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  


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 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.