Archive for the ‘Industry’ Category

Mad Right-Winger Alex Belfield Calls for the Revival of Working Men’s Clubs

August 3, 2021

Certain commenters on this blog have described Alex Belfield as my favourite right-winger. Well, he’s not quite that, but I do admit, I watch his videos, which may not be a good thing at all. Belfield is, I’m fairly sure, a working class Tory. He talks about how he comes from a pit estate and inveighs against the way the White working class has been neglected by liberals in the BBC and politics. Who, as he sees it, all read the Guardian, eat oysters like Naga Manchetti, for whom he seems to have a particular dislike, and are determined to push ‘box-tickers’ like gays, the ‘ambivilacious’, by which he means trans and non-binary people, and folks of colour over ordinary working people. His audience is very much the same type of people, who formed UKIP’s constituency: working class Whites in their fifties and over, who feel left behind by the mainstream parties.

There is a genuine issue here. Tony Blair and his successors abandoned the working class in the pursuit of middle class votes and Tory swing voters. At the same time, they retained and promoted minority rights and issues, loudly supporting multiculturalism, feminism and gay rights. The result was that a large section of the working class has become alienated from the Labour party, with many socially conservative older members attracted to right-wing organisations and individuals like the Kippers, Nigel Farage and Belfield. About a decade ago, the BBC put on a series of programmes about race and contemporary racial politics in the UK. One of those was a documentary asking if the White working class was being written out of contemporary politics. The trailer for this showed a man, in stereotypical working class clobber, having words written in black on his face until he gradually became invisible. I think it’s a fair question, and the Labour left is serious about tackling this alienation within an anti-racist framework by working hard for all members of the working class. That’s the best way of fighting Fascism and right-wing populism. But the voices, who are most vocal about defending the White working class are people like Belfield.

And these are people whose political and economic views are actively hostile to working class interests.

Belfield in many ways is a case in point. A few days ago he put up a video lamenting the state of the country. He was particularly concerned about the NHS and the massive waiting lists that have emerged due to Tory maladministration. The Health Service, he declared, was no longer fit for purpose, and would and should be scrapped. He wants it sold off to private administration. In fact, it’s the Tories’ piecemeal privatisation of the NHS that is responsible for waiting lists and poor service, and this will only get worse as they hand over more of it to their noxious backers in the private sector. And if the NHS is sold off completely, it will be transformed into a for-profit service, funded by private medical insurance like America’s. The result will be disastrous. Thousands of people will die and go without the medical care they need because they won’t be able to afford it. Already GPs’ surgeries, that have been handed to private healthcare suppliers, have been closed and their patients left without their traditional doctors, because these surgeries haven’t provided as big a profit to their owners as they’d like.

By championing the NHS’ privatisation, Belfield is most definitely working against, not for, his working class viewers and listeners.

He’s also concerned about the lack of opposition to Boris Johnson from the Labour party. He has a point, although it seems to come from his opposition to the lockdown and frustration that all of the parties are supporting it. Looking at the recent dismal election results for Labour, Belfield had a few suggestions of his own how the party could win back votes. Instead of concentrating on issues no-one’s really interested in, like trans rights, Labour should go back to talking to its traditional working class supporters, and start listening to them and take on board the issues that matter to ordinary people. These are bread and butter issues like healthcare provision, jobs and getting enough money to put food on the table. I agree, although I do think that the debate over trans rights is immensely important, if only because of the massive expansion of the number of young women and girls now self-identifying as trans. Labour should be fighting for better healthcare, combatting unemployment and poverty.

But this means a wholesale rejection of Tory and Blairite neoliberalism, a neoliberalism Belfield supports.

It means kicking the parasites out of the NHS and renationalising it. It means restoring the welfare state, so that the poor, the disabled, the elderly and the unemployed are given enough to live on. It means ending the wretched gig economy, including fire and rehire and zero hours contracts. And it definitely means an end to the wage restraint which has seen working people effectively take a cut in wages, while the salaries of the elite become ever more obscenely bloated.

Belfield also clearly misses the decline of traditional working class communities. And this is where he got really interesting. He wanted the return of the old working men’s clubs.

Now I actually agree with him there. Traditional working and lower middle class communities had a solidarity and ethos of mutual support that has vanished as society has become more individualistic. Thatcherism, and it’s Labour party variety, Blairism, partly drew on the decline of the British working class. As more people moved out of the working class into the lower middle class, taking up white collar jobs and buying their own homes rather than living in council estates, the right became convinced that working people were no longer a political force. A few months ago I found a video from one of the right-wing political sites on YouTube, in which a pundit blandly declared that Labour was doomed when working people moved away from their traditional working conditions. When they stopped living in back-to-back housing, for example. I disagree. More people may have moved into the lower middle class, but very many of them still have the views, aspirations and desires traditionally associated with the working class. It doesn’t matter that many of them are now office workers – working conditions in many offices and call centres is as ruthlessly exploitative as Victorian factories. See books like White Collar Sweatshop. Working people, whether labourers or office clerks, still want job security, protection from zero hours and exploitative short term contracts. They want proper sick and maternity pay. They also want proper wages that will support them and their families. They also want and deserve proper NHS treatment, a working welfare state and public utilities that are owned and operated by the state for the good of the British people, not for private, foreign investors.

Which are all Corbynite policies.

The right in America and Britain has benefited from the decline in traditional working class communities. One book I read attacking the Neocons, Confronting the New Conservatism, argued that the neo-Conservatives had been successful in gaining public support because of the social atomisation that came from the decline of working class institutions. The decimation of the trade unions and other working class institutions meant that many working people only met collectively with others when they went to church. And the ‘White flight’ of White working class people to the suburbs away from Black communities in the urban core meant that Black and White Americans were separate and divided, and so the right could play on White racial fears.

This atomisation would be reversed if working class institutions, like the old working men’s clubs, came back.

I don’t think they could be called ‘working men’s’ clubs, not after the progress of feminism. Working people’s clubs, perhaps? It may not be possible to revive them, as it would mean taking on the aggressive individualism that has advanced over the last century, as well as reviving community entertainment and participation so that it could compete with TV, computer games and the internet. But if it could be done, it could very well lead to a very strong revival in working class consciousness. A working class consciousness that would be shared by the lower middle class.

And that could very well scupper all the Thatcherite and Blairite bilge of the last forty-odd years.

Which would be very upsetting for Tories like Belfield.

Let’s do it!

Bristol’s Labour Mayor Marvin Rees on What His Party Has Done for the City

August 3, 2021

As a member of the local Labour party, I got this general email from Bristol’s elected mayor, Marvin Rees, explaining what his administration has done to improve conditions in Bristol. I’ve mixed feelings about Rees. He can be stubborn and obstinate, insisting on what he wants against the wishes of local people. He did this in the case of the housing development now being built in Hengrove park. His plans for the development were opposed by local people, who wanted fewer houses and more amenities, like shops, to be built on the site. But despite the fact that Rees’ own plans for the area were also criticised by the planning authorities for exactly the same reasons, Rees overruled the suggestions of the locals and went ahead with his own plans. There has also been a similar controversy over his scheme for a new arena for the city. Common sense would say that it should be built nearer to the city’s centre, where communications are excellent and visitors from outside the city could easily get to it via the motorway. However, for some reason best known to himself, Mayor Marv has decided instead that he wants it built in Filton, a suburb some distance away from the centre in the north of the city. Which is far more difficult to get to.

On the other hand, I was very impressed by his handling of the pulling down of Colston’s statue by Black Lives Matter. There have been demands from Bristol’s Black community for the statue to be taken down for decades, and so the assault on it probably shouldn’t have been surprising. After all, it followed similar attacks on Confederate statues across the Pond in America. Despite loud criticism from people of the right, like Alex Belfield, I think Bristol’s police did exactly the right thing in not trying to defend it when it was attacked. It was the only monument affected. The other statues nearby, such as one to Bristol’s sailors, and of the 18th century politician, Edmund Burke, and Queen Victoria (Gawd bless ‘er) weren’t touched. Neither were the surrounding shops and offices. But I think there would have been a full scale riot if the cops had tried to defend it. And I think it’s extremely likely that some in the mob that attacked the statue were hoping for a chance to fight the police as symbols of racist authority. The police didn’t give them the opportunity, and saved the people and property in the area from harm. As for Marvin himself, while he has made it very plain that, as a man of colour, he personally loathes the statue, he has been extremely diplomatic and careful in his handling of the controversy.

Here’s what he says in his email:

“Dear member,

I am writing to you to thank you for your support in the recent elections and to let you know how your Labour administration is repaying your trust in us. 

I want to start by reiterating how grateful I am; for everyone that voted for me and for the activists who knocked on doors, called voters, and spread our message of hope on social media. It’s been an enormously difficult year – which makes me even more appreciative for the support – but we still managed to adapt to the circumstances and get Labour’s message out to the voters. Our activists are the cornerstone of our movement – we wouldn’t have won the mayoral elections if it weren’t for the strength of our members. 

However, despite winning the Mayoralty and gaining a Labour Metromayor in the West of England Combined Authority, we lost a number of excellent councillors and had hard-working, dedicated candidates miss out on their seats. I know how talented our candidates were and how much they cared about their communities, so these results were hard to take. 

Despite the disappointment, we’ve regrouped and have been working to put Labour values into action and to continue delivering on your priorities. I want the next three years to be defined by inclusivity, sustainability, and delivery – everything we do will be defined by those three principles. 

At the first Full Council since the election, we put forward a motion that forbids the Council or its partners from following Home Office guidance that uses rough sleeping as a reason to cancel someone’s leave to remain, resulting in their eventual deportation from the UK. It should go without saying that we found this guidance deplorable – it shows how out-of-step Priti Patel and the Home Office is with Bristol’s collective conscience. Read more on Cllr Tom Renhard’s Blog. 

This announcement follows a recent further £4m investment to help tackle rough sleeping and the setting up of Bristol Street Outreach, a new service to support rough sleepers. Since 2019, we’ve reduced the levels of people rough-sleeping by 80% – this new service will focus on on-street engagements, particularly with those who have been sleeping rough for a long time, to help enable them to move off the streets and live independently.

As well as this we’ve:

Won Gold Food Sustainable City Status – only the second city in the UK to do so – for excellence in tackling food waste, urban food growing, and action to address food inequality. Awarded by the independent, Sustainable Food Places Board, the accolade recognises the work of Bristol’s good food movement and the city’s work to tackle the impacts of food on public health, nature, and climate change. More information here. 

• Offered residency to a number of Afghan interpreters who worked with the British Army, as they were at risk of persecution by the Taliban. 

• Moved forward building a 17,000 seater arena and its surrounding district – which now includes a 15 acre public park, £3.1m for transport infrastructure, 2,600 news homes, employment space, up to three new schools, a health centre and retail and leisure facilities – with it now set to open by the end of 2023.

• Allocated £34m in funding to help businesses in the city centre upgrade to cleaner vehicles, so they can avoid fines when the Clean Air Zone is implemented.  Despite pushing back the implementation date for the Clean Air Zone, by giving people and businesses time to adapt we will still have cleaner air by 2023 – the same time as we would if it had been implemented this October. 

• Painted a trans-inclusive rainbow crossing on Wine Street to as part of our celebrations for Pride Month. As well as this, we passed a motion that will strengthen mental health provision for LGBT+ people within the Council, and to work with our partners to improve services across the city.

Built the largest water-source heat pump in the UK, bringing zero-carbon energy to 5,000 homes in central Bristol. This comes after we built the largest land wind turbine in the country in Avonmouth. We’re also pushing ahead with finding a partner for the City Leap Programme, which will see us invest £1bn in decarbonising Bristol’s energy systems. 

• Started work to transform the Bear Pit into a haven for bees and butterflies. We declared an ecological emergency last year and are working to turn make our built environment more ecology-friendly – We’re investing in green structures and bright native flowers in the bearpit to attract pollinators and make it a thoroughfare the city can be proud of. 

• Invested £4.7m to rejuvenate our high streets, including Bristol city centre, East Street, Church Road, Shirehampton, Filwood Broadway, Stapleton Road, Brislington Hill, Filton Avenue, Two Mile Hill and Stockwood. The funding will help develop a support programme for existing and new high street businesses, while funding improvements to the streets in a bid to boost footfall through them. Financial support will also be offered to new or expanding businesses, such as pop-up stores or galleries, to reduce the number of vacant premises on the streets.

This is just a small selection of the work we’ve been doing for you. As this next term is only three years rather than four, we wanted to hit the ground running, but we have much, much more in the pipeline that will be ready for announcement in the near future.

If you would like to find out more about the work we’ve been doing, have questions over specific policy, or just want a general chat, then please feel free to ask your constituency executive to invite myself or a Cabinet member to one of your party meetings. 

I hope everyone has an enjoyable summer – I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Best wishes, 

Marvin Rees”

The various green projects Labour has introduced shows the administration is taking ecological issues seriously and shows that the Labour party in the city would be behind the Green New Deal proposed by the left, which would not only help the planet, but also create jobs and new industries. I’m also particularly impressed by the investment in local high streets and their businesses, and the offer of residency to the Afghan interpreters who worked for the British army. With the Taliban now advancing in Afghanistan, these people’s lives would very much be at risk if they remained there, and they undoubtedly deserve to be given sanctuary here in the UK, no matter what Priti Patel may think.

Despite my strong criticisms of some of Rees’ policies, I think overall he has been good for the city, and hope his administration will continue to do its best for Bristol and its great people.

Private Eye: Starmer Appoints Pro-Tory Supporter of Middle Class as Head of Strategy

July 21, 2021

This fortnight’s edition of Private Eye for 23rd July to 5th August 2021 has a very ominous piece, ‘Keir Review’, reporting that Blair Stalin, I mean, Keir Starmer, has appointed Deborah Mattinson as his new head of strategy. The satirical magazine reports that when she previously held such a post advising a Labour leader six years ago, she wanted him to hold a review into the party’s economic performance, headed by a Tory, and to go after middle class swing voters. In other words, it was more Blairism after Blairism had failed with the election of David Cameron instead of Blair’s chancellor and successor, Gordon Brown. The article reads

Deborah Mattinson, Keir Starmer’s new director of strategy at Labour, has the job of relaunching his ailing leadership. The last time Mattinson advised a Labour leader in 2015, offers some clues of what’s to come: back then she wanted the party to have a review of its economic performance that would be “headed by a Tory”, and to start focusing more on the middle class.

Mattinson is a “public opinion” specialist who has worked for the party on and off since the New Labour years. She and her company, Britain Thinks, specialise in focus groups: the company has lucrative contracts with the Home Office and does opinion research for McDonald’s, Capita and Virgin Money. She will be stepping aside from her role there to work for Labour.

Starmer’s appointment of Mattinson is part of his attempt to rejuvenate his leadership with what is briefed as an undefined but “bold” new direction. Her previous political prescriptions were certainly bold, but were not popular with the party.

After Labour lost the 2015 election and Ed Miliband resigned, Britain Thinks produced a report for acting leader Harriet Harman called Emerging from the Darkness, advising how the party could recover from the defeat. The private report, which was leaked to ITV News, advised Harman to pull sharply to the right after the failure of Miliband’s modest move left.

One piece of advice was to commission an independent review of Labour’s economic performance in government “ideally headed by a Tory” – which Labour would publish because the party had to start “atoning for the past”. Mattinson also advised that Labour needed to “be for middle-class voters, not just down and outs.”

The report was based on conversations with focus groups of swing voters, relying on their opinion to form policy rather than just test potential messages. Harman did appear to follow the report’s logic, instructing Labour MPs not to oppose the government’s welfare bill or limiting child tax credit to just two children – decisions that were deeply unpopular in the party.

MPs, members and voters await the new direction the focus group guru will take Labour in now.

Basically, it’s going to be more Blairism: a return to neoliberal policies, the use of focus groups to test the popularity of policies, a concentration on the middle class to the neglect of Labour’s traditional base in the working class and absolute determination not to oppose Tory policies but to copy them. And her contempt for the working class is shown very clearly in the reference to ‘down and outs’. It comes after the massive success of Jeremy Corbyn in winning back Labour members and the popularity of his traditional Labour policies – a mixed economy, strong welfare state, renationalised NHS, powerful trade unions and strengthened workers’ rights – showed how bankrupt Blairism was. Under Blair, the party had been haemorrhaging members and the number of people who actually voted for it was lower than under Corbyn. Blair beat the Tories only because they were actually less popular than he was.

But all this has changed. It ain’t 1997 and these policies won’t work against a revived Tory party. Quite apart from the fact that they’re noxious policies that run directly counter to the Labour party’s whole raison d’etre. It was set up to defend and fight for working people, not abandon them and side with the employers and landlords who exploit them. But Starmer clearly hasn’t learned this lesson. Either he’s stupid and fanatical, pushing a set of policies long after they’ve been proved to be wrong and disastrous, or he’s deliberately trying to destroy the party. Either way, there’s a simple way to revive the Labour party:

Get the noxious Tory cuckoo out!

Neil Coyle and Adolf Hitler on the Threat of Jews in Parliament

July 21, 2021

Yesterday I put up a piece attacking Neil Coyle, a Blairite Labour MP, for demanding the expulsion of Jewish Voice for Labour from the Labour party along with other ‘Commies’. I pointed out that it was very much like the anti-Semitic rants of the Nazis, who rejected democracy as a Jewish plot to enslave ‘Aryan’ Germans. For example, in 1922 Hitler gave a speech which explicitly stated it.

And the Right has further completely forgotten that democracy is fundamentally not German: it is Jewish. It has completely forgotten that this Jewish democracy with its majority decisions has always been without exception only a means towards the destruction of any existing Aryan leadership. The Right does not understand that directly every small question of profit or loss is regularly put before so-called ‘public opinion’ he who knows how most skilfully to make this ‘public opinion’ serve his own interests becomes forthwith master in the State. And that can be achieved by the man who can lie most artfully, most infamously: and in the last resort he is not the German, he is, in Schopenhauer’s words, ‘the great master of the art of lying’ – the Jew….

(O)ne day it will turn to those who have most consistently foretold the coming ruin and have sought to disassociate themselves from it. And party is either the Left: and then God help us! for it will lead to us to complete destruction – to Bolshevism.

From: J.W. Hiden, The Weimar Republic (Harlow: Longman 1974).

Coyle’s demand for the expulsion of Jewish Voice for Labour comes from the same vicious factionalism that has resulted in the NEC voting to expel other left-wing groups within the Labour party – Resist, Socialist Appeal, Labour Against the Witch-Hunt and Labour in Exile. It’s the partisan hatred of Blairite neoliberals for real socialists, the kind of people that actually build the Labour party with the trade unions, founded the welfare state and NHS, and gave us the mixed economy. For all its faults, the mixed economy in which the utilities were owned and managed for the state actually provided these vital industries with the investment they needed and gave better service than under privatisation. This is why Blair Stalin, I mean, Kier Starmer, is running scared from these policies which were promoted by Corbyn and supported by a majority of the British public. It’s why the railways are failing spectacularly and the Tories are desperately fighting off having to renationalise them.

But Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Against the Witch-Hunt and Labour in Exile are also being attacked and smeared because they state and argue unequivocally that the expulsions of Labour party members for supposed anti-Semitism are politically motivated. It’s not just just a hatred of socialists, but also a fanatical desire to protect Israel from reasonable criticism for its barbaric treatment of the Palestinians through conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Many of Israel’s most trenchant critics are decent, self-respecting, God-fearing or secular Jews. People like Jackie Walker, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Tony Greenstein, Ilan Pappe and Martin Odoni. These people are subject to particular abuse, vilification and sometimes even physical assault because they show that the Jewish community is not and has never been uniformly behind Israel, no matter how many laws Netanyahu passed to say that Jewry and the state of Israel were one and the same.

Coyle was undoubtedly motivated by a fear of Marxism and pro-Israel fanaticism when he made his noxious attack on JVL, rather than anti-Semitism per se. But he repeats very closely the real anti-Semitic, anti-democratic and anti-parliamentary denunciations of the Nazis.

Despite the attacks on Corbyn for anti-Semitic tropes, the real Nazi rhetoric is coming from the ultra-Zionists and Blairites.

Guardian Reports Starmer Planning Purge of Left-Wing Labour Groups

July 19, 2021

Yesterday, the Groaniad published a piece by Rajeev Syal reporting that Keir Starmer was planning to purge the Labour party of four left-wing groups supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s leaderships. The report begins

Keir Starmer is preparing to support a purge of far-left factions that were vocal supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

After 15 months of being party leader, Starmer is expected to support a proposal before the party’s governing body on Tuesday to proscribe four named groups.

The proposal, first reported in the Daily Mirror, has angered leftwing members who believe this may be part of a wider purge of the party.

Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee will be asked to proscribe Resist and Labour Against the Witchhunt, which claims antisemitism allegations were politically motivated, and Labour In Exile Network, which expressly welcomes expelled or suspended members.

Socialist Appeal, a group that describes itself as a Marxist voice of Labour and youth, would also become a banned group. Anyone found to be a member of any these groups could be automatic expelled from the Labour party.

Several left-leaning groups are organising a picket of the NEC meeting at Southside, Labour’s headquarters in Victoria, central London, to protest against the proposals.

The article quotes the founder of Labour in Exile, Norman Thomas, as saying  “There is wide agreement Starmer is pretty pathetic at fighting the Tories, but he’s in overdrive when it comes to attacking his own members. He has destroyed democracy in Labour to get rid of the thousands of people who joined after Jeremy Corbyn became leader.”

I don’t doubt for a single moment that the witch-hunt against Labour party members and activists accused of anti-Semitism was politically motivated. It Included Jews like Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, as well as the Black anti-racism activist Marc Wadsworth and others like Ken Livingstone and Mike over at Vox Political. Mike’s crime was to put together a document showing that Ken Livingstone’s comment about Hitler initially supporting Zionism was factually correct. The witch-hunt’s victims were all members or supporters of the Labour left and Jeremy Corbyn, and/or were critics of Israel’s barbarous persecution and decades-long ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Starmer and the NEC that supports him are Blairites, determined to carry on Blair’s transformation of the party into an alternative version of the Tories. They support the Tories’ policies of privatisation, including NHS privatisation and the destruction of the welfare state. As for anti-Semitism, many of those targeted in the witch-hunt were firmly opposed to anti-Semitism as well as all other forms of racism. But Starmer is an ardent Zionist, who received thousands of pounds of funding from pro-Israel donors.

Starmer has been appalling as party leader. He has brought nothing but factionalism and division to the party, while doing precious little to oppose the Tories. Hence Johnson has ridiculed him as ‘Captain Hindsight’ and ‘Major Indecision’. When campaigning for the party’s leadership, he promised to support and retain Corbyn’s policies that were genuinely popular – the renationalisation of the NHS, the nationalisation of electricity and water, greater rights for workers and a welfare state that actually worked and supported the unemployed, the disabled, sick and elderly. He has broken this promise, and offered no policies of his own. The result has been that no-one knows what he stands for. This was clearly displayed in a car-crash interview in which one of his shadow cabinet or aides told the interviewer that, yes, Starmer had policies, but they were secret and he could tell the interviewer what they were.

There is also a nasty undercurrent of racism there as well. The party is losing Black and Muslim members because of Starmer’s complete lack of interest in punishing the party bureaucrats that racially bullied and abused a number of Black MPs and activists, including Diane Abbott, and in tackling rising Islamophobia in the party. This is costing the Labour party valuable support and votes, quite apart from being against ordinary decency and justice. The result has been a poor performance in the council elections and barely hanging on to the seat at Batley and Spen.

Starmer is an incompetent Tory, who is wrecking the party. But he and his fellow Blairites are determined to hang on to power any way they can. And that means ordering further purges of left-wingers and supporters of his far more worthy predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

Reply from Local MP Karin Smyth to Letter Against Tory NHS Privatisation

July 19, 2021

Firstly, sorry for my silence the past few days. The TV company we’re with were upgrading the network in our area and we lost internet and TV reception. The TV came back on as expected, but we still couldn’t get the internet. We had to call an engineer out and the first opportunity for one to come was today. Well, he did indeed come and fix it, so all should be up and running as usual. We hope.

Last week I put up a piece about the pro-NHS group, We Own Out, encouraging people to write to their MPs asking them to vote against the Tories’ latest wretched health bill, introducing more privatisation into the NHS. I wrote to my local MP, Karin Smyth, as requested, and got an excellent reply from her last week. Here it is.

“Thank you for your email regarding the new Health and Care Bill which was debated for the first time in the House of Commons yesterday. I voted against the Bill along with my Labour colleagues but it was passed with a large government majority. Jon Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Health, made a very strong contribution and you can read the whole debate on the Hansard website here. There was not time for me, or more than 30 other MPs, to speak so I was unable to place on record yesterday why this legislation is such a missed opportunity which fails patients and their families in Bristol South.

Before I became your Member of Parliament I worked in the NHS and witnessed at first hand the wholesale chaos of the last reorganisation of the NHS in 2012 pursued by the then Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government. Up until that point there had been a general consensus about how to improve healthcare in our country: enhanced GP services, more care within communities to help support people closer to home and a stronger role for local government. Instead of listening to those of us within the NHS about the problems their plans would create the government simply ploughed ahead with a market and competition based system.

So now the government has accepted the almost complete failure of their last attempt and is having another go.

What they should be doing is giving new life to the NHS to enable it to fulfil the objectives set out by its founders in the pioneering post-war Labour government – high-quality healthcare, free at the point of use, fit for the modern world. But instead of a focus on improving care we have a proposals to create nothing more than a cronies charter, giving the Secretary of State huge unaccountable power to interfere in local NHS decision making with dozens of new, appointed, positions of responsibility. There is nothing to tackle the workforce crisis which means it is becoming harder and harder to recruit doctors, nurses and other staff. It is the fault of government, not hard pressed staff,  that people in south Bristol found it difficult to see a GP or were waiting for an operation even before the pandemic.  

In the coming months the Bill will be subject to line-by-line scrutiny and I expect to be part of the committee which undertakes that work. I will have a relentless focus on amending it to improve outcomes for patients and their families, through an integration of health and social care based on quality rather than cost saving or even cost cutting. I want to see effective, locally accountable and properly funded health services of which we can all be proud.

I will be updating you regularly on that work. We must all keep up the pressure on the government to make sure the National Health Service, on which we all rely, can meet our health and care needs in the 21st century.

Yours sincerely

Karin Smyth
Labour MP for Bristol South”

I’m very grateful for her reply. I’ve heard Karin speak before at local meetings of her disgust with the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS. She has said that she became an MP specifically because she felt so strongly about what they were doing to this most precious of British institutions.

I think she is a member of Labour’s right-wing, but am absolutely confident she will fight for the NHS and do exactly as she says she will about scrutinising and opposing this vile piece of legislation.

Maureen Lipman Shows Us She’s Really A Tory on Gogglebox

July 12, 2021

Maureen Lipman’s the veteran British actress and comedienne who’s resigned several times from the Labour party whining about anti-Semitism. She did it a few years ago when Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour party because he was a terrible anti-Semite as shown by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Chief Rabbi and the noxiously misnamed Campaigned Against Anti-Semitism and the British press, media and political establishment. Well, the British Jewish establishment hated Corbyn because they’re Zionists, and Israel had defined Corbyn and Jackie Walker – yep, a Black Jewish academic and grannie, who I don’t believe has a single anti-Semitic bone in her body – the No. 10 threat to Israel. Because they stand up for the Palestinians for the same reason they stood up against apartheid South Africa, the campaigns against real racism here in Blighty. And that included firm opposition against anti-Semitism. One of the piccies Mike put up about the former Labour leader shows him warmly greeting a group of Orthodox Jewish gents, who were there to express their appreciation for his support to stop the historic North London synagogue from being redeveloped. I think it was the first, or at least one of the first Haredi synagogues in the UK. Which the Board of Deputies, the political wing of the United Synagogue, wished to tear down and redevelop. But the good Lord forbid anyone from seeing anything sectarian or ‘anti-Semitic’ in their attempt to demolish what is clearly an historic site dear to another part of Britain’s diverse Jewish community. Corbyn definitely ain’t an anti-Semite by any stretch of the imagination, and neither was ever a Communist, Trotskyite or whatever other bogeyman haunts the imaginations of our right-leaning press and political elite.

Lipman’s claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour leadership are also weakened by the fact that she left the Labour party, again citing anti-Semitism, years before, when Ed Miliband was leader. Yes, Miliband, who’s Jewish, the son of Ralph Miliband, highly respected Marxist scholar and immigrant from Belgium, who fought for this country against the Nazi jackboot during WWII. And who was monstered for his trouble by the Heil, who ran a hit piece against him as ‘the man who hated Britain’. Well, he hated the public schools and the British class system, which is entirely reasonable and proper. Especially when it creates thugs and parasites like David Cameron and Boris Johnson. But Miliband senior actually fought for this country, unlike Paul Dacre’s father, who stayed at home and was the rag’s showbiz correspondent. Or Geordie Grieg’s old dad, who was a member of one of the pro-Nazi appeasement groups. Why did she think the Labour party was ridden with Jew-hatred? Again, Israel. Miliband had offered mild criticism of the Israeli state’s abominable treatment of the Palestinians. This was too much for Lipman’s fanatical Zionism, and she stormed out.

Well, she was on Gogglebox last Friday with Giles Brandreth watching and commenting on last week’s ‘great telly’ (sic). One of the pieces they were watching was Matt Hancock’s resignation because of his Ugandan discussions, as Private Eye calls it, with his secretary. Lipman thought that all the abuse was dreadful, considering how well he’d done as Health Secretary. Yep! She really said that. Well, as Kryton once said about Rimmer on Red Dwarf, ‘Oh for a world class psychiatrist!’ Either that or she’s been taking some, er, heavy duty non-prescribed medication with her evening glass of Horlicks. Because Hancock’s record as Health Secretary has been abysmal. He’s corrupt, giving vital contracts away to companies, simply because his mates run them. He was unable to get proper supplies of PPE, thus causing some of our professional and heroic frontline staff to die unnecessarily and putting the lives of others in serious danger. Especially staff from the Black and Asian communities, who were particularly vulnerable and hard hit. Care homes were left exempt from measures that were in place to protect hospital patients, thus causing even more deaths among the elderly and infirm. He is responsible for running down and privatising the NHS, as part of long term Tory and Blairite policy, so that waiting lists are growing. And it’s thanks to him and Boris that Britain had the worst death rate in Europe and the second worse in the world.

There are three explanations why Lipman believes a glaring incompetent like Hancock has done a good job. The shame at appearing in Carry On Columbus back in 1992 has, after 21 years, finally caught up with her and driven her mad. Arguing against this is that Julian Clary and Alexei Sayle also appeared in it, and although it wasn’t their finest hour, both of them are still mentally hale and happy. On the other hand, perhaps whatever herbal tea she may take contains the active ingredient in Cannabis. There are strong arguments for its medical use, such as to treat the pain from some diseases as well as the sickness some cancer patients experience. But I don’t think Lipman is on it, or anything containing it or other drugs. She seems far too genteel and personally wholesome.

Which leaves the third explanation: she never was really Labour. She may have joined the party or supported it for tribal reasons. Her family, like many Jews a generation or so ago, supported Labour. But as the very Jewish Tony Greenstein has shown, that allegiance changed as the Jewish community became more prosperous. 62 per cent of Britain’s Jews are upper middle class, and accordingly vote Tory. Lipman appears to have been a Blairite Red Tory, who particularly liked Blair because he was an outright supporter of Israel. That changed when Miliband became leader and showed he had something of a backbone when it came to condemning the Jewish state’s atrocities against the Palestinians.

But Blair wanted the privatisation of the Health Service, something no real Labour party member or supporter should ever back. And it appears Lipman supports it too from her comments about how well Matt Hancock has done as Health Secretary.

That bit on Gogglebox tore the liberal mask off, and showed the Tory face underneath. She never was a real member of the Labour party, and the party lost nothing from her loud and mendacious departure.

Starmer Is Silent on the Tories’ Privatisation of the NHS

July 12, 2021

More evidence of the absolute absence of any real, traditional Labour values from the noxious vacuity now taking up space as the leader of the Labour party. Mike put up a piece a day or so ago commenting on a tweet someone sent to Starmer asking him if he was going to vote against the government’s latest legislation opening the NHS up to further privatisation, allowing private healthcare companies to sit on NHS boards and take over GPs’ surgeries. In areas where this has been tried, it’s been a disaster. Those companies can only make profit by cutting staff and services, so you can far worse treatment. This isn’t up for debate, it’s true. It also seems to mark the transition to a two-tier health service: an under-resourced, substandard state sector for the proles while the rich will go to the better private service, which only they can afford. Assuming that it doesn’t result in the NHS being totally privatised and transformed into an American-style healthcare system, which is financed through private healthcare with medicare and medicaid, state-payed healthcare existing only for the poor.

So how did the great leader, who would unify the party and defend the Health Service respond to this vital question? He didn’t. He didn’t reply at all. Major indecision, as Johnson calls him, struck again! Or worse – it’s a tactical silence, because he won’t. The Tories have been privatising the Health Service piecemeal since Thatcher, but Blair when he took power went further than they did. Blair was responding to lobbying by American healthcare companies, including some of the same companies and scumbags who’d been lobbying and drafting policies for the Tories. He created the Community Care Groups of doctors, who were supposed to control the funding for the doctors’ surgeries of which they were in charge. They were also given the ability to raise money privately outside NHS funding and to buy in services from the private sector. It was also Blair’s idea to have the polyclinics or health centres he was building run by private healthcare companies. Alan Milburn, his health secretary, would have liked to have turned the NHS into a kitemark for services provided by private companies.

And Starmer and his squalid followers are true Tory blue Blairites. It seems that despite his election videos in which he promised to defend the NHS at the last elections, he has absolute no such intentions. He’ll betray the NHS to get the votes of all those swing Tories Blair lusted after. But Blairism is a spent force. The Tory voters ain’t coming over to the Labour not when Johnson appears to be prepared to spend more to keep Britain at least somewhat above water. Johnson’s getting reviled for it by the extreme right too. There’s an anti-immigrant YouTube channel, We Got A Problem, that put up a video a few days ago denouncing Johnson as a Communist! This showed the Tory flame or tree or whatever against a red background with a hammer and sickle. This shows you how utterly removed from reality the Tory right are. The result of this is that some people are definitely going to vote Tory, while traditional Labour voters will stay home because Starmer is, like Blair, doing absolutely nothing for the working class. But hey, he’s aiming to get more support from corporate donors!

The debate’s on Wednesday. We have to do everything to defend the NHS. And that means getting rid of both the real Tories in parliament and the imitators in the Labour party. Let’s end privatisation and

Get that greedy, profiteering, factionalist disgrace Starmer out!

We Own It’s Campaign to Get MPs to Oppose the Tories’ Privatisation of the NHS

July 10, 2021

Mike this morning has put up an excellent piece pointing out that the latest proposed legislation from Boris Johnson and his cronies, that will allow private healthcare companies onto NHS boards and run NHS services, will not end the privatisation of the NHS but simply open it up further. We Own It are an organisation that firmly opposes the privatisation of this vital British institution, and have launched a campaign to get people to write to their MPs to get them to oppose the bill when it is discussed on Wednesday. I got this email from them on Thursday.

‘The NHS Corporate Takeover Bill is here, and on Wednesday 14 July MPs will vote on whether to take the bill forward.

If we can get all opposition MPs and even a few Conservative MPs to oppose the bill, it will scare the government into taking a good look at this bill. Please write to your MP now.

Write to your MP now: pledge opposition to this Bill

You may have written to your MP about concerns before, and maybe the outcome wasn’t what you hoped for.

But the reality is all MPs listen to the local mood and to what lots of their constituents are writing to them about, even Conservative MPs. They may not appear to feel the pressure but they do.

We’ve adapted our draft letter to MPs based on what they’re likely to be concerned about in this bill.

And there is a lot to be worried about. 

Our NHS will have private companies making decisions about our care if this goes ahead. 

Our NHS will be under tight financial controls and more contracts could be given to the likes of Serco without any process if this goes ahead.

And they will deregulate NHS professions so you won’t necessarily be seen by a doctor or nurse anymore.

Your email will get MPs to stand up and listen, and we hear widespread opposition is possible.

So your email could tip them over the edge.

No matter where you live in the UK, your MP speaking out against this legislation and for our NHS is further proof that this is of huge concern. Can you email your MP now?

I’ll email my MP on the pledge to protect our NHS

Although this Bill currently affects England, they do set a worrying precedent of privatisation that could have repercussions in the devolved nations. We know that (many) opposition MPs in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are opposed to the corporate takeover bill, and their pressure can have a real impact in influencing the govt’s decision. So please email them to get them to pledge their opposition!
As Nye Bevan said, ‘the NHS will last as long as there’s folk with faith left to fight for it’, and you writing to your MP is part of a long term plan to build a movement for our NHS.
We are building our power bit by bit, and we must keep going if we’re going to stop the privatisation of our beloved NHS.
Thank you for all you do. 
In solidarity,
Cat, Zana, Johnbosco, Chris, Alice and Pascale – the We Own It team 

If you follow the links, you come to a form letter that they’ve already prepared. All you need do is add your name and address. I’ve had absolutely no hesitation in using it and I hope you will too.

The NHS and people’s lives and health are too precious to become simply a source of profit for Boris and his profiteers.

Book on the Global Environmental Crisis

July 9, 2021

Yesterday I got through the post this month’s Postscript catalogue. Postscript are a mail-order booksellers. Flicking through it, one of the items I found on sale was The Climate Emergency Atlas, by Dan Hooke, published by Dorling Kindersley. The catalogue’s brief description of the book runs

Dan Hooke offers a clear explanation of the science behind climate change, with concise text supported by numerous diagrams. World maps show the environmental impact of different countries, detailing issues such as their population growth, consumption and deforestation, as well as how they have been affected by the rise in global temperatures. A final section describes the actions being taken in response to the crisis, and the part individuals can play. Age 10+.

The normal retail price is £12.99, but Postscript are offering it for £6.99.

I can’t say I want to buy the book, but I think it is needed. The Republicans in America, backed by generous donations from big oil magnates like the Koch brothers, deny that climate change exists. Trump when he got into the White House passed orders and legislation effectively silencing the Environmental Protection Agency, forbidding them from publishing anything showing the existence of climate change or environmental damage. There are also videos from the American right by people like Alex Jones ranting about how climate change is really some kind of ruse or hoax by ‘leftists’ to end free enterprise and create a socialised economy and society. Which is pretty much the kind of paranoid nonsense you’d expect from a conspiracy theorist like Jones. When Barack Obama was in power, Jones was telling the world and his uncle that Obama was going to declare a climate state of emergency in order to force Americans into refugee camps and so enslave them. Well, Obama’s been and gone, as has Trump and we’ve now got Joe Biden. And there has been no declaration of a state of emergency with Obama now seizing power as Maoist dictator. One could almost think that Jones spouted fear-mongering nonsense.

The Tories over here share a similar scepticism towards climate change. The Heil has run repeated articles against it. This is when they aren’t simply playing lip-service to it. Cameron declared that his would be the ‘greenest government ever’ and stuck a windmill on his house to show how serious he was. That was before he got elected PM. After he put his foot across the threshold of No. 10, it was a different story. He took the windmill down and set about supporting and promoting all the environmental harmful policies he could, such as fracking. While this isn’t a book I intend to buy, I do think it’s needed considering the attacks on environmentalism from the Tories and their media, such as Spiked and the mad right-winger, Alex Belfield.