Posts Tagged ‘British Medical Journal’

What A Surprise! Anti-NHS Thinktank Funded by Tobacco and Fast Food Industries

May 18, 2019

One of the fascinating articles Mike put up yesterday was about an article in the British Medical Journal that reported that Institute of Economic Affairs, a right-wing think tank that funds the Tories and which demands the privatisation of the NHS, is funded by all the industries that actively damage people’s health: tobacco, gambling, alcohol, sugar and fast food. One of the major donors to this secretive think tank is British-American Tobacco. The report noted that the IEA had attacked campaigns against smoking, drinking and the obesity academic, and raised concerns that a future leader of the Tories would side with these industries against the interests of the British people.

Well, as Bill Hicks used to say ironically, ‘Colour me surprised!’

I don’t wish to sneer at the doctors and medical professionals behind this article, and am absolutely fully behind its publication. But I’m not remotely surprised. It’s almost to be expected that a think tank that demands absolute privatisation and deregulation in the interests of complete free trade, should be funded by those industries, which have the most to lose from government regulation. And in the case of the Tories, that has always included tobacco, alcohol and gambling. Way back in the early ’90s under John Major, when Brits were just beginning to get into the habit of binge drinking and the government was considering allowing pubs and nightclubs all day licences, there were concerns about the damaging effects of alcohol. People were demanding greater regulation of the drinks industry. But this was being blocked by the Tories, because so many Tory MPs has links to these companies. This was so marked that Private Eye actually published the names of these MPs, and the positions they held in various drinks companies.

As for gambling, the Labour government after the War tried to crack down on this, but it was the Tories under MacMillan, who legalised the betting shops. Later on, Tony Blair, taking his ideas from them, had plans to expand the British gambling industry further with the opening of ‘super-casinos’, one of which was to be in Blackpool, I believe. But fortunately that never got off the ground. Unfortunately, there has been a massive rise in gambling addiction, despite all the warnings on the the adverts for online casinos.

The Tories have also had a long relationship too with the tobacco industry, resisting calls for bans on tobacco advertising. Private Eye also reported how, after Major lost the election to Blair, former Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke then got a job with British-American Tobacco. As did, I believe, Saint Maggie of Grantham herself. BAT was employing him to open up markets in the former Soviet central Asian republics. The Eye duly satirised him as ‘BATman’, driving around in a car shaped like a giant cigarette, shoving ciggies into people’s, mostly children’s, mouths.

The Institute of Economic Affairs is a particularly nasty outfit that’s been around since the mid-70s. For a long time, I think it was the only think tank of its type pushing extreme free market ideas. A couple of years ago I found a tranche of their booklets in one of the secondhand bookshops in Cheltenham. One was on how the state couldn’t manage industry. This looked at four examples of state industrial projects, which it claimed were incompetently run and a waste of money. One was the Anglo-French supersonic airliner, Concorde. The booklet had a point, as many of the industries they pointed to, like British Leyland, were failing badly. Concorde when it started out was a massive white elephant. It was hugely expensive and for some time there were no orders for it. But now it is celebrate as a major aerospace achievement. While the British aircraft industry has decline, the French used the opportunities and expertise they developed on the project to expand their own aerospace industry.

Looking at the booklet, it struck me how selective these examples were. Just four, out of the many other nationalised industries that existed at the time. And I doubt the pamphlet has worn well with age. Ha Joon Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism and John Quiggin’s Zombie Economics have very effectively demolished their shoddy and shopworn free market capitalism, and shown how, rather than encouraging industry and prosperity, it has effectively ruined them. Read these books, and you’ll see just why we need Corbyn, whatever the champions of free market capitalism scream to the contrary.

Oh yes, and ladies, particularly, be warned. This is an anti-feminist organisation. Mike mentions in his article that it has a spokeswoman, Kate Andrews, who turns up regularly on Question Time to push for the privatisation of the NHS. Or rather, its reform, as they don’t want to alarm the populace by being too open about what they want to do. Despite this feminine face, this is an organisation that has very traditional views about gender roles. One of the pamphlets I found had the jaunty title Liberating Women – From Feminism. The booklet was written by women, and I know that some women would prefer to be able to stay home and raise their children rather than go to work. And that’s fine if it’s their choice. But this outfit would like to stop women having a choice. Rather than enabling women, who choose to stay home, to do so, they would actively like to discourage women from pursuing careers.

The IEA really is a grubby organisation, and the sooner it’s discredited everywhere, the better. Like the Tories.

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Excellent! New Book Published Attacking Anti-Semitism Smears and Witch-Hunt Against Labour

December 1, 2018

Tony Greenstein has today put up on his blog a review of Karl Sabbagh’s The Anti-Semitism Wars: How the British Media Failed their Public, published by Skyscraper Publications. This is a full-scale attack on the anti-Semitism smears against the Labour party and particularly Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, as well as the Israel lobby, the Jewish establishment, including former Chief Rabbi and Fascist marcher Jonathan Sacks, and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, who have been its promoters. The contributors include not only Sabbagh, but also Tony Greenstein himself, Cyril Chilson, Tom Suarez, Eve Mykytun, and Kerry-Ann Mendoza. This is about the way the Israel lobby and its various organs and supporters have vilified and tried to silence perfectly decent, anti-racist people, like Mike, simply for the crime of legitimately criticizing Israel, or defending those who have. And absurdly, many of those who’ve been smeared have been Jewish, like Greenstein and Chilson, a former Israeli officer, now naturalized British academic.

The first chapter, by Sabbagh, describes the beginning of the smears and witch hunt with Gordon Brown’s urging the Labour party to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, the Zionist smears against Corbyn after he told two Zionist activists making a nuisance of themselves at a pro-Palestinian event that they didn’t understand the British sense of humour, and examining the role of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and Jonathan Sacks in claiming that anti-Semitism was now on the rise in Britain.

Greenstein’s article covers his own suspension from the Labour party, but also argues that the anti-Semitism smears are part of concerted campaign by the Deep State. This is because the American, British and Israeli authorities see Corbyn as a threat. This campaign is being run through the Guardian, and particularly its columnist, Jonathan Freedland, who also writes for the Jewish Chronicle. Greenstein supports this claim by citing the book, Inside the Company about the CIA’s destabilization of South America by a former agent, Philip Agee. He also notes how the Beeb’s journo, John Tusa, also fronted stories from the Agency. He then goes on to describe the witch hunt against the Labour party in more detail.

Sabbagh is another victim of anti-Semitism smears. A medical journalist, his crime was to write an article describing the Deir Yassin massacre in 1981, just as a group of doctors were preparing to fly to Israel for the ‘medical Olympics’. Sabbagh wanted to warn people that the event may be held in an Israeli mental hospital, some of whose wards were the scene of the atrocity. He, the organization he worked for, and the medical journal which published the article were then subjected to a deluge of complaints and accusations of anti-Semitism chiefly from outraged Jewish doctors, beginning with the Israeli Medical Association.

This campaign of abuse, vilification and intimidation began again in 2008 against Dr Derek Summerfield when he dared to write an article in the British Medical Journal about the effects of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. The campaign was organized by the Zionist lobby group, HonestReporting.

Chilson describes his persecution and suspension from the Labour party, because he dared to post comments criticizing Israel on Twitter. It shows just what a farcical kangaroo court the disciplinary panel hearing his case was. Members of the panel interrupted his testimony, threatened to throw him out, and then were astonished at the end when he refused to agree that the hearing was fair!

Suarez’s chapter describes how the Israel lobby tried to shut down his lecture tour promoting his 2016 book, State of Terror: How Terrorism Created Modern Israel, describing atrocities by the Irgun and Lehi terrorist organisations. The campaign was joined and aided by the Israeli embassy and the Daily Heil, as well as the Jewish Chronicle and the Board of Directors of British Jews.

The book also includes a piece on the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism by Appeal Court Judge Sir Stephen Sedley making it very clear that it isn’t fit for purpose.

Eve Mykytun’s article is an expose of the tactics the Israel lobby uses to silence its critics. This shows how the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and its founder and leader, Gideon Falter, lies to smear people, and grossly misuses and inflates statistics. The article examines two cases of people, who hold genuinely anti-Semitic views, who were prosecuted by the state at the instigation of the CAA. Another, genuine anti-Semite, Gilad Atzmon, also appears, who asks what Jewishness means if Israel is a Jewish state, as well as attacking Falter for ‘making his living from anti-Semitism accusations’.

Chapter 8 is a transcript of Al-Jazeera’s programme, The Lobby, which exposed Shai Masot at the Israeli plotting to decide who should be in the cabinet, and Joan Ryan in the Labour party making a false accusation of anti-Semitism against another member.

Chapter 9 is an interview by Kerry-Ann Mendoza of Stephen Orszczuk, the foreign editor of Jewish News, one of the newspapers that combined with the Jewish Chronicle and another rag to smear Corbyn. Oryszczuk criticized this vilification, and went on leave from the paper soon after.

Chapter 10 comprises a report from the Committee for Privileges and Conduct of the House of Lords about an accusation of anti-Semitism against Baroness Tonge. She had chaired a meeting at the Palestine Return Centre as part of a campaign to obtain an apology from Britain for the Balfour Declaration.

There are also several appendices. The first is a collection of quotes from prominent Zionists about gentiles, which would definitely be considered anti-Semitic if non-Jews had made them about Jews. The third is an extract from the Media Reform Coalition report, Labour, Anti-Semitism and the News.

Greenstein concludes his report by saying that is packed with information, making it and will be a handy reference to the anti-Semitism smear campaign which all activists should have, and giving details how it can be ordered from him through his paypal account.

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/12/the-antisemitism-wars-how-british-media.html

This looks like a very thorough exposure of the malign lies and racism of the Israel lobby and their smears of decent, anti-racist men and women. I’ve no doubt that the campaign of persecution against Corbyn and his supporters is being done by the Deep State, as Corbyn’s support of the Palestinians challenges British colonial and post-colonial policies towards supporting Israel against the secular Arab states in the Middle East. And many journalists and researchers have demonstrated how the smear and vilification campaign against Israel’s critics are being directed by the Israeli state and its Office of Strategic Affairs.

And the Zionists are also deeply racist. Mike found that out when they smeared him. When they couldn’t get the better of him in an argument he had with them over the Net, they resorted to sneering and belittling him as a non-Jew. They are also viciously anti-Semitic towards those they consider to be ‘the wrong Jews’. People like Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni and Jackie Walker, who criticize Israel and follow the Bund’s line that Jews’ homelands are where they happen to live around the world with the non-Jewish peoples of that country. These Jews, who like Cyril Chilson may be the children of Holocaust survivors, are subject to the most disgusting abuse as ‘kapos’, and told that they and their families should have died in the Holocaust.

This is a book, which should be in the bookshops, instead of some of the mendacious books, like the one by a Zionist, that maintain the smears. But I doubt very much that it ever will be. The mere idea of this book being published at all is probably enough to send the Israel lobby, the Jewish press, the Board of Deputies and the corrupt British media establishment all howling with rage.

I fervently wish Karl Sabbagh, Tony Greenstein, Cyril Chilson, Kerry-Ann Mendoza and everyone else who contributed to it all the very best, and hope that it enjoys excellent sales. May it lead to further exposes and demolitions of the Lobby, its vile undermining of our democracy and political parties, and its attempts to create division and fear between Jews and gentiles.

Basu and Stuckler on the Rise in Suicide in Britain due to Austerity

July 20, 2016

Body Economic Pic

A few days ago, I blogged about the book The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills, by the medical researchers David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu. This book examines how recessions and austerity programmes affect people’s health. Where governments invest in social security safety nets and a welfare state, public health can even improve during a recession. Where they don’t, and actually cut services, public health can decline disastrously.

In one chapter, they discuss schemes piloted in Sweden in actively getting people back to work, concluding that these have had a real, positive effect in maintaining that country’s health when it suffered the recession. They contrast the experience of the Scandinavia countries, with Britain, where MPs were uninterested in implementing similar reforms over here, and made matters worse by cutting the welfare state and support for industry. They write

With all of this evidence accumulating I favor of ALMPs (Swedish-style ‘back to work’ programmes), we were eager to translate these data into practice. After we published our research in 2009 about the benefits of ALMPs, we were invited to the British House of Commons and the Swedish Parliament to present our date and recommendations.

The responses were remarkable – that is, remarkably dissimilar-in the two countries. When presented with the data that unemployment led to a rise in suicides, and that ALMPs could help mitigate the risks, the Swedish members of Parliament were unsurprised. One member asked: “Why are telling us what we already know?” But when we presented the same data in the UK, in July 2009, to the House of Commons, the reaction was that the government was “already doing all it could to reduce unemployment.”

When the Conservative government came into power in 2010, the UK response became even worse. In 2012, the British Medical Journal published our paper showing that UK suicides had risen by more than 1,000 between 2007 and 2010 above pre-existing trends, corresponding to the continued rise in unemployment. Reporters soon contacted the UK Department of Health for a response. it’s spokesman told the Independent newspaper: “Losing a loved one [tpo suicide] can be devastating and we want to make sure that we are doing all we can to prevent suicide by giving people the right support when they need it most. We will shortly be publishing our new suicide prevention strategy, which brings together expertise across healthcare, criminal justice and transport to maintain or even decrease the current rates of suicide.” This sounded encouraging. But then the Health Department spokesman continued: “However, suicide rates in England have been at a historical low and remain unchanged since 2005. The department uses three-year rolling averages for monitoring purposes, in order to avoid focusing unnecessarily on fluctuations instead of the underlying trend.”

By now, this tactic should sound familiar: averaging-out deaths is the same the technique The Economist used to cover up death rates in Russia. When using rolling averages, any large jump in death rates can seem like a smooth bump in the road instead of a shocking spike (indeed, the Department appeared to have chosen the three-year period specifically for this end, instead of some other date range like five years). The Department’s comments were criticised by several university professors and statisticians, after which the statement quickly disappeared from their Internet webpage.

If it wanted to help its people, the British government could learn much from Sweden’s experience. The UK would of course need to invest more in ALMPs and stop job losses from happening. but the Conservative government was doing precisely the opposite: austerity was creating an active labour-destroying programme. The data revealed that the austerity programme cut public-sector jobs in the most deprived regions of the country. Moreover, it was implementing policies that made it easier for the private sector to lay off people during the recession. As one unusually blunt 2010 report commissioned by the government explained, “some people will be dismissed simply because their employer doesn’t like them,” but argued that this is a “price worth paying” to boost the economy, though the logic of how mass unemployment would drive economic growth was left unexplained.

The consequences of the UK’s real-world experiment with austerity soon became tragically apparent in its suicide data. As in the US, the Great Recession in the UK featured an initial spike in unemployment and job losses in 2007. As employment began to recover in 2009, suicides began to fall. But the following year, when the Conservative government came to power, the UK began a massive austerity programme, which in 2012 alone cut 270,000 public-sector jobs. The UK then experienced a second wave of “austerity suicides” in 2012. (pp. 119-121).

This is a savage indictment of the stupidity, callousness and sheer, culpable cruelty behind the Tories austerity programme. And numerous bloggers, from Stilloaks, Tom Pride, Mike over at Vox Political, Another Angry Voice, DPAC, Johnny Void and so many, many others have blogged about the people behind the deaths, many of whom took their lives because of the government’s daft regime of benefit sanctions.

It’s time to end this grotesque charade of murderous neoliberal policies, justified with lies, and get rid of the Tories and their counterparts in the parliamentary Labour party. That’s if we want a happier, healthier and more prosperous Britain, not a country of burdened wage-slaves, deceived and exploited for the benefit of the corporate elite.

From 2002: Kaiser Healthcare Lobbies for NHS Work

January 31, 2015

Private Eye published this article below in their edition for 12th – 25th July 2002. It discusses the lobbying of the then-Labour government for NHS contracts by Kaiser Permanente, a US private healthcare company. As a private company, Kaiser Permanente did not provide cover for the poorest fifth of the US population. This is pretty much indicative of the companies now queuing up for access to the health service, now being privatised piecemeal by the Tories. And if this continues, this is how British healthcare will look after the NHS is privatised.

Hail Kaiser!

While health ministers inside the House of Commons continue to accuse the Tories of intending to privatise the NHS, outside the Commons they themselves are showing increasing sign of sympathy with moves to, er, privatise the NHS.
In
Eye 1056 we referred to a paper in the British Medical Journal by American doctors pointing out the advantages of Kaiser Permanente, a huge private health organisation in California with keen ambitions to expand in the UK.

On 20 June the annual lecture of the Office of Health Economics, financed entirely by the drugs industry, was delivered in the prestigious headquarters of the Royal College of Physicians. The speaker was David Lawrence, departing chief executive of Kaiser Permanente. He outlined the tremendous advantages of providing health care the Kaiser way, without making any effort to deal with the chief objection: that as a private organisation financed by private insurance, Kaiser cannot and does not provide health care for the poorest 20 percent of California’s population.

The NHS, on the other hand, does not exclude anyone on grounds of income or wealth. The Eye’s many spies at the lecture, which was packed with representatives of the drug companies (though the health department was conspicuous by its absence), describe Dr Lawrence’s performance as “long on charm, short on facts.”

Almost simultaneously, and naturally by coincidence, the authors of the original pro-Kaiser paper in the BMJ have replied in that journal to the loud and almost universal criticism of it from defenders of the NHS. Somehow, rather like Dr Lawrence, the fails to deal with the main and obvious criticism that Kaiser does not provide health care for the poorest (and therefore usually the sickest) fifth of the population.

In his speech Lawrence referred several times to his cooperation with and admiration for “Don” – believed to be a reference to Don Berwick, a keen American medical privatiser who has just been appointed by the government to the National Health Service modernisation board.

Meanwhile more news about Kaiser comes to the Eye from the Los Angeles Times whose 17 May issue carried the curious headline: KAISER CLERKS PAID MORE FOR HELPING LESS. The paper revealed that in 200 and 2001, call centre clerks working for Kaiser could earn bonuses of up to 10 percent of their salaries if they spent less than three minutes 45 seconds on the phone per patient.

The call centres were available to Kaiser’s three million members in Northern California. The bonus system was denounced by the California Nurses Association, representing Kaiser’s registered nurses. They complained that the call centre system allowed unlicensed telephone clerks to make decisions about scheduling appointments or referring patients to medical advice nurses. The association claimed such a task was restricted by state law to “licensed medical personnel”. The newspaper also quotes a doctor at one of the call centres describing the system as “a barrier between patients and their clinical providers”.

While a substantial section of the medical establishment sucks up to Kaiser, there are increasing signs of the close relationship between the government, the Labour party and the private health and drugs industries. On 27th May, for instance, health minister Lord Hunt, a champion of PFI in the health service, opened the spanking new High Wycombe Centre for the drugs company Pharmacia; and the Fabian Society, a constituent part of the Labour Party , whose founders proclaimed the advantages of public ownership, is running a monthly lecture (plus the usual buffet lunch) as part of its Health Policy Forum, proudly inaugurated last October by health secretary Alan Milburn.

The forum is in association with (and mostly paid for by) the enormous French drugs company Aventis, whose annual turnover is $18bn.

Ed Miliband has made it clear he intends to reverse the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS. He needs our support, and provides hope that the NHS can be saved.