Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Reply To The NHS "Listening Exercise"

Below is my reply to the NHS listening exercise which closes today. I have no idea if they will publish my reply, so I am doing it here, I suspect it will not be published because it tells the blunt truth.

The Bill as drafted in its current state removes the duty of care from the Secretary of State to provide a National Health Service, thus turning the NHS into nothing more than a brand name. The onus of the duty of care resting with the Secretary of State is fundamental to the entire NHS and this could effect and undermine the whole concept and principle of the NHS being "free at the point of need". Take this away and the NHS will  be firmly on the road to privatisation.

The issue of "any willing provider" will become even more dangerous, as it will be able to proceed across the country, the NHS will lose out as a provider and in the end quality of care will suffer as  a result as then everything becomes about money and costs.  Private companies do not want to be part of the NHS for altruistic reasons they are doing it for profit and to please their share holders. For example private companies will not want to be taking on the treatment of people with strokes and hemiplegias resulting from their CVAs and as stroke are usually associated with  the aging process, hypertension, blood disorders or weak arteries etc and age can bring together more than one health issue, elderly people are expensive to treat as well as the patient taking a long time for their conditions to improve, private companies are not going to want to take these on, so the NHS will be left to pick up the bill. This is but one example, there are a great many more. How many patients with CVAs will one GP consortia be able to have on their lists without this causing serious difficulties in funding for their entire practice? The same with elderly people with other problems and disabled people of all ages and the chronically sick where the prognosis is not about to improve and may even exacerbate at times and show marked deterioration? These are the people that are going to be at a serious disadvantage under this new system.

These Reforms "Liberating the NHS" are not pausing and have not paused, they have been continuing at a great pace throughout this sham that Cameron, Lansley and Clegg tried to sell us and this in itself raises serious issues. How can we trust the government to be honest with us about the NHS when they have pulled a stunt like this and have already lied and lied and lied? It destroys trust and trust is the one thing we have to have in our government when we are changing something as the NHS so drastically.

How can you possibly change anything  in the reforms? Especially as part of these reforms are already in operation?  They are not interchangeable, one part relies on another to work and so on and so forth, the parts are like dominoes and  take one part away and the rest will not function properly or just come to a complete stop and the NHS quickly fall into serious trouble, magnify this across the country and we will soon have an NHS on its knees.

Mr Lansley reforms are an entire package and  comes as a package, I actually get that, but I do not think that the prime minister of the deputy prime minister do. Cameron and Clegg playing political football using the NHS as a ball are doing Lansley's reforms further harm. To me it suggests that the two do not understand the totality of the reforms in fact they seem to fail to grasp the whole concept of what it is Lansley is trying to do with the NHS. They are confusing and misleading people by telling them that these reforms can work simply by taking large chunks out of them here and there because the reforms simply cannot work like that and if this is allowed to happen then in my opinion the reforms will pose even more serious problems and issues than they do in their original form.

The package as a whole has very dangerous connotations for the future of the NHS as we know it. The government needs to be truthful and tell people what they really want to do with the NHS and exactly how much private sector involvement they actually want and from what I can make out Cameron and Lansley appears to be heading for an optimum of around 80% within a very short time and once that optimum has been reached total privatisation is just a step away. If the Conservative government want to privatise the NHS they must be honest with people and tell us exactly what it is they want to do and why.

Up until now this government has been totally duplicitous and disingenuous in the way they have tried to fool people and I really object to the way the Conservative government have treated the public like idiots.
There must be serious debate about the NHS and as it so wedded to us in this country almost part of our constitution and it involves absolutely fundamental changes to the our NHS is run now, in fact if these reforms go through then the NHS will be an entirely different service, unrecognisable for the service it is at present. So it must put  to the country in a referendum and to do anything less would be totally dishonest and profoundly undemocratic. If Nick Clegg can be given £100 million for his vanity AV system project, and if we can waste over as billion pounds every few months siding with one side of a civil war in Libya then we can afford to hold a referendum on the NHS and more I feel it is absolutely and fundamentally vital to the whole issue of NHS reform.

I also do not like the fact that the big five (H5) private hospitals are paying lobbyists and think tanks to get at the NHS and that many private health care companies donate heftily to the Conservative party. John Nash and Care UK donated £22000 to Lansley's office alone and then further thousands to the Conservative party coffers. Then we see the company awarded the NHS prison contract by the Conservative government and it opens up the whole issue of power, policy influence and corruption.

These reforms do not need tinkering about with because this cannot structurally happen with them, so in my opinion the whole policy needs scrapping. The NHS is perfectly able to progress evolve and change without all of this, we have been doing it since its conception quite adequately, the only time the NHS finds itself in trouble is when we have a Conservative government, who always seem to run it down with a view to telling people it is not working so needs privatising. This is exactly the tack that David Cameron used on the radio, the fact that he could not continue to portray the NHS in a false light is because the radio station was inundated with people protesting and he had to back down.  The NHS has never enjoyed such high satisfaction rates, so why is the Conservatives trying to portray it as needing fixing when it is NOT broken?
More Reading: NHS Reforms "Listening Exercise"

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tory-Led Government U-Turns

David Cameron's U-turns include broken election promises and policy reversals in government, here is a list, if I have left any off please post them in comments below and I will add them in.

  1. U-turned  Andy Coulson -  finally got rid of Andy Coulson after he became embroiled in phone hacking story
  2. U-turned on Spending cuts - said there would be no drastic spending cuts - before embarking on an unprecedented round of austerity cuts. David Cameron said spending cuts during the early part of a Conservative government wouldn't be ‘particularly extensive’
  3. U-turned on Pensioners Winter Fuel Allowance - saying he would not cut pensioners winter fuel allowance - then did
  4. U-turned on  the NHS..."There  will be no top down reorganisation of the NHS......David Cameron
  5. U-turned on not raising VAT  "We have absolutely no plans to raise VAT. Our first Budget is all about recognising we need to get spending under control rather than putting up tax".
  6. U-turned Fuel tax Stabiliser -  its commitment to consult on a 'fair fuel tax stabiliser
  7. U-Turned Knife Crime - said in opposition that anyone caught carrying a knife could expect a jail term - now scrapped.
  8. U-turned on Child benefit Cuts........."I'm not going to flannel you, I'm going to give it to you straight. I like the child benefit, I wouldn't change child benefit, I wouldn't means-test it, I don't think that is a good idea."........David Cameron
  9. U-Turned - DLA - abolishing it for PIPs
  10. U-turned on saying no cuts to frontline services......"What I can tell you is, any cabinet minister, if I win the election, who comes to me and says: "Here are my plans" and they involve front-line reductions, they'll be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again.".......David Cameron
  11. U-turned EMA - said they would not scrap Educational Maintenance Allowance - then did.
  12. U-turned Tuition Fees - Clegg pledged not raise tuition fees then voted to treble them.
  13. U-turned on Future jobs Fund - Before the General Election, David Cameron praised the Future Jobs Fund as a “good scheme” and the Conservatives said they had “no plans to change existing Future Jobs Fund commitments”.
  14. U-turned on Lisbon treaty referendum -  "cast-iron guarantee" to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty
  15. U-turned  defence scrapping Nimrods and sacking troops by email etc.
  16. U-turned on pledge to help disabled children and their parents.
  17. U-Turned on improving the systmen for disabled, sick or elderly Backing out on improving the system for those caring for sick or disabled or elderly loved ones
  18. U-turned on Education - Gove forced into so many u -turns found it impossible to get right
  19. U-turned on National Insurance contributions - "We'll scrap the Gordon Brown's jobs tax" - did for employers but employees contributions have risen 1%
  20. U-turned Recall MPs - scrapped pledge for public to be allowed to recall under-performing MP
  21. U-turned on  Forests -Forced to do a u-turn on selling off ancient woodlands (but this is till happening by stealth)
  22. U-turned on  School Sports programme - Forced to u-turn on cutting funding for school sports after public outcry and outcry from sporting heroes
  23. U-turned on  Bookstart- Forced to do a u-turn on cutting funding for "Bookstart" after public outcry
  24. U-turned on idea to pack the 1922 Committee with ministers after a Tory backbench rebellion
  25. U-turned  and got rid of his personal photographer after putting him on the public payroll  after public outcry
  26. U-turned on granting anonymity to rape suspects, were swiftly ditched in the face of a public outcry.
  27. U-turned on wearing lounge suit to royal wedding -and wore a morning suit to the royal wedding, after much barracking from the public and William Hague saying he would look an idiot in an ordinary suit.
  28. U-turned  Housing benefit - forced to  drop plans to impose a 10 per cent cut in housing benefit on the long-term unemployed after public outcry.
  29. U-turned on Free Milk. The health minister Anne Milton suggested scrapping free school milk for the under-fives to save money, but Downing Street retreated after Cameron was compared with Margaret Thatcher. The policy confusion led to the absurd scene of David Willetts defending the plan on The Andrew Marr Show while No 10 was in the act of briefing that it had been dropped.
  30. U-turned on NHS Direct - to replace NHS Direct with a cut-price "health advice service" prompted a wave of #savenhsdirect tweets and another John Prescott campaign. The Health Secretary soon backed down and promised that only the number would change HOWEVER this is sleight of hand as they are still radically changing NHS Direct.
  31. U-Turned on privatising Blood Transfusion Service - Forced to cancel plans to privatise the Blood Transfusion service after public outcry.  Sections of the service which could be run by private firms include testing, processing and transport of blood and are part of a wider strategy to outsource more NHS services.
    However, the proposals have faced objections on the grounds that people who donate blood do so for free, so private companies should not profit from this goodwill. 25,000 signatures from members of the public have already been amassed in under a week, as part of a union-organised petition protest against the plans.
One or two u-turns in a government is understandable, but this many in just one year shows a shocking level of dithering and of poor judgement, ill thought out policy, policy making on the hoof and an alarming level of incompetent cabinet ministers, right up to and including the prime minister.

Perhaps the Tories Should Be Awarded A
"U-Turner prize"?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

UK Economy On Collision Course With Catastrophe

David Cameron
An Unelected Prime Minister
Out of His Depth!
Last week Moody's released that they are at some point probably going to downgrade all of the UKs main banks barring two. the question that should be screaming from every headline today should be asking why these two banks have been spared? Barclays and HSBC.
  1. Are these banks the chosen two to see us through a further inevitable banking collapse?
  2. Conservative chancellor George Osborne has ruled out further bank bailing so if they get into trouble they will collapse. 
  3. Is this good news? Banks hold our mortgages, businesses, savings and pensions, they hold the funding of local authorities who buy in our public services, if the banks are allowed to crash, then we as people stand to lose *everything*.
  4. The irony has not gone unnoticed either, that George Osborne actually borrowed £10 billion to loan to Ireland to help STOP their banks collapsing, but apparently thinks it is OK for us Brits to suffer.
  5. Government borrowing last month hit the highest figure ever recorded for April, news that is likely to intensify the pressure on George Osborne from the right of the Conservative party to step up public spending cuts!
  6. Last week saw figures released that UK consumer spending has hit a 2 year low and this is BEFORE Osborne and Cameron's austerity measures kick in.
  7. The OECD, the west's leading economic think tank, has downgraded its growth forecast for the UK for 2011. It is now saying the economy will grow by 1.4% this year. In March it was forecasting 1.5%.
  8. It has also downgraded its forecast for UK growth in 2012, from 2% to 1.8%.
  9. "The figures from the ONS confirm that in the six months since George Osborne’s spending review and VAT rise the economy has flatlined. By making a political choice to cut further and faster than any other major economy this Conservative-led government has choked off the recovery when it should have been secured. And the economy has flatlined before the bulk of the spending cuts and tax rises have kicked in."
Barclays bank has been allowed to make billions of pounds profit from their operations in the UK, yet have used a tax loophole to pay just a few million tax on their profits and Tory chancellor George Osborne has allowed Bob Diamond to get away with this.

The Tory-led  government and the right wing press are not informing the people that the economy is in a dangerous state. The wild fluctuation and ever sinking of the UK economy has only come about since George Osborne started meddling with it and introducing over zealous austerity measures. When labour handed over the economy to the Tories in May 2010 it was in recovery, the Tories must now explain why their policies are going disastrously wrong and why they apparently have no "Plan B".

How bad has the economy got to sink before Osborne decides to act? He and David Cameron have taken a huge unprecedented gamble with the British economy, the like which has never been tried anywhere else in the world and all the signs are the fragile economy is growing weaker day by day and Osborne has no other reply than to say he is not changing his mind.

Cameron and Osborne are both unelected prime minister and chancellor in a unelected government, which had no majority at the general election and which received no mandate for the policies they are now forcing through parliament with the help of the Liberal Democrats who came a poor third in the election only winning 57 seats, so they have even less of a mandate.

This country is being held to ransom and made to pay for the bankers greed, but it goes deeper than this, this government are using the deficit by blowing it all out of proportion as an excuse to make cuts that the Tories always wanted to make and the Liberal Democrats are helping them to do this. Are the Liberal Democrats really that hooked on power that they just cannot see they are being used, or are they just plain thick?

All this and this government have only been in for a year, if they are not removed and not removed quickly this UK economy is on a collision course with catastrophe.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Labour's Policy Review - Where Is It's Progress To Date?

Assuming that the Tory-led "coalition" government are going to go the full distance (and I have serious doubts about that), what is the most important strategy for the Labour party now and in the coming four years?

Labour are barely 11 months down the line from losing the 2010 general election that no one party won, what is feasible for them to do now? Since the Liberal Democrats with just 57 seats have joined forces with the Tories labour are the only main party of opposition, their immediate job now is to oppose the government where they think it is going wrong and this they seem to be doing quite well and this is a position that is backed up in the opinion polls.

Labour Leader
 Ed Miliband and Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham
Last September Ed Miliband asked Liam Byrne the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury to head up a review of the labour party and policy, this review and overhaul of Labour policy has never been seen before. Byrne has said "there is no one thing that labour can just fix, and that be that" and "it's not a minor respray. It's a major rethink and the agenda that people want sorting out is very broad reaching" "modern" and "open minded". Bearing this in mind it looks like there is going to be exciting times ahead for the labour party and its supporters.

Liam Byrne's off ice is situated on the top floor of Portcullis House in an open plan office, detached from MPs offices below suits Byrne very well apparently.

The first stage of the policy review - the public policy consultations are now drawing to a close. So far shadow cabinet ministers have held over 70 meetings up and down the country, asking over 6.000 people where Labour went wrong, what Labour did well and not so well and what issues they would like Labour to campaign on now, Liam Byrne is apparently pleased with the feedback he has received.

Unsurprisingly what Labour has learnt is that a lot of people are very frustrated with politics and they feel let down badly by politicians. Labour lost touch with its voters during their latter years in government and they now have to work to bring that back. This is the level of the task facing Labour, it is going to be hard, but it is a battle Labour have to win if they are going to convince the electorate to vote for them in the next general election. The electorate are a sophisticated bunch, they now have news 24/7 and they now have the ability to express their views 24/7 so it is not going to be easy.

There have been some recent concerns that there is no hegemony within the Labour opposition and no attempts to construct one, perhaps this is a little unfair because the task is onerous, how do Labour construct a hegemony when they face an uphill battle getting their core message out? It is hard to read a report about Ed Miliband where he is not being constantly criticised for the way he speaks and sounds.

The task for the Labour party now is to  do the groundwork and lay a new philosophy and psychology for the future decade, politics is changing, so labour must adapt and change with it. This is the task that Liam Byrne is undertaking now.

Labour must be magnanimous in defeat, but in my opinion it is time for the navel gazing to stop, it is time now to move onwards and upwards and time to start thrashing out what will be the meat on the bone of labour policy.

Jonathan Rutherford, editor of Soundings Journal and professor of Cultural Studies at Middlesex University, has worked closely with Jon Cruddas and Ed Miliband's office on strategy has said that he is concerned about there being no new political project, or hegemony and that the Labour language is fragmented. Well that is as maybe, but I think Rutherford is in danger of over egging the pudding, if Labour doesn't have a good map in situ then finding where they go as a political party is going to be very difficult, an excellent roadmap will determine where they land up. The review is underway, I see the danger for the Labour party is not what will be eventually decided as policy and a new strategy for Labour, that will be good I'm sure of it, where the danger lies is in the interim.

While Liam Byrne and Peter Hain are thrashing out policy, strategy etc, what does Labour do now? Different groups who are being badly affected by the heartless ideological cuts of the present oppressive Tory-led government, are looking to labour for solutions and  the difficulty is that at the moment there are no alternatives and there are no solutions, to expect a party in opposition to have these solutions one year after a bad defeat and ostensibly four years adrift of the next general election  is very unfair, after all they are in opposition and it is not their job to provide an alternative government, their job is to oppose where and when necessary. However, if they are to improve their standing, it would be a good idea to come up with some kind of strategy for the here and now. Maybe part of the answer is to engage these groups in discussion for future policy and Labour's new manifesto? The people who are out in the communities, the Labour grass roots needs to know who they are and what Labour represents and have some idea of the direction we are heading, they needs to know what the values are of the Labour party and the kind of things that Labour are looking to change in their wide ranging policy review. In my opinion, this is why Labour did not do as well as they could have done in the recent local elections and the Scottish, we know what we are against, but have no coherent message about what we will do about the problems this Tory government are causing. I believe the Scottish elections demonstrated that the Scots knew they certainly did not want a Tory government and just to make sure they did not get one they voted SNP, I do not think it had much to do with the electorate being in love with Salmond, no matter how much that is spun in the press. Strikingly after only one year there still does not seem to be any appetite for another Tory government in England and peoples dismay with incumbent "coalition is palpable and is easily sensed and yet Labour grass-roots still could not say effectively what they would do differently, or what kind of alternative agenda they can offer. If they are to do better Labour simply must have some idea of what they can offer before the next set of elections are  upon  them and it is unfair to send their troops out into the field "unarmed". Liam Byrne is hoping that his review will rebut some of the criticisms and so must the Labour activists be hoping that and also to be armed with some kind of weaponry they can use on the doorstep when next required.

Now the local elections are over Liam Byrne is embarking on his third policy review task - talking to Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), trade unions and affiliated societies, including think tanks. This work will then be presented to the National Policy Forum in Wrexham in June, and then as a series of documents to the labour Party conference in October, around the idea of modern ambitions for Britian. Labour members will get a sense of direction then, but this is only the start of the formal policy making process and according to Liam Byrne this will take another couple of years.

Tristram Hunt is tasked with mulling over the big questions and Hunt is excited about bringing some rigorous academic thinking into the process, he says his contribution is meant to help with the ideas and value strands of the policy review and sees his role as helping to co-ordinate some of his intellectual prowess to feed into Liam and into the bosses.

So for all those people who are wondering what Labour are doing, hopefully this will reveal that Labour really are working very hard behind the scenes to have good sound policies, policies they can deliver with full of hope and promise and policies designed to regain the trust of the electorate. I think they can be trusted to come up with a full root and branch wide spread review of the kind that Labour have not seen before. Labour will produce policies designed to help meet the aspirations of the many for the future and they will come up with a completely new way of doing things and new management techniques, they will cast off the past "bi-polar" way of doing things, they will because they have to. David Cameron has used the coalition politics to his own political advantage, however, what is and was the labour party if it wasn't already the best run and the most successful coalition party and government his country had ever seen? Unlike the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, Labour has always been a broad church, a "coalition" of affiliates, trade unions, groups, charities etc and the Labour party has always been at its most successful when it has used this to its advantage. Labour in government lost its way when it relied too heavily on Tony and Gordon and I believe a successful Labour party of the future will return to its roots and once again encompass all of its coalition and embraces people with new ideas and change and exciting new policies and a whole new way of running a political party. Who needs Cameron's "big society"? Labour already had it way before Cameron stole it, the difference between Labour and the Tories is that Labour can always make this work, because the people truly do believe that the Labour party aspires to represent most people in society, it is inclusive, where as the Tories and now the Liberal Democrats are truly selective and at no time in the history of modernity is this being so clearly played out in this so-called "coalition" government today.

Now we come down to what I see as the problem "fro now". It would be madness of Labour to advertise their wares so far ahead of the next election, "I get that" in fact I believe most Labour members "get that", but what do we do now? What do we tell people now? I think for me thinking over where labour came from, what they did and achieved in government is a very good place to start. We can explain that Labour since losing the election labour has gained a huge 56,000 new party members and that Labour is undergoing an exciting new policy review and strategy and structural change never been seen before and that we aim to build on our successes of the past, we should not be shy about trumpeting the enormous amount of good that the labour government actually did as well as be humble and say we want to learn where we went wrong and we will learn where we went wrong and make sure we do not repeat those failures in the future, but it would be good to get a little meat on the official bones and I am quite positive that this will be forthcoming. Which leads me to my next biggest worry!

King Cameron the Arrogant
The King of Broken Promises
I do not believe this Tory-led "coalition government will last the distance and I think it will be absolute madness for Labour not to have pencilled in strategies and manifesto "to go" at a moments notice. There are not now tiny little cracks in the structure of the so-called "coalition" there are now opening up huge crevices that threaten to turn into the mother of all bust-ups from the NHS, economy, welfare reform, Justice, defence, education, tuition fees, these are all major departments in which not only is the cabinet split down the middle, the entire Tory party is also split and the Liberal Democrats are drowning in their own broken promises. This government that has been built on a tissue of lies and broken promises and who deliberately misleads people and intentionally misrepresents others is crumbling and decaying right from its very heart, it cannot possibly last, as things turn worse in the economy (as they already are) and the Liberal support drops off (as it continues to do), the pressures will get to the Liberal Democrats and that in turn will place high pressure on the government. Nick Clegg no longer represents his party, the Liberal Democrats have veered to far to the right at some point in the very near future, MPs will be seeking to amend this situation, if they do it now they may have a chance, if they leave it to the next election they will lose their party anyway, when it comes down to the Lib Dems asking what price is a further four "very fast" years in government going to cost them, this is when the fun will start.

I just hope the labour party is ready to go now, because neither would I put it past Cameron to call a snap election when the problems that are now brewing inside his own party come to a head.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tory Government Interference and BBC Bias.

Last week the OECD criticised George Osborne's handling of the economy and an almighty row is breaking out within the coalition ranks about the NHS and what happened on BBC Question Time? It was a complete bore and turn off TV, it raised NONE of these very important issues facing this country, what is going on? From the public's point of view the BBC? It is totally biased.

Two appointments Tory Chris Patten parachuted into the BBC chairman position by the TORY government and Craig Oliver who left the BBC to work closely with David Cameron to become his Director of Media and Communications. It seems that the BBC is now afraid of its own shadow. Perhaps it knows with the Tory government freezing the license fee for two years that given half the chance this government are likely to privatise the BBC just as they are trying to privatise everything else and the BBC is feeling the heat from Rupert Murdoch's breath hot on their neck! Well they will not dislodge the parasites by capitulating to them and allowing them to bite them, they will win by informing the public about what is going on behind the scenes.

Chris Patten to be new BBC chairman
Lord Patten of Barnes, the Tory grandee and last governor of Hong Kong, is to be appointed the new chairman of the BBC.

By Andrew Porter, Political Editor 4:43PM GMT 18 Feb 2011

A former chairman of the Conservative party, he has got the vital backing from David Cameron to take over from Sir Michael Lyons as head of the BBC Trust.
The appointment comes at a highly sensitive time for the corporation and will mark a return of a Tory to the top of the BBC after successive chairmen who were deemed close to Labour.
Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, who made the recommendation to No10 after interviewing candidates, told the Prime Minister that Lord Patten was “head and shoulders” above the other candidates.

Mr Hunt believes that Lord Patten will be able to stand up to the BBC over controversial aspects of its running including senior salaries and expenses. He has experience of dealing with highly-charged political issues and has a reputation for being strong-willed, a senior Culture Department source said, a clear reference to the Government's wish that the new chairman stands up to Mark Thompson, the director general.
The source added: “It was felt that at this time the BBC needed strong leadership and someone who has dealt with difficult issues before.”

The Tory peer beat Sir Richard Lambert, the former head of the CBI, and Dame Patricia Hodgson, a long time BBC trustee to the post. He will earn £110,000
Lord Patten’s appointment will not be welcomed by all his fellow Conservatives at Westminster however. He is considered of the left of the party, “a wet,” and too pro-European for many having worked in Brussels as a commissioner.
But Labour also raised questions about the likely appointment.
Ivan Lewis, shadow secretary of culture, media and sport, said: “The test of the new trust chairman - Chris Patton or otherwise - is whether he is willing to stand up for the BBC in the face of instinctive hostility from many Tories including (Jeremy) Hunt and (David) Cameron.
“He will also have to be strong enough to ensure accountability and transparency from BBC executives as crucial decisions are made about the corporation’s future.”
Mr Cameron is likely to announce his backing for Mr Patten next week. Next month, the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee will hold a pre-appointment hearing for Lord Patten and will issue a report. However, it is highly unlikely that the committee would come out against the new chairman.
Lord Patten lost his Commons seat, in Bath, in 1992 despite being credited, as party chairman, with delivering the surprise general election for John Major.
He was rewarded by the former prime minister who appointed him governor of Hong Kong. He was given the task of managing the handover of the colony to China in 1997.
During that period in Hong Kong his aide was Ed Llewellyn, who is now Mr Cameron’s chief of staff and one of his closest advisers. That link is likely to cause concern among some at the BBC who believe the Prime Minister is intent squeezing the corporation hard during his time at No10.
Two years after the Hon Kong handover Lord Patten took over from Leon Brittan as European Commissioner for external relations, serving a full five year term. He was then made a life peer in 2005.
He has been Chancellor of University of Oxford for the past seven years

Questions must be asked about how and why Craig Oliver is being allowed to get away with contacting the BBC several times per day and attempting to control what is broadcast on the news from 10 Downing Street. He has even instructed the BBC journalists to use the word "savings" instead of cuts and here is a prime example! Epsom and St Helier NHS savings put 115 jobs at risk  Note the use of the word "savings" instead of *cuts* when cuts are what they are! This is the work of Craig Oliver and is it right that he is allowed to control the news agenda of the BBC from Downing Street? How democratic is this when the influence the Conservative party's new director of communications Craig Oliver, who was previously editor of the BBC 10 O'Clock News is still allowed to control the nes agenda at the BBC?

The BBC was criticised last year for dropping a pair of scissors from a logo it used to illustrate a series of programmes broadcast in the run up to George Osborne's public spending review in October last year, after a complaint was received from the Conservative government.

In September 2010 the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, was also criticised for visiting Downing Street to discuss the corporation's coverage of the cuts. The meeting came at a sensitive time for the corporation as the government prepared for negotiations over the BBC licence fee, which was subsequently frozen for two years.

How coincidental that the Sun (the Tories rabid right wing newspaper attack dog) accused the BBC of being biased and when the Tories are now in government, the bias in favour of the government at the BBC is now so overwhelming it is even embarrassing some Tories? Something is going on with the BBC and it needs to be sorted out - fast. The BBC MUST remain impartial.

This Tory - led government must be stopped from the blatant misuse of our money to publish and broadcast their propaganda, lies and corruption.

Cuts Are Cuts - They Are Not "Savings"!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We Suspected it, But Now We Know David Cameron Has Totally Lost The Plot!

David Cameron Sparks Fury
Comparing His Policy To Jesus

I have spoken about the unelected prime minister, David Cameron's arrogance and narcissistic tendencies many times on this blog, for all those who doubted me here is the latest sample of Cameron's appalling judgement. Is there no depths to which this politically opportunistic incompetent arrogant man will not plummet? David Cameron is drunk on his own power, he needs teaching a serious lesson in humility. if there was ever a man who represented wealth, power and privilege it is David Cameron, we see it clearly demonstrated in the large number of millionaires he has chosen for his cabinet and in the huge number of millionaire and billionaire business leaders he has around him as close advisers, all of whom normally turn out to be financial backers to the Tory party. These people have no intention of helping and protecting those who have very little and in some cases nothing at all, they are all about getting work done in their companies etc as cheaply as possible, making them richer and richer at the expense of the poor and hardest hit. Ever since David Cameron came to power he has made it his mission to turn people against those who claim welfare, at one point David Cameron even referred to these people as "welfare scroungers" and declared  war on them. How does this fit in with Cameron's "big [phony] Society"? One should read the entry before this one on this blog where you will see just what lengths Cameron and his government will go to, to attack the acutely and chronically sick and the disabled in our society. Cameron is in the act of removing the "loaves and fishes" that Jesus used to feed the poor and he is about to make people homeless when he removes their housing benefits. He is taking carers away from the disabled, he is removing the cars and wheelchairs that give people their independence, he is subjecting already grossly disadvantaged people to yet more disadvantage and he is doing all of this for ideological purposes, it is Conservative doctrine to remove as much of the state as they can, they do not want to provide it because this means that the wealthy affluent rich will have to part with a little more in taxation to help those in need. This is how a true "big society" should work, not turn people against those who are working in the public sector and demonise them for trying to hold down a job, taking away that job and then forcing them back to that very job through the job centre to work for £67 per week JSA and if they refuse then remove that benefit. Those people never wanted to be unemployed, they are unemployed for a reason and David Cameron and his chancellor are that reason.

David Cameron is a shockingly obnoxious little man who want to be pm and he was willing to do and say anything to get there, only now are we seeing the many blatant lies he told on the way and how much he totally misrepresented people and deliberately misled the British public. One such person he chose to deliberately misrepresent and also to persuade the right wing press to do the same, was the former labour PM Gordon Brown, now there was a good man, a son of a minister. Even while Gordon Brown was chancellor and PM he did charitable work in this country and the entire world, let's us not forget that Mr Brown was responsible for reducing the poor country's debt burden and many other policies, he used his time in parliament for the good of people, he has written books and the proceeds have gone to various charities, since he left office everything he has done he has done for charity. Gordon Brown had a chance of doing immense good in the world with his brilliant knowledge of economics by becoming MD of the IMF, he is the man with vision and the know-how to help pull the world out of these troubled times, let us not forget that it was because of his swift action that this country and others were able to weather the global financial storm and he is much respected by most world leading economists. Given this criteria and the fact that the IMF leader has to have something really special, you would have thought that Cameron would have been only too keen to put his name forward, but no, David Cameron and George Osborne acted in their own selfish party political interests and recommended the French finance minister. How does this disgraceful show fit in with Jesus and  Cameron's "big society"? David Cameron needs to be taken down a serious peg or two, I hope he and this totally incompetent selfish spiteful government do not have to wait too long for it.

David Cameron faced a furious backlash last night after claiming Jesus was the original founder of the Big Society.
His remark – made to Christians at a Downing Street reception – provoked astonishment among religious leaders, charities and politicians.
Labour MP and former ­Anglican vicar Chris Bryant said: “It’s ­ludicrous and offensive for ­Cameron to try to recruit Jesus to the Tory cause

“He is just using decent people in the church and charities to mask the unfair way he’s cutting services for the vulnerable.”
Mr Cameron told church leaders they would be “absolutely right” to claim Jesus founded the Big Society 2,000 years ago, joking: “I’m not saying we’ve invented some great new idea here.”
He added: “One of the best things about our country is that people step forward as individuals, as families, as ­communities, as ­organisations, as churches, and do extraordinary things... helping to build a ­bigger, richer, more prosperous, more generous ­society. And all I’m saying is, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we did more of that?’”
But Jonathan Bartley, director of Christian think-tank Ekklesia, said Mr Cameron’s brutal cuts ­programme was attacking the poor and the weak – and would not have had Jesus’s support.
“Jesus’s harshest words were reserved for those who had wealth and power and who failed to protect the most vulnerable,” he said.
A senior Labour source added: “We know politicians like a big-name endorsement but this seems to be going a bit far.”

Read more: Fury as David Cameron equates his failed "Big Society" policy to Jesus

Now Even The "Unthinkable" Is Not Radical Enough For Today's "Tory" Government

Anyone who is disabled, has a relative or a friend who is disabled or acutely or chronically sick or even suffering a terminal illness may like to read the leader from "Diary of a Benefit Scrounger" - By Sue  Marsh (included below). In fact as *none* of us ever know what is around the corner, or when we may fall acutely sick and leading to chronic sickness, or become disabled it may be advisable for *all* to read this and to try and inform ourselves of just what it is that this feckless "Tory" government are trying to do.

Yesterday Ed Miliband delivered a keynote speech, where he went to great lengths to say that as a party hopeful of leading our country in Government once again, we should be prepared to admit where we went wrong, so I'm not pulling my punches, this appalling treatment of disabled people started under the last labour government and it was wrong but to coin Ed's phrase "this government are making it worse". We either lay down (even though many would have great difficulty getting up again) and accept this, or we fight to bring it to the attention of I believe to be the many decent minded folk who have not fallen for David Cameron's "brutal" attack on these mythical sick and disabled people that are apparently mostly "welfare scroungers" who sit around "counting" their fingers and toes (if only most of them could reach, or had any to count in the first place) rather than stop "shirking" get a "miracle cure" from some obscure place whose whereabouts is known only to the Conservative government and ministers, pull themselves together and go and find work, support themselves and "live happily ever after".

Ed Miliband is saying labour must admit where it went wrong, well here is a good a place as any to start because this attack on our sick and disabled is just plain wrong - wrong - wrong. A country is judged by the way it treats its people our unelected prime minister Mr Cameron said, if so, then the UK's reputation as a caring safe country who treats people with the dignity and compassion they deserve has just nosed dived.

David Cameron said he will watch the banks "like a hawk" but allows bankers to walk away with taxpayer-funded, multimillion-pound bonuses. He says he cares about the poor but cracks down on welfare claimants. he says he wants a "big society" yet allows sick and disabled people to be terrorised by Atos who have been the dubious recipients of headlines like this "3 people die after being found fit for work by ATOS". Such is our Prime Minister, David Cameron, the "compassionate Conservative".  yes some of this was happening under the previous government but now the Conservative's Welfare Reform Bill, cuts and things like time limiting ESA will  escalate from a bad situation into an unmitigated crisis.

Speaking of "Cheats and Scroungers"

  • How come we have a government that thinks nothing of allowing Barclays bank who made billions of pounds out of the British people in 2009, get off with paying just a few million in corporation tax?
  • How is it that Conservative chancellor, George Osborne waived Vodafone's £6 BILLION tax bill to the UK Treasury?
  • How come the British Conservative led government hired someone like Philip Green to find ways to cut funding, when Philip Green finds ways to dodge paying his full taxes to the British Treasury, describing the billion pounds he gave to his wife who lives in the tax haven of Monaco as "just a bit of housekeeping?"
  • How come our very own Tory chancellor George Osborne hires a firm of accountants to help him dodge paying his own taxes to the UK Treasury, the department he runs?
  • How comes we have had MPs from all political parties caught milking the expense system?
  • How comes former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith who is in charge of Welfare Reform at the DWP can live rent free, yet stop the housing benefit and other benefits to sick and disabled people and still sleep at nights?
Why doesn't this Tory government do something really radical like stopping their merciless, cruel and vicious attack on disabled people and their carers and families and try ensuring that those as descibed above pay what they should pay to the UK Treasury? Or do these people donate too much cash and "services" to the Tory party coffers to even be considered?

Today's Conservative party is the richest political party in the entire history of the UK, at a time of great fear, austerity, uncertainty, when people are losing their homes and jobs and seeing their benefits cut, the Conservative party's coffers are stuffed full of obscene wealth mostly donated by billionaires and millionaires, the kind that employ accountants to help them dodge paying UK taxes. The British Tory led government's cabinet of ministers who make the decisions on our lives is  stuffed to bursting with landed millionaires who all pay little or no UK tax, have money in off-shore tax havens, live rent free in mansions, what do they care if their local leisure centres are shut down because of Tory cuts? They all have indoor hi-tech personal gyms, tennis courts and swimming pools.  Iain Duncan Smith, the man everyone says is "nice", the man responsible for cutting benefits, forcing the sick and disabled into jobs that simply do not exist and forcing others into NON existent jobs or face having their benefit cut, the man responsible for cutting welfare and housing benefits,  lives rent free in a  mansion in huge grounds complete with a tennis court and swimming pool! IDS the man born into privilege who has never had to want for a single thing throughout his pampered life, what does he know about being disabled and feeling terrified and terrorised in your own skin?

Here is Sue Marsh's wonderful piece, please feel free to visit Sue's site and maybe leave your comments or suggestions:

Welfare for the people, by the people - a Consultation

Did you ever wish you hadn't started something?

When I started this blog, I had some hazy idea that perhaps I could share my stories and it might help other sick or disabled people to feel connected. I thought I'd tippety-tap away now and again, saving my poor hubby the trauma of 24/7 news bulletins and political rants.

I didn't for one minute think many people would notice. I'd used the odd forum here and there and imagined a kind of cosy support group where "spoonies" "sickies" and "crips" could enjoy reading the ramblings of someone who actually "got it"

I didn't think I'd find myself reading endless transcripts of a dangerous and callous welfare reform bill. I didn't think I'd be on radio shows or in national newspapers opposing cabinet ministers. I didn't for one second imagine my blog would shoot into the top 50 political blogs and stay there and I certainly didn't think I'd be invited to the Compass conference next month as a guest speaker.

And that's just the stuff I can tell you about!!

You may have noticed fewer posts lately and if you knew the stuff I can't write about (though I will) you'd see why blogging is having to take a bit of a back seat.

I've always liked to learn and OH MY GOD have I been learning. In just over 6 months, I've read just about every theory put forward on welfare reform over the past two decades. I've read Blue Labour, Purple Labour, Policy Exchange, Progress & Compass reports, everything written by Iain Duncan-Smith, James Purnell, Frank Field and Jonathan Rutherford**.

Shall I sum them up for you in a natty soundbite?

"I despair"

Or another?

"Get a bigger stick, throw away the carrots and beat 'em to despair"

I read their "proposals" with incredulous dismay. I wonder just how many have ever actually experienced any of the problems they wish to solve. From the mid nineties, politicians who timidly took the first steps towards reducing the welfare bill have been encouraged to "think the unthinkable" and over the years, they've forgotten that it was ever considered unthinkable in the first place. The "unthinkable" is now not radical enough and, as I write on an almost daily basis, we've reached the tipping point. We are on the brink of removing sickness benefits altogether and disability benefits are to be slashed so far, that sick and disabled people have only the last resort of our judicial system.

We have reached a stage, where only the Human Rights Act or the European Court of Appeal can save us now.

Why? How has it come to this? When asked to "think outside the box", why did every last politician think inside a tiny, claustrophobic box tied up with ignorance-string? How did the "scrounger" narrative get such traction? Why did every last politician consider how to throw us off benefits with little care or concern for where we will go? Why did a succession of Oxbridge educated men choose to focus on a mythical hoard of cheats and skivers, convinced that with bigger and bigger sticks we could be forced into work? If fraud is just 1/2 a percent, what convinces these men that most could and should work? When medical evidence assures them that many of us can't and, in fact, work will make us worse, why do they ignore it?

Now let's see how successful they've been. Since 1994, successive "work programmes" and schemes have been rolled out to get sick or disabled people back into work. Has the welfare bill gone down? Has business embraced us and modified their structures to include us? Have the private companies, paid billions to find us work been successful?

No, No and No.

Not one single thing has changed in 25 years. The sickness and disability benefits bill has stayed stubbornly constant and work programmes have pathetic success rates of between 8 and 15% (almost identical to the number of people who find work on their own)

The solution? Cheat.

Change the descriptors, make certain that fewer people will qualify and break a million eggs to make a rotten omlette. Since Labour started "cheating" in 2008 the rate of those claiming sickness benefits has fallen. Now the Conservatives are about to cheat in such a spectacular way that the financial bill will certainly go down dramatically, but at what cost? Using the model of the past 25 years, this will be considered a "success" as costs will finally be cut. Eureka!! All they needed was one almighty stick and a sneaky bit of legislation or two that effectively all but stops sickness benefits altogether.

One might think that if a government are serious about stopping sickness benefits, they would have their best thinkers devising plans to make sure that the people affected had somewhere to go. That they wouldn't be left to starve without some pretty cast iron guarantees that there would be an alternative. One might think that there would be research available to prove that pulling support would in fact be empowering and manageable, but there is none.

Having said all this, we're no closer to finding out "why?" politicians are convinced that we can all pick up our beds and walk - or are we?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the
"Psycho-Social Model"

Allow me to paraphrase. (The link above will give you the scientific stuff, I'll just put it in Sue-speak.)

We are all sick or even disabled because we choose to define ourselves as such. Despite our various diagnoses, those that manage to work have a better psychological grip of reality and do not become "victims". We choose to stop working from a lack of confidence or fear of failure and become lazy and plagued by doubts. The longer this fear develops, the less likely we are to find work and stay in it.

Any symptom, and disability can be overcome through perseverance and the right mental stance - we simply need re-training in our attitudes. Hence the conclusion we reach today, where you ask what work you can do, not how your illness or disability limits you. Those unwilling (remember none are unable) to find work they can do will be abandoned.

Time Limiting ESA will enshrine this in law. If you haven't overcome these "psycho-social" flaws within one year and found work, the state will wash it's hands of you. That's why the language speaks of "helping" us into work. The paternalistic state will stop our metaphorical pocket money and take away our sweets if we are disobedient. If "encouragement" doesn't work, there are a whole host of sticks to beat us with.

This also explains an assessment that focusses solely on what we are physically able to do and ignores any  pain or symptoms or distress. Pain and symptoms and distress can all be overcome according to the psycho-social model, they are simply a part of our psycho-social weakness; shields to keep the world away, to wallow in our own helplessness. If you can swallow or do up a button or pick up a penny, you must, no matter what it costs you, or you are simply allowing neurological impulses to get in the way of a full and financially productive life.

It might not surprise many readers to find that Frank Field and James Purnell are the most zealous advocates of a psycho-social approach to welfare. Reading my red-top precis, academics may nod sagely, believing there is much to recommend the theory. And that is the vast, putrid, hideous, terrifying problem.

If you don't have MS or bowel disease or cancer or schizophrenia or alcoholism or parkinson's or lupus; if your research is conducted in an academic bubble of theories and sociological studies and think-tank jargon, you might as well be designing policy for fish. However much an affluent, out-of-touch politician might think a theory is the answer to all their prayers, you simply cannot make an unsound theory fit reality without cheating.  An alpha-male, who has sailed through life without physical trauma, poverty or disadvantage, will simply be totally unable to empathise with the nuances of suffering. They can no more design a welfare system that works than I could design a new offside rule.

Until sick and disabled people start to put forward their own suggestions, their own answers, we will remain in the hands of ignorance and arrogance. Until we are at the heart of policy making, we will suffer policies that may as well have been designed by aliens. The time has come where it is no longer enough to oppose, we must educate and inform. We must save ourselves, because my endless nights spent poring over welfare papers has convinced me that we have no alternative. Privileged academics and politicians have proven themselves horrifically incapable of even beginning to understand our lives and if we are to get a welfare system that actually works for us, we need to start making suggestions. We have the experience, the knowledge and the understanding and they never will.

So today, please use the comment thread below to explain what would help you. Contribute your ideas and suggestions no matter how silly or unformed you think they are. Share your stories of trying to work and how the system has failed or supported you. Make them essays or make them just a few words. I don't care how long or short they are. Tell me what work you could do and what support you would need to do it. Does the state itself trap you? What could business do to enable you? Is there a working model that could suit you? What type of work would you like? Why is it unavailable? Do you want to work? Would it make you better or worse? Would it increase your affluence or plunge you further into poverty? In an ideal world, what would governments be doing to support you?

Remember, this is a brainstorm. Write anything. It can't possibly be more banal, mis-guided or unworkable than the suggestions of successive politicians.

Please help. Join in, engage, show politicians our endless strength, our great value and our hopes and dreams. Help me and I'll do my very, very best to help you.

As I started this article by explaining, I have been given a voice. I have the privilege of a platform. It's your platform too and I need you to share it. Otherwise, I might just end up as another mis-guided fool who thinks she knows it all. I can speak for myself, but I can't speak for you.

*Finally, please share this article with anyone you know who suffers from a chronic illness or disability. Urge them to contribute to the consultation, tweet it on twitter, share on Facebook and email to friends. Any consultation is only as good as the people who take part. It needs variety and balance. Thanks. 

**Rutherford is the one beacon of hope. He exposed the psycho-social model and opposed incompetent welfare reform before most of us knew it existed. Read more here 

Diary of a Benefit Scrounger - Welfare for the people, by the people - a consultation

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Laboour: Let's Cut The Defecit In A Way That Supports Our Vision For Our Country's Future

Ed Miliband
Leader of the Labour Party
Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party, in a speech today to the Progress Annual Conference 2011 said

Friends, let me tell you today how we are going to win the next election.
Three moments in the history of our Party when hope defeated fear.
When Labour took office with a sense of national mission
Establishing that national mission.
Persuading people of it.
That is our task.
To do that we need to be honest about where we are as a Party, and how tough this is going to be.
Frank about our successes and failures at the recent elections.
Clear about the condition of Britain, and what needs to change.
We need to reject some of the easy answers that people will tell you are out there.
Instead we should start to explain what our national mission for the country should be.
And how it contrasts with the narrow pessimism of the Conservatives.
Let’s talk about what we heard on the doorstep at the elections.
Some people are still unwilling to come back to us.
We all know what their concerns are: from immigration to bankers to welfare to waste.
But other people, who couldn’t look us in the eye last year, are now willing to listen again.
They agree with us that the government is going too far and too fast on the deficit.
They wanted a voice in tough times.
And we were that voice.
But from everybody I met, I heard something else.
People wanted more from us.
People wanted more from our politics.
And we saw that in our election results on May 5th.
We have started to win back trust.
But we have many more people to convince.
The progress we made in the East and West Midlands, where we had some of our worst general election results, matters.
But of course we need to do better in the South.
It is essential that we won back the Liberal Democrat voters we did.
They felt betrayed by their leadership.
And recognised we had the courage to change on difficult issues like Iraq and civil liberties.
But Conservative voters do not yet feel the same depth of betrayal with this government or yet sufficient confidence in us.
That’s the reality of the results.
And friends, let’s avoid the old Labour disease of setting out a false choice.
That we must either conclude that the elections were a triumph or a disaster.
We made progress in these elections. But people want more from us.
That we need only ex-Lib Dems or only ex-Conservatives.
We need both.
So let’s leave the false choices where they belong.
In the past.
What about our results in Scotland?
I don’t need to tell you they were terrible.
On the living wage, on jobs, on the NHS, we had good pledges.
But the lesson of Scotland is this.
Our opponents won a bigger battle.
Because we did not succeed in providing a clear vision of Scotland’s future: a national mission.
People wanted more from us.
And let’s be honest about the last general election too.
Our message, too weighted to fear over hope, stopped the Tories getting a majority.
But it was never enough for Labour to win.
Because we did not own the future.
Indeed none of the parties met the standard that voters deserved.
David Cameron won on what you might call the away goals rule of politics.
And we must recognise the reason the Conservatives failed to win a majority was did not inspire.
They failed a national mission for our country.
All David Cameron was offering then, and all he is offering now, is a shrivelled, pessimistic, austere view of the future.
Now I have absolutely no doubt that reducing the deficit is vital for our future.
But the real difference between us is this.
He plans to cut the deficit and see what is left of Britain at the end.
Instead we should start with our vision for the country and cut the deficit in a way which supports it.
Even Michael Ashcroft recognises this.
He rightly asks of the Tories “what is the end to which deficit reduction is the means?”
That’s why I say people want more from us.
Why people want more from our politics.
What kind of country will we leave to our sons and daughters?
How am I going to make ends meet when my living standards are being squeezed?
Why do I always seem to work longer and longer hours for the same money?
Where are the Tories on the big questions people are asking.
And they have nothing to say.
I say politics can be better than this.
Our country can be better than this.
How do we answer peoples yearning for something more from us, for something more from our politics?
We must root our national mission, not just in our values, but in our understanding of the condition of Britain
We need the honesty to admit that the challenges facing Britain did not begin with this government.
Although they are making them worse.
They are deeper than that.
People see a new inequality that our country faces between those at the top and everyone else.
We should have the humility to acknowledge this was there under Labour.
But also warn that this Government is making it worse.
People worry about the erosion of what I call the promise of Britain – the expectation that next generation will do better than the last, whatever their birth or background.
This concern is part of a deeper long term trend.
But again, this government is making matters worse.
And while people struggle to make ends meet and worry about their children, they feel what really matters – family, friends and the quality of community life – is being put under strain.
Again, it did not just start with this government.
But they are making matters worse.
For me these three issues, the new inequality, the promise of Britain, strengthened communities, are the challenges to which the next Labour government must be the answer.
Given the scale of these challenges.
The desire for more from our politics.
It will never be enough for us to simply take the traditional paths of oppositions.
There will be those who say it is enough for Labour to hunker down and benefit from an unpopular government.
I hear it quite a lot: let’s be a louder, prouder Opposition.
Maybe somehow people will then remember what a good government we were and re-elect us next time.
The Conservative Government is unpopular.
They may become more so.
And we are showing, and will continue to show, that we can be an effective opposition.
But to think that is enough is to fail to understand the depth of the loss of trust in us and the scale of change required to win it back.
We must recognise where we didn’t get things right.
And we must show that a changed Labour Party can again be trusted.
It’s not about dumping on our past, because I am proud of our record in government.
But it is about being honest about what we got right and what we got wrong.
The cardinal mistake of Opposition is to conclude that it’s the voters, not us, that got it wrong.
It was a mistake we made in the 1980s.
We cannot afford to make it again.
Then there is a second strategy – a Cameron style detoxification.
I hear the advice to follow this path: find the equivalent of hug a hoodie.
Or even a huskie.
And that will do it.
That will get us back into power.
Now we must be honest about mistakes that lost us trust, on issues like immigration, welfare, or banking.
I have done that in the past months.
And I will continue to do that.
Because the public will not return to us until we show we get it.
But restoring trust cannot simply be an exercise in dealing with the negatives.
These issues matter in themselves.
And we must address them.
Not superficially.
But in a way true to our values.
Rooted in our understanding of the condition of Britain.
The challenges we face.
The challenges our national mission must address.
Start with the new inequality.
Inequality is no longer an issue just between rich and poor.
But between those at the top and those both in the middle and on lower incomes.
Since 2003, those at the top have seen their living standards continue to rise at extraordinary rates, while those of the rest have stagnated.
For most flat wages, rising prices, longer working hours, and the burden of debt and insecurity increasingly being placed on them and their kids.
This is about the middle income people in the South of England and elsewhere who don’t consider themselves rich even though they may be higher rate taxpayers.
Like the mother I met in Gravesham during the election campaign, worried about the loss of child benefit who said she would never vote Conservative again.
It is about the squeeze not just on living standards but on time.
People working fifty, sixty, seventy hours a week and not having enough time with their children.
Frankly, I don’t need to meet other people to know how that feels and know we have to change it.
And it is through this squeeze on the middle, this new inequality that we need to understand issues like immigration and responsibility.
Eastern European immigration did place downward pressure on wages.
People can argue about the extent.
We were too relaxed about that.
People felt particularly angry about those they felt could work, but didn’t, as making ends meet became more and more of a struggle.
We were too relaxed about that too.
And people saw those at the top making off with millions they didn’t deserve.
We were far too relaxed about that as well.
So the old social contract – the one which said, if you work hard, you will do well for yourself, have security at work and be able to provide stability for your family – has broken down.
The Conservative answer is to exploit people’s fears but to do nothing to solve the problem.
In fact this Government is making matters worse.
VAT rises, cuts in Child Benefit and higher tuition fees.
The Government is not simply cutting the deficit, but privatising it.
The way it is cutting the deficit loads more and more of the financial burden onto those who are already struggling.
The truth is that we cannot create a society that is equal to the aspirations of the British people in a world of wide and growing inequalities – a world in which there are bailouts for bankers and austerity for the rest.
We need to get away from the notion – I hear it quite a lot – that we have to choose between supporting aspiration and tackling inequality.
It is another false choice.
Because the great irony is that one of the biggest barriers to aspiration in this country, and in this time, has been inequality.
Not just because I believe that inequality makes us poorer as a society but because when incomes stagnate, people borrow more to keep up.
That fuelled the rise in personal debt.
So our answer must be different.
To construct a new social contract.
Because it should be clear to all of us that we cannot move forward as a country simply by getting back to business as usual as if the financial crisis never happened.
Indeed, the lessons of this have still not been properly absorbed.
In power after 1997 we did something that few countries managed to do – stem the rising tide of inequality.
We did this by redistributing through the tax and benefit system.
Leading to cuts in child poverty.
This was a significant achievement.
But having the courage to change means facing up to the limitations of this approach.
Asking more of our economy, good jobs and wages, means asking less of the state.
At times, we hung on to a picture of Britain in which people were either poor, and desperately in need of our help, or affluent, aspirational, and doing okay.
We failed to understand that for millions of people in the middle, life was becoming more and more difficult.
In the future the Labour offer to aspirational voters must be that we will address the new inequality by hard wiring fairness into the economy.
This is not the easy path.
But it is the right one.
Because people want more from us.
We know some of the things which will make a difference.
A living wage.
A new industrial policy.
Proper reform of finance, so it works for the wider economy.
Responsibility at the top, and at the bottom.
This is the path I see for us.
People want an economy with fairness and social responsibility built-in.
But we are only going to get that by thinking radically and building a better capitalism – one that is true to our values as a country.
Building a stronger, fairer economy is vital to our second challenge – the kind of country we leave to the next generation.
This is what I call the promise of Britain.
Ask any parent what they want for their children and they will say the same-to have better chances than they had.
But ask people today-and the gap between that aspiration and the reality is wider than it’s probably ever been.
People just don’t know how their kids are going to get on.
How they are going to afford the rising cost of a university education.
How they are going to get their feet on the housing ladder.
How they are going to finds jobs that provide security and opportunity.
I saw it too as I went round during the local elections.
I saw it in the eyes of the grandparents I met in Leicester.
I saw it in the faces of the students at DeMontfort University where Nick Clegg had made false promises a year earlier.
I heard it from parents the length and breadth of the country.
It didn’t start under this government
But they have made it worse.
They seem to accept it as inevitable.
Because they make the deficit both the judge and the jury of what is right, they have made short-term choices, posing as long-term ones.
On Education Maintenance Allowances, tuition fees, on all the issues that matter.
People want more from us.
People want more from our politics.
What is the lesson for us?
That equality is not just a concern within generations.
It is about what happens between generations.
That the easy path is to take short-term decisions which don’t properly understand the importance of this issue.
And if we really do care about the next generation, we will have to show it in the decisions we make-from housing to the environment, from education to the kind of economy we create.
The third is to understand what really matters to people
It goes to the heart of what Maurice Glasman calls Blue Labour.
Some have presented this as a nostalgic vision of the past.
The Labour equivalent of warm beer, leather on willow and bicycling maidens.
I think this is to wholly misunderstand what this is about.
It starts from what we see in our country.
A sense of people being buffeted by storm winds blowing through their lives.
A fear of being overpowered by commercial and bureaucratic forces beyond our control.
And a yearning for the institutions and relationships we cherish most to be respected and protected.
You see it in the concerns people have about what is happening to their local high street, post office and pub.
The sense of loss in Birmingham from the takeover of Cadbury’s.
The football supporters fed up with billionaires who see their clubs simply as financial assets.
The campaign to stop the Port of Dover being sold off to the highest bidder.
The justifiable suspicions people have about the Government’s real agenda on the NHS.
We can’t save every pub.
We don’t want to preserve every high street in aspic.
And we can’t stop the takeover of all British companies.
But let’s face it: our apparent indifference to some of these issues told people a lot about us.
It made us seem like remote technocrats who defended the market even when people wanted protection against it.
And it spoke to a deeper sense about us.
Were we really people who cared about or defended traditional British institutions?
Of course, the record of these Conservatives is already far worse.
At times they show an almost Maoist contempt for any institution that doesn’t conform to their ideological beliefs.
In their case that everything can be turned into a commodity and sold to the highest bidder.
That’s why they tried to sell off our ancient forests.
It’s why David Willets saw nothing wrong with the suggestion that the wealthy should be able to buy their way into university.
What does this mean for us, for our future?
It means showing we are people who understand the value of things beyond the bottom line.
We do want local people to have more of a say about local retail development.
Because sometimes another local supermarket chain isn’t what people want.
We do celebrate and value institutions like the BBC and the NHS.
So these are the three deep challenges Labour’s national mission must address.
How we can enable everyone to get on.
How we can protect and enhance the British promise for the next generation.
And how we preserve the things people value.
Let me end with this thought about the journey we are on together.
There is a prevailing idea that this is a Conservative country.
That there is little we can do apart from accommodate to that fact.
I think the people who believe that are wrong.
Not just because the majority of people at the last election voted for parties other than the Conservative party.
But because I know that voters want something more than this government can provide.
Just as we should not accept a politics of pessimism for our country, so we shouldn’t for our party either.
But to deliver that better, optimistic politics requires ambition for our future, for what our politics can achieve.
We could accept a politics of decline and pessimism.
But we cannot let the Conservatives pessimism stunt our ambition for our country or our party.
I say: we have always been at our best when we have lifted our horizons and acted on our desire to make Britain better and stronger.
We the Labour party.
We the country.
We reject the defeatist mantra that “there is no alternative”.
We can create a fair society in which wealth and opportunity go to those who deserve them.
We can build an economy that reflects the best of our values as a country.
We can secure for our children the opportunity to lead more prosperous and fulfilling lives.
We can have the confidence to stand up for the things we really love about Britain.
Because the public want more from us.
The public want more from our politics.
Let’s make it happen.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

David Cameron Misleads House of Commons Again - This Time Over Hospital Waiting Lists

I have done some research and discover that David Cameron's claim in last Wednesday's PMQs that waiting times have fallen is another time he is deliberately misleading the house and I'll explain why.

When Cameron talks about waiting times he is using the Conservative government's new way of counting waiting times and he is referring to median times (the time spent waiting by 50 per cent of patients on waiting lists), this is a clear example of how the Tory government is misrepresenting figures. The Labour government’s target was to make sure 90 per cent of patients were treated within 18 weeks of referral to their hospital from their GP. Labour counted these figures over one year, this allowed for seasonal rise and falls in admissions to hospital, however, the Tories have moved the goal posts (surprise, surprise) and they now want to count monthly. So of course the likelihood of last month showing a fall was always more or less certain after the winter and again thanks to the incompetence of the Conservative government for NOT having a proper flu vaccine and public information programme, hospitals were unusually full to capacity and at one point all ICU beds were taken up mainly with people suffering from the H1N1 virus (swine flu), so using the Tories preferred method of counting stats of course when the flu season passed waiting times fell more sharply than they otherwise would have if they had not had so many admissions for flu, (because of the Tory government's incompetence120 people mainly young, children and babies lost their lives to swine flu) however, the story doesn't end here.

 So as I explained above the caveat with looking at either monthly or year-on-year figures, is that they are hugely seasonal and weather-dependent.

John Appleby from the King’s Fund agrees that quoting month-on-month figures (as David Cameron has done) is somewhat futile.  “There are very strong seasonal trends,. “Over the year waiting times have gone up and they’ve gone down.”

But overall, Mr Appleby says there is a “very slight upward trend” in the median figures. (median is just a set of middle figures)

Meanwhile by Labour’s definition – their old target was missed by the Conservative government in February.

 Based on DoH statistics, 89 per cent of patients were seen within 18 weeks of referral in February 2011. That’s down from 91.9 per cent in February 2010

Mr Appleby said in this instance there is definitely an upward trend.

So Ed Miliband was definitely right to quote that hospital waiting times have increased under this Tory government, in fact there are 10.000 people awaiting diagnosis and this figure has risen three-fold in just one year. Waiting times in outpatients and  A&E departments have also risen and this is a direct result of the Tories removing the targets and this can only get worse as Cameron and Osborne's cuts to the NHS take effect.

Two further points I would like to make

  1. Department of Health inpatient waiting times from 1993 to 2008  have been falling year on year for most of Labour’s period in Government. This sustained downward trend started in 1997 and has continues, so Ed Miliband was right to claim that waiting times fell year upon year under a labour government.
  2. Cameron said that the Tories had increased spending to the NHS by £11.6bn, but he conveniently negates to also mention that taking into account the rate of inflation, this makes the £11.6bn rise in funding to the NHS absolutely minuscule and if inflation increases to 5% as Governor of the Bank of England has said, then this rise in funds to the NHS will be completely wiped out.
David Cameron has not being wholly straight with the public.
Some months, for example in the winter, there are more people waiting for operations than others, so using month on month figures as David Cameron did is misleading.

This is not the first time that Cameron has deliberately mislead the House, he has done it over John Healy, Andy Burnham, Jim Murphy, Dr Harold Stoate. Cameron manipulates, lies and deliberately misleads, when is the Speaker of the House of Commons going to pull him up for doing this? Or is it one law for Tories and another for other members?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

For ALL Those That Missed Nick Clegg's Speech Today

Here is Nick Clegg's assessment of the year with in bondage shackled to the Tories.
"Fair to be fair, it's only fair ..labour, labour, labour this - labour that - labour the other. It's not fair, it's all labour's fault, to be fair it's not my fault it's really that Ed Miliband's fault... It is labour's fault we lost 800 seats and to be fair it's not really bad that we lost 800 council seats, it is really a very good thing for the Liberal Democrats, don't ask me why, I just think it is. In any case to be fair it's all  labour's fault. Labour, labour, labour. (Clegg bounces about some more waving his hands about like a practiced preacher at the pulpit) Cameron told me I must mention Muscular Liberalism so here it is "muscular liberalism" I don't know what it means, I don't got to the gym, muscular liberalism, muscular liberalism. You may not believe what I am going to say about the Tories next; "er the Tories erm George Osborne, David Cameron". (Tory attack over) Labour, labour, labour, they have no idea about the economy, labour labour labour. to be fair, fair, and urm it's not fair you know. Only the Liberal democrats know best the other two don't, that is the Lib Dems are a poor third, but the Lib Dems being a poor third in polls is really quite good, spiffing in fact it proves that the Lib Dems have got it right. Labour have it wrong which is why they are not doing better in the polls, labour leading the polls and their 42% is quite rubbish, it is better for the Liberal Democrats to be on 8%, this is why I am telling you that labour are rubbish and we are better" labour, labour, labour. Labour this - labour that - and labour the other. labour, labour, labour..AV AV pluralism, I'm a pleuralist..labour labour labour and then he finishes with "I Nick Clegg to be fair am wonderful and it's all labour's fault that the electorate think I am a complete nob head"...end of speech.