Archive for the ‘Industry’ Category

Hurrah! The Green Party Wants to Renationalise the NHS

January 27, 2023

I don’t usually watch the party political broadcasts. I find them too boring, depressing and, in the case of the Tories, infuriating. But I caught a bit of the Greens’ broadcast last night, and was impressed. They stated that as part of their platform of policies they would renationalise the NHS, end its outsourcing and make social care free at the point of use as with the health service. Excellent! This is what the Labour party should be doing, and should have done 16 years ago when Blair won his landslide victory in 1997. But I’m afraid Starmer won’t. Everything he’s said has raised warning signs that he means to privatise more of the health service following Blair’s precedent, starting with using private healthcare providers to clear the backlog of cases. This is exactly what the Tories have been saying. Or course, Jeremy Corbyn wanted to renationalise the NHS, along with the public utilities and restore and revitalise the welfare state. Which is why they smeared him, first as a Communist, then as an anti-Semite, enthusiastically aided by Starmer’s allies in the Labour party.

I’ve very mixed feelings about the Greens. They’re very woke. There was a controversy a few years ago about the schools in Brighton, which I think is a Green council or their MP is Green, teaching Critical Race Theory and White Privilege. In Scotland the Greens are behind the SNP’s wretched Gender Recognition Act, which would lower the age people can legally declare themselves trans to 16 amongst other reforms. I don’t doubt that it’s meant well, but I strongly feel it will do much harm by encouraging confused young people to pursue medical treatment that may be totally inappropriate for them and could lead to lasting harm.

But I entirely support their demand for a properly nationalised and funded NHS.

I am just annoyed that it’s the Greens, who are regarded as an extreme, fringe party, demanding this and not Labour.

Well, a few years ago the Greens took a number of local seats from Labour in the council elections in Bristol until they were only one or two behind them on the council. I would therefore not blame anyone if, in the forthcoming council elections, they turned their votes away from Starmer’s Labour and voted Green instead.

Spat Between UKIP and Reform as Tice Refuses Offer of an Alliance

January 23, 2023

This comes from a video by right-winger Mahyar Tousi on YouTube. UKIP has been trying to organise some kind of alliance with the other right-wing populist parties and splinter groups. They have said that if they join this alliance they can keep their leaders and independence under an agreement intended to bring all these groups an electoral victory which would be beyond them as individual, separate groups. To join this proposed alliance, all that was necessary was that 95 per cent of the parties’ views should be the same. Today UKIP’s deputy fuehrer, Rebecca Jane, announced that the only one of these smaller right-wing parties to have ignored the Kipper’s overtures was Reform. She stated that it because its Duce, Richard Tice, believed that he could challenge the other parties alone. This was a mistake. She also criticised him for criticising the Tory MP, Andrew Bridgen, who had been thrown out for attacking the Covid compulsory vaccination programme. Tousi himself declared that this was splitting the right, and that it was all a clash of personalities rather than any real disagreement over policies..

I was surprised that UKIP was still going. I thought it had absolutely collapsed and been wound up following the departure of Nigel of Farage, his replacement by Gerard Batten and the entry into the party of Count Dankula, Carl Benjamin and Paul Joseph Watson. I also thought that whatever remained of the party had been reconstituted as Reform, but that’s evidently not true. As for these parties remaining separate and splitting the right, I am more than happy to see that continue. From what I’ve seen, they’re all hard right, Thatcherite parties, who’d continue the Tories’ attack on the welfare state and NHS. The only difference I can see is that they’d be more overt about it. And that is quite apart from their aggressively anti-immigrant policies.

I therefore think it’s no bad thing that these right-wing, populist parties are divided. Labour’s not perfect, but I want them to gain power and overturn 12 wretched years of Tory misrule. And these parties splitting the vote between hopefully makes that easier.

The Economic Falsehoods Behind ‘Expansionary Austerity’

January 23, 2023

Expansionary Austerity is one of the discredited and utterly falsified economic theories the Australian economist John Quiggin attacks in his book Zombie Economics (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2010). It’s the idea that savagely cutting government expenditure will somehow restore economic growth. It was the policy adopted by governments across the world, including Dave Cameron’s Conservative administration in Britain, to save the global economy after it had been comprehensively trashed by the banksters in 2008. It was based on the theories of Albert Alesina and a number of co-authors, most notably Sylvia Ardagna and their study of how austerity had supposedly benefited various countries, Tales of Fiscal Adjustment: Can Austerity Be Expansionary. One of the countries examined in their study was Quiggin’s own, Australia. He went back and looked at what they said about it, and found that it was riddled with inaccuracies and errors. He gives the following examples to show how seriously, seriously flawed their study was:

*Alexina and Ardagna attribute the policy of austerity to “a leftwing government elected in 1985.” In fact, the government was elected in early 1983 at the depths of a severe recession. It implemented an expansionary fiscal policy. The recovery was well under way when the government took measures, beginning in 1984, to wind back the budget deficit.

  • Alesina and Ardagna assert that the main budget savings came from “cuts in transfer programmes …. mainly concentrated on unemployment insurance.” Spending on unemployment benefits fell but not because of cuts. The unemployment rate was falling, and expenditure on benefits declined as a result. This is the standard Keynesian “automatic stabilizers” at work.
  • Most strikingly of all they write, “Australia is a clear case of an ‘expansionary fiscal contraction.’ GDP grew faster during and in the aftermath of the adjustment, both in absolute terms and relative to the G7 countries. A private investment boom was associated with profits and easier access to credit following the financial deregulation process that took place in 1985-6. ‘ This is like the story of the man who jumps off a tall buiilding and says, as he passes the 25th floor, “All good so far.” Writing a decade later, in 1998, Alesina and Ardagna must surely have been aware that, almost immediately after their story ends, Australia entered the worst recession in postwar history.’ (pp.225-6).

Quiggin continues

‘Australia’s recession was triggered by contractionary monetary policy, but its severity resulted primarily from the collapse of the investment boom mentioned by Alesina and Ardagna. The boom was dominated by speculative investment projects undertaken by so-called entrepreneurs who took advantage of financial deregulation to build conglomerate empires that failed in the crisis, almost taking down the banking system with them. The Australian experience of the 1980s was a preview of what would happen in the United States and Europe in the 2000s.

To sum up, the tale told by Alesina and Ardagna bears no relation to the actual history of Australia in the 1980s. The most revealing point about their account is their eagerness to shift the burden of adjustment to a crisis onto its most vulnerable victims-the unemployed. In this respect, the literature on expansionary austerity of which this paper was a part might have served as a warning of the brutal policies that were to be adopted in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis.’ (p. 226).

Quiggin then goes on to discuss the global financial crisis and the austerity programmes that followed, showing how they were failures. These policies were nevertheless pushed because they allowed the 1 per cent elite to expand their wealth and power against everyone else. The chapter concludes by showing how the crisis could have been solved using Keynesian economics.

Despite the Tories’ pronouncements that austerity has ended, I’ve seen no evidence that this is the case. They continued to cut public expending catastrophically until forced to do the reverse by the Covid pandemic. And now that the world is going back to some semblance of normality, they’re going to return to it.

The working people of Britain and the west have been forced into poverty and starvation through nonsensical policies based on bad, massively inaccurate and biased research. It’s time austerity was discarded and Keynsianism, with a proper welfare state, was restored.

Sajid Javid Now Calling for Patients to Be Charged for GP Visits and Going to A&E

January 21, 2023

Here’s further evidence of the Tory campaign to run down the Health Service until they can sell it off and introduce an American-style private healthcare system where people have to pay for their care through private health insurance. I’m ashamed and horrified that this man comes from own, fair city of Bristol. According to Sky News, Javid has an opinion piece in the Times (prop: the Dirty Digger) pushing the idea that the health service should charge people going to their doctors and Accident and Emergency with means-tested fees in order to cut waiting times. Javid says that this would follow Ireland, Norway and Sweden, and the appreciation of the Health Service should become a religious fervour blocking reform. The broadcaster also notes that Sunak himself wanted people charged for missed appointments, but was forced to withdrawal that nasty suggestion. Sky’s report says that the current PM till the next one says that he is not considering the idea. Wes Streeting, in a rare occasion of standing up for proper Labour values, said that it would violate the 75 year old founding principle of the NHS that treatment should be free at the point of delivery. Only Labour, which set up the NHS, could properly reform it, and that the imposition of fees would happen ‘over my dead body’.

Well said. I just wish I could believe him.

Of course the Tories hate the NHS as it’s a nationalised service. They don’t understand or sympathise with the principles underlying it and so want it privatised. We’ve already seen another right-wing maniac from their benches calling for it to be run ‘like a business’. These people have their voices magnified by appearing on GB News, where they spout the same nonsense, along with newsreaders and commenters like Nana Akua. As for the nonsense about this cutting waiting times, that’s really only a pretext. I went to a meeting of my local Labour party a few months ago in which the Tories’ attack on the Health Service was being discussed. Someone there said quite clearly that the health service was in particular danger because of the pandemic because the Tories never fail to exploit a crisis. And now Javid has raised his head above the parapet to prove it.

The Sky report states that Javid will not be seeking re-election at the next election. Which is why he probably feels free to make this monstrous suggestion. He has nothing to lose. Unfortunately, his mentality is still shared by his party, and will remain there long after he’s gone.

As for the Labour party, I very much doubt that Starmer will honour his promise to make doctors state employees. He has also said he wants to make a rational use of private industry to clear the backlog. Over the past decade, doctors’ surgeries have been acquired by private healthcare companies like Circle Health, who have then sought to maximise profits by sacking staff and making working conditions worse. The standard privatisation modus operandi. Blair was enthusiastic about privatising the NHS, and Starmer shares the same ideology. He also said something about making a rational use of private healthcare companies. I honestly doubt that he will stop the privatisation of the NHS once he gets his behind in No. 10. If he allows private healthcare companies to continue to acquire doctors’ surgeries, then obviously the doctors working there will not become state employees. Starmer has massive previous for breaking promises, and I think it’s very clear that he intends to break this one.

But the main threat meanwhile is the Tories.

Get them out before they privatise the health service and start charging for care.

Gracchus Babeuf and the Calls for a Welfare State in 18th Century France

January 21, 2023

Gracchus Babeuf was a French revolutionary, who tried to overthrow the Directory and establish a communist state during the French Revolution as the leader of the ‘Conspiracy of Equals’. He’s one of the founders of the European socialist and communist traditions. I’ve been reading Ian Birchall’s book on him and his legacy, The Spectre of Babeuf (Haymarket Books 2016), and it’s fascinating. Birchall discusses the influences on Babeuf, which included Morelly, the author of the Code de la Nature, which also advocated a communist system with a centrally planned economy, Nicolas Collignon, who wrote an 8 page pamphlet demanding the same, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In Collignon’s ideal state, the citizens were to be provided with free food and clothing, high quality housing, schools and healthcare. Like the Tories, he also believed in competition, so doctors would be graded according to their performance. Those that cured the most would be consequently paid more and get promotion, while those who cured the least would be struck off. Even before he devised his own communist plans, he was already discussing the need for collective farms. What he meant by this is not collective farms in the soviet sense, but farms run cooperatively by their workers rather than a single farmer with employees. And he was also in favour of creating a welfare state. In a book he authored on correct taxation, he wrote

‘That a national fund for the subsistence of the poor should be established. That doctors, apothecaries and surgeons should be psif wages out of public funds so that they can administer assistance free of charge. That a system of national education be established out of which all citizens may take advantage. That magistrates be also paid wages out of public revenue, so that justice can be done free of charge.’ (p. 29).

Birchall also attacks the view promoted by Talmon in his The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy that Babeuf was an authoritarian who prefigured soviet tyranny. Talmon was an Israeli Conservative writing at the beginning of the Cold War. But Babeuf himself, although a revolutionary, was also keen to preserve and expand democracy. One of his suggestions was that there should be a set of elected officials charged with making sure that delegates to the national assembly were representing their constituents properly. If they weren’t, the people had the right to recall them.

Regarding industrial organisation, he believed that the citizens in each commune should be divided into classes, each class representing a different trade. The members of these classes would appoint governors, who would set the work and carry out the instructions of the municipal government. It’s very much a command economy, and utopian in that money would be abolished.

I can’t say I find Babeuf’s full-blown communist ideas attractive, for the reason I believe in a mixed a economy and the right of people to do what they wish outside of interference from either the authorities or other people. And I really don’t see how such a state could last long without a money economy. Some Russians looked forward to the establishment of such an economy at the beginning of the Russian Revolution when the economy began to break down and trading went back to barter in some areas until the Bolsheviks restored the economy. And there is clearly conflict between violent revolution and democracy. But I respect his calls for a welfare state. He was also an advocate of equality for women and an opponent of imperialism, which he felt corrupted extra-European peoples with European vices. This view is clearly based on the 17th century ideas of the Noble Savage, in which primitive peoples are seen as better and more morally advanced than civilised westerners.

Demands for a welfare state are as old as socialism itself. We cannot allow the British welfare state and NHS to be destroyed by the Tories and Blairite Labour under Starmer.

Reform Party Promising to Protect British Freedoms against the Government, the EU and Unelected Organisations

January 20, 2023

Okay, I just found a brief video on YouTube, posted eight days ago, on Nick Buckley’s channel. Buckley’s a former police officer and campaigner against knife crime, who’s appeared a couple of times on the Lotus Eater’s channel. I wasn’t surprised then, when he posted this video interviewing Richard Tice about Reform’s ‘Eight Principles’. In the video, however, he only talks about four of them. These are largely about protecting British democratic rights against the threat of the state and unelected organisations and quangos. According to Tice, Brits are aware that they’re born free and have inalienable rights unlike in the EU. Thus, Brits are able to whatever they like unless prohibited, while in the EU they can only do whatever the EU tells them to.

The irony about this is that the idea that humans are born free comes from a continental philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau has been condemned as one of the founders of totalitarianism. One Conservative American group made Rousseau’s The Social Contract one of the most evil books of all time alongside Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto. The philosopher Isaiah Berlin included him among his Six Enemies of Freedom and the Lotus Eaters have also put out videos attacking him. But Rousseau’s book begins with the words, ‘Man was born free yet everywhere he is chains.’ The idea that you should be free to do whatever you want unless the law says otherwise, I think comes from John Locke a century before, and is the foundation of modern liberal ideas of freedom. However, other European philosophers also had views similar to Locke’s, that the state should be limited to the role of a night watchman, in the sense say that it should protect its citizens’ lives and property, but otherwise not interfere. This is the view expressed by the German philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt in his Grenzen Der Wirksamkeit der Staat – ‘Limits of the Effectiveness of the State’. I don’t know what the underlying philosophy of government of the European Union is. I suspect there isn’t one beyond harmonising various trade and other regulations between member states and allowing for the movement of labour and capital. The original intention was to create a united trading bloc to preserve western European economic independence from America or communist eastern Europe. The Eurosceptic right has frequently ranted about the EU being some kind of totalitarian state with comparisons to Nazi Germany and communism, but I’ve seen no evidence to support it. And rather than limiting freedom, I think the EU believes it is actively creating and nurturing freedom in its member states. Such as when it condemns Poland and Hungary for their legislation banning homosexuality and gay rights.

Now let’s go through the principles as explained by Tice and Buckley in the video.

  1. The state is our servant not our master.

I don’t believe any believer in liberal democracy, whether of the left or right, would challenge this. The only people who would are either Fascists, following Mussolini’s pronouncements that the individual is nothing before the state, followers of Hegel’s dictum that ‘the state is the divine idea as it exists on Earth. We must therefore worship the state’ and supporters of Soviet Communism before Gorby’s brief reforms. However, in the context of Reform, a party of the right, it seems to me that this is yet another bland statement intended to justify further privatisation and the expansion of the power of private industry and the destruction of the welfare state against working people, the poor, the unemployed and disabled.

2. Lend us your power and we’ll give you back your freedom.

This could be said by just about any political party, even those which were real enemies of freedom. Hitler, in one of his rants at Nuremberg, declared ‘Everything I am, I am through you. Everything you are, you are through me’. The Nazi party anthem, the Horst Wessel song, also has lines about German freedom. Hitler also talked about preserving freedom through separating the different spheres of party and state and preserving private industry, though in practice under the Nazi regime the party and state apparatus were intermeshed and private industry ruthlessly subordinated to the state. Mussolini also made speeches about how the freedom of the individual wasn’t limited under fascism, except in certain ways, all of which was equally rubbish.

3. People are free.

This means, as he explains, that people naturally hold certain rights and liberties that should always be protected and defended. These include freedom of speech, religion and conscience. This does not mean that certain types of speech have no consequences. I interpret this as meaning that he feels that people can say what they want, but people are also free to express outrage and take action against others for offensive or dangerous speech that is not otherwise banned by law. Tice goes on to say that in practice, while people believe in this principle, they negotiate to give up a certain amount of this freedom with the state.

I think here he means particularly the legislation on hate speech, which in his view prevents proper criticism of certain protected groups in order to combat racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and so on. He has a point, as opponents of gay rights, who have made their opposition very clear in speeches, often quoting the Biblical prohibition against it, have been arrested. In Scotland Maria Miller, a gender critical woman, was arrested for hate speech simply for putting up stickers with the slogan ‘Scots Women Won’t Wheesht’, meaning that they wouldn’t be silent, in her campaign against the proposed gender recognition legislation north of the border. In my opinion, arresting someone for saying that goes beyond a concern about stirring up hatred against trans people into active attempts to police thoughts and opinions about trans rights.

But there are good reasons behind the legislation banning hate speech. In the case of racism, it’s to prevent Nazi groups stirring up hatred against vulnerable minorities like the Jews, people of colour and gays, all of whom have been or are targets of abuse and physical assault.

4. National Sovereignty

This means protecting British traditions, institutions and culture from enemies both external and internal. The external foes include the EU. The internal threats to British tradition and democracy are unelected pressure groups and organisations. These include big tech and companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook. This is a fair point. These organisations can and do censor material posted on their platforms. The right have been complaining about their posts disappearing or the algorithms governing their availability in searches being altered so that they become invisible, but the same censorship is also inflicted on the left. If Tice and his crew get the chance, I’ve no doubt they’ll demand greater freedom of speech for their supporters while maintaining or even strengthening the censorship against their opponents on the left.

Other threats, unsurprisingly, are the European Union, while among the unelected organisations wielding power he puts the environmental groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and the gay rights organisation Stonewall. Tice states that a few years ago Greenpeace published their manifesto for Yorkshire, which was a diatribe against the car, and therefore, in his view, an attack on the automobile industry in west Yorkshire. One of the accusations the extreme right is throwing at environmental groups is that they wish to ban cars and private transport as part of their plan to establish Green Communism. He also includes Stonewall and the massive influence it wields, although no-one has elected it. There is a problem with Stonewall in that the advice it has been giving to companies, the government and the civil service has been wrong. They deliberately gave a wrongful interpretation of the legislation covering trans issues which was very much what they wanted it to say, not what the law actually did. As a result, a number of groups cut their connections to the organisation.

But unelected groups like Greenpeace, Stonewall and so on acquire their power through possessing, or being perceived to express, expertise and competence in particular issues. In the case of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, it’s the environment. Amnesty International is respected because of its thorough investigation and documentation of human rights abuses, even though governments may pay no attention to its findings. Stonewall is taken notice of because it speaks, or claims to speak, for Britain’s gays and articulates their concerns and recommendations to combat prejudice.

Even in the 19th century governments had to pay attention to popular protest organisations, such as the massive abolitionist campaign against slavery, the Anti-Corn Law League set up by Cobden and Bright to have the corn laws repealed so that the price of grain would fall and working people able to feed themselves. There was also the anti-war protests against the Crimean War led by John Bright and others. There are problems with unelected groups exercising power beyond their competence or suitability, but modern governments have always had to deal with organised groups. Tice’s singling out of the environmental groups and Stonewall seems to me to be as much to do with a hatred of their views – the Brexiteers are full-scale behind the right of private industry to trash this country’s green and pleasant land – than with their supposed power outside of the formal sphere of elections. I doubt that Reform would ever go as far if they were in power, but it reminds me more than a little bit of Mussolini’s statement that there should be ‘nothing outside the state, nothing against the state’, and similar bans on private quasi-political organisations in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

But what you’ll also notice is that these principles tell you absolutely nothing about how Reform as a party intends to act on them, except by reading the lines. What does Reform intend to do about the health service? Not said. I suspect, in fact, that as a party of the right they’ll want to privatise even more of it. What about the welfare state and the scandal of millions of people using food banks? No answers there, either. I suspect, however, that in practice you’d get more mantras of encouraging people to be independent, find work and so on, coupled with rants about welfare scroungers. What about industry? Again, the reality is almost certainly that they want more deregulation. Well, we’ve had four decades of Thatcherite privatisation and deregulation, and the result is the mass poverty and failing economy we’re now experiencing. Industry should be acting for the good of society and its employees and not just shareholders and senior management. This means limiting economic freedom, but as the Liberal journalist J.A. Hobson said, in order for the mass of people to be free you need to limit the freedom of the rich. Which is obviously toxic to the Conservatives and other parties of the right.

To sum up, what Reform seems to be doing with these principles is to try to position themselves as defenders of traditional British liberties against the threat of the evil EU and pesky Green and gay groups. But this hides an illiberal ideology that views such groups as somehow subversive, would probably remove the obstacles against real, dangerous expressions of racial and other prejudice, and which would promote the interests of private industry against ordinary Brits.

We can’t afford to be taken in by sweet words hiding their true intentions.

Message from Diane Abbott about Online Rally to Build Resistance against the Tories in February

January 20, 2023

We must do everything we can in support of the strikers – Diane Abbott

Be part of the fightback – Register here // Retweet me here // FB share here // Read article here.

HelloDavid

Whatever the Tories may tell us, the current strike wave that has been unleashed is as a direct result of government policies to benefit big business by impoverishing workers. Now, ministers are directly involved in attempting to defeat the strikes in numerous ways. As a result, these strikes are objectively highly political. The government has made them so, and is willing to use every type of divide-and-rule tactic and press vilification to defeat the strikers.

The unions taking action on pay, conditions and jobs are therefore effectively taking on the government head-on. There is no doubt the public is with the strikers. The strikers are the big battalions in the fight against this government, but everyone has a part to play. All of us must now do everything we can in terms of moral, political and financial support for the strikers because they really are fighting for us all, and I will be pleased to join with speakers from the PCS, CWU, FBU, GMB and NHS Workers Say No on the national day of action on February 1 at the Building the Fightback rally.

I hope to see you there,

Yours in solidarity,
Diane Abbott MP (via Arise.)

PS: Register for February 1 today here.

RALLY: Building the fightback in 2023.

Online rally, 6.30pm, Wednesday February 1. Join us on to hear about & build on a day of action across the country!
Register here // Invite & share here // Retweet here.

Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary // Diane Abbott MP // Dave Ward, CWU GS // Richard Burgon MP // Helen O’Connor, GMB Southern Region & Peoples Assembly // Liz Cabeza, Acorn (Haringey) // Nabeela Mowlana, Young Labour // Holly Turner, NHS Workers Say No // Matt Wrack, FBU GS & more.

Join leaders of key industrial disputes – and who are at the forefront of fighting proposed anti-union laws – at this vital event! Now is the time to build the growing fightback, co-ordinate the resistance & popularise policies that put people before profit. 

Hosted by Arise – a Festival of Left Ideas. All other pages listed on social media are kindly helping to promote the event. ‘

We Own It Appealing for People to Attend Planned Protest Against NHS Privatisation

January 20, 2023

I’ve also had this email from the pro-NHS, pro-nationalisation organisation, We Own It about a planned demonstration they’re holding against the privatisation of the NHS in February. They’re appealing for people to go to it. I can’t, due to expense and illness, but I’m putting it up here in case there are people interested in it, who may be able to attend.

‘Dear David,

BREAKING: private health companies donated £800,000 to the Conservative Party over the last decade. Now we know why the government is doing nothing about NHS privatisation!

A recent Oxford study linked NHS privatisation to the preventable deaths of 557 people.

It is time to make the government feel the power of organised people over organised money.

Can you sign up to become one of 557 people in Parliament Square from 2 – 4pm on Saturday, 25th February demanding an end to NHS privatisation?

So far, 541 people have signed up. We need 89 people to reach our final goal of 630 (that is, 557 people representing the victims of NHS privatisation, 43 people to help carry signs and banners and 30 stewards to help manage the event).

Sign up to become one of the remaining 89 people on Saturday 25th February in Parliament Square

You are involved in our NHS campaign because you believe that our NHS should work for people, not the greedy private companies that donate to the government.

Unite the Union, Just Treatment, Doctors for the NHS and Socialist Health Association fully agree with you. That is why they are now supporting our action.

It is time we make the government feel the power of organised people over organised money.

We want to bring together 557 people representing the 557 people whose deaths are linked to NHS privatisation to put on a powerful display that can get into the papers.

More press coverage means more pressure on the government. The more of us there are at the action, the more likely the action is to get press coverage.

We need 89 more people to reach our goal. Can you sign up now to join us?

Sign up to take action from 2 – 4pm on Saturday 25th Feb in Parliament Square

Because of the incredible efforts of our NHS nurses and ambulance workers who are fighting to save our NHS, the government is already feeling pressure.

With the recent study that links NHS privatisation to 557 preventable deaths, there is no better time than now to pile onto that pressure they are feeling.

The government already knows that over 75% of the public, according to our last poll, want to end NHS privatisation. But they don’t feel that people will fight to see that happen.

You can show them from 2 – 4pm on Saturday 25th February in Parliament Square that you will.

The more people join this action, the more powerful it will be. The more powerful it is, the more likely it is to receive coverage from the press.

This coverage will pile on the pressure on the government and start forcing them to take action.

I will stand up and fight to force an end to NHS privatisation

We need 557 people to represent the 557 people whose deaths are linked to NHS privatisation, according to a recent Oxford study.

But we need even more people to make sure the action is big and effective. So after signing up, please send the link to your friends and family, especially those who live in London and ask them to sign up too.

Thank you so much for always standing up against NHS privatisation.

Cat, Johnbosco, Matthew, Kate – the We Own It team

PS: 30 years ago today the British Coal and British Rail (Transfer Proposals) Act 1993 was passed, paving the way for privatisation of our railway. We’ve put together a list of 30 top failures of rail privatisation from the last 30 years. Take a read and share with friends and family.’

Open Britain: Tories Using Brexit to Scrap Laws Protecting Consumers, Workers and the Environment

January 20, 2023

Here’s another update on the Tory attack on democracy, this time using the pretext of Brexit to scrap up to 4,000 British laws protecting ordinary Brits and the environment against big business exploitation.

‘Dear David,

The Brexit campaign did not end when the UK left the EU. High priests of the cause, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, continue to influence government priorities and push damaging legislation such as the Retained EU Law Bill.

They say that the Retained EU Law Bill is a simple administrative tool to tidy up UK law following our messy departure from the EU. But the truth is altogether more sinister.

What that Bill actually does is give government ministers powers to scrap up to 4000 perfectly sensible UK laws that enforce environmental standards, protect workers’ rights and help consumers hold big business to account…and all without any further reference to our elected representatives in Parliament.

This Bill is a blatant attempt to further entrench the interests of big business over those of ordinary people and the environment. No wonder they are attempting to rush it through at an indecent pace; it would never pass proper democratic scrutiny.

The fact of the matter is that the Brexit purists in this Sunak government don’t care about democracy. They are only interested in delivering for their wealthy paymasters (spoiler: that’s not you and me), and if that requires them to pass regressive legislation behind a smokescreen of anti-EU sentiment and dangerous xenophobia, then so be it.

They will do anything to perpetuate the illusion that Brexit is something other than a cruel ruse carried out on behalf of the elite beneficiaries of a harsh economic model that puts excessive profits first and people and the environment last.

The Retained EU Law Bill demonstrates the general recklessness of the ongoing Brexit project. Ministers are taking ‘Henry VIII’ powers for themselves and have imposed a deadline of December 2023, beyond which any of the laws on their list that have not been given a reprieve will simply fade into the ether.

Consumer protections…gone. Workers’ rights…gone. Environmental standards…gone. For the Brexit puritans, this would be a proud victory; for the British public, an abject and undemocratic disaster.

By taking this approach, government ministers are effectively cheating Parliament, and therefore the British people, out of our right to scrutinise the laws we must live by. Sunak is effectively placing critical elements of Britain’s future in the hands of a minority of Brexit radicals. No one voted for that, and we should not accept it.

It’s no secret why he’s doing it, either. This Sunak government is so weak that it cannot do anything without the agreement of their most radical faction: those who were never going to be satisfied with Brexit and who want to push this country further into the realm of right-wing extremism. (Just this week, the cranks in that faction forced the government to table an amendment to the Online Safety Bill that would make it illegal to share videos of small-boat Channel crossings if they were presented in a “positive light”. Wow!)

It’s important to remember where all this started…in the poisonous Brexit referendum campaign. There is a direct line between the lies and fear-mongering of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson in 2016 and the Conservative playbook in 2023. Unfortunately for us, neither of those two charlatans shows any sign of going away. Almost everything Farage says these days suggests he is planning to unleash another wave of Brexit-level political chaos in the coming elections. And just last week, we saw press reports that Johnson received a record-smashing £1,000,000 donation from a wealthy Brexiteer, which some have speculated could fund a campaign to retake Number 10 if/when the Conservatives take a kicking in May’s local elections.

All of this demonstrates why Open Britain’s fight against the “Farage-isation” of UK politics has never been more important or more urgent. We’re determined to ensure that these political wreckers can never exert their will over us again.

Despite their self-congratulation and the symbolic victories they claim, the Brexit campaign has achieved nothing positive for the people of this country, especially the most vulnerable, who endorsed it with the hope that it would improve their lot. As elections approach, we must all resolve to use our democratic power to put this dangerous ideology to bed once and for all.

The Open Britain team

PS – A quick reminder that we and a number of partners in the democracy sector are working to put pressure on Labour to commit to making the changes we need to renew our political system. You can help right now by signing our joint petition here to get Keir Starmer to support proportional representation.

This is all deeply alarming, though not entirely unexpected. We warned a few years ago that the Tories wished to replace EU, or EU inspired human rights legislation with a British Bill of Rights, which would be far weaker.

Going through this, I found the legislation banning people from sharing videos of the channel migrants particularly pernicious. I’d seen something about this in the titles of videos from various anti-immigrant groups and people on the web. The impression given was that the government was doing this to stop people knowing about the large numbers of migrants crossing the channel in order to protect the migrants themselves and the supposed official policies protecting and encouraging them. But according to Britain, this is absolutely not the case.

The Tories really are getting desperate. Sunak is flailing around with no new ideas against a wave of strikes which have popular support. Hence the attempts to make the right to strike all about illegal, and repeal EU legislation in order to appease the Brxiteers. People like Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

We have to stand firm and get them out.

A Democratic Marxist Condemnation of the Soviet Regime

January 18, 2023

A few days ago I put up a post about the 18th century communist Morelly. He had some interesting ideas, although I made it clear that I am not a supporter of communism because of the tyranny, poor economic performance and poverty of the Soviet regime. One of the great commenters here remarked that describing the USSR as a tyranny probably wouldn’t go down very well with the Socialist Workers Party, now renamed the Socialist Party. I’m not sure, as the Socialist Workers were, in their day, a Trotskyite party, and therefore opposed to the communism of the USSR over the issue of Stalin’s dictatorship. The impression I had was that the Trotskyite parties wanted a communist society, but one where the workers themselves would hold power through soviets, rather than controlled by the communist bureaucracy.

As well as the Trotskyites, there were democratic Marxists in the west, who believed that socialism should be achieved democratically and rejected violent revolution and the dictatorship of the USSR. Karl Kautsky, an Austrian Marxist and one of the leaders of European Marxism, took this position. Another was the French Marxist, Lucien Laurat, who made the following scathing condemnation of the Soviet tyranny in Russia in his Marxism and Democracy, published by the Left Book Club in 1940.

‘In the fascist countries we can still observe the existence of capitalist characteristics, where as in Russia these characteristics have been radically destroyed as a result of the absolute seizure by the State of all the means of production and distribution. Although the Russian economic system has often been called “State capitalism”, and although the term “State slavery” employed by Karl Kautsky seems to us a more appropriate designation in our opinion, the present Russian regime is not slavery, or serfdom, or capitalism, but something of all three. It is related to slavery and serfdom by the absolute and total suppression of all freedom for the workers, who are tied by domestic passports to their places of residence, and often to their places of employment, like the feudal serf to the glebe. It is related to capitalism by the preservation of a great number of economic categories and legal forms. However, it is fundamentally different from any of these systems.

With more reason, and, of course, with all those reservations proper to such historical comparisons, we may rather compare the present Russian regime with the social and economic regime of the Incas, who dictatorially governed Peru before the discovery of America: an authoritatively controlled economic system strongly marked by numerous communist traits, but with a division of society into classes. No one can say how and toward what this curious social system might have developed had not a brutal and rapacious conqueror brought it to a sudden and premature end. It is quite certain, however, that on an infinitely larger scale, with an incomparably higher mass culture, and provided with all the achievements of twentieth-century science, our modern Incaism over what is called “one-sixth of the globe” reproduces from the social and and political point of view the most characteristic traits of Peruvian Incaism of four hundred years ago.

Just as the Russian State disposes absolutely over the material elements of the economic process, so it disposes dictatorially over the human element also. The workers are no longer free to sell their labour-power where they like and how they please. They no longer enjoy freedom of movement in the territory of the U.S.S.R. (domestic passports) The right to strike has been suppressed, and if the workers expressed even the slightest desire to oppose the methods of Stakhanovism, it would expose them to the severest punishments.

The Russian unions, strictly under the orders of the governing party, are merely organs charged with the execution in their own province of the political instructions of the Government. The instruments destined to defend the working class against the directive organism of the economic system have become instruments in the service of these organisms. The working class thus finds itself subjected to the discretionary power of a bureau-technocracy identical with the State apparatus.’ (Pp. 200-2).

There, and if you only listen to the Libertarians, you would think that only von Hayek believed that communism was slavery, although in his case he all meant all forms of socialism. Not that I think he had any hatred of right-wing dictatorship. He served in Dollfuss’ Austro-Fascist regime, which ended with the Nazi invasion and supported the various fascist dictatorships in South America. This, too me, shows how far Libertarians really believe in freedom.