"Housemartins. Does have social tenants I am member of pbp not my business funds lots of groups
Please correct your blog".
I'm always prepared to admit when I'm wrong. Ray Woolford contacted me and said:
"Housemartins. Does have social tenants I am member of pbp not my business funds lots of groups
Please correct your blog".
Last night I spoke at the Save New Cross Fire Station public meeting, organised by Lewisham Trades Council. The organisation was perfect, but as expected a small group of “Labour Party haters” dominated.
This group may as well start painting the ‘For Sale’ signs outside both New Cross and Downham fire stations, for their tactics will result in the stations closing. Why? Well it is simple: we are fighting against an organised, well funded and powerful Conservative Party who is using the Liberal Democrats as armour plating in a war against the public sector and its users. The usual bile of “occupation” and “Labour are no better” coupled with the high-pitched “resist” and “why did Labour councillors in Lewisham vote for cuts”, is relevant only for those that want to fail. I am probably the most left wing Labour councillor on Lewisham Council and I have had to make compromises in order to save services. I didn’t want nor liked this but what would be the alternative? They say “we will support our Labour colleagues who refuse to implement Tory cuts” while pushing Labour politicians and activists away at every opportunity.
If we did refuse, the reality is quite uninspiring. While they dream of tank resisting citizens over-throwing the capitalist system, if Lewisham Labour councillors refused to implement cuts, we would simply be moved out of the way for civil servants not connected with their community to cut up the budget on the divisible lines accountants see and not local residents. Is this an excuse – no, is it likely – yes and what would it achieve – nothing. Only central government has the power to steer a different course.
So back to the question of New Cross Fire Station: will I continue to fight to save it, of course I will. Will I attend another public meeting about it: absolutely not. I wanted the meeting to have a few speakers followed by an organising meeting with small groups around a table to come up with a list of actions – the anger, hope, action model. Instead it was another opportunity for the ‘Labour Party haters’ to vomit the usual bile.
Finally, as long as I live I will remember a People Before Profit activist shout me down at a public meeting as follows when he said words to the effect: How dare you say it was the government that broke the miners strike; it was the Labour Party. How dare you blame the Conservative Party! Complete rubbish of course.
At 7pm our time tonight, the head of the Roman Catholic Church will no longer be the “Pope”. Now I am not Catholic, but I am a Christian (Church of England/Methodist). What struck me though was the Pope’s statement that during his eight years as pontiff he said that sometimes God seemed to be sleeping. We can draw parallels in our own country as we are currently suffering under an ever increasingly corrupt, unaccountable and undemocratic government that is persecuting the poorest; those who are working for a living and those who need free healthcare at the point of need to sustain our lives. Is God sleeping or is He watching and writing down which of us speaks for those with no or small voice and those that speak for the powerful voices?
There is no way of knowing, but the attempt to hand our healthcare into the hands of companies who make profit from the sick, force those on housing benefit into fear of losing their homes or forcing them out of a secure home is morally reprehensible. At the very least I hope God is taking notes.
When I was growing up and rebelling against a need for God in my life, I kept thinking about how God could allow the Holocaust to happen. In this case God was not merely sleeping but on secondment to a far flung galaxy. This is probably why I have faith but passionately defend a secular state. No answers are forthcoming why a loving God did not intervene. We must ‘have faith’ seems to be the most common “…and our survey said,” answer.
What I did experience however, was a number of religious experiences. The first concerned heaven and hell. When I lived in Southampton, I used to be very friendly with a number of Baptist Christians. (In fact Baptists endorsed me when I was the Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Leominster in 2005). These friends were plagued by a sense of imperfection that is so strong in Christians who feel guilty about some of their thoughts and deeds. Anyhow, the main problem I had was the question that I and others posed: do good people who do not believe in Christ as the Lord and Saviour go to hell? The response I received was that they do go to hell, as hell is a place without God. What else it is in our minds – namely a place of fire and brimstone – it is a Godless place, so only those who are with God can be with God if you know what I mean.
It took about a year to get an answer but I prayed and God responded by saying very clearly that good people do NOT go to hell if they do not believe in Him. I am not going to explain how I knew God was speaking with me, but trust me he did. (I am not a Bible Basher).
The second was about being gay and a Christian. I prayed and asked God if I could be a Christian and a practising homosexual? I received a very clear answer and that was most definitely yes. Now some fellow Christians may doubt this, but you need to ask yourself have you received an answer from God or is your view guided by your own internal burning prejudices?
So what does this have to do with politics? Well everything. Everyday those that are interested in politics and those who are being “kicked” know what our government is doing to its people without a mandate, while sheltering the rich and the powerful from any harm.
Examples you cry, well how about these:
Bedroom tax, forcing the disabled and those who rely on benefits out of their home;
Reducing council tax benefit – reintroducing the Poll Tax through the back door;
ATOS and telling people who cannot walk they will lose their benefits and will have to work despite missing a limb. See an MPs example: http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2012/10/the-atos-nightmare-gets-worse/
Taking away one of the best healthcare systems in the world (privatisation of the NHS), closing local A&Es, maternity services and lying that people will get better treatment, e.g. Lewisham, Charing Cross and many more;
Reducing the life chances of low income families and the aspirations of the young by creating low quality jobs with no future and massive youth unemployment, not to mention increased tuition fees and getting rid of the EMA;
A huge increase in the number food banks, where 250,000 of our own people cannot afford to feed themselves and that is just those that visit a food bank;
Rising number of people in fuel poverty, £8.5 million while the energy companies make massive profits. Today Centrica (British Gas) profits are up by 11% to £606m while 1.6 million children grow up in fuel poverty;
Destroying the public sector and making hard working tax payers redundant, e.g. meat inspectors. Then as a result of fewer meat inspectors, we get the horsemeat scandal;
Completely wrecking our economy. Hiding behind deficit reduction to dismantle social security (welfare) and divide neighbour from neighbour, the unemployed from the employed and the sick from the healthy. At the same time as increasing the deficit!
I could go on, but you get the picture. So is God sleeping or watching? The Holocaust showed that God may not intervene by being on Channel 4 News or Newsnight but He can work in each one of us, Christian or non-Christian alike to promote the values that religious and non-religious share; the values of our nation:
Faith in society
Social Security for the young and old
Free healthcare at the point of need operating for the public good
Care for our fellow human and non-human beings alike
The hand of God is extended in our own hands to those that we can help but also protect. Our government is a boot that presses down on the majority. Together we can and must push back.
*Secondary legislation under Section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012*
The deadline for writing to the clerk mentioned below is *Monday 25th February* so please write tomorrow or over the weekend if you can. We would be grateful if you also ask your
members and contacts to do the same.
• On 13th February 2013 the Government published the regulations (SI257) under Section 75 of the NHS and Health Care Act 20121
• Assurances were given by ministers during the passage of the Bill
through Parliament that it did not mean the privatisation of the NHS,
that local people would have the final say in who provided their NHS.
• The regulations just published break these promises by creating
requirements for virtually all commissioning done by the National
Commissioning Board (NCB) and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to be
carried out through competitive markets, which will have the effect of
forcing through privatisation regardless of the will of local people.
They contain legal powers for Monitor to enforce the privatisation
spontaneously or at the request of private companies that lost bids.
• They would also make it impossible to fulfil some of the key thrust of
the Francis report recommendations.
This Statutory Instrument (SI) will be going to the Lords Secondary
Legislation Scrutiny Committee on 5th March; this Committee will then
report to the House. If people contact the Clerk of the Committee to
emphasise its importance it will encourage them to look seriously at the
Secondary Legislation and then hopefully report it to the House as
meriting special attention. This in turn helps the tone of the debate on
the SI. The Clerk can be contacted at email@example.com
According to HSJ
"Lawyers working in the NHS told HSJ the regulations could have
wide-reaching implications on the mix of providers of NHS-funded services.
The rules ban “any restrictions on competition that are not necessary”.
They say contracts can only be awarded without tender for “technical
reasons, or reasons connected with the protection of exclusive rights”
or for “reasons of extreme urgency”."
Can you believe they now want to privatise the fire service? How low will they sink?
Sign the petition to say NO
My Tory friend has been using today's report into what happened at the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital to have a go at the 'lefties' and those who dare to criticise the private sector. What happened at Mid-Staffordshire was a disgrace. The pain and suffering of the victims and their families is sickening and no one should defend the management and leadership in the Trust.
However, as I predicted, the Conservative rabid anti-NHS brigade are using today's report as yet more proof that the NHS is not working. Now I do not pretend to know the inner workings of the 21st Century Conservative mind, but what I do know is that they will sink very low to get their end goal - namely an insurance based system with health services provided by any willing provider and more disgustingly, for profit.
To make profit from someone with cancer is not only horrible but uncivilised. To see a dementia patient as a profit or loss entry on a spreadsheet rather than another fellow human being is sickening, However, the Tory mind sinks to such depths in its pursuit of the death of the NHS. They don't want nor like it. Why? It does something that their idealogy cannot tolerate - it treats everyone equally. The NHS makes judgements based on clinical need and not increasing profit margins. It treats us all as worthy of being saved rather than whether we can afford to pay.
Now I am not pretending it is perfect. However the alternative is stepping back in time or to mirror what the Americans are now revising: an insurance based system that supports profit motivated companies to find the slightest excuse to not pay for life saving treatment. This is called declaration of pre-existing conditions. If you do not believe me then look on the internet at stories from across the pond.
While I find Tory policies and proponents guilty of evil thoughts and deeds around this subject, I would have a little bit more respect - just a little - if they did not lie and came out with their goal. Lefties like me know the Health & Social Care Act is breaking-up the NHS, but the Tories and the Lib Dems have no integrity while they pretend they are not privatising and weakening it.
So Mr Cameron, be honest, stop lying and let the people judge this idelology for the pernicious and vile attempt to kill 65 years of progress that it is.
Honor Oak Community Centre - £20,000 has been awarded to the centre for 2013/14 for community development.
Convoys – regrettably the Highways contract was extended for another year. I will be investigation why. There may be good reasons for it, but I hoped for a better outcome.
Time Credits – after a hugely success project in Telegraph Hill, Lewisham Time Credits will be rolled out borough-wide from March 2013. More information can be found by clicking HERE.
Council Tax – I am very pleased that the Mayor agreed to the following charges on the council tax:
· 0% discount for second homes, removing the 10% that we were previously forced to accept by the government;
· 0% discount for empty homes – Class A (an empty property undergoing structural alteration or major repair to make it habitable);
· 0% discount for empty homes – Class C (a substantially empty and unfurnished property), subject to the exception of 100% discount for 4 weeks;
· 150% charge on long term empty properties.
This still needs to be ratified on Wednesday at Full Council, but I am pleased.
Lewisham Homes – the Mayor agreed to pursue the following after the Housing Matters Consultation:
“…that the council works alongside residents, Lewisham Homes and other bodies to better understand how, by retaining but evolving Lewisham Homes – with a view to a possible transfer of ownership to Lewisham Homes as a resident-led organisation – it might attract further investment, increase resident control, deliver residents aspirations and address concerns.”
At the moment there is little appetite for stock transfer and my position has always been clear, in that I will only support such a move if residents want it and where tenants and leaseholders are elected and not appointed to the board.
Cllr Paul Bell, 22nd January, 2013.
Written by LRD - an interesting insight into the Tory privatisation agenda helped by the Lib Dems.
2012 will go down as a cataclysmic year in the history of the health service in England, according to Alex Nunns of the NHS Support Federation. It was the year when the virus of privatisation finally gained control of the cell nucleus of the NHS and began its destruction in earnest.
According to David Cameron, “We will not be selling off the NHS". However,the private sector expects to win £20 billion of business from the NHS, according to the corporate finance adviser Catalyst. Huge slices of the health service are being awarded to the highest bidder. With remarkable speed a few companies — Virgin Care, Serco, Care UK — have secured dominant positions in the market, gobbling up services from Cornwall to Cumbria.
Up to March 2012 Virgin Care did not exist, although it had been operating under another name since 2010. It now runs at least 358 GP practices. Since Virgin took over the Kings Heath Practice in Northampton from the NHS, patients have had to wait up to three weeks for an appointment instead of three days, three GPs have been reduced to one, and three nurses cut to one part-time nurse.
Consolidation is also happening in out-of-hours GP cover. In November, Care UK took over out-of-hours services for up to 15 million people across England by simply buying Harmoni, a company that started as a GP co-operative. The only competition patients see is between their health needs and the profit margin. People in Cornwall know which wins out: an official report in July found the Serco-run out-of hours service in the county was under-staffed and falsified data to meet targets.
The biggest privatisations are taking place in community health services. The government’s “any qualified provider” policy means whole services must be subject to competition, leading to the demise of NHS-run options. Local NHS bodies have already been instructed to outsource 39 types of service. Dubbed the “39 steps to privatisation,” this covers everything from autism care to wheelchair provision. Even publicly provided vasectomies are for the chop.
Many hospital trusts are being pushed to the financial brink by the disastrous legacy of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), under which new hospital building was financed by a deal that is akin to paying by credit card, leaving Trusts with crippling debts to the banks.
This has led to some Trusts literally going bankrupt, such as the South London Healthcare Trust which serves over a million people in three hospitals. Its PFI debts, like a black hole, have sucked in surrounding hospitals and units, like Lewisham’s A&E department which is now facing closure. Patients are left high and dry. As for the Trust, it is to be carved up and offered piece by piece for privatisation, with the familiar names — Virgin, Serco, Care UK and Circle — picking at the remains. In a first for the private sector, in February 2012 Circle took over an entire general hospital at Hinchingbrooke, Cambridgeshire. The hospital has since fallen 19 places in the patient satisfaction rankings and its finances have worsened, forcing Circle to ask for a bailout after just six months. Circle nevertheless vaunts its friendly-sounding business model under which doctors and nurses are given part-ownership of the company. But in this way clinicians are being co-opted into a system where profit, not medical need, is the motivation.
The Daily Mail says: We have the most expensive, least comfortable and most inefficient railway in Europe
Railway Season Ticket Prices
(Source: Daily Mail - 6 February, 2012)
UK - Woking (Surrey) to London, 22 miles, £3,268
FRANCE - Ballancourt-sur-Essone to Paris, 24 miles, £924
GERMANY - Strausberg to Berlin, 21 miles, £705
SPAIN - Collado-Villalba to Madrid, 22 miles, £653
Public Subsidy to Rail Networks as % GDP
The level of public subsidy in France & the UK are virtually the same yet the season ticket price in France is less than a third of for a similar distance in England
NB. Of the above, the UK alone operates a completely privatised rail network.
Since privatisation the level of subsidy provided to UK train operators has TRIPLED
From Think Left...
What Labour and Tories Achieved in Government.
By Sue Jones
WHAT LABOUR ACHIEVED WHEN IN GOVERNMENT
1. Longest period of sustained low inflation since the 60s.
2. Low mortgage rates.
3. Introduced the National Minimum Wage and raised it to £5.52.
4. Over 14,000 more police in England and Wales.
5. Cut overall crime by 32 per cent.
6. Record levels of literacy and numeracy in schools.
7. Young people achieving some of the best ever results at 14, 16, and 18.
8. Funding for every pupil in England has doubled.
9. Employment is at its highest level ever.
10. Written off up to 100 per cent of debt owed by poorest countries.
11. 85,000 more nurses.
12. 32,000 more doctors.
13. Brought back matrons to hospital wards.
14. Devolved power to the Scottish Parliament.
15. Devolved power to the Welsh Assembly.
16. Dads now get paternity leave of 2 weeks for the first time.
17. NHS Direct offering free convenient patient advice.
18. Gift aid was worth £828 million to charities last year.
19. Restored city-wide government to London.
20. Record number of students in higher education.
21. Child benefit up 26 per cent since 1997.
22. Delivered 2,200 Sure Start Children's Centres.
23. Introduced the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
24. £200 winter fuel payment to pensioners & up to £300 for over-80s.
25. On course to exceed our Kyoto target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
26. Restored devolved government to Northern Ireland.
27. Over 36,000 more teachers in England and 274,000 more support staff and teaching assistants.
28. All full time workers now have a right to 24 days paid holiday.
29. A million pensioners lifted out of poverty.
30. 600,000 children lifted out of relative poverty.
31. Introduced child tax credit giving more money to parents.
32. Scrapped Section 28 and introduced Civil Partnerships.
33. Brought over 1 million social homes up to standard.
34. Inpatient waiting lists down by over half a million since 1997.
35. Banned fox hunting.
36. Cleanest rivers, beaches, drinking water and air since before the industrial revolution.
37. Free TV licences for over-75s.
38. Banned fur farming and the testing of cosmetics on animals.
39. Free breast cancer screening for all women aged between 50-70.
40. Free off peak local bus travel for over-60s.
41. New Deal – helped over 1.8 million people into work.
42. Over 3 million child trust funds have been started.
43. Free eye test for over 60s.
44. More than doubled the number of apprenticeships.
45. Free entry to national museums and galleries.
46. Overseas aid budget more than doubled.
47. Heart disease deaths down by 150,000 and cancer deaths down by 50,000.
48. Cut long-term youth unemployment by 75 per cent.
49. Free nursery places for every three and four-year-olds.
50. Free fruit for most four to six-year-olds at school.
51. Gender recognition Act 2004/5
WHAT THE TORIES/LIB DEMS HAVE ACHIEVED WHILE IN GOVERNMENT
1. Introduced unpaid, unlimited workfare for those deemed too sick or disabled to work by their doctor
2. Scrapped crisis loans for the most vulnerable
3. Severely reduced Legal Aid so that equal, fair access to justice is no longer preserved.
4. Increased VAT ensuring the poorest pay proportionately more in tax. Cut top tax rate to 45% giving millionaires a £40000 pa tax windfall.
5. Legalised state surveillance of all personal internet traffic.
6. Planning to curtail human rights, guaranteed by membership of the EU. That is in their Program for Government, and has been planned from the very start.
7. Introduced charges for Child Support Agency, so that vulnerable single parents have to pay to get maintainance from absent fathers, for their children.
8. Introduced Poll tax, and now are to introduce the same unfair Council Tax Bill, , sneaked in via the Localism Bill. The poorest will pay the most.
9. Sold off the publically owned and publically funded NHS to their sponsors and donors, and to Companies that many of them have financial interests in. Despite promises not to.
10. Sold off most of the Council housing stock, under Thatcher
11. Rationed access to Health Services, to the detriment of patients, Closed A and E's and the out of hours and walk in surgeries set up by Labour.
12. Halved Support for disabled children
Scrapped the "Youth Premium" for the most profoundly disabled children
13. Closed 250 Sure start centres, 124 of those closed in the first year of the Coalition.
14. Cut housing support for disabled people
15. Reduced contributions based ESA eligibility to just one year. This means many people living in households with other income lose their benefit
16. Cut Council budgets so they can no longer provide social care for some of the most vulnerable people
17. Introduced PIP to replace DLA, with the aim of cutting 500,000 vulnerable people from the figures any assessments
18. Cut all benefit support for sick and disabled people appealing their ESA decisions from April 2013
19. Persistently lied to the public about Work Capability Assessments and failed to address the fact they are unfit for purpose while disabled people suffer and die.
20. Introduced targets - 7 out of 8 ESA claimants to lose their ESA, regardless of their significant illness and disabilities, which has meant even cancer patients have had to go to the job centre to look for work
21. Encouraged hate crime by using the "scrounger" and Nazi "burden on the State" style propaganda in speeches and in the media about the sick and disabled, and the unemployed , fed politicised press releases to the Media
22. Introduced "monitoring" of the BBC, and other media , for "left wing bias"
23. Lied about benefit fraud rates, and failed to apologise when they were rumbled.
24. Closing Remploy factories, throwing over 1500 working disabled people on the scrapheap
25. Fostering a divisive nation by using ideology of hate - low paid workers are set against benefit claimants, for example, in the speech about "making work pay", which was simply a front for cutting welfare provision.
26. Cut respite care
27. Suggesting in PIP that a sick or disabled person can "bathe" if they can wash above the waist only
28. Re-classified paraplegics as "fully mobile" if they use their wheelchairs too well
29. Lying about Workfare repeatedly to the press
30. Falsifying internet documents and issuing press releases to make workfare look successful when it's a corrupt sham
31. Reduced employment , workers pay, and workers rights.
32. Fostered a Nation that prioritises profits over basic human needs
33. Generated more wealth for the very wealthy, and forced many others into destitution, bleak poverty and 60% of those using food banks are in work.
34. Given away a billion pounds of our assets in the form of schools, gifted to private corporations, in the name of academies, with the associated half a billion in legal costs paid out of our taxes. Sold off school playing fields.
35. Deliberately sabotaged the economy to profit a few, whilst inflicting austerity,misery and poverty on many many others, because of a Tory ideological drive to dismantle welfare, and any other form of State support.
36. Increased student fees to be 3 times more than they were, despite promises not to. This means that access to higher education is closing off for many ordinary young people.
37. Between 32 and 73 deaths of sick and disabled people as a consequence of "reform", despite denial that is so, the Government have nonetheless refused to monitor and account for the deaths of those Atos has declared for to work, and those awaiting appeal.