Friday, 15 November 2019

Why Labour?



I have two reasons to vote Labour - transport and the NHS. Both are personal, but both affect us all. Well apart from the 1% who use helicopters and BUPA hospitals. 

The NHS has kept me alive three times and without it operating (pardon the pun) at its best I would not be writing this now or voting on 12 Dec. 

Trains get me around the country, visiting my friends and getting me to my son's home in Cornwall. 

Yesterday I was travelling from friend in Bath to son in Cornwall. Done it before and straightforward. Bath to Bristol and Bristol to Cornwall. On arrival at Bristol yesterday I was informed that there were no trains to the South West between Bristol and Devon. There were buses and the next one would be in 40 minutes. 

In pouring rain I retreated back into the station. I regularly need to use the toilet, but the toilets were the train side of the ticket barrier which meant negotiating my way there. No complaints with GWR staff. Kind, informative and shoulder-shrugging smiles when I went into "Let's nationalise this lot" mode. 

Yes and let's vote Labour. Your life may depend on it for critical and not-so-critical reasons.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Health v Wealth

The privatisation of the NHS is not something to be feared in the future. It is already happening.

Margaret Thatcher denationalised many industries, but the popularity of the NHS meant that the privateers would need to move more stealthily. But move they would.

In 1986 hospital cleaning services were privatised followed soon after by new-builds, catering and diagnostics. Two years later Tory MPs Oliver Letwin and John Redwood published “Ideas for Radical Reform of the NHS” which advocated encouraging further joint ventures with the private sector and the introduction of fees.

Tony Blair’s 1997 National Health Service Act adopted Letwin/Redwood’s ideas, by turning NHS hospitals into trusts, and encouraging them to operate as commercial businesses.

One GP described these changes as “how to get turkeys not only voting for Christmas, but also plucking, basting and putting themselves into the oven.”

Private companies have been increasingly encouraged to franchise for NHS services, with the UK divided into 44 ‘footprint’ areas encouraged to amalgamate hospitals and shrink specialist units. 

This country’s bed-to-patient ratio is today one of the lowest in any developed country. A&E units have been cut from 144 (five years ago) to about 50 today. At least 1000 GP practices have closed in the last five years and patients are encouraged to use privately owned app consultancies. The result is that GPs are merging their practices into competitive organisations, open to takeover by private companies such as Virgin Healthcare.

The deliberate blurring of the distinction between public and private healthcare, the rationing of non-urgent operations as well as increased waiting times, encourages a move to private treatment. And how many of you knew that The Practice Group, the UK’s largest GP network, is owned by US company Centene.

A health service with primary loyalty to shareholders makes them more costly than state-funded services. John Furse, writing in The London Review of Books, estimates that private involvement in healthcare adds at least £9 billion a year to the NHS budget with the result that today the independent sector accounts for £13.7 billion of NHS spend.

We are running out of time to save the NHS and without a Corbyn-led Labour government we can kiss goodbye to Aneurin Bevan’s principle of “healthcare free at the point of delivery based on need, not wealth.”

 

This article can be read alongside my earlier pieces on NHS privateers here and here

 

www.davidwilson.org.uk  

 

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Open Your Eyes


 

“If I were a voter in Britain, I would vote for Jeremy Corbyn. If he had a fair treatment from the media – that would make a big difference.” NOAM CHOMSKY

Since that is not going to happen, it is up to the rest of us to make that difference. The December 12 election is the most important one in my life. Perhaps I should add in my conscious political life because I was alive when Clement Atlee was elected in 1945, but was too busy soiling my nappies. That Labour government radically changed politics in this country. It rejected the callous Depression-era policies of the 30s and passed the National Health Service Act, providing free universal healthcare and the National Insurance Act which gave sickness, unemployment benefits and pensions.

We are faced with a similar choice to 1945. Will this country continue tolerating the austerity policies whose benefits have  helped the few or change direction to help the many?

Over coffee his morning I read the latest news from a non-MSM website which I recommend to my readers. The Canary runs an article on an organisation called ‘Faith’.

Funded to the sum of £8.8 million by the Home Office, (your and my money), they promote BSBT – 'Building a Stronger Britain Together'. Sounds innocuous and positive doesn’t it? But they specialise in promoting anti-Corbyn messages, mostly about his falsely-accused anti-semitism. They are liars when they say he has sympathy for Syria’s Basher Al Asad, supports governments that violate human rights, allege that he is a ‘security threat’ and that he 'has linked up with groups who have a very poor record of relationships with communal Jewish organisations.'

Back to The Canary's reporting. which tells us that in 1987, Jeremy Corbyn successfully campaigned to stop property developers taking over a Jewish cemetery. Then he was fighting a Margaret Hodge-led Islingron Council. Yes, that Margaret Hodge who smears Corbyn as an anti-semite. The Council wanted to 'destroy the gravestones and dig-up and rebury bodies' to build for-profit properties.

I am not able to canvas the streets for Labour, but I can cyber canvas. I will continue to post regular blogs on issues which you won’t read about in the Main Stream Media (MSM) in an attempt to disseminate the truth.. 

You will find my articles at www.davidwilson.org.uk Recent ones include "Meeting Ken", "Health Rats", "No More Tweedles", "Brexit Jokers", "Fight for the NHS", many of which have been published on the People's Campaign for Corbyn—thanks to Alice Kilroy—the London Economic and other non-MSM websites.


Meeting Ken


Last night I was invited to join Ken Livingstone for dinner at an Afghan restaurant in Kilburn. I had met him last some years ago in a supermarket queue.

During the course of our meal, I wanted to use the opportunity to express my solidarity with him about the shocking way he had been treated. I said I felt we had a lot in common, in my case because I was thrown out of the charity I helped to found because I had been a whistleblower about corruption. In late middle age I was left without a job and little money. One day I had been a charity director running a music centre and the next unemployed and unemployable. I was dazed at how quickly fate can change our lives.

Ken’s fate has been much worse. As Mayor of London, he has been responsible for much that remains positive about London life. Standing out in my memory was his anti-racism and the promotion of good community relations.

It was heartwarming to see a waitress come to our table to shake Ken’s hand and thank him for all he did for the city. And he left the job eleven years ago.

Today he remains ‘outed’ from the Labour Party because he stands falsely accused of anti-semitism. In a recent interview in The Guardian he said, “In more than 50 years in the party, I never saw or heard anything anti semitic … If you’re antisemitic, you’re not going to join the Labour party, are you? … the most prominent Jewish MPs are Labour MPs.”

I returned home on the London Overground. Oh yes, that was modernised and revamped under Ken’s leadership. How I wish there was someone with his vision and humanity in power now.

Interview with Ken Livingstone here

 


Friday, 8 November 2019

Health rats




I was shocked to find out from my GP office that very few patients take the trouble to praise the services offered there. It is vital that we all support the NHS whenever we need the health system – and even when we don’t. In recent years I have had two major operations, (brain and heart surgery), after-stroke treatment, three ‘minor’ procedures, numerous ambulance trips and an eight-week ‘on-drip’ drugs hospital stay. And of course GP visits. In the USA that amounts to a total cost of $250,000 at the lowest estimate. And that is without pharmaceutical costs which in my case are ongoing. Boris Johnson is already talking with US pharmaceuticals to move the UK to a private health system and much of the NHS is already under the greedy grips of the privateers. There have been six formal discussions between UK and US trade officials, Channel 4 Dispatches informed us, and representatives form American drug companies have been given direct access to British officials in five meetings. No prizes for guessing how I am voting in the upcoming election. It will be for the only party totally committed to a publicly-funded health service. JC4PM. And you?

Thursday, 7 November 2019

No more Tweedles

Austerity is the idea that the worldwide financial crash of 2008 was caused by Wolverhampton having too many public libraries.” Alexei Sayle

Whatever the result of the 12 December election we finally have the chance to promote and fight for radical change. I speak as someone who has never been a member of any political party, never taken any interest in Tweedle Dum / Tweedle Dee politics and only ever had the chance to vote for the lesser of two evils.

Ambulances can’t offload because A&E is full. A&E can’t clear spaces because there are no acute beds to move patients to, there are no acute beds because medically fit, but vulnerable elderly, can’t be discharged because social care has been decimated. I work in A&E." Dr Georgina Porter

Now in my 7th decade, I have joined the Labour party whose leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised, “ the most radical plan for real change ever put before the British electorate … a once in a generation chance to transform our country”. He has called it an opportunity “to take on the vested interests that are holding people back.” 

"I’m a paramedic. Today I’m on a 12- hour shift and well into my ninth hour of helping others and as of yet have not been granted my unpaid half hour break. This is the result of an underfunded NHS Ambulance Service. We are on our knees.” Suze Bella


The question in this election is whose side are you on? … Are you on the side of the tax dodgers who are taking us all for a ride? … landlords like the Duke of Westminster and the big polluters like Jim Radcliffe. Or are you on the side of the children with special educational needs who aren’t getting the support they need because of Tory and Lib Dem cuts?

The party manifesto is likely to include plans for a four-day working week, a £10 minimum wage for all workers over the age of 18, a zero hour contracts ban, rented accommodation to be fit for human habitation, the creation of a National Education Service, the end of the public sctor pay freeze, the scrapping of tuition fees, free school meals, reversal of NHS privatisation and restoration of NHS bursaries, renationalisation of Royal Mail, rail and water companies, an end to rough sleeping, the setting up of a national investment bank, the ending of private education, the end of sweetheart tax deals between HMRC and massive corporations, defence of free movement for migrants, a ban on companies using tax havens bidding for government contracts and a target of zero carbon emissions by 2030. Oh and a foreign policy of peace not war.

More people were receiving emergency food aid in North Yorkshire last year than were inmates in the county’s workhouses 130 years ago. A report by North Yorkshire’s director of public health Dr Lincoln Sargeant, draws parallels between the extreme poverty of the 19th century - which drove people to workhouses - with present day poverty. It is estimated around 6,450 people in North Yorkshire received emergency food aid in 2018/19.

Corbyn has said the election is “our last chance to tackle the climate emergency … We have to radically change course now to avoid living on a hostile and dying planet,” adding that a green industrial revolution is “absolutely at the centre and the heart of Labour’s plan to transform Britain, creating new green jobs where they’re most desperately needed.”

"Rising homelessness is a crisis of the Tories’ own making as we’ve seen investment in the number of low-cost homes to buy and rent tumble. Add to that cuts in housing benefit, reduced funding for homelessness services and a private rental sector lacking any real protections and we know why so many are being let down.” Alex Cunningham, Shadow Housing Minister

On Brexit there would be a referendum within six months of the election “on whether to leave on a sensible deal or remain in the European Union.

It won’t have escaped your notice that I mention Brexit at the end of this piece. Deliberately so. With Michael Rosen “I have a dream that I and others will walk hand in hand to the polling station and be able to vote in an election that is about the NHS, education, benefits, climate change ...”

That dream is now going to be a reality. It is up to all of us to make sure that after we have walked to the polling station we don't return home to find that the dream has become a nightmare.

 

 



Sunday, 27 October 2019

Brexit Jokers



The Tories in England had long imagined that they were enthusiastic about monarchy, the church, and the beauties of the old Englsh constitution, until the day of danger wrung from them the confession that they are enthusiastic only about ground rent.”Karl Marx

The Brexit ‘debate’ is supposedly about the UK taking back control of its ‘destiny’ from the European Union. Brexit bores its way on while its advocates get on with the business of making as much money as they can without having to take notice of nation-state or borders. And Brexit itself can be a cash-cow. 


Former Chancellor Philip Hammond has claimed that “Johnson is backed by speculators who have bet billions on a hard Brexit – and there is only one option that works for them: a crash-out no-deal that sends the currency tumbling and inflation soaring,”

 

Of course the EU can still have its uses. 

 

Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Enforcer”, Dominic Cummings, talks about getting rid of ‘absurd subsidies’ paid out by the EU. He is co-owner of a farm which has received £235,000 in EU farming subsides

 

Conservative MP Richard Drax, descendant of a 19th century slave-owner owns a farm that has received an EU grant of £411,000.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble, in charge of steering Brexit legislation through the House of Lords is a partner in a family farm, which in 2017 received £49,000 in EU agricultural subsidies.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Tory Chief Whip in the House of Lords has a shareholding in a farm which received an EU subsidy of £159,000 in 2017.

Mark Spencer, Conservative MP and government Whip is a partner in a Nottinghamshire farm which received an EU subsidy of £14,000 in 2017.

And what about the loyalties of leading Brexiteer, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who famously said that “We are removing an imperial yoke”. He is co-founder of Somerset Capital, a £6.5 billion company based in London and Singapore. He stepped-down from the company on his appointment as Leader of the House of Commons, but he was then compensated with £1million from the company’s 2018 profits. If you search the company’s website you will be no wiser as to how they bring in the moola. Their mission satement has the clarity of mud, “Assessing governance risk and interacting with management teams to protect the value of our investment has been a cornerstone of our investment process since the firm was founded.” Let us take a guess that little of that £6.5 billion came from investments or activities within the United Kingdom.

And others? Lord George Magan is a former Conservative party chairman who has donated around £1.5m to the Tories. He is connected to the offshore law firm, Appleby.

 

Philip May, husband of former PM Theresa May, is a banker and pension fund expert. He is a senior executive at Capital Group, a US investment company that controls $1.4 trillion in assets. Linked to the Paradise Papers scandal Private Eye claimed the company use Appleby, to arrange investments in tax havens.

It would seem that loyalty to country does not weigh heavily on the Brexiteer mind.


I am not concerned about the ‘nationality’ of the capitalists who control our economy. Indeed capital has one progressive virtue. It is internationalist, but since our politicians claim they are putting Britain first, let us take a closer look at how they do that.

Of our energy companies EDF, a subsidiary of the French Government-owned energy company Électricité de France owns what were once London Electricity, SWEB, Seeboard and British Energy. E.ON is a German-owned group which bought UK energy company Powergen. NPOWER is a subsidiary of German energy company RWE Group which took over National Power, Calortex, Independent Energy and Midlands. SCOTTISH POWER is a subsidiary of Spanish company Iberdrola, formerly the South of Scotland Electricity Board. It later bought Manweb, the energy company supplying Merseyside and North Wales.

With transport, of twenty eight private rail and bus companies, 70% of them, are now partially or wholly owned by foreign states or their railways. German state railways, Deutsche Bahn, own Chiltern, Cross Country, London Overground, Tyne & Wear Metro, Borders and Northern. Dutch state railway Abello own Greater Anglia and French state railways own Keolis, running Transport for Wales and South Eastern.


With the escalating privatisation of NHS services, the Deparment of Health and Social Care awarded contracts worth £9.2bn last year to private providers, many of them non-UK based. NHS digital GP service providers Livi, is Swedish-owned. HCA International, running six UK hospitals and bone and cancer treatment centres, is a US company. Babylon Health, set up by ex-Goldmann Sachs banker Ali Parsa and providing digital diagnosis and GP services, is registered in Jersey and since they pay no UK tax cannot be considered a UK-based company. AB Kinnervik is a Swedish/ Egyptian company. Virgin Care, registered in the British Virgin Isles, is in the same categoty as Babylon Health.

The solution? Certainly not Brexit, but neither would be a return to the consensus politics that have brought us to this situation. We have had years of austerity overseen by these ‘turn the telly off’ politicians. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimate that over 14 million people are living in households with an income below the poverty line, with those numbers increasing daily. The number of people using food banks since 2010 has gone from the tens of thousands to the millions. The Office for National Statistics show that people born in the most deprived areas of England can expect to have over 18 fewer years of life than those born in the least deprived areas.


But don’t despair. As of July 2019, the Labour Party had nearly half a million members, making it the largest membership party in Europe. Today their policies include a four-day week, (with no loss of pay), £10 an hour minimum wage, reversal of anti-union legislation, reversal of NHS privatisation, the renationalisation of transport and energy companies, the scrapping of tuition fees, worker ownership funds, the abolition of in-work poverty, a National Care Service, a Green New Deal (with a 2030 net-zero carbon target), the protection of free movement, the closure of all immigration detention centres and a Brexit referendum which will not disrespect how people vote or voted in the past.

Can any of you think of a reason not to vote for Jeremy Corbyn?




Who will fight for the NHS?

A few years ago I received by post a ‘poo kit’ as part of the NHS bowel cancer screening programme. The instructions asked me to take two samples on three separate occasions and send off in the enclosed sealed envelope. I noticed that the address of the test laboratory on the label was in Texas. My faeces was off to the USA!

Private companies have a growing presence in the NHS. This was initially through providing support services such as IT, catering, portering, laundry and cleaning. Today it has expanded to cover GP services, urgent care, diagnostic services and non-emergency surgery, maternity care, community nursing, physiotherapy, CT scanners, radiotherapy machines, and ambulance services. Private companies are now involved in running entire hospitals, including A&E departments, not to mention hospital construction under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA) enshrined privatisation as official government policy, but it must not be forgotten that both Blair and Brown’s ‘New Labour’ governments encouraged private providers’ involvement in the health service.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) disclosed that its total spending on all non-NHS bodies has risen from £10.32 billion in 2014 - 15 to £13.75 billion last year, an increase of £3.43 billion or 33% over four years.

This means you may now find that your GP works for a company like Care UK. Tests your GP orders on your behalf like blood tests or scans may be carried out by companies such as In-health. If your GP refers you to hospital for surgery, this might be to a privately-run centre, or to an NHS hospital run by a company like Circle. On leaving hospital, after care may be provided by Virgin Care.

Privatisation is at its most extreme in the mental health and childcare provision sphere. Dr John Lister, secretary of Keep Our NHS Public has said, “Last year (2018), roughly 30% of all mental health spending was in the private sector and 44% of spending on child and adolescent mental health goes to private providers.”

Fifteen of these private companies have links to twenty-four Tory politicians. They include David Cameron, Andrew Landsley, Jo Johnson, William Hague, Nadhim Zahawi, Nick Herbert, Chris Skidmore, Mark Simmonds, Nicholas Soames, Kwasi Kwarteng and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Let us look at a couple of these MPs.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons, who famously said that the growth in food banks is “rather uplifting”, is the co-founder of Somerset Capital, a £6.5 billion company based in London, the Cayman Islands and Singapore. He stepped down from the company on his appointment as Leader of the House of Commons, but was then compensated with £1 million from the company’s 2018 profits. If you search the company’s website, you will be no wiser as to how they bring in the moola. Their mission statement has the clarity of mud: “Assessing governance risk and interacting with management teams to protect the value of our investment has been a cornerstone of our investment process since the firm was founded.”

But I have discovered that Somerset Capital has received at least £4 million from one of their clients, Redwood Emerging Markets, who are involved in health technologies and digital support projects. If you want to know how difficult a task it is to get hold on this information, check out this talk by Dominic Johnson of Somerset Capital about Redwood Emerging Markets. Just as with their mission statement above, what is he on about?

Never mind the obfuscations. Channel 4 Dispatches has assured their viewers that there is little obfuscation in Rees-Mogg’s personal finances. He has received over £7 million from Somerset Capital in the last five years.

Nadhim Zahawi, Tory MP and Construction Minister in the Johnson government, whose duties include “better regulation and regulatory reform” is non-executive director of Sthree which won a £2.6 million contract from the NHS. He is paid £2,917 a month by the company for seven hours work. He may have on his busy desk company reports on their work replacing NHS primary care trusts with the company’s clinical commissioning group.

As the second highest earning UK MP, Zahawi acts as Chief Strategy officer for Gulf Keystone Petroleum. With all this work, he still finds time to go riding, although he had to apologise to the Sunday Mirror after they they published a report that he had claimed £5,822 on his parliamentary costs for his stable’s electricity.

During debate on the 2012 HSCA bill, Zahawi called it a “brilliant piece of legislation”. Of course he did.

You might think, So what? So long as treatment remains free when I go to my GP or when I am admitted to hospital, I need not worry. But with growing waiting lists for consultations and surgeries, NHS inadequacies open the door to privatised solutions. And they are already in place or scratching at the door to get in. And not just UK companies.

USA Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) has a lobbying group that supports the role of private company participation in the NHS. The US hospital operator, Tenet Healthcare, acquired Aspen Healthcare in 2015, an operator of private hospitals and clinics in the UK. Tenet said that it hoped that owning Aspen would provide “increasing opportunities to work with and support the National Health Service”. They went on to note that “privatisation of UK marketplace, given market inefficiencies and pressures on the National Health Service, should create organic and de novo opportunities” for their company.

What to expect from all this? Just two examples of what awaits us. The cancer / HIV drug Daraprim presently costs £2.30 per pill in the UK. In the USA the price is £619 per pill. Cataract surgery costs £800 in this country. In the USA that price is £5,780.

And why are so many of the UK companies involved with the health service registered abroad? Surely not to evade the taxes which fund their profits

We have a struggle on our hands to save the NHS. With the Tories actively voting for more and more privatisation and with the Lib Dems abstaining, no prizes for who will do the fighting.

A personal note. As someone whose life has been saved three times by the NHS in the last four years, I will be campaigning for a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government.

 

 LEFT FIELD FREE ONLINE

 

 

 

Sunday, 20 October 2019

David Wilson articles, 2000 - 2019



Meeting Ken, David Wilson website, 9 November 2019
No More Tweedles, David Wilson website, 7 November 2019
Who Will Fight for the NHS, David Wilson website, 27 October 2019 
Brexit Jokers, David Wilson website, 27 October 2019
Winning the Election is Easy, The London Economic, 20 July 2019 
What Isn't Reported about Julian Assange, The London Economic, 16 April 2019
Corbyn must stand strong against attacks on Israel, The People's News, 28 August 2018
Palestinians have Right to Return and Live, The People's News, 20 May 2018
Israel's Act of Terror, The People's News, 14 May 2018
Giving the Finger to the DWP, The Canary, 11 May 2018  
Disabled Tribunal Victory, The London Economic, 10 May 2018
Disabled victory in courts: The People's News 9 May 2018  
Labour Party Remains on the Up, The People's News, 4 May 2018
Theresa May + husband + war = profit, The People's News, 26 April 2018
Criticising Israel is not anti-semitic, The People's News, 23 April 2018
The Pornography of War, The People's News, 12 April 2018
The Overton Window, The People's News, 6 April 2018
The Overton Window, The Internattional Times, 19 April 2018
Corbyn is no Anti-Semite, The People's News, 26 March 2018 
Corbyn Wise not to Spoil for Fight , The People's News, 15 March 2018
Disabled Man Taken off Disability Allowance, The People's News, 14 March 2018
The Calabash Tree, having a heart operation, 17 Feb 2018
NHS Privateers, The London Economic, 2 Feb 2018
Why Boris Johnson, a Face to be Punched, Public Reading Rooms review
My Disabled Son Stripped of Benefits, The London Economic, 24 Aug 2017
The Fool is for the Many, Jaroslav Hašek's novel The Good Soldier Schwejk, 14 July 2017
Music of the Spheres, Heathcote Williams play, 18 June 2017
Them or Us in the Election, The London Economic, 7 June 2017
Exposing Corruption in Charities, Guardian article about charity corruption, 16 April 2017,
Abandoning Refugee Children, The London Economic, 11 Feb 2017
In The Living Years, for Stand Alone under pseudonym, 16 Sep 2016
Who Speaks for the Refugee Children, Counterpunch after visit to Calais, 20 May 2016
Planet Zembar, Subdural Haematoma article in Huffington Post, 17 March 2015
Famous anti-Zionist Jews, Stop the War Coalition, 12 Aug 2014
What a Strange Way to Protect Civilians, article for US antiwar website about depleted uranium weapons, 16 April 2011
Bush in London, Counterpunch, 18 June 2008
The Collapse of Iraq's Health Services, Counterpunch article about collapse of Iraq's health services, 14 Oct 2006
Depleted Uranium Weapons, Future Trust, 2006
Gloucester Weapons Inspectors, Counterpunch, 30 Jan 2003
Music and War, as published by the European Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol 10, issue 3, 1999 and in The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, University of Kansas, Fall 2000, Vol. XV, No. 8 & re-written for a chapter in Left Field



Books
Left Field, The memoir of a lifelong actvist

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BrianEno interview



david@davidwilson.org.uk
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