Posts Tagged ‘doctors’

Bristol and Labour’s Elected Mayor, and the Arguments Against

April 26, 2022

On the fourth of May parts of the country are due to go to the polls again. These are mostly council elections, but down here in Bristol it’ll be for a referendum on the system of elected mayors the city has had for the past few years. At the moment the elected mayor is Marvin Rees for Labour. His predecessor, Ferguson, was supposedly an Independent, but he had been a Lib Dem. He personally promoted himself by wearing red trousers, even at funerals when he toned the colour down to dark claret. His first act was to change the name of the Council House to City Hall for no real reason. His administration was responsible for running through a programme of immense cuts. He intended to make £90 million of them, but told Bristolians that they shouldn’t be afraid. He also turned down grant money from central government to which the city was qualified and untitled. I heard at a meeting of the local Labour party that he left the city’s finances in a colossal mess, and it has taken a great effort for Marvin’s administration to sort them out.

The local Labour party has thrown itself four-square behind the elected mayoralty. It’s being promoted in the election literature from the party, boasting about how, under Rees, 9,000 new homes have been built, green power and other initiatives invested in. The opposition parties, by contrast, have wasted council taxpayers’ hard earned money on trivialities.

I think the party is also holding an on-line meeting tonight to convince members that the system of elected mayors is a positive benefit. Speakers include Andy Burnham amongst other prominent politicos. One of the claims being made is that elected mayors are democratic and transparent, whereas the previous committee system meant that decisions were taken behind closed doors.

But I am not convinced by any means that the elected mayoralty is a benefit.

Bristol South Labour MP Karin Smyth has stated that she is also no fan of the system. She has made it plain that she is not criticising Marvin’s administration, and is very diplomatic in her comments about his predecessor. But she has described the system as ‘too male’ and believes that the city should go back to being run by the council, whose members were elected and in touch by their local communities. The anti-male sexism aside, I agree with her. There have been studies done of business decision-making that show that while a strong chairman is admired for leadership, collective decision-making by the board actually results in better decisions. And one criticism of Rees’s government in Bristol is that he is not accountable to local representatives and has zero qualms about overruling local communities.

Here’s a few examples: a few years ago there were plans to build a new entertainment stadium in Bristol. This was due to be situated just behind Temple Meads station in an area that is currently being re-developed. It’s a superb site with excellent communications. Not only would it be bang right next to the train station, but it’s also not very far from the motorway. All you have to do if your coming down the M32 is turn left at the appropriate junction and carry on driving and your at Temple Meads in hardly any time at all. But Marvin disagreed, and it wanted it instead located in Filton, miles away in north Bristol.

Then there’s the matter of the house building at Hengrove Park. This is another issue in which Rees deliberately overruled the wishes of local people and the council itself. Rees decided that he wanted so many houses built on the site. The local people objected that not only was it too many, but that his plans made no provision for necessary amenities like banks, shops, doctors’ surgeries, pharmacies and so on. They submitted their own, revised plans, which went before the council, who approved them. If I remember correctly, the local plans actually conformed to existing planning law, which Marvin’s didn’t. But this didn’t matter. Rees overruled it. And I gather that he has also done the same regarding housing and redevelopment in other parts of south Bristol, like nearby Brislington.

Rees definitely seems to favour the north and more multicultural parts of the city over the south. And I’m afraid his attitude comes across as somewhat racist. South Bristol is largely White, though not exclusively. There are Black and Asian residents, and have been so for at least the past forty years. Rees is mixed race, but his own authoritarian attitude to decision making and the reply I got a few years ago from Asher Craig, his deputy-mayor and head of equalities, suggests that he has little or no connection to White Bristolians. When I wrote to Asher Craig criticising her for repeating the claim that Bristol was covering up its involvement in the slave trade, despite numerous publications about the city and the slave trade going all the way back to the ’70s, in an interview on Radio 4, she replied by telling me that I wouldn’t have said that if I’d heard all the interview. She then went on about the ‘One Bristol’ school curriculum she had planned and how that would promote Blacks. It would be diverse and inclusive, which she declared was unfortunately not always true about White men. This is a racial jibe. She may not have meant it as such, but if the roles were reversed, I’m sure it would count as a micro-aggression. And when I wrote to her and Cleo Lake, the Green councillor from Cotham, laying out my criticisms of her motion for Bristol to pay reparations for slavery, I got no reply at all.

A few years ago I also came across a statement from a Labour group elsewhere in the city, stating that Blacks should ally themselves with the White working class, because they did not profit from or support the slave trade. This is probably true historically, but it also reveals some very disturbing attitudes. Support for slavery has become something of a ‘mark of Cain’. If you have an ancestor who supported, you are forever tainted, even if you are the most convinced and active anti-racist. And Critical Race Theory and the current craze for seeking out monuments to anyone with connections to the slave trade, no matter how tenuous, is part of an attitude that suspects all Whites of racism and tainted with complicity in the trade, except for particular groups or individuals. It disregards general issues that affect both Black and White Bristolians, such as the cost of living crisis and the grinding poverty the Tories are inflicting on working people. These problems may be more acute for Black Bristolians, but they’re not unique to them. Working people of all colours and faiths or none should unite together to oppose them as fellow citizens, without qualification. But it seems in some parts of the Labour party in the city, this is not the attitude.

Rees’ overruling of local people in south Bristol does seem to me to come from a certain racial resentment. It seems like it’s motivated by a determination to show White Bristolians that their boss is a man of colour, who can very firmly put them in their place. I may be misreading it, but that’s how it seems to myself and a few other people.

Now I believe that, these criticisms aside, Rees has been good for the city. He was very diplomatic and adroit in his handling of the controversy over the toppling of Edward Colston’s statue, despite the obvious disgust at it he felt as a descendant of West Indian slaves. But Rees ain’t gonna be mayor forever. Indeed, he has said that he isn’t going to run again. There is therefore the distinct possibility that his successor won’t be Labour. And then there’ll be the problem of opposing someone, who always has the deciding vote and can overrule the decisions of the council and the rest of his cabinet.

The people of Bristol voted for the system following a series of deals between different parties to get control of the council, where the individual parties by themselves had no clear majority. It convinced many people that the system allowed them to get into power over the heads of the real wishes of Bristol’s citizens. Now the Lib Dems and the Tories are demanding an end to the system. It’s clearly a matter of self-interest on their part, as obviously they are trying to abolish a Labour administration and the system that supports it.

But I believe that on simple democratic principles the elected mayoralty should go and the city return to government by the council.

Oh yes, and they should start calling it the Council House once again, instead of continuing with Ferguson’s egotistic name for it.

Despatches: 2/3 of People Believe Disabled A Waste of Money

December 18, 2021

Okay, I only caught the tail end of the Despatches programme on Channel 4 Mike was recommending on his blog. This was a searing expose of the DWP’s persecution and denial of benefits to disabled claimants. Mike was urging his readers to watch it, as it is exactly the kind of programme Bojob and his fellow privileged, elite band of murderers really don’t want you to see. I heard the last few minutes of it, and that was enough. It included interviews with the relatives of people who had died after being thrown off the benefits they needed. One grieving mother, I remember, called the DWP exactly what they are: murderers. And then there were the stats of how harassment from the DWP had made disabled people’s conditions worse, further damaging their mental health and even giving them conditions they hadn’t had before. None of this is new or revelatory: Disabled rights groups like DPAC, doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists and carers have been talking about this for years, ever since the loathsome Iain Duncan Smith and the Esther ‘Wicked Witch of the Worral’ ran the DWP under Dodgy Dave Cameron and began their eugenic cull of the disabled. But what really shocked me was the closing comment. This was a statistic. A poll had found that 2/3 of the British considered the disabled a waste of money.

This is deeply shocking stuff. If it’s true, I can only conclude that it comes from the incessant propaganda from middle-market tabloids like the Heil and Depress, not to mention the dregs of print media, the Scum, to convince voters to support further cuts in welfare benefits to allow the Tories give more tax breaks to the bloated superrich. It’s no doubt related to all the propaganda that has convinced voters that most welfare claims are fraudulent, whereas such claims account for less than one per cent, a vanishingly small proportion.

More frightening still, it’s the attitude behind the Nazi sterilisation of the ‘dysgenic’, the biologically unfit, and the murder of the disabled and mentally ill under Aktion T4. Social Darwinist doctrine across the world, including Britain and America, claimed that it was useless supporting the biologically unfit, which included those with learning conditions. This wouldn’t solve their problems, and would only encourage them to breed, further contaminating the gene pool. The disabled should instead be isolated and prevented from breeding. The Nazis went further. The congenitally disabled and incurable schizophrenics were declared lebensunwertigen, ‘life unworthy of life’. The SS set up a special ambulance wing, in which the disabled were gassed in a horrifying prefiguration of the murder of the Jews later on. They were also transferred to specific hospitals and clinics, where again they were murdered. This caused a massive scandal and there was a successful campaign to stop it by the Roman Catholic nobleman, Count Galen. This episode also shows that, had there been sufficient opposition by the Christian churches, the Nazis would also have been forced to back down and halt the Holocaust. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few heroic clergymen and Christian laymen, the churches largely cooperated with the regime, despite papal opposition expressed in the encyclical ‘Mit brennenden Sorge‘ – ‘With Burning Sorrow’.

This attitude should be completely anathema to Christians. Christian theology has traditionally been opposed to euthanasia, viewing it as murder, because it holds that all humans have an intrinsic essential worth that makes their lives precious. We are all, male and female, Black and White, Jew and Greek, made in the image of the Almighty. And I also disagree with it on rational, practical grounds.

Technology is increasingly able to give the disabled the opportunities to live better lives and hold down jobs that they otherwise may not have been able to do. Becky Taylor, one of the artists exhibited in Grayson Perry’s Art Club exhibition at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, is an example of this. Left paralysed in a wheelchair and unable to speak naturally, she nevertheless is able to speak through the same kind of computerised voice synthesis used by Stephen Hawking. She was also able to paint a superb portrait of Perry through computer software that tracked the movements of her eyes. She is currently studying computers at university, and I predict she will have an excellent career ahead of her. Over a decade ago I met a similar young man at a social evening in a pub. This was a lad, who was also totally paralysed, though he still had the power of speech. But he was extremely intelligent, had a girlfriend, and, I learned later, held a very well paid job in computing. And I’ve heard of other disabled peeps in wheelchairs like him. Companies don’t pay the kind of money he was earning to people who can’t do the job. A waste of money? Nonsense! And nobody ever said that about Stephen Hawking.

I realise most disabled people aren’t computer geniuses, but they can do other jobs, although it might mean that they have to use adapted equipment. Or that in the case of those left brain damaged through head injury, they just take a little longer than everyone else. Unfortunately, I got the impression that the economics crisis caused by austerity has led firms to lay off these workers, even though having a job allows them to support themselves and contribute to the economy through their expenditure. And then the DWP harass them as if it’s their fault. And even those, who are unable to work, have an intrinsic worth that goes far beyond money. I was told years ago that some foster parents, for example, prefer to foster children with Down’s Syndrome, because they are more loving. Caring for the severely disabled is not a job I could do, but nevertheless I am extremely impressed by those who do and find it rewarding.

How we treat the poor, the sick and the disabled is a vital measure of how genuinely civilised a society is. The Byzantine Empire, the Greek-speaking eastern Roman Empire, had public hospitals. As did Islam. According to the programme, What Islam Did For Us, one of a series of programmes which examined the scientific contributions of civilisations around the world present by Adam Harte-Davis back in the ’90s, Haroun al-Rashid, one of the medieval Arab emperors, founded a hospital in Baghdad. Its staff included musicians, who were employed as it was believed their music would calm the shattered minds of the insane incarcerated there. Truly, a humane institution.

And unfortunately, these humane attitudes that have raised human civilisation up from the Dark Ages are being undermined by the vicious persecution of the disabled by the DWP and the vile propaganda of the right-wing press.

And the result of this is a return to the underlying attitudes of Nazi barbarism.

We Own Petition to House of Lords Against NHS Privatisation

November 25, 2021

I got this email from the anti-privatisation group We Own It. It’s a petition to the House of Lords requesting them to continue the opposition against the government’s Health and Social Care bill, which further privatises the NHS. I’ve signed it, and I am posting it here so that others can sign it if they wish.

“Dear David,

We’re disgusted but not surprised.

293 Conservative MPs voted late last night to pass the Health and Care Bill and open our NHS in England further to private companies. 

That is a massive betrayal of our country and of our NHS. 

But if they thought that this would be the end of our fight to save the NHS from them, they are badly mistaken. 

As the bill now goes to the House of Lords, we must ramp up and ask peers to protect our NHS. 

Sign the petition to demand the Lords protect our NHS

Given the government’s track record on the NHS, it wasn’t too surprising that Conservative MPs voted to pave the way for American style healthcare.

But you’ve already achieved quite a lot in this fight: 

  • We worked with the Daily Mirror to expose the Conservative MPs who have financial interests in private healthcare.
  • 50,000 emails were sent to MPs, forcing the government to offer a concession on private companies on NHS boards.
  • We spread the word about this government’s attempts to destroy the NHS in 30 local press outlets.
  • We’ve built a movement along with Keep Our NHS Public, Just Treatment, 999 Call For the NHS, and Your NHS Needs You. This will help us have more impact going forward.
  • 3 Conservative MPs voted against the bill because of your arguments. It’s not much, but it shows we can flip them.

You helped do all this and you should be very proud of what we’ve achieved.

And we can keep pushing for more wins as the bill goes to the House of Lords.

Please join our call to all peers to stand up for our NHS.

Add your voice to our call to the House of Lords

Despite the result, giving up just isn’t an option.

As an American doctor working in our NHS recently said:

  • Will this Bill help you see your GP sooner? NO
  • Will it improve your health in any meaningful way? NO
  • Will it reduce the time you have to wait in A&E? NO
  • Will it fix the broken social care system? NO
  • Will it hire and train doctors and nurses to address the staffing crisis? NO

This bill only affects the NHS in England, but whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you can be part of the fight against it.

Lives depend on us fighting this bill. The survival of our NHS for future generations depends on it. 

We will fight it in parliament, but even more importantly, we will fight it in our communities.

Now that the Bill is going to the House of Lords, we have a real opportunity to get wins. 

Add your voice to our demand that the House of Lords back our NHS now.

Tell the House of Lords to amend the Health and Care Bill!

To build back towards the NHS we need, we must make the NHS the default provider of services. We must make sure private companies don’t make decisions about our care.

Now let’s show the Lords that we mean it when we say PROTECT OUR NHS!

Thank you for every action you take to stand up for our health service.

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

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.