Is the whisper of the People heard through “Democracy” looking down on them? @Corbyn4Leader

Democracy or Philanthropy? How can we combat poverty and injustice?

The Collective Voice of Labour

Think tanks, philanthropists, charities, celebrities  and  lobbyists are shouting from the wings the answers to an impoverished world.  Joseph Rowntree, Barrow  Cadbury, Bill Gates, Russell Brand, Oxfam, and NSPCC are just a few. All these are undoubtedly good deeds and with the best intentions, and yet poverty prevails. We can go on, but where where is the place for charity and philanthropy in a democratic society? Do we have a real democracy at all?  Why is Russell Brand’s voice any more valid or interesting than yours or mine?

 For whom do the rich and powerful  speak, and should they?

When rich people make a decision to spend money on supposed good deeds, they abuse power. The media abuses power. Is charity  a quick fix to alleviate stresses in a crisis? Do they address the injustices or reinforce them? It is a quandary which I have struggled with and blogged about. In a true democracy each vote should be equal. Whoever we elect, it seems that the resultant politicians abuse that power we give them.

Caring deeds are admirable, helping one another out on a day-to-day basis comes naturally, and the spirit of ’45 is something our society needs to recapture. That caring  society is exactly what Thatcher denied existed, and that has been eroded. On the other hand having to depend on charity is degrading and humiliating. I think this is why people become suspicious of one another, and fear anyone who’s different to them. We need to learn to trust again. We need honesty, not smoke and mirrors.

What is wrong with everything is capitalism, competing consumers clambering over one another and anything to get to the top of the pile – whatever that is. To throw crumbs from above (philanthropy) cannot justify the means taken to get there. When we build a society whitch satisfies everyone’s needs, and eliminates poverty, spend time alongside one another we have society. Tony Benn believed in a real democratic movement. He said Labour should say what we mean and mean what we say. Tony Benn encouraged me, and now Jeremy Corbyn stands to encourage new generations and rejuvenate our Labour movement. Jeremy Corbyn also stands apart in that belief. With Greece, where democracy was born, now on its knees, is our species doomed?  

It is the collective voice of Labour which must be heard and formulate policies for Labour – a leader needs to facilitate and encourage this voice to be heard.

Every voice matters, but that does not take away the responsibility for education, and we should use our influence to change minds and put the Labour Party back at the heart of the people.  The party should be formulating policy through a renewed internal democracy. First we must put in place a clear statement of our aims and objectives. These must be SMART and agreed by the party. We should be brave and honest. If we are not, no one else will be.  

Straight talking Labour is what we need to be.

From “In Place of Fear” , Ch.2, Aneurin Bevan (1)

“As we fumble with outworn categories our political vitality is sucked away and we stumble from one situation to another, without chart, without compass, and with the steering wheel lashed to a course we are no longer following. This is the real point of danger for a political party and for the leaders and thinkers who inspire it. For if they are out of touch with reality, the masses are not. Indeed, they are reality. For them their daily work is an escapable imperative. While those who are supposed to be doing the theorising for them are adrift like passengers in an escaped balloon, the workers are tied to reality by the nature of their work. In the absence of clear theoretical guidance, they make empirical adaptions and formulate practical categories. So far as these are incomplete, and therefore unsatisfactory, the first result is a distrust for those who have demonstrably failed them.”

We  failed as destruction and divisions of the Labour Party over the last three decades has left an impotent voice, where Labour politicians  are frightened to speak out in the media or alongside workers taking industrial action against austerity, and  yet continue to  agree with policies cutting public services. Our public services should not be available for breaking up for pickings for profit seekers. It is scandalous that a Labour government supported private finance initiatives breaking up our health and education – echoing the Tories. Is it any wonder people did not back Labour?

This is why we have to recapture a true democratic socialist movement. The Labour Party, and our politicians should stand alongside ordinary people who call for justice on picket lines, and marches.  Together we must defend  human rights, and our  trade unions and fight austerity. We must call for tighter control on banks, oppose TTIP and other supposed “free trade treaties”. We must support renationalisation – of the railways, energy, utilities – and democratic control of money, as a tool. All this is what ordinary people know and call for. Why aren’t our politicians?

Our politicians should not be frightened to stand with us against all these injustices and above all expose the truth about capitalism which is driving the world in a downwards spiral, and to stand up for the collective good for all which can be brought about by socialism.

I am backing Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party, and the people’s democracy.

People’s Fight to save Local Hospital from The Moneymen

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People’s fight to save their local hospital from the Moneymen: Campaign

I know I am not alone in wondering how Labour’s most precious achievement of the NHS is being wrenched away, whilst reassured that my late parents, like the great Aneurin Bevan himself are unaware that their NHS is being sold for profit, by a government without an overall majority. Cameron said, one lie among so many, that the NHS would be safe in their hands. Their mission accomplished, it is a while since we have heard those words, “we’re all in it together.” I fear an old age without an NHS. I fear for my children and my grandchildren. I am not alone.

Can you afford your local private school? Can you afford your local private hospital? Will you have confidence that they can deliver the service and support you need? You are not alone. There are more of us.

Fear is not enough. There is a fight on our hands, and this is class war. There are more of us – united we stand up the stronger, divided, we fall.

General Hospital Privatisation in Weston-super-Mare

Weston-super-Mare is a town in North Somerset with a population of  over 200,000. This was 202,566 according to Census 2011 records,  ( lower than the 2010 Office for National Statistics (ONS) Mid Year Estimates (212,000) for the area.) 20% of Weston’s population is over 65. Housing development has led to rapid growth. Since  1981  North Somerset’s population has increased by  24% and is estimated to be 234,000 by 2021.The town is represented by John Penrose (Conservative MP),  yet there is extreme poverty and deprivation in parts of Weston and poor health.

In terms of the Indices of Deprivation (ID) 2010, North Somerset has 15 areas in the most deprived quartile in the country. All of these areas are in Weston-super-Mare. For the first time in North Somerset we have areas within the most deprived 1% nationally, and the least deprived 1% nationally. This result in North Somerset having the 7th largest inequality gap.

Clearly, we are not all in it together. It has been acknowledged that action is required by the NHS and council to plan services for the predicted growth in the population, particularly in the older age groups. The story is looking very different. Modernisation and expansion in the town led to a new hospital being built in 1986  to replace the Victorian hospital which no longer met the needs of people.  While Bristol is some twenty-three miles away, Taunton is thirty-three. Weston needs its own hospital more than ever today, but rather than invest, and improve, Weston General Hospital now is planned to be sold off – all for profits, and A & E  closed down as too costly. With some of the poorest families in the country, and a higher than average elderly population, this is disastrous for the people of Weston-super-Mare.

Weston-General-Hospital0094

But the people will not take this lying down. The fight is on for the people in Weston-super-Mare. There is an active campaign to save Weston Hospital:

  • Our aim is to protect and promote the principles of the NHS, which have enabled it to provide the world’s most efficient and comprehensive health service for almost 65 years.
  • Those principles are now under threat, as a result of the Coalition government’s fundamental reorganisation programme, and their decision to promote the interests of private health care providers, over the interests of the general public.
  • What local people need to realise is that putting Weston General Hospital ‘up for sale’, is just the start of a process which, unless we challenge it, will lead to us losing more and more local services, and having to travel to Bristol or Taunton for the treatment and care which is currently available here.
  • One in ten A & E units are now under threat nationally, as a massive £20bn is cut from the NHS budget – and many have already closed with devastating results. Statistics show that when people have to travel further for A & E treatment it doesn’t just cause inconvenience, it costs lives. At Newark, in Nottinghamshire, there was a 37% rise in death rates after the local A & E department was closed, and the pattern is being repeated up and down the country.
  • We need to warn Weston residents that there is a real risk that we could lose local children’s and maternity services, and even our A & E department, within the next few years. It ought to be unthinkable that a town with a population and catchment area the size of Weston could face such a fate, but this is what is happening to similar communities all over England.
  • Only 60 miles down the road, Cheltenham’s A & E department already has ‘urgent cases’ redirected to Gloucester between 8pm – 8am, and many local NHS staff there are predicting that it’s only a matter of time before the department is downgraded to a minor injury unit, or closes altogether. Children’s and maternity services there have already been downgraded, as cutbacks start to bite.
  • The first priority now is to ensure that Weston Hospital remains within the NHS – as a sale to a private company will mean that only those health services which make a profit will be retained locally. However, people should understand that whilst merging with another NHS organisation (where patients, not profit, are the priority) is better, it won’t remove the risk of the town’s hospital being significantly scaled down. Whatever happens now, people are going to have to work together and fight, if we are going to retain the services which we all need and rely on.

Weston TUC

ACTION

Unison is holding a public meeting about Weston General on June 29 at Weston-super-Mare Football Club.   Weston-super-Mare  Labour Party is actively campaigning in the area, and has launched a  is  running an on-line campaign.  Please sign the petition. There is a FaceBook group Save our NHS. John Penrose has gone on record saying that he believes the people of Weston will not “care two hoots” who runs Weston Hospital.

While public money and taxes pay out, companies such as Circle could rake in profits. Their priority would be to their shareholders, not to quality patient care. As with other privatised public services, hospitals and care, private over public does not mean better care for patients, it means better profits for the rich. It will lead to a two tier service.
A & E services could be closed, and increased travel in emergencies would increase mortality risk. People will die for profit.. that’s the real ‘bottom line”.
It is well proven that the old line “Private Good:  Public Bad is a fallacy: ( see Public Service: Private Profit, Think Left). As with other privatizations, the government’s strategy is to brainwash people into believing that a service is falling, and private companies, are all out to rescue them like Batman and Robin… on reflection, perhaps “robbing’ is more in line with the truth, simple asset stripping with no care to consequences.
The NHS has said it will not refer patients to a private hospital following a scathing assessment of the chaotic and dangerous conditions that led it to suspend children’s surgery. The Mount Alvernia hospital in Surrey, run by BMI Healthcare, one of Britain’s biggest private healthcare providers, agreed to suspend surgery .. after the damning Care Quality Commission (CQC) report. Care failures cited by the CQC report included a surgeon who operated without gloves in blood-stained shirt sleeves, and a child who was not seen by a paediatrician for seven hours despite their condition deteriorating.
Do you recall Southern Cross’ closure of Care Homes because.. there was no money to be made. Profits are the Priority. Poorly paid staff working for a pittance. Dirty conditions, lack of dignity. Poverty. Care homes closed resulting in homeless, resulting in unnecessary deaths. And for what? So the rich can profit. As if they didn’t have it all already. (See The Ultimate Theft, Think Left).

No, Mr. Penrose (Conservative MP), it’s not that we don’t care “two hoots” for our NHS. While you may have an eye on a ministerial position, you turn your back on ordinary people. They care more than you realise.

The Labour Party has pledged to scrap the NHS market. We will not wait until after the election. We need to stop it now. Please show solidarity, wherever you are, whether that’s in Weston, Nottingham  Mid Staffordshire, Lands’ End or John-o-Groats, it affects us all.
Campaign Updates:

Why I’m Lighting a Candle to the Many

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Tonight I will light a candle to the many

Contribution from Suzanne Kelsey

Hat tip
Prue Plumridge

I appreciate there will always be huge differences of opinion regarding politics and there will be many thousands of people who have attended Margaret Thatcher’s funeral and I am not affected by this. (although I do take offence at the obscene amount of money it is costing during a time of severe austerity) Also many thousands will have watched it at home caught up in the pomp, circumstance and emotion of the occasion, that is obviously their right just as it is my right not to watch it. I cannot be a hypocrite unlike some of her own party who actually stabbed her in the back, which resulted in a very undignified exit from no.10 in 1990.

Therefore I do hope in the same way people will not take offence if I in my own way reminisce on why I do not think Margaret Thatcher left this country in a better state and show my respect to all those who suffered and continue to do so due to the extreme ideologies surrounding Thatcherism. Her death sad as it is for her family, friends and admirers for me has been a salient reminder of how it all started to go wrong and brought to my attention the major difference between compassionate politics and conviction politics.

Clement Attlee and Aneurin Bevan have long been my heroes; they did so much for the working class people of this country that was in desperate straits after two world wars and the great class divide.

Atlee , or Thatcher n

Attlee introduced the welfare state and the NHS, got rid of the horrendous workhouse ethos and made life bearable for countless millions, not just the privileged few, giving them the right to a decent life, equality, freedom from fear and last but not least aspirations. Bevan was a lifelong champion of social justice and spearheaded the establishment of the NHS, the most equitable universal health care system in the world. I was one of those able to benefit from this major change in society, I left home and took up further study and subsequently had a decent, fulfilling profession, unlike my parents who in their working class family could not even afford to attend the grammar school they should have gone to after passing their 11 plus, both leaving school at a very young age.

Attlee+and+Bevan

I am therefore lighting a candle for Atlee and Bevan and all they stood for and which tragically are ultimately being destroyed by Margaret Thatcher’s legacy.

  • A candle in honour of Nelson Mandela who did so much for apartheid and whom Mrs. Thatcher called a ‘grubby terrorist.’
  • A candle for the thousands of innocent people murdered by Pinochet and whom Margaret Thatcher called a champion of freedom, who was later charged with genocide.
  • A candle for the thousands of families and communities who suffered and are still suffering due to the destruction of our 150 coal mines, resulting in the importing of very expensive coal from abroad. We had the safest and most organised mining industry in the world; miners had fought long and hard to get this through their unions. I am sure we can all remember the many stories of colliery disasters in the past. However it was still a challenging and gruelling job and like many I felt so desperately angered about what happened to these hardworking miners.
  • A candle for the many unemployed as manufacturing industries were also closed during Margaret Thatcher’s time resulting in 3.6 million plus citizens ending up on the scrap heap, suffering depression and deprivation with crime and poverty doubling.
  • A candle for the 96 Hillsborough victims whose deaths were not fully investigated during her time.
  • A candle for all of those hardworking people who lost money when banks collapsed and all those suffering now due to the current austerity measures because of bank failures. Financial deregulation that Margaret Thatcher introduced, has turned city institutions into avaricious money pits with their strangle-hold on the lives of ordinary people.
  • A candle to the dead and dying public services and the privatisation for profit that Margaret Thatcher introduced and not forgetting the ensuing corporate greed culture that now exists. These services should be there to benefit the citizens of this country who pay inordinate amounts of varying taxes for such services and should not be allowed to line the pockets of the greedy. Overseas companies are now running many of our services inefficiently and for maximum profit and in which many members of parliament have vested interests.
  • A candle for the thousands who ‘inconveniently’ died after they were found fit to work by Atos, another private overseas company demonising the very sick, some of them my heart buddies. (See Calum’s list if you do not believe me)
  • A candle to the present day draconian measures been undertaken by ‘Thatcherism’ that sees many working families struggling and relying on benefits due to the appalling lack of a living wage, rip off utility prices and astronomical rents. Margaret Thatcher opposed even a minimum wage.
  • A candle to the many homeless and those facing that imminent possibility, due to the bedroom tax as there is a drastic shortage of housing. Margaret Thatcher gerrymandered local authorities by forcing through council house sales which may have been good for the council tenant that could afford them but she prevented councils from spending the money they got from selling the houses to build new ones, in fact spending on social housing dropped by 67%…

These are just a few of the policies that I cannot ever condone, there are many more.

Ultimately there is no doubt in my mind that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer and I like many activists and campaigners are merely striving to make the world a better, safer and fairer place for the many not the few, with their great sense of entitlement. This is what we have fought for for so long and we cannot allow it to be stolen away, we must protect our rights and particularly those who are particularly vulnerable and fall on hard times through no fault of their own, it could happen to any one of us…No, do not celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s death but consolidate and reflecting on where we are heading and remember the famous words of Bevan:

‘‘No longer will wealth be an advantage nor poverty a disadvantage.”

The Labour Party: Aneurin Bevan’s Socialist Ideal or a Cosy Consensus?

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Aneurin Bevan and the Socialist Ideal:

Aneurin Bevan and the Socialist Ideal 

Professor Vernon Bogdanor 

Aneurin Bevan was the leading postwar representative in Britain of the socialist ideal. He is best remembered for the creation of the National Health Service which he regarded as a symbol of applied socialism, a national service free at the point of use and available to all. But, even before he resigned from the postwar Labour government in 1951, this ideal was being eroded.

If Aneurin Bevan had been the Labour leader, or held a more senior ministerial position in government, perhaps we would be living in a different Britain today. He was, as Tony Benn describes him, Labour’s last great teacher. Born in Tredegar, a working class spokesman for socialism, he would be disappointed that the Labour Party did not achieve his ideals. He would be horrified with Thatcherism and Blairite’s Third Way.

Also from Tredegar, Dennis Skinner, has the wit to out manoeuvre David Cameron, as he speaks with truth and passion. Who will be Labour’s next great teacher and inspire the working class once again? Who will satisfy an electorate thirsty for straight talking politics delivering the policies for a people’s recovery? Has the affluent society led the working class to a suffocating apathy? Has capitalism led the working class, like a Pied Piper into a hopeless dead end  cavern?

An impassioned Owen Jones writes of a Cosy Consensus in politics today.

..On the key questions of our time, many senior politicians are at one. They are committed to devastating cuts, differing only on degree and timing. They believe in the supremacy of market economics, including allowing private profiteers to make a fast buck out of our public services. They oppose challenging the supremacy of the City, or making Britain’s booming wealthy pay a significantly higher share of tax. Mission, belief and passion have been stripped from politics so that – even at a time of crisis – it risks becoming a bland managerial contest.

………………………..

Historically, it has been Labour’s role to challenge wealth and power. If its leadership is unable to do so – whether it be through lack of courage or conviction – a vacuum will be left. In such turbulent times, that vacuum will be filled. The cosy consensus of the professionalised political elite may be suffocating, but it is not sustainable. A perceptive eye can notice the cracks and observe that – with a bit of a shove – the whole edifice could shatter.

Today’s electorate knows what this country needs, and is waiting for some straight-talking and policies for a People’s recovery from the damage of a failed Thatcherite experiment. Speak up, Labour. Make the most of this opportunity.  Don’t leave it too late.

Aneurin Bevan and the Socialist Ideal: Gresham College Lecture  Professor Vernon Bogdanor 

Independent: The Cosy Consensus, Owen Jones 

Straight Talking Labour, Think Left 

Parliament of the People, Think Left