Tag Archives: Reading

Law to put private companies at the centre of the NHS passes second reading. Where are the news reports?

Backhander: the new Health and Care Bill will apparently allow private companies to take your tax money – intended to support the NHS – and then use “commercial confidentiality” laws to hide how they spend it.

What a blackout.

The Health and Care Bill – a planned law by the Conservative government that aims to put private, profit-making businesses at the centre of the English NHS – passed by a huge majority just after 7pm today (July 14).

At the time of writing – more than two and a half hours later – I found only one news report about it, in Scottish website The National.

Where’s your report, BBC? Where’s yours, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News? How about you, The GuardianThe Mirror? Anyone else at all?

During the debate, health minister Edward Argar admitted that the Bill would lead to increased private influence in the NHS – but tried to sugar-coat it.

“We are determined to embrace innovative potential wherever we find it,” he said.

Let’s consider what he calls “innovative potential”:

The Bill will break the NHS in England 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.

The much-anticipated return of responsibility to the Secretary of State 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.

The Bill will not treat a single extra patient, nor will it recruit even one more nurse.

That is exactly what I told my Conservative MP, Fay Jones, when I wrote asking her to speak against the Bill, and to vote against it. Of course, she did neither. She’s a Tory drone.

Fortunately, some others had the courage to stand up for their constituents who would be affected (including those in Scotland and Wales, of course).

Dr Philippa Whitford, SNP health spokesperson, said the Bill could mean private companies will be able to take public cash and not have to publish accounts of how it is used.

“It is hard to see this as anything other than a blatant conflict of interest,” she said. “Private companies hide behind commercial confidentiality and don’t publish accounts of how they spend public money.”

Labour’s Zarah Sultana said the Bill “will put on steroids the cronyism we’ve seen in this pandemic, where Tory mates and donors having handed billions of pounds in dodgy Covid Government contracts, and it will implement a healthcare model that incentivises cuts and closures, rationing funding to health boards. This dangerous Bill is another step to privatisation.”

But they were rare voices of reason among the bleating of almost 360 Tory sheep.

A Labour amendment to deny the Bill its second reading was voted down by 359 votes to 218, and the Bill passed to the committee stage of the legislative process by 356 votes to 219.

It seems Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid want to pass this Bill into law before the end of the current Parliamentary session on July 22. With this kind of complicity from their party faithful on the Green Benches, they seem certain to succeed.

And with an apparent news blackout on coverage of this crisis for publicly-provided health care, it seems the NHS will pass into the hands of the asset strippers before most of us even know it could.

Source: Health and Care Bill: NHS ‘takeover’ legislation passes second reading | The National

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Sharma joins the ranks of MPs who’ve shamed themselves over football

Alok Sharma: this is the only image I have of him and he’s not worth the bother of making another.

Why do they do it?

MPs – especially Tory MPs – seem to think they have to pretend to be “of the people” – and that the best way to establish this pretence is by saying they like, follow and support their local football teams – even though they don’t.

David Cameron tried it and got the name of his team wrong.

Now Alok Sharma:

It was bad enough he tried to cover up Boris Johnson’s “no deal” Brexit by calling it an “Australia-style” deal in the same interview.

This blew any credibility he had left.

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Racists attack political commentator over innocent image – THEY associated it with Reading stabbings

Ash Sarkar: she posted this innocent image of herself enjoying an orange ice lolly after cycling – and racist loonies claimed it showed her supporting an alleged terror attack in which three people were killed. Is that how it looks to you?

What’s wrong with the picture above?

Nothing, as far as This Writer can see. It’s a shot of a healthy young lady enjoying an ice lolly after exercising on a bicycle – posted on her personal Twitter feed.

It might be considered a little risque as, if she’s wearing shorts, they appear to be very short indeed. But that’s the worst of it.

So why, then, did this happen?

Apparently Ms Sarkar was being accused of using the orange emojis as symbols celebrating the three deaths.

When have orange emojis ever been said to symbolise that?

They don’t. But that’s what the lunatics have been saying.

Is it because the BBC initially associated the killings with a Black Lives Matter protest in Reading and, besides being a political commentator, Ms Sarkar happens to have darker skin than some of us?

If so, it is beyond reason (that’s why I suggest that those saying it are lunatics). And who are the racists in this situation – the young lady posting a summery pic on her timeline, or the foam-at-the-mouth individuals perversely accusing her?

Sane Twitter users have made their choice:

 

Of course the nutcases aren’t backing down – but I’m glad to see that Ms Sarkar isn’t, either.

Can you believe they wanted her to apologise for the offence that they have chosen to take against her?

That’s a good response – sharp, and to the point.

Then it became clear that Ms Sarkar’s critics were, in fact, just another gang of racists. They made it clear themselves.

In the next exchange, Ms Sarkar is replying to that classic racist trope: “go back to where you came from”. The tweeter appears to have deleted their message, which is a clear indication of guilt, and I would appreciated it if anybody who may have taken a screenshot could send me a copy.

Akala’s book Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire has this to say about the “go back to where you came from” trope: “Their assumption is that anyone who is not racialised as white is not really a citizen, echoing the old white-supremacist adage ‘Race and Nation are one’ and the ‘blood and soil’ logic of the Nazis.”

Ms Sarkar, being a citizen of the UK, comes from Enfield.

And of course, I’m giving her the last word because it is far more mature than anything her detractors had to say:

“Three families are grieving… and I feel really angry that there are people out there who are appropriating that grief, that shock, and that horror, and then using that to take down someone on Twitter.

“I don’t know how you live with yourself if you’re doing that.

“Beyond the racism and beyond the threats, I just feel that’s completely immoral.”

Agreed.

Why did the BBC try to associate Reading terror killings with Black Lives Matter?

Distortion: this is how the BBC reported the terror murders in Reading – by linking them with Black Lives Matter protests.

Is this how the Establishment undermines a movement it considers dangerous to its power – by smearing it?

There was no reason for the BBC to link the murder of three people – and the serious injury of three more – in Reading with an entirely peaceful Black Lives Matter protest.

Even immediately after the killings happened, police were saying the stabbings were a random terror attack and nothing to do with the peaceful demonstration.

The BBC has now removed its original article, replacing with one that has a modified headline.

A suspect has been arrested and he has nothing to do with BLM.

Khairi Saadallah is a Libyan national who last year appeared in court charged with punching a Sainsburys security guard in the face and attempting to stab him with a broken wine bottle when he was accused of shoplifting alcohol.

In This Writer’s opinion, he fits the profile of a person of Middle-Eastern/African extraction living the UK who has been radicalised to commit terror acts, rather than anything to do with BLM.

But, according to Skwawkbox at least, “right-wing hate-promoters have continued to spread the fake news.” The BBC only needed to put it out there early and let it catch on.

Indeed, current reports seem confused as to whether the incident was a terror attack or not, with one saying “police … say they are not looking for anyone else over the ‘terrorist incident'” and another that “police are not currently treating the incident as terror-related”.

This Writer cannot help but recall a recent Vox Political article in which I remarked on the stupidity of forcing MPs to queue around the block from the Palace of Westminster in order to vote by passing through lobbies in the traditional way, while still observing the 2m social distancing rule currently in effect; it makes them vulnerable to (for example) terrorists.

Details of those who were murdered are starting to be released. One was James Furlong, 36, head of history and government and politics at The Holt School in Wokingham, who was described by his family as a “wonderful man”, while his school colleagues said he was “talented and inspirational”.

Here is praise for Mr Furlong on Twitter:

The two other deceased have not been named at the time of writing. Two people who were injured have been discharged from treatment, while a third remains in a stable condition under observation.

It seems clear that somebody is trying to turn a homicidal tragedy into a platform for petty political point-scoring.

No doubt the BBC will claim the information it received at the time justified the headline.

And the damage is done.

But This Writer would advise anybody to be extremely wary of any information coming from this news source about BLM in the future.

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Straight-talking university conquers critics of refugee scheme with this great response

The University of Reading is This Writer’s alma mater so I am proud to report this particular story.

The university announced a plan to offer up to 14 sponsored places to refugees living in the Reading area, on June 19 – developed in partnership with Reading Refugee Support Group and the university’s own students’ union.

Unbelievably, this laudable scheme has attracted enmity – from small-minded little-Englanders, one can only conclude.

Its response is what make me a happy alumnus today:

“Tough. Jog on.” Right on!

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Right-wing press stories have backfired so often, people are creating their own spoofs

Lola Olufemi: When the Daily Telegraph published its retraction, she tweeted: “Small victories, hopefully I can get on with my job now.”

You couldn’t make it up – unless you worked for a right-wing rag like the Daily Heil or the Torygraph. And from now on, even if reporters at those organs try, they won’t be believed.

The Daily Mail blotted its own copy(book) with an article on “Our Remainer Universities”. Building on the revelation that Tory whip Chris Heaton-Harris had written to universities, requesting details of courses and lecturers dealing with the European Union and Brexit, the <ahem> paper asked readers to send in their own stories.

Apparently nobody in the editorial team stopped to consider the kind of responses they would get from respondents who are – not to put too fine a point on it – educated.

Nor did they expect the floodgates to open in quite the way they did. This Site has already published one professor’s response. Here are a few more, from a range of sources:

For those who cannot read images, Steve Peers wrote: “Dear Witchfinder General,

“I am writing to turn myself in as what your paper would consider a biased professor.

“I discuss the details of refugee law with my students, whereas your paper referred to the ‘problem’ of Jewish refugees ‘pouring into the country’ and depicted recent asylum seekers as rats.

“I ask students to look at EU and human rights laws on LGBT equality, whereas your paper referred to ‘abortion hope’ after a ‘gay gene’ was found.

“I discuss the risk that far right extremism poses to human rights, whereas your paper cheered ‘hurrah to the blackshirts’; and I outline the importance of the rule of law, whereas your paper shrieks that judges it disagrees with are ‘enemies of the people’.

“Despite all this, I can only dream of receiving the huge sums from the EU that your editor Paul Dacre has obtained.

“I can only salute your paper’s commitment to the truth, in spite of its many losses and settlements in libel cases and the frequent readers’ complaints it provokes.

“Yours sincerely,

“Steve Peers
“Professor of Law, University of Essex.”

“Aaron” wrote: “Good morning.

“I attend updog university, and we are being taught anti Brexit propaganda by our left wing professors. We are now made to gather in the study hall once a week and salute an EU flag whilst the professor slowly eats a croissant.

“Another lesson that is now mandatory is ‘brexit may not have been a good idea and blind patriotism is a foolish and extremely dangerous answer’. I think this is disgusting. If you keep saying it will be ok, it will be ok. We all know this. I once had a rabbit that got smashed to bits by a tractor and I said it would be ok and a few days later my dad got me a new rabbit.

“Please help me, there is no longer any room for bigots like myself at places of education and thought.

“Yours sincerely
“Aaron.”

https://twitter.com/davies_will/status/923483195361976320

From Will Davies: “Hi.

“I thought you might be interested in the behaviour of one of our lecturers. In a 2nd year module I take (‘Cultural Maxism and Masculinities’ – 15 credits) our lecturer declared that they were committed to ‘free speech’, but on condition that the speech was in a language other than English. My mate was determined to give an opinion on why Brexit was good, but was forced to stand at the front of the class explaining it in French, a language he doesn’t really speak.

“Happy to talk more.
“Will.”

From Tom Goodwin: “Hello,

“I wish to inform you that I have indeed experienced bias around Brexit at the University of Leeds.

“Only yesterday, I had a lecturer of International Communication show us a study which supposedly demonstrated that the wider international community believe that Brexit is a bad idea. I soon put him straight by showing him my curved banana and asking him whether or not this was the kind of thing that should be influenced by bureaucrats in Brussels.

“Needless to say, the spineless lefty had no response to my compelling argument.

“It is totally scandalous that the lecturers there have based their opinions about Brexit on both fact and quantifiable research that has been critically assessed and approved of by other members of the academic community.

“I can only pray that my lecturers stop using verifiably true information to influence the young minds that they are placed in charge of, and instead use publications such as yours to show students that Brexit will not only bring prosperity to our nation, but will also rid our proud island of the scourge of immigrants, with their unpronounceable names and funny accents.

“I hope this anecdote will be useful to you and your fine fact reporting establishment.

“Yours,
“Thomas Goodwin.”

https://twitter.com/TimBrudenell/status/923514342733221888

And from Tim Brudenell: “Dear Sir/Madam, but hopefully Sir

“There I was performing my morning salute to the national anthem in my commemorative Princess Diana knitwear when my History lecturer kegged me and forced me to eat a copy of Das Capital.

“I was so distressed by this event I had to cancel my erotic pottery class.

“Yours wistfully,
“Crampton Breadworth.”

Not to be outdone, the Daily Telegraph ran a story claiming that Cambridge University Student Union women’s officer Lola Olufemi had forced the university to stop discussing white authors in order to “decolonise” its curriculum.

Of course the letter signed by Ms Olufemi and more than 100 students, on which the article was based, did not call for the exclusion of white men from reading lists and Cambridge University has not dropped any authors from its courses.

Nevertheless, the Mail (again) followed up the story with a a profile of Ms Olufemi headlined ‘Feminist killjoy* behind the campaign (*It’s what she calls herself)’.

The apology that appeared in the Torygraph‘s ‘Corrections and clarifications’ the following day stated: “An Oct 25 article incorrectly stated that under proposals by academic staff in response to an open letter from students on “decolonising” its English Faculty, Cambridge University will be forced to replace white authors with black writers. The proposals were in ract recommendations. Neither they nor the open letter called for the University to replace white authors with black ones and there are no plans to do so.”

These are just the latest blunders by our supposedly impartial mainstream media – which still, improbably, expect us to believe they are more reliable than online news sites.

Now, it seems people have decided enough is enough – and have started lampooning mainstream news stories as they come out.

For example, try this retooling of the story that the man who (allegedly) shot John F Kennedy – Lee Harvey Oswald – met representatives of the KGB before setting out to kill the then-president. It has been re-written to present a story that might be considered more in line with Heil readers’ leanings (and the version I’m using has been edited by an acquaintance to add some salient facts):

What next?


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Flooding: Why is the taxpayer picking up the tab? There’s an EU fund!

The Conservative response: David Cameron swans around the Somerset Levels in his wellies while local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger (second from left) tries to get a word in edgeways.

The Conservative response: David Cameron swans around the Somerset Levels in his wellies while local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger (second from left) tries to get a word in edgeways.

It seems that David ‘Money Is No Object’ Cameron is unnecessarily forcing British taxpayers to fork out for flood relief while European officials scratch their heads and wonder why he isn’t taking advantage of a huge EU fund that is available to us.

We should all know why the comedy Prime Minister is avoiding Europe – he doesn’t want to lose face.

Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party across the UK criticise our membership because we pay so much in and take so little out (in their perception); this argument would be defeated if Cameron actually used the fund in the manner for which it was created and he would then lose support from members of his Parliamentary party.

Also, at a time when the UK’s future in Europe is being questioned, it would be “politically sensitive” (as Reuters describes it) for Cameron to go there and ask for a handout.

But governments are judged on the way they deal with crises (as the Political Rant blog put it) – and this one has put Cameron, figuratively as well as literally, between the rock and the river.

According to Reuters: “Asked whether Britain would ask for EU money, Cameron’s official spokesman told reporters on Wednesday the government was looking at every source of possible funding, playing down the idea that there was anything political behind it.

“Under EU rules, a country has 10 weeks from the first damage caused by a natural disaster to request aid.

“A person close to Cameron said there were technical grounds to do with spending thresholds that determined when to apply for a grant. Britain had no desire to get into a war of words with Brussels on the matter, he said.”

The news agency added that the government had deployed the armed forces to evacuate residents and shore up river defences, while under fire from critics for what ministers have acknowledged was a slow initial response.

Political Rant is less diplomatic (as you might expect): “Ken Clarke said it was just a normal winter and people complaining about flood defences were just a ‘lynch mob’. Eric Pickles criticised the Environment Agency while the Environment Agency criticised government cuts and Owen Paterson criticised Eric Pickles.

“David Cameron has undertaken several jaunts in his nice clean wellies, first to Kent just after Christmas where he was harangued by people left waist-deep in water without power for a week, then Somerset which he only visited after Prince Charles had been the day before, making it look rather silly the Prime Minister hadn’t bothered, and … to Cornwall where, a friend tells me, Railtrack diverted engineers who were supposed to be fixing the washed-out rail line at Dawlish to shake hands with the PM at a rail depot.

“The same PM has talked sadly about how a power cut interrupted his viewing of The Sound of Music on New Year’s Day while staying silent about two SSE engineers who said they were diverted from reinstating the power for 11,000 people to locate his trip switch.

“When the floods recede, we are more than likely to find a few people who died.”

Yes, and they’ll be in rural areas because the increased funds Cameron has announced amount only to a slightly smaller cut than he had originally intended, and the funding formula for flood defences demands £8 of economic benefit for every £1 spent – meaning a concentration on densely-populated urban areas.

Add to that the fact that Cameron only bothered to act when Conservative-voting areas were affected – the Somerset Levels, Windsor, Reading, Oxdfordshire, Surrey, Kent – and couldn’t care less when the waters were hitting places like Scunthorpe (as revealed on the BBC’s Question Time yesterday) and Cameron has put himself in a serious political mire.

He has made it clear that his is a government that only looks after its own supporters.

Everyone else can drown.

We won’t forget that.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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