Tag Archives: Nhs

10 objectives for Labour for 2015

As the election comes into sight, what should be the 10 pledges that Labour should make to maximize its vote for 7 May 2015?   Here are some proposals which should certainly be included:

1  End austerity because the policy of endless spending cuts is clearly not working – deficit reduction (the ostensible purpose of the whole exercise) has ground to a halt and the deficit may even rise this year.   Adopt the obvious alternative policy, which would cut the deficit far more quickly, by expanding the economy, creating hundreds of thousands of real jobs, raising household incomes, and using the higher tax take to pay down the deficit faster.

2  Make the revival of British manufacturing industry the key objective of domestic economic policy as the only way to pay our way in the world and reverse the disastrous slide to the biggest balance of payments deficits in British history.

3  Make full employment equally a central objective of economic policy when  there are still today 2 million persons jobless and up to a further 5 million in short-term insecure jobs often dependent on zero hours contracts.
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The killer argument against PFI

We have always known that PFI was a con trick (i) to take construction and management costs of hospitals and other public buildings offline so they don’t appear in the national accounts, and (ii) to secure the extremely lucrative privatisation of yet another public service at taxpayers’ expense.   But the evidence of how the new outsourced authorities manipulated this fiddle has not hitherto been made so blatantly transparent as in the latest case to come to light.   Six months ago the Treasury approved a PFI for the £360m Midland Metropolitan hospital in Birmingham.   As a result the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust will be forced to pay out £18m for 30 years, i.e. £540m in total – an extremely bad deal for taxpayers.   So how was it ever justified in the first place?   Answer: the NHS Trust Development Authority, that is the hospital’s regulator, opined that “income growth assumptions are significant”.   With the NHS in its near-bankrupt state plus the intention to move care out of hospitals over time, this is not just a heroic assumption, it’s fantasy.
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Osborne decimating the State will finally trigger the resistance

Osborne’s central objective, he would have you believe, is to cut the deficit.   He has failed: the deficit he predicted would be £40bn this year turns out to be £100bn and, worse still, it is actually now rising because of the fall in the government’s income (tax receipts) brought about by his own policy of squeezing wages.   His other key concern is holding down and reducing taxes.   In this he’s succeeded: such reduction in the deficit as there has been is almost exclusively the result of cutting public expenditure and benefits, the only exception being the rise in VAT which hits the poor far harder than the rich.   In Osborne’s parallel universe the State is the residual item: it has to make do with what the first two principles leave over.  Indeed I would argue that the shrinkage of the State as a result of the first two strictures is not just an unfortunate side-effect, but the real latent objective of the whole exercise.
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The Osborne forked tongue is already cranking up for the Autumn Statement

The Chancellor’s response to the £1.1bn windfall handed to him by the fine on the banks is a classic in Osborne double-speak.   We’re told the money will be “used for the wider public good”.   He means tax cuts as an electoral bribe.   He says “today we take action to clean up corruption by a few so that we have a financial system that works for everyone”.   Today?   Why not when the corrupt manipulation of the £3.5 trillion a day foreign exchange markets was uncovered years ago?   “Taken action to clean up corruption”? – almost nothing has been done to prevent another banking crash and the foreign exchange market remains, breathtakingly, unregulated.   “Corruption by a few”? – the truth is the whole industry was (and still largely is) rotten to the core as the chatroom exchanges between the traders of all the main banks clearly reveal.   “A financial system that works for everyone”? – one can only wonder at Osborne’s gall in spitting out a lie with such bravado, which he knows is a lie, and probably knows too that everyone else knows it’s a lie.   The bankers’ bonuses, overseas speculation, contrived tax avoidance, and mortgaging of prime property in central London works works in no-one’s interests except their own.
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Cameron versus Miliband: who would you choose?

Cameron at least has one special skill – to hold together an ungovernable party which is irrevocably split.   He does not appear to have an ultimate belief in anything – only to sustain his own position and his party at whatever cost to the country at large.   That explains his early embrace of driving an anti-climate change sleigh and hugging a hoodies to de-nastify the Nasty Party, only to be unceremoniously junked as soon as he got to No.10.   It explains his latest gyrations over the EU and immigration, promising what he can’t deliver in order to deflect the UKIP rampage, putting Britain at risk of real isolation to score points for personal and party advantage, and alienating the whole of the EU (and the US too, behind the scenes) for the sake of short-term electoral gain.   When tasked about this at PMQs he never answers any questions, but uses the occasion (and his unique privilege in having the last word) to smother his opponents with clouds of party political rhetoric and partisan propaganda.   His Bullingdon Club toff self-confidence (or overweening arrogance whichever way you look at it) is well-suited to this abuse of parliamentary procedure.

But the current chatter isn’t about Cameron because the Tory tabloids (whatever they really think about Cameron, which is often unprintable) are remorselessly determined to retain power for the Tories at all costs.   The talk is about Miliband because the Labour Party is less resolute under fire and, in some quarters at least, panics quickly at the potential loss of their own seats.   The real problem for Labour at this time isn’t Miliband.   It’s Labour’s bizarre economic policy, promising austerity and spending cuts all the way to 2020, exactly the same as the Tories, which is counter-productive and a massive voter turn-off.   What Labour voters need, and indeed the whole country, is HOPE when at present they feel only insecurity, abandonment, alienation.   What is needed is not idle and destructive chatter about a change of Leader (which is frankly inconceivable anyway), but focusing relentlessly on a commanding narrative – restoration of the NHS, reversing austerity via public investment in sustainable economic expansion, Living Wage plus a relentless assault on inequality and tax avoidance, rebuilding public services, restoration of collective bargaining and trade union rights, etc.

Miliband himself has some priceless qualities which his party should be talking up, not bad-mouthing in dark corners.   He has integrity, honesty and vision, none of which Cameron has, and he has courage – he took on Murdoch over BSkyB, the Tory tabloids over Leveson, and Cameron over a missile onslaught on Syria and yet another Middle East War, and won in each case, which no previous leader of Labour in Opposition has ever achieved – certainly not Blair.   The sooner Labour members recognise and promulgate the assets of their leader, the quicker

they might learn to stop throwing the election away.

Labour needs a shadow Minister specifically to tackle inequality

The gravy train rolls on reaching ever more sickening heights of greed, selfish gratification and disregard for the ever deeper miasma of poverty that disfigures our country.   The latest figures show that the richest 10% of the UK population, who already owned 52% of UK wealth just before the 2008 crash, have become significantly richer since the crash because of the rise in value of financial assets, during a time when averages income have fallen 8% in real terms.   Britain now has 2 million dollar millionaires, if the value of equity in houses is included, up by almost a third since last year.   There are also now 44 billionaires in Britain, up from 8 in 2000.   The individual excesses continue apace, only getting ever more outrageous.   BG Group has just appointed a new chief executive, Helge Lund, previous boss of Norway’s Statoil company, with a £15m ‘golden hello’ and potential earnings of an additional £14m a year.   At the other end of the scale are 70 former NHS care workers for the disabled in Doncaster who have taken so far 85 days’ strike action resisting the further crushing of wages and terms and conditions for the lowest paid.   Their jobs were outsourced, holidays cut, and take-home pay cut by a third.   Care UK which won the contract and ousted them is owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital and its chairman John Nash was recently made a peer after donating a quarter of a million pounds to the Tory party.
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NHS must be exempted from TTIP

The only way to stop the US-EU trade deal (euphemistically called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP) from interfering with the freedom of an incoming Labour government to reverse NHS privatisation is by demanding that the UK government vetoes TTIP unless health services are clearly and fully exempted.   At present they are not, and the government minister Lord Livingston has confirmed that the NHS will be covered by TTIP.   As a result a US investor such as Blackrock or Invesco) profiting from NHS privatisation could use TTIP to sue the UK government if it could prove to a panel of 3 trade lawyers sitting in secret, one of which would be chosen by the investor, that its rights under TTIP had been breached.   That could occur if, in the words of the EU’s Chief Negotiator, there was a claim”for example by expropriation without compensation, a denial of justice or manifestly arbitrary treatment”.   In such cases the tribunal would be able to award unlimited compensation and there is no right of appeal.
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Tories now wide open to attack: when is Labour going to exocet them?

Even on their own terms the Tories are now exposed to assault on several grounds.   Cameron threw down the gauntlet by asking: Who do you trust?   Labour should pick it up. Large majorities in the electorate think the Tories are the party of the rich, not for them; witness the tax cuts for millionaires and the latest tax breaks in Cameron’s speech which are worth 4 times more for the richest 10% than for the lower-paid 50%.   They think the Tories are out of touch and have little understanding of, and even less care about, how austerity has hit the poor, including prominently the working poor.   They think the Tories are not committed to improving public services on which so many depend, and even on the totemic NHS they don’t trust the commitment which the Tories espouse.   They also think the Tories are far too obsessed about Europe and that their ideological zeal is a distraction and a drawback from prioritising problems in the UK.
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Cameron isn’t telling the truth on the NHS any more than Osborne on the economy

Cameron’s closing speech to the Tory conference centred on trying to reassure the electorate that the NHS was safe in Tory hands.   But the evidence he produced to justify this proved the opposite.   He promised to protect the NHS in real terms for the next 5 years from 2015 to 2020, the same as he promised for the past 5 years.   But in neither case does this protect the NHS, for two reasons.   One is that the NHS requires expenditure, not just to keep up with inflation, but also even more importantly to keep up with two other sources of demand – the steadily rising number of elderly people, who make by far the greatest demands on the health service, together with the steadily rising costs of new technology and new drugs, both of which grow each year significantly faster than inflation.   Throughout its history the NHS has had real terms funding increases of 4% a year.   Cameron is proposing a 0% real terms increase over the next 5 years, exactly what has happened over the last 5 years where the official figures claim a 0.1% increase since 2010.   This is at least an annual 2% fall in what the NHS needs each year to maintain its existing standards.
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