Posts Tagged ‘Keir Starmer’

Richard Tice Calls for the Partial Renationalisation of the Water and Power Companies

February 1, 2023

Reform posted this short video, just over two minutes long, on their YouTube channel. In it, their current fuehrer calls for the partial, and rather half-hearted renationalisation of the water and power companies. He tries to connect this with Brexit, and has a dig at Starmer for initially backing it and then dropping it, saying he was no longer interested. Tice begins by stating that we are being badly served by the water companies, who are foreign-owned and so use various dodges to avoid paying tax. No other country allows vital parts of their infrastructure to be owned by foreigners. This is quite true, and Mike has been pointing this out on Vox Political since forever and day. This has been the case since they were privatised by the Tories great, molten idol of private enterprise, Maggie Thatcher, in the 1980s. He wants them partly renationalised – 50 per cent owned by the state, 50 per cent owned by pension funds, and placed under private management. This, he feels, will bring it the best of both state and private enterprise.

He’s wrong, of course. There is no magic solution behind private industry. When they’ve been handed state enterprises or institutions, their policy has always been the same: sack people and make those who remain work for less in poorer conditions in order to deliver profits and shareholder dividends. This has been done in the NHS, when hospitals and doctors’ surgeries have been handed over to private companies. In the case of GPs, this has also resulted in unprofitable patients being dumped and their surgeries closed. It also reminds me slightly of the restructuring of industry under the Nazis. Companies were linked together in a series of industrial associations, set up as private companies but membership of whom was mandatory under the Nazi regime. These associations were under the direction of the state planning apparatus running the economy. And the head of these industrial associations always came from private industry, even when the companies under him were state-owned. Obviously Tice isn’t calling for an extension of this system to British industry as a whole or its transformation into a centrally-planned economy. But he makes the same assumptions that Hitler and the Nazis, as well as the Italian fascists did, about the superiority of private industry. And as a true-blue Brexiteer he tries to link it to Brexit by saying that, as with the departure from the EU, this is all part of Britain taking back control.

Still, Tice has got something right, even though I think his speech is partly influenced by a BBC report today that Oxford Council has called for the end of water privatisation, as well as the outrage of the massive profits the private power companies have been making while energy bills have rocketed.. He’s clearly looking around for policies which he thinks will resonate with the public, and so has recognised, albeit grudgingly from the half-hearted way he wants it done, that the majority of the British public want the renationalisation of the public services. Of course, he’s still extremely right-wing in demanding more cuts to the welfare state, which he’s justified with the bogus explanation that British people need to move into low paid jobs in order to stop the British state importing more foreigners to do them. I posted a piece yesterday rubbishing that, and you should also read the comments on the piece left by the greater people reading this blog, who have added much more relevant information. But it is interesting that in this area of policy, Reform has moved left of Labour.

Not that I’ll believe they’ll keep their promises, anymore than I believe Starmer will.

Sajid Javid Now Calling for Patients to Be Charged for GP Visits and Going to A&E

January 21, 2023

Here’s further evidence of the Tory campaign to run down the Health Service until they can sell it off and introduce an American-style private healthcare system where people have to pay for their care through private health insurance. I’m ashamed and horrified that this man comes from own, fair city of Bristol. According to Sky News, Javid has an opinion piece in the Times (prop: the Dirty Digger) pushing the idea that the health service should charge people going to their doctors and Accident and Emergency with means-tested fees in order to cut waiting times. Javid says that this would follow Ireland, Norway and Sweden, and the appreciation of the Health Service should become a religious fervour blocking reform. The broadcaster also notes that Sunak himself wanted people charged for missed appointments, but was forced to withdrawal that nasty suggestion. Sky’s report says that the current PM till the next one says that he is not considering the idea. Wes Streeting, in a rare occasion of standing up for proper Labour values, said that it would violate the 75 year old founding principle of the NHS that treatment should be free at the point of delivery. Only Labour, which set up the NHS, could properly reform it, and that the imposition of fees would happen ‘over my dead body’.

Well said. I just wish I could believe him.

Of course the Tories hate the NHS as it’s a nationalised service. They don’t understand or sympathise with the principles underlying it and so want it privatised. We’ve already seen another right-wing maniac from their benches calling for it to be run ‘like a business’. These people have their voices magnified by appearing on GB News, where they spout the same nonsense, along with newsreaders and commenters like Nana Akua. As for the nonsense about this cutting waiting times, that’s really only a pretext. I went to a meeting of my local Labour party a few months ago in which the Tories’ attack on the Health Service was being discussed. Someone there said quite clearly that the health service was in particular danger because of the pandemic because the Tories never fail to exploit a crisis. And now Javid has raised his head above the parapet to prove it.

The Sky report states that Javid will not be seeking re-election at the next election. Which is why he probably feels free to make this monstrous suggestion. He has nothing to lose. Unfortunately, his mentality is still shared by his party, and will remain there long after he’s gone.

As for the Labour party, I very much doubt that Starmer will honour his promise to make doctors state employees. He has also said he wants to make a rational use of private industry to clear the backlog. Over the past decade, doctors’ surgeries have been acquired by private healthcare companies like Circle Health, who have then sought to maximise profits by sacking staff and making working conditions worse. The standard privatisation modus operandi. Blair was enthusiastic about privatising the NHS, and Starmer shares the same ideology. He also said something about making a rational use of private healthcare companies. I honestly doubt that he will stop the privatisation of the NHS once he gets his behind in No. 10. If he allows private healthcare companies to continue to acquire doctors’ surgeries, then obviously the doctors working there will not become state employees. Starmer has massive previous for breaking promises, and I think it’s very clear that he intends to break this one.

But the main threat meanwhile is the Tories.

Get them out before they privatise the health service and start charging for care.

Calendar of Coming Left-Labour Events

January 17, 2023

I’ve had some of this blog’s great commenters wondering what the Labour left is doing to challenge Starmer’s stranglehold on the party and his determination to turn it into another version of the Tories. And not necessarily one further to the left. The Labour left is still around and organising events. I’ve had some emails about them, but didn’t put them up as they were in-person meetings in London, and so difficult to get to for people like me in the provinces, or they were about foreign politics, like Latin America, which I didn’t think many people would be interested in. Yesterday I had another email from Matt Willgress through the Arise festival of left ideas and the Labour Assembly against Austerity, giving details about events coming up in what remains of this month and February.

Let’s make 2023 the year of growing waves of resistance.

Read my article here // Retweet it here to spread the word // Register for Feb.1 here

Hello David

Last week, Tory ministers met numerous unions to discuss public-sector pay, but no movement was made, meaning that strike action is set to escalate, including with the PCS announcing 100,000 will be on strike on what is shaping up to be a major day of industrial and other forms of action on February 1st, the day of our #BuildingtheFightback rally.

The Tory refusal to budge on pay is the logical follow-on from locking-in austerity for years. On the Left we need to understand the scale of what we are up against politically, the extent of the crisis Britain is facing, and the nature of what is to come if the Tories aren’t forced out, including that this is an increasingly authoritarian Government.

We need to be organising resistance  right now – and we need to be backing those movements taking direct action and backing those workers taking industrial action. Let’s make 2023 the year of  growing waves of resistance to the Tories – join us at Building the Fightback on February 1 (details below) in solidarity with workers in struggle and to map out our next steps.

Yours in solidarity,
Matt Willgress, on behalf of the Arise volunteers.
 

RALLY: Building the fightback in 2023.

Online rally, 6.30pm, Wednesday February 1. Join us on to hear about & build on a day of action across the country!
Register here // Invite & share here // Retweet here.

Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary // Diane Abbott MP // Dave Ward, CWU GS // Richard Burgon MP // Helen O’Connor, GMB Southern Region & Peoples Assembly // Liz Cabeza, Acorn (Haringey) // Nabeela Mowlana, Young Labour // Holly Turner, NHS Workers Say No // Matt Wrack, FBU GS & more.

Join leaders of key industrial disputes – and who are at the forefront of fighting proposed anti-union laws – at this vital event! Now is the time to build the growing fightback, co-ordinate the resistance & popularise policies that put people before profit. 

Hosted by Arise – a Festival of Left Ideas. All other pages listed on social media are kindly helping to promote the event. 

OTHER 2023 DIARY DATES:

1) FORUM: The economic crisis – was Marx right?


Online. Monday January 23, 2023. Register here // share & invite here // retweet here to spread the word

Here in Britain and around the world the economic crisis is deepening. Join economist Michael Roberts for debate and discussion – was Nye Bevan right, wrong, or both when he said “Marxism put into the hands of the working class movement… the most complete blueprints for political action the world has ever seen?”


Labour Outlook forum as part of the Socialist Ideas series – kindly streamed by Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas.

2) CONFERENCE: The World At War – A Trade Union Issue

Register here. Saturday 21 January 2023, 10.30am, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD (Nearest tube: Euston/Kings Cross). 

Jeremy Corbyn MP // Mick Whelan, ASLEF // Salma Yaqoob // Fran Heathcote, PCS // Alex Gordon, RMT // Ricardo La Torre, FBU & more.

Organised by the Stop the War Coalition.

3) DIARY DATE: A Society in Crisis – Building a Progressive Policy Platform.

Sat 11 Feb, 2023, 10:00am, Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, WC1B 5DQ. Register here – Retweet here.

“The economic, social and environmental crises we face mean the need for a transformative policy agenda is more urgent than ever. For this reason, on February 11, I will be bringing together academics, think tanks, policy researchers and experts, campaigners and others to develop a progressive policy platform – and hope you can join us there.” – John McDonnell MP.

Organised by Claim the Future & Influencing the Corridors of Power’

It’s a pity the last meeting is in London, as this is what the left really need to challenge neoliberalism, in the Labour party as much as anywhere else. Perhaps they’ll release a video of it later on YouTube.

Peter Hitchens on Tony Blair’s Stupidity

January 16, 2023

Yeah, I know this ad hominem, but it is funny. Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani interviewed Tory iconoclast Peter Hitchens the other day. The two don’t really have much in common, but Bastani justified the interview saying that if you want to be certain in your political views, you should test them by talking to people who hold the opposite. Hitchen’s is very much a man of the right, and some of his views are odd, if not barking. He believes, for example, that we shouldn’t have gone to war with Germany as it was not in our interests. Perhaps it wasn’t, but we had signed the defence pacts with France and Poland, And if we hadn’t gone to war, I think we would have still lost the empire sooner or later. Plus we would have been excluded from a continent under Nazi domination. And this is not to mention the carnage that would have been perpetrated by the Nazis, with the Jews and Gypsies becoming extinct in Europe, followed by the Czechs and the Slav populations enslaved as peasant farmers supplying produce to their German overlords.

On the other hand, Hitchens has said that he never supported Thatcher’s sale of the council houses or the privatisation of the prison system, because justice, as a principle, should be in the hands of the state. He also states in one of his books that he was shocked into an awareness of how fragile civilisation was after visiting one of the failed African countries as a journalist in the 1980s. The country had descended into vicious gang violence, but walking through its capital Hitchens saw everywhere grand architecture and all the signs of modern corporate development. I think this gives an insight into the basis of his own Tory views. I remember reading in the Spectator years ago that the right-wing philosopher Roger Scruton abandoned the left when he witnessed the rioting in Paris during the 1968 student and workers’ protests. He was alarmed by their ‘anti-civilisational rage’.

Back to the interview, Hitchens described Blair’s spin doctor, Alistair Campbell, as being frightening intelligent. He mentioned people, who really thought for the first few months of Blair’s regime that it was Campbell running the country. He joked that it was probably because of Campbell’s mighty intellect that he was kept away from voters, as he would probably frighten them all away.

But Blair, on the other hand, wasn’t terribly bright and Hitchens doubted that he could have run the country without Campbell. To illustrate his point, he told the story of how he briefly met Blair just before the 1997 election. Blair was in Oxford, travelling in his motorcade. Hitchens was following him by bike, but as the traffic was bad, he got to Blair’s destination before him. After Blair had arrived, he was immediately surrounded by a crowd taking pictures. Hitchens wanted to talk to Blair, and so, after the crowd had finished and dispersed, he walked up to the future Prime Minister. He decided to open the conversation by asking who the crowd were. Blair replied, ‘They’re Brazilians. I’m very popular down there.’

‘Oh, you should learn Portuguese then,’ replied Hitch.

‘What?’

It turned out that Blair thought they spoke Brazilian in Brazil. Hitchens concluded that what Blair really wanted to be was a pop star, and you didn’t need to ascribe any deep ideological motives to him.

There was, nevertheless, an ideological basis to his policies. He was a product of BAP, the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, which was set up by Reagan to influence the rising generation of British politicians from both the Conservatives and Labour. Blair had started out as a supporter of nuclear disarmament, but after going on a BAP-sponsored trip to America and hearing the views of various right-wing think tanks, he came back as an opponent. He was fervently Thatcherite, believing in the superiority of private industry and strongly influenced by the American political system. Private Eye ran several pieces about the American private healthcare and prison companies lining up to donate to New Labour in the hope of getting some of that nationalised action. He took over advisers and staff from private healthcare companies as well as other businesses, and pushed the privatisation of the NHS further than the Tories would have dared. As stupid as he may have been, he set the course for right-wing Labour, and Starmer shows every indication of returning to it.

Starmer’s Plans for the Health Service: Some Good Promises, but More Privatisation?

January 15, 2023

This is the sequel to my post earlier today speculating on whether Starmer is planning to privatise the health service even further. I based that on his interview on the Beeb this morning, where he said he wanted to use private enterprise to clear the backlog, and that his reforms may include a greater use of private healthcare companies. I caught more of this on the ITV evening news, and while some of it looked good, it still included private healthcare companies. He laid out his plans for reforming the NHS in today’s Torygraph, which is a warning from the start. From the choice of paper it’s clear that he’s aiming at Tory voters rather than traditional Labour. Which, by previous experience of the way he and the Blairites generally side-line traditional Labour supporters and members, is what you would expect. According to ITV, he promised to recruit more NHS staff. This is good, but so blindingly obvious that the Tories have also been making the same promise over the past few years. They’ve repeatedly broken it, and working for our health service is now so bad that a large proportion of them are planning to leave. This leaves questions of how Starmer is planning to persuade more people to work for it and retain them. The report said nothing about Starmer promising them better wages or reducing the workload. He also promised to make doctors NHS employees. This is excellent. Pro-NHS groups like We Own It have said that doctors should be NHS employees in order to avoid the privatisation and sale of GP surgeries to the private healthcare giants. These have enhanced their corporate profits by closing those surgeries they deem unprofitable and sacking staff. The result is that many patients find themselves without a doctor, and the remaining doctors and staff have poorer working conditions. But hey, you gotta keep that tax money rolling in for the private healthcare firmes!

And then there’s the bit that worries me. Starmer has said he wants to make better use of private healthcare, but is still concerned to keep it free at the point of delivery. This says very strongly to me that he’s going to privatise more of the NHS and outsource services to the private sector. And as I’ve kept saying, this is one of the problems with the health service. Privatisation had resulted in poorer services and massively increasing bureaucracy and administration costs. Starmer has said he wants to cut down on the bureaucracy, which is more Tory cant. He could, if he renationalised the NHS. But he obviously doesn’t want to do that.

Among the people responding to Starmer’s proposals was someone from the NHS unions, who said that it wasn’t true that they were against change. They just wanted to see everything costed. The fact that Starmer hasn’t done that, or at least, not in the article he wrote for the Torygraph, suggests to me that he really won’t increase funding, or perhaps not by the amount necessary. With the exception of the proposal to make doctors state employees, his reforms come across very much as something the Tories would also say, while also crossing two fingers behind their backs. He did make a fourth commitment, but I’m afraid I’ve forgotten it.

I want the Tories out, but I do not want Starmer to carry on with their policies, as the Blairites have done in the past. And I think that if he gets the chance, he’ll ditch the promise to make the doctors employees of the state. It’s socialist, and he hates socialism and socialists.

Is Starmer Preparing to Privatise the Health Service Further?

January 15, 2023

It really does look like that. I caught a bit of the interview with him on TV this morning, and I can’t say I was impressed. He was asked about his broken promises, and we got the usual guff about how, after losing the election under Corbyn, he was ready to do anything to make the Labour party electable again, plus the usual nonsense about dealing with anti-Semitism. In fact, while the press and media managed to make Corbyn personally hated by a large section of the British electorate, his policies were massively popular. It’s just that the neoliberals in what is now the political and media establishment fear and hate them. As for the anti-Semitism, this another load of nonsense. Corbyn was never an anti-Semite, as the respected historian of British Jewry, Geoffrey Alderman said. It was all about supporting Israel against the Palestinians as well as a convenient smear tactic by the right once the accusations of communism failed to stick. And the BBC was one of the media outlets pushing the smears through Panorama, as a recent documentary has found. Unsurprisingly, the media have conspicuously failed to cover that.

But it’s what Starmer said about the health service I found particularly disturbing. He talked about using private healthcare to a greater extent to clear the backlog. Well, that was an argument I believe the Tories used for the greater involvement of private healthcare before the pandemic. I think this police started in New Zealand. But then he went on to talk about how the health service needed reform, and that this could include a greater role for private healthcare. He then went to waffle on about bureaucracy and the usual talking points you hear from Conservatives discussing the state of the NHS. The interviewer asked him about reforming it to a social insurance system, and issues about the founding principles of the NHS that medicine should be universal and free at the point of delivery.

Part of the problem is that private enterprise, rather than reducing costs and bureaucracy, has actually increased it, though no-one of the right actually wants to admit this. It’s because of privatisation that administration costs have soared to or near American levels, which are at 45 per cent. Despite this, it looks like Starmer is, like the Tories before him, going to privatise the health service even further, starting with using the backlog as a pretext for the further involvement of private healthcare companies.

As for Starmer generally, I think he is personally unprincipled and opportunistic, who is prepared to lie and break promises just to get himself in No. 10. I would rather have him than the Tories, but I do fear for the country and the health service under his government.

Gladstone: There Should Be More Working Class Men in Parliament

January 11, 2023

Another piece of political wisdom from the past, this time from the great 19th century Liberal leader William Ewart Gladstone. In the 1866 debate of the extension of the franchise to part of the working class, Gladstone stated very firmly that he was in favour of it. Because working people were not adequately represented in parliament. He said

‘I am justified, then, in stating that the working classes are not adequately represented in this House. They are not, it is admitted, represented in any proportion to their numbers …. They are not represented, as I have previously shown, in accordance with their share of the income of the country. Especially after the events of the last few years, I may boldly proceed to say they are not represented in proportion to their intelligence, their virtue, or their loyalty. Finally, they are less represented now than they were thirty-six years ago, when they were less competent to exercise the franchise…. If these are not good reasons for extending the franchise at the present, I know not what reason can be good.’

In Alan Bullock and Maurice Shock, The Liberal Tradition from Fox to Keynes (Oxford: Clarendon 1956).

Unfortunately, despite the extension of the franchise to cover all adults in Britain, working people aren’t properly represented in parliament. Way back in 2014/15 or so someone worked out that 77 per cent of all the MPs in parliament were heads or senior executives of companies. And I don’t expect this to improve when Starmer gets in, as the Blairites were only too keen on admitting rich businessmen into the party and giving them government posts. The current demand for greater diversity in politics really doesn’t extend to class. It is all about increasing the number of women and ethnic minority MPs. But the class background and the economic views tend to remain the same – very middle class and neoliberal. We really need to start demanding the selection of more working people as political candidates and to challenge everywhere we can neoliberalism.

And especially in the Labour party, which was founded to represent working people and oppose unfettered capitalism.

That Preston Journalist Accuses Starmer of Being a Tory: He’s Right!

January 10, 2023

The very right wing That Preston Journalist has taken time off from sniping and criticising Nicola Sturgeon, and instead fixed his sights on Keir Starmer. Earlier this evening he posted a video stating very clearly that Starmer was a Tory. The thumbnail for this is a meme which shows a rubber plant on one side, and a Tory plant, Starmer, on the other. It’s very short, just 1 minute 44 seconds. The Journalist’s reason for calling Starmer a Tory was the Labour leader’s statement that the NHS needed reform. Although met with a chorus of criticism, Preston Man believes this is glaringly obvious. I agree. It is obvious, and the real solution would be to renationalise it and clear out the private medical companies and advisors who are a waste of money. But unfortunately I suspect this is not Starmer’s view, and that he really wants to follow his wretched, squalid hero Tony Blair and push the health service’s privatisation even further. But Preston Hack also believes that Starmer’s a Tory because of what he said about being fiscally prudent. Starmer stated that he was against austerity, had always been against austerity, but in government they would be careful about expenditure. They would be prudent. This, you will remember, was Gordon Brown’s mantra when he was chancellor: ‘We will be prudent’. He said this so often that according to Private Eye the assembled gentlemen and women of the press started calling him Dear Prudence after the Beatles song. Personally, I preferred ‘Help’ and ‘Helter Skelter’. As a Chancellor, who kept tight control of expenditure in order to avoid the boom and bust cycle, Brown was successful. That is until the bankers went berserk and almost destroyed capitalism. Brown prevented it by injecting our own reserves, for which he’s been blamed for wrecking our economy. But I really believe there would have been global financial collapse if he hadn’t.

And it remains the case that the bankers’ disastrous antics were exploited by the Tories, keen to push through austerity and punish ordinary people in the name of further enriching the superrich. But we were all in it together, as Cameron lied.

The trouble is, Blair and Brown were both neoliberal pushing through Tory policies of privatisation and welfare cuts. Moreover, by the time Brown got his feet into No. 10, New Labour had outlived any popularity with the British public. They were fed up with its managerialism, the spin, the condescension towards working class voters, Blair’s warmongering, the cuts to welfare services and hospital closures. I think Brown also put people off with his surly demeanour, although how much of that was real and how much an false image manufactured by the right-wing press is open to debate. He did not himself no favours by referring to an elderly lady, objecting to eastern European immigrants, as ‘some bigot’ when he thought the camera and microphone were off. But I think this may have been the last nail in his electoral coffin.

But back to Starmer, it really does look to me that once he’s in power, it’s going to be Blairite Tory politics as normal. Some of the great commenters here have suggested that the best policy would be to get him into power then bash him. At the moment, I think that is the best policy, considering that there are no alternatives and another round of Tory government would destroy this country. But I am not optimistic about Starmer’s government.

Charles James Fox’s Denunciation of Government Attempts to Tell Brits What to Think

January 9, 2023

There are forces on both the left and right that are trying to limit and control free speech in this country. The Tories have always used the power of the right-wing press, of course, but this is coupled with laws designed to severely restrict strike and public demonstrations. This is coupled with the strong conservative bias of some internet platforms, which deliberately manipulate the algorithms governing what people searching the internet may see in order to bury left-wing blogs.

‘The great 18th century Whig politician, Charles James Fox, denounced the government’s attempts to close the various societies and clubs that supported the French Revolution and demanded constitutional change over this side of the channel, in a speech made before the house in 1792. This included the following stinging passage.

‘But what, Sir, are the doctrines that they desire to set up by this insinuation of gloom and dejection? That Englishmen are not to dare to have genuine feelings of their own; that they must not rejoice but by rule; that they must not think but by order; that no man shall dare to exercise his faculties in contemplating the objects that surround him, nor give way to the indulgence of his joy or grief in the emotions that they excite, but according to the instructions that they receive. That, in observing the events that happen to surrounding and neutral nations, he shall not dare to think whether they are favourable to the principles that contribute to the happiness of man, or the contrary; and that he must take, not merely his opinions but his sensations from his majesty’s ministers and their satellites for the time being! Sir, whenever the time shall come that the character and spirits of Englishmen are so subdued; when they shall consent to believe that everything which happens around is indifferent both to their understandings and their hearts; and when they shall be brought to rejoice and grieve just as it shall suit the taste, the caprice, or the ends of ministers, then I pronounce the constitution of this country to be extinct.’

In Alan Bullock and Maurice Shock, eds., The Liberal Tradition from Fox to Keynes (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1956) 1.

And I think Starmer could also learn a lesson from this about telling Brits what to think about events in foreign countries.

Is Keir Starmer Planning to Further Privatise the NHS If He Gets Into Government?

January 8, 2023

This deeply concerns me. A few days ago the mellifluous Irish left-wing vlogger, Maximilien Robespierre, posted a video asking if Keir Starmer was planning to push the privatisation of the NHS even further if or when he gets into 10 Downing Street. I didn’t see more than a few seconds of the video, but it seemed to be based on Starmer’s cagey response to how he would solve the country’s current crises. While Starmer has promised to repeal the anti-strike legislation, which would definitely be a great step if he actually does it, he answered that question by stating that Labour would not be spending its way out of these problems. This looks like an attempt to assure Tory voters that Labour is now fiscally responsible and no longer the high-spending party of traditional Tory caricature. But the current problems in the Health Service and other sectors are partly caused by decades of cuts and underinvestment. In the case of the NHS, the funding has also been gobbled up by increased administration expenses created by privatisation. So where is this extra investment, and improved services, supposed to come from? Blair tried to solve this by pushing the NHS’ privatisation further than Tories had dared. Not only were further NHS services outsourced to private healthcare providers, but he also created the Community Care Groups of doctors, who were responsible for commissioning medical services. These CCGs were granted the powers to buy in private medical services, and to raise additional income privately. Starmer is a Blairite, as shown by his vehement persecution of the Labour left and embrace of neoliberalism. One of the great commenters on this blog has suggested that he’s an admirer of the Swiss healthcare system. This is a mixture of state and private medical insurance, the degree depending on wealth. In the case of the very rich, it’s all, or nearly all, funded by private health insurance. In the case of the poor, it’s state-funded according to whether they can afford a level of private insurance. I have a feeling Nick Clegg of the Lib-Dems believed in the same kind of continental system. This obviously violates the fundamental principles on which Nye Bevin founded the NHS: that it should be universal and free at the point of delivery.

No-one wanted Blair to push through his NHS privatisations and there was electorally no need for it. By the time Blair was elected in 1997 the country was so thoroughly fed up of Tory misrule and their policies that Blair could have pursued a traditional Labour policy of renationalising it as well as funding it properly. But Blair was a Thatcherite and intensely concerned to get the Tory press and Tory voters onside, to the point that Rupert Murdoch has been described as an invisible presence at cabinet meetings. Blair’s pursuit of Tory policies left traditional Labour voters and members feeling betrayed and disenfranchised and the party lost both. They only continued winning elections because the Tories were worse.

I joined the Labour party a few years ago, inspired by Corbyn’s commitment to genuine Labour party policies and the protection and renationalisation of the NHS. I really don’t want to see it privatised by Starmer as Blair did.

If Starmer does push through further measures to privatise it, not only will he betray this country’s working people, making them poorer and with less available healthcare, then it will also have disastrous consequences for the direction of politics in this country. The recent surge of identity politics following the Black Lives Matter protests back in 2020 has also resulted in a backlash and the appearance of anti-woke parties further to the right, like Reform, led by Richard Tice, and Laurence Fox’s Reclaim. If working people become alienated from politics because whichever party you choose, economically they’re all the same, it leaves the way open for the far right. That was shown very clearly in Margaret Hodge’s neck of London, where Hodge did so little to tackle the rise of the BNP that the stormtroopers at one point had seven members on Tower Hamlets council. Their fuehrer, Derek Beacon, even sent her a garland after their squalid electoral victories. What has been shown to work against the fascist parties and unite working people of different ethnicities and religions is effective, traditional Labour welfare policies. These are desperately needed in themselves, but without them there’s the possibility that Britain may go the same way as the continent in the rise of extreme right-wing nationalist parties.

Renationalising the NHS and restoring the welfare state will not only massive improve the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the British working people, but will do much to stop the racial division and alienation fuelling the drift towards the parties of racial division, friction and resentment.