Posts Tagged ‘Private Healthcare’

1 in 5 American Doctors Planning to Leave US Healthcare

April 13, 2023

This comes from Amanpour & Co, a US news and comment channel on YouTube. They’ve put up a video discussing the news that supposedly 117,000 American doctors, one in five of them, is planning to leave their healthcare system. If this is true, then it’s very important as it shows America’s private healthcare system is also on the brink of failure. I put up a piece yesterday of a Bristol plastic surgeon, who was concerned about the numbers of British doctors planning to leave the NHS for greener shores downunder with the Ozzies and Kiwis. Those countries are more attractive because they’re offering better wages and conditions. Are the American doctors planning to leave US medicine also considering going there as well? And what does this say about the superiority of private medicine? The Bristol surgeon was suggesting that the NHS should be shrunk to deal with the problem – meaning certain services should be privatised, thus ending the NHS’ commitment to provide uniform healthcare free at the point of delivery. But as America’s healthcare is private, privatisation is obviously no solution. And what about the market forces Thatcher was always bleating about? They should dictate that in order to encourage doctors to stay with the healthcare system, they should have their pay and conditions improved. But obviously something in the American private healthcare system is preventing that from happening. It means that Blair and the Tories are utterly wrong when they try to outsource NHS services and look to American private healthcare as the model for efficiency. In fact the US healthcare system almost broke down a couple of years ago.

The message from this is that a fully private healthcare system is a disaster, as is the privatisation of the NHS. But you won’t find either the Tories or Starmer, let alone the British right-wing press, acknowledging or telling you this.

Statistics Show that America’s Private Healthcare System Is The Most Expensive

February 9, 2023

CGTN News published a table this afternoon comparing America’s per capita spending on healthcare with the rest of the world. America tops it with over $12,000. The next most expensive is Germany with over $7,000. Britain is much lower down the list with over $5,000. Down at the bottom was Poland. Obviously, the list was confined to countries in the western, developed world. What is important is that America’s private healthcare system is far more expensive than the continental healthcare systems, which are either state-owned, like Britain’s and Sweden’s, or funded through a mixture of state and private insurance. The idea that somehow private healthcare systems are more efficient and less expensive, promoted by the Tories and swallowed whole by the Blairite right of the Labour party, is frankly a lie. One of my friends trained as a doctor. He told me that many American hospitals are being kept open because of discreet state funding. But you won’t hear that from the Torygraph, GB News, Tory MPs like Daniel Hannan and grubby right-wing internet hosts like Alex Belfield, now enjoying a well-deserved holiday courtesy of His Maj. This will not surprise anyone who’s read any of the great books against the privatisation of the NHS by people like Jack Davis and Ray Tallis.

Reject the lies. Defend the NHS, and stop the Tories.

Simon Webb Now Pushing NHS Privatisation

February 6, 2023

With the NHS crisis the Tories the Tories have created, the sharks really are circling in the water. Nana Akua of GB News seems to be one of those plugging its privatisation, along with broadcaster, stalker and jailbird Alex Belfield. And now they’ve been joined by Our Favourite Internet (non)Historian, Simon Webb. He put up a post this morning with the title ‘What’s So Bad About Privatising the NHS?’ It’s short, but I haven’t watched it on the grounds that I’d find it too infuriating. Webb is, of course, far right, and seems to get most of his views from the Torygraph, which has also been pushing this nonsense. As someone who takes history seriously, Webb should know what an immense difference the NHS and the welfare state made to the lives of ordinary Brits. I’ve blogged about it, citing my sources. But some of those I’ve used were by social worker types, the kind of people the Tory party has been trying to discredit for donkey’s years, and so someone like Webb would simply ignore them out of hand. But I’ve also used books from the time looking forward to the foundation of the NHS, as well as Jackie Davis’ and Ray Tallis’ excellent NHS – SOS. In contrast to what the privatisers will tell you, private healthcare is not more efficient. It’s less. Private hospitals are smaller, and in order to make a profit private healthcare largely ignores the long-term sick in order to concentrate on people who are mostly well. When private healthcare companies have taken over doctors’ surgeries in this country, they’ve closed down those they consider unprofitable, leaving thousands without a doctor. Also, private healthcare spends a large proportion of their running costs on administration, so as a consequence these costs have risen in the NHS as a consequence of its privatisation.

At the moment there seems to be a trend among the political class to be looking at the continental healthcare systems, where medical costs are paid by a mixture of state and private health insurance. But this also neglects the simple fact that these countries also spend much more on their healthcare generally than we do. The privatisation of the NHS won’t improve healthcare, but it will give private healthcare firms the support of the state sector, which is what they want.

And it seems to me that what the Tories really want is a completely private healthcare system, funded by private health insurance, like America. And that really would be disastrous. Except for their corporate friends, of course, who would get all those great profits.

A few years ago I wrote a book and a pamphlet against the privatisation of the NHS. Here’s their description. The pamphlets are available from me, if you want one, while the book’s available from Lulu.

Privatisation: Killing the NHS, by David Sivier, A5, 34 pp. This is a longer pamphlet against the privatisation of the NHS. It traces the gradual privatisation of the Health Service back to Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, John Major’s Private Finance Initiative in the 1990s, the Blair and Brown ‘New Labour’ governments, and finally David Cameron and the Conservatives. There is a real, imminent danger that the NHS will be broken up and privatised, as envisioned by Andrew Lansley’s, the author of the Tories’ Health and Social Care Act of 2012. This would return us to the conditions of poor and expensive healthcare that existed before the foundation of the NHS by the Clement Atlee’s Labour government in 1948. Already the Tories have passed legislation permitting ‘healthcare providers’ – which include private companies – to charge for NHS services.

The book is fully referenced, with a list of books for further reading, and organisations campaigning to preserve the NHS and its mission to provide universal, free healthcare.

Don’t Let Cameron Privatise the NHS, David Sivier, A5, 10pp.

This is a brief critique of successive government’s gradual privatisation of the NHS, beginning with Margaret Thatcher. Tony Blair’s New Labour were determined to turn as much healthcare as possible over to private companies, on the advice of the consultants McKinsey and the American insurance companies. The Conservatives under David Cameron have continued and extended Blair’s privatisation, so that there is a real danger that the NHS, and the free, universal service it has provided for sixty-five years, will be destroyed. If the NHS is to be saved, we must act soon.

Here’s the video I made years ago for my book against the privatisation of the health service.

I also put up this video, which only four people have watched, asking people to vote Labour to defend the NHS. I hope people will, as some Labour MPs will defend it. But I’m not at all sure about Starmer.

Thomas Sowell Attacks British NHS Because Scared of Rise of Socialism in America

October 23, 2022

I thought so as soon as I saw his wretched video attacking the NHS yesterday. It struck me then as the act of a frightened man trying to discredit a rival political and medical institution. Yesterday Black American conservative Thomas Sowell put out a short video, just under five minutes, urging Americans to choose the American healthcare system over the British because it was better. Er, no. On so many levels. The American healthcare system is so dire that when Thatcher sent her personal private secretary Patrick Jenkin to America to see how it worked so she could do it to Britain, he joined the full-on cabinet rebellion against her when she tried to privatise the NHS. Yes, private American hospitals don’t have the crowding, and I dare say have more choice, than the NHS but that comes at a price. And more and more Americans are unable to afford it. As a result, good, hardworking, severely normal Americans have to say up years before they can afford the hospital care for American mothers to give birth. There is also a much higher infant mortality rate than Europe. Our NHS is no longer the world’s best because it has been comprehensively run down by the Tories and Blairite Labour for decades. But it’s still better than the American system. And the private American system is in crisis. Robert Reich put up a post on YouTube about how it’s falling apart. I’ll try to find it. A friend of mine trained as a doctor, and according to him, American private hospitals are being kept afloat by American public subsidies. As for the utilities, a number of American states have state-owned electricity companies that produce power more cheaply than private firms. In that sense, Reaganite capitalism is failing.

Now Sowell has put out another video with the title that more Americans are falling for socialism. ‘And it’s bad’. Naah. America has a very respectable socialist tradition going all the way back to the Knights of Labor in the 19th century. From what I can see, socialism may even have been stronger in the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It seems that former president Barack Obama has also stirred things up a little by saying that America needs single-payer healthcare. Of course, it’s a bit rich that he says that now, when he refused to implement it in office and went for Obamacare instead, which is based on a Republican plan from Newt Gingrich. What the west needs is a return to the social democratic consensus of a strong welfare state, properly funded public healthcare, nationalised utilities and strong unions. The consensus that gave Britain a rising standard of living up to the 70s. A form of politics that could and should stop the movement to the far right as immigrants get blamed for the poverty caused by neoliberalism. But obviously even this mild form of socialism is anathema to someone like Sowell, who’s a fan of the discredited economics of Milton Friedman.

Monetarism died in the late 1980s. Reaganomics and Thatcherism have run their course. And the Tories have run out of candidates for prime minister so they’re recycling old ones like Johnson and Rishi Sunak.

Hurrah for socialism and down with neoliberalism!

Thatanna’s Viewers Think the NHS Is irreparably Broken. As the Tories Wish.

October 9, 2022

Recently I’ve been getting on my Iphone videos from somebody called Thatanna. I have absolutely no idea who he or she is, but this morning they put up a poll. Is the NHS broken beyond repair – Yes, or No? I responded and voted ‘No’, of course. But apparently, I was only one of a few. Most of those polled agreed that it was. And that is exactly how the Tories want it. A properly run state healthcare system will always outperform private industry, as Raymond Tallis and Jackie Davis amply demonstrate in their book NHS – SOS. It’s why the Tories have been deliberately running down the NHS over the past forty years, cutting funding and holding down wages while outsourcing work and medical care to private corporations. This past week we even had a drunken Tory stand up and say the quiet bit out loud. He demanded the privatisation of the NHS and its replacement with a continental social insurance scheme. In fact, 78 per cent of the British public, according to polls, support the NHS and there are groups and organisations fighting for it, such as We Own It. But the Tories are doing their best to destroy it economically and as an idea that people will defend. And apparently this has worked on Thatanna’s audience.

Fight back. Support the NHS. Get Truss and the Tories out!

Drunk Tory Calls for the Privatisation of the NHS

September 29, 2022

This comes from the Daily Blase’s channel over on YouTube. Edward Lee, Tory MP for Gainsborough, staggered to his feet in the House of Commons today and said the quiet part out loud. Directing his remarks at health secretary Therese Coffey, he declared that it was not the fault of the healthcare workers that the NHS was in the state it’s in. It’s the fault of the institution itself. The NHS was the last example of collectivist socialist government. It should be abolished and replaced with the social insurance programmes France and other countries have, because they have better health outcomes than we have. Why, he concluded, should only the rich have private healthcare? To this Coffey responded by saying that the government didn’t view it that way.

As Mr Blase said, the florid-faced Tory blamed the NHS for its problems, rather than 12 years of Tory austerity. He’s quite right. We used to be ahead of much of the continent in health outcomes, but thanks to cuts and privatisation we’ve fallen below the other countries. And this is a direct result of forty years of unquestioned Thatcherism and the stealth privatisation Thatcher inaugurated. He also said that Coffey doesn’t really have any real difference of opinion to him. She’s just embarrassed he spoke so plainly about Tory policy. Again, he has a point. But it’s not just the Tories that wanted to privatise the NHS. Nick Clegg when he was Dodgy Dave’s deputy prime minister also thought it would be a good thing if we changed to a continental style insurance system.

This is an extremely right-wing government. Far more right-wing, it’s been said, than Thatcher’s. Get them out.

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

September 5, 2021

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

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

“Dear David,

Today we launch our waiting lists campaign.

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

You might even be one of them. 

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

This is an emergency. Our NHS needs us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solidarity,

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

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

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

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

Mad Right-Winger Alex Belfield Calls for the Revival of Working Men’s Clubs

August 3, 2021

Certain commenters on this blog have described Alex Belfield as my favourite right-winger. Well, he’s not quite that, but I do admit, I watch his videos, which may not be a good thing at all. Belfield is, I’m fairly sure, a working class Tory. He talks about how he comes from a pit estate and inveighs against the way the White working class has been neglected by liberals in the BBC and politics. Who, as he sees it, all read the Guardian, eat oysters like Naga Manchetti, for whom he seems to have a particular dislike, and are determined to push ‘box-tickers’ like gays, the ‘ambivilacious’, by which he means trans and non-binary people, and folks of colour over ordinary working people. His audience is very much the same type of people, who formed UKIP’s constituency: working class Whites in their fifties and over, who feel left behind by the mainstream parties.

There is a genuine issue here. Tony Blair and his successors abandoned the working class in the pursuit of middle class votes and Tory swing voters. At the same time, they retained and promoted minority rights and issues, loudly supporting multiculturalism, feminism and gay rights. The result was that a large section of the working class has become alienated from the Labour party, with many socially conservative older members attracted to right-wing organisations and individuals like the Kippers, Nigel Farage and Belfield. About a decade ago, the BBC put on a series of programmes about race and contemporary racial politics in the UK. One of those was a documentary asking if the White working class was being written out of contemporary politics. The trailer for this showed a man, in stereotypical working class clobber, having words written in black on his face until he gradually became invisible. I think it’s a fair question, and the Labour left is serious about tackling this alienation within an anti-racist framework by working hard for all members of the working class. That’s the best way of fighting Fascism and right-wing populism. But the voices, who are most vocal about defending the White working class are people like Belfield.

And these are people whose political and economic views are actively hostile to working class interests.

Belfield in many ways is a case in point. A few days ago he put up a video lamenting the state of the country. He was particularly concerned about the NHS and the massive waiting lists that have emerged due to Tory maladministration. The Health Service, he declared, was no longer fit for purpose, and would and should be scrapped. He wants it sold off to private administration. In fact, it’s the Tories’ piecemeal privatisation of the NHS that is responsible for waiting lists and poor service, and this will only get worse as they hand over more of it to their noxious backers in the private sector. And if the NHS is sold off completely, it will be transformed into a for-profit service, funded by private medical insurance like America’s. The result will be disastrous. Thousands of people will die and go without the medical care they need because they won’t be able to afford it. Already GPs’ surgeries, that have been handed to private healthcare suppliers, have been closed and their patients left without their traditional doctors, because these surgeries haven’t provided as big a profit to their owners as they’d like.

By championing the NHS’ privatisation, Belfield is most definitely working against, not for, his working class viewers and listeners.

He’s also concerned about the lack of opposition to Boris Johnson from the Labour party. He has a point, although it seems to come from his opposition to the lockdown and frustration that all of the parties are supporting it. Looking at the recent dismal election results for Labour, Belfield had a few suggestions of his own how the party could win back votes. Instead of concentrating on issues no-one’s really interested in, like trans rights, Labour should go back to talking to its traditional working class supporters, and start listening to them and take on board the issues that matter to ordinary people. These are bread and butter issues like healthcare provision, jobs and getting enough money to put food on the table. I agree, although I do think that the debate over trans rights is immensely important, if only because of the massive expansion of the number of young women and girls now self-identifying as trans. Labour should be fighting for better healthcare, combatting unemployment and poverty.

But this means a wholesale rejection of Tory and Blairite neoliberalism, a neoliberalism Belfield supports.

It means kicking the parasites out of the NHS and renationalising it. It means restoring the welfare state, so that the poor, the disabled, the elderly and the unemployed are given enough to live on. It means ending the wretched gig economy, including fire and rehire and zero hours contracts. And it definitely means an end to the wage restraint which has seen working people effectively take a cut in wages, while the salaries of the elite become ever more obscenely bloated.

Belfield also clearly misses the decline of traditional working class communities. And this is where he got really interesting. He wanted the return of the old working men’s clubs.

Now I actually agree with him there. Traditional working and lower middle class communities had a solidarity and ethos of mutual support that has vanished as society has become more individualistic. Thatcherism, and it’s Labour party variety, Blairism, partly drew on the decline of the British working class. As more people moved out of the working class into the lower middle class, taking up white collar jobs and buying their own homes rather than living in council estates, the right became convinced that working people were no longer a political force. A few months ago I found a video from one of the right-wing political sites on YouTube, in which a pundit blandly declared that Labour was doomed when working people moved away from their traditional working conditions. When they stopped living in back-to-back housing, for example. I disagree. More people may have moved into the lower middle class, but very many of them still have the views, aspirations and desires traditionally associated with the working class. It doesn’t matter that many of them are now office workers – working conditions in many offices and call centres is as ruthlessly exploitative as Victorian factories. See books like White Collar Sweatshop. Working people, whether labourers or office clerks, still want job security, protection from zero hours and exploitative short term contracts. They want proper sick and maternity pay. They also want proper wages that will support them and their families. They also want and deserve proper NHS treatment, a working welfare state and public utilities that are owned and operated by the state for the good of the British people, not for private, foreign investors.

Which are all Corbynite policies.

The right in America and Britain has benefited from the decline in traditional working class communities. One book I read attacking the Neocons, Confronting the New Conservatism, argued that the neo-Conservatives had been successful in gaining public support because of the social atomisation that came from the decline of working class institutions. The decimation of the trade unions and other working class institutions meant that many working people only met collectively with others when they went to church. And the ‘White flight’ of White working class people to the suburbs away from Black communities in the urban core meant that Black and White Americans were separate and divided, and so the right could play on White racial fears.

This atomisation would be reversed if working class institutions, like the old working men’s clubs, came back.

I don’t think they could be called ‘working men’s’ clubs, not after the progress of feminism. Working people’s clubs, perhaps? It may not be possible to revive them, as it would mean taking on the aggressive individualism that has advanced over the last century, as well as reviving community entertainment and participation so that it could compete with TV, computer games and the internet. But if it could be done, it could very well lead to a very strong revival in working class consciousness. A working class consciousness that would be shared by the lower middle class.

And that could very well scupper all the Thatcherite and Blairite bilge of the last forty-odd years.

Which would be very upsetting for Tories like Belfield.

Let’s do it!

Private Eye Shows Blatant Pro-Starmer Bias in Review of Ernest Bevin Biography

July 30, 2020

I’ve blogged many times about the vicious anti-Corbyn bias Private Eye shares with the rest of the media. Like the rest of the country’s corrupt and mendacious press and broadcasting establishment, Private Eye has consistently pushed the smears and lies against the former Labour leader. It has vilified him as an anti-Semite and, some kind of Commie or Trotskyite infiltrator. Even now that Corbyn is no longer head of the party, the attacks continue. This fortnight’s edition, for 31st July – 13th August 2020 contains an article rejoicing over the threats to sue Corbyn and the party by the Blairite intriguers and anti-Semitism smear merchants for libel. The anti-Semitism smears always were politically motivated. They were mobilised by the Zionist Jewish establishment – the chief rabbinate, Board of Deputies of British Jews and the various Friends of Israel parliamentary organisations in order to rebut criticism of the Israeli state’s 70 + years of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. The wider British political establishment used them in order to protect Israel as an outpost of British and western power in the Middle East. And the Blairites used them from a mixture of political expediency and genuine political conviction. Blair, Mandelson and the rest were strong supporters of Israel anyway, and Blair had obtained his financial independence from the unions he despised through donations from pro-Israel Jewish businessmen through Lord Levy. And the anti-Semitism allegations were another way of discrediting Corbyn after he and the traditional Labour moderates gained control of the party.

Well, Starmer is now head of the party, and is continuing the campaign to maintain Blairite control through purging the party Left, all under the pretext that he is just clearing out the anti-Semites. This is while real, anti-Black racists are allowed to thrive and fester in the party as many of them appear to be the Blairite intriguers, who conspired to undermine the party’s election campaign.

But there is also an ideological as well as a tactical campaign being fought by the Blairites in their attempts to win control. According to Private Eye’s literary column, this includes a new biography of Ernest Bevin by New Labour’s Andrew Adonis, Ernest Bevin: Labour’s Churchill. This is reviewed in the magazine’s recent issue as ‘Ernest toil’.

Bevin is a major figures in Bristol and Somerset labour history. He was a Somerset agricultural worker, who was instrumental in forming the union for this part of the rural workforce. He then moved to Bristol, where he became a major figure in trade union and Labour party politics, helping to found the Transport and General Workers’ Union. During World War II he served Churchill as Minister of Labour, and then under Clement Attlee as Commonwealth Minister.

The Eye’s review of Adonis’ biography is deeply critical. It notes that there are already several excellent works on the great man, on whom Adonis’ own work is very strongly based. Adonis has conducted no deeper research into Bevin – the book draws very heavily on the previous biographies. Adonis doesn’t bring any fresh insight to his subject either, and the book is stylistically marred by the use of contemporary management-speak and 21st century jargon. So why has it been written?

For the Eye, the answer is that Adonis is attempting to use Bevin as an ideological bolster for the Starmerite faction in the Labour party. Adonis is impressed by Bevin’s embrace of Keynsian economics and proclaims that the stood for a ‘liberal socialism’ apart from nationalisation and the unregulated free market. This is the position of Starmer and his faction, whom the Eye gives absolutely no doubt should have the leadership of the party. Their anonymous reviewer writes

So what is Adonis up to? Well, like the Imperialist burghers of late-Victorian Bristol busily erecting statues to Edward Colston a century after his death, Gordon Brown’s former transport secretary is keen to harness the past to the somewhat shaky equipage of the present. According to this assessment, Bevin is worth reading about now not only for the startling achievements of his ascent through life – he was an orphan boy from the West Country sent out to work in the fields at the age of 11 – but for what he has to tell us about the politics of 2020.

Item one on Adonis’ list is Bevin’s friendship with John Maynard Keynes and his enthusiasm for the latter’s plan to borrow money to fund better public services. Item two is the touting of something called “liberal socialism”, in which, quoting Keynes, “the solution lies neither with nationalisation nor with unregulated private competition; it lies in a variety of experiments, of attempts to get the best of both worlds.” Item three, naturally, is Bevin’s lifelong quarrel with the Left, exemplified by his wiping th floor with the Labour party’s pacifist leader George Lansbury at the party conference of 1935.

Bevin, you see, was not only a visionary politician (although this being 2020, Adonis has to take up several paragraphs apologising for his unreconstructed ideas about “Empire”), he was also an old-style Labour bruiser able to stitch up the right-wing trade union vote in the service of the parliamentary front bench. Clearly, what we need right now is a sensible, moderate Labour party with a raft of policies that will encourage social justice without scaring off big business and the middle classes while doing to the Jeremy Corbyn’s o this world what Bevin did to Lansbury.

“Britain needed Bevin once,” Adonis signs off. “Now we need his kind again.” If this isn’t a piece of semaphoring in the direction of Sir Keir Starmer, I don’t know what is. Will Lord Adonis play a part in making sense of our post-coronavirus world an emergency by the way, “of a kind Bevin relished”). We can only hope and pray. (My emphasis)

I’ve got a biography of Ernest Bevin on one of the bookshelves here, because of his importance to national history and that of Bristol’s working class. But the policies Starmer supports and wishes to impose seem just to be standard ‘Third Way’ Blairism. It’s just more Thatcherism and neoliberalism. We’ve seen again and again that the privatisation of the public services, the utilities and the NHS, have been an absolute failure. They haven’t improved performance. Far from it – they’ve made it worse. And thanks to the piecemeal privatisation of the NHS pushed through by Blair and Brown as well as the Tories, there is a real danger that this country will get a private healthcare system as disastrous and malign as America’s, and run by much the same firms. We desperately need to renationalise gas, electricity, water and the NHS. While the Tories, Blairites and the media succeeded in turning the public against Corbyn, these policies were still immensely popular with the public. My guess is that they still are, and would put Starmer and the party in an excellent place for power if he bothered to promote them. But Starmer won’t, because as a Blairite he believes absolutely in the primacy and success of private industry, even when its failure is obvious to anybody else.

Contrary to the rubbish put out by the right-wing political establishment, Corbyn really was never a radical. His programme for the renationalisation of the NHS and the utilities is simply a return of the old social democratic consensus that gave Britain growth and prosperity from 1948 to Thatcher’s miserable election victory in 1979. By traditional Labour standards, Corbyn’s actually a centrist. But after 40 years of free market Thatcherism, even this moderate position is viewed as dangerously radical by the self-appointed guardians of political orthodoxy.

And that orthodoxy is shared uncritically by Private Eye, even though the magazine has consistently revealed its failure, particularly in the Private Finance Initiative. But it’s the ideology adopted by what passes as the left-wing media set. It’s been pushed by the Groaniad, for example, whose hacks are now in a screaming rage that the left-wingers they’ve been sneering at and gaslighting all these years are abandoning their wretched rag. Sales of the Groan are disastrous and massive job cuts on the way. And the magazine has only itself to blame.

My guess is that Private Eye shares some of the same assumptions as the hacks at the Groan, or at least the left-wing members of the magazine’s staff. Britain’s newspaper hacks, with certain exceptions, seem to come from the same class and my guess is that much of Private Eye may also come from the same journos in the rest of the press, published anonymously.

And so we have the spectacle of the Eye openly revealing its own partisan bias in support of Starmer. Which confirms just how fake the anti-Semitism smears were. The real issue was always the Blairite’s fear of a genuine socialist Labour party that would genuinely empower the working class. The Eye’s anonymous reviewer, through their hopes and prayers for Starmer’s leadership, as just made that very clear.

 

Fabian Blueprint for a Socialist Britain

June 11, 2020

Sidney and Beatrice Webb, with an introduction by Samuel H. Beer, A Constitution for the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain (Cambridge: London School of Economics/ Cambridge University Press 1975).

I got this through the post yesterday, having ordered it a month or so ago. The Webbs were two of the founding members of the Fabian Society, the others including George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells. The idea of the NHS goes back to their minority report on the nation’s health published in the years before or round about the First World War. First published in 1920, this is their proposal for a socialist Britain.

The blurb for it on the front flap runs

The Constitution for a Socialist Commonwealth is a book that helps us understand the ‘mind of the Webbs’. Of all their works, it is the most general in scope – Beatrice called it a ‘summing up’ – and it does much to reveal the ideology of the great partnership. And since the mind of the Webbs was also the mind (though not the heart) of British socialism, an appreciation of this ideology, considered not only with regard to its confusions and blinds spots, but also its insights and intellectual sensitivities, helps one understand the Labour Party and what is still sometimes called ‘the Movement’.

But the book also has a broader importance. The problems that prompted the Webbs to write it still plague Great Britain and other, advanced societies. In 1920, the year of its publication, the modern democratic state was being sharply confronted by a syndicalist challenge based on the rising economic power of organised producers’ groups. Hardly less serious were the political difficulties of giving substance to parliamentary and popular control int eh face of growing bureaucratisation and a mass electorate. With regard to both sorts of problems, the Webbs were often prescient in their perceptions and sensible in their proposals. They concentrate on economic and political problems that are still only imperfectly understood by students of society and have by no means been mastered by the institutions of the welfare state and managed economy.

After Beer’s introduction, the book has the following chapters, which deal with the topics below.

Introduction

The Dictatorship of the Capitalist – The Manifold Character of Democracy.

The book is split into two sections. Part 1, ‘A Survey of the Ground’, contains

Chapter 1 – Democracies of Consumers

Voluntary Democracies of Consumers – Obligatory Associations of Consumers – The Relative Advantages of Voluntary and Obligatory Associations of Consumers – The Economic and Social Functions of Associations of Consumers.

Chapter 2 – Democracies of Producers

The Trade Union Movement – Professional Associations of Brain Workers – The Relative Advantages and Disadvantages of Obligatory and Voluntary Associations of Producers – The Economic and Social Functions of Associations of Producers: (i) Trade Unions; (ii) Professional Associations.

Chapter 3 – Political Democracy

The Structure of British Political Democracy: (a) the King; (b) the House of Lords; (c) the House of Commons and the Cabinet – Cabinet Dictatorship – Hypertrophy – A Vicious Mixture of Functions – the Task of the M.P. – the Failure of the Elector – The Warping of Political Democracy by a Capitalist Environment – Political Parties – The Labour Party – The Success of Political Democracy in general, and of British democracy in particular – The Need for Constitutional Reform.

Part II, ‘The Cooperative Commonwealth of Tomorrow’, begins with another introduction, and then the following chapters.

1 – The National Government

The King – the House of Lords – The National Parliament – the Political Parliament and its Executive – the Social Parliament and its Executive – the Relation between the Political and the Social Parliaments – Devolution as an Alternative Scheme of Reform – The Argument summarised – the Political Complex – The Social Complex – The Protection of the Individual against the Government.

2 – Some Leading Considerations in the Socialisation of Industries and Services

Three Separate Aspects of Economic Man – The Relative Functions of Democracies of Consumers and Democracies of Producers – Democracies of Citizen-Consumers – Democracies of Producers – ownership and Direction – The Participation in Management by the Producers.

3 – The Nationalised Industries and Services

The Abandonment of Ministerial Responsibility – The Differentiation of Control from Administration – The Administrative Machine – District Councils – Works Committees – the Recruitment of the Staff – Discipline Boards – Collective Bargaining – Advisory Committees – The Sphere of the Social Parliament – How the Administration will work – Initiative and Publicity – The Transformation of Authority – Coordinated instead of Chaotic Complexity – The Price of Liberty.

4 – The Reorganisation of Local Government

The Decay of Civic Patriotism – The Chaos in the Constitution and Powers of existing Local Authorities – Areas – The Inefficiency of the ‘Great Unpaid’ – The Principles on which Reconstruction should proceed – The Principle of Neighbourhood – The principle of Differentiation of Neighbourhoods – The principle of Direct Election – The Principle of the General Representatives – The Correspondence of Area and Functions – The Local Government of Tomorrow – The Representation of the Citizen-Consumer – The Local Councillor – Vocational Representation – Committees of Management – Machinery for Collective Bargaining – The Practicability of Vocational Self-Government in Municipal Government – The Industries and Services of Local Authorities – Emulation among Local Authorities – The Federation of Local Authorities – The Relation of Municipal Institutions to the Social and Political Parliaments.

5 – the Sphere of Voluntary Associations of Consumers in the Socialist Commonwealth

The Co-operative Movement – The Limitations of the Cooperative Movement – Constitutional Changes in the Cooperative Movement – Other Voluntary Associations of Consumers – Adult Education – The Future of the Country House – The Extension of Personality – The Problem of the Press – The Safeguarding of the Public Interest.

6 – The Reorganisation of the Vocational World

The Trade Union Movemewnt as the Organ of Revolt against the Capitalist System – The Right of Self-Determination for each Vocation – What Constitutes a Vocation – The Right of Free Enterprise for Socialised Administrations – Vocational Organisation as a Stratified Democracy; (a) How will each Vocation be recruited? (d) The Relative Position of Obligatory and Voluntary Organisation in a Vocation; (e) The Function of Vocational Organisation; (f) Subject Associations; (g) The Development of Professional Ethic; (h) Vocational Administration of Industries and Services; (i) Is there any Place for a National Assembly of Vocational Representatives?

7 – The Transitional Control of Profit-Making Enterprise

The Policy of the National Minimum – The Promotion of Efficiency and the Prevention of Extortion – The Standing Committee on Productivity – The Fixing of Prices – The Method of Expropriation – Taxation – The Relation of Prices to the National Revenue – The continuous Increase in a Socialist Commonwealth of Private Property in Individual Ownership – How Capital will be provided – The Transition and its Dangers- The Spirit of Service – The Need for Knowledge.

I’ve been interested in reading it for a little while, but finally decided to order it after reading in Shaw’s The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism that the Webb’s included an industrial parliament in their proposed constitution. I’d advocated something similar in a pamphlet I’d produced arguing that parliament was dominated by millionaires and managing directors – over 70 per cent of MPs have company directorships – working people should have their own parliamentary chamber.

The book is a century old, and doubtless very dated. It was republished in the 1970s during that decades’ acute trade union unrest and popular dissatisfaction with the corporative system of the management of the economy by the government, private industry and the trade unions. These problems were all supposed to have been swept away with the new, private-enterprise, free market economy introduced by Maggie Thatcher. But the problem of poverty has become more acute. The privatisation of gas, electricity and water has not produced the benefits and investment the Tories believed. In fact electricity bills would be cheaper if they’d remained in state hands. Ditto for the railways. And the continuing privatisation of the NHS is slowly destroying it for the sake of expensive, insurance-financed private medical care that will be disastrous for ordinary working people.

And the growing poverty through stagnant wages and welfare cuts, seen in the growth of food banks, is also partly due to the destruction of trade union power and the exclusion of working people from the management of their companies and industries.

I haven’t yet read it, but look forward to doing so because I feel that, despite Tory lies and propaganda and no matter how dated, the Webbs’ proposals and solutions are still acutely relevant and necessary.