Monday, January 30, 2012

Oh the "Success" of "Osborne and Cameronomics"

According to a report in today's Telegraph (I know the Telegraph is dumbing down these days but bear with me)

Corporation tax should be halved to boost business and revive Britain’s economic growth, according to a think tank.
The Centre for Policy Studies is urging David Cameron to cut corporation tax to as little as 10 per cent because it is the “only source of a viable economic recovery”.

Because of course this really worked for Ireland - didn't it?

During the past years Ireland cut corporation tax to the bone with the specific aim to poach industry and multinational companies away from the UK. Ireland almost bankrupted it itself in the process as their tax receipts from these companies plummeted and had a dangerous damaging effect on the Irish economy. Remember here that George Osborne has described Ireland as our friends and neighbours when he bailed  Ireland out with an £11 billion pound loan at British taxpayers expense. Personally I would not describe someone as a good neighbour who poached all our business forcing our people out of work and then bend over backwards to obtain loans at preferable rates for them, especially as Ireland still has not learned its lesson and has not raised its level of corporation tax. If I were in Osborne's position one of the provisos of helping out Ireland, our "good" neighbour out of the hole it dug for itself would have been a stipulation that they raised their corporation tax to match the UK's so giving an even playing field again. However, Osborne failed to do this but hang on wasn't George Osborne the same person who when in opposition travelled to Ireland to "look, listen and learn from the Irish economy" in order to introduce many of their policies in the UK when he became chancellor? All I can say is thank the Lord that Osborne was not our chancellor at this time or we would now be in exactly the same position as Ireland - Oops sorry I forgot we are, George Osborne took an economy with 1.1% growth in Q1 in May 2010 and turned that growth in to negative contraction inside 19 months and he now has the UK looking down the double barrels of a shotgun with a double dip recession looming, we need just one more quarter negative growth and off we go and many top economists are forecasting that, while others are describing the UK as already in a "technical recession". Oh how I love these City folk, a technical recession, a light recession, one that will not last, pity these people who have all been backing Osborne's insane austerity measures to the hilt (despite the fact that lowly people such as us forecast this recession as soon as Osborne announced his plans and pointed out the glaringly obvious) don't loose their jobs.

And the moral of this story is that in Ireland all their services have been cut to the bone and corporation tax is still rock bottom producing hardly anything for the Irish economy and to top that the Irish people have had their national minimum wage cut forcing them to subsidise the multinational companies that their government is already heavily subsidising with low corporation tax. The Irish economy is in recession, austerity measures have not worked, they have been cut, cut and cut now they cannot cut back any more and austerity has failed, what now? More "Osboromics" more Cameronomics"?

Still Osborne doesn't need to worry about a double dip recession, he is still avoiding paying £1.6 million in tax to his own Treasury, he is still allowing the likes of Bob Diamond from Barclays to avoid paying tax and he is still writing off the £6 BILLION owed in tax by Vodafone and Stephen Hester of RBS may have been forced to hand back his million quid bonus for doing sod all, but don't  feel sorry for the "poor man" he sill has his mansion sitting in 350 acres of prime land, he still has his Swiss chalet and his luxurious flat in Knightsbridge and Cameron and Osborne are still blaming the weather, the royal wedding, the eurozone and the Labour party for their own appalling cock-ups, so everything is fine in Tory land, it;s us poor bastards that are carry the can for the rich, powerful and affluent 1% (as per usual)!

By the way don't fall for Cameorn's shifting the blame for Stephen Hester's bonus onto the Labour party, the buck stops squarely at Cameron, Osborne and Clegg's door and here is exactly why;

Hester's contract didn't guarantee his bonus it the bank made a profit. It is the banks remuneration committee that issued instruction for the bonus to be paid, so the previous Labour government had nothing to do with the bonus. The bonus needed to be ratified at the AGM and the government (us taxpayers) as the major shareholder with 82% could have vetoed that bonus at that point or earlier and instead of doing this Cameron and Osborne signed it off. Hester and the Tories only gave in to pressure because the Labour party tabled a vote in the House of Commons and all this would have become common knowledge.

Who said that lies, deceit and hypocrisy wasn't alive and kicking in today's Conservative party?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Truth About Andrew Lansley, The Lobbyist and the NHS

Over the Next few months, the Tories will attempt to rubber-stamp the process that will change the NHS for good. Helping the Conservative government to push through their health and social care NHS reform bill is a man called Bill Morgan who is currently employed as a Special Adviser on health policy by the health secretary Andrew Lansley at the Department of Health. (DoH)

This is not the first time that Bill Morgan and Andrew Lansley have worked together, in 2005 and 2007, Bill Morgan was a Tory adviser working on a wide range of Conservative health policies and also assisting Lansley who was then the shadow health secretary to prepare for parliamentary questions.

So who exactly is Bill Morgan and why has he been parachuted into such a position of power?

“Mr Morgan is a former lobbyist who joined Andrew Lansley’s office at the Department of Health in July 2010 has been director for the health arm of Mandate Communications, a public relations company which has since merged with MHP communications.
Head of Mandate's health practice, Mike Birtwistle blogged on Mr Morgan's appointment:
"Personally, I can think of no one better to advise the incoming Secretary of State. Bill has a sharp policy mind, allied to a clear instinct for politics and he is fiercely loyal to his bosses. These talents will be needed as Andrew Lansley seeks to steer the NHS through choppy financial waters whilst also embarking on a major programme of structural and system reform. Civil servants will have to get used to Bill scrutinising their figures and recommendations, but I have no doubt that the end result will be better as a result of it.
Clearly we will be sad to see Bill move on - he has been a great colleague and he will continue to be a good friend. Health Mandate's clients and our team of consultants have obviously benefitted from Bill's insights into the direction of Conservative policy. Now, as he prepares to take up a new role, we look forward to continuing to be at the heart of the major policy debates which will shape the future of the NHS."

It's clear that these reforms were being built long before the Tories came to power in 2010, which makes a complete liar out of David Cameron when in opposition he promised NHS staff and the public that there would be "no more top down reorganisation in the NHS", when he made that promise he already knew that he and Lansley were going to oversee the biggest reforms in the NHS entire 60 year history, Mr Cameron is guilty of deliberately misleading NHS staff and the general public!
MHP’s clients include Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods and Tesco Stores. All three companies have signed up to the Conservative-led government's Public Health Responsibility Deal which replaced the Food Standards Agency. It seems an odd thing to do as the last time the Tories were in power they were dogged with food and health crisis for a decade, remember salmonella in eggs and BSE?  The FSA was performing well, yet the government abolished it and deregulated the food industry, giving companies more freedom and power.
The health secretary Andrew Lansley, who was responsible for the Responsibility Deal, also has past links to organisations representing big companies.
Lansley was a paid director of marketing agency Profero until December 2009. During this time Lansley was also Shadow Secretary of State for Health.
Current clients of Profero include Marks and Spencers and, in its Australian branch, Pizza Hut.
Drinks manufacturer Diageo, producers of Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness among others, was added to the company’s client list in February 2011. Diageo provided the health select committee with written evidence in favour of the Public Health Responsibility Deal.

Was the abolition of the FSA the result of the lobbying power of Bill Morgan? It also helped that Morgan knew the health secretary personally, the very man who became responsible for overseeing the old Food Standards Agency and the FSA was one of the first casualties of the incoming Tory-led government in July 2010!
The 'Responsibility Deal'   is little more than a favour to the government's friends in big business. Is it really feasible to expect big business, which makes billions every year by marketing sugary, fatty and unhealthy foods to willingly limit its own profiteering?
In October 2010 the Department of Health records shows that Mr Morgan attended a breakfast meeting with representatives from his old company, Health Mandate.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The breakfast meeting hosted by Mandate was between Mr Morgan and a range of healthcare stakeholders, including several charities, to update them on the government’s NHS plans. He has undertaken similar engagements hosted by other organisations.’
“Mr Morgan’s departmental hospitality records show meetings with other companies and organisations, however, Mandate are the only public relations company logged.
“… Earlier this year leaked emails between Bill Morgan and private healthcare company appeared to show that, Tribal provided the DoH with a list of pro-privatisation GPs to help convince ministers and the public of the need for further NHS privatisation.

Bill Morgan's Dealings with The Private Sector

Pro-reform GPs are a key front in the public relations offensive behind UK health minister Lansley's health and social care bill, which is currently going through parliament. Internal emails obtained by SpinWatch revealed that in December 2010 Morgan was supplied with a list of friendly GPs by Kingsley Manning of leading healthcare consultancy firm Tribal Group. Tribal confirmed it was in discussions with some of the GPs on the list of future lucrative contracts. Manning's email to Morgan said:
“Further to our conversation, please find attached a list of GPs you may want to contact with respect to the launch of Consortia Pathfinders; we haven’t briefed them so somebody would need to talk to them before they were exposed to the press.”
Manning initially claimed that Tribal had “no discussions” with Lansley or his department about helping the government sell its bill. He admitted having dealings with Morgan but denied supplying tame GPs for the government’s spin campaign.
“We certainly wouldn’t do that, we are not in the business of acting as a voice piece for the government. There is significant merit in these reforms. But it is not Tribal’s policy to promote [them] on behalf of the government,” he said.
However, when told his email to Morgan had been released under freedom of information legislation, Manning claimed Morgan had requested the list, which he admitted may contain the names of GP pathfinder consortia with whom Tribal is in commercial discussions. Manning also conceded that the government’s campaign had so far failed to persuade most patients, NHS staff and suppliers of the case for reform. (Powerhouse)

The Tribal Group is a consulting business, which describes itself as "focused on improving the delivery of public services."
It operates in the UK "in partnership with a wide range of organisations across the public sector, including government departments and agencies; the NHS, strategic health authorities, primary care trusts and health providers; schools, colleges and universities; and local authorities." It also operates in 65 countries around the world.
In August 2010, Tribal's shares shot up after talk of a takeover came to light. In the longer term, Tribal was tipped to be one of the winners from government cuts, with the public sector turning to the company for advice on how to reduce costs. It sold its health and government business to rivals Capita for £15.87m in April 2011

"Denationalisation of health care"

In 2010 Tribal Newchurch saw a major opportunity in providing infrastructure for new general practice (GP) consortiums. These consortia are a key proposal of the UK Coalition government's 2010 Health White Paper. The plans would see GPs being handed a £80 billion annual commissioning budget, a policy that has been labelled the "most revolutionary" change in the NHS since it was created.There are fears that the private sector will be invited to take over if consortia slip up.
In a press release outlining Tribal's response to the government's proposals and their implications,Tribal Newchurch's director of business development, Kingsley Manning, said:
"This white paper could amount to the denationalisation of health care services in England... It could result in the biggest transfer of employment out of the public sector since the significant reforms seen in 1980s. As NHS trusts become foundation trusts, this will see the transfer of billions of tax-payers’ assets to employee-controlled businesses... The old certainties are gone: the NHS cannot be protected from economic reality any longer."
However, in an interview published in August 2010, Manning struck a more cautious note commenting on whether the private sector could take over commissioning from GPs entirely: 'It's difficult to see how legislation could ever devolve responsibility for NHS services fully to a private company."
But Tribal - like UnitedHealth UK, HumanaBupa and Aetna UK - are clearly positioning themselves to help GPs commission services: Manning again: "If consortia are going to fly, they have to use the best available technology. We provide services GPs will struggle to replicate." How much Tribal and others can expect to earn from the NHS from helping GPs is still in question: "There is a vital discussion over how much (GP consortia's) management allowance will be," says Mr Manning. "If the management fee is too small it may not be financially viable for companies to provide support."

 "They Are All In It Together"
Tribal has funded the influential think tank Policy Exchange, which was co-founded by Francis Maude MP, who is now Cabinet Office minister, and Nick Boles, who is now a Tory MP for Grantham and worked with Maude to ready Cameron’s policies for government. 
Tribal funded a report by the  Policy Exchange in January 2010 called 'Controlling Public Spending: The NHS in a period of tight funding'. ( The "Policy Exchange" is David Cameron's "favourite" think tank!)

Keeping it in the family
This is not the first time that Lansley has found himself in controversial waters, he has previously been exposed as accepting a £22,000 donation to his constituency office from the Tory donor and hedge fund director John Nash, who is also chairman of Care UK, another private healthcare company which stands to make millions from lucrative NHS contracts under the new reforms. John Nash and his wife have also donated £100,000 to the Tory party coffers.
Andrew Lansley's wife Sally runs a public affairs business which boasts about advising drug and food companies. Sally Low, the managing director of Low Associates, denied being a lobbyist, saying she provided clients with “strategic policy” advice. At a business conference less than two years ago, however, Miss Low gave a lecture on improving lobbying skills, where she advised people to “establish positive relationships with decision-makers before you need their help”.
“Pursue your lobbying internally until you hit a wall,” she added.
Declaring these "activities" in the member's register does exonerate them from being a conflict of interests, which there clearly is with this health secretary. David Cameron said he was going to clean up politics, in fact, he has turned the water from being slightly muddy to outright murky. This government is looking more corrupt with each passing day.

Privatising the NHS

Shortly before Andrew Lansley launched his Health and Social Care NHS reforms bill, Tribal an outsourcing company which has £150 million worth of NHS contracts secretly supplied the Tory government with a list of supposedly "independent" GPs in order to help the Government sell their controversial reform bill to the patients and staff.

Tribal supplied a list of "friendly" GPs to Bill Morgan  who is Andrew Lansley's special adviser. Bill Morgan is a former lobbyist for private health companies and Tribal has confirmed that it has held discussions with some GPs that appear on the list about future lucrative contracts.

These "pro-reform" GPs are a key part in Lansley's plans to sell his health and social care reforms to medical staff and the public. I would like to know if any of the GPs on the list that Tribal supplied Andrew Lansley with are also signatories of the "pro-reforms" letter written by the 56 GPs that was published in the Daily Telegraph?

This following quote and a link to an eleven page dossier written by Tribal appeared on the NHS Alliance website

"Tribal – ‘Liberating the NHS’ – The next turn in the cork screw? An analysis of the Coalition Government’s proposals for health.Tribal’s people are public service specialists with unrivalled expertise, primarily in the education, health and government sectors.They understand the complex challenges faced by public service leaders - and have the skills to come up with the right solutions to address them."

Just how independent is the NHS Alliance?

Access to the ordinary Tribal website can be gained but to gain access to website a user name and a password is required, why such cloak and dagger stuff? What has the NHS Alliance and Tribal have to hide?

Kingsley Manning, business development director for health at Tribal said this in a press release:

"This white paper could amount to the denationalisation of healthcare services in England and is the most important redirection of the NHS in more than a generation, going further than any Secretary of State has gone before."A cornerstone of the white paper's argument for such radical change is the NHS’s comparatively poor outcomes."The old certainties are gone: the NHS cannot be protected from economic reality any longer."

Kingsley Manning wrote to Bill Morgan (Lansley's adviser) in December 2011 attaching a list of GPs sympathetic to the reforms stating that Tribal hadn't be briefed them and suggested that somebody would need to contact them before they were exposed to the press.  In April 2011 this  panicked letter from Conservative Mayor Dr Jonathan Munday was leaked to the press.

Tribal believes that the success or failure of Lansley's reforms rest with gaining the support GPs, which is probably why they are going the extra mile to discover which GPs are for the bill and going to great lengths to see that these GPs are heard and published in the Tory supporting press.

Tribal say of *denationalisation*

Denationalisation: this white paper could result in the biggest transfer of employment out of the public sector since the significant reforms seen in 1980s. As NHS trusts become foundation trusts, this will see the transfer of billions of tax-payers’ assets to employee-controlled businesses.

Not hard to see exactly why Tribal is so keen for these reforms to take place is it? 

Despite the Tories claims to the contrary it would appear that David Cameron, Andrew Lansley and George Osborne have secretly been planning the break-up and privatisation of the NHS for years and as they now have the full support of Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats one can only assume that they too are in favour of full scale privatisation of the NHS.
While in opposition David Cameron famously promised NHS staff there would be no more top-down reorganisation of the NHS, describing its recent history as "like a bowl of alphabetti spaghetti". His commitment was reiterated in the coalition agreement and was widely welcomed by health service staff. At the latest relaunch of his reorganisation plans, he claimed that he was "taking out a huge amount of bureaucracy" from the NHS. Yet after he became PM he has launched the biggest "reorganisation" of the NHS in its entire history and more, he knew he was going to do this when he was blatantly telling us he would not, so he lied and deliberately misled the British people. It is inconceivable that these plans were just hastily drawn up in a couple of weeks, in fact, at the relaunch of the white paper David Cameron got carried away and let it slip that he and Andrew Lansley had been working on these reforms for years! Far from reducing bureaucracy, these Cameron's and Lansley's reforms will introduce FIVE more layers of bureaucracy at the very least and Lansley has accused the BMA of being "politically poisoned"!

Kingsley Manning has publicly denied that Tribal had held "discussions" with Lansley's department about helping the government to sell its bill, he later admitted to having dealings with Morgan but denied supplying "tame GPs" for the government's spin campaign. However, when told his email to Morgan had been released under freedom of information legislation, Manning claimed the special adviser had requested the list, which he admitted may contain the names of GP pathfinder consortia with whom Tribal is in commercial discussions.  The Government have refused  to publish the list of GPs obtained from tribal.

In view of the seriousness of this whole issue and that it involves the entire functioning and position of the NHS, I believe the government not only should publish the names of these GPs but they have a duty to do so. After all it was David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg that made much of the "transparency of government", it is a bout time they stop their obfuscation and practised what they preached.

Do any of the doctors from the NHS Alliance who signed the letter in the Telegraph supporting Lansley's reforms appear on the list of GPs that were given to Andrew Lansley by the outsourcing company Tribal?