Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Hannan’

The Tories and Blairites Cannot Be Trusted to Defend the NHS from Trump

June 11, 2019

Last week the orange generalissimo managed to cause massive offence and outrage on his state visit here. And it wasn’t just for merely being present, although that was certainly a major factor in the protests his visit provoked. No, Trump and his spokesman were touting for a trade deal with Britain after Brexit. And he demanded that ‘everything should be on the table’, including healthcare.

Which means the NHS.

MPs from all sides of the House immediately swung into action to condemn the Fascist cheeto’s demands that the NHS should be opened up to private American healthcare companies. There were a string of high profile Tory MPs, including former health secretary Andrew Lansley, loudly denouncing Trump’s demand, and stating that they weren’t going to include the NHS as part of the Brexit deal and were going to defend this most precious of British institutions. Lansley in particular was scathing about Trump’s opposition to the way the NHS controlled drug prices. He was afraid that if Trump has his way, this would be discarded to allow predatory American pharmaceutical companies to charge excessive and unaffordable prices for needed drugs.

He’s absolutely right.

One of the current scandals with the American private, insurance-driven healthcare system is that the drug companies can and do charge whatever they like for their products, which means that these are often beyond the ability of ordinary Americans to afford. I’ve blogged on here about a piece from The Young Turks about how Americans are hoarding drugs or buying those intended for animals from vets because they can’t afford them. And the worst example of a drug company actually raising prices is the case of Martin Shkreli. When he took over one company, he raised the price of an anti-AIDS drug to well over $300 a pill. He said he only wanted rich Americans to be able to use it, not poor Indians. He was rightly massively vilified for his gross racism and profiteering, but continued to defend himself, as he really couldn’t see that he had done anything wrong.

But while it’s heartening to see all these politicians stand up to defend the health service, I don’t believe them. With one exception, of course: Jeremy Corbyn. The Tories and the Blairites simply can’t be trusted to defend the NHS because they haven’t done it up to now. Indeed, they’ve done the exact opposite, all the while denying it.

Remember how Maggie Thatcher loudly declared that the NHS was ‘safe with us’, and she would keep her wretched claws off it. She even put it in her memoirs, denouncing the claims of the Labour party that she was planning to privatise the health service as lies. But she herself was lying. Cabinet minutes released a couple of years ago showed that she very much wanted to privatise the NHS. She was only stopped because of a massive cabinet revolt and the fact that her Personal Private Secretary, Patrick Jenkin, had visited the US and had seen personally what a travesty American private healthcare was.

So she satisfied herself with cutting its budget and trying to encourage Brits to take out private health insurance instead. She was aiming for about 11 per cent of the British population to take out such insurance.

She was followed by John Major, whose health secretary Peter Lilley was, I believe, one of the others who attacked Trump’s demand for a slice of NHS action. But Lilley was responsible for the Private Finance Initiative, under which private firms were to be allowed to bid for NHS contracts and building and running hospitals in partnership with the government. It was deliberately introduced with the intention of opening up the health service to private healthcare companies. And Lilley was advised in his health policies by John Lo Casio of the American private health insurance fraudster, Unum.

Well, the government changed with Labour’s 1997 electoral victory, but the Thatcherite privatisation of the NHS remained on course. Blair was an unashamed Thatcherite, and she had reciprocated his feelings by calling him and New Labour her greatest achievement. Blair also took over Lo Casio and Unum as his advisers on health policy, and continued the stealth privatisation of the NHS. The Community Care Groups of GPs he set up to contract in healthcare services were given the power to purchase it from the private sector and to raise funding privately themselves. The health centres and polyclinics he set up were to be run by private healthcare firms, like Circle Health, BUPA and Beardie Branson’s Virgin Health. NHS contracts, including out of hours services in many regions were privatised and the contracts awarded to private healthcare firms.

And yes, American healthcare firms were among them. Private Eye reported how Blair was surrounded by American public sector contractors, all lobbying for their share of British state business. Like the private American prison company, Wackenhut. And this included private healthcare companies. Blair was particularly impressed by the private American healthcare provider, Keyserpermanente, which he thought provided better value for money than the traditional NHS structure. It doesn’t, but that was ignored, and the American company provided the model for his NHS reforms. His health secretary, Alan Milburn, wanted the NHS to become nothing but a kitemark for services provided by private companies.

And this continued under David Cameron and Tweezer. Despite the loud shouts by Lansley and Jeremy Hunt that they ‘treasure’ the NHS, both of them preferred private healthcare and previously stated that they wanted the NHS effectively abolished and the lines blurred between state and private provision. There’s also a solid block of Tory politicians that would like the NHS sold off completely. Like the Devon Tory MEP, Daniel Hannan, dubbed by Guy Debord’s Cat ‘the Lyin’ King’ because of his gross mendacity. The majority of NHS contracts are being awarded to private healthcare firms, rather than kept in-house, and they have been angling to win the contracts for whole regions. Which brings the complete privatisation of the NHS even closer.

Andrew Lansley’s convoluted Health and Social Care Act of 2012 also enabled its privatisation by removing the obligation of the health secretary to provide healthcare to everyone in the UK, which had been a statutory requirement since the founding of the NHS in 1948. The Tories have also consistently voted to introduce charges for certain NHS services. Mike over at Vox Political has frequently given the voting record of some of the worst Tories, who have not only done this, but also supported other attacks on the poor like cutting welfare services, raising tuition fees and supporting the bedroom tax.

And I don’t trust the Lib Dems either. They went into coalition with the Tories and did absolutely nothing as their partners in government continued to attack the welfare state and the NHS. Indeed some of them, like the former MP for Taunton Dean, strongly supported it.

I have to say that I think that the outrage from the Tories at Trump’s demands is largely hypocritical. They’d very much like to make a deal with Trump, that includes the NHS along with other essential services that should only be run by the state. But, as with the cabinet revolt against Thatcher, they’re afraid that if they agree, they will be voted out in a devastating landslide, possibly never to get back into power.

The only person, who can be trusted to defend the NHS and keep it safe from Trump and the other privatisers, is Jeremy Corbyn.

Don’t trust the Tories. They still want to and  are privatising the NHS. Nor the Lib Dems or ‘Centrist’ Labour, who are exactly the same. The only real hope of defending and reviving the NHS is with Corbyn and the victory of a genuine, socialist Labour party at the next election. 

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Tory Group Supported by Liam Fox Wants Private American Firms to Take Over NHS after Brexit

November 2, 2018

Yesterday, Mike put up a grim piece of news. The Institute of Free Trade has issued a report, edited by the Eurosceptic Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, recommending that after Brexit private American healthcare companies should compete with the NHS to run hospitals. The IFT also has the backing of the International Trade Minister Liam Fox. The IFT has also said that Britain should accept American environmental standards as equivalent to British, and end the ban on certain American imports like chlorinated chicken. These moves, the report argues, would allow Britain to rewrite the rules of global trade and embrace new trading freedoms after Britain leaves the EU.

As well as having the support of Fox, who is also in favour of feeding us all chlorinated American chicken, it’s also backed by Boris Johnson. Which shows you exactly how both Fox and Johnson hate the NHS, the British environment and food hygiene and standards.

Mike in his article concludes

So there you have it. It seems Brexit is being supported by the Conservatives as the excuse they need to fully privatise the National Health Service – or at least, the profitable parts of it.

They have tricked us into voting away our international reputation, our rights, our economy, and now – it seems – our health service.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/11/01/american-firms-should-run-hospitals-for-profit-after-brexit-says-group-supported-by-trade-minister/

I am not surprised that Daniel Hannan was involved in the compilation of this despicable document. The French philosophical Feline over at Guy Debord’s Cat has been critiquing him for donkey’s years. Hannan’s a right-wing Tory MEP for Dorset and is, or was, something to do with the Torygraph. And he hates the NHS and has demanded its privatization on numerous occasions. And like his party, he’s a shameless liar. So great is his mendacity that the Cat refers to him as ‘the Lyin’ King’.

As for American healthcare firms wanting to get their piece of juicy NHS action, that was always what the piecemeal privatization of the NHS was about. Peter Lilley, who pranced up and down with his cretinous little list of people he hated in front of the Tory conference in the 1990s, admitted that he created the Private Finance Initiative to open the NHS up to private enterprise. And the Tories great, molten idol, Maggie Thatcher, wanted to privatise the NHS completely. She was only stopped by a massive cabinet rebellion. But she and they still carried on with a plan to encourage people to take out private healthcare insurance and privatise whatever they could of the Health Service itself.

And Blair, Thatcher’s ideological spawn, fully endorsed this idea. The murderous work capability assessments were adopted on the recommendation and very definitely unscientific research by the American private health insurance firm, Unum. A firm prosecuted by the Federal government for massive fraud on its policy holders. Blair went ahead with the Tory’s part-privatization plans, opening up the Health Service to private healthcare companies and creating the CCGs which commission healthcare services, on a model taken from the American private healthcare company Kaiser Permanente.

And it’s also no real surprise that the Americans should want to come over here and steal our NHS. Thanks to those firms, the private healthcare system in America is damn well near collapse. A very large chunk of the American public can’t afford their insurance. Every year, tens if not hundreds of thousands die because they can’t afford treatment. The Young Turks have reported that down in Texas, people are hoarding medicines or taking drugs from vets because they can’t afford decent medical care. Other Americans are heading south into Mexico because medical treatment there is cheaper. Bernie Sanders, the very left-wing Democrat politician, has demanded Medicare For All – state payment for all Americans’ healthcare. The idea is gaining popularity, which is why the corporatist establishment, both Democrat and Republican, is trying to marginalize him and suppress the voting rights of the section of the American voting public, who support him. If you want to see what a trainwreck the American healthcare system is, and how badly Medicare For All is needed, go and read his book Our Revolution. In one chilling passage, he describes the tens of thousands of people, who sleep out in their cars once a month in Virginia, on the weekend that the dentists offer their work free. And a few years ago, the American healthcare system almost collapsed completely in certain areas.

This is what will happen over here, unless we kick the Tories out.

As for American environmental and food hygiene standards, they’re deplorable. The water in Flint, Michigan, is so polluted it should be undrinkable. And there are 25 other towns where it’s even worse. There are regular spills from the oil pipelines that cross the country, contaminating the water table. And thanks to Big Oil there are parts of the Louisiana swamps that are just one oily mess. But the Koch brothers spend big money to convince the American public that there’s no environmental threat here, and climate change isn’t happening.

This is also going to happen over here if Fox, Hannan and Johnson get their way. Don’t let them. Vote them out at the earliest opportunity.

Tory MP Condemns Tory Students for T-Shirts Revealing their True Nature

October 4, 2018

Oh dear! It seems the attempts of the Tory party in the 1980s and ’90s to purge the offensively extreme right-wing element among the party’s youth and student organisations hasn’t entirely been successful. According to today’s I, Thursday, 4th October 2018, a group of students from Plymouth University Student’s Union Conservative Society have been condemned by the Tory MP Robert Halfon after a photo of them appeared in yesterday’s Mirror wearing very offensive T-shirt. These showed what they really thought of the NHS and Adolf Hitler.

The article on page 8, by Serina Sandhu, reads

Students Condemned for Explicit T-Shirts

A Conservative MP has condemned a group of students believed to be part of a Tory university society for wearing T-shirts with explicit wording including “f**ck the NHS”.

An image of the group from the University of Plymouth on a night out was published by the Daily Mirror yesterday.

The students wore blue T-shirts with hand-written slogans and messages. One also appeared to have drawn a Hitler-style moustache on his face.

Denouncing the behavior, Harlow MP Robert Halfon said the image reinforced people’s stereotypes of the party.

The image came to light on the final day of the Tory conference but contrary to speculation, the picture was not taken at the event. It is not clear how many of the students are part of Plymouth University Students’ Union Conservative Society.

So, it seems that some Tory students, at least, are going back to the old days, when members of the Union of Conservative Students used to go around singing ‘Hang Nelson Mandela’ and ‘We Don’t Want No Blacks and Asians’, the latter to the tune of Pink Floyd’s ‘Brick in the Wall’.

But it’s wrong for Halfon to complain that they’re presenting a stereotyped image of the party. While they are indeed reinforcing an established, negative view of the party, it’s also one that is also true.

The Tories are trying to privatise the NHS, whatever they say to the country. You only have to look at the stats showing the hospitals that have been given over to private firms to manage, and the operations and other NHS functions that have also been contracted out to private firms. And then there’s the speeches and attitudes of leading Tories themselves, beginning with Maggie Thatcher. Thatcher really did want to privatise the NHS, and was only prevented from doing so by a back-bench revolt and the findings of her own private secretary, Patrick Jenkin, about how dire the American private healthcare system was. So she contented herself with trying to get a certain percentage of the British public to take out private health insurance, and her party embarked on a forty-year programme of privatizing it by stealth. Which was also continued by Blair and his cronies when they were in power. And it wasn’t just Maggie. The Dorset Tory MEP Daniel Hannan also wants the NHS privatized. Philip Hammond, before he became health secretary, wrote that he wanted the health service to disappear and be merged with private healthcare. And I remember the furore a few years ago when another Tory privately declared that in a few years the NHS would cease to exist. Then someone at Tory Central Office took fright, and declared that the comments attributed to him in the press were incorrect, and that what he really said was that the Tories were cutting down on bureaucracy and combatting inefficiency. The usual Tory lies.

As for Nazism, there always has been a section of the party which supports the Far Right. Despite Cameron cutting links with the Monday Club and purging members with connections to the BNP. The Traditional Britain Group, whose annual dinner a few years ago was attended by Jacob Rees-Mogg, is led by a Tory activist with a very strong fascination with Hitler and the Third Reich. The Libertarians in the party, of which Paul Staines, AKA Guido Fawkes, was a part, invited over to their annual dinners the leaders of South American Fascist death squads. The late Alan Clarke insisted that he was a Nazi, and called his Rotweilers Himmler and Goering.

Quite apart from the barely disguised racism of Tweezer’s own administration – its unjust deportations of Windrush migrants, its hostile atmosphere policy to deter immigrants and the far right rantings of the Tory press, like the Heil and the Scum.

However embarrassing the students and their wretched T-shirts were for the Tory party, they honestly showed what a sizable, influential chunk of the party really thinks.

Trust in GPs Lowest for 35 Years, And That’s the Way the Tories Want It

March 2, 2018

A few days ago, a report in the news concluded that people’s trust in their doctors was at lowest for 35 years. I’m not surprised, and I have absolutely no doubt that people’s dissatisfaction with their GPs is part of their ongoing assault on the NHS. The Health Service is immensely popular. It’s been described as the closest thing our increasingly secular society has to a god. Which is why the Tories want to destroy public confidence in it so that they can privatise it and replace it with one where we’ll all have to pay the likes of BUPA, Circle Health, and Beardie Branson’s Virgin Health for treatment, while taking out expensive and unaffordable medical insurance from the likes of Unum.

I’ve already put up on this blog a video I found on YouTube, which featured an academic stating that the way the Tories will do this is by running down services so that the middle class – those that can afford private treatment – will abandon it, as a way of creating the public disenchantment necessary to make its privatisation anything less than electoral suicide. Margaret Thatcher, despite the self-serving lies in her autobiography, did want to privatise the health service, and was only prevented by a massive cabinet revolt. Afterwards, she merely confined herself to wanting to increase the proportion of Brits with private health insurance to 25 per cent or so. Jeremy Hunt has made it clear that he hates state medicine and the NHS. As does Daniel Hannan, the Europhobic Tory MEP for Dorset, who is flagrant his use use of untruths that Guy Debord’s Cat calls him ‘The Lyin’ King’.

And the Tories are privatising the NHS. 70 per cent of NHS contracts are going to private firms, despite the fact that these offer worse service and are much less economical that state medicine. They also want to make it possible for private firms to run whole regions. It won’t be long before they sell it off completely, if they have their way.

And some rightwing sites are very honest about it. While the Tories lie through their teeth about what they’re doing to the Health Service, claiming to ‘treasure’ it, in Hunt’s mendacious little words, some groups and blogs are quite open about their longed-for destruction of this most precious British institution. A couple of years ago I found a piece posted from the Traditional Britain Group, which said that they wanted to privatise the NHS. But it was so popular they were afraid it would have to be retained for reasons of electoral expediency. The Traditional Britain Group, I needn’t remind you, were that bunch of Nazi toffs, whose annual dinner Jacob Rees-Mogg happily attended before the Independent published the pics. Then he tried to excuse himself, saying that he didn’t know anything about them when he accepted their invitation. Which is a likely story.

And way back as the London Olympics, I found the Canadian Tory blog, Five Feet of Fury, moaning about Danny Boyle’s celebration of the NHS in the opening ceremony. After ranting about how terrible this was, the transatlantic rightists then began to discuss how they could destroy public confidence in it. They decided that the way to do so was to encourage people to complain about it, because that would apparently break our socialist brainwashing that makes us all praise it.

No, it’s not because we’re all brainwashed or conditioned to accept the NHS unconditionally. It’s because we know what a colossal train wreck private medicine is, if you don’t have socialised medicine. And many people in this country can still remember how expensive medicine was before the NHS.

So despite what the Tories may so to the contrary, I’m very sure May, Hunt and the rest of her corrupt gang and their supporters and donors in private medicine are absolutely delighted by this new. If you don’t want to see the NHS privatised, vote Labour and Corbyn, as he has promised to renationalise the Health Service. And that terrifies them, the Blairites and the right-wing press. It’s why Paul Dacre and the bizarre Barclay Twins have spent so much ink vilifying him as a Trotskyite.

Scientists for the EU Explains Why the Heaton-Harris Letter Is So Dangerous

October 28, 2017

On Thursday, the news broke that Chris Heaton-Harris, a Tory whip, had written to the universities demanding details of the courses they were running on international relations, and particularly those on Brexit, asking for the names of the lecturers taking the course.

In this video lasting six minutes, the speaker takes you through the issues involved and explains the danger of a personal witch-hunt instigated by a Eurosceptic government. It’s clear that the speaker is a British scientist, who teaches at one of our unis. The blurb for the video runs

The letter from Tory Eurosceptic whip Chis Heaton-Harris to University V-Cs demanding “names of professors” that lecture on Brexit is sinister. What could the purpose of his efforts be, if not to make some kind of report to attack universities or individuals? For example, though the tabloid press? This is a classic totalitarian tactic, from Lenin to McCarthy, to politically go after and remove wider societal resistance to a government line. Universities are a common target to both left & right-wing totalitarianism because of their public voice. To drive public opinion against universities for political/power expedience is damaging both to trust across wider society and to the independence of universities. We already saw this during the referendum when Daniel Hannan peddled the notion that British Universities are paid off “sock puppets” of the EU and part of an elite, not part of “the people”.

Apparently, Hannan initially started by claiming that the universities would love it, when they were freed of EU control. When he found out that most were against leaving the EU, he then changed his tune to this populist, anti-intellectual rhetoric.

Hannan himself is a vile specimen. He’s a Dorset Tory MEP, and so, as the speaker here points out, like Nigel Farage is more than willing to get his salary from the EU. But he resents British universities, who only have a little money from the European Community, getting funding from them. The French philosophical feline, Guy Debord’s Cat, has also pointed out in frequent posts that Hannan is, or used to be, a columnist for the Torygraph Blogs. Not only is he Eurosceptic, but he also openly wants to privatise the NHS. And he lies so much that Buddy Hell calls him ‘the Lyin’ King’.

The Scientist for the EU also goes on to state that Heaton-Harris’/ Daily Heil’s anger that the overwhelming majority of universities don’t reflect the wider views of British society is wrong by pointing out that other parts of British society also don’t. Like the fishing community. But no-one tells them that 48 per cent of fishing people should now support the Remain campaign. He states that different sectors of British society have different views on the issue, according to the circumstances as it affects them.

Boris Johnson, Brexit, and the Lies and NHS Privatisation of Daniel Hannan

September 30, 2017

Mike has put up two pieces today reporting on the antics of Boris Johnson and Daniel Hannan. BoJo has violated ministerial rules in allowing a pro-Brexit, free trade organization, headed by Hannan, to take up residence in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The rules, however, state that it is absolutely forbidden to give government or ministerial aid to organisations, which are against government policy. This has resulted in the cabinet secretary, Jeremy Heywood, making a statement that he intends to investigate this breach of the ministerial code. Mike is sanguine about what this will actually mean. He expects that rather than be severely reprimanded, BoJo will be let off with a slap on the wrist.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/09/30/civil-service-head-will-investigate-alleged-breach-of-ministerial-code-by-boris-johnson/

Knowing how libidinous Boris is, and his complete inability to take ‘No’ for an answer, he’ll probably take it as some kind of come-on.

As for Daniel Hannan, the Tory MEP for Dorset has managed to show his ignorance and complete lack of any understanding for how Brexit will affect ordinary people by comparing leaving Europe to moving house. It’s painful, but better in the long term. This has drawn widespread ridicule, as Mike shows in his blog.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/09/30/brexit-buffoon-hannan-bombarded-with-ridicule-over-nicer-home-claim/

In fact, Hannan has some very unpleasant right-wing views. He used to have a regular column over at the Telegraph Blogs, where he treated his online readers to his Eurosceptic views. Buddy Hell, the French philosophical feline over at Guy Debord’s Cat, has posted numerous piece attacking his posts. Like many Tories, Hannan has told any number of lies trying to convince people about how wonderful Brexit is, and the massive increase in prosperity that will result if we privatize everything and remove whatever’s left of the welfare state. So frequent is he with these untruths and falsehoods, that the Cat gave him the soubriquet of the ‘lyin’ King’.

And one of the things Hannan is in favour of is the privatization of the NHS. This has been pretty much Tory – and Blairite – policy ever since Thatcher took power, though they’ve kept very quiet about it and gone about it piecemeal, for the reason that if the general public realise what’s going on they’ll never be elected again. But Hannan, like the current Health Secretary, is all in favour of it. Though I expect that, like Jez, if he’s pressed on it he’ll probably talk in public about how much he ‘treasures it’, leaving his real views to be discovered only be people, who have actually managed to read what he’s written about it.

The fact that BoJo has given his ministerial blessing to the Lyin’ King, or as I think of him, Dan, Dan, the Sanitary Man, after one of the characters from Carry On Screaming, also shows what BoJo really thinks of the health service, as well as his support for Brexit and free trade.

Neither of them should be anywhere near government. Boris desperately wants to be PM, but would be an utter disaster for this country of the same magnitude as Trump.

Pro-NHS Political Comment in Paul McAuley’s ‘Something Coming Through’

December 27, 2016

something-coming-pic

One of the books I’ve been reading this Christmas is Paul McAuley’s Something Coming Through (London: Gollancz 2015). McAuley’s a former scientist as well as an SF writer. Apart from novels, he also reviewed books and contributed short stories to the veteran British SF magazine, Interzone. He was one of the writers who created the gene punk genre, sometimes also called ‘ribofunk’. This was the genetic engineering counterpart to Cyberpunk, where, instead of using computers, individuals, criminals and corporations used genetic engineering to redesign new forms of life, or spread invasive memes throughout the population to control the way people thought. Back in the 1990s he was one of the guests on the BBC Radio 3 series, Grave New Worlds, in which computer scientists, writers and artists talked about the transhuman condition. This was back when everyone was talking about cyborgisation, and the potential of contemporary technology to produce new varieties of humanity. Apart from McAuley, the guests also included J.G. Ballard and the performance artist Stelarc, who has personally explored the implications of cybernetics for the human body in a series of performances. In one of these he had a mechanical third arm, operated through electrical signals picked up through the stomach muscles. He also gave a modern music performance, in which he was wired up to the internet via galvanic stimulators. A search engine then went about finding images of body parts on the Net. When it found one, that part of the body was electronically stimulated so that it moved. There were also booths in three cities around the world, where participants could also press buttons to move Stelarc via electric impulses. Apart from Kevin Warwick, the professor of robotics at Warwick university, is the person who’s come the closest to being Star Trek’s Borg.

McAuley’s Something Coming Through and its sequel, Into Everywhere, follow the fictional universe he created in a series of magazine short stories about the alien Jackaroo and their impact on humanity. Following a short period of warfare, including the destruction of part of London with a nuclear bomb by terrorists, the Jackaroo turned up and declared that they wish to help. These aliens bring with them 15 artificial wormholes, which act as gateways to 15 worlds, which the Jackaroo give to humanity. Humanity isn’t the only race that the aliens have helped, and the worlds they give to humanity are covered with the ruins and artefacts of previous alien civilisations, now vanished. The Jackaroo themselves are never seen. They interact with humanity through avatars, artificial beings that look like human men. These have golden skin and features modelled on a number of contemporary celebrities. They’re also bald, wear shades, and dress in black track suits. Their motives for helping humanity are unclear. They claim they just want to help, and that it is up to humanity themselves how they use the worlds they have given them. But they are widely suspected of having their own agenda, and despite the protestations of non-interference they are suspected of subtly manipulating humanity.

Accompanying the Jackaroo are the !cho, another alien race, who are equally mysterious. They move about the world in opaque tanks supported on three skeletal legs. Nobody has ever managed to open one up, or scan the tanks using X-rays or ultrasound. It is, however, widely believed that the !cho are sentient colonies of shrimp. Their motives, and their relationship with the Jackaroo, are also unknown.

Something Coming Through follows the adventures of Chloe Millar, a researcher for a company, Disruption Theory, in London, and Vic Gayle, a cop on Mangala, one of the Jackaroo gift worlds. The objects and ruins left from the Jackaroo’s previous client civilisations can be highly dangerous. Some of them are still active, despite the many thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions of years of abandonment and decay. These can infect humans with memes, algorithms that alter psychology and behaviour. The strongest, most intact of these become eidolons, artificial entities that can take possession of their human hosts. Disruption Theory is a company specialising in researching the effects of these memes as they break out to infect people in Britain. This often takes the form of small sects, whose leaders speak in tongues, uttering nonsense as they try to put in human terms the alien concepts running their consciousness. Millar, the heroine, is investigating a couple of orphaned Pakistani children, who have apparently been infected by an eidolon from one of the gift worlds. Out on Mangala, Vic Gayle is also investigating the murder of a man, who has recently arrived aboard one of the Jackaroo’s shuttles.

Unlike much SF, the book doesn’t indicate how far in the future the story’s set. This is, however, very much a world not too far from the early 21st century of the present. The political structures are much the same, with the exception that the gift worlds are under the control of the UN. People still work in recognisable jobs, and shop and purchase the same brands of clothing. Complicating relations with the Jackaroo is a British politician, Robin Mountjoy and the Human Decency League. The League objects to contact with the Jackaroo as a danger to the dignity of the human race. Their leader, Robin Mountjoy, is described as being ‘in his mid-fifties, a burly man with thinning blond hair and a florid complexion, dressed in an off-the-peg suit. Although he was a multimillionaire, having made his fortune constructing and servicing displaced-persons camps, his PR painted him as a bluff, no-nonsense man of the people whose common sense cut through the incestuous old boys’ networks of the Westminster village’. (p. 51). The League isn’t strong enough to form a government of its own, and so has gone into a coalition with the Conservatives. While Mountjoy is clearly fictional, he does seem to be inspired by Nigel Farage and UKIP, with Britain attempting to gain independence from smooth talking mysterious aliens rather than the EU.

One of the other characters is Adam Nevers, a cop with the Technology Control Unit. This is the branch of the British police tasked with protecting the country from dangerous alien technology. Nevers is described as coming from the entitled upper ranks of society, who go straight from university into high ranking jobs. Which looks to me very much like a comment on the privileged upbringing and expectations of absolute deference and entitlement from certain members of the British upper classes.

Apart from the social and psychological disruption caused by alien contact, this is also a world wear the NHS has finally been privatised. McAuley shows the practical impact this has people’s lives. Without the safety net of state healthcare, people are dependent on their employers to help pay their medical bills, or borrowing money from friends. In his acknowledgements, as well as the many other people who helped him with the book, McAuley also thanks ‘the NHS for life support’. (p. 375). Which suggests that he’s also suffered a period of illness, and is very much aware how much he and everyone else in the country needs the NHS.

I liked the book for its convincing portrayal of the world after sort-of personal contact with an alien civilisation, and the frontier societies that have emerged as Mangala and the other gift worlds have been settled and colonised. I was also fascinated by McAuley’s description of the alien life-forms, and the archaeological exploration of the remains of the planets’ previous civilisations for the technological advances these artifacts offer. I was also drawn to it as it offered a different take on the old SF trope of alien contact. The appearance of the Jackaroo is described as an ‘invasion’, but it’s not really that. The aliens have a ‘hands off’ approach. They haven’t conquered the Earth militarily, and political power is still exercised through traditional human institutions and parties, like the UN and the Tories. Nor are they more or less at our technological level, like many of the alien races in Star Trek, for example. We don’t form an interplanetary federation with them, as they are clearly extremely far in advance of humanity, which is very much the junior partner in this relationship.

It’s not really a political book, and really doesn’t make any overt party political statements. With the exception that rightwing xenophobes would probably form a party like UKIP to join the Conservatives against pernicious alien influence, just like the Kippers under Farage came very much from the right wing, Eurosceptic section of the Tories. But its comments on the class nature of British society does bring a wry smile, and its advocacy of the NHS is very welcome. It doesn’t preach, but simply shows the fear the characters have of sickness or injury in its absence.

And with all too real terrestrial morons like Daniel Hannan, Jeremy Hunt, Dave Cameron, Theresa May, Tony Blair, Alan Milburn and the rest of the right-wing politicos, who have done and still are doing their best to undermine the health service, such comments are badly needed throughout the British media.

Pride’s Purge Opens Nominations for 2016 Political Hypocrite of the Year Awards

December 26, 2016

Hi folks! I’ve been leaving off blogging for the past day or so as it’s Christmas, and I’d like to give my readers the opportunity of enjoying the spirit of the season – or Hanukah, for those of them, who may be Jewish – without reminding them of how ghastly and miserable life under this present government is.

However, it’s also at this time of year that the media runs its reviews of the year, looking back over the leading events and personalities of the last 12 months. And so that merry funster Tom Pride has launched his own, end of year competition over at Pride’s Purge! Yes, he’s offering you the chance to vote on a selection of the six toxic personalities and organisations most responsible for the brutal death of satire in 2016.

The nominees are:

* Donald Trump and Nigel Farage
* Anti-NHS Tory MP Daniel Hannan
* Theresa May
* The Scum
* Boris Johnson
* The Daily Heil

If you want to vote, go over to https://tompride.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/nominations-for-biggest-political-hypocrite-of-the-year-awards-2016/
where Tom will also give the reasons for the nominations.

The winner will be announced next week.

All I can say is, so many to choose from. It’s a pity there isn’t a choice for ‘all of the above’.

Daphne du Maurier Book on a Britain Dominated by America after Brexit

June 8, 2016

Yesterday, the I newspaper published a letter by a Michael Steed, discussing one of the lesser known works of the great Cornish writer, Daphne du Maurier. It was one that casts a very peculiar, and fascinating perspective over the Brexit campaign. It was about a Britain which had broken away from Europe, and formed a union with America, a political arrangement which was merely the constitutional disguise for an American occupation of these islands. Mr Steed wrote

Almost 50 years ago Daphne du Maurier wrote a novel, Rule Britannia, in which the UK elected a coalition government, and in a referendum on whether or not to stay in the EU the people voted to leave. The result was economic meltdown and the country forged a merger with the US to create a new country called USUK, with the President and Queen as joint heads of state, and created military, political and economic links with English-speaking nations to encircle Russia and its allies.

The new regime was enforced by what was, in effect, a military occupation of the UK by American forces, with rationing, roadblocks and martial law resulting in a civil war in the UK.

Now how much of that is going to happen, I wonder? (p. 14).

Du Maurier’s book is clearly a fantasy, but the Conservatives have, from time to time, urged Britain to form a union with the US. The last time they did so was in the 1920s. More recently, in the ’80s or ’90s there was a graphic novel about a Britain that had also forged a union with the US to become America’s 51st state. I think it was written by that indefatigable comics stalwart and champion of radical literature, Alan Moore. I’ve got a feeling that the story concerned industrial and political dissent in this future Britain during a presidential election.

And the Euro-sceptics and Brexiteers are keen for Britain to form closer links with the English-speaking world. One of the most vocal about this has been the Dorset Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, who has often appeared in posts over at Guy Debord’s Cat, where his appalling right-wing views and sheer lies have been dissected and refuted at length. Hannan hates the EU and the National Health Service, and has urged us to leave the European Union. He also has written at length about how we should also forge greater links with what he calls ‘the Anglosphere’ – the wider English-speaking world, like America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Part of his reason for doing so, one could guess, was not just nationalism and patriotism, but also a desire to contain and combat socialism and the Labour party through closer connections with the US.

Du Maurier’s book is clearly an exaggeration of possible trends written in the 1960s, but nevertheless it does have some basis in political fact, and the extreme attitudes of anti-Europeans like Hannan and Farage.

Vox Political: Vote Leave Campaigners Claim EU Membership Causes Lack of NHS Funding

May 16, 2016

Another important piece Mike put up on his blog yesterday was about the attempt of the Brexit campaigners in the Tory party to claim that David Cameron’s support for the EU is diverting funds away from the NHS. According to a report in yesterday’s Guardian,

In an email… Vote Leave’s Cleo Watson tells clinicians that her group desperately needs doctors, nurses and pharmacists to warn that Britain’s health service is being damaged by the EU.

A draft version of the letter included by Watson says: “David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt must accept responsibility for this – they have starved the NHS of necessary funding for too long.”

Mike comments that the email, backed by Michael Gove, has managed to annoy everyone. He remarks

The implication that a ‘Leave’ vote will provide more money for the NHS has incensed anybody with a brain; there is no guarantee that any funds that may be released as a result of exiting the EU will be diverted into publicly-funded healthcare.

And, of course, the call for clinicians to support the claim that the European Union has caused the damage to the health service that we have seen over the last six years has incensed them, because they know it isn’t true.

See Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/15/brexit-tories-pretend-eu-caused-underfunding-and-dismantling-of-the-nhs-and-not-their-own-laws/ for more information.

In fact the argument that EU membership has the potential to harm continued state ownership of vital public enterprises, like NHS, is a fair one, when it comes from old school Old Labour-type Socialists, like Robin Ramsay of Lobster. In the ‘View from the Bridge’ Section of issue 71, Ramsay quotes Danny Nicol, a Professor of public law at the University of Westminster, on how the EU’s constitution promotes and protects capitalism against state ownership:

‘….the EU Treaties not only contain procedural
protections for capitalism, as is the case in the US
Constitution: they also entrench substantive policies
which correspond to the basic tenets of neoliberalism….
Imagine that a national government sought to introduce
EU legislation to allow all Member States a free choice
over the public or private ownership of their energy,
postal, telecommunications and rail sectors. It would
have to rely on the Commission – the very architect of
EU liberalisation – putting forward a proposal to the
Council and Parliament….’

See the section ‘In or Out’ at http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster71/lob71-view-from-the-bridge.pdf

This is the exact opposite of what the Brexit crowd – Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, John Whittingdale and Priti Patel – are saying. In fact, the reason why the NHS is being starved of cash and privatised piecemeal is because of the Tories’ own policies. Jeremy Hunt, the current Health Secretary, last year published a book recommending the dismantling of the NHS, and previous leading Tories have said that in five years – in other words, by 2020, the NHS would no longer exist. They then hastily altered that to some verbiage about cutting bureaucracy after it was leaked to the press. Denials that they had said any such thing swiftly followed. Nevertheless, at last year’s Tory party conference, Hunt spoke in an interview about possible opportunities for private enterprise in the NHS in an presentation sponsored by the private healthcare companies.

And to confirm all this further, looking around the politics section in Waterstone’s this afternoon, I found a book laying out the case from leaving Europe by the Tory MEP for Dorset, Daniel Hannan. Hannan, or as Guy Debord’s Cat has called him, ‘the Lyin’ King’ because of cavalier attitude to awkward things like facts and historical truth, is not only a fully paid up Eurosceptic, but another who hates the NHS and would like to privatise it. So really, as far depriving the NHS of money goes, there’s really no difference between the Tories in the Brexit and the ‘Remain’ camps. Both wish to privatise the NHS. So really, it’s another case of more lies from the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign. But considering the sheer duplicity and mendacity of Cameron’s government, this really shouldn’t surprise anyone.