Posts Tagged ‘Karin Smyth’

Message from We Own It about Their New Website and Campaign Against Channel 4 Privatisation

June 14, 2022

I got this email from anti-privatisation campaign group We Own It informing me about their new website and their continuing campaign against the government’s proposed sell-off of Channel 4.

‘Dear David,

What do Armando Iannucci, the Archbishop of York and Siobhán McSweeney from Derry Girls all have in common?

They’re all taking a stand against Nadine Dorries’ plan to privatise Channel 4.

They’re not the only ones. 27 independent production companies, actor Jon Pointing, comedian Jack Rooke, and the Bishops of Ripon and Leeds are taking a stand too.

They’ve come together today to send a message to the divided Conservative Party: Channel 4 ain’t broke. Don’t fix it. Conserve it.

Thanks to donations from hundreds of you, today we were able to launch an ambitious new campaign which hit the front page of the Yorkshire Post, the Evening Standard, the Independent, the National and local papers across the country.

Check out the beautiful new website and share it to spread the word! We need YOU to make this big launch even bigger! This is a campaign we can win.

Share the new campaign on Twitter

Share on Facebook

Check out the website and forward the link by email to friends and family

THANK YOU so much for showing this government where you stand.

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Jack and Kate – the We Own It team

PS Thanks so much to everyone who took part in the day of action for the NHS on Saturday. You were all over the press for that campaign as well!’

I very much support this campaign, not least because Bristol is one one of the various cities in which the broadcaster is located. I’m afraid that if the government privatises the station it will have to close down its offices or studios in Bristol and the other towns, and that these local broadcasting industries will be severely damaged. A little while ago I wrote to my local Labour MP, Karin Smyth, to express my fears about the loss of local broadcasting in Bristol. She very kindly wrote back stating that she also was going to oppose Channel 4’s privatisation.

I think the channel has declined in quality since the 1980s and 1990s, but it has been a vital part of British broadcasting and cinema. There have been a stream of British films made either by, or with the participation of Channel 4 films. And when it was first launched in the 1980s, it offered a genuine alternative to mainstream broadcasting. It showed Indian films in a slot entitled ‘All India Goldies’ as well as an adaptation of the Indian national epic, the Mahabharata. It also provided excellent opera coverage, and really did much to bring it to a genuinely popular audience. It also gave Britain the wit and wisdom of the journalist and TV critic, Clive James, who had his own show on a Sunday night. James published a trio of books of his TV criticism, as well as his travel journalism and an autobiography, Unreliable Memoirs. His writing could be hysterically funny, as when he covered the extremely excitable remarks of over-the-top sports commenters. In one of his articles he described how one of the cars broke down or crashed during a race ‘and Murray Walker exploded’. At other times, when discussing the horrors of the Holocaust and the surviving Nazi and Fascist leaders like Albert Speer, Baldur von Schirach and Oswald Mosley, who turned up on British television, he was deadly serious and scathing. As he also was when writing about Stalin’s famine and purges and Mao’s China. He interviewed a number of great personalities on his show, including a very young Victoria Wood and the late, great Peter Cook. For fantasy enthusiasts, there was The Storyteller, a series of tales adapted from folk stories, narrated by John Hurt, with puppet creatures, including the Storyteller’s dog, created and operated by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Henson and Frank Oz were the geniuses behind the Muppets. They also made the fantasy movie The Dark Crystal, in which every character is a non-human creature. In the 1990s Henson’s Creature Shop also created the various aliens in the Australian-American SF series Farscape. I am very much afraid that if Channel 4 is privatised, then this history and pool of great broadcasting talent and skills will be permanently lost.

And it will be lost not because there’s anything wrong with Channel 4, but because the Tories’ backers, like one Rupert Murdoch, want British state broadcasting to end so their own cruddy networks can move in and take its place.

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.

Email from Local Labour MP Karin Smyth about Health and Social Care Bill

April 8, 2022

I got a message today from my local constituency MP, Karin Smyth, who holds Bristol South for Labour informing me about the progress and attempts by Labour and the House of Lords to amend the government’s vile Health and Social Care bill. I’d written to her previously as part of a campaign to defend the NHS from the government’s latest push for privatisation by We Own It, and she has sent me messages before keeping me updated on this issue. She’s a supporter of Keir Starmer, but I have to give her due credit for working hard to protect the NHS and I believe that she does work hard for her constituents. As you can see, she is pleased that they have been able to keep private healthcare companies off the new NHS boards, but the opposition was not able to stop the further centralisation of power in the hands of the Health Secretary. She also describes how the act does nothing to solve the problem of understaffing in the NHS and social care sector, among other criticisms.

I don’t believe for a single moment that the government has any intention of solving these problems. The Tories have been pushing for the privatisation of the NHS ever since Thatcher, an aim that Alan Milburn in Blair’s government also shared. Blair, however, kept the NHS well funded. BoJob is doing the opposite to run it down ready for privatisation, which will no doubt be applauded by right-wingers like Alex Belfield, GB News and the Murdoch press. Here’s the email:

Dear David 

Last week, MPs debated Lords amendments to the Health and Care Bill. I am writing to update you further to our previous correspondence.

As you know, this wide-ranging Government Bill covers NHS structural reorganisation, procurement, an expansion of powers to the Health Secretary, social care charges and public health measures.

Like many in the health sector, I agree with the objective of more integrated health and care services. But I am concerned that this Bill represents a rushed, top-down reorganisation that will fail to integrate care and erode local accountability. It will do nothing to address workforce shortages or improve the standards of health and social care.

I commend members of the House of Lords who secured several amendments to improve the Bill, including powers to create a new licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures, provisions to ban hymenoplasty, positive recognition towards parity of esteem for mental health, and the introduction of mandatory training on learning disabilities and autism for all regulated health and care staff providing these services.

I am pleased that, at every stage, Labour has sought to amend the Bill to remove any possibility that private firms can have any role on the boards of Integrated Care Systems, as well as ensuring transparency around the awarding of contracts to non-NHS providers. Following pressure from the House of Lords, the Government amended the Bill to prevent chairs of these new boards appointing members involved with the private sector, who could undermine the independence of the health service. I am committed to upholding the NHS’s founding principles as a comprehensive, integrated, and public NHS that is there for all of us when we need it.

The House of Commons also supported an amendment to continue the provision of telemedical abortion services. Maintaining the existing provision of at-home early medical abortion following a telephone or video consultation with a clinician is crucial for women’s healthcare. Not only did that preserve access to a vital service during the pandemic, it enabled thousands of women to gain access to urgently needed care more quickly, more safely and more effectively. I believe it is right that women’s healthcare reflects the needs of those whom it serves.

I am disappointed, however, that the Government rejected several Lords amendments, including proposals for a consultation on a scheme to regulate the prices and profits of tobacco manufacturers and importers, with the funds raised to reduce smoking prevalence and improve public health. Smoking is responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between the richest and the poorest in society. I urge Ministers to publish their delayed Tobacco Control Plan and ensure its focus is on eradicating these vast health inequalities.

On workforce, there is a shortage of 100,000 staff across the NHS as well as 105,000 vacancies in social care. Staff and NHS leaders across the country are exhausted after their heroic efforts of the past two years. They are burned-out and overstretched, and there are simply not enough of them. Despite chronic shortages, the Government rejected a Lords amendment that would have required Ministers to publish – every two years – a full and transparent assessment of current and future workforce requirements. Health and care services must have the workforce they need to deliver safe high-quality services now and in the future. This amendment was an opportunity for Ministers to ensure a strategic, long-term approach to health and care workforce planning. I am disappointed they rejected it.

More widely, I agreed with the Lords’ decision to overturn a Government amendment to change the social care cap, which campaigners and health charities warned would leave people with low levels of wealth exposed to very high care costs. Unfortunately, Ministers rejected the Lords’ decision, and their amendment was reinstated. I am concerned that it will leave people with moderate assets living in poorer areas forced to sell their home to pay for their care, while wealthier people from richer parts of the country will be protected.

The Bill also gives, in my view, unnecessary and sweeping powers to the Health Secretary to intervene in the running of NHS services. It includes a requirement for Ministers to be informed of every single service changes and every single reconfiguration, with the Health Secretary deciding whether each should go ahead; effectively ending the operational independence of NHS England. While I supported a Lords amendment to prevent excessive ministerial interference in the NHS, the Government rejected it and these powers were reinstated into the Bill.

This is a moment of great pressure on the NHS: a record six million people are now waiting for treatment and public satisfaction with the NHS is at its lowest level in 25 years. Yet this Bill fails to address these immediate challenges. It does nothing to improve the provision or quality of social care and it will not achieve better integration or strengthen accountability to patients.

Yours sincerely

Karin Smyth MP
Labour MP for Bristol South’

Email from Bristol South MP Karin Smyth about the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill

November 21, 2021

I received this message yesterday from my local constituency MP, Karin Smyth, about the government’s Health and Social Care bill, which threatens to further privatise the NHS and give patients poorer service for the profit of private healthcare providers. Karin’s message runs

“Dear David

Thank you for contacting me about the Health and Care Bill 2021-22, I am writing further to our previous correspondence to update you regarding the latest developments on the Bill.

This Bill marks a break from disaster of the 2012 Act known sometimes as the Lansley  Act. Thanks to strong and consistent campaign by many of us the worst excess around competition and fragmentation of that Act are removed.  The Bill does not address the current problems, or indeed those in evidence before the pandemic, and so I will still be opposing as it is unlikely to be amended.  The Health and Care Bill will enter “Report Stage” next week, which is an opportunity for the whole House to consider what has been done during the committee stage.

As you know, as one of the Labour members on the Bill Committee, I have been following this Bill extremely closely, and doing everything I can to improve it, including submitting amendments to make the new boards created by the Bill more accountable, providing for palliative care, and tackling health inequalities.

I will continue to pursue these themes at report stage, and have submitted a number of amendments including one to establish a Good Governance Commission to ensure that ICS boards are accountable and properly scrutinised.

I am committed to upholding the NHS’s founding principles as a comprehensive, integrated, and public NHS that is there for all of us when we need it.

This is a moment of great pressure on the NHS. Yet there is nothing in the legislation to address the greatest challenges facing the NHS. I believe the Government’s focus must be on ensuring that services are appropriately staffed and have the resources they need, and have been arguing for greater workforce planning, and equipping local people with the skills and training needed to help alleviate the pressures.

Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.

Yours sincerely

Karin Smyth MP
Labour MP for Bristol South”

I believe Karin is absolutely sincere in her defence of the NHS and is doing everything she can to preserve it. Unfortunately, I really don’t believe this is true of the current Labour leader, Keir Starmer. I believe very strongly that if he is given the chance, he’ll betray it, just like he’s betrayed every other cause he’s embraced and pledge he made to become Labour leader.

Private Eye on the Medical Report Discrediting Blair’s NHS Privatisation

November 3, 2021

This is another piece from an old issue of the satirical magazine, for 15th-25th October 2004. Entitled ‘Kaiser bill’, it discusses a report in the British Journal of General Practice that refutes the arguments for Blair’s privatisation of the NHS and its remodelling after the American private healthcare firm, Kaiser Permanente. The article runs

Last week’s NHS Modernisation Agency conference on the much-hyped treatment centre programme – the mix of private and NHS one-stop units springing up around the country to offer quick and relatively easy diagnosis and surgery – struck a self-congratulatory note.

But a study published this summer suggests there is no evidence that bringing private companies into the NHS is increasing efficiency or reducing costs. Quite the opposite, in fact.

This news will not please the government, which has always promoted health secretary John Reid’s favourite private US healthcare providers, Kaiser Permanente, citing a seven-page research paper in the British Medical Journal in 2002 which purported to show that Kaiser offered “better performance at roughly the same costs as the NHS”.

This conclusion, extolling the benefits of competition, was manna from heaven for health ministers who had been criticised for closing 10,000 NHS beds since Labour came to power. But it seems it was all nonsense.

For a start, two of the report’s three authors used to work for Kaiser; and their paper trigger a storm of protest in the US and from the medical and scientific community here, highlighting its flawed analysis and conclusions. It emerged that Kaiser’s costs were deflated while NHS costs were inflated; Kaiser patients were the “working well” but NHS patients included the poor, elderly and chronically ill; and individual Kaiser charges for visits and treatment were ignored.

Nevertheless, the protests were ignored and the paper – described by one leading academic as “not worthy of a first year student” – went on to form British government policy, featuring in the 2002 review of NHS funding by Derek Wanless and the subsequent white paper on how to deliver the NHS plan. The department of health even joined forces with Kaiser in “learning from Kaiser Permanente” projects managing chronic conditions and care.

In the summer, however, the scientific record was finally put straight with a paper in the British Journal of General Practice which comprehensively exposed that the Kaiser paper was propaganda masked as science. It detailed the way in which authors used counting tricks including a curious foreign exchange currency conversion which had the effect of almost doubling NHS costs. Despite this evidence the Kaiser paper still has not been officially withdrawn. Instead it is still promoted on health department websites.

Allyson Pollock, professor of health policy at University College London and one of the authors of the critical BJGP paper said: “There is no evidence that introducing private companies increases efficiency or quality or reduces costs. Indeed, all the evidence goes the other way. Markets – even those underwritten by the state – do not deliver comprehensive universal healthcare. Research in the US has shown how private health providers select the profitable patients, treatments and conditions and at a greater cost than public providers.”‘ Professor Pollock is one of the contributors to Raymond Talllis’ and Jacky Davies’ excellent exposure of the decade’s long privatisation campaign against the Health Service, NHS – SOS.

This is the Blair administration that Keef Stalin idealises, and to whose policies he would like us all to return. At the moment Labour MPs like South Bristol’s Karin Smyth are fighting the government’s NHS privatisation. But I’m sure that Stalin will drop the NHS if there is a chance of getting his rear end in Downing Street. After all, he’s had no qualms about breaking every other promise.

Thatcherism is a monumental failure. It’s time it was comprehensively ended and the Thatcherites thrown out of power – the Tories and Starmer both.

My Email to South Bristol Labour Party Complaining about Conference Delegates Support for Starmer

October 22, 2021

Last week my local Labour party held its monthly meeting, online because of the continuing Covid lockdown. There was a monthly report from our local MP, Karin Smyth,along with reports from the two conference delegates. This was followed by a speech from the Unison liaison – I’m afraid I’ve mistakenly said that she’s Unite in the letter, for which I apologise to Unite – and that’s when I got sick and tired of it all and quietly left.

Smyth’s talk was highly informative and chilling in her description of the government’s continuing campaign to privatise the NHS and replace it with a system financed by private health insurance as in America. She supports Starmer, but is very committed to protecting the NHS for which I respect her.

I was less impressed with the two delegates, who supported Starmer and David Evans’ measures destroying party democracy and purging the left. It’s blatant factionalism and the reasons they gave were spurious. They claimed that as Starmer only had 200 MPs, he needed to shore up his support so that he has 40 to form a cabinet. But he has no shortage of supporters in the parliamentary party, and so the rationale makes no sense. They did, however, vote for the Green New Deal, but didn’t vote for the measure supporting the Palestinians. They claimed they didn’t understand it. I think it’s far more likely they shared Starmer’s aggressive Zionism and support for the current far-right Israeli government’s colonisation of Palestine through the construction of illegal settlements and the consequent suffocating restrictions on those of the indigenous Palestinians.

But I was most annoyed by the Unison liaison’s speech talking about how she’d been indifferent to the problem of Labour anti-Semitism, but had just attended a ‘powerful’ presentation about the terrible abuse our Jewish brothers and sisters in the Labour party were suffering from the Left. What was this abuse? Why, it was all tropes, as you’d expect. This is just Zionist propaganda. Tropes are invoked to smear reasonable criticisms of Israel by decent people through contrived parallels to real anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and myths. As I have said ad nauseam, the people targeted for these smears are mostly genuine anti-racists and opponents of anti-Semitism, many of whom – indeed the majority – are self-respecting Jews. These are people, who frequently lost relatives in the Holocaust and have suffered genuine abuse and violence from real anti-Semites and Nazis.

I have therefore sent off this email of complaint. It criticises the delegates’ Starmerite factionalism, and the leadership itself for calling for a return to Blairism. I attack Blair’s further privatisation of the Health Service, the introduction of the Work Capability Tests and the bullying tactics used by the DWP on claimants. I also attack Blair for his illegal invasion of Iraq and Libya, and the consequent destabilisation of the Middle East. A destabilisation that prepared the way for the rise of ISIS. I also make it plain that I oppose Blair’s corporatism and his grant of government positions to the captains of industry and his support for big business over the wishes of communities and their small businessmen and women. I make it very clear that I feel Blair and his policies are not to be supported or revived, and that Starmer has shown that he is completely treacherous and untrustworthy. He will, I feel, turn on his own supporters the moment it suits him, and his support for the NHS at this moment is merely tactical.

I also attack the Unison lady’s talk, pointing out that this has probably been given by JLM, a Zionist organisation, who aren’t interested in Jews but protecting Israel and its barbarous treatment of the Palestinians. I denounce the mass purges from the party of Starmer’s critics and critics of Israel, and briefly describe my own experience of being so accused. I end by asking to present my case at a future meeting of the party.

I may well have set myself up for expulsion as another evil lefty troublemaker, but I can’t let these evil policies and falsehoods go unchallenged. Here is my email below:

“Dear Sir/ Madam,

Thank you for sending me this month’s reports. However, I must express here my very strong disapproval and dismay of some of the views expressed by the speakers at this month’s meeting and particularly the actions of the conference delegates. This does not extend to the great work of our local MP, Karin Smyth. I very much appreciate all the very hard work she does for her constituents and defending the NHS against Tory privatisation.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same of the Labour leadership. Keir Starmer’s return to Blairism is a source of severe concern. Tony Blair in office continued and extended further the Thatcherite policies of the previous Tory governments. Indeed, they have complained that he went further in his privatisation of the NHS than they would have dared if Labour had stuck to its traditional defence of the Health Service. For example, when the Community Care Groups were set up they were given powers not only to purchase services from private medical companies, but also to raise funds privately. The polyclinics were supposed to be privately run, and he continued handing over doctor’s surgeries to private health companies as well as the management of hospitals to private healthcare chains.. Please see books like Raymond Tallis’ and Jacky Davis’ NHS – SOS for further details.

I am also disgusted by the bullying attitude towards welfare claimants and the Work Capability Tests that Blair also introduced. This has seen genuinely poor and disabled people thrown off benefits for the most trivial reasons, leading to great hardship, deprivation and death. This should be ended now. The unemployed and disabled should not be supported by food banks but by a properly funded and functioning welfare state, and damn whatever Rupert Murdoch and Geordie Greig say in their wretched propaganda sheets. But I see precious little evidence of this from Starmer. Indeed, he seems to favour extreme right-wing members, who believe that conditions should be made even harsher for the unemployed!

We also suffered from massive corporate corruption by Blair giving places in government to the private companies that the same departments were supposed to be regulating. The result was a colossal increase in the expense of public works and the favouring of these companies over the wishes of local communities and their businesses. See Bremner, Bird and Fortunes’ You Are Here and George Monbiot’s Captive State, for example. Blair also showed his absolute contempt for international law and the British people with his illegal invasion of Iraq. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a monster, but the invasion of Iraq left the country in chaos and destroyed what had been one of the most secular societies in the middle east with something like a welfare state where women could pursue careers outside the home. This is all gone. 200,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced, contributing to the refugee crisis we see now. Moreover it gave a space for the emergence of the monstrous ISIS. It has also, in my opinion, further contributed to the alienation of Muslims in Britain and abroad, as has Blair’s similar participation in the overthrow of another tyrant, Colonel Gadaffy.

I am utterly disgusted that Kier Starmer should believe Tony Blair is a leader worth emulating and to whom the Labour party should return and refer for its policies. I do not trust him to continue defending the NHS once is power, and I am afraid MPs like Karin will be faced with the difficult choice of supporting the leader or supporting the NHS. The purges and long list of broken promises to members show that Starmer is, in my opinion, utterly without principle and treacherous and I am afraid that valued MPs like Karin will also be purged if they dare to show any independence against him.

I am deeply disgusted by the conference delegates’ support for the leadership’s motions affecting party democracy. These are entirely partisan, and go against both the democratic traditions of the party and the views of many of the ordinary members. Starmer seems determined to purge the party of the left and make Labour into another, perhaps not even paler, version of the Conservatives. At the same time, he seems to have done precious little to oppose them in parliament, to the point that he has been easily ridiculed and mocked by Johnson, to the applause of the media.

I was also disappointed by the delegates’ refusal to support the motion in favour of the Palestinians. The motion is not difficult to understand. The Israeli state is colonising Palestinian territory with the construction of illegal settlements in defiance of international law. At the same time there is a system of apartheid in Israel that persecutes Palestinians as second class systems. This has to stop if Labour really believes in peace and equality in the Middle East. I fear the delegates’ refusal to support the motion has less to do with a failure to understand the situation than Keir Starmer’s support for the hard-right government in Israel.

This brings me on to the comments by the Unite liaison officer and her praise for the ‘powerful’ training she had received showing the ‘terrible abuse’ Jewish members of the party had received from the left through tropes. She comes across as a thoroughly decent woman, though naive and uninformed, and I fear that she has been terribly mislead by people I can only describe as liars, propagandists and smear merchants. People who, in my certain experience, have smeared thoroughly decent, genuinely anti-racist people, including staunch opponents of anti-Semitism, as Jew-haters. Starmer handed over anti-Semitic training to the Jewish Labour Movement, an extremely partisan and biased organisation. According to the organisation’s Jewish critics, they used to be Paole Zion, ‘Workers of Zion’, a Zionist organisation which describes itself as the sister party to the Israeli Labor Party. This organisation was moribund until it suddenly received an injection of funds from persons or persons unknown a few years ago.Its Jewish critics have pointed out that its members do not have to be either Jewish or members of the Labour party, as is the case with their ideological opponents in Labour, Jewish Voice for Labour. Yet the Jewish Labour Movement is somehow privileged as speaking for Labour’s Jewish members and Jewish Voice for Labour demonised as anti-Semitic ‘commies’ by right-wing Labour MPs like Neil Coyle.  

In my experience organisations like the JLM are not interested in tackling anti-Semitism. They are there to counter criticism of Israel and Zionism, and the use of literary tropes is the only method they can use to do so. And their targets have been overwhelmingly Jews. Jewish Voice for Labour have complained that Jews are 300 times more likely to be accused of anti-Semitism than non-Jews. Those accused have included self-respecting men and women, who frequently lost relatives and friends in the Shoah, and who, along with their gentile friends and supporters, have suffered real anti-Semitic abuse, harassment and assault from genuine Nazis and anti-Semites. I cannot express sufficiently my absolute disgust at this deplorable persecution. Miri Hillel, a Jewish journalist, has said that many Jews are afraid of speaking out against this campaign of official harassment because of the effect it has on their families. Those accused of anti-Semitism are subjected to horrendous, foul abuse because of these lies and smears.  . 

As for terrible anti-Semitic tropes, this is being done to silence criticism of Israel by finding spurious literary and historical parallels with real anti-Semitism. Thus, any mention of Israeli embassy official Shai Masot’s covert negotiations with British civil servants to exclude Alan Duncan, a critic of Israel, from the cabinet, as a plot or conspiracy is loudly denounced as an example of the old myth of Jewish conspiracies like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But Masot was plotting and engaged in a conspiracy in the true sense of the word. Describing it as such does not connect it to real, poisonous anti-Semitic myths like the infamous Protocols or the more recent myth of the Great Replacement. Such literary criticism, and that’s all it is, is done not to protect Jews, but as a cynical campaign to deflect criticism from Israel by misrepresenting its critics as anti-Semites.

I myself haver personal experience of the witch hunt against critics of Israel. A few weeks ago I was told I was under investigation following complaints of anti-Semitism about an article on my blog. What the complainants objected to was almost wholly statements I had made criticising Zionism. They objected to my statement that all states and ideologies, including Zionism and Israel, should be open to examination and criticism, even though the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism says that criticism of Israel is perfectly acceptable provided the country is not held to a higher standard than others. They also didn’t like my statement that many gentiles initially did not support Zionism because it was too closely linked to real anti-Semitism, even though this is historically documented fact. They also considered that I was being anti-Semitic simply for stating another historical fact, which is that Zionism was, up to the Second World War, a minority position among European Jews. Most of them wished to remain in their homes, fighting for equality and to be accepted as fellow Brits, Frenchmen, Germans, Poles and so on rather than move to a country to which they felt no connection. Again, documented historical fact. I am further disgusted by the deplorable way Starmer is trying to silence reasonable opposition to Israeli’s barbarous treatment of the Palestinians through mass expulsions and the proscription of organisations defending those unfairly purged, such as Labour Against the Witch Hunt and the Labour In Exile Network.

I was so outraged at the Unite lady’s speech defending the JLM training that I left the meeting. I feel that the meeting has been very one-sided in the views presented. I would therefore very much like to talk about my experiences of what I can only describe as a factionalist with hunt the demonises and expels decent people and exposing them to real anti-Semitic abuse and violence at a forthcoming meeting.

Yours faithfully,”

Disgusted by Pro-Starmer Local Party Delegates to Conference

October 14, 2021

As I said earlier this evening, I was at an online meeting of my local constituency Labour party tonight. I was very impressed by Karin Smyth, our local MP, and her report on Sajid Javid’s health and social care bill, and what she and the Labour party are doing to prevent private healthcare firms sitting on the new commissioning boards the Tories wish to set up and the compulsory outside tendering. Smyth is a supporter of grotty, sectarian, squalid Starmer, but I believe she is sincere in her defence of the NHS and am impressed by how hard she works for her constituents.

But I don’t believe Starmer is, and if the choice comes between embracing the Tories’ privatisation and not getting his overprivileged, aristo, millionaire posterior in 10 Downing Street or winning the approval of the Tory press, the Stormfront Stalin will sacrifice the NHS to the private healthcare parasites and throw any Labour MP who attempts to defend it under the bus.

But I was less than impressed by what the local party’s delegate to conference had to say. They’d voted for nearly all of the motions put at conference. This included the Green New Deal. But it also included them voting for David Evans as General Secretary, the decision to raise the proportion of MPs required for a leadership candidate, and in fact nearly all of Starmer’s notions to knobble party democracy. They also voted for the implementation of the E.H.R.C. report into Labour anti-Semitism.

And then in the questions the local delegate or liaison from Unison, whose scab leadership endorsed all these scummy notions, announced that she also endorsed the implementation of the E.H.R.C. report. She had been indifferent of the anti-Semitism issue until she had attended a very powerful training session, which alerted her to the abuse our Jewish brothers and sisters got from the Left.

This was too much. I was sick of the sectarian anti-Semitism promoted at these workshops, and the way she had swallowed it hook like and sinker.

These training sessions are biased. Starmer has handed them to the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement, the sister of the Israeli Labour party. The JLM was formerly Paole Zion and was dying on its anti-Arab tuckus before it suddenly got a massive influx of money from person or persons unknown. It does not represent Labour’s Jews. You don’t have to be Jewish or even a party member to join it, as you do for Jewish Voice for Labour. It conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and is one of the major organisations behind the witch hunt against putative anti-Semites. And an amazing, incredible number of these seem to be secular or Torah-observant Jews. I say ‘incredible’ because I don’t believe a damn word of it. Not after reading the blogs, testimony and comments on mine and Mike’s blogs from the great Jewish peeps who’ve been a victim of this utterly damnable witch hunt. And also the same from genuinely anti-racist gentiles, like Mike himself, who have always been staunch opponent of real anti-Semitism and Nazism. Some of these people, Jews and gentiles, have suffered real anti-Semitic hate crimes, including violence and assault, either because they were Jews or marched against them as friends and allies. Mike was smeared and purged simply for saying that Ken Livingstone was historically correct about Adolf Hitler’s wretched support for Zionism in the Ha’avara Agreement. This made him an anti-Semite despite the fact that when Mike was at College, he gladly took part in a performance organised by one of his Jewish friends commemorating the Holocaust. He was one of the readers reading out the names of just some of those murdered. I have on my bookshelf a book, in German, he sent me, about the Nazi Sicherheitsdienst and its role in the persecution of political prisoners and the Holocaust. It lists some of the names of those butchered, maps showing the locations of the various concentration camps and pogroms and the stats for the numbers of innocents murdered at these various locales. And in answer to the Holocaust Deniers, yes, 6 million did die.

But this comes to nothing. The JLM and related organisations like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and Labour Friends of Israel, the GnasherJew troll farm and all the scummy rest specialise in going through peoples’ social media posts looking for whatever they can use to twist so that it sound anti-Semitic. That’s how they got self-respecting, anti-racist Jews like Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, as well as Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Graham Bash and many, many more. Men and women whose only crime has to criticise Israeli for its barbarous persecution of the Palestinians. Disgust which they also share with anti-racist Zionists – there are a few – and Israelis.

I am utterly disgusted by this and do intend to challenge this in my local party. Whatever Starrmer wants, his vicious, sectarian anti-Semitism is still an issue some of us intend to keep on fighting.

No pasaran to Blairite social Fascism and anti-Semitism!

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.

Email from Local Labour MP Karin Smyth Giving Her Opposition to Tory NHS Privatisation

September 26, 2021

Last week anti-NHS privatisation group We Own It were asking their followers to write to their MPs to get them to oppose the government’s new Health and Social Care bill. This would further open up the NHS to privatisation, not least by allowing private healthcare firms to sit on the boards of NHS trusts. I was one of the peeps, who responded, writing to my local Labour MP for south Bristol, Karin Smyth. Yesterday she sent me this email:

“Dear David,

Thank you for contacting me about the Health and Care Bill 2021-22.

As one of the Labour members on the Bill Committee, I have been following this Bill extremely closely, and doing everything I can to improve it. Whilst there are some positive aspects of the Bill, including reversing some of the devastating policies introduced under the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, there are also some extremely concerning elements.

The Government says the Bill builds on the NHS’s own proposals for reform, aiming to make it less bureaucratic, more accountable, and more integrated. Like many in the health sector, I agree with the objective of more integrated health and care services. But I am concerned that this is the wrong Bill at the wrong time.

Without serious changes, it will fail to integrate health and social care, erode local accountability, and give significant powers to the Health Secretary.

In particular, my Labour colleagues and I are seeking to amend the Bill to remove any possibility that private, profit-motivated firms can have any role in the boards of the new Integrated Care Systems (ICS). During Committee Stage of the Bill, the Health Minister conceded to these concerns and said the Government will bring forward a proposal to protect the independence of ICS boards by preventing individuals with interests in private healthcare from sitting on them. The Opposition will continue to press Ministers on this concession as the Bill progresses.

I’ve also been pursuing the theme of ensuring that the new bodies the Bill creates are properly accountable to local communities, and act in the interest of the patients they serve. Along with Labour colleagues, I supported a number of amendments to make this happen. We proposed that the Chairs of these Integrated Care Boards should be locally elected, and that Board members should be nominated by Directors of Public Health, mental health trusts, social care providers and trade union representatives, and a member representing patients. We also proposed that the Bill should include specific reference to health inequalities, so that NHS England has to take account of their effects when making decisions.

I am committed to upholding the NHS’s founding principles as a comprehensive, integrated, and public NHS that is there for all of us when we need it.

This is a moment of great pressure on the NHS. Yet there is nothing in the legislation to address the greatest challenges facing the NHS. I believe the Government’s focus must instead be on ensuring that services are appropriately staffed and have the resources they need, and have been arguing for greater workforce planning, and equipping local people with the skills and training needed to help alleviate the pressures.

Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.

Yours sincerely

Karin Smyth MP
Labour MP for Bristol South”

Smyth is on the right of the party, and has said that she respects and supports Keef Stalin having worked with him. On the other hand, she does work hard for her constituents and has made it extremely clear that she is no fan of the Tories’ attempts to dismantle the NHS. Indeed, she told a meeting of the local Labour party that she became an MP because she was so appalled and David Cameron’s wretched NHS reforms.

I don’t trust Starmer to oppose NHS privatisation whatever he may say about it, simply because he has shown precious little difference between himself and Boris and has broken every promise he made to continue the policies advanced by Jeremy Corbyn.

But I greatly appreciate the hard work Karin Smyth puts in on behalf of the people of Bristol and her local party, and her strong efforts against the Tories’ attempts to destroy the NHS.

My Reply to Karin Smyth MP’s Email about the Anti-Semitism Allegations

September 5, 2021

One of the people I contacted for assistance against the anti-Semitism allegations levelled against me by persons or persons too cowardly to reveal their real identities was my local MP for south Bristol, Karin Smyth. I received this reply from her on the 27th of last month, August 2021, in which she told me that she thought it was inappropriate for her to get involved. She also said that she had confidence in the impartiality of the Complaints Team and that an EHRC report had said that there was a problem with anti-Semitism complaints in the Labour party, and so there was a need to respond to them promptly and fairly. Here’s her email

“Dear David

Thank you for your e-mail.

I believe that it is important that the Labour Party has a clear process to investigate complaints of whatever nature. Therefore, it is not appropriate for me as an MP to get involved with individual cases.

I have confidence in the Complaints Team to investigate allegations fairly. There is an appeal procedure available, should you need it.

As you will know, anti-Semitism has been a very sensitive issue within the Labour Party (the EHRC report in 2019 found significant failings in the way the Labour Party had handled anti-Semitism) and the Party is now doing its utmost to respond to all complaints promptly and fairly.

Yours sincerely

Karin

Karin Smyth
Labour MP for Bristol South”

Repeated observation of the handling of such cases has demonstrated to me that they are anything but impartial. I can appreciate Smyth not wanting to get involved, but am afraid that her personal biases may well be involved. She has said that she has worked with Starmer and has immense respect for him because of his work in establishing the Good Friday Agreement with Mo Mowlam in Northern Ireland. Well, that may be so, and if it is, it’s probably one of the few good things the wretched man has done. As for the EHRC report, others have found that anti-Semitism in the Labour party was lower than in other parties and actually fell under Jeremy Corbyn. Quite apart from the anti-Semitism in a process which particularly targets left wing Jews. I have therefore sent her the following reply.

“Dear Karin,

Thank you for your kind reply to my email asking for assistance in tackling the allegations of anti-Semitism that have been made against me. While I can appreciate some of your reasons for doing so, such as your statement, “I believe that it is important that the Labour Party has a clear process to investigate complaints of whatever nature. Therefore, it is not appropriate for me as an MP to get involved with individual cases.” The rest of your reply is much less satisfactory and, along with your closeness to Keir Starmer, raises serious issues about your own impartiality. 

You say:

“I have confidence in the Complaints Team to investigate allegations fairly. There is an appeal procedure available, should you need it.”

I am aware of the appeals procedure. I have no confidence however, in either the ability or willingness of the Complaints Team to investigate these issues fairly, based on the experiences of friends and colleagues who have been similarly smeared, nor the entire  disciplinary procedure. The courts used to judge these cases are very strongly biased. In the cases of people I know personally who have been through them, members of those tribunals acting for the Labour party have been instructed to avoid looking at particular sections of the accused’s defence which support their case. We are also seeing people expelled for the crime of having given interviews to organisations that Keir Starmer and David Evans wish to proscribe, but were actually perfectly acceptable at the time the interviews were given, such as Pamela Fitzpatrick. I have also noticed that all these allegations are directed against the Labour left, and especially against critics of Israel. Reasonable criticism of Israel and Zionism should be perfectly acceptable. It is not the same as anti-Semitism, although this what my anonymous accusers seem to believe. I was accused of anti-Semitism because I argued that Zionism was a minority position amongst European Jews before the Second World War, which it was according to respectable historians. They also objected to my saying that the real definition of anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews as Jews. There is nothing anti-Semitic in this. This is how the founders of modern anti-Semitism, noxious individuals like Carl von Schoenerer, a 19th century Austrian anti-Semitic politician, actually defined it. There was a disgusting rhyme that demonstrates this. It roughly translates into English as ‘The religion is beside the point. In the blood is the swinishness’. I was also accused because I said that every ideology and state should be open to discussion and criticism, including Zionism and Israel. Which obviously isn’t anti-Semitic, because it does not single out Israel for special or exclusive condemnation.

There have also been a series of high profile cases which in my view have also demonstrated the blatant bias of what can only be called a witch hunt. Jackie Walker was accused of anti-Semitism for remarks she made at a discussion of the commemoration of the Holocaust. The Jewish Labour Movement running the event secretly recorded her and then leaked the recording, despite the fact that this was supposed to be a closed session. Marc Wadsworth was similarly accused of anti-Semitism because of a remark to Margaret Hodge criticising her for passing on a Labour leaflet to a Torygraph journalist. This was supposed to correspond to the trope of the disloyal Jew, despite the fact that it wasn’t. Wadsworth had worked with the Board of Deputies to combat real anti-Semitic attacks by the NF on the Isle of Dogs in the 1980s and didn’t know Hodge was Jewish. And I could go on. I also find it no accident that the majority of those smeared as anti-Semites are themselves Jewish, which indicates to me that there is a kind of very partisan, sectarian anti-Semitism in these accusations. The corrupt way the Labour party has handled these investigations, and the way it has leaked details to the press and local party informing some accused members that they have been suspended, as happened to one member in Wales, but not told the person themselves, indicates that the party and its bureaucracy are deeply untrustworthy.

Then there’s your comment

“As you will know, anti-Semitism has been a very sensitive issue within the Labour Party (the EHRC report in 2019 found significant failings in the way the Labour Party had handled anti-Semitism) and the Party is now doing its utmost to respond to all complaints promptly and fairly.”

Other reports have also found that there is less anti-Semitism in the Labour party than in other parties, and especially the Tories. They also found that it had dropped under Jeremy Corbyn, despite the vilification of the former leader as an existential threat to Britain’s Jews, as well as reports that Corbyn was deliberately prevented from promptly and correctly addressing cases of anti-Semitism by right-wing members of the party apparat determined to discredit him. I am also concerned at the way this is being pushed, while other forms of racism, such as the alleged bullying of Black and Asian MPs and activists and the rising Islamophobia within the party are being ignored and tolerated.

I regret that I see these accusations as nothing short of the ultra-Zionist right trying to silence responsible criticism of Israel and its persecution of the Palestinians, while those following in the Thatcherite traditions of Tony Blair, like Mr Starmer himself, appear to be using it to purge the party of traditional socialists. They are anything but impartial. 

Your closeness to Mr Starmer and statement of faith in the complaints procedure therefore makes me wonder about your possible bias in this, and how far you may be trusted to represent fairly your constituents and ordinary rank and file members on this and related issues.

Yours faithfully,

David Sivier”

I’ve only just sent the email off. I’ll let you know what reply I get, if any.