Saturday, 29 September 2012

Our real enemy

"Our real enemy is not the ones living in a distant land whose names or policies we don't understand. The real enemy is a system that wages war when it's profitable, the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it's profitable, the Insurance Companies who deny us Health care when it's profitable, the Banks who take away our homes when it's profitable. Our enemies are not several hundred thousands away. They are right here in front of us." - Mike Prysner
He's not wrong you know.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Andy Williams RIP


Why Public healthcare is good

Look what was done in the aftermath of the Second World War, when Britain was a 'bankrupt nation'. strands of Socialism and Christianity, hand in hand, creating the NHS and bringing so much to all.

And now we are in a time of plenty when the concept of 'austerity' touted by the Tory, LibDem and unfortunately Labour spivs is being used to rip apart this unique institution.

It seems we can only weep.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

How much the tax avoiders cost all of us

Says it all really.

Guy Smallman's pictures of the mass protests in Madrid

*Madrid Austerity Demo 25-9-12* - Images by Guy Smallman

Some great photos from Guy Smallman of the protests against Spain's austerity cuts.

The Enemy Within

The Enemy Within: Mi5, Maxwell and the Scargill AffairThe Enemy Within: Mi5, Maxwell and the Scargill Affair by Seumas Milne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Been meaning to read this book since it came out but never got round to it. I really, really wish I'd read it sooner though. It's a book that will change how you view the country that you dwell in, how your thoughts of the benevolence of the state crumble to dust.

How a book that exposes such corruption and malpractice at the heart of government, the state and the establishment didn't create an impetus for massive changes is beyond me. Now even in 2012 we can see and know that such duplicity and subversion by the state continues unabated.

This book has also brought to the front a lot of emotion in me - anger, despair, helplessness yet also a feeling that something has to change.

A must read for anyone interested in freedom, politics, the working class and the role of trades unions.

View all my reviews

Friday, 7 September 2012

Jeremy Hunt and the NHS

Thought I'd expand upon a tweet I made upon learning Jeremy Hunt was to be the new Health Secretary.

So let's have a look at some of Hunt's comments and thoughts on the NHS and medicine.

Back in 2005 he co-authored a publication called 'Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party'. In it Hunt came out with this telling quote:
1. “Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in effect denationalising the provision of health care in Britain.” (Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party, 2005, pg 78)
Then in 2007 he gave us his views on homoeopathy and the NHS with a Parliamentary Early Day Motion:
That this House welcomes the positive contribution made to the health of the nation by the NHS homeopathic hospitals; notes that some six million people use complementary treatments each year; believes that complementary medicine has the potential to offer clinically-effective and cost-effective solutions to common health problems faced by NHS patients, including chronic difficult to treat conditions such as musculoskeletal and other chronic pain, eczema, depression, anxiety and insomnia, allergy, chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome; expresses concern that NHS cuts are threatening the future of these hospitals; and calls on the Government actively to support these valuable national assets.
So cobling the two together I give you the following which I think is a portent of the future of the NHS.

How to make a homoeopathic solution
  • Take the original solution and dilute 1 part solution with 9 parts distilled water
  • Take this new solution and dilute 1 part solution with 9 parts distilled water
  • Repeat until the desired potency is achieved

How to sell off the NHS
  • Take a fully public funded national health service and hand over key services to private capital
  • Take this 'low fat' NHS and hand over critical assets to private capital
  • Take this NHS Lite and dilute with yet more private capital
  • Repeat until the vultures are fed and there's no meat left on the carcass.

When you look at the thoughts of the men and women who created the NHS you can perhaps understand why it's so vehemently hated by the Tories, their lickspittle LibDem co-conspirators and the capitalists.

Aneurin Bevan
Aneurin Bevan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here's Aneurin Bevan on the NHS:
The National Health service and the Welfare State have come to be used as interchangeable terms, and in the mouths of some people as terms of reproach. Why this is so it is not difficult to understand, if you view everything from the angle of a strictly individualistic competitive society. A free health service is pure Socialism and as such it is opposed to the hedonism of capitalist society. —Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear, p106


I used to be in the Labour Party and somehow still reminisce through rose tinted glasses about how we were going to change the world. Mad romantic dreamer that I am. Step forward Ed Miliband to blow away the fog of remembrance to once again bring clear the reality of Her Majesty's Opposition - with a speech designed to placate the City and the financiers, you know, those organisations that elected him. (Note to self - western liberal democracy is not all it's cracked up to be.)

Ed Miliband. („Ed's speech on how we need fund...
Ed Miliband. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So Comrade Ed has made a speech to the City in the City of London. Let's stop here and ask a question or two. Who voted you in Ed? Who are you meant to represent? Who do you answer to? I think in theory it's meant to be the electorate but somehow the world has been turned upside down and the electorate don't really matter that much. Why has Comrade Ed not made a speech in the crap housing estates that governments of all colours seem to forget when investment and maintenance are discussed. Why has Comrade Ed not made a speech to the potential university students who have had that option taken away from them in the name of austerity and higher fees? Why has Comrade Ed not made a speech in front of those who have had their lives ripped apart by the cruelty of those who seek to give a kicking to those who they deem as workshy by their ATOS agents? Why has Comrade Ed not given a speech to those who in need of hospital and medical care who see their NHS handed piecemeal to financiers and shareholders?

I think the reason is that he has nothing to say to them. Nothing that Comrade Ed and his merry band have planned will in any way roll back the brutality of the ConDems. All that he can offer is more of the same - cut-backs, lower wages, rising prices, reduction of social security, lack of commitment to social housing, gulf between rich and poor, handing over the NHS to the private sector, dismantling of workers rights won by the unions. In all of this and more he can offer nothing different except in one way, it will be offered with a smile instead of a toff's sneer.

The reason why these career politicians love to get in front of the rich and powerful is because this is who they represent. The politicians represent capital, the multinationals, the shareholders, the investors, the hedge fund managers, the stockbrokers, the establishment. They don't want to get in front of the electorate, the working woman and man unless it's through the shield of the compliant media. You may have elected them but you are nothing to them.

So in his speech Comrade Ed talks about 'Predistribution'. Ooh, a new word, sounds a bit like 'redistribution' so must be good, eh? No, remember who Comrade Ed is speaking to? Yup, not the great unwashed masses of this nation but the unelected and select few that control the money. He's offering a sop to the voters and increased caviare and champagne to the city.

Let's see from the Lansbury's Dictionary of dodgy political machinations:

Predistribution - A sleight of hand act of enabling the rich to trouser more profit and steal more assets from the people whilst promising to bring more financial equality to a nation. Often used by so called Labour leaders to grease the palms of the wealthy and to prepare themselves for life in the boardrooms and the City after their political career.

Predistribution my arse.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

A meat-free life

A cook sautees onions and peppers.
A cook sautees onions and peppers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Well, it's been about 2 weeks since I gave up eating meat. It's really been no struggle or concern at all, and it shouldn't be - simply not eating meat is perhaps one of the easiest dietary changes you can make.

It also helps with Mrs Lansbury's Lido being meat-free for a year or so now. With sharing the cooking I'm just so used to cooking without meat it's really quite simple. The most awkward thing is having two sons who eat meat, always having to think about how to provide for them. Often they'll have what we have, else I'll cook them something meat-based.

Has going without meat led to any benefits healthwise? Not that I can see - I'm as unfit and lardy now as I was then although I have developed a certain smug glow realising that my decisions mean less cruelty for those doe-eyed animals that used to end up on my plate.

And for the future who knows? I can certainly see myself moving away from fish in meals and I'd certainly like to move away from dairy and eggs but that is a totally different ball game!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The offense of the cross

Aw, diddums, seems that secularists may be so offended by someone wearing, gasp... a cross, that top government lawyers have had to be brought in to offer them the full protection of the law.

According to the Telegraph Christians should 'leave their beliefs at home or get another job'

The background of the situation is the four Christians taking a legal challenge across to the European courts to try to overturn what they see as discriminatory practices against them. There are a number of issues being looked at but the one that interests me the most is that of wearing a cross or crucifix and how that seems to inflammatory as to require government legal input.

Every faith or distinction, religious or not has it's own fundamentalist or it's own Fred Phelps and it seems that the masses of the secularists and humanists have their very own in James Eadie QC. He is reported as saying:
James Eadie QC, acting for the government, told the European court that the refusal to allow an NHS nurse and a British Airways worker to visibly wear a crucifix at work “did not prevent either of them practicing religion in private”, which would be protected by human rights law. 
He argued that that a Christian, or any other religious believer, “under difficulty” is not discriminated against if the choice of “resigning and moving to a different job” is not blocked. “The option remains open to them,” he said.
Government lawyers also told the Strasbourg court that wearing a cross is not a “generally recognised” act of Christian worship and is not required by scripture.
I can agree that there may be health and safety reasons with wearing a cross on a chain for some types of work, indeed my own type of work means I would be negligent if I did as I work with machinery and rotating equipment. But when you start to bar a symbol of Christian faith exclusively of other faiths then I think you are straying into dangerous waters. It is true that the wearing of a cross is not a "generally recognised” act of Christian worship and is not required by scripture. Neither is a Muslim headscarf and I expect the government's legal beagles will back pedal rapidly should this factor raise it's head.

We often hear calls along the lines of 'separation of church and state' from those who define themselves primarily by the secularist or humanist labels and I would generally agree. But I would also call for a 'separation of church from state'.

If I was a self-defined secularist or a humanist then I would be feeling pretty sheepish now. To think that I could be so offended by a piece of metal and needed the protection of the government to make me sleep easily at night..

Perhaps Paul was onto something?