track.

Of course, the election is still eight months away and much may change in that time. Public opinion is fickle and we may well see polls supporting David Cameron’s plans – or even Nick Clegg’s – before the end of October.

But it’s a big boost for Labour and will give the party the momentum it needs, in order to win the campaign and – if elected – let us hope Miliband will hit the ground running.

Because the UK needs a change, and it can’t come soon enough.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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