Category Archives: NHS
Mure Dickie in the Financial Times writes about the favourite to become the party’s next Scottish leader, Richard Leonard, who is regarded by Ladbrokes as the clear favourite to defeat Anas Sarwar.
Richard believes that a leftwing vision of greater economic planning, support for indigenous industry and redistribution of wealth could propel Labour into power in Scotland in just four years, as there is growing discontent with the SNP’s record in government since 2007.
Labour’s better than expected result in Scotland in this year’s general election showed that Mr Corbyn’s manifesto of extending public ownership, redistributing wealth and power, and reversing austerity resonated in Scotland, Leonard said.
He added that Scotland should use its devolved powers to greater economic effect, including giving trade unions a much greater influence over government efforts to develop workforce skills. Sectors such as renewable energy showed Scottish industry was not getting enough benefit from state support and investment, with big overseas-owned utilities dictating the terms of construction and operation: “I want to make the argument for less reliance on the market and a bit more planning in the economy”.
He suggested that Scotland’s ageing population requires a shift away from commercial and non-profit care provision on a scale akin to the creation of the National Health Service in the 1940s. “Personally I would prefer a socialised system in the public sector,” he said.
Mr Leonard, who won a regional list seat in the Scottish parliament only last year, is keen to find ways to promote employee ownership of companies, suggesting staff could be given the right to buy an enterprise when it is put up for sale, go through a succession or facing closure: “I want to see . . . whether we can look at the structures of the economy so that we are less prone to predatory takeovers”.
Britain’s next Prime Minister could be a 70-year old former winner of Beard of the Year who’s become a hit with young voters. Steve Beauchampé assesses Jeremy Corbyn’s chances.
My only surprise is that anyone was surprised. From the moment Jeremy Corbyn received sufficient nominations to qualify as a candidate in the Labour Party leadership contest, it was clear that here was someone who could articulate and represent the opinions of a considerable number of left leaning voters, both within the Labour Party and without. After two decades of Blairites, Blair lites and the worthy but unelectable Ed Milliband, Labour voters were being offered the choice of more Blair/Brown in the form of either Yvette Cooper or the unspeakably vapid Liz Kendall (strategy: ‘the Tories won the last two elections, so let’s adopt policies that are indistinguishable from theirs’) or decent, honest and likeable Andy Burnham, a slightly more radical version of Ed Milliband but without the geeky visage and voice.
That Corbyn has forged a sizeable and potentially decisive lead over his rivals under Labour’s new ‘one member one vote’ electoral system has caused a mixture of consternation and outrage amongst many of the party’s grandees (most of whom are backing either Cooper or Kendall) and demonstrates how disconnected with a large section of potential Labour voters they have become (the more so with opinion polls placing Burnham second). Meanwhile Corbyn, demonised and subjected to vitriolic attacks by some within his own party, and inaccurately dismissed as a 1980s throwback from the hard left of the political spectrum by Tories and most sections of the media, has fended off both the criticism and caricatures with ease, as befits a man with decades of experience of being outwith the political zeitgeist.
However, following several weeks of lazy, ignorant mis-characterisation of him across the press (not least by the BBC), a realisation finally seems to be dawning amongst the more thoughtful political commentators and scribes that Jeremy Corbyn is no joke candidate, no passing fad, but is instead a serious politician, and one with an agenda appealing to many voters previously disengaged from party politics. No cartoon firebrand Marxist he but a man of conviction and humility with a track record of being on the right side of the argument years before those in the ‘mainstream’ adopted the policies he espoused (Corbyn opposed Britain’s arming of Saddam Hussein in the late 1980s, supported Nelson Mandela and the ANC when the British Government was helping South Africa’s apartheid regime, held talks with the IRA nearly a decade or more before the Major and Blair governments did likewise, campaigned for gay rights when it was unfashionable to do so and voted against the invasion of Iraq in 2003).
And just as in Scotland, where the rise of the SNP, under the charismatic leaderships of first Alec Salmond and now Nicola Sturgeon, have helped invigorate politics, particularly amongst the young, so Corbyn’s leadership hustings have been passionate and at times electrifying affairs, populated by a sizeable number of youthful voters. A victory for Corbyn on September 12th could energise and transform British politics, providing a narrative with which a substantial number of the electorate – many of whom currently feel disenfranchised and perhaps don’t even bother to vote – can feel comfortable and might coalesce around. Because, with every media appearance, every public speaking engagement, all but the most politically jaundiced can see that Jeremy Corbyn is at least a man of integrity, putting an argument that has long been absent from mainstream British politics. Agree with him or not, but here is a politician to be respected and reckoned with, who is shifting the terms of the debate.
Thus those in the Conservative Party and its media cheerleaders who view a Corbyn victory as almost a guarantee of a third term in office may be in for a shock. Because, whilst the opprobrium directed at Corbyn from his opponents both outside and inside the Labour Party will only intensify if he becomes Labour leader, with a coherent and plausible genuine alternative to the Cameron/Osborne ideology and its attendant relentless tacking to the right of what constitutes the political centre ground, the Conservative’s agenda will be thrown into sharper definition in a way that a Labour Party offering merely a less extreme alternative to the Tories never can.
So could Jeremy Corbyn win a general election for Labour and become Prime Minister? Well, despite his current sizeable lead in opinion polls Corbyn’s campaign could be scuppered by Labour’s second preference voting system, whereby the second choices of the lowest ranked candidate (who drops out) are added to the cumulative totals of those remaining, this procedure being repeated until one candidate has over half of the votes cast, a system expected to benefit Burnham or Cooper the most.
If Corbyn can overcome that hurdle, and any subsequent move to oust him from the New Labour wing of the party, then don’t write Jeremy Corbyn off for Prime Minister. Few of life’s earthquake moments are ever foretold and by May 2020 who knows how bloodied and riven the Conservatives might be following the forthcoming EU referendum. Public appetite for the Tories and in particular George Osborne might have waned after two terms and ten years (and barely a quarter of the eligible electorate voted for them in 2015), with the Conservatives needing only to lose eight seats for there to be hung parliament. So a Corbyn prime ministership is not out of the question.
Perhaps the most likely – and intriguing – scenario to that coming to pass would be a coalition between a Corbyn-led Labour, the Liberal Democrats under the auspices of social democrat leftie Tim Farron, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens. Now that really would scare the Daily Mail readers!
August 5th 2015
Jeremy Corbyn’s policies include:
Re-introduction of a top rate 50% income tax
Tighter regulation of banks and the financial sector to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis (George Osborne is currently proposing to loosen these controls)
Substantial increase in the number of affordable homes being built
Re-introduction of rent controls to reduce the amount the state pays to private landlords
Support for Britain’s manufacturers rather than the financial services sector
The establishment of a National Investment Bank to pay for major public infrastructure programmes such as house building, improved rail, renewable energy projects and super fast broadband
The minimum wage to apply to apprentices
Removing all elements of privatisation from the NHS
Taking the railways, gas, water and electricity back into public ownership
Bringing Free Schools and Academies under the direct control of local authorities
Budget deficit reduction, but at a slower rate than that currently proposed
Scrapping Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent (Trident)
Support for significant devolution of power from London and opposition to unless voted for in a referendum
An elected second chamber
On the EU referendum, Corbyn has said that he is likely to vote to stay in, and then fight for change from inside.
Inside story: Corbyn’s campaign – the political shock of a generation
With thanks to the reader who sent this link.
Kate Hudson observes that the outcome of the general election marks a significant shake-up in British politics and a surge in support for qualitatively different policies:
“It is clear that the narrative of investment in homes, health, education and jobs, has been very popular. In fact, it has led to Labour’s first increase in seats since 1997 and its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945”.
She views the election as a significant shift towards the politics of hope, peace, inclusivity, justice and equality.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s long – standing opposition to nuclear weapons, and his personal opposition to Trident replacement, did not deter millions of people from voting for him. Indeed the likelihood is that many – particularly young people – have voted for him precisely because he opposes war, intervention and weapons of mass destruction.
“Support for Trident replacement is negligible amongst the younger generation and it is clear that the narrative of investment in homes, health, education and jobs, has been very popular. In fact, it has led to Labour’s first increase in seats since 1997 and its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945”.
The right wing of the Labour Party, and a small but powerful section of the trade union movement, have ‘peddled the myth’ that Labour needs to look ‘strong on defence’ to win – and that this means supporting Trident replacement.
But, Kate believes, support for the party has surged because it has a radical vision of a different society, and because everyone knows that Jeremy Corbyn does not support Trident replacement. When he first became leader, he commissioned an extensive Defence Review throughout the Labour Party. That review has been shelved – because it showed the extent of anti-Trident opinion within the party?
She calls for that review to be published and debated at the next Labour Party conference: “This issue must not be kept off the agenda any longer”. There is no popular mandate for a Tory security policy, or a Tory-lite security policy pushed on the Labour party by a minority of pro-nuclear forces that are living in the past. Those trade unions that have put unreasonable pressure on Jeremy to keep Trident are urged to change:
“The way for them to secure and extend high quality, well-paid jobs is to support Jeremy’s policy on defence diversification. Rather than shunning this initiative they need to work with politicians and industry to develop a diversification plan, as part of a national industrial strategy that will secure their jobs without holding the rest of the country over a nuclear barrel”.
As she points out, there is now strong public backing for industrial planning and investment and this needs to go into sustainable industrial production to meet public needs, for energy, housing and public resources, not weapons of mass destruction.
Labour’s support has grown because of Corbyn’s policies based on peace, respect and our shared humanity. And this vision goes beyond national boundaries to his vision of how we relate to the rest of the world. No longer Blair’s ‘war-fighting nation’, ‘punching above its weight’, but a decent part of a shared community of nations.
Read her article here: http://www.cnduk.org/images/stories/Summer_2017.pdf
Kate Hudson, British political activist and academic, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)
An emboldened Conservative government would indeed be good news for ‘Strong and Stable’ funeral directors, as:
- air pollution continues unabated,
- the health service deteriorates,
- the incidence of adult depression and mental illness in children grows apace
- ‘moral fibre’ rots: latest indication:10,000 Britons signed up to one of the world’s largest paedophile internet networks
- and others are debt-ridden due to the daily onslaught of consumerist advertising,
- sedated by inane, often BBC-provided TV quiz shows
- or led astray by a violent TV/online diet.
Tom Young says May’s ‘Strong and Stable Government’: (is) More Than a Tagline – indeed it is and a Conservative stabilisation unit would, in future, see an increasingly heavy workload.
New claimants with a disability have just been hit by a £30 a week cut in benefits to save the government £1bn over four years even though their living costs are higher because of the need for assisted travel, hospital appointments, extra heating, etc., and they are likely to take far longer to find a job.
A friend who intends to vote Labour writes of his issue with the Labour message: “it remains too rooted in struggle and injustice, and not enough in giving people a reason to vote if they don’t suffer or struggle”.
But many well-placed voters are deeply concerned when seeing others in difficulties. And a far larger swathe of the population is struggling than he seems to think:
- graduates in formerly secure jobs are being made redundant,
- people in their twenties and twenties now see no option but to live with their parents,
- many people are suffering from urban air pollution and miserable traffic congestion,
- education cuts will affect their children as the Public Accounts Committee has warned,
- in some areas people in need of healthcare are affected by a declining NHS service.
- mental illness, no doubt in part due to one of more of these factors, is rising rapidly in both children and adults.
Professor Prem Sikka sees the positive, constructive Labour message; U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn plans:
- to raise corporation tax by more than a third over the next three years and plough the £6bn proceeds into schools and universities,
- restore maintenance grants for the poorest students,
- abolish university tuition fees
- guarantee that five, six and seven-year olds will not be taught in classes of more than 30.
- creating a National Education Service to equip Britain’s workers for the post-Brexit economy,
- extend free adult education to allow workers to upgrade their skills,
- raise the cap on NHS wages, and
- to build up to a million new homes, many of them council houses.
If ‘the sums don’t add up’, a standard Conservative knee-jerk reaction:
Withdraw subsidies from fossil fuel & nuclear companies and arms exporters, jettison HS2 and redirect investment to improving rail and waterway transport links.
Sikka rightly ends: People are our biggest asset and only they can build a nation. We have a choice: Tax cuts for the rich or investment in our future to enable people to realise their potential.
(Links & bracketed content added)
Natalie Bennett, writing in the FT, expresses disappointment that unnamed Labour “colleagues” of shadow business secretary Clive Lewis have joined the FT’s arch anti-Corbynite Jim Pickard (despite his ‘neutral not hostile’ Twitter profile) in criticising his statement about the privatisation of public services and assets. (FT January 11).
That reflects the views of many millions of Britons who have seen public services handed over to be managed for private profit, an approach built on cutting the quality of services, eating away at the pay and conditions of workers, and shovelling public money into private hands.
As she says: “Across the country, the privatisation of our NHS, with the importation of the failed US healthcare system with for-profit providers, is causing disquiet”.
At risk also, Ms Bennett continues, is “The vital purpose of the Green Investment Bank, to fund the infrastructure we need for an affordable, secure energy future, replaced with asset-stripping”. (Note the parliamentary debate here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-01-11/debates/C92ACCCC-380F-4277-87FC-D42B2B7B0443/GreenInvestmentBank)
Natalie ends: “We have a mixed economy in which the private sector plays many critical roles, but for-profit businesses have no rightful place in running public services”.
Natalie Bennett is the Prospective Green Party candidate for Sheffield Central, Sheffield, S Yorks,
First published on the West Midlands New Economics Group
Much of the media is taking its usual stance referring to Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘handlers’ as though he were a pit bull terrier. The Times has determined that ‘a bid to relaunch his leadership’ has been ‘derailed’ and Jim Pickard in the FT, author of many articles depreciating Mr Corbyn, focusses on pay caps but not pay ratios.
It is good to turn to sane and rightminded commentators such as Peter Burgess (Times comments) and Maisie Carter (recent article). Peter spells out the Corbyn message with absolute clarity and rather more bluntly than JC:
- It is very clear he wants top execs pay to reflect that of the lowest paid worker for them to earn more and not rely on tax payers to boost their salaries and for the top execs to earn a decent salary but nor one that is obscene (sadly so many Tories want to see the poor get poorer and the rich richer).
- He also wants to ensure that we continue to bring in workers when needed but ensure they don’t depress wages for British workers.
- Of course those at the top getting obscene salaries want to disgrace Corbyn because the last thing they want is for their salaries to fall under £500,000 a year.
- There’s big and there’s obscene especially when they are telling others to tighten their belts, can’t afford to pay you more then handing themselves 7 and 8 figure salaries and bonuses.
- What shows double standards are all those commenting on here who think salaries of over £100,000 a year are too much if somebody is running the NHS, a local authority or running a Union.
- I do find it difficult to understand how anybody can find the policies which have allowed so many workers to have their wages and working conditions deteriorate whilst CEO’s are paying themselves up to 700x the salary of their employees as being fair and something they’d support.
- I would add that labour to their shame played an important part in allowing these obscene differentials since Maggie was in office. Some of them thought £500,000 a year for them and their friends was not enough.
- Yes Corbyn needs to keep shaming all those, including some labour MP’s who’ve happily supported the policy of “austerity” that have hit the poorest whilst allowing the richest to continue to get richer.
- I’d support a return to the differentials back in the days of Maggie. Top execs back then were hardly struggling. 20x / 30x acceptable 700x isn’t!
Endnote: Maisie Carter’s appeal
“Unite around Jeremy Corbyn’s ten point programme, which proposes the building of one million homes in five years, a free national education service, a secure, publicly provided NHS, with an end to health privatisation, full employment, an end to zero hours contracts, security at work, action to secure an equal society, a progressive tax system, shrink the gap between highest and lowest paid; aim to put conflict resolution and human rights at the heart of foreign policy. On the last point, as the wars waged or aided by the West are the cause of mass immigration, we must step up foreign aid and instead of spending £37bn a year on foreign wars as our government does, invest in helping to rebuild these war torn countries”.
Read Maisie’s article in full here.
Today in the Financial Times, Essex Labour MP Jon Cruddas did his very feeble best to dsicredit Corbyn supporters and extol the ‘moderate’, Tory-lite wing of the party, adding: “For those of us who believe that a broad-based Labour party has been a blessing to our country, this is a time of great peril”.
The post-war Labour Party was indeed a blessing, but recent administrations, in and out of power, have totally failed to consider the well-being of those Cruddas himself calls “a dispossessed, abandoned and often despised tribe that created the party in the first place”.
The Electoral Reform Services Labour Party NEC ballot papers have been sent out and at first the writer, recognising only one name on the sheet felt unable to choose. Reading through the accounts however it was easy to spot the six loyal and constructive candidates.
Amanat Gul opens: “Professionally I am a doctor and would say I share compassion which is why I have a deep interest in politics. In my view, the Labour Party’s ethos of fairness, equality and social justice is embedded in the values I hold. I joined the Labour Party in 1985 when I was living in Norway, and continued my membership when I moved to the UK.
Currently, I hold the position of ward organiser at my CLP and the election coordinator in my ward in Birmingham. I support Jeremy Corbyn as the politics he brings, I can relate to as my own. There is a need for the Labour Party to set a vision based on fairness, compassion and integrity to pave the way to win the next General Election.
I believe my work as a doctor would support such compassionate politics”.
Christine Shawcroft includes in an online version: “As a proud supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, I have campaigned for many years for the true Labour values of public ownership, workers’ rights, job creation, affordable housing, decent pensions, and an end to international conflict and weapons of mass destruction. I have raised these issues many times on the NEC and the National Policy Forum. On many occasions, myself and other CLGA delegates, as well as delegates in other sections of the NEC, told Ed Miliband that he needed to take on the Tories over the myth that Labour in Government wrecked the economy. Unfortunately he didn’t listen”. Read on: http://www.labourinternational.net/christine_shawcroft_nomination
Claudia Webbe writes online: “I support Jeremy Corbyn’s clear anti-austerity stance and work to deliver a Labour Government committed to a plan for public investment and jobs that can get the economy growing, so that all can benefit, not just the few. Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership with a huge, overwhelming mandate and I believe our role as ordinary party members is to unite behind this leadership towards ensuring that we win in 2020. I believe the National Executive Committee has a crucial role to play towards ensuring through listening, challenge and debate that we are fit for purpose and ready for power. I would like the opportunity with your help to contribute to that agenda”. Read on: https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/35/claudia-webbe-for-labour-nec
Darren Williams, extract: ”As a committed socialist all my adult life, I was delighted by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader and am proud to say that I was actively involved in his campaign. I first joined Labour in order to work for the creation of a more equal, democratic and sustainable society. At a minimum, I want to see public services provided by the public sector, a more progressive taxation system and government intervention to create jobs and get the economy back on its feet. I want reform of the irresponsible financial sector and the reversal of attacks on our social security system. I believe that most Labour members, supporters and voters share similar aspirations. Yet the last Labour government, despite many positive achievements, strayed too far from authentic Labour values and beliefs – placing undue faith in markets and the private sector, neglecting our historic commitment to equality and embroiling us in two disastrous wars. We lost the confidence of many of our long-standing supporters and the consequence has been electoral defeat and almost six years of the deepest cuts in living memory, undermining the foundations of our welfare state and increasing economic inequality. Jeremy Corbyn’s election reflects the widespread feeling among Labour supporters that the party needs to present a clear political alternative, which could win the confidence and support of all those who oppose Tory ‘austerity’”. Read on: http://www.welshlabourgrassroots.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/DW-NEC-Letter-2016-.pdf
Peter Willsman, extract: “We have a new leader, elected with a huge mandate, who has commitment, integrity and a basic decency that is quite exceptional. I worked with Jeremy in NUPE before he became an MP. I have never met anyone as dedicated. Party members want Jeremy to have a chance to show what he can do. The NEC is united behind Jeremy as he gets to grips with a very difficult job. We all need to work hard to convince every Labour MP that publicly attacking Jeremy in the hostile press and media boosts the Tories and harms our Party – the Party that put them in Parliament and to whom they owe their privileged position”. Read on: http://www.labourinternational.net/pete_willsman-nomination
Rhea Wolfson, extract: “I am running for those Labour supporters throughout Scotland who are looking at a very different electoral situation than the rest of the UK. We need a Labour Party that offers a genuine alternative to the inequality of conservativism and the inertia of nationalism. We must engage with our new and growing membership. The Labour Party must be the exciting alternative that they signed up for and reflect the values of the leader they voted for. Britain needs a strong, united Labour Party that can deliver a confident and credible democratic socialist agenda and a country with fairness and equality at its heart, standing against Tory austerity to improve the lives of working people across borders”. Read on:https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/33/rhea-wolfson-for-labour-nec.
A Daniel come to judgment? Felicity Arbuthnot draws our attention to an article by Tess Finch-Lees, who believes that the Corbyn coup wasn’t staged because Blairites don’t think Jeremy Corbyn could win the next election – it was because they fear he could. She continues:
“A Corbyn win would be an unequivocal endorsement of his progressive Labour and yet another outright rejection of Blair’s right wing New Labour/Thatcherite agenda.
“As chair of the Labour In campaign, Alan Johnson’s line up of pale, male and stale spokespeople failed to inspire.
“Producing the toxic trio though (Blair, Brown and Campbell), was the final nail in the coffin”.
Ten thousand people gathered in Parliament Square last Monday to show Corbyn their support. Amongst them were junior doctors, there to reciprocate the unequivocal support Corbyn showed them during their months of bullying by Jeremy Hunt.
The Blairites determined to oust Corbyn from the outset, even though:
- he won the leadership with a landslide victory;
- the membership rejected their right wing austerity agenda, which lost Labour the last election;
- and rejected the “Tory light” leadership candidates, who failed to vote against proposals to abolish binding child poverty targets, cutting child tax credits, employment allowance and housing benefit for young people.
Tess ends by saying: “When all Labour’s guns should be pointing at the industrial incompetence of the Tory wreckers, the Blairites are plotting to oust their own leader. Someone whom even they agree is an honourable, decent man. They want to replace him with a Teflon Tony or a PR Dave . . . If ever there was a time for principled leaders, like Jeremy Corbyn, it’s now”.
Read the whole article here: