Posts Tagged ‘Bankruptcy’

Agent Stool Pigeon Tears Apart Alex Belfield in Answer to Fans

February 24, 2022

Last week was not a good one for mad YouTuber Alex Belfield, as he was suspended from YouTube for a series of violations. It appears he has now gone off to Ustreme with his friend, Jim Davidson. Belfield is very much a man of the right, ranting about the Channel migrants, whom he calls ‘dinghy divers’, calling for the privatisation of the NHS and criticising the Covid lockdown as well as other diatribes about race and Black Lives Matter and the trans craze. He has some kind of feud going with individuals from the Beeb which has resulted in a long series of court cases. He takes every chance to talk down the corporation and demand its privatisation and sneers at its staff as ‘Guardian-reading, oyster-eating, champagn-sipping, university-educated Naga Manchushy types’. He hates middle class left-wingers, and presents himself as a White working class lad from a pit village whose managed to succeed despite opposition from a woke, left-wing middle class establishment.

But he has his critics. I’ve put up a number of pieces on here criticising him, and have had a number of replies from his fans. Some of them are polite, but most are just abuse. And it seems I’m not alone. He has another critic in the shape of ASP – Agent Stool Pigeon – on YouTube. I found this video on the gentleman’s channel in which he answers Belfield’s fans by tearing further into their hero. I got the impression that he’s done this several times before, and that this is an answer to their complaints.

After denying that he’s making money from Belfield, he states that most of the mad YouTuber’s content doesn’t contain a thread of truth. Belfield simply looks at the day’s headlines and then makes up the rest. He tells his listeners that they could do the same and save themselves the time and expense of watching Belfield. All they have to do is go to the supermarket, pick up a paper, read the headline and then make up their own story. And then walk back home. They’ll have saved themselves money and had a walk. He also makes the point that while Belfield tells his viewers not to trust the mainstream media, all his stories come from that same media. He doesn’t do anything original. He leaves out information that contradicts his points and doesn’t provide links, though he will give a screen shot of the headline. But he’s also groomed his fans so that if someone questions him, he’ll set them off on a pile-on against that person. He did it the other day in Tweet about the Times journo he said banned him from YouTube.

The Pigeon also states that Belfield attacks and slams people all day to make money not caring whether what he says is true or not. But he’ll block anyone who questions him. He will never interview anyone who questions him. He’ll give his story on stage or on screen when no-one can interrupt or question him. The Pigeon also advises people not to give money to people on YouTube. But people have given donations to Belfield, who has not shown what he’s done with the money through providing bank records and so on. He points out how hypocritical this is coming from Belfield, who regularly attacks the Beeb for not showing what it is doing with the money donated to it. He compares his hold over his fans to that of a cult leader, who’s trained his followers to think like him and give him all their worldly possession. But after Belfield’s ban, he communication with his fans has come to a halt. There isn’t anything on YouTube and nothing on his Twitter feed except repeated requests to buy tickets for his shows, or join the mailing list for his shows, The Stoolie points out that all Belfield does is push their buttons to amplify their anger, while using some of the most disgusting and unfunny innuendos. His jokes come from 1977.

The Pigeon also corrects the view that the Beeb is taking Belfield to court. It’s not. Some of the Beeb’s employees or ex-employees are taking the mad YouTuber to court for defamation, and this could be expensive. If he loses, he’ll have to pay damages and court costs. He also being sued by 8 people on 12 counts of stalking. Belfield claims that the whole world is against him, but things like this don’t happen for no reason. And now he wants people to spend a pound a week for him to recycle the headlines. And all the while he’s laughing at them.

The video doesn’t consist of anything beyond the Pigeon’s dulcet Liverpudlian tones and caricature of Belfield. But it is a very effective demolition of him.

It’s also interesting reading some of the comments by people, who’ve also lost faith in him or seen how he cynically twists the news. For example, Swoop said: ‘Here’s one you’ll like: During one of Belfield’s livestreams last year he was spouting a load of rubbish about how the Army being called into Liverpool meant that people we’re going to be getting visited at home and having covid tests forced upon them by soldiers……I actually managed to get through to the phone in and asked him where on earth he was getting this rubbish from, when he inevitably became insulting I told him to put his money where his mouth is and make a bet on it. Since then I’ve not been able to get through again. Funny that innit? Alex Belfield owes me £500. Correction: Alex Belfield owes the RAF Benevolent Fund £500.’

And there’s this from Chocolate Frenzie: ‘

I followed Alex Belfield for over a year- sent him money twice and then a few months ago he had a rant and said something along the lines that he didn’t care about his followers continuing to follow him- I was so hurt I stopped listening to him after that – as for his phone in well I gave up on them a while back as I couldn’t stand listening to him making innuendoes to the female callers – goes a bit too far – drinks in wits out’

Alex C commented: ‘Agree 100 percent with every word on this video..well done..he grooms as you say,,he mind controls . He does not care one bit about the people he fleeces.He is driven. The things that please me… He was a radio 2 dj ..with hundreds of thousands of listeners,, And his circle keeps shrinking. Everytime he burns a bridge his world shrinks,less people…despite the money he yearns fo4 lots if people to adore him. He is twisted, bitter,,,and is a huge star in his own head. Remember he was once Bankrupt. Remember he was until his 20s plus a morbidly obese man. Remember he uses your money to live a great life. But his sheep enjoy being fleeced.’

And there’s more, much more, from people stating out that according to the Times it was the advertisers who pulled the plug on him. One of the things they disliked was his misogyny. Another commenter states that Belfield claimed to have set up a charity account for all the donations, then admitted he hadn’t.

If even some of these allegations are true, then it’s devastating and Belfield definitely shouldn’t have an audience.

GB News Running Down NHS Ready for Privatisation

February 21, 2022

One of my criticisms of mad right-wing YouTuber Alex Belfield is that he’s a supporter of NHS privatisation. He seems to believe that selling it off will somehow make it cheaper and more efficient. He doesn’t recognise, nor at least he doesn’t admit to recognising, that it’s the piecemeal privatisation of the health service and its opening up to private healthcare providers that has, with over a decade of Tory cuts, made the health service less efficient and increased administration costs. Nor does he tell his viewers that if the health service is privatised, it will be funded instead the American way – through private health insurance. Which 20 per cent of Americans couldn’t afford until Obamacare lowered that percentage. Every year, 50,000 Americans die because they can’t afford their medical treatment. And medical fees are either the leading cause or the second leading cause of bankruptcy in the Land of the Free.

Well, Belfield got suspended for a fortnight and has now vanished behind a paywall over at Ustreme after being factchecked about Covid and one or two other complaints. But now it seems that GB News, the Murdoch alternative to the ‘wet and woke’ BBC is getting in on the act of pushing for the health service’s privatisation.

Yesterday their presenter Nana Akua posted a video with the darling title ‘The NHS Is A Total Rip-Off’, in which she started with the claim that the health service wasn’t free and that, per month, private healthcare was probably cheaper. She then went on to say that there were six NHS executive earning over £150,000. Her video was accompanied by a similar one in which Calvin Robinson declared that the NHS was full of ‘bloat and waste’. Of course it all comes from the time-worn Tory playbook. This maintains that the health service, like every other nationalised industry, is wasteful and needs to have its funding cut in order to make it lean and efficient. As part of this drive for increased efficiency, it must be opened up to private industry, who are automatically better than state run enterprises. Except they’re not, and this is all a pack of lies and half truths.

Britain actually spends less on its health service than many other countries, including Germany and America, which is why it’s in such a state. In fact the privatisation has increased administration costs so that they’re heading up to the level of private American companies at 24 per cent. Private healthcare isn’t better – it’s worse. It’s fine for those, who are in reasonably good health, but it is not set up to treat the disabled or those with long term conditions. They are not profitable patients. As a result, private hospitals are smaller than NHS. Blair believed that the system adopted by the American healthcare giant, Kaiser Permanente, was more efficient and tried to remodel the NHS on it. Kaiser Permanente weren’t, and rather than increasing patient choice, the need to send patients to the cheapest hospitals and clinics for treatment has resulted in less choice, contrary to Thatcherite dogma. But the privatisation of the NHS is backed by big donations given to the parties by the companies seeking a bit of NHS action. And it has the full backing of Rupert Murdoch. Hence Akua and Robinson now coming out in favour of it.

As for the salaries of senior NHS staff, there’s a double standard going on here. We are deliberately not being told the salaries of the executives and managers of the healthcare companies seeking to take over after the NHS is privatised. This is common Tory practice. They deliberately made it easy for the private companies to bid against the NHS by forcing the health service to publish its accounts and costs while keeping those of the private companies secret. Because it’s ‘commercially sensitive’ you see. How convenient.

If GB News and the Tories have their way, Brits will end up having to pay for their healthcare with all consequent poverty, ill health and hardship attendant with the American for-profit system. But it’ll make Murdoch and the chief executives of the private healthcare companies rich, along with venal politicians looking for their donations.

Don’t believe the lies. Back a nationalised NHS and get rid of GB News.

Is Sajid Javid Now Preparing to Introduce Private Health Insurance

October 14, 2021

I’ve just attended an online meeting on Zoom of my local Labour party in south Bristol. There was an excellent report by our local MP. Karin Smythe, who mostly laid down the issues involved in the government’s new health and social care bill, and Labour’s opposition to it. The opposition largely consists of removing the participation of private healthcare companies on the new commissioning groups the Tories are proposing. They also want an end to compulsory tendering.

All good stuff. And I believe that Smyth is sincere in her opposition, but I don’t have the same faith in Stormfront Starmer.

But she also dropped a bombshell. Sajid Javid also wants to introduce another Health and Social Care Bill and is talking about a ‘Health and Social Care Levy’. No-one is sure what it is, but it looks like a form of private health insurance.

Private health insurance and privatisation. This is the American system that Thatcher wanted to introduce.

I’ve got friends who come from medical families and who trained as doctors and pharmacists. For all you Tories and Blairites reading this, just ask yourselves: Do I have £50,000 to spare for an operation? Because this is the average cost of one.

Do you want to spend the equivalent of £200 simply for seeing your doctor, never mind prescription?

Can I afford £50 to spend on medicine, as this is what some of the medicine that we get from the pharmacies really cost?

40,000 people die every year in America because they no longer can afford their medical treatment.

Inability to afford medical care is either the primary, or at least the secondary cause of bankruptcy in the ‘Land of the Free’.

Do you want this squalid, sorry state of affairs for Blighty and its great people?

I damn well don’t!

If this is true, then Sajid Javid, Matt Hancock, Iain Duncan Smith, Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson and all the rest are vermin. Utter, murderous vermin.

Bernie Sanders Launches ‘Medicare for All’ Plan in US

April 11, 2019

Great news from across the Pond. According to today’s I for Thursday, 11th April 2019, the left-wing Democrat senator, Bernie Sanders, has launched his ‘medicare for all’ scheme to replace America’s current insurance-driven healthcare system with one in which the American state would pay people’s medical fees. The I’s report, ‘Sanders launches ‘healthcare for all’ plan, on page 25 runs

The US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders revealed his “Medicare for All” plan yesterday, shaking up the 2020 election by reopening the debate over his call to eliminate private health insurance.

Four of the senators who are rivalling Mr Sanders for the Democratic Party nomination are set to sign on to the updated single-payer healthcare proposal. The bill’s reintroduction promises to shine a light on Democratic presidential candidates’ disparate visions for the long-term future of American healthcare.

Some Democratic contenders, including former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, have criticized Sanders’ measure, which they say is political infeasible.

Under Medicare for All, Americans would no longer pay premiums or face insurance deductibles as the government-run system replaced private health insurance offered through employers.

This really is what America needs. Badly. Something like 20 per cent of all Americans can’t afford medical insurance, and, according to the statistics cited by Sanders in his book, Our Revolution, every year 40,000 Americans die because they can’t afford medical treatment. In some parts of the US, people are hoarding medicine because they have difficult affording it, and even use medicines prescribed by vets for animals. They’re even heading over the border to Mexico for dental treatment because it’s much, much cheaper over there. And medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the Land of the Free. The progressive American Left have been wondering for a long time why it is that the other nations of the Developed World can afford universal healthcare, but American can’t.

Opposing him, naturally, is the American private healthcare industry, the Republicans, and the Corporate, Clintonite Democrats. I think Hillary Clinton said several times that the country couldn’t afford state medicine, parroting the ideas of the Republicans. And if she didn’t say, her daughter, Chelsea, certainly did. And over here, the Tories and Blairite Labour, as well as the ‘Centrist’ Change UK, also want to privatise the NHS. Blair’s health secretary, Alan Milburn, wanted to see the NHS reduced to a kitemark on services provided by private healthcare providers. I don’t think Bernie Sanders wants to nationalize the American healthcare system. He just wants the state to pay for its citizens’ healthcare, as Germany has done for its people since Bismarck’s ‘Socialist Law’ of 1871 or so. And one of the reasons that there has been such opposition in British politics to Jeremy Corbyn is because he has promised to renationalize the NHS. Corbyn’s policies are massively popular, which is why the Right, both within and outside the Labour Party, has been reduced to smearing him as a Communist, or a supporter of Irish Republican terrorism – as we’ve seen from the Tories, the Right considers Loyalist terrorists perfectly acceptable – and now a raging anti-Semite, despite the plentiful evidence to the contrary.

The NHS is being destroyed before us, and if this continues, we will reach a situation like America, where it’s increasingly unaffordable to all but the very affluent. We need Jeremy Corbyn in No. 10 in Britain, and Bernie Sanders over in America. A transatlantic partnership that would roll back the horrors of neoliberalism, and start giving working people in both countries the healthcare they need and deserve.

Don’t Be Mislead, May and the Tories Are Still Determined to Destroy the NHS

January 8, 2019

Okay, the papers today have been full of the plan May announced yesterday that would improve the NHS over the next ten years. Apparently they’re going to increase funding by 20 billion pounds above inflation by 2023, recruiting tens of thousands of new nurses and doctors.

Mike today posted a piece ripping apart these promises. He makes the point that the Tories haven’t fulfilled their existing targets to recruit more medical staff. They have also not stated where they intend to fund the money to pump into the NHS.

More sinisterly, one key part of the programme discussed by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock in an interview with Sophy Ridge sounded like the government is planning to blame poor health on the patients themselves. Hancock said in the interview that the government intended to shift towards helping people to stay health, to stop them getting ill as much as curing them.

Mike makes the point that this sound very much like the claims that the DWP helps people by refusing them benefit. He’s right. I think there has already been discussion of schemes whereby obese people should be refused medical treatment for diseases or conditions brought on by the condition.

Mike also makes the point that the fundamental problem of the Tories’ NHS policy is continuing regardless of their new plans. This is the privatization of the health service. Mike writes

As for privatisation – with more than £8 billion spent on private companies that have been allowed to buy into the NHS by the Conservatives since 2012, concern is high that the whole service in England is being primed for sale, to be replaced with a private insurance-based system, as poor as the schemes currently failing the citizens of the United States. These fears are supported by the fact that current NHS boss Simon Stevens used to work for a US-based health profiteer.

This new 10-year plan, it seems, is setting out to do exactly what Noam Chomsky described when discussing the steps leading to privatisation: Strip the service of funds, make sure it doesn’t work properly, wait for people to complain, and then sell it to private profit-making firms with a claim that this will improve the service.

He makes the case that the NHS will be treated exactly as the other privatized utilities – energy companies, railways, water industry and airports – stripped of funds, sold off, and owned by foreign firms to provide them with profits.

This also is true. Private Eye has reported how the Tories and New Labour were lobbied by private healthcare providers determined to gain access to the NHS, including the American private healthcare insurance fraudster, Unum.

He concludes

So you can look forward to a future in which you are blamed for any health problem that arises, and forced to pay through the nose for health insurance (that probably won’t cover your needs or won’t pay out at all, to judge by the American system).

It seems the Tories’ 10-year plan for the NHS is to trick you into an early grave.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/01/08/new-tory-nhs-plan-is-to-tell-you-your-health-problems-are-your-fault/

The Tories have been determined to privatise the NHS since the days of Margaret Thatcher. She wanted to privatise it completely, but was stopped by a cabinet revolt. She nevertheless wanted to encourage Brits to take out private health insurance and began cutting and privatizing NHS services. This was continued under John Major by Peter Lilley, who invented the Private Finance Initiative in order to help private corporations gain access to the NHS. It carried on and was expanded even further by Blair and New Labour, and has been taken over and further increased by the Tories since the election of Cameron back in 2010.

If it continues, the NHS will be privatized, and the quality of Britain’s healthcare will be what is in the US: appalling. The leading cause of bankruptcy in America is inability to pay medical costs. Something like 20 per cent of the US population is unable to afford private medical insurance. 45,000 people a year die because they cannot afford healthcare treatment.

A year or so ago a Conservative commenter to this blog tried to argue that the Labour party had not established the Health Service and that the Tories were also in favour of it. Now it is true that the welfare state, including the NHS, was based on the Beveridge Report of 1944. Beveridge was a Liberal, and his report was based on the information and views he had been given in turn by civil servants and other professionals. But the Health Service itself was set up by Aneirin Bevan in Clement Attlee 1945 Labour government. The Health Service’s ultimate origins lay in the 1906 Minority Report into reform of the existing healthcare services by Sidney and Beatrice Webb. The Socialist Medical Society had been demanding a nationalized system of healthcare in the 1930s, as had the Fabian Society, and this had become Labour policy in that decade. And later in the 1950s, after the NHS had been established, the Tory right again demanded its privatization on the grounds that it was supposedly too expensive. Even now this is the attitude of right-wing historians and politicians, like Corelli Barnet, who has said that the reason why Britain was unable to modernize its industry after the War like the Germans or French was because the money went instead to the NHS.

The same commenter also claimed that Britain never had a private healthcare system. This is untrue. Many hospitals were run by local councils, but there were also private charity and voluntary hospitals. And these did charge for their services.

I’ve put up pieces before about how terrible healthcare was in Britain before the NHS. Here’s another passage about the state of healthcare for Britain’s working class between the First and Second World Wars, from Eric Hopkins’ The Rise and Decline of the English Working Classes 1918-1990: A Social History (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1991)

The health services between the wars were still in a rudimentary state. Insurance against sickness was compulsory for all workers earning less than 160 per annum under the National Insurance Act of 1911 but the scheme did not cover the dependants of the insured, and sickness benefits when away from work were still lower than unemployment rates. Further, the range of benefits was limited, and hospital treatment was not free unless provided in poor law infirmaries. Treatment in municipal hospitals or voluntarily run hospitals still had to be paid for. The health service was run not by the Ministry of Health, but by approved societies, in practice mostly insurance societies. As a system, it suffered from administrative weaknesses and duplication of effort, and the Royal Commission on National Health Insurance 1926 recommended that the system be reformed; the Minority Report even recommended that the administration of the system be removed from the societies altogether. In 1929 the Local Government Act allowed local authorities to take over the poor law infirmaries, and to run them as municipal hospitals. Not many did so, and by 1939 about half of all public hospital services were still provided by the poor law infirmaries. By that year, it would be fair to say that there was something resembling a national health service for the working classes, but it was still very limited in scope (it might or might not include dental treatment, depending on the society concerned), and although treatment by general practitioners was free for those by the scheme, as we have seen, hospital treatment might have to be paid for. (pp. 25-6).

This what the Tories and the Blairites in New Labour wish to push us back to, although looking at that description in seems that even this amount of government provision of healthcare is too much for those wishing to privatise it completely.

The Tories’ claim to support and ‘treasure’ the NHS are lies. May is a liar, and has already lied about putting money into the NHS. I remember how She claimed that they were going to increase funding, while at the same time stating that the NHS would still be subject to cuts. And I don’t doubt that she intends to take this plan anymore seriously. It doesn’t mean anything. Look how she declared that austerity had ended, only to carry on pursuing austerity.

Defend the NHS. Get Tweezer and the Tories out, and Corbyn and Labour in.

Counterpunch: Bernie Sanders Outlines His Plans for ‘Medicare for All’

September 14, 2017

Today’s Counterpunch has a piece by the radical, progressive Democratic politician, Bernie Sanders, reblogged from the New York Times. In it, Sanders discusses the outrageous scandal that 28 million Americans have no medical coverage, despite the fact that their country spends more on healthcare than almost any other nation. He points out that this is because the insurance-based healthcare system is designed not to give Americans access to decent healthcare, but to enrich the companies’ executives and shareholders. He describes how many Americans cannot afford healthcare, and are forced to cut down on the drugs they need, simply because they cannot pay for them. He argues that the experience of Canada, and the Medicare programme brought fifty years ago, both show that single-payer healthcare is cheap, popular and effective.

He states that he intends to introduce a bill for Medicare for All into Congress next Wednesday, and outlines how he envisages an initial four year transition period from the current American system. He also makes it plain that there will be concerted opposition to his proposal.

His piece begins

This is a pivotal moment in American history. Do we, as a nation, join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee comprehensive health care to every person as a human right? Or do we maintain a system that is enormously expensive, wasteful and bureaucratic, and is designed to maximize profits for big insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, Wall Street and medical equipment suppliers?

We remain the only major country on earth that allows chief executives and stockholders in the health care industry to get incredibly rich, while tens of millions of people suffer because they can’t get the health care they need. This is not what the United States should be about.

All over this country, I have heard from Americans who have shared heartbreaking stories about our dysfunctional system. Doctors have told me about patients who died because they put off their medical visits until it was too late. These were people who had no insurance or could not afford out-of-pocket costs imposed by their insurance plans.

I have heard from older people who have been forced to split their pills in half because they couldn’t pay the outrageously high price of prescription drugs. Oncologists have told me about cancer patients who have been unable to acquire lifesaving treatments because they could not afford them. This should not be happening in the world’s wealthiest country.

Americans should not hesitate about going to the doctor because they do not have enough money. They should not worry that a hospital stay will bankrupt them or leave them deeply in debt. They should be able to go to the doctor they want, not just one in a particular network. They should not have to spend huge amounts of time filling out complicated forms and arguing with insurance companies as to whether or not they have the coverage they expected.

Even though 28 million Americans remain uninsured and even more are underinsured, we spend far more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation. In 2015, the United States spent almost $10,000 per person for health care; the Canadians, Germans, French and British spent less than half of that, while guaranteeing health care to everyone. Further, these countries have higher life expectancy rates and lower infant mortality rates than we do.

Please go to the Counterpunch site and read the whole article. It’s at:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/14/why-we-need-medicare-for-all/

The state and state-funded healthcare systems of the European countries have contributed immensely to their people’s health and wellbeing, ever since Bismarck introduced it in Germany in 1875 in an attempt to steal working class votes away from the socialist SDP.

And it’s driving the Reaganites and Thatcherites of the corporate sector up the wall, because it denies them so much of the juicy profits that comes from the insurance-driven sector. That’s why the Tories over here have been privatizing the NHS piecemeal by stealth ever since the days of Maggie Thatcher. It’s why the corporate bosses of the big healthcare firms, like the fraudster Unum, came over here at the beginning of New Labour’s tenure in office to lobby Blair to privatize the NHS.

And it’s part of the reason the Blairites, Tories and Lib Dems, and their paymasters in big business and lackeys in the media, including the Beeb, fear and hate Jeremy Corbyn, as the Republicans and the corporatist Democrats around Hillary Clinton despise Bernie Sanders in the US.

Any civilized country has to demand proper medicine for its people, regardless of the demands of the corporatists to keep it the expensive privilege of the affluent. So, go Bernie! And may Corbyn also win in his fight to renationalize the NHS.

Vox Political: Tories Nudging People into Paying for Healthcare and Part-Privatisation of Hospitals

December 21, 2016

On Monday Mike also put up a very alarming post about the numbers of patients that have chosen to pay for private treatment in NHS hospitals. Previously, the number of private patients NHS hospitals could take was capped at 2 per cent. The Tories have passed legislation allowing hospitals to raise 49 per cent of their income from private patients. In the last four years, the number of patients choosing to pay has risen to 23 per cent. Most of these are people desperate to avoid long waiting lists. The figures reveal that the number of people waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment has risen by 54 per cent.

Mike makes the point that he is not surprised people are paying for private care on the NHS, because the Tories have tried to ‘nudge’ people into going private because of the way they are deliberately underfunding the NHS to create the long waiting lists patients wish to avoid. as Mike says

They are softening us up for full NHS privatisation.

Mike makes the point that he doesn’t blame those, who have chosen to pay. But those who cannot afford to pay must still wait. And if the NHS is fully privatised, they will be unable to afford healthcare.

He also makes the point that it is unknown what sacrifices people are making now, in order to pay for the healthcare.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/12/19/the-evil-tory-policy-that-nudges-people-into-paying-for-their-healthcare/

This is a very important article, as it shows how far we are teetering over the precipice of a fully private healthcare system.

This follows more than three decades of Thatcherite policy. Thatcher wanted to privatise the health service, but was prevented by a cabinet revolt. And also that her personal secretary, Patrick Jenkin, had told her just how bad private medicine worked after she had sent him to investigate it in America. She therefore contented herself with setting the target of getting 25 per cent of the British public to take out private health insurance.

This was followed by the gradual, piecemeal privatisation of parts of the NHS, beginning with opticians and dentistry, the introduction of privately managed hospitals under PFI during John Major’s occupation of No. 10, and then the further privatisation of the NHS by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Alan Milburn wanted the NHS to be a just a kitemark on services provided by purely private medical firms. The Blairites passed legislation splitting the NHS up into Community Care Groups, which can also raise money through private means, and encouraging NHS trusts to buy in services from private healthcare contractors. The policlinics and health centres they encouraged to be built were intended to be operated privately. This policy has been extended and advanced even further by Jeremy Hunt and the Tories. Hunt has even publicly attacked the NHS, stating that it should be broken up and privatised.

As for what happens when people cannot afford healthcare, and the sacrifices they have to make, you only have to look at America. About 20 per cent of the US population were unable to afford medical care before Obama introduced Obamacare. Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy, or at least one of the top three, in the US. A study in Texas of the poor, who were unable to afford medical treatment, investigated how they coped. They found that people borrowed drugs from neighbours, or, in a small number of cases, used medicine intended for animals they acquired from vets.

A Tory friend of mine, who hates private medicine, told me some real horror stories he’d heard about America. Over there, some people with a terminal illness, have chosen to forgo treatment, as this would eat up the money they wish to pass for their children.

And he also had a few sharp things to say about the Australian healthcare system. He believed that if a person called for medical treatment for someone, who didn’t have insurance, the person calling for the treatment could be saddled with the bill. And so there is a strong disincentive for people not to call for medical aid, including for those seriously ill.

If the Tories realise Thatcher’s dream of privatising the health service, this will come to Britain. Don’t let it.

Theresa May Attacks Slavery, but Happy with Other Forms Exploitation

July 31, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has put up an article commenting on the hypocrisy behind Theresa May launching her anti-slavery campaign.

Slavery is indeed a terrible crime against humanity, and down the centuries slaves have been treated with more or less appalling brutality. But Mike points out that there are also exploitative employers, who force wages down and torture their workers psychologically. He has seen it, and wonders if his readers also have. But this, apparently, is perfectly fine with May.

As is student debt, which according to a report released today by the Intergenerational Foundation will wipe out any ‘graduate premiums for most professions’. In other words, getting a degree will keep you poor, and won’t do you any good. But May still keeps telling us that higher education leads to greater employability and pay.

He then discusses how the National Living Wage is no such thing, and you can’t survive on benefits, because the benefits system is biased against giving them out.

All fine by May. As is the form of slavery embodied in workfare. The government has spent four years trying to keep the names of the firms and charities involved in this absolutely secret, because they were well aware that the British public wouldn’t stand it. But that form of exploitation is fine by May.

Mike states that he fully believes slavery should be wiped out in Britain, but states that May’s campaign against it shows up the hypocrisy in the Tory party, which is quite prepared to tolerate and promote other forms of exploitation.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/31/heres-why-mays-campaign-against-slavery-is-a-contradiction/

This contradiction between attacking slavery and tolerating, or even participating, in ‘wage slavery’ and the exploitation of paid employees, was one of the criticisms made against many of the Abolitionists in both Britain and America, like William Wilberforce. Wilberforce’s critics made the point that it was hypocritical of him to attack Black slavery for its cruel exploitation of other human beings, when he himself exploited the ‘factory slaves’ toiling for him. The same point was made by the defenders of slavery in the southern states of the US against northern abolitionists, as they pointed out the appalling conditions for the workers in the northern factories. This isn’t an argument for tolerating slavery. It is an argument for ending the exploitation of nominally free workers. It’s why the British Anti-Slavery Society also published pamphlets attacking what it considered to be exploitative labour conditions in Britain, such as the employment of children beyond a certain maximum number of hours.

And some of the recent developments in workforce conditions worry me, as they are extremely close to real slavery. Mike mentions student debt. In America, Obama passed legislation stating that graduates cannot even declare themselves bankrupt to clear themselves of it. These debts may reach something like £30-40,000 and above. I’ve even seen it suggested that the total student debt for a medical student may reach £70,000, putting a career as a doctor or surgeon beyond most people’s ability to pay. But if they cannot clear the debt as they would others, then it becomes a particularly heavy, persistent burden. It only needs for another US president, guided no doubt by a donor in the financial sector, to declare that the debt should be made hereditary so they can recoup their investment, and you have debt slavery, exactly as it exists in India, Pakistan and other parts of the world.

Disgusting.

And then there’s the welfare to work industry. Standing in his Precariat Charter also devotes pages to attacking this form of exploitation. And this is also trembling on the edge of real slavery. Under existing legislation, a sanctioned individual may be forced to work, even though they are receiving no benefits. This is surely slavery.

The exploitative nature of workfare is tied to a very proprietorial attitude by the upper classes towards the unemployed. The Tories and other advocates of similar reforms have the attitude that because the unemployed and other recipients of benefits are being supported by the state, they have certain obligations to the state beyond ordinary citizens, a notion that has extended into a form of ownership. Thus we have the imposition of the bedroom tax, levied on a fictitious ‘spare room subsidy’ that does not exist. One of the madder peers declared that the unemployed should have to publish accounts of their expenditure, like public departments and MPs. And the whole notion of workfare is that the unemployed are getting something for nothing, and so should be forced to do something for the pittance they are receiving.

Ultimately, all these attitudes derive from the sense of feudal superiority instilled in the Tories as members of the upper classes, and which causes them to persist in seeing the rest of us as their serfs, who owe deference and toil to them as our social superiors. Workfare can even be seen as a contemporary form of corvee, the system of labour obligations to a serf’s lord that existed in feudalism. The feudal landlord in this case, is Sainsbury’s or whichever of the various firms and charities have chosen to participate in the scheme.

May’s right to attack slavery. But it’s long past high time that these other forms of exploitation, and the attitude of class snobbery and entitlement behind them, were removed as well.

Private Eye on the Extreme Right-Wing Views of Tory MP Chris Philps

June 9, 2016

One of Private Eye’s regular columns is ‘The New Boys and Girls’, in which they run unflattering profiles of newly elected MPs. In this fortnight’s issue for 10-23 June 2016, the new bug selected for criticism and having their skeletons taken out of their closets is Tory MP Chris Philp. Philp is one of those, who used to boast thirty years ago about being ‘Thatcherite achievers’ – in other words, Yuppies. He comes from a working class background. His grandfather was a lorry driver in Peckham. He went to Oxford, and after graduating founded a series of companies. The Eye points out that in contrast to all his self-promotion and boasts of success, the reality was a series of bankruptcies and cheated creditors.

What I found interesting wasn’t so much about his repeated failures as a businessman, but his connections to the extreme Thatcherite right. The Eye claims that as well as being a member of the Tory party, Philp flirted with the Freedom Association and wrote a pamphlet praising workfare for the Taxpayers’ Alliance:

Chris Philp is one of the most ambitious Tory MPs of the 1015 intake and – as a millionaire tax-avoider – a politicians for our time.

After he narrowly lost to Glenda Jackson in Hampstead and Kilburn by 42 votes in 2010, the Camden councillor was parachuted into Croydon South, one of capital’s safest Conservative seats. He arrived for his selection meeting in south London as a generous party donor and a former member of the Bow Group who had dalliances with the far-right Freedom Association. He was the author of Work for the Dole, published by the Taxpayer’s Alliance, which advocates community work and training for the unemployed in return for benefits. (p. 13).

The Freedom Association is an extreme neo-liberal outfit, which first emerged in the 1970s as the National Association for Freedom (NAFF), before they found out what this word meant. They stand for privatising everything that ain’t nailed down, ending the welfare state and banning trade unions. They were involved in trying to break a number of strikes in the 1970s. Worse, they also gave their support to the various South and Central American Fascist dictators and their death squads in the 1980s, even inviting one of them to come to one of their dinners as a guest of honour. They also supported South African Conservatives, who defended Apartheid. Guy Debord’s Cat has run a series of articles on this organisation and its squalid history, if you want further information.

Workfare is another policy that first emerged in the 1980s under Thatcher. I can remember various Tory politicos enthusing about it on Breakfast Television when I was at school. It was an idea that they took over from the Republicans in America. It’s a nasty idea that I, and many other bloggers, including Mike, the Angry Yorkshireman, Johnny Void and Tom Pride, to name just a few, have attacked as little more than slavery, designed to provide cheap labour to big business, especially the supermarkets.

As for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, these pass themselves off as an independent organisation, and regularly interviewed as such by the Beeb. They’re nothing of the kind. They’re a Tory astroturf organisation. The Alliance isn’t affiliated to the Tory party, but its tax-dodging leadership are all members. When they aren’t being prosecuted for tax evasion, as several are.

This then, is the political background to Chris Philp, a fan of extreme right-wing politics, who wants to exploit the poor for as much as he can get out of them while dodging tax himself. Exactly the kind of person to expect promotion under tax-dodging, exploitative right-wing, Dave Cameron and his cabinet of unreformed Thatcherite thugs.

Fee Paying, Patronage and Bankruptcy in Pre-NHS Voluntary Hospitals

May 15, 2016

Future Medicine Pic

Yesterday I put up a piece from D. Stark Murray’s 1941 book, The Future of Medicine, which described how some patients were driven to seek medical help from the hospitals, rather than their own family doctors, because they could not afford the doctor’s fees. Murray also describes the poor state of the hospitals at the time he was writing, before the advent of the NHS. Along with the municipal hospitals were the voluntary hospitals. These were supposed to be supported by private charity, but in fact this was no longer sufficient and by his time most of them had large fundraising departments. They also raised money in other ways, through charging fees and running insurance schemes. This was, however, not sufficient, and many of the small voluntary hospitals were facing closure.

Murray wrote

Today the situation is very different, and in some hospitals almost the only part of the service which is voluntary is the work of the honorary medical staff, and only a small proportion of the income arises from gifts donated in a purely voluntary fashion. How far removed from the ideals of Christian charity are those hospitals which need a large staff of paid workers to run an Appeals Department and devise schemes for collecting money! The flag day still remains the most popular method, but serves more and more to illustrate how unreliable charity has become as a means of maintaining the health of the community. Not only are hospitals staffs kept busy finding money, and incidentally costing a very considerable portion of the money which they thus collect, but few patients obtain and service from a voluntary hospital without paying in some way. The hospital almoner, who in earlier days answered the dictionary definition and bestowed the charity of the hospital on the poor, has become instead a collector of whatever small sums even the poorest can be persuaded to pay for services received. To such an extent have the users of hospitals resented this reversal of the voluntary and charitable principles that there has sprung into being, as we have noted, a very largely supported system of insurance by regular contributions against the need for hospital care.

This is of course a better system than that which was at one time the mainstay of many hospitals, and which still exists to a very large extent – the patronage system by which wealthy subscribers earn the right to nominate so many outpatients and so many in-patients according to the amount of their subscription. the securing of such nomination-the letter, or “line” as it is called in many parts of the country-is essential before the patient can obtain hospital care, but it does not guarantee admission, which is still at the discretion of the medical staff, nor does it free the patient from the attention of the lady almoner. It may be noted that membership of hospital contributory schemes does not automatically secure admission either, but it should be sufficient to cover the patient for all charges coming with the scope of the scheme…

For our purposes it is enough to note that the yearly income of all voluntary hospitals shows a steady increase in the proportion obtained as payments from patients, by contribution schemes, and by other similar methods. We must add that local authorities now have the power to pay voluntary hospitals for services rendered, and to make considerable contributions from the rates. If all these amounts are added together, it is found that in the provinces of England and Wales only 32 per cent of the income is gained by new charitable contributions. It has been admitted that the voluntary hospitals have to maintain a constant struggle to discover new methods of raising money, and are constantly revising their system for recovering some part of the cost of maintenance from the patients.

Despite these efforts the voluntary hospitals find themselves increasingly in danger of bankruptcy. It is no exaggeration to say that a very large proportion of the time spent at meetings of hospital boards is taken up with questions which hinge on the state of the hospital’s finances. This may cause difficulties in the medical treatment of patients, for it is a common experience of all staffs of hospitals that even when the Medical Committee is unanimously in favour of certain provisions of certain procedures they may find it impossible to obtain the sanction of the Finance Committee. There are those who fear that an organised hospital service may restrict the rights of the medical staff, but at least patients should be ensured that whatever is necessary for their health and well-being can and will be provided. The voluntary hospitals themselves have realised that they are no longer able to give a service wholly in keeping with modern ideas. An attempt is therefore being made to “rationalise” the hospitals, not in the sense in which a scientist would use the term but in that familiar to business men and industrialists who reorganise great industries so that their output and financial profit may be increased. The Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust, generously financed by Lord Nuffield, is actively engaged in persuading voluntary hospitals that they can no longer exist as isolated units, and is setting up councils and committees to reorganise the voluntary hospitals so as to concentrate their finances, to cut out overlapping hospitals so as to concentrate their finances, and to provide a service which still contain certain features of the present voluntary system.

At the moment it looks as though the Nuffield suggestions for regionally organising the hospital services will lead to the disappearance of some of those voluntary hospitals which are of such a size that they are usually termed “cottage hospitals”. These are usually hospitals so small that they cannot possibly provide a complete hospital service, or can only provide something approaching a complete service by extravagant methods….[C]ottage hospitals usually have no resident medical officer, receive only periodical visits from the consultants of larger hospitals, and are generally staffed by local practitioners. This is of course a complete denial of whole modern conception of the function of a hospital. (pp38-41).

Margaret Thatcher also wanted to introduce greater private enterprise into the NHS, and believed also that it should also get some funding through private charity. And the Tories have gone further, and are now privatising the NHS piecemeal. The current Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has even written a book in which he demands the health service’s abolition.

This shows that, contrary to what the free marketeers of the Tories and Blairite New Labour claim, charity and insurance contributions alone are not sufficient to maintain hospitals. Even under this private system, the Nuffield Trust was considering closing some down. The same is pretty much true of the modern American system. Before the introduction of Obamacare, 20 per cent of Americans could not afford medical insurance, and even with the introduction of this system, insurance contributions can be crippling. Moreover, American private enterprise is hardly cost efficient. In some hospitals, up to 40% of expenditure can be on marketing, administration and maintaining legal departments against malpractice suits. And medical fees amount to something like 1/3 of all American bankruptcy cases.

For the sake of the health of the people of this great nation, we cannot let the Tories privatise the NHS. We must stop them. Now.