Monday, 21 September 2020

What's Left of ''Our' NHS?

 

KEEP OUR NHS PUBLIC’ - A slogan I see in nearby house windows. Too late. It needs editing to, ‘KEEP WHAT’S LEFT OF OUR NHS PUBLIC’. Yes, it’s disappearing with a mixture of galloping privatisation and government cuts.

 

Minor injuries units are mostly closed. Diabetic units have been closed in some areas. 54% of sexual health units have closed. GP appointments are by phone only. Over 15 million are on waiting lists for tests and treatment.


A quarter of patients, following an urgent GP referral, wait over two months for their first cancer treatment. If your cancer referral is from a screening programme, 87% are now left waiting over two months for treatment.


38,000 heart operations have been postponed. And no, it’s not all to do with Covid-19, as the 18-week target has been missed for four years by an NHS weakened by a decade of cuts.


A hospital chief executive told Polly Toynbee of The Guardian they used to have 4 people waiting for a year for diagnostics and treatment. Now it’s 1,200. The Nuffield Trust records 48% of people who require treatment waiting beyond the 18-week limit, the worst since records began.


We are talking of patients who are in the higher risk groups at risk from Coronavirus so they face a double threat. In addition no foreign staff are arriving, and the Home Office is delaying visas for overseas doctors already here and waiting to work.


Never mind this may be a threat to many of us, but it is a life-saver for SERCO and the privatising wolves slathering at the hospital doors. As an NHS patient whose life was saved twice by ‘foreign’ surgeons and nurses I recently received this unsolicited email from a private health insurance company - “Have you ever thought to yourself if you were to get ill or injured, would you want to avoid a waiting list of 3-6 months for NHS treatment.” No, but I have thought I, hope Hell is too hot for whoever is responsible for writing this and that you get taken there in a Serco prison van.




Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Coronavirus is a life-saver for some

 

 

Widespread testing is crucial to controlling the spread of the coronavirus epidemic because it allows those who are infected to self-isolate while helping identify hot spots and trace those who are infected.

 

When you land in Rome there is a swift and well organised Covid test with the result given in 30 minutes.” Richard E Grant


Here in the UK some people have made round trips of more than four hours and even in England’s worst-hit coronavirus hotspots people reported being unable to get a test.


In Bolton, Cath Dodds, whose young daughter has a chronic lung condition and asthma, and who developed a cough and a temperature, was forced to make a 240-mile round trip for a test after three days of trying to get one locally.



In Yorkshire. Gavin Kaps, a photographer who had a cough, no sense of smell or taste, a blocked nose and fatigue, was unable to book a test anywhere. “There were literally no options,” he said, so he went direct to a testing centre. “I was asked if I had an appointment and informed that the government had said they couldn’t accept people without appointments.”


Meanwhile Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It’s incumbent on all of us to take a responsible approach and tell our constituents that tests are available in large numbers and the average distance travelled is 5.8 miles … And people should take this seriously and not game the system.”



What’s going on? Covid-19 is allowing for the escalting takeover of the NHS by the privateers is what’s going on.


Here in the UK testing has been sub-contracted to private companies such as Serco, G4S, Capita and Deloitte. They have won significant work on providing Covid testing, and have been awarded £1.3bn of NHS work in the last eight months .


Serco secured contracts worth £157m between February 1 and September 7, 2020, including a job mobilising 10,500 contact tracers for the NHS Test and Trace programme.


In the five years before the pandemic, share prices of these companies had underperformed and so Covid-19 has been a life-saver for them, if you will pardon the pun. Serco said it had won enough Covid-19 response work to offset “the significant negative impact of the pandemic in other parts of our business”. Readers will be relieved to know that by August, Serco had offset losses with a range of government contracts both in the UK and overseas, much of it focused on health ‘care’.


Serco are not alone in their financial ‘relief’. Capita, ‘won’ two awards worth £34m, and the security firm G4S a contract worth £9m.


It's a small matter, but Serco had to apologise after breaching data protection rules on its test-and-trace contract and was fined £1 million for failures on another government contract. The company has received larger fines in the past, notably more than £19m as part of a settlement with the Serious Fraud Office over failures in electronic tagging dating back to 2010.


This latest fine does not appear to have hampered Serco’s ability to win other government contracts. Alongside the test-and-trace contract, it secured an £800m prisoner custody contract and a £200m contract to manage immigration removal centres.


Most Covid-19 contracts have been awarded without a competitive tendering process under emergency procurement measures that were put in place in March.


The government is using the Coronavirus epidemic, to siphon billions of pounds into the pockets of friends who have no experience in the field of public health. Amongst them, a rodent infestation company pocketing a multi-million pound award to get in on the lucrative Coronavirus ‘market’.


Oh and The junior health minister, Edward Argar, is a former Serco lobbyist and Serco’s chief executive is Rupert Soames, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill and brother of Tory MP, Sir Nicholas Soames.


I have personal experience of Serco’s leading role in the privatisation of the NHS. When I was a patient at St Barts Hospital in 2018, I wrote that Serco’s employees, loving, gentle and caring health workers, once worked directly for the NHS, but as Serco employees, were earning £8 per hour and hadn’t seen a pay rise for ten years.  

 

“I love the idea that the military is listed alongside healthcare and 'other citizen services' by SERCO. Also nice to know that the inmates of Wormwood Scrubs receive the same food services as we get in this hospital. I wonder if they have the same problem – a shortage of small spoons. In the Scrubs they may be being put to use tunnelling their escapes and probably don't ask why there is a shortage. There was no answer for me when I asked this question. Breakfast was tepid tea or coffee, cereal or porridge and toast. As I bite into the cold, spongy “toast” I could imagine Serco executives meeting to discuss how to cut back their costs to increase their profits. 'Let's start with breakfast'.”


In the intervening years things have only got worse. I look forward to the day when we put a Serco prisoner van to good use and take their CEO to prison for profiting off the suffering of the people.






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Sunday, 13 September 2020

Extinction Rebellion are a threat?

 


Extinction rebellion protesters, "so-called eco-crusaders turned criminals”, are a threat to our way of life, says UK Home Secretary, Priti pointless Patel.

According To Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report the way of life she is referring to is a world summed up in this photo and brought about by increasing the wealth of the richest 1% to the extent that they now own 44 percent of the world’s wealth.

Patel’s husband, Alex Sawyer is a marketing consultant for the US stock exchange company, NASDAQ, which recently published an article with the headline ... “The Ultra rich Have $13 Billion at this Offshore Bank (NT Butterfield): Here's Why You Should Buy”.

Offshore banks, much loved by the 1%, are often referred to as tax havens. Fortunately for 'our way of life' none of these tax havens are threatened with fire --- yet

 

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

A Rooting Hog

 

 

 


        "All our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death'  Macbeth

New BBC supremo, Tim Davie—annual salary £525,000—thinks TV comedy is too left-wing. He believes that it is necessary to redress bias against political leaders such as Boris Johnson and Donald Trump and for there to be greater ‘impartiality’ by the broadcaster.  As a former Conservative Party councillor candidate and deputy chairman of his local Party he is, of course, well placed to be the judge of that.

 

In this country, mocking the upper class has been central to satire from Chaucer to 'Spitting Image' and was used by Shakespeare to poke fun at powerful political figures. 

 

In ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, the character Bottom emphasises the arrogance and stupidity of the ruling class. His head is transformed into that of a donkey, making him the butt of the play's biggest jokes.

 

Some ruling class afflictions highlighted by Shakespeare were too awful for humour and had to be dealt with, without the laughs.

 

In ‘Macbeth’, the King of Scotland's bloody hands symbolise the immense violence and cruelty wielded by the politically powerful.

 

In ‘Hamlet', a skull is used to show how all of us, good or evil, rich or poor, powerful or powerless, end up in the ground. 

 

If Shakespeare were alive today, he might quote his own words from ‘Richard III’ in response to Davie’s new appointment, “Thou elvish-mark'd, abortive, rooting hog”.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Craig Murray reports on Julian Assange



I want to devote this blog to Craig Murray. Once an Ambassador and today a political activist who is next week travelling to London from his Edinburgh home because, “The travesty that is Julian Assange’s extradition hearing resumes fully on 7 September at the Old Bailey. I shall be … going down to London to cover it again in full, for an expected three weeks. How this is going to work at the Old Bailey, I do not know. Covid restrictions presumably mean that the numbers in the public gallery will be tiny. As of now, there is no arrangement for Julian’s friends and family in place. It looks like 4am queuing is in prospect..”

 


 

Good luck Craig – and of course Julian – and please be sure to follow Craig’s reports.

 

As a fellow whistleblower I have a powerful affinity with his life struggles and recommend you read his memoir,‘Murder in Samarkand’. A book praised by David Leigh in The Guardian with these words, “Murray does demonstrate that the men of straw have failed to silence him, for which he deserves much praise. But he has none the less been successfully defenestrated.”







Saturday, 29 August 2020

David Wilson articles, 2000 - 2020



Me & My Pizza Pal Pavarotti, Camden New Journal, 29 August 2020
The NHS is Our Shield, Public Reading Rooms, 20 July 2020
Where is My Vote, Peoples Campaign for Corbyn FB,  06 January 2020 
El Pepe, Peoples Campaign for Corbyn FB,  02 January 2020
In Defence of Simplicity, David Wilson website, 02 December 2019 
The Crucible Re-staged, David Wilson website, 27 November 2019
Manifesto of Hope, The London Economic, 21 November 2019
Between the Wars, David Wilson website, 21 November 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 HaĊĦek'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 - read it online for FREE here

inteviews
BrianEno interview



david@davidwilson.org.uk
+44 (0)7951 579 064



Thursday, 27 August 2020

From Camden to Mostar

 


 “We had an idea to link Camden Guitars with the Pavarotti Music Centre in Mostar, bring musicians to and from and vice versa. It has all rather gone into abeyance like most things have this year ... There are curious and wonderful parallels – both are living music centres.”

 

 

'Left Field' can now be read for free here

 



 

 

LEFT FIELD, a memoir. Can now be read FREE online here


Sunday, 16 August 2020

A very British coup

 

 

We will never allow you to rule” Theresa May to Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons, 5 July 2017


It is impossible to put an exact date on the British coup. Universities have not been raided and leftists have not been imprisoned as happened in Greece on 21 April 1967. There has been no killing of a UK Salvador Allende and no UK musician has had his fingers chopped off as happened to Victor Jara in Chile on 11 September 1973. Political prisoners have not been dropped into the sea as happened in Argentina every Wednesday for two years from 24 March 1976.


The British, perhaps more correctly the “English",  are more subtle and more effective. For there has been a coup, but carried out without soldiers having to leave barracks, without politicians being murdered, without university raids, without the torture of sngers, without the need for helicopter drops over the sea.. 

 

How has it happened?


Our Allende has been removed, not by physical assassination, but by character assassination.


The possibility of even a mildy reformist Labour government has been removed by the actions of the Party’s own parliamentary representatives and by its own party HQ staff.


Both major political parties are back together again in shared neo-liberal orthodoxy, with oppositionists expelled or left demoralised.


Today it’s been announced that Tom Watson, Assassin-in-chief in the House of Commons has been nominated for a peerage by Sir Keir Starmer. He will be joining Iain McNicol, aka Baron McNicol of West Kilbride – Assassin-in-chief when General Secretary of the Labour Party.



Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Fleeing war is not the crime

 

 

 

Five years ago I visited the refugees in Calais. First with medics and then with musicians. In the intervening years the refugee situation has only got worse. We used to condemn our politicians for their silence. Now we must condemn them for their words.


Boris Johnson, talking about the fleeing refugees on small dinghies in the Channel, says, “I want to make sure that they understand that this isn’t a good idea, this is a very bad and stupid and dangerous and criminal thing to do ... when people do get here, it is very, very difficult to then send them away again, even though blatantly they’ve come here illegally.”


Lisa Doyle, from the Refugee Council answered him: “It’s incredibly disappointing to hear the prime minister using such inaccurate and inflammatory language to describe men, women and children who are desperate enough to make perilous journeys across the busiest shipping channel in the world ...Seeking asylum is not a crime ... and nstead of scapegoating people in desperate circumstances, the prime minister and his government could address this by ensuring that people do not have to take these risks.”


I wrote up my experiences in Calais for Counterpunch and sadly if I was able to go there again, the only change I’d need to make to these words would be to increase the numbers and extend the references to human suffering.


“In recent years around 60 million people across the globe have fled their homes. Many of them have been running from the abyss of destruction, death and chaos our bombardier politicians have rained down on them. In the last two years more than one million people have reached Europe; the continent’s biggest wave of mass migration since the end of the Second World War. 36% of them are children. Those are the fortunate ones. At least four thousand people have drowned to date in the Mediterranean. An average of two children have drowned every day since September 2015 and 340 children, many of them babies and toddlers, have drowned in the eastern Mediterranean alone ... On shore they have been washed in puddles and wrapped in plastic to keep out the cold. Many have died from hypothermia and, among the living, many are ill … There are at least ninety thousand unaccompanied children among the refugee population ...On both visits we were welcomed with warmth and too many cups of sweet tea. The refugees were eager to talk about their lives and what had brought them so many thousands of miles from their homes … How had they arrived on the channel coast? On EasyJet? Eurostar? Hired coaches? Some of them had walked across Western Europe. When you next fly or train it to southern Europe, look down at the ground. Walked? … Conditions in the Calais camp are diabolical, with cramped makeshift tents plagued by rats, water sources contaminated by faeces and inhabitants suffering from TB, scabies and post-traumatic stress. The homeopaths I went with visited numerous families. Only one didn’t have colds, coughs, sore throats or worse … Many volunteers are working in Calais – doctors, nurses, musicians, and youth workers. At the large and well organised warehouse mostly young people unload foods, clothing, medicines and sleeping equipments …

 


 

On my second visit with Calais Sessions musicians I spent some of the time ‘teaching’ guitar, but quickly roles were reversed. After 30 minutes of C, G, A and F chords, Assi thanked me, smiled and asked if I’d like to learn Ethiopian Tizita pentatonic scales … Atieyb had brought his guitar on the long journey north. It only had two strings. One young Syrian didn’t want to play guitar, but told me he liked to be close to music. ‘It gives me’, he said, ‘sanity’ … Why did he want to get to the UK. Most of his family had been killed – ‘My sister is in Bristol. I want to go there.’ Can anyone give me one reason why he shouldn’t?


If you want further information or would like to help check out Care4Calais

 

 







Tuesday, 11 August 2020

New use for SERCO vans

 

 

The Serco ‘Code of Conduct’ states ...

Care means that we take care of each other, and those we serve, and we aim to make a positive difference to people’s lives.’

 

In my recent blog, Coronavirus Pest Control, I talked about how “The government is using a massive public health crisis, the Coronavirus epidemic, to siphon billions of pounds into the pockets of friends who have no experience in the field of public health.”



I mentioned a rodent infestion company pocketing a multi-million pound award to get in on the lucrative Coronavirus ‘market’, but forgot to mention SERCO, who have secured a government contract for the Covid contact-tracing programme.


As a hospital patient in 2018, I became aware of Sercos’ presence. Their employees, loving, gentle and caring health workers, once worked directly for the NHS, but as Serco employees, were earning £8 per hour and hadn’t seen a pay rise for ten years. Good news for Serco’s CEO, Rupert Soames CEO, (Winston Churchill’s grandson) with his annual salary of £850,000.

 

I look forward to the day when we put a Serco prisoner van to good use and take their CEO to prison for profiting off the suffering of the people.