Posts Tagged ‘doctors’

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.

Loach’s Documentary Shows Why We Still Need the Attlee Government

October 4, 2021

The Spirit of ’45, director Ken Loach, Dogwoof, Sixteenfly Limited, British Film Institute & Channel 4.. Running time 92 minutes, with 420 minutes of extras, 2013 release.

This superb documentary provides great evidence for one of the real reasons Keef Stalin has purged Loach from the Labour party. Quite apart from being a staunch critic of Israeli barbarism, Loach is a socialist whose films show the misery, poverty and degradation inflicted by capitalism. This documentary shows not just the great achievements of Attlee’s reforming government of 1945, but why we still need these reforms today. Why, indeed, we do need to turn the clock back against the Thatcherites to 1945 again. And as an ardent Thatcherite, that’s something Keef and his cohorts really can’t tolerate.

The film consists of interviews with ordinary men and women, former workers in the affected industries, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals as well as academics, along with interviews and footage from the period. These include tales of real struggle and hardship, often moving, and sometimes inspiring anger. It begins by describing the horrendous conditions people lived in before the foundation of the welfare state. One man describes how, as a child, he and his four siblings lived in a slum crawling with vermin. They had to sleep in the same bed, infested with lice and fleas. This is accompanied by footage showing a hand turning over blankets in a bed in which just about every inch was alive with such parasites. And the man recalls that after a night of this, he was beaten at school for having dirty knees.

The film states that the welfare state and its founders were determined not to repeat the situation following the First World War, where demobbed troops returned to unemployment, depression and poverty. The film is divided into sections for each part of the economy that was nationalised – coal, the Railways, the NHS, housing and electricity.

There had been demands for the nationalisation of the coal industry for decades. It was divided between various coal companies, some of which were extremely small. These companies were individually too poor to pay the miners a decent, living wage. Former miners describe how hard and dangerous conditions were. Miners were paid according to the amount of coal they hewed. They weren’t paid for putting up the props that stopped the mine shafts collapsing. As a result, not enough props were put up and terrible accidents followed. One man recalled seeing one his workmates killed in just such a rock fall because not enough props were put up. Nationalisation resulted in much better conditions, but disappointed many of the miners. They were hoping for something like workers’ control. Instead the same people were left in charge, including one manager, who was appointed leader of the industry, who had written extensively against nationalisation. Naturally this left many miners angry and disappointed.

Medicine before the NHS for working people was poor and expensive. Some workers were covered by insurance schemes for their industries, allowing them to see panel doctors. This did not, however, according to the film, cover their families. I’m not sure about this, because my mother remembers cases in Bristol where family members were seen by the panel doctor, but this may have been the exception. You had to pay to see a doctor, and they weren’t cheap. Very low paid workers, like farm labourers, were paid six shillings a week, and seeing the doctor could cost one of those. Patients were very often in debt to their doctors, who employed debt collectors. Death from disease was common. One man angrily recalls how he became an atheist after the death of his mother, who died following complications in childbirth because she could not afford proper treatment or an abortion. One former GP tells how he went round to call on a family of his patients the very day after the foundation of the NHS. When he inquired after the boy he’d been treating, the mother informed him he was well. But the man could hear coughing, and so continued to ask. The mother replied that the coughing was his brother, who was recovering because they’d given him half of the bottle of cough medicine he’d given to the other boy. When the doctor said he could still hear coughing, the woman replied that it was her mother. When the doctor offered to treat her, she refused, saying they couldn’t afford him. The doctor replied that this morning they could. This part of the documentary includes comments from Jacky Davis, a great campaigner for the NHS and one of the editors, with Ray Tallis, of the excellent book, NHS – SOS.

The railways before nationalisation were in a comparable state as the mines. The rail network was divided between different companies, who also owned their own track. As a result, services by the different railway companies frequently interfered with each other. One old railways worker recalls how one train going to Exeter was held up for half an hour by a train from another company. And the system was incredibly bureaucratic. The first thing to go at nationalisation was the clearing house. This was a massive office of 50+ clerks just passing chits to each other as the various companies billed each other for the use of their services. I suspect something similar goes on in the privatised railways when you buy a ticket that involves more than one network.

The film also describes the massive improvement in housing that came with the government’s programme of building council houses. There were queues to get into these, with many workers amazed that they would live in such massively improved conditions.

The film also covers the nationalisation of the electricity network, with an historian stating that it was generally agreed that it made more sense to nationalise it and amalgamate it into one company than leave it in the hands of a multitude of competing small companies.

The film moves on to the destruction of the welfare state following the election of St. Margaret of Monetarism. All of these have been disastrous. The spit up of the railways led to a series of terrible train disasters, with the companies involved refusing to accept responsibility and blaming each other. It was so appalling that the track had to be renationalised in 2002.

As for the NHS, service is becoming worse as the government has privatised more of it. NHS workers and ordinary folk made it very clear how much they hate its privatisation. One gentleman says that those who want to see it sold off should be put in a bottomless boat, sent out in the North Sea, and told to swim back. I quite agree. Jacky Davis makes it clear that this isn’t making the service cheaper or more economical. Under the NHS, administration costs were 6 per cent. A little while ago they were 12 per cent. Now they’re heading up to American levels of 18-24 per cent.

The NHS has become less efficient because of four decades of Thatcherite privatisation, all for the profit of private healthcare companies.

The film is a superb piece of social history and documentation, directed by one of the masters of British cinema. And makes a very strong case for socialism. Attlee and his government weren’t without their faults, but they created the modern welfare state following the Beveridge Report. This shaped British society for more than three decades afterwards, and which still demands our support against the attacks of the likes of Blair, Starmer and Boris.

Thought Slime on the Worst Political Cartoonists In America

October 2, 2021

Here’s an interesting little video from the Thought Slime channel on YouTube, in which he tears about the peeps he considers to be the worst political cartoonists. He starts with Garrison, a Libertarian, whom he dubs ‘the Labeller’, because he labels his pictures just in case you don’t recognise the people he’s drawn. He’s also a massive fan of Donald Trump, portraying him as a superhuman colossus saving America from the forces of the left. He then goes on to attack a Conservative cartoonist, who started out being a very capable draughtsman, but whose art has now become so stylised you won’t recognise anybody he’s drawn and so have to read the labels and titles. Despite being a liberal himself, Thought Slime criticises a left-wing cartoonist, Rall, for his attack on the late Roger Ebert. Ebert was a film critic, and Rall takes issue with him because Ebert was a fan of Citizen Kane. Citizen Kane, directed by cinematic legend and connoisseur of Danish lager, Orson Welles, is an acknowledged masterpiece. So why does Rall hate it? Because it’s boring! And so Ebert is caricatured for defending a cinematic classic.

However, the very worst political cartoonist of all, according to Thought Slime, is Yaacov Kirschen. Kirschen is a fanatical Jewish Zionist, whose cartoons seem to consist of the same poorly drawn character, who is probably a self-insert, commenting on the news. And his comments tend to be about how anyone who doesn’t support Israel, or dares to criticise it, is a vicious anti-Semite. And this really is everyone. He even accuses Netanyahu’s right-wing nationalist Likud party. How much of a Judaeonazi is Kirschen?

We don’t have cartoonists like Kirschen, at least not in the mainstream press. What we do have is the Israel lobby trying to suppress mainstream criticism of Israel and its unflattering portrayal in cartoons. A few years ago Gerald Scarfe was accused of anti-Semitism by the Israeli ambassador because of a cartoon attacking the wall the Israelis are building to keep out the Palestinians that appeared in the I. Scarfe’s cartoon showed the Israeli’s using the Palestinian’s blood as mortar. Considering the brutality of the Israeli occupation and ethnic cleansing, it’s a fair comment. But the Israeli ambassador immediately decided that it was an anti-Semitic trope playing on the Blood Libel. Er, no. The Blood Libel is the vicious accusation that Jews murder Christians to use their blood in the matzo bread eaten at Passover. It’s a myth that has spawned countless pogroms and anti-Jewish violence down history. But Scarfe’s cartoon doesn’t portray the Blood Libel. The matzoh bread doesn’t appear, nor is there any reference to Passover and the cartoon isn’t about Jews, but the Israeli state. Nevertheless, the I responded by capitulating and apologising.

It did the same over another cartoon attacking Israeli anti-Palestinian violence. This came after IDF troopers had fired on Palestinians breaking through the fence separating Gaza from Israel. Those they killed were largely unarmed civilians, including a doctor. The cartoon showed Netanyahu having a cosy fireside chat with an American head of state, while inside the fire burned the shot medical lady. Again the Israeli embassy went berserk and screamed ‘anti-Semitism’. This time they ludicrously claimed that the fire represented the gas ovens of the Holocaust. It very obviously didn’t, but truth doesn’t matter to the Israeli state and its defenders. And again the I caved and apologised.

I found Thought Slime’s video interesting because of its criticism of Kirschen and his miserable pro-Israel scribblings as the worst political cartoonist. We don’t have anyone like Kirschen in Britain, at least, not that I know of. But I wish someone would stand up to the Zionist bully-boys trying to censor reasonable and legitimate criticism of Israel in cartoon art.

Articles on Bristol’s Jewish Community

September 11, 2021

I found a couple of very interesting articles on Bristol’s Jewish community in Max Barnes’ Bristol A-Z: Fascinating Stories of Bristol through the ages, published by the Bristol Evening Post c. 1970. Bristol has had a Jewish community for centuries. There was a Jewish quarter in the city in the Middle Ages. Way back in the 90s a miqveh, a Jewish ritual bath, with the Hebrew inscription, ‘Zacklim’, ‘flowing’, was found on Jacob’s Wells’ Road. They were expelled by Edward I along with the rest of England’s Jews, but returned after Oliver Cromwell once again opened the doors to Jewish immigrants. They were certainly present in the 18th century, when one Bristolian, looking for a doctor, said that he had no objection to a Jewish doctor, provided he claimed to believe in Christianity. In the 1820s one outraged commenter complained that the city’s corporation included not just Anglicans, but also Protestant non-Conformists and even Jews! There was also a very imposing synagogue in Park Row. This had giant Hebrew characters over its entrance and seemed to be cut into the very rock of St. Michael’s Hill. I haven’t seen it recently, so I wonder whether it’s still around, or if it’s simply the case that more recent building work has covered up the Hebrew inscription.

The article ‘Jews’ in the book runs

The first Jews settled in a confined area between St John’s Gate and St. Gile’s Gate. As Jews they were banned from living inside the walled town itself.

Their sole business was money lending. Like Jews down through the ages they suffered a lot of persecution. Once their houses were pillaged and burned by a mob led by William Giffard, a man who had had many financial dealings with the Jews and in 1275 took this brutal course to destroy the records and clear his debts.

Another Jew who refused to pay heavy ransom money to King John was hauled off to Bristol castle.

The king’s torturers pulled out one of his molar teeth each day. He had lost seven teeth before he paid up.

I think it was the poor man’s daughter who persuaded him to pay the money before he lost all his teeth. I think money lending was the only trade Jews in this country could legally pursue. Giffard’s pogrom against them was, I think, part of a number of anti-Semitic attacks and riots led by members of the aristocracy. The real reason behind them was that aristocracy at the time was in debt to Jewish moneylenders, and this was their way of getting out of it.

There’s another article on the Jewish author, Israel Zangwill, who also apparently was educated in Bristol. I doubt many people have heard of him today except experts in modern Jewish literature, but from reading the article he seems to have been a powerful force in the development of modern Jewish literature. The article says

Novelist and playwright (1864-1926) went to school in Bristol.

He was the son of a Russian Jewish refugee who escaped from Russia in 1848 from a death sentence for a military offence. Zangwill was known as a richly gifted but outspoken humanist. He was a champion of unpopular causes. His novel “Children of the Ghetto” was dramatised in 1899 and played in Yiddish and English in New York.

Imperial Russia had a policy of conscripting Jews into the army. It was used as a method of forced conversion, with Jewish troopers singled out for bullying and beating. I suspect that Zangwill’s father may have not taken the abuse, hence the death sentence for some kind of military offence. More recent victims of such maltreatment in the Russian army included Seventh Day Adventists and Pentecostalist Christians under Communism. I can’t remember which one, but one of these sects was persecuted because they’re pacifists who reject military service. And the Pentecostalists were subjected to the persecution under the guise of all kinds of stupid conspiracy theories. They’re abstainers, refusing to touch tobacco and alcohol, and as a result tended to be wealthier than ordinary Russians. As a result, there was a story propagated that accused them of receiving money from the CIA through a ship that landed annually at a secret location. It’s the same kind of stupid, murderous rumour about treachery as the source of secret wealth that has been used against our Jewish brothers and sisters.

Bristol’s Jewish community seems to have had a fascinating history, and its monuments are part of the city’s rich architectural heritage.

And real persecution and conspiracy theories are wrong and dangerous, whether levelled against Jews, Christians, Muslims or anyone. They are not things to be cynically used to expel left-wing peeps and non-Zionist Jews from Labour.

Petition from pro-NHS Group We Own It for Greater NHS Funding

September 5, 2021

I got this petition from We Own It yesterday, calling on the government to increase funding to the NHS by £10 billion a year, with £10 billion needed this year to combat Covid 19 successfully, the training of 90,000 doctors and nurses, an increase in hospital beds and the reopening of the A&E departments the Tories have closed, as well as stopping the selling off of hospital land and a similar increase in funding for social care.

The petition also includes a link, where you can send a short, prepared message about this to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak. The petition runs

“Dear David,

Today we launch our waiting lists campaign.

There are millions of people across the UK who are waiting for treatment right now. 

You might even be one of them. 

We’re seeing rises in the number of people on waiting lists for treatment across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England alone, there are currently 5.5 million people waiting.

This is an emergency. Our NHS needs us.

That’s why we’re calling on the government to give our NHS all of the funding it needs to reduce waiting lists as quickly as possible and give patients the care they need.

I’ll sign the petition to give our NHS the funding it needs

Our NHS is amazing. It’s helped so many of us in our hour of need. Incredible NHS staff have been working round the clock to look after us during the pandemic. 

But they’re also having to deal with a mounting backlog – caused by Covid and a decade of underfunding and privatisation.  

Now, instead of investing in our healthcare service, the government is going to start funnelling yet more money into the private sector. They’re going to pay £10 billion to run private hospitals using NHS staff to deal with NHS waiting list patients – with £200 million going towards shareholder profits.

This is not a sustainable, long-term solution. There should be no place for profiteering in our healthcare system.

Instead of handing out billions to the private sector, the government must commit to new funding for our NHS in its autumn budget update.

Will you call on Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid to give the NHS the funding it needs?

Yes, I’ll call on the government to fund our NHS, not private healthcare

The government will make a decision on NHS funding very soon. This week the NHS Confederation, NHS Providers and the Labour Party all called for serious cash and a recovery plan for our NHS.

That’s why now is the moment to call for proper funding – and to say every penny must go to our NHS, not private healthcare.

If the government hears this message loudly and clearly from enough people right now it could really influence how much money goes to our NHS.

We want our NHS to get the funding it needs. That means:

  • Funding of at least £10 billion revenue a year to cover ongoing Covid costs and care backlogs 
  • Funding of at least £10 billion capital this year to urgently maintain and upgrade hospitals and vital equipment like ambulances and scanners 
  • Funding for the extra 90,000 NHS staff that are needed – increasing the number of doctors, nurses and healthcare staff through training and encouraging staff to stay with better pay, terms and conditions 
  • Funding for hospital beds – reopen the 22,000 beds closed since 2010
  • Funding for A&Es – reopen the 100+ A&Es closed since 2010
  • No more selling off hospital land, no more outsourcing NHS staff
  • Funding and a plan for social care so that people are cared for when they leave hospital

Let’s send a clear message that the government needs to give our NHS the funds it needs to tackle rising waiting list times and rebuild from the pandemic.

I’ll send a message to give our NHS the funding it needs by signing the petition

We don’t want this waiting list crisis to push people into paying for private healthcare.  

We don’t want to be forced into a two-tier system like the US.

Our NHS has always been there for us. Together, we can be there for our NHS.

Thank you so much for taking action today. By signing the petition to cut waiting lists by funding our NHS, we’re showing that a healthcare service that cares for everyone is our top priority. 

Solidarity,

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

PS Can you join our campaign launch today? We’re raising the alarm across the country to ramp up the pressure on the government and call on them to give our NHS all the funding and extra capacity it needs to care for people. You can find out how to get involved here!

I got the email yesterday, so I’ve missed the chance at being part of the launch of their campaign. I’ve put up numerous petitions, messages and other materials from We Own It, fighting NHS cuts and privatisation. Mike has several times put up that quote from Noam Chomsky, where he states that right-wing governments begin privatisation by starving a state industry of cash, then using its failure as an excuse to hand it over to the private sector. This is what is occurring here. I have therefore had absolutely no trouble signing the petition and sending the prepared statement to the audience clown masquerading as our PM and his vile chancellor, Rishi Sunak. I would ask everyone who is also worried about NHS privatisation to do so too.

Especially as Keir Starmer seems to be doing precious little to stop it.

‘We Own It’ Celebrate Win in Getting Centene Out of NHS

August 24, 2021

We Own It are a pro-NHS organisation dedicated to getting the parasites of the private health industry out of the NHS and reversing the privatisation of this greatest of our country’s institutions. Centene are an American healthcare company to whom the Tories plan to hand many of our GP surgeries. A month or so ago I went to an online Zoom meeting about the threat Centene present with speakers that included MPs, local councillors and doctors. Centene has previously acquired doctor’s surgeries in the north of England. Their management of them was dreadful. Services were cut, and I believe a certain number of patients were even left without a surgery altogether thanks to the private healthcare company’s closures. A Spanish medical man, working in the NHS, told of the colossal ineptitude of Centene’s management of healthcare in Valencia. This was so egregious that the company was thrown out of the Spanish healthcare system despite the considerable personal contacts it enjoyed with Conservative Spanish politicos. Now these profiteers are seeking to expand their grasp on the British healthcare system. We Own It report that, thanks to pressure from their members, North Central London healthcare authority have decided to kick Centene out of two GPs surgeries in Islington by July next year. But they also appeal for further help in letter writing campaigns against Centene’s attempts to acquire other surgeries in London.

The email runs

You’ve just won another incredible victory in the fight to get Centene out of our local GP practices.

Centene is a profit-greedy American company that took over 49 NHS GP practices in February this year. Their track record shows a company that puts profits before people at every opportunity. 

And with your donations, your time, your actions, social media posts and everything you’ve done, you’ve stood up to them many times since then. 

In April, through your efforts and the incredible work we did alongside Hammersmith and Fulham Save Our NHS, their contract renewal for a local surgery in Hammersmith was cut from 5 years to just 2 years – with stricter performance conditions.

Now, after months of pressure, North Central London health leaders have just decided to get Centene out of two Islington GP surgeries as soon as July next year.

This is incredible news. And you made that happen. 

This is your win. 

Collective pressure works, even when it feels like we’re up against it.

Local We Own It supporters in Islington alongside Islington Keep Our NHS Public worked hard to mount pressure on their local health leaders.

They wrote hundreds of letters to local health leaders, wrote articles in their local newspapers, protested and held a well-attended community meeting at which the local councillors and MPs expressed opposition to Centene.

Their work, along with what you did on a national level, is responsible for this win.

We still have to keep an eye on this win to make sure local health leaders don’t sneak Centene back in through the back door.

But for now, you should bask in your victory.

Your fight to get Centene kicked out of our local GP surgeries continues. 

In June, government inspectors declared 3 Centene-run surgeries in Newham “Inadequate”, despite declaring it “Good” under the local GPs that ran them previously. We need to get them kicked out of these surgeries. You can join a letter-writing session for this if you live in the area.

Two further Centene contracts for surgeries in Brent and Harrow are expiring soon and we must pressure local health leaders not to renew them. Join a letter-writing session for this if you live in the area.

But this is not just a London fight. Just as your support from all across the UK made these wins possible, we are fighting to get Centene kicked out of our NHS everywhere.

Thank you so much for all that you have done toward this victory. We couldn’t do any of this work without you.

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

PS: You can read more about this local victory over Centene on our website blog. Please share the blog as widely as possible.

This is excellent news and demonstrates what people can do in the face of the government’s determination to privatise the NHS. I don’t live in London, and so cannot join their letter writing campaigns against Centene in those areas. If any of the readers of this blog do, you might consider joining these campaigns.

Centene and the other private healthcare companies have not improved the NHS in contrast to the lies and blather put out by free market propagandists in the Tory party and the Labour right. Rather they have cut services, laid off staff and made conditions worse for those who remain in their employ in order to make a profit and give their board their bloated salaries and a handsome dividend for their shareholders. The result is always worse healthcare and more public expense, as it is has been shown that giving state services over to private healthcare contracts raises costs by 6 per cent.

Get Centene and the other profiteers out of the NHS!

Bristol MP Karin Smyth on her Support for Afghan Refugees

August 18, 2021

I got this email from my local MP, Karin Smyth, in which she states her support for the refugees seeking to flee Afghanistan. She is also harshly critical of Boris Johnson’s attitude towards them, and his decision to accept only 5,000 in the next year. She also states her support for the country’s women who worked for our forces, as well as the 70 female members of the Afghan parliament, and calls for the government to support and protect those, who wish to remain in the country.

“I am writing to update you with my views on the situation in Afghanistan and the response to date of the British government. There is a statement on my website here which addresses some of the wider issues, however in this e-mail I will focus on the needs of the those most at risk from the Taliban regime. 

In his shameful, arrogant and complacent speech to the House of Commons this morning Boris Johnson did confirm that around 20,000 Afghan refugees would be allowed to come to United Kingdom. Shockingly the Prime Minister revealed that only around 5,000 Afghans will be permitted to apply to settle here this year. This puts at risk hundreds of interpreters and support staff who help UK forces in the country, those working for non-governmental organisations and, particularly, those brave Afghan women who stepped forward to improve the governance of their country.
 
His failure in this crisis has been highlighted by MPs from all sides, including a very powerful contribution from Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party which you can watch here.
 
As my Labour colleague Harriet Harman mentioned in the debate, there are nearly 70 women in the Afghan Parliament, many of whom are determined not to leave the country and lose all the gains of the last twenty years. There are also women teachers, doctors and many other professionals at risk in Afghanistan for simply having worked. It is imperative that the UK government offers genuine support for those women.
 
The Prime Minister has so far utterly failed to provide the leadership required. He must expand the re-settlement scheme, removing the arbitrary cap, and make the application process fast and straight-forward. He must also work with our international partners regarding the immediate safety of those currently in Afghanistan and those who may remain in the longer term.

I hope that he will do so.”

So do I, but this is Priti Patel and Boris Johnson. If there’s anything immoral and evil they can do, rather than the right thing, they’ll do it. As much as I detest Starmer, he’s doing the right thing here, as is Harman.

And so is Karin Smyth, who I’m very glad is also adding her voice to this debate and her determination to save the lives of people who have worked for us.

Starmer Finally Reveals Himself as Blairite

August 8, 2021

And what a sordid, depressing spectacle it is too! But we can’t say it wasn’t expected. One of the most dispiriting pieces of last week’s news was that Starmer had appeared in the pages of the Financial Times, declaring he was only intent on power and would take Labour back to the glorious policies of Tony Blair.

Yes, Tony Blair! The unindicted war criminal who pressured the intelligence agencies into ‘sexing up’ the ‘dodgy dossier’ on Saddam Hussein and lied about the dictator having weapons of mass destruction that he could launch within forty minute. This was all done to provide the pretext for an illegal invasion with his best mate, George ‘Dubya’ Bush. It was all done ostensibly to liberate the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant. The reality was that it was all done so western multinationals led by the American-Saudi oil industry could grab Iraq’s oil reserves and its state enterprises. The result was the destruction of one of the most secular societies in the Middle East and its welfare state. The country’s economy was decimated as the neo-Cons turned into the kind of low tax, free trade state they’d like America to be, unemployment hit 60 per cent and society descended into sectarian violence and chaos. Women could no longer pursue careers outside the home, the American army colluded with local thugs in running deaths squads while the mercenaries also employed by the occupying forces ran prostitution and drugs rings and shot Iraqis for sport. Then, a few years later, Blair joined Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, and Immanuel Macro in helping to overthrow Colonel Gaddafy in Libya, with the result that one half of that country is in the hands of militant Islamists, who have re-opened the slave markets to sell Blacks.

Blair’s domestic policies have also been horrendous. Blair pushed the Thatcherite programme of privatising the Health Service into a much higher gear, so much so that it astonished some Tories. They remarked that he got away with doing more than they would have dared with Labour in opposition. Blair set up to the Community Care Groups, the doctors’ organisations charged with running doctor’s surgeries so that they could raise money privately and buy services from private healthcare companies. The new health centres and polyclinics he set up were also to be privately run. More contracts were given to private healthcare companies and more hospitals closed or turned over to private healthcare companies to run instead. His health secretary, Alan Milburn, wanted the NHS to become nothing more than kitemark on services provided by private healthcare companies. The same Milburn is in this fortnight’s issue of Private Eye following an article Milburn wrote in one of the papers calling for more of the NHS to be given over to private industry. Milburn is not a disinterested observers, as the Eye’s article shows his connections with any number of private healthcare companies.

This is the same Blair who gave positions in government, including regulatory bodies, to the chairmen and senior staff of big businesses that donated to him and his party. He applied the Public-Private Finance Initiative to industry as a whole, resulting in costs and delays massively increasing in public works projects. He favoured the big supermarkets over small, family run stores, thus putting many of them out of business. At the same time, the farmers who supply the supermarkets found themselves locked into extremely exploitative contracts.

He also carried on the Tories’ policy of destroying state education. Thatcher’s project of revitalising schools by privatising them as ‘city academies’ had been a failure and was actually being wound up by her education secretary, Norman Fowler. But Blair fished it out of the dustbin, rebranded them as ‘academies’ and forged ahead with the idea, even against local opposition. The result has been a series of scandals over schools run only narrowly religious lines with draconian and humiliating disciplinary codes. At the same time, the academies have also been criticised for seeking to maintain their academic standards through highly selective admissions policies excluding the less academically able and those with behavioural difficulties. These academies have been boosted with the expenditure of tens of millions on them while ordinary state schools are starved of funds. When this is taken into account, they don’t perform any better than ordinary state schools. In fact they often performed far worse, as a string of academies have folded or their schools taken back into state administration.

At the same time, Blair, Mandelson and co also demonstrated their hatred and contempt for the unemployed, the poor and disabled. They fully believed in Thatcher’s ‘Victorian value’ of less eligibility, in which the process of claiming state benefit was to be made as humiliating as possible in order to deter people from claiming it. Based on spurious, fraudulent research cooked up by American private health insurer Unum, they decided that most people claiming disability benefit were malingerers. The result was the infamous work capability tests, which were set so that a specific percentage of claimants were found to be ineligible and thrown off benefit. The result has been even more despair, starvation and deaths for hundreds of genuinely disabled people, who have had their only source of income removed. It was also Blair, who introduced workfare as part of his risible ‘New Deal’. Under the guise of teaching long term benefit claimants the necessary skills to get them back into work, the unemployed were handed over to work for various businesses and private sector organisations, like the big supermarket chains and charities. If they refused, they lost their benefits. Contrary to what Blair and his Tory successors claimed, this does not help unemployed people get back into work. In fact it does the opposite. The unemployed actually do far better looking for jobs and voluntary work on their own.

Blair also hated the trade unions, the working class organisations that have been part of the Labour party since it was founded in 1905 or so. The Labour party was partly set up to protect trade unions and their members. But Blair did everything he could to smash their power further. When he became head of the party c. 1997 he threated to cut the party’s ties with them if they didn’t back his reforms.

Yes, Blair won three elections, but the cost was a massive drop in membership and support amongst traditional Labour voters and activists. From this perspective, Jeremy Corbyn was actually far more successful, turning Labour into the biggest and best funded of the UK parties. This was through the simple technique of putting forward a traditionally socialist, truly Labour set of policies: end the privatisation of the NHS, renationalise the utilities, restore the welfare state, remove the restrictions on the trade unions and give working people proper rights at work. Corbyn became massively unpopular only due to a concerted campaign of personal vilification, but his programme was genuinely popular. Unlike Blair’s, who only won the election because almost two decades of Tory rule had made them even more unpopular.

But the Labour left and the continued popularity of socialism continues to worry the Blairites. Hence Starmer’s determination to purge the party of them, and most specifically socialist Jews. On Wednesday there was a Virtual meeting of left-wing labour politicos and activists on Zoom discussing Starmer’s continuing persecution on the Labour left. One of the great speakers quoted the late Tony Benn. Speaking during the purges of Marxists from the party in the 1980s, Benn stated that it would start with the Marxists, go on to the socialists and end with a merger with the SDP. It was all about protecting capitalism. Occasionally the party would be given a chance to govern the country, but nothing really would change.

And that’s really what you can expect from Starmer’s return to Blairism. It’s just going to be more Tory policies, put forward by people who claim to represent ‘real Labour values’ but who in reality have nothing but absolute contempt for the working class and the ideals of the people who founded the party.

As Mike has pointed out, it was clear which direction Starmer really was going from the outset. Despite his declaration that he would continue Corbyn’s manifest promises, he broke every one of them as soon as he could. He carried on the purges under the pretext of clamping down on anti-Semitism – and who knew so many anti-Semites were self-respecting Jews! – and then had the whip withdrawn from his predecessor. He has also done his best to destroy the party’s internal democracy, suspending individuals and constituency parties at a whim and imposing his own candidates against the wishes of local activists.

Somehow Starmer has managed to convince himself that a return to Blairism will be a vote-winner. Well, it hasn’t so far. Coupled with the islamophobia and anti-Black racism of his supporters, it’s led to the party massively losing members and working class support. The result has been a string of election defeats.

Blair was a mass-murderer, whose wars have turned the Middle East into a charnel house and whose economic and welfare policies have further impoverished this country and its awesome, hard-working people. But they kept capitalism secure and further enriched the already obscenely wealthy.

And to Thatcherites like Starmer and his supporters, that’s all that really matters. Expect Labour to lose, and continue to lose, with this open move to the right.

Reply from Local MP Karin Smyth to Letter Against Tory NHS Privatisation

July 19, 2021

Firstly, sorry for my silence the past few days. The TV company we’re with were upgrading the network in our area and we lost internet and TV reception. The TV came back on as expected, but we still couldn’t get the internet. We had to call an engineer out and the first opportunity for one to come was today. Well, he did indeed come and fix it, so all should be up and running as usual. We hope.

Last week I put up a piece about the pro-NHS group, We Own Out, encouraging people to write to their MPs asking them to vote against the Tories’ latest wretched health bill, introducing more privatisation into the NHS. I wrote to my local MP, Karin Smyth, as requested, and got an excellent reply from her last week. Here it is.

“Thank you for your email regarding the new Health and Care Bill which was debated for the first time in the House of Commons yesterday. I voted against the Bill along with my Labour colleagues but it was passed with a large government majority. Jon Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Health, made a very strong contribution and you can read the whole debate on the Hansard website here. There was not time for me, or more than 30 other MPs, to speak so I was unable to place on record yesterday why this legislation is such a missed opportunity which fails patients and their families in Bristol South.

Before I became your Member of Parliament I worked in the NHS and witnessed at first hand the wholesale chaos of the last reorganisation of the NHS in 2012 pursued by the then Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government. Up until that point there had been a general consensus about how to improve healthcare in our country: enhanced GP services, more care within communities to help support people closer to home and a stronger role for local government. Instead of listening to those of us within the NHS about the problems their plans would create the government simply ploughed ahead with a market and competition based system.

So now the government has accepted the almost complete failure of their last attempt and is having another go.

What they should be doing is giving new life to the NHS to enable it to fulfil the objectives set out by its founders in the pioneering post-war Labour government – high-quality healthcare, free at the point of use, fit for the modern world. But instead of a focus on improving care we have a proposals to create nothing more than a cronies charter, giving the Secretary of State huge unaccountable power to interfere in local NHS decision making with dozens of new, appointed, positions of responsibility. There is nothing to tackle the workforce crisis which means it is becoming harder and harder to recruit doctors, nurses and other staff. It is the fault of government, not hard pressed staff,  that people in south Bristol found it difficult to see a GP or were waiting for an operation even before the pandemic.  

In the coming months the Bill will be subject to line-by-line scrutiny and I expect to be part of the committee which undertakes that work. I will have a relentless focus on amending it to improve outcomes for patients and their families, through an integration of health and social care based on quality rather than cost saving or even cost cutting. I want to see effective, locally accountable and properly funded health services of which we can all be proud.

I will be updating you regularly on that work. We must all keep up the pressure on the government to make sure the National Health Service, on which we all rely, can meet our health and care needs in the 21st century.

Yours sincerely

Karin Smyth
Labour MP for Bristol South”

I’m very grateful for her reply. I’ve heard Karin speak before at local meetings of her disgust with the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS. She has said that she became an MP specifically because she felt so strongly about what they were doing to this most precious of British institutions.

I think she is a member of Labour’s right-wing, but am absolutely confident she will fight for the NHS and do exactly as she says she will about scrutinising and opposing this vile piece of legislation.

Starmer Is Silent on the Tories’ Privatisation of the NHS

July 12, 2021

More evidence of the absolute absence of any real, traditional Labour values from the noxious vacuity now taking up space as the leader of the Labour party. Mike put up a piece a day or so ago commenting on a tweet someone sent to Starmer asking him if he was going to vote against the government’s latest legislation opening the NHS up to further privatisation, allowing private healthcare companies to sit on NHS boards and take over GPs’ surgeries. In areas where this has been tried, it’s been a disaster. Those companies can only make profit by cutting staff and services, so you can far worse treatment. This isn’t up for debate, it’s true. It also seems to mark the transition to a two-tier health service: an under-resourced, substandard state sector for the proles while the rich will go to the better private service, which only they can afford. Assuming that it doesn’t result in the NHS being totally privatised and transformed into an American-style healthcare system, which is financed through private healthcare with medicare and medicaid, state-payed healthcare existing only for the poor.

So how did the great leader, who would unify the party and defend the Health Service respond to this vital question? He didn’t. He didn’t reply at all. Major indecision, as Johnson calls him, struck again! Or worse – it’s a tactical silence, because he won’t. The Tories have been privatising the Health Service piecemeal since Thatcher, but Blair when he took power went further than they did. Blair was responding to lobbying by American healthcare companies, including some of the same companies and scumbags who’d been lobbying and drafting policies for the Tories. He created the Community Care Groups of doctors, who were supposed to control the funding for the doctors’ surgeries of which they were in charge. They were also given the ability to raise money privately outside NHS funding and to buy in services from the private sector. It was also Blair’s idea to have the polyclinics or health centres he was building run by private healthcare companies. Alan Milburn, his health secretary, would have liked to have turned the NHS into a kitemark for services provided by private companies.

And Starmer and his squalid followers are true Tory blue Blairites. It seems that despite his election videos in which he promised to defend the NHS at the last elections, he has absolute no such intentions. He’ll betray the NHS to get the votes of all those swing Tories Blair lusted after. But Blairism is a spent force. The Tory voters ain’t coming over to the Labour not when Johnson appears to be prepared to spend more to keep Britain at least somewhat above water. Johnson’s getting reviled for it by the extreme right too. There’s an anti-immigrant YouTube channel, We Got A Problem, that put up a video a few days ago denouncing Johnson as a Communist! This showed the Tory flame or tree or whatever against a red background with a hammer and sickle. This shows you how utterly removed from reality the Tory right are. The result of this is that some people are definitely going to vote Tory, while traditional Labour voters will stay home because Starmer is, like Blair, doing absolutely nothing for the working class. But hey, he’s aiming to get more support from corporate donors!

The debate’s on Wednesday. We have to do everything to defend the NHS. And that means getting rid of both the real Tories in parliament and the imitators in the Labour party. Let’s end privatisation and

Get that greedy, profiteering, factionalist disgrace Starmer out!