Posts Tagged ‘Outsourcing’

Hurrah! The Green Party Wants to Renationalise the NHS

January 27, 2023

I don’t usually watch the party political broadcasts. I find them too boring, depressing and, in the case of the Tories, infuriating. But I caught a bit of the Greens’ broadcast last night, and was impressed. They stated that as part of their platform of policies they would renationalise the NHS, end its outsourcing and make social care free at the point of use as with the health service. Excellent! This is what the Labour party should be doing, and should have done 16 years ago when Blair won his landslide victory in 1997. But I’m afraid Starmer won’t. Everything he’s said has raised warning signs that he means to privatise more of the health service following Blair’s precedent, starting with using private healthcare providers to clear the backlog of cases. This is exactly what the Tories have been saying. Or course, Jeremy Corbyn wanted to renationalise the NHS, along with the public utilities and restore and revitalise the welfare state. Which is why they smeared him, first as a Communist, then as an anti-Semite, enthusiastically aided by Starmer’s allies in the Labour party.

I’ve very mixed feelings about the Greens. They’re very woke. There was a controversy a few years ago about the schools in Brighton, which I think is a Green council or their MP is Green, teaching Critical Race Theory and White Privilege. In Scotland the Greens are behind the SNP’s wretched Gender Recognition Act, which would lower the age people can legally declare themselves trans to 16 amongst other reforms. I don’t doubt that it’s meant well, but I strongly feel it will do much harm by encouraging confused young people to pursue medical treatment that may be totally inappropriate for them and could lead to lasting harm.

But I entirely support their demand for a properly nationalised and funded NHS.

I am just annoyed that it’s the Greens, who are regarded as an extreme, fringe party, demanding this and not Labour.

Well, a few years ago the Greens took a number of local seats from Labour in the council elections in Bristol until they were only one or two behind them on the council. I would therefore not blame anyone if, in the forthcoming council elections, they turned their votes away from Starmer’s Labour and voted Green instead.

GB News’ Mark Steyn Coming Very Close to Pushing Fascist Conspiracy Theories about Covid Vaccine

January 5, 2023

GB News, the self-proclaimed alternative to the ‘wet, woke BBC’, is in this fortnight’s Private Eye. The broadcaster apparently has overtaken Sky News in ratings, and has taken to pushing stupid, and potentially dangerous conspiracy theories. These include myths that the vaccine doesn’t work, or is responsible for deaths, and that there’s no need for the lockdown. Pretty much staples of the wider right-wing anti-vaxxer fringe. But one of these conspiracy theories comes very close to fascism. Mark Steyn has apparently told his viewers that the coronavirus vaccine is the cause of the falling birthrate in the west of the ‘Aryans’, who built civilisation. Firstly, as the 19th century linguist, who used the term ‘Aryan’ for what are now termed the Indo-European languages, George Muller, it’s a linguist not racial term. A dark-skinned Indian, who speaks Hini or one of the other languages descended from Sanskrit, or an Urdu-speaking Pakistani can both be fairly described as Aryans, because their languages are derived from that introduced by the Aryans, who invaded Indian c. 3000 BC. But both would be targeted by the Nazis over here because of their race. Muller stated quite clearly that conflating Aryan with race was dangerous, and it’s a pity more people didn’t listen to him otherwise the carnage of the Third Reich might have been avoided.

He’s right that the birthrates in the developed west are falling along with the sperm count of western men. This is alarming, as there have been predictions by respectable magazines and newspapers that if it continues, by 2050 half of western men will be considered clinically infertile. No-one really knows the cause of this, but it’s been suggested since the 1990s that a type of plastic, phthallates, may be responsible. Other causes are probably the industrial pollution responsible for the reproductive deformities in amphibians, which Alex Jones notoriously declared were ‘turning the frickin’ frogs gay’. These chemicals are believed to mimic female hormones, hence their damage to those animals. I’ve also seen claims that it’s all due to female hormones from the reproductive pill getting into the biosphere, but I haven’t seen any scientist make this claim. In my opinion, it comes from that part of the right which is anti-feminist and so pro-life as to condemn contraception as well as abortion. I also got the impression that all western men were affected, including Blacks and Asians, and not just Whites.

Steyn’s claims resemble the conspiracy theories that were going around the Black communities in America and possibly apartheid South Africa back in the 90s. These claimed that the government was putting chemicals in Coca-Cola to sterilise young Black men. That was totally wrong, though it was understandable given the persecution of Blacks in both those countries. Steyn’s is a first-world, White version of this. It comes very close to all the stupid and murderous conspiracy theories about the machinations of the Jews to enslave and destroy the White race, although as far as I know Steyn isn’t an anti-Semite.

He is, however, an Islamophobe. About a decade ago he was a partner with late Reaganite bloviator Rush Limbaugh and his radio station out in New Hampshire. Much of the content Steyn put out on his blogs and columns on the internet were attacks on Islam, including some of the weirder rulings made by Iran’s late Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini. He was one of those pushing the ‘Eurabia’ fear. This holds that Muslim birthrates are outstripping those of indigenous European Whites to such an extent that they will become the dominant race and religion and impose sharia law. A friend of mine told me he did some calculations, and that’s simply not going to happen. I don’t doubt that the Muslim population will expand immensely in the next decades, and this will present serious problems if the radicals and Islamists extend their influence over these communities, but it won’t lead to their population overtaking everyone else’s.

Steyn also tried to warn or scare people with the example of Feyenoord in the Netherlands. This is a majority Muslim town where some decades ago the Muslim dominated city council publicly invited the non-Muslim population to convert. I don’t know, but I think their attitude would be unremarkable, perhaps even ordinary in very pious, hardline Muslim countries like Pakistan, where non-Muslims can come under very intense pressure to convert. But obviously in the context of the non-Muslim, secular west, where religion is considered a matter for the individual’s private conscience, it’s totally unacceptable. The problem is, I don’t know how common such political moves by Muslim-controlled local authorities are. As far as I know, it only happened in Feyenoord, although I’m sure that non-Muslims living in solidly Muslim areas are under pressure to conform to their standards of behaviour.

Away from Steyn, the article describes how GB News, like Fox over in the US, threw in their lot with Donald Trump, talking him as US president until it became the ‘MAGA channel’. Their predictions of Trump’s eminent suitability for the Oval Office was definitely born out by the Orange Buffoons massive greed, incompetence and disastrous policies towards blue collar workers – more attacks on their rights, further decimation of their welfare provisions to enrich Trump’s friends and donors, and more outsourcing. As well as attempts to muzzle federal climate and environmental scientists for the benefit of the oil industry. And I could go on.

As for GB News’ attitudes over here, it’s solidly behind Farage and Brexit and resolutely against the welfare state and the NHS. If you’re a member of the working class, GB News is not your friend. But the stupid conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine threaten to do real harm. We’ve already seen instances where people have refused the vaccine, then caught the virus and died. And Steyn’s story about birthrates and ‘Aryans’ threatens to encourage real Nazis and Fascists, who’ll target not just Muslims but Jews.

We Own It Petition against Local NHS Privatisation

October 21, 2022

Not only have We Own It launched a petition against the general privatisation of the NHS they’ve also launched one people can sign directed at their local NHS leaders against the privatisation of local services as well. I got this email earlier today and have, of course, signed it. If you’re also concerned about your local NHS services being privatised, you may like to do the same.

‘Dear David,

If you could take a 2 minute action to STOP the outsourcing of your local NHS services to profit-greedy private companies, would you do it? 

There is something you can do that will have a HUGE impact.

Sign the petition to ask local NHS leaders to commit to end NHS outsourcing.

Sign the petition to your local NHS leaders

For over a decade, the ideology of privatisation has been gaining a strong foothold in our NHS.

We were told that outsourcing was ‘the most efficient way to provide services’.

But you always knew that this wasn’t true. And now you’ve been proven absolutely right.

The evidence is clear. The preventable deaths of 557 people have been linked to the outsourcing of NHS services. 

Once you’ve made your voice heard, NHS leaders will have to face the facts: privatisation fails our health. 

Can you add your voice to the petition and demand that your local health leaders commit to end outsourcing in your local NHS now?

Sign the petition – make your voice heard

Last night we launched our End NHS privatisation, save lives campaign with over 300 other campaigners.

New research has linked 557 preventable deaths to the outsourcing of NHS services.

Ben Goodair, the Oxford academic behind the research, told us at the campaign launch rally last night:

“My research found that wherever privatisation increased, deaths from preventable causes also increased. It is clear that there is a connection there.

“I am grateful to everyone that is doing something about this – you are saving lives.”

Whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, your local NHS leaders need to know that you’ve had enough of the deaths and the outsourcing.

Demand that your local health leaders save lives now – sign the petition

This fight in your local NHS is totally winnable. We just need to mobilise thousands of people in your area to add their voices to this demand.

They simply cannot ignore thousands of voices.

That is how we are going to win. And we have won before.

We’ve worked with Keep Our NHS Public campaigners in London to force local NHS leaders to kick American multi-national company Centene out of multiple GP surgeries. 

We’ve worked with Save Our NHS campaigners in Bath to get Virgin Care removed from their local NHS board.

Together with you we got the NHS in 11 regions to pledge to ban private companies from their boards.

We can win – YOU can win – if we make our voices heard in our thousands.

Make your voice heard now by signing the petition

We are so excited about this campaign because we know that when we come together and fight, nothing and no one can stop us winning.

Sign the petition and share it with your friends and family. And if you can do more, sign up HERE to receive leaflets from us to distribute to houses on your street.

Thank you for everything you do to protect our NHS from privatisation. 

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

‘We Own It’ Meeting Yesterday to Defend the NHS – A Brief Review

October 21, 2022

The pro-nationalisation, pro-NHS movement ‘We Own It’ held a Zoom meeting yesterday about the need to defend the health service from the Tory’s pernicious ongoing privatisation and discuss the demonstrations and protests they were organisations. It was hosted by the very well-informed and genial John Bosco and had a range of excellent speakers. It was to last from 6 pm to 7. 30, but I left after 50 minutes. This review thus necessarily does not cover the full event and all its speakers. Those I heard were Kate Osborne MP, Ben Goodair, the scientist behind the research showing that privatisation and outsourcing is actively killing people, Ron Mendel, an activist from my home city of Bristol and Zack Palansky, the deputy leader of the Green Party and member of the London assembly. And what they had to say was chilling.

Kate Osborne reminded us that a few years ago, Jeremy Hunt sold off the blood department of the NHS to the investment company, Bane, which then sold it on for a tidy sum. As a result, there’s a crisis in the blood section of the NHS, which has been forced to issue an ember alert. As for present health secretary, Therese Coffey, she is actively campaigning for the cash-starved NHS to get less money. She urged people to expose the false narrative that private industry is aiding the NHS. It isn’t. And to show how desperate conditions are for workers in the health service, one quarter of NHS trusts are running food banks for their own staff.

Ben Goodair’s work showing that outsourcing has actively produced excess deaths was published in the Lancet. Much of his talk was about the methodology they used to research this. He stated that one in ten patients in the health service is now being treated by a private healthcare company. He and his colleagues looked at the impact of privatisation by examining the use of private companies hired by the CCGs, the collections of doctors that Blair set up to control doctors’ spending. Not all CCGs used private healthcare companies. Many don’t, or only use to them to a small extent. But the study found that where they were used extensively by the CCGs, deaths rose significantly the next year.

Ron Mendel is an American, now living in my fair, home city. He has personal experience of the immense cost to the patient of private healthcare. He was speaking from Israel and Palestine, where he has been trying to work for peace between the two communities. He revealed that in Bristol, the Integrated Care Trust is currently running at a £36 million deficit. According to research by the University of Glasgow, between 2012 and 2019 there were 344,000 excess deaths.

Zack Palansky made it very clear that he and his party were fully behind the principles of the NHS: that it should be universal, publicly funded and free at the point of use. He stated that dental care needed to be defended as well as health – an important point now that, thanks to Thatcher’s privatisation and its consequences, millions of people don’t have an NHS dentist. He also pointed out that in 2015 Catherine Lucas, their leader, had launched an NHS reinstatement bill in the Commons to reverse the privatisation of the NHS. The Green Party, he declared, would reverse the 2012 Health and Social Care Bill. This is the pernicious bit of legislation that exempts the government from providing healthcare, the fundamental duty of the health secretary when it was founded by Nye Bevan. And he also stated that party leaders and MPs should join workers on picket lines.

We Own It as a whole stressed, they were not party-political and stated that many Tory voters wanted the privatisation stopped and the health service properly funded. But they recognised that most of the people campaigning were on the left. As well as urging their supporters to sign their petition against privatisation, they are also planning to set up a mass demonstration against it in Parliament Square on 25th February next year. They want at least 557 people there, to represent the 557 people who have needlessly died due to NHS privatisation.

The meeting was extremely well attended. There were 315 people there, from all over the country, and part of the organisers’ message was that these should be active in small groups in their local areas. If people are able to do this, it means that the organisation’s impact may be greater than those numbers suggest.

We Own It are doing great, important work as the NHS comes under attack from the Tories. We need the lie that outsourcing and privatisation is helping the health service to be absolutely refuted and political leaders who are willing to stop and reverse it.

We Own It Zoom Rally Next Thursday against NHS Privatisation

October 14, 2022

I also got this email from the pro-nationalisation, pro-NHS group We Own It, notifying me that they are holding an online rally on Zoom next Thursday 20th October, at 6.00 pm, and inviting people to register for the event. I’ve done so, as the Tories have brought the NHS damn near close to collapse. Here’s the message:

‘Dear David,

It’s time to put ending NHS privatisation firmly on the agenda of your local NHS leaders.

Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of We Own It supporters, we smashed the our fundraising target.

You’ve made the launch of “End NHS privatisation, save lives” possible – our new campaign to fight back against NHS privatisation in the 42 new NHS England regions as well as in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Join the online campaign launch rally at 6pm on Thursday 20th October.

Grab your ticket to attend the Zoom launch rally

236 We Own It supporters have set up a new regular donation, which will enable us take the fight against NHS privatisation to local NHS leaders across the UK for the long-term.

328 more of you have made one off donations, totalling almost £8,000. 

With these kind and generous donations this campaign is on the strongest footing possible to have the biggest impact. 

Now let’s launch the campaign with a bang! 

Join campaigners and other special guests at the launch rally – come and be inspired to fight and get wins against the privatisation for our precious NHS. 

Can you join the online rally on Thursday 20th October, at 6pm?

I want to join the Zoom rally on Thursday 20th October

557 people – that is the number of people whose preventable deaths were linked to NHS privatisation, according to a new study by the University of Oxford.

One person dying from the impact of outsourcing is already too much. 

Our local NHS leaders have a duty of care to our communities. Their job is to make sure we get the care we need and to prevent deaths.

If they are allowing NHS privatisation, they are putting people at risk. 

So it is time we firmly put the issue of ending NHS privatisation on their agenda. 

We know the public despise NHS privatisation – people don’t want private companies making huge profits from illness and causing deaths.

This campaign will mobilise MASSIVE public pressure in each local area to force our NHS leaders to pledge to end NHS privatisation.

Join the Zoom launch rally at 6pm on Thursday 20th October

These generous donations will now make it possible for us to:

  • Ramp up the pressure on every NHS leader in the UK, letting them know about the deaths caused from outsourcing and pushing as many of them as possible to sign our new pledge
  • Work closely with local NHS campaigners and supporters around the country, providing materials like leaflets and demanding that NHS leaders bring key contracts in house instead of outsourcing them
  • Bang home the message – make sure NHS leaders and politicians are aware of the evidence showing that privatisation and outsourcing are linked to extra deaths. We’ll get hard-hitting media coverage by organising an event with 557 people outside parliament representing those who have died

Sign up to join our campaign launch rally at 6pm on Thursday 20th October.

Register now to join the rally

Thank you so much for everything you do to protect our NHS from privatisation. We couldn’t possibly do this without you.

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

Invitation from We Own It to Join their Pro-NHS Campaign Launch Rally

March 19, 2022

The pro-state ownership, pro-NHS group We Own It are holding a rally next Thursday between 6 and 7 pm for the launch of their campaign to save the Health Service from further privatisation under the Tories’ vile Health and Social Care bill. I’ve been sent this invitation to join them. It runs

‘You are invited to the launch of Rebuild our NHS: Get private profits out! – our campaign to lobby local NHS leaders across England to rebuild our NHS for people, not private companies’ profit.  

The campaign launch rally will take place online, on Zoom from 6 to 7pm on Thursday 24th March. Join us.

The rally will include the roll-out of our Find My NHS web tool – a first of its kind tool that makes pressuring NHS leaders in your own area as simple as just a few clicks.

Sign up to join the rally

The reorganisation of our NHS based on the Health and Care bill will make it easier for private companies to gain a foothold in local NHS bodies across England.

Together with you and thousands of others in your area the Rebuild our NHS campaign will say “NOT ON OUR WATCH”.

You can demand that they use the reorganisation instead as an opportunity to reset the direction of travel in our NHS – instead of more privatisation, they must focus on what local people want. 

The campaign’s demands are simple:

  • Ban private companies on your local NHS decision making board
  • Ban private companies deciding who provides NHS services
  • End outsourcing and privatisation of NHS services

Join the campaign launch rally to be part of this fightback with thousands of others.

I’ll join the launch rally

We know we can win this fight locally, because we have already started winning in some areas.

Last month, by just getting coverage in two local newspapers, we got the newly appointed chair of Bath’s new NHS body to pledge to ban private companies on their board.

It’s time to take that fight to all 42 of the new local NHS bodies called Integrated Care Systems (ICS) being created in England.

And it has never been easier to take the fight to your own local NHS leaders directly. 

Thanks to generous donations from hundreds of We Own It supporters, we will be launching “Find My NHS” – a cutting edge tool that makes pressuring your own local NHS leaders as simple as just a few clicks.

It is time to take the fight to them. Sign up to join the launch rally and be part of this fight.

Join the rally

David, Rebuild our NHS: Get private profits out! is one of our most ambitious campaigns yet and you can play a part in it – no matter how big or small.

Our goal is to mobilise you and tens of thousands of others to:

  • Send at least 3000 emails using our brand new web tool to each of the 42 new NHS bodies (ICSs) – this will show local NHS leaders thousands of people care about this
  • Receive coverage in at least 60 local news outlets across England  – this will both get out the word and mount pressure on local NHS leaders
  • Get every local BBC radio station and many private radio stations in England to talk about NHS privatisation and further pressure local NHS leaders
  • And, organise a day of action and get out on the street – this will help spread the word to hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who aren’t yet paying attention.

Most of the actions are for people in England because the changes only affect England. But over the next few months we will provide opportunities for people across the UK to support the campaign.

Sign up and join the campaign launch rally.

Sign up to join the online launch rally

Thank you so much for all you have done to protect our NHS through our campaigns. You are a true champion of our NHS.

Cat, Alice, Zana, Jack, Matthew, Tom, Johnbosco – the We Own It team’

I don’t think it’s just a personal invitation, as they clearly want as many people to get involved as possible. This is why I’m posting it here. I’ve certainly signed up to attend as the more people protest against the Tories’ and Blairite’s privatisation, the better.

A Black Conservative Call for Racial Uplift Based on Entrepreneurship not Political Power

March 3, 2022

Jason L. Riley, False Black Power (West Conshoshocken: Templeton Press 2017).

This is another book analysing the plight of Black America from a Black conservative perspective. According to the book, Riley’s a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, writes for the Wall Street Journal and contributes to Fox News. But the book does quote statistics and sources, which means it’s almost certainly more trustworthy than that news network. When academics from the American universities reviewed Fox’s content, they found that people who took no news at all were better informed about the world than the people who watched Fox. America is indeed being ‘dumbed’ and Murdoch’s part of it. But this book is absolutely fascinating and, if accurate, is a much needed refutation of some of the myths about Black American history.

The introduction starts with an attack on the idea that the decline of the Black American family was caused by slavery. It’s true that slavery did destroy Black family life, as slave families were frequently split up, with fathers separated from their wives and children, children separated from the parents and so on. This, so the argument goes, has made it difficult for Black men to develop the necessary feelings of attachment to form permanent, two-parent families. As a result, most Black American families are single-parent, headed by the mothers. But Riley cites Herbert Gutman’s 1976 book, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925, examined a variety of sources to the show that the disruption of the slave family did not persist into emancipation. Looking at Confederate plantation records, the testimony of former slaves and the records of Black families in Buffalo and New York City, showed that from the second half of the 19th century to the 1920s, these communities were predominantly two-parent. In Buffalo between 1850 and 1920, the figure was 82 to 92 per cent. In New York in 1925 the figure was 85 per cent. (p. 5).

Riley’s argument is that the present poverty and misery experienced by many Black American communities cannot be blamed solely on racism and the legacy of enslavement. He and the authors he cites don’t deny that racism and discrimination exist, rather that the main cause of the present troubles of family breakdown, crime, unemployment and welfare dependency are due to the misplaced social programmes of the 1970s. Like Shelby Steele, he believes that Black Americans have taken the wrong road to uplift. Since the civil rights movement, they have concentrated on acquiring political power, resulting in the election across America of Black politicos, mayor and other officials. But these have not helped ordinary Blacks. He states at one point that Black politicians will ignore the underclass just to stay elected just as White politicos will, and cites a couple of scandals were Black politicians on their constituencies’ education boards were caught fiddling the exam results. He argues instead that Blacks should have followed the example of other impoverished communities, like the Chinese and Pennsylvania Germans, who eschewed acquiring political power in favour of economic uplift. He contrasts these groups with the 19th century Irish. These had political power, but nevertheless the Irish community itself remained poor and marginal.

Riley cites a number of other authors that show the explosion of Black entrepreneurialism after the end of slavery, as Blacks took over and entered a wide variety of professions. These scholars have argued that by the end of the 19th century Black communities also had their own business districts like White communities, as well as excellent schools. The 1913 Negro Almanac boasted of this achievement, comparing the capital accumulated by Blacks with that of the former Russian serfs. The former serfs had collectively $500 million in capital and a literacy rate of 30 per cent. Black Americans had $700 million and 70 per cent ‘had some education in books’. (74). In Chicago in 1885 there were 200 Black-owned businesses operating in 27 different fields. (75). And this trend continued, with the emergence in other areas of a small, but significant Black clerical class. At the same time, the number of Black Americans owning their own homes increased massively. Black prosperity increased during the years of the two World Wars,, when Blacks took on White jobs. They were still below that of Whites, but were catching up. As were Blacks in education. Blacks typically left school four years before Whites. But as the 20th century went on, this fell to two. Between 1950 and 1960 the number of Black doctors, lawyers and social workers expanded so that in 1953 a real estate journal called Blacks ‘the newest middle class’. (77). But this professional, educational and economic rise and expansion somehow came to an end in the 1970s.

At the same time, Riley cites the statistics to show that the American cops are not gun-happy racists bent on shooting Blacks. Rather, a study by Roland Fryer, a Harvard economist, found that Blacks are 23.8 per cent less like than Whites to be shot by the police. (63). As for New York’s stop and frisk policy, that was shown to stop Blacks 20-30 per cent below the appearance of Blacks in the description of suspects.(64). As for police shootings, these fell massively in New York from 1971 to 2015. In the former year, the cops shot 314 people, killing 93. In 2015 they shot 23 people, of whom 8 were killed. (65). He also notes instances where there was still friction between the Black community and police even when the town’s leaders and senior police officers were Black.

On a less serious note, he talks about the Barbershop films and their unsparing, humorous look into the condition of Black America. Set in a Black barbershop and with a majority Black cast, these films showed Blacks making jokes at the expense of revered leaders like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, decrying their kids’ fashion sense – trousers being worn low on the hips to expose the buttocks – and worrying about gangster culture and Black on Black violence. This upset Black activists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, but Riley maintains that they nevertheless accurately reflected the way Blacks talk when Whites aren’t around. The same concerns are held by many other Blacks, including one mayor, Nutter, who gave a similar speech at a Black church. He advised people not to dress in a threatening manner if they wanted anyone, of any race, respect them, and called for the kids to work hard at school and pull their trousers up. The crowd gave him a standing ovation, chanting ‘Buy a belt! But a belt!’ But his speech was angrily attacked by Black liberals because it didn’t reflect their priorities of blaming everything on racism. Riley also described the way Obama was often pilloried for his outspoken comments about poor standards in the Black community, while playing the race card himself. Riley also argues that the decline in Black educational standards also has its roots in dysfunctional attitudes among Black youth. If you’re too nerdy or bookish in these communities, you’re going to pilloried for ‘acting White’. This is a controversial position, but, Riley argues, the evidence for it is convincing and solid.

Despite being written from a conservative viewpoint, there are aspects of the book that can also be embraced by those on the left. Firstly, the expansion of Black businesses, jobs, and professions after slavery demonstrate that Black America is as talented as every other racial group in America. I found it a convincing refutation of the genetic argument that states that Black poverty and lack of achievement is somehow because Blacks are, on average, biologically intellectually inferior to Whites and Asians. And the argument that Blacks achieved more when they had stable, two-parent families, would have strongly appealed to a section of the British Labour party. British socialism was influenced, it has been said, more by Protestant, Methodist nonconformity than Karl Marx. Years ago the Spectator reviewed a book on the reading habits of the British working class. They found that the favourite reading matter of a solid working class Welsh community in the teens or twenties of the last century was the Bible.

Much more questionable is the apparent link between the affirmative action programmes of the 1970s and the persistence of Black poverty. Riley doesn’t anywhere show why or how they failed, and correlation is not causation. Just because their introduction was in a period of economic decay and impoverishment for Blacks doesn’t mean that they caused it. And I wondered how much of the decline was due to general, structural changes in the American economy that have also badly affected Whites. For example, Bristol used to have a flourishing print industry. There still are printers in the city, but the industry has declined considerably from what it was and many of those skilled jobs have been lost, along with those in other industries. Many Brits and Americans were hit hard by the oil crisis of the 1970s and the consequent recession and unrest. Thatcher, and then Blair, favoured the financial sector over manufacturing, which destroyed many working class jobs. And then there’s the whole nasty complex of welfare cuts, outsourcing, zero-hours contracts and wage freezes that have kept working people in Britain poor. And the same situation is true in America. This impoverishment and economic restructuring is going to hit Blacks especially hard as the Black community is poorer and less affluent. And I don’t doubt for a single minute that there are problems causes unique to the Black community, of which racism is going to be one.

But this is nevertheless a fascinating and important book, and I think it should have its place in schools if they’re teaching Critical Race Theory. That pernicious doctrine holds that Blacks are being held back solely by White privilege, in which all Whites benefit. The government recently stated that teachers must present controversial ideas impartially and was duly denounced by activist groups and the left for doing so. But I believe the truth in this issue lies somewhere between both sides, and that, if these ideas are being taught, children should be exposed to both sets or arguments. And then make their minds up.

And then, after hearing a variety of viewpoints, we might be more successful in creating a more equal society and truly enabling Black achievement.

Starmer’s 11,500 Word Vision: Blairism Rehashed

September 24, 2021

Last week people were commenting on an 11,500 word piece Starmer had written laying out his vision for the Labour party. There was a rumour going round that it was going to 14,000 words, but mercifully we’ve been spared that. I think Novara Media put up a piece suggesting that it would be 14,000 words in which Starmer says nothing. This would be the same nothing that he says to voters and with which he criticises the Tories. He has precious little to say to them. When questioned a while ago on whether Labour had a particular policy in one specific area, the Labour person questioned replied that they did, but that it was secret. Now it seems Starmer does have policies of his own. He has written that he is not in favour of nationalisation, but that government should be ‘a partner to industry’.

This is Blairism. Blair had Clause IV, the clause in the Labour party’s constitution committing it to nationalisation, removed in the 1990s. Instead, Blair promoted various public-private partnerships with business in public works projects, the building and management of hospitals and health centres and so on. This was Tony’s big idea. The result was the corporatism that mars public administration in America and Britain. Government functions were outsourced to companies like Serco, G4S and Maximus, managers and chief officers from private companies were appointed to government bodies, often those that regulated the very industries from which these officials were drawn. NHS privatisation moved into a higher gear and expanded further than the Tories had pushed it, and schools were handed over to private academy chains.

This has been a massive failure. Tens of schools have had to be taken back into public administration thanks to the failure of the private companies running them. Academies are no better educating their charges than state schools once the far greater expenditure on academies is accounted for. Hospital, GP and other medical services are being cut so the private firms providing them can make a profit. The construction companies with whom Blair5’s government went into partnership to build the country’s infrastructure, like bridges and so on, have gone so regularly over budget that the entire PFI scheme under which they are given contracts has been criticised by the Office of National Statistics as a colossal waste of money. And at a local level, ordinary communities saw their traditional shops closed down by local authorities in favour of the big supermarkets despite the opposition of ordinary people.

The private firms running the utilities are not providing the investment these sectors need. Several of the railway companies have had to be removed from running the trains in their areas and the service taken back into public administration, for example.

Thatcherism is, as one Australian economist described it, ‘zombie politics’. It’s dead and should have been buried years ago, but still lurches on, supported by a neoliberal elite, including the Blairites in the Labour party.

Starmer has nothing to offer but more of this unappetising stuff warmed up. It’s yesterday’s economic left-overs, which were foul and indigestible then, and even worse now.

The only alternative is the socialism Corbyn championed – nationalisation of the utilities, a strong welfare state and the restoration of power to the unions. Everything Starmer hates.

Which is why Starmer must go. He’s an ideologically bankrupt, dictatorial non-entity, who has nothing to offer but more Toryism and Blairite despair and exploitation.

We Own It Tear Apart Boris’ NHS Funding Bill

September 9, 2021

Mike’s already put up an excellent piece ripping apart Johnson’s proposal to raise National Insurance to pay for increased funding for the NHS and social care. And Mike and so many others are pointing out, this is actually a disastrous tax on the poor, while once again the rich are protected from the taxman.

I got the following email from We Own It yesterday evening. They point out that £36 billion may sound a lot, but the NHS will still be dangerously underfunded. Furthermore Johnson’s plan does nothing to reverse the disastrous privatisation of the health service and so much of that money will find its way into the pockets of shareholders. Here’s the email.

“£36 billion for the NHS and reforming social care – that sounds like a plan from Boris Johnson. Or does it?

Putting aside the major issue of whether a National Insurance tax is a fair way of increasing funding (it isn’t), here are four reasons why Boris Johnson’s plan isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

1) Our NHS has been underfunded for a decade, and this new funding isn’t anywhere near enough. As we said in the Mirror yesterday, ‘Since 2010 our NHS has lost 20,000 beds, more than 100 A&Es and it’s short of 90,000 staff. This Government has been underfunding the NHS for 10 years. We have to fund our NHS at the level of countries like Germany.’

2) £36 billion over three years sounds like a lot, but in terms of the NHS budget of around £140 billion a year (and especially given how budgets have been squeezed for 10 years) it isn’t actually that much, especially to cover health and social care. For example, the government handed out £37 billion for Serco and Sitel’s privatised Test and Trace operation, it failed badly and the government didn’t even blink – let alone set up a new tax to cover the cost.

3) The organisations representing NHS trusts said they needed £10 billion this year, in the next six months, to tackle waiting lists and cover Covid costs. Instead the government has offered them £5.4 billion. (The new money and tax won’t kick in until April 2022.) This means waiting lists will continue to be an ongoing issue. Many of you have shared your stories about how this affects you and some of these have been published in the Evening Standard and the Mirror – read more of your stories here.

4) Boris Johnson’s plan does nothing to stop public money leaking out of the system into shareholders pockets. In our NHS, the new Health and Care Bill would mean more privatisation. And social care – both care homes and care work (where carers visit people in their homes) – is largely privatised and outsourced. A plan for social care should involve bringing it into public ownership so it can work for people not profit.

Together with you, we did our best to make the call for NHS funding as loud and clear as possible – the photos from our weekend protest are everywhere! (See the Times, the IndependentITV and lots of local newspapers..)

But in the last few days Johnson has done his best to reframe the narrative on NHS and social care funding. He’s turned the conversation into one about tax, instead of about what these public services need.

So we have to keep getting the message out there.

Our NHS needs serious funding after years of cuts and the money is there – it’s a question of political will. We need to kick the private companies out of NHS structures and oppose the Health and Care Bill (Corporate Takeover Bill) that would give them a seat at the decision making table. There’s no point in a plan for social care that doesn’t look at how money is leaking out to private shareholders.

Sadly, our NHS won’t be fixed by Johnson’s plans, and neither will social care.

The fight for OUR public services, for people not profit, continues…we’ll be in touch soon with more actions you can take.

Solidarity – and thank you for everything you do.

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

PS Tonight at 7pm, Keep Our NHS Public is holding a rally on how to protect our NHS from the Health and Care Bill (aka the Corporate Takeover Bill). Cat is speaking alongside actor Julie Hesmondhalgh, Michael Rosen and Jon Ashworth MP, Labour’s shadow health secretary. Sign up here.

Johnson’s NHS funding bill looks to me like another piece of Tory deception. It looks like their increasing funding to the NHS while all the time carrying on with the same policies that will lead to its privatisation.

Election Promises of Labour and TUSC Candidates in Bristol Mayoral Elections

April 23, 2021

Down here in Bristol we not only have elections for the city council looming, but also for the elected mayor and police and crime commissioner. Because of health issues, not just my own but also other members of my family, we’ve arranged to have postal votes. The ballot papers arrived the other day, and enclosed with them were booklets produced by the local authority explaining the voting procedure, answering various FAQs and giving policy statements and promises from the candidates. Not only does Bristol have a Labour candidate, the present elected mayor Marvin Rees, but there’s also one from the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, Tom Baldwin. Here’s their election promises from the booklet for the mayoral election.

Mayor Marvin’s runs

Delivering for Bristol

Building a City of Hope

It is an honour to serve as Mayor of Bristol, the city I am proud to be from and where I am bringing up my family.

Together we have led Bristol in the face of the pandemic, economic downturn, social change and instability, and climate change, with the added uncertainty of Brexit. Many of us have experienced real loss this year, as people have come together like never before to support each other.

Working with partners all over Bristol, we are building a city where nobody is left behind underpinning our ambition with compassion and our commitment to sustainability. We are focused on protecting and creating jobs, and delivering for residents, we are creating jobs by bringing employers like Channel 4 to our city, bringing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment into Bristol, and delivering our mass transit system.

Together, against the odds, we are making a difference.

On 6 May, we are proudly standing on our record of delivery – including all our 2016 pledges and more. With your support, we can all keep building a more sustainable, inclusive, and ambitious Bristol: our City of Hope.”

There then follows a list of what Labour has already achieved.

“9,000 new homes, tripling affordable house-building, rough sleeping down 80%

12,000 work experiences and £9m for south Bristol construction skills centre.

99 new biogas buses, RPZ fees frozen, 75 miles of segregated cycleways

Kept all our libraries and children’s centres open

Building new schools, creating mental health training and free breakfast clubs

Best core city for recycling, deep-cleaned 700 streets, planted 60,000 trees

Won Channel 4 relocation, invested in sport and leisure centres – giving control to communities”

This is followed by his promises for the future

“Building our underground, with free travel for apprentices and students

Protecting jobs and building a living wage city

Investing £1 billion in clean energy and doubling our trees

Investing in more schools and quality work experience

Building 2,000 new homes a year – 1,000 affordable

Investing in social care, helping older people stay in their homes.”

The pages for Tom Baldwin of the TUSC state has the statement ‘TUSC Against Cuts’, and then proceeds as follows:

“Tom says: “The pandemic has exposed the huge injustices and the divide between workers and big business. We’ve had to fight for our safety as the bosses and government put profits first. Now we have to fight to protect jobs and services as they try to make us pay for the crisis.

Bristol needs a mayor who will stand up for ordinary people. I stand for a socialist society run for people not profit.”

‘The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition organises to give a voice to working-class people who have been abandoned by the main parties. It includes the RMT union and the Socialist Party, of which Tom is a member.

Tom is 37 and lives in Aston. He is an active trade unionist and campaigner.

Bristol needs a fightback

Defend jobs and services – Vote Tom Baldwin

A Socialist mayor for the millions, not the millionaires

If elected Tom will…

  • Build a mass united struggle of workers and young people to win back the council funding taken by the government.
  • Reverse all cuts to council jobs and services, move budgets based on Bristol’s needs.
  • Oppose and reverse outsourcing and privatisation.
  • Never increase council tax, rents and charges faster than wages rise
  • Push for a publicly owned, top quality and affordable public transport network, run for need not profit
  • Address the housing crisis by building thousands of council homes and capping private rents
  • Defend the right to peaceful protest
  • Fight for decent jobs. Support all campaigns to protect safety, jobs, pay and conditions, including strike action by workers
  • Stand for jobs and homes for all. Oppose racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and all other forms of oppression and division.
  • Only take the average wage of a worker in the city, not the inflated £79,000 mayoral salary.’

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As you know, I despise Keir Starmer and his continuing destruction of the Labour party, including the purge of left-wingers and socialists, in order to turn it into a Blairite neoliberal party. I’ve also got criticisms of the way Marvin Rees has run the city, but in general I think he’s done a good job and has been a far better mayor than his predecessor, ‘Red Trousers’ Ferguson.

I’ve been told by some of the great peeps on this blog that the TUSC were formed by the people in the Labour party, who were thrown out for opposing Blair’s cuts and policy changes, though I’ve also heard that the Socialist Party is the former Militant Tendency, a group that infiltrated and tried to take over the Labour party in the 1980s. But their policies are what the Labour party should be standing for. The mayoral elections are run according to proportional representation. I would therefore urge people to consider giving the TUSC their second vote.

If more people vote for them, to the point where it’s a significant number, perhaps the leaders of the Labour party will take note, and move the party further to the left. Or it will encourage the present Labour left to continue the struggle against the Blairites by showing them that real, socialist policies are popular and can win.