Sunday, 20 December 2020

Scrap Serco


I used to think that Milo Minderbinder’s comment in Jospeh Heller’s Catch 22 was both funny and satirical. “They buy my tomatoes at four cents apiece and sell them back to me the next day for five cents apiece. They make a profit of one cent apiece. I make a profit of three and a half cents apiece.” It is neither funny nor satirical, but exactly what is now taking place in our health service.

 

I hope you will sign this petition to oppose SERCO and all the profiteers devouring the NHS. 

 

I speak as someone whose life has been saved more than once by the NHS. If we had already moved to a US-style healthcare system I would not be here to write this.


Serco and Catch 22



www.davidwilson.org.uk




Saturday, 19 December 2020

Order in more Bollinger

 

 


 

On the day that The Guardian published an article under the title, "Ten billionaires reap $400bn boost to wealth during pandemic",  Boris Johnson introduced more severe Covid-19 lockdown conditions, with these words: “We cannot continue with Christmas as planned.”

 

He is lying because there are those who will not only be continuing their Christmas as planned, but will be ordering in extra crates of Bollinger, while the rest of us suffer from a pandemic that brings death, illness, job losses and family separations.

 

The New York Times analyzed contracts awarded for provision of PPE, ventilators, coronavirus tests and other supplies critical to containing Covid-19 and found that about £8 billion went to companies run by friends or associates of politicians in the Conservative Party. Many of them have no backgound in the provision of medical equipment or services,  The National Audit Office state that these were ‘awarded’ with no competitive bidding and with over half concealed from the public.

 

Here is a a list of some of those who will be continuing Christmas as planned.


LORD DEIGHTON, Government PPE Tsar and ex- Goldman Sachs executive, with financial or personal connections to at least seven companies, awarded £220 million in government Covid contracts.


ANTHONY PAGE, secretary of the firm that provides branding services to Tory peer Baroness Mone’s company, PPE MEDPRO Ltd, awarded £203 million in Covid-related contracts. 

 

SIR MERRICK COCKELL, former Tory leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council and employed by PA CONSULTANCY SERVICES LTD, awarded £156 million in Covid contracts. 

 

DAVID MELLER, friend of MICHAEL GOVE and Tory party donor, runs MELLER DESIGNS, awarded £148 million in Covid-related contracts.

 

STEVE DECHAN, a former Tory councillor and director of P14 MEDICAL, awarded £120 million in Covid contracts.

 

RUPERT SOAMES, brother of former Tory MP SIR NICHOLAS SOAMES whose wife, CAMILLA SOAMES, is a Tory party donor and who is CEO of SERCO, awarded £57 million in Covid contracts.

 

SEAN TOPHAM and BEN GUERIN, behind the Tory party 2019 election strategy and Directors of TOPHAM GUERIN awarded £3 million in Covid contracts.


STEVE PARKIN, a major Tory Party donor and Chairman of CLIPPER LOGISTICS, awarded £1 million in Covid-related contracts.

 

PAUL STEPHENSON, friend and business associate of MICHAEL GOVE AND DOMINIC CUMMINGS, director of HANBURY STRATEGY, awarded £900,000 in Covid contracts.


JAMES FRAYNE and RACHEL WOLFF, friends of MICHAEL GOVE, and founders of PUBLIC FIRST, awarded £840,000 in Covid contracts.


THEODORE AGNEW, a business associate of DOMINIC CUMMINGS, worked with him on Vote Leave and is a major shareholder in FACULTY, awarded £500,000 in Covid contracts.


KATE BINGHAM, married to Tory Minister JESSE NORMAN and a business colleague of DOMINIC CUMMINGS, and appointed head of the government’s vaccine taskforce,


And you cannot make it up ….


BARONESS DIDO HARDING, Chair of NHS Improvement and NHS Test and Trace and wife of ToryMP JOHN PENROSE, who has government responsibilities for ….. anti-corruption.



Sunday, 13 December 2020

Peace & Justice project


 

 

Peace and Justice Project launched by Jeremy Corbyn

“I’m pleased to announce the new Peace and Justice Project, bringing people together for social and economic justice, peace, and human rights in Britain and across the world.”

 

This is a condensed version of Jeremy Corbyn's interview with Jacobin magazine


“The project has called a global conference for 17 January 2021. This isn’t a new political party, but a space in which people can come together … There’ll be speakers from the US, Latin America, South Asia, as well as from communities in Britain that have suffered grievously from job losses and deindustrialization …. and young people determined to fight for the Green Industrial Revolution … Power exists in lots of places; it’s partly about holding elected positions. But it’s also about the power of communities to change things, to prevent factory closures, to develop schools and nurseries, parks and community centers, to get clean air where there’s foul air, to get clean water where there’s dirty water. All those things empower people in the face of elites that don’t want them empowered … There has to be a process looking at the real issues the world faces: the huge environmental crisis, global poverty and inequality, systematic abuses of human rights, and the wars fought for minerals or as proxy wars between the big powers .. The search for a Covid-19 vaccine should have been an opportunity for international cooperation and sharing scientific resources. Instead, it’s become a competition between big pharma; and I suspect companies like Pfizer are going to make a mint out of this. This crisis has exposed all the inequalities in the world … has shown that what brings security is respect for the health needs of the entire world … I’ve been encouraged by how the US left has begun to assert itself through the Sanders campaign, through the socialist grouping within the Democrats and many trade unions … the Black Lives Matter movement is fantastic and has led to a re-understanding of both US history and European colonialism …There are now more refugees around the world than at any point in recorded history — over seventy million people and rising. They’re all people who want to live, to make their mark, to make their contribution … Are we going to move toward a security state that sends the Navy against refugees, or do something politically, economically, and environmentally to deal with the core problem of global inequality and injustice? … The direction in which the British government is taking us, with increasing arms expenditure and decreasing foreign aid — and the Labour front bench in parliament accepting the increased arms spending, is not the best of signs … The only way forward for this government is wage freezes, cuts in health, education, housing, and all the other crucial budgets, and even more intense austerity than we had after 2010 …Tony Benn’s daughter Melissa has spoken of the abuse their family had from the right-wing media. Hostility toward the Left by very powerful, very right-wing media sources is not new ..,. In 1907, Keir Hardie went to the USA, Australia, India, South Africa, then he reported back on it at a massive rally in the Albert Hall. His tour was followed by the Daily Mail, which condemned him for supporting Indian people over the British Raj, and for opposing the racism in South Africa. He was roundly abused. The Left in the 1930s, when George Lansbury was Labour leader, was roundly abused; Nye Bevan was abused ... I’ve suffered all this nonsense for quite a while and no doubt will continue to do so…I’m urging people to fight back against it, because the labor movement belongs to all of us … We will be looking to organize with, connect, and empower groups that exist already, and to support campaigns for change … we’ve had messages of support for the launch so far from the Orgreave Truth and Justice campaign in Yorkshire as well as trade unionists in Bolivia and the USA … We will work with unions and social movements to build a network of campaigners, grassroots activists, thinkers, and leaders, to share experiences and generate ideas about solutions to our common problems, whether it’s Rolls-Royce workers defending their jobs in Barnoldswick, or the huge protests in India, whether it’s children going hungry here in one of the world’s richest countries, or languishing as refugees from war and crises … I hope we’re going to build something important together ... At the global launch, we’ll have figures from all over the world ... I’m very excited and very enthusiastic about it, and I hope you’ll be joining us.

 

17 January conference details

 

“You don’t have to take what you’re given. You don’t have to live without power and without hope. Things can, and they will change.”




 



Thursday, 10 December 2020

Where are they now?

 

Iain McNicol was General Secretary of the Labour Party and played a leading role in sabotaging Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Today McNicol (“I’m passionate about socialism”), is Baron McNicol of West Kilbride and has been ‘elevated’ to sit in the House of Lords. (£365 per day ‘attendance allowance’). He is a non-executive director at Salad Money, loan sharks for NHS workers at 69.9%.


Tom Watson was Deputy leader of the party and also worked tirelessly to undermine Corbyn’s leadership. He was also a vocal anti-gambling campaigner, (his words: “the hidden epidemic”). Today he works for Flutter,( “He will be paid no more than six figures”) which owns Paddy Power and Betfair, Sky Bet and Poker Stars. He has also been appointed Chair of trade body UK Music, (£60,000 for a 2-day week), an appointment opposed by leading record labels because of his lack of knowledge of the music industry.

 

I doubt whether Lady Shelley McNicol or Mrs Siobhan Watson, are able to speak about their partners as Laura Valdez’ does about her partner, Jeremy Corbyn. “Jeremy’s record in parliament ... is testament to his belief in a world where social justice, human rights and peace are valued more greatly than money and greed. I believe that the spring will come one day again with happiness, social justice and hope For The Many.”

 


 


Saturday, 5 December 2020

The Persecution of a Decent Man

 


"The persecution of a decent man". Len McCluskey on Jeremy Corbyn’s treatment by Sir Keir Starmer

Starmer has set out to expel the Left from the Labour Party, with a witchhunt that involves removing Jeremy Corbyn as a Labour MP, closing down constituency parties (CLPs), who are no longer allowed to mention Jeremy’s name, imposing his choice of NEC Chair, insisting the Young Labour Chair retract her statement in support of Corbyn and expelling Jewish members who dare express solidarity with Palestine. 

 

His background as Director of Public Prosecutions must have helped. He was head of the DPP when the decision was made not to prosecute Jimmy Saville on the grounds of “insufficient evidence”. He opposed the prosecution of Jean-Charles de Menezes' police killers and fast-tracked the extradition of Julian Assange. 

 

Anyone else remember Starmer’s words to the Swedish legal authorities when they wanted to close the case against Assange? - ‘Don’t you dare get cold feet’.

 


 

 

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Big Pharma - Big in every way

 

 

First, I am not an anti-vaxxer, and my own life has been saved more than once by the intervention of laboratory drugs and injections, but I am wary of the pharmaceutical companies that dominate the healthcare ‘market’. Indeed if there is an industry that is top of my list for nationalisation, it would be Big Pharma.


I am also aware that vaccines save lives, However in the race to find a Covid-19 vaccine we should remain vigilant, even as the needle approaches our skin.


Pfizer, working with German drugmaker BioNTech, has announced that its vaccine is effective in preventing Covid-19.


The UK has approved their vaccine, with Britain's medicines regulator, the MHRA, saying the jab is safe and offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19. Boris Johnson has announced that the U.K. will purchase 40 million doses.


This follows an earlier $1.95 billion US Department of Health deal for 100 million Pfizer vaccines.


Whether or not this is good news for public health it has been cheered by Wall Street. Pfizer’s stock has soared, and market analysis is now predicting that their sales will now reach $258 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, with sales in 2021 expected to reach $4.6 billion.


But when it comes to medical ethics, Pfizer Is Big in both Pharma and Corruption. In the last 60 years Pfizer has:

- illegally conspired to control the production and distribution of drugs and fixed prices

- refused to lower the price of its AIDS medications.

- paid over $2 billion in fines for fraudulent marketing.

- bought ancillary companies knowing their medical practices were under criminal investigation.

- faced legal suits over defective heart valves and cancer drugs.

- spied on medical students protesting against Big Pharma’s influence in their education.

- pulled its leukaemia drug from the market because it caused more not less patient deaths

- paid $millions to resolve charges that it paid physicians to prescribe its drugs

- suspended paediatric trials of a drug which was being overdosed to children.

- suspended trials of an osteoarthritis pain drug, because patients got worse not better.

- been investigated for off-label marketing of their kidney transplant drug, and for targeting African-Americans

- been accused of paying foreign officials to facilitate drug approvals.

- As reported on 10 November 2020, is being investigated by the foreign corruption units at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) over their activities in China and Russia.


When asked why Pfizer had not been closed down, Peter Rost, author of The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman said, “So many Medicaid, Medicare and VA drugs come from Pfizer, the government would never convict them. It would stop the drug flow.”


Jim Edwards, former managing editor of Adweek agreed. “Pfizer is the largest drug company in the world and if you include its generics unit it makes literally hundreds of different drugs. Getting tough would mean no Lipitor, no Viagra, no Bacitracin, no Cipro, no Zithromax, no Sutent, et cetera,”


Do you trust criminal organizations? Because that’s what Pfizer is.


But hey, what about the Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine, developed with AstraZeneca. Oh no. They have been accused of paying bribes to health care providers so as to boost their medical sales, and have paid out $5.5 million over charges they had violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Enough. 

 

I need a break. All we can do is hope the vaccine works.

 

read nore HERE,    HERE,    HERE   




Friday, 27 November 2020

Manifiesto

 

“ My song is from the scaffolding

to reach the stars,

the song makes sense

when it beats in the veins

which will die singing

real truths,

not flatter shooting

or foreign reputations

but the song of a lark deep

into the earth.”

(words from Victor Jara’s, ‘Manifiesto’)

 

Here is ‘Labour Grassroots’ wonderful Castaway interview with Jeremy Corbyn

 

 


Jeremy’s final choice of music was this from Victor Jara

 

The Chilean military killed him in 1973 after crushing his fingers so he would never play guitar again. This followed the coup against Salvador Allende. Jeremy Corbyn is our Allende, our Jara. They have not yet crushed him and it is our job to make sure they never do.

 



 



Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Covid-19 is a place in the country

 


"Tory Steve Dechan’s £276m in PPE contracts lands him a place in the country." THE TIMES

 

P14 Medical, a loss-making company run by former Tory Councillor, Steve Dechan, ‘won’ a £156 million Covid contract to supply PPE gowns imported from China.

 

Neither this contract, nor an earlier one for £120 million to supply face shields, was put out to tender and neither contract was publicised within the statutory time limit of 30 days from award. The gowns business was kept out of the public record for four months. 

 

But the good news doesn’t end there as Dechan has been able to pay off his 2019 £500,000 loss and buy himself this 100 acre 17th century Cotswolds mansion. 

 

This reeks of the Chumocracy I have written about before.


Monday, 23 November 2020

Fixing our Health - a hope. Fixing the Market - a certainty

 

 

Pfizer and BioNTech have jointly announced that their COVID-19 vaccines had 90% efficacy in clinical trials. Similar announcements from the Russian Sputnik V and Moderna vaccines followed. 

 

The Lancet reports that, “2020 has been a year of incredible scientific achievement. In less than 12 months, researchers have developed diagnostics, produced treatment protocols, and established the efficacy of drugs and vaccines in controlled trials.”

 

Is the prospect of preventing illness and death, and avoiding the harm and misery of restrictions, a cause for optimism?


There remain uncertainties as to how the vaccines will affect the course of the pandemic. How well will the vaccines work on older people or those with underlying medical conditions? What is the duration of protection and will boosters be needed?


Pfizer and BioNTech have been joined by Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Roche, Moderna, Concordia (Advanz Pharma), Actavis, Teva and many other companies in attempts to develop vaccines and treatments.


I have checked out the list of pharmaceutical companies involved and can happily report there are no pest control businesses involved and none with personal connections to Dominic Cummings or Michael Gove.


But even if we feel secure about these companies medical competence, can we be assured we will not have a repeat of the corrupt £ millions handed out in Covid and PPE contracts?

Check HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE


This comes down to the heartbeat of the capitalist system, whether it be the sale of cat food or sleeping tablets. Money and profit.


The BBC reports that Concordia “overcharged the NHS by millions for a key thyroid treatment”. The Competitions and Marketing Authority (CMA) have added that Concordia and Actavis “fixed the market for hydrocortisone tablets.”


Two years after a bribes scandal in Poland and Romania in 2012, GSK was found guilty of paying bribes to doctors and hospitals to promote the company's products in China. They were fined £300 million.


The same year GSK paid $3 billion (£1.9 billion) in criminal and civil liabilities in the largest healthcare fraud settlement in US history and in 2016 the firm paid $15 million to US authorities to settle new allegations of bribery.


Roche have been accused of price rigging in their vitamin trade. In 2019 a lawsuit was filed in the US by 44 states, claiming price fixing for dozens of generic medicines. A total of 20 pharma companies were cited in the lawsuit – including Teva and Pfizer – all accused of ‘multi-billion dollar fraud’.


Although some Covid-engaged companies have promised to limit profits from the COVID-19 pandemic, Pfizer and the other companies I have referred to above have made no such commitments.

 A reader has commented - "Oxford/Astra Zeneca are part of Covax and ‘no profit’ is a fundamental part of their deal with the University. Their vaccine should be globally available at an affordable price." 

Yes and let's hope their vaccine, assuming its viability, will be widely available. The corruption surrounding earlier Covid / PPE contracts and the neglect of the non-profits, the biggest being the NHS itself, does not suggest optimism.



Sunday, 22 November 2020

Purging socialists

 

 

Below is a condensed version of Lynne Segal’s article in Red Pepper. She is a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North CLP and has known him for forty years. I too was a member of this CLP; joining when Jeremy became leader and resigning when he was ousted. My political loyalties have always been to support socialists and anti-racists rather than parties! So when the Labour Party had a leader who was both of these, I was eager to give whatever support I could. In the twenty years I have known Jeremy; helping me with neighbourhood problems, in support of our local hospital, when I was press officer at Stop the War Coalition and now, when we need to give Jeremy the solidarity he has always shown others, I can confirm Lynne’s sentiments. Here is a photo of Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to me when I was a patient at Barts Hospital.

"It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to write about being a Jewish member of the Labour Party in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency … We have had to watch a wholly false invention of charges of antisemitism against our MP, with our own views as Jewish members completely ignored … I am devastated that this process has climaxed in the suspension of our cherished MP, and former leader … What we can confirm is that as Jews in North Islington we have always felt more than safe, more than welcome, unfailingly supported, in everything we do in the borough, and the Party … I have known Jeremy Corbyn since helping to get him selected, then elected, almost 40 years ago. However, battles to discredit Corbyn as antisemitic began only after his quite unexpected victory as leader of the party … Methods first used by Corbyn’s opponents were the routine ways of attacking the radical Left, as ‘unrealistic’, ‘unpatriotic’, and so on ... It was only in the last few years, under Corbyn, that continuing investigations into antisemitism began in the LP ... clearly tied in with Corbyn’s support for Palestinian rights ... Over the years, Corbyn has had mutually supportive relations with the practising Jewish community in Islington, attending Shabbat dinners with the orthodox Chabad Rabbi, Mendy Korer, and attending numerous other official Jewish events in North London … Unlike most of his critics in Westminster, Corbyn unfailingly turned up to vote for motions addressing antisemitism in Parliament, just as he worked tirelessly against racism on every front …" (Lynne Segal)