Labour should set out its key goals clearly, not just play safe in run-up to election

The issue as to whether Labour should aim to slide past the electoral winning post with (as one senior civil servant once said to me) ‘minimum exposure of flank’ or make clear what Labour today really stands for and what its central objectives for government really are, is an extremely important one.   The argument for the former is obviously that it entails fewer risks in counter-blasts from the Tories and their right-wing media friends – and clearly a campaign to project the party with a more confident and inspirational presence does have to be worked on very carefully if it is not to be misrepresented and exploited by malevolent enemies.   But the argument against, which in my view tips the balance, is that there is very sizeable segment of the electorate, to a large degree potential Labour voters, who feel unmotivated and disinclined to vote at all.   The classes with the lowest turnouts at the 2010 election were the young and those who were semi-skilled or unskilled workers.   The potential gains of winning them over to vote, even perhaps inspiring them, could well in terms of the millions they represent turn out to be the decisive factor at the next election.

Of course it will raise the political heat in this coming year before the election.   But – and again planned very carefully beforehand – picking a fight on a few central issues could likely be essential in stamping Labour’s identity on the minds of the voters.   It is often only when a political party sets its standard on some big, often contentious, issue and fights its corner robustly and confidently against the inevitable attacks that the voters conclude that the party really means it and, if the issue has been chosen well, begins to swing behind it.

Renationalising rail and at least some energy companies would be one such issue which shows Labour will re-draw the lines between State and markets not only to protect long-suffering customers, but to stop exploitation in failed private markets.   Another such issue would be to establish Enterprise Councils in all large companies which would give worker representatives drawn from across the firm a say both in its operations and in allocation of pay from boardroom to shopfloor, as one way to tackle inequality at source.   A third, and perhaps most important of all, would be to give a clear commitment to repudiate Osborne-style austerity and through a major programme of public investment kickstart the economy and generate a million jobs within 2 years in house-building, infrastructure improvement in energy, transport and IT, and laying the foundations for a low-carbon economy.

12 thoughts on “Labour should set out its key goals clearly, not just play safe in run-up to election

  1. Why no mention of reversing the outsourcing of the NHS, although labour was responsible for a lot of it, and streamlining the structure instead of all the quangos wasting money, so that patient care returns to where it should be at the front of the priorities instead of an afterthought with managers and targets, and other nonsense being more important. This would be a vote winner.

  2. Unfortunately no one really believes a word most politicians say any more and with good reason.

    It was Tony Blair that dragged this country into a violent, bloody and completely pointless and wholly illegal war against the will of country (not that anyone much cares about such niceties anyway,)on the basis of nothing more than a complete pack of lies and fabrications.

    Similarly one of David Cameron’s very first cast iron promises was, “No more top down reorganizations of the NHS,” scarcely 2 months before he forced through the evil and pernicious Health and Social care bill, which abolished the NHS, with out any political mandate or discussion whatsoever.

    Personally I see almost difference whatsoever between them.

    Most of people I know are pretty reconciled to Labour winning the next election by default, but few of us have any real enthusiasm for the Labour party or it’s policies.

    Despite his fine words on the NHS I have great difficulty believing that Andy Burnham for example has a even clue how rescue the NHS from the private sector or that once Labour are elected he’ll even remember what he promised once they get in.

    Parliament and far too many of our MPs urgently needs to clean up it’s act; because the one judgement that unites almost the entire voting population is perception that all politicians, almost without exception, are basically crooks.

    Or that even those honorable few who aren’t crooks themselves are still part of a rotten and completely corrupt system that’s put out for hire to anyone who can pay them.

    Let face it perhaps as many as 1200 patients seem to have died needless, premature and unnecessary deaths through a regime of neglect and abuse at Mid Staff and not a single senior person has been held accountable for them.

  3. J.P. you were correct right up until you posted the propaganda that the government are using to close down the NHS. The Francis report did not say 1200 needless deaths, it did not even say the other figure bandied about of 400, these are media sensationalising and have no basis in reality. Francis found that there was possibly one preventable death, that wasn’t by any means a certainty, so why would anyone be held accountable for no one dying needlessly?

    Also despite Camoron repeating what he knew to be a fabrication at the tory party conference, for cheap applause, no one was drinking from flower vases dirty, or otherwise , because they were all removed 20 years before the alleged incident on the grounds that they could harbour harmful due to infective reasons to the patients.

  4. It’s not propaganda, (most people regard Francis,like the 3 other investigations that preceded it which a very limited remit anyway as a cover up,) and I’ve paid a great deal of close attention to the accounts of happened at Mid Staffs and also the amount money that’s quietly been paid out to former patients and their relatives since, totaling almost a million pounds.

    You can argue if you want about the number of deaths, (and I’ve heard to really convoluted arguments that Mid Staffs recoded death differently to other hospital etc,) but no has tried to argue that there was not a regime of neglect, culpable, callous and unprofessional indifference prevailing there that could not but; have resulted in needles and premature deaths of patients.

    These matters should properly have examined openly in court of law with full transparency not in a loaded and far from independent inquiry which even Francis himself regarded as being too narrow to adequately explore the issues.

  5. More than anything else the investigations into Mid Staffs have been in many respects too reminiscent of investigations into the Potter Bar disaster, marked by obfuscation, misdirection,a lot money changing hands, procrastination until Cameron finally had all the remaining charges against former directors quietly dropped in public interest.

    One again despite the fact so many people died,no one was really ever going to be blame.

  6. Also, now that I think of this and speak from direct personal experience, if you’d ever had occasion or reason yourself to have made a formal complaint to the NHS about a course treatment, (that put my wife in hospital for 3 operations,) patient or get the bottom of something that had gone badly wrong you probably be a bit less.

    I’m massively supportive of the NHS by the way and regard as as the only effective and fair way to supply everyone, not just the rich few, with decent and effective health care, something which particularly important to my wife who is disabled.

    But the culture of institutional denial and stone walling, (even of personal slander,) that greets any criticism, no matter how valid does them no favors and in fact plays directly into hands of their critics and enemies.

    But your point about the tabloids and even some of the broadsheets is still entirely valid, (and there was a kind of tabloid feeding frenzy about the deaths at Mid Staffs that has muddied the waters,) but ideally you should always read more than one newspaper and even then regard much that is being printed as news critically and with some skepticism.

  7. So you prefer to believe the mass media, rather than a respected Legally trained expert who spent a long time and interviewed people from the hospital the health service and patient/relatives, that I suppose is your prerogative, but it also means that you are totally misinformed.

    I do not deny that the management structure of the NHS which imposes gaging orders and only allows chosen media experts to talk to the media, have been guilty of cover ups, but the media which is always looking for a sensational story to tell, these days seem to be more in line with the type of reporting shown in drop the dead donkey rather than actually finding out facts they cut and paste from each other’s stories.

    The simple truth is the drinking from flower vases story so beloved by David, the plebs in Stafford din’t elect me to the safe tory seat, camoron, is an urban myth, there were no cut flowers at Stafford for at least 2o years due to infection control measures, and Francis having thoroughly investigated the reality, not the claims of the self serving cure the nhs group, could only find one death that even then he stated clearly there was no valid evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt was preventable.

    Just because the mass media repeats nonsense it doesn’t make it true.

  8. No one mentioned the drinking from flower pots scenario except you.

    I suggest you re read my comments above a bit more carefully, you seem to largely accept my key points whilst somehow attempting to baulk at obvious the conclusion.

    My opinion is based not just on reading much about this case in various newspapers and on line, but in my own direct experience of dealing with NHS in not entirely disimilar circumstances.

    Even your, “respected legally trained expert,” regarded his remit as being entirely deficient and inadequate to properly address the issues.

    But then you’re not really interested in debating or discussing this your simply towing the party line regardless.

    Some of the Newspapers actually did a fairly good and even handed job of reporting this story in my opinion although others, the usual suspects, were typically appalling.

    But in the end if, there really was, as you try to maintain, no real problem at Mid Staff why did it need 4 defective and loaded, (and secret or limited,) inquiries for them to finally get their story straight and why has almost a million pounds subsequently been paid out to former patients and families of patients who died there?

    My question here is rhetorical and largely answers itself.

    As you rightly say, “just because the mass media repeats nonsense it doesn’t make it true.”

    Nonetheless it doesn’t automatically make it untrue either, (they were right about MPs expenses for example,) and to best of my understanding, which is far from being as deficient as you seem to assume, a lot of things went very wrong indeed at Mid Staff, things that have since been covered up to determent of both NHS and all people who depend on it.

  9. Above all and regardless of the specific cases and details the reaction of the NHS staff to the events at Mid Stffs from David Nicholson down was to protect their own positions and interests first and those their patients last.

    Which would, (on a particularly bad day,) reflect my own worst experiences of NHS as patient as well.

    Most of the time however I still have nothing but respect, admiration and gratitude to all doctors and nurse with whom I have dealt.

    But if you refuse to believe the evidence and accounts of people who actually experienced the abuse, neglect and indifference, that according to some very reliable accounts seem to have prevailed there then then as you say,”I suppose that is your prerogative?”

  10. Clearly your information has all come from the mass media, and not from genuine evidence, no one has ever claimed that Mid staffs was perfect, but then no one with real knowledge of what happened and has knowledge of how the rest of the NHS would claim that the underfunded NHS is capable of working to the levels that the government claim. The continual budget cuts and target setting have ensured that this will happen, what is wrong is when people like camoron who you seem to want to protect, blatantly lie, and the mass media blatantly lies which is what constantly repeating misinformation is. There is only one newspaper that has had a fairly balanced approach and that is Staffordshire Newsletter after it discovered that the claims were overblown and in many cases pure fiction, the other have just been indulging in cut and paste reporting an “it’s been said we’ll say it again” approach. David Nicholson got promoted from Mid Staffs, which would cast doubt on the sensationalised stories being true, after all why would he have not been sacked if he did indeed allow the situation to continue?

  11. Well then, lets have a look at what Francis, (even with his limited brief,) had to say then:

    Preamble, then:

    Building on the report of the first inquiry, the story it tells is first and foremost of appalling suffering of many patients. This was primarily caused by a serious failure on the part of a provider Trust Board.

    (This is Francis QC and not the media.)

    It did not listen sufficiently to its patients and staff or ensure the correction of deficiencies brought to the Trust’s attention.

    Above all, it failed to tackle an insidious negative culture involving a tolerance of
    poor standards and a disengagement from managerial and leadership responsibilities.

    This failure was in part the consequence of allowing a focus on reaching national access targets, achieving financial balance and seeking foundation trust status to be at the cost of delivering acceptable standards of care.

    The story would be bad enough if it ended there, but it did not. The NHS system includes many
    checks and balances which should have prevented serious systemic failure of this sort. There were
    and are a plethora of agencies, scrutiny groups, commissioners, regulators and professional bodies, all of whom might have been expected by patients and the public to detect and do something effective to remedy non-compliance with acceptable standards of care.

    For years that did not occur.and even after the start of the Healthcare Commission investigation, conducted because of the realization that there was serious cause for concern, patients were, in my view, left at risk with inadequate
    intervention until after the completion of that investigation a year later.

    In short, a system which ought to have picked up and dealt with a deficiency of this scale failed in its primary duty to protect patients and maintain confidence in the healthcare system.

    The report has identified numerous warning signs which cumulatively, or in some cases singly, could
    and should have alerted the system to the problems developing at the Trust. That they did not has a number of causes, among them:

    A culture focused on doing the system’s business – not that of the patients;

    An institutional culture which ascribed more weight to positive information about the
    service than to information capable of implying cause for concern;

    Standards and methods of measuring compliance which did not focus on the effect of a service on patients;

    Too great a degree of tolerance of poor standards and of risk to patients;

    A failure of communication between the many agencies to share their knowledge of
    concerns;

    Assumptions that monitoring, performance management or intervention was the responsibility of someone else;

    A failure to tackle challenges to the building up of a positive culture, in nursing in particular
    but also within the medical profession;

    A failure to appreciate until recently the risk of disruptive loss of corporate memory and
    focus resulting from repeated, multilevel reorganization.

  12. You need to read all the reports and also look at what is happening the media gleefully uses the term scandal hit mid staffs every time any story on the NHS is reported, even when it has nothing to do with it. The fact is that Stafford is ranked 17th by the governments statistics so if mid staffs is that bad what does it say for all the ones ranked lower. The Death rate has been proven to have been continually reported, and the rest of the nonsense spoken about it is also exaggerations. Take for example the fact which has been reported but not strongly enough, Julie Bailey gave the staff flowers and chocolates in recognition of the good work they did in looking after her mother. No one desecrated her mothers grave, there are valid reports of their being Foxes in the area which have been seen running around the cemetery.

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