Posts Tagged ‘Andy Burnham’

We Own It: Hacks Waking Up to Failure of Privatisation

September 30, 2021

I’ve said many times on this blog that Thatcher’s privatisation of the utilities and the railways has been an utter, complete, unmitigated failure and that these services should be renationalised. I am very pleased to say that a number of mainstream hacks are finally waking up to this. I got this email from anti-privatisation, pro-NHS group ‘We Own It’ reporting that journos on the Times, Torygraph, Herald and the Guardian have written pieces criticising privatisation. They also describe how various rail companies have had to be renationalised, and that nationalisation is part of Labour’s Green New Deal and Shadow Transport Secret Jim McMahon supports the renationalisation of the railways. It also castigates Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves for opposing nationalisation on ideological grounds, even when they claim the complete opposite.

“Dear David,

People are waking up to the fact that privatisation has failed the UK for nearly 40 years.

In the Times, Jon Yeomans talks about Thatcher’s sell offs, saying “More than 30 years later, Britain lives with the consequences of that 1980s revolution. From buses to trains to energy, there are signs that the wheels may be coming off.”

In the Herald, Lesley Riddoch asks on behalf of frustrated Scots “Is there any way to escape privatised Britain other than independence?”

Scotland is bringing its railway into public ownership.

Wales is bringing its railway into public ownership.

The East Coast line was brought into public ownership in 2018 (it’s now run by the government’s operator of last resort).

The Northern franchise was brought into public ownership in 2020.

And this week Southeastern, after defrauding the government of £25 million, has also been brought into public hands.

As the Telegraph (yes, the Telegraph) says “the Southeastern debacle exposes the failure of Britain’s rail privatisation”.

It’s not just rail – with Covid, the bus ‘market’ (never much of a market) is collapsing.

The Guardian comments on the proposed merger of Stagecoach and National Express, saying “Passengers, who have seen rail fares rocket and local bus services wither, may also hope this signals the end of a chapter when a few could profit so enormously from an essential public service.”

Meanwhile Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, who has committed to re-regulating the buses there (a victory of our campaign!) comments about himself and Mayors Tracy Brabin and Dan Jarvis “Between us we are rolling back the 1980s, we are overturning the Thatcher legacy.”

At the Labour party conference, shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband talked about the Green New Deal, committing to “a green Britain where public and alternative models of ownership play their proper role in making the transition affordable, secure and fair.”

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon confirmed his support for public ownership of rail and buses.

And Labour delegates voted for a Green New Deal, including public ownership of transport and energy, with speech after inspiring speech explaining why this is needed.

Despite all of this, Keir Starmer (who hasn’t responded yet to our open letter) and his shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves have said they don’t support nationalising the energy supply companies. They’ve said they don’t want to be “ideological” about it.

But the truth, as Cat writes in the Guardian today, is that privatisation is an extreme ideological experiment that has failed us all for decades, and people have had enough of it.

When the Times, the Telegraph, the Herald and the Guardian are questioning privatisation, when more and more of our railway is being brought into public ownership, when Mayors are re-regulating buses, and when the energy market is in crisis – there’s a shift happening.

On moral and on economic grounds, privatisation just isn’t making sense anymore.

Don’t tell Sid

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Zana and Anna – the We Own It team

PS Who’s Sid? In 1986, when Thatcher sold off British Gas, the company was floated on the stock market, accompanied by the famous ‘Tell Sid’ advertising campaign.

This shows precisely how out of touch, far right and ideological Starmer and Reeves are. They’re still pushing Thatcherism when it’s increasingly obvious that Thatcherism is dying. As for the Tory privatisation slogan in the 1980s, this was ‘If you see Sid, tell him’. It was a hidden gibe at Sidney Webb and the Fabians, who advocated the nationalisation of the utilities. Now it seems Sid is may just have the last laugh yet.

If you see Maggie, tell her: privatisation is disaster.

Starmer Takes Full Responsibility for Defeat by Sacking People Who Had Nothing To Do With It

May 9, 2021

Well, there have been some successes for Labour in the recent elections. I’m very glad Labour has entered a sixth term in power in Wales, and that Jo Anderson, Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan were elected mayors of Liverpool, Manchester and London respectively, and that down here in Bristol, south Gloucestershire and north Somerset, Dan Norris has been elected the metro mayor. But generally, Labour have suffered an humiliating defeat in the local council elections. Keir Starmer said that he was going to take responsibility for the defeat. And so he’s done what he previously done so many times – gone back on his word. If he was truly going to take responsibility, he should have tendered his resignation and walked. But he didn’t. He’s hung on to power, and started blaming and sacking other people instead.

The first of these is Angela Rayner, who has been sacked from her position as the party’s chair. He has decided that she was responsible for the loss of Hartlepool despite the fact that she had nothing to do with it. It was really the fault of his personal private secretary, Jenny Chapman, who, as Mike has posted over at Vox Political, decided on the candidate and chose the date of May 6th. But Chapman remains in place. Others who are lined up for the chop apparently include Lisa Nandy and Anneliese Dodds. This also reminds me of the incident a few weeks ago when Starmer blamed somebody else for a Labour loss. Apparently they failed to communicate his ‘vision’ properly. This would have been impossible. Starmer doesn’t have a vision. As Zelo Street has pointed out, Starmer has constantly evaded. He’s also defiantly agreed with BoJob on various issues and, as leader of the opposition, has spectacularly failed to oppose. People are heartily sick of him. The polls show that the reason the good folk of Hartlepool didn’t vote Labour was him.

And then there are the ‘charmless nurks’, as Norman Stanley Fletcher, the Sartre of Slade prison would say, that Starmer supposedly no wants in his cabinet. Wes Streeting, the bagman between him and the Board of Deputies, a thoroughly poisonous character; the Chuckle Sisters Rachel Reeves and Jessica Philips, who are so left-wing and progressive that they went to a party celebrating 100 years or so of the Spectator, and Hilary ‘Bomber’ Benn. Benn is the man, who wanted us to bomb Syria, as if Britain wasn’t already responsible for enough carnage and bloodshed in the Middle East. He’s been in Private Eye several times as head of the Commonwealth Development Corporation. This used to be the public body that put British aid money into needed projects in the Developing World. Under Benn it’s been privatised, and now only gives money that will provide a profit for shareholders. It’s yet more western capitalist exploitation of the Third World. None of these bozos should be anywhere near power in the Labour party. They’re Thatcherites, who if given shadow cabinet posts, will lead Labour into yet more electoral defeat.

Already the Net has been filled with peeps giving their views on what Starmer should do next. The mad right-wing radio host, Alex Belfield, posted a video stating that Starmer was immensely rich, with millions of acres of land, and out of touch with working people. If Starmer really wants power, he declared, he should drop the ‘woke’ nonsense and talk about things ordinary people are interested in, like roads, buses and so on. And he should talk to Nigel Farage about connecting with ordinary people.

Belfield speaks to the constituency that backed UKIP – the White working class, who feel that Labour has abandoned them in favour of ethnic minorities. But part of Labour’s problem is that Starmer doesn’t appeal to Blacks and Asians. He drove them away with his tepid, opportunistic support of Black Lives Matter and his defence of the party bureaucrats credibly accused of bullying and racially abusing Diane Abbott and other non-White Labour MPs and officials. He’s also right in that Starmer is rich and doesn’t appeal to the working class. He’s a Blairite, which means he’s going for the middle class, swing or Tory vote. But there have been Labour politicos from privileged backgrounds, who have worked for the ordinary man and woman, and were respected for it. Tony Benn was a lord, and Jeremy Corbyn I think comes from a very middle class background. As did Clement Attlee. Being ‘woke’ – having a feminist, anti-racist stance with policies to combat discrimination against and promote women, ethnic minorities, and the LGBTQ peeps needn’t be an electoral liability if they are couple with policies that also benefit the White working class. Like getting decent wages, defending workers’ rights, reversing the privatisation of the health service and strengthening the welfare state that so that it does provide properly for the poor, the old, the disabled, the sick and the unemployed. These are policies that benefit all working people, regardless of their colour, sex or sexuality.

It’s when these policies are abandoned in favour of the middle class with only the pro-minority policies retained to mark the party as left-wing or liberal, that the working class feels abandoned. Blair and Brown did this, and so helped the rise of UKIP and now the kind of working class discontent that is favouring the Tories.

And it’ll only get worse if Starmer turns fully to Blairism.

The only way to restore the party’s fortunes is to return to the popular policies of Jeremy Corbyn, and for Starmer to resign.

See: #Starmergeddon as panicking Labour leader lashes out in night of swivel-eyed lunacy | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Zelo Street: Keir Starmer – No Vision, No Votes (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Zelo Street: Keir Starmer IS UNRAVELLING (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Article on the Guardian’s Bias against Jeremy Corbyn

March 22, 2017

Michelle, one of the many great commenters on this blog, sent me the link to this article by Novara Media’s Alex Nunns, ‘How the Guardian Changed Tack on Corbyn, Despite Its Readers’. This describes the way the Guardian initially supported Corbyn, but only when it thought that he was an outside candidate, who was unlikely to win the Labour leadership election. When Corbyn did indeed win, the Guardian’s furious reaction was to publish a series of articles attacking the Labour leader for being too left-wing. The Groaniad’s companion paper, the Observer, also reacted with the same outrage. And despite the Groan’s claim to be an impartial observer in the Labour leadership contest, it ran articles strongly backing the contenders Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper.

The piece also discusses some of the individual hacks at the Groan attacking and sniping at Corbyn. These are Polly Toynbee, Michael White, Andrew Rawnsley and Jonathan Jones. It points out that Rawnsley had a personal interest in making sure the Blairites stayed in power: he had written several books on them, and they had given him privileged access and information. By challenging them, Corbyn was threatening to cut of his access to people at the centre of power. One of the other columnists, Patrick Wintour, may have had an even more personal reason for attacking Corbyn. Many on the Left believe that ‘Wintour’ is the nom de plume of Peter Mandelson. As for Jones, his article was almost bug-eyed with hysteria. He described how he joined the Communist party when he was a student, but abandoned it when he saw the reality of life in the Soviet Union for himself, noting that the Soviet regime killed 6m under Stalin. Corbyn, he decided, represented this kind of totalitarian government. He then started trying to defend the free market by saying that ‘markets are human’. Well, so are many things. But they are also subject to manipulation, and do not necessarily bring wealth to the majority of the population. Thatcherite trickle-down economics don’t work in practice. As for Corbyn himself, this is the standard Red scare the Right has been running against Socialism and the Left since the days of the Zionviev Letter. They ran it again under Thatcher against Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone and about 30 other Left Labour MPs in the 1980s. I’ve seen absolutely no evidence that Corbyn is a Marxist, or that he wanted absolute nationalisation. But it just shows how far the Labour right has been infected with the Neoliberal virus.

Jones is also guilty of a bit of holocaust minimalisation in his article as well. The Soviet Union under Stalin didn’t kill 6m Soviet citizens. It murdered about 30 million, at least 8m in Ukraine alone during the manufactured famine in the collectivisation of agriculture.

The article notes that Guardian is convinced Labour needs to keep to the centre-ground, but doesn’t understand how this has changed and will change in the future. It also acknowledges that there are many left-wing columnists on the Groan. However, their presence ironically supports the dominant bias against Corbyn, as it allows the newspaper to present their opinions as views, which have been heard and then discarded. It makes the point that the newspaper has absolutely no understanding why people support Corbyn, including 78 per cent of its own readers, nor the way the media itself shapes public opinion. Nunns states that the best comment on this came from Frankie Boyle, who observed

“It’s worth remembering that in the press, public opinion is often used interchangeably with media opinion, as if the public was somehow much the same as a group of radically right wing billionaire sociopaths.”

http://novaramedia.com/2017/01/08/how-the-guardian-changed-tack-on-corbyn-despite-its-readers/

Labour May Oppose Cameron’s Anti-Terrorism Bill if too Draconian

October 19, 2015

The Guardian has reported today that Labour’s Andy Burnham has said that they will oppose the government’s new anti-terrorism laws if they are too harsh. The article begins

Labour has signalled it is prepared to oppose new surveillance and counter-terrorism legislation if it is too heavy-handed, as David Cameron announces more details about his anti-terror strategy such as measures to prevent teenagers travelling to join Isis.

Andy Burnham, the shadow home secretary, said Labour will support legislation that is “reasonable and proportionate” but stressed the party had a duty to make sure the government gets the balance right.

He warned Cameron to proceed with the utmost caution and make sure his laws do not fuel “resentment, division and a sense of victimisation”, especially among Britain’s Muslim population.

Cameron is planning to spell out more details of his strategy on Monday, as well as making the case for two new pieces of law – the investigatory powers bill and a counter-terrorism bill.

As part of the overall strategy, he will extend the powers of parents to cancel their children’s passports if they are worried that their children may be about to travel to Syria or Iraq to join Islamic State. The powers that currently apply to under-16s will now be rolled out to all those under-18.

There will also be new measures to automatically bar convicted terrorists from working with children and vulnerable people. Cameron will also announce that suspected jihadi returning from Syria and Iraq will be forced to attend classes to address their support for extremist ideology.

The article can be read at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/oct/19/labour-warns-cameron-surveillance-and-anti-terror-laws-andy-burnham-counter-terrorism

The passage of unnecessarily and excessively harsh legislation under the pretext of combating terrorism by the Tories is a real threat. They’ve already passed laws providing for Kafkaesque secret courts, in which the accused may not know what he is charged with, the evidence against him, or even who his accusers are, if the information is considered sensitive and its divulgence a threat to national security. The have furthermore passed domestic legislation severely curtailing the right to peaceful protest and to go on strike. In the latter, trade unions on picket lines must give their names to the police. And Daniel Gardonyi, a Hungarian man involved in the Sweet’s Way protest, has been threatened with deportation despite the fact that he has not been charged with any offence.

The government has shown itself repeatedly more than willing to use the threat of terrorism to clamp down on domestic dissent. Burnham is absolutely correct to show that Labour is determined here to do something to protect civil liberties if the Tories threaten them further here.

Vox Political: Tories and Kippers Preparing to Form Coalition, End NHS

April 4, 2015

Farage Privatised NHS Tories Meme

Mike over Vox Political has written this piece, Backroom deal between Tories and UKIP could kill the NHS on the possibility that Cameron’s lacklustre performance at the Leaders’ Debates may indicate that he is already set on supporting his government by forming a coalition with the Kippers. Many of the Kipper candidates are ex-Tories, and there is a fluidity of movement between the two parties.

And together, they are a real threat to the NHS. Cameron and his cronies are privatising it by the backdoor, and a series of Kippers, from the Purple Duce himself, Nigel Farage, his deputy, Paul Nuttall, and many others, have stated very clearly that they want the NHS scrapped and replaced with private medicine, funded by private insurance, as in America. This prospect has alarmed Labour’s Andy Burnham, that he has written to the PM outlining his fears.

Mike’s article begins

Considering the facts of the Coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats*, perhaps we should be asking if a deal has already been struck between the Conservative Party and UKIP.

It would explain why David Cameron’s performance in yesterday’s leader debate was so lacklustre – maybe he doesn’t think he needs to sell himself.

A deal with UKIP makes perfect sense to those of us who have watched politics carefully over the last few years – the ease with which Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless transferred from one party to the other, keeping their Parliamentary seats in the process, shows how interchangeable the two parties really are.

Labour’s Andy Burnham has written to Cameron, calling on him to “come clean” about any such plans.

He wrote: “During last night’s debate you proved that you cannot defend your record, which is why you cannot win a majority. It is now clear that you are preparing to do a deal with UKIP.

“As someone who follows rather than leads their party, you will know that a deal with UKIP is what the Tory Party wants. A growing number of your MPs and up to half of Conservative activists are arguing for it. Local Tory parties are already striking deals with UKIP up and down the country and, of course, two of your MPs have already crossed the floor.

“We know the terms of such a deal. Nigel Farage has said he would work with you in exchange for ‘a full and fair referendum to be held in 2015′. You have said you would be ‘delighted’ to offer this.

“But the real terms of a deal would see the end of the NHS as we know it.

Go to http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/04/03/backroom-deal-between-tories-and-ukip-could-kill-the-nhs/ and read the rest of this chilling article.,

From 2007: SERCO’s Appalling Mismanagement of GP Services in Cornwall

April 8, 2014

In my last post I put up a piece from Private Eye in 2012 about how SERCO was shedding 140 NHS community hospital jobs in Suffolk after they had been awarded the contract to run it. The Eye’s article stated that the loss of jobs was the same policy that SERCO had followed when it took over the GP’s out-of-hours service in Cornwall. This is an article from the Eye’s issue for 30th March – 12th April 2007, which describes the appalling low quality of service provided by the company after it was awarded the contract, beating a rival bid from a doctors’ not-for-profit co-operative that already ran the service efficiently.

Out-Of-Hours GPS

Counting the Cost

Patients in Cornwall are getting increasingly sick of the county’s shoddy privately run out-of-hours GP service.

Serco’s Kernow Urgent Care Service (KUCS) has been in charge for the past year, but has consistently failed to meet targets despite shipping doctors in from Eastern Europe because not enough local GPs would work for them. Serco replaced the not-for-profit GPs’ co-operative, KernowDoc last April, after bidding to run the service for £7.5m – £2.5m less than KernowDoc. The local patients’ forum and the paramedics’ union have called for the job to be handed over to the South Western Ambulance Trust, which already runs an effective service in Dorset and Somerset.

In a recent parliamentary debate, Truro and St Austell MP Matthew Taylor said it was clear that KUCS was “unfit for purpose”. At one point in December it was failing to answer one in five of all the calls it received. The Western Morning News reported last November that only five out of 49 monthly targets had been met in the seven months KUCS had been in charge. Dozens of patients have reported horror stories of having to wait hours for urgent treatment or doctors making serious errors.

“I do not recall receiving a complaint about KernowDoc for years,” said Taylor, “but now [KUCS]is a major part of my casework.” The MP said that at a meeting in February, Serco had admitted to problems but said it saw them as part of a learning curve. Taylor asked health minister Andy Burnham whether it was “remotely defensible” that the government’s drive to use the private sector in the NHS should subject patients to,, and put them at risk from, such an appalling learning curve.”

In reply, Burnham said the service provided by KernowDoc had been put out to tender because the Cornwall Primary Care Trust, er, “could not be sure that the service gave good value for money to the people of the county.”

They know now, of course. A not-for-profit service run by doctors willing to put in extra hours to help patients is – shockingly – better for patients than a cut-price service with agency staff.

The contract has another two years to run, but the Cornwall Primary Care Tr4ust has announced that it is reviewing the situation, telling the Eye that terminating the contract would be considered as “a last resort”.

Yes, I realise that at the time the article was written, Labour were in power. This doesn’t alter my point one little bit. New Labour pursued Neoliberal economic policies, including the partial privatisation of the NHS. This policy is being followed and massively extended by the Tories. It should be stopped. Stories like the above show how damaging private management of the NHS, driven by profit, is.