Sunday, July 1, 2012
(1) BY KEN CURRAN - NO LONG TERM VISION
As a layman these days I am no longer in touch with the Social Welfare and Health Services as I was as a Councillor on the Tynemouth County Borough during the late 1950s and the 1960s, nor later as an Area Officer for the National Union of Public Employees (now UNISON) and then as a Councillor for the Sheffield City Council until 1996. During all those years I was closely involved with either the Council Care Services or the National Health Service on a daily basis. I saw many changes, all of them of an organisational nature. There was always the debate over whether the services were over institutionalised. However, in the areas I operated in there was always a consensus in favour of the view that the services should be equally accessible to all. There were limitations to the choices available, as we recognised that in order for the services to remain accessible for everyone some constraints on individual choice was in the public interest. But our consensus about the equality- of-access is now seriously under challenge, although not for the first time. Every time a Tory Government is elected the issue of individual choice is used to prise open the perceived treasure chest of Public Health and Welfare Services so it can be plundered by the Pirates from Private Capital.
The current state of affairs was driven home to me recently when my wife Audrey recently broke her right ankle in two places and was in need of the very services which have now been raided. My wife's experiences seemed to me to be reflected in the contents of this interview which Stuart Hall gave at that time to the Guardian. It was especially relevant to Audrey and myself, as Stuart is another veteran of our generation. He seemed to suggest that the erosion of the concept of the NHS is actually down to the weakness of the Left, in its failure to combat the arguments of "choice" and "individualism". Whilst I accept the fact that the Tories and the Right have no love of services paid for through taxation, there has been a problem with Labour's own revisionists. Instead of facing up to the arguments of the right, they sought to emulate them with their own brand of reforms. Not trying to reject the ideas of the Right, but to adapt them! There was no debate allowed in the Party, to openly examine what the Blairites were proposing.
Stuart Hall in his Guardian article posed a fundamental question as to how the millions of people who had benefitted from the NHS were not out on the streets to defend it. Perhaps the reason is down to the quality of the Leaders and MPs who get selected these days. In an article I wrote before Xmas, I described the content of the 1945 Parliamentary Labour Party and drew a comparison with the kind of person who sits in the Commons today and who still claims to represent the common people of these islands. In the Commons of 1945 over 300 ordinary people became Labour MPs. Many had spent years on the dole, led strikes and other local struggles, and some had even been jailed for their pursuit of their principles. What we have experienced in recent times, tells its own story. Labour MPs sent to jail because they had no principles.
Labour has no long term vision on offer to attract the young, many of whom must be yearning for a messenger who offers them a genuine alternative to the chaos that currently engulfs public and private life.If Labour fails to sort out what it actually stands for before the next General Election, or flounders in its attempt to escape from being seduced by the diseased body of the parliamentary system, then matters will be even more serious. The call not just for parliamentary reform, but for elected Regional Assemblies with similar rights and responsibilities to those of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies could reach storm force. I recently stated that our present form of parliamentary system is no longer fit for purpose. We have huge problems facing our young people. We have problems caring for our elderly, There is the North-South divide. We have skills shortages and housing shortages. All of these issues were there on Labour's watch. Labour failed on each count. We dressed up policies as substance, when they were merely camouflaged mediocrity. Whilst Labour indulged itself in pretending to be something that it was not, they lost their public souls.
In the recent French Elections, the French Socialist Party addressed the question of the excess of the bankers and the rich in general. They triumphed over those with financial power (taking the Presidency and - with other left support - a majority of the seats in the French Assembly) by claiming that it is the Government linked-in with the people who govern and not the Market. Whether they deliver the hopes they have raised, will rest upon the continuing pressure of the democratic forces they have unleashed. Francois Hollande and the French Socialist Party have shown more courage than anything we have yet seen from Ed Miliband and the Labour Party.
(2) BY JON WILLIAMS - LABOUR TROUBLES!
Quoting Victor Meldrew from BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave "I don't believe it!"
This article sums up the calibre of the Labour MPs mentioned who reached Cabinet level without questioning policy. They don't seem to have any morals or principles when it comes to dealing with their own private lives. Do they realise how such activity looks to the wider public. It's a disaster just like the expenses debacle. Certain MPs forget past events all too quickly.
Private companies know how to influence MPs decisions and that is money. Lobbying has become so ingrained into the day to day life of Government it doesn’t seem to be questioned as wrong. Legislation has been discussed but not passed for fear of lost donations. Private money is dictating MP decisions. Government has been taken over by Big Business. Some MPs have become conduits of private companies – where are their scruples?
Government is now the instrument of the “Establishment” – the Upper Classes, Business and Media run our country and it doesn’t matter which party is in power. Social inequality runs amok. Birth and schooling continue to dictate how successful you can be. The only working class voices are the unions and affiliated social organisations. The fear of strikes and disorder has media outlets screaming for the police / army to bring so called justice back on the streets.
Let’s bring the unions back into Labour where their voices can be heard within the upper echelons of the party - not just lip service to get elected. Let’s ignore Refounding Labour and ask the Unions what policies they want??
"David Miliband MP cashed in on NHS privatisation with a £12,500 speech to the financiers behind one of Britain's leading NHS privatisation firms."
"Bridgepoint is a private equity firm. It owns Care UK, which grew to be Britain's biggest supplier of private medical care to the NHS under the last Labour government."
"So Lansley is criticised for getting cash from the wife of a Care UK director, but David Miliband gets £12,500 from Care UK's owners."
"David Miliband's latest high-paid gig shows everything that is wrong with new Labour - it preached about the wonders of the market and then takes money from firms that rip off the health service and squeeze the poor."
"Former Labour health secretary Alan Milburn now works as head of Bridgepoint Capital's European advisory board - an appointment that attracted controversy as he got the job soon after the last Labour government awarded another Bridgepoint-owned firm, Alliance Medical, a major NHS contract."
"This is what cross-party consensus looks like - Tory and Labour ministers sign "indefensible" deals which mean their business friends profit by squeezing the life out of the NHS."