Tag Archives: national health action party

5 Reasons We Need A General Election

NHSpace looks at the arguments for calling a snap general election this autumn.

1 – The Country Dislikes ‘Unelected’ Leaders

When Gordon Brown took over the premiership in 2007, there were moans from the press that he was ‘unelected’. This wasn’t strictly true. Brown had been elected by his constituency, inherited the role of Labour leader from Tony Blair, and had been invited by the Queen to form a government. However, he lacked the mandate that many leaders gain by leading their party through a general election. George Osborne later stated that such leaders lack democratic legitimacy, and William Hague claimed that such leaders are “unacceptable” to the majority of the public. Of course they were talking about Brown; they may not feel the same way when the boot is on the other foot.

2 – Cameron and Johnson Have Abdicated Control

Having lost the EU referendum, David Cameron found himself lacking the legitimacy to continue leading the country. But his Brexit counterpart Boris Johnson has pulled out of the Tory leadership race, apparently knifed in the back by the charmless Michael Gove. The favourite for the leadership is now Theresa May, who backed the Remain campaign. With the options for Tory leader now consisting of Remainers and second-tier Leave figures, the public is unlikely to be happy whatever the result.

3 – There Was No Brexit Manifesto

Despite making a range of promises regarding NHS funding, immigration and the single market, the Leave campaign did not have a formal manifesto. (Since the referendum, they have in fact gone back on several promises and deleted almost all the content from their campaign website.) The manifesto on which the Tories were elected last year also did not detail how they would manage a Brexit vote. Nobody in Westminster has a specific mandate from the public on how to deal with Brexit. The public should now be given a chance to elect MPs based upon their plans to deal with the referendum outcome.

4 – The Country Needs Certainty

The Brexit vote has plunged the country into uncertainty. The country is currently leaderless, nobody is certain if or when Article 50 will be triggered, and the markets have responded by plummeting to historic lows. Without a general election, there will continue to be a lack of strong government, and discontent will continue as the country remains divided by the referendum result.

5 – The Public Want An Election

While most are against the idea of a second EU referendum being called, polls indicate that the majority of the British public want a general election this year. This includes 4 out of 10 Leave voters, some of whom feel they were misled by the Brexit campaign claims.

5 Steps For A New Politics

NHSpace looks at five key steps required to achieve true political reform in the UK.

1: Transparent, Evidence-Based Politics

Decisions made by government are often based on political ideology and are not subject to challenges from outside of the Westminster bubble. The result is a system that puts the needs of the government before the needs of the people. What’s needed is an evidence-based approach to politics, where decision making is supported by expert advice and can be transparently justified to the public, without spin.

2: No More Wasted Votes

Unless your favoured candidate won a seat at the last election, you aren’t truly represented in Parliament. With 50% of votes going to losing candidates in last year’s general election, it’s pretty clear that the First Past The Post system is not fit for purpose. We’d like to see a move towards a proportional voting system, so that the wide range of political opinions in this country can be fairly represented in Parliament.

3: A Cleaner Politics

UK politicians are infamous for indulging in self-centred behaviour, as any reader of Private Eye will no doubt be aware. The expenses scandal in 2009 led to some minor reforms, but many problems remain. MPs are permitted to vote on matters despite having vested interests. Parties take large donations from corporations, then hand privatised services to them. And MPs are still free to pass through the “revolving door”, taking jobs from companies in return for political favours. The system is in dire need of reform.

4: Respect For Public Services

Public services in the UK are currently poorly funded and subject to constant political interference. There is little evidence that perennial reforms to healthcare and education have had any beneficial effect, despite costing billions of taxpayers’ money. We believe that public services should be publicly owned, properly funded, and managed at arm’s length from government, by experts rather than politicians.

5: Economic Reform

Political and economic reform are strongly interdependent. The current political system strongly favours the richest 1% of the population, who in return support the two party system. Deregulation has led to a global financial crash and growing inequality. There is a need for economic reform, including greater regulation of the financial sector and an end to the austerity regime. The party also supports a fair living wage and investment in jobs in public services.

We need democratic reform – urgently

Deborah Harrington gives us her view on the current two party system.

If there are only two parties which can achieve power in the current system then, even if Labour is successful in 2015, we will inevitably revert to a Tory government at a future date. And this need not even be a Tory majority – by forming a coalition with a smaller party, the Tories are willing to lever themselves into power from a minority position. Whenever they do return, they will wreak havoc on the NHS and the Welfare State. The civil service is smaller now than at any time since 1948 and the Tories have sold off 20% of all our public land and assets in the last 4 years. We are running out of things to save.

If the predictions of another market crash in the next couple of years are true and Labour is in government then, as far as the public and the Tory spin machine are concerned, Labour will be held responsible for two successive crashes. That leads to the real possibility of a Tory government being returned in 2020.

The main thrust of much of Labour’s politics at the moment appears to be ‘we’re not the Tories’. That seems to me to be an absolute argument for political reform. Give us a parliament with more Independents, more Greens, SNP and Plaid, to represent the major environmental concerns and devolution/local agenda issues. Let’s have some political presence to really represent the NHS, and Left Unity and TUSC to stand up for the working classes, the unemployed and the disabled. Let’s have a politics where voters feel they can choose the party they agree with, not just the party that ‘isn’t the Tories’.

I would like to vote for a party that has solid core principles. At the moment the Labour Party has substituted ‘compassion’ for social justice. Not the same thing at all. Until – or unless – it regains its senses I hope all left wing voters will opt for getting together behind whichever candidate genuinely best represents their views, regardless of party (although I assume Tory and UKIP are not in the running for those votes in any circumstance whatsoever!).

I shall be thinking of the future when I cast my vote this year, not just about the short term. I hope you do too.

No one puts booby in a corner, Nigel.

Maternity campaigner Jessica Ormerod responds to the UKIP leader’s statement that breastfeeding mothers ought to ‘sit in a corner’.

(Pictured above is Nigel Farage attempting to eat a bacon sandwich – a sight that is infinitely more troublesome than any mother breastfeeding their child.)

When did breastfeeding become such a sensitive issue? It’s not just Nigel Farage who gets a bit hot under the collar at the thought of a bare bosom let alone the thought of a naked nipple. I’m actually quite surprised by the UKIP leader’s prudism when he said that ‘mothers should sit in the corner when they breastfeed’ except that it fits in with a general societal assumption that breastfeeding is only acceptable if it’s not seen and definitely not heard.

And yet, around the globe, breastfeeding is the most common and the most healthy way for mothers to feed their offspring. It’s free at the point of delivery, clean at source and accessible any time, any where, any how. So what on earth is the problem?

Women are instructed by midwives, nurses, doctors, the NCT, that breast is best. FULL STOP. Failure to breastfeed your baby will result in your little bundle not achieving maximum intelligence, reduced emotional development, impaired language skills and, mummy, should you fiddle with the formula or bop with the bottle your place at your local playgroup will be as a social pariah. Get used to the disapproving glare of the motherhood masses.

Breastfeeding is no mean feat. No matter what they say, it is an art that doesn’t always come naturally and experienced support is thin on the ground. Women are given such incredibly differing and conflicting advice that many women cannot help but reach for the bottle as the cry of their baby is much louder than the tutting of the health profession.

So for the 26% of women who are still breastfeeding their young at six weeks you’d think society would give a hearty cheer of congratulations and welcome them to eat, drink and be merry. However, as it turns out, a hearty cheer is the last thing a woman can expect when nursing her new born in public. Despite the fact that most of the time even the most piercing glare won’t notice a baby suckling at the breast while mum chomps on a little dim sum, women are told that if they’re not discreet they will be sent to the loo to feed their baby or asked to don a napkin for fear that a little flesh might be glimpsed. What are people doing in restaurants? Why aren’t they concentrating on their expensive meals or engaged in frightfully absorbing conversation? Why are they looking at random women’s chests in the first place?

It’s very strange that in a country that still prints Page Three and abounds with nearly naked women from lads’ mags such as GQ to family shows like Strictly Come Dancing that we can’t cope with a mum, totally clothed with a baby lying prone across her body, with said baby’s head covering her breast. Even Facebook has got over its coy boycot of breastfeeding mothers. When are the rest of us going to manage it?

Farage: Immigrants Made Me Late For A Meeting

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has gone as far as to blame immigration for his missing a meeting in Wales after heavy traffic on the M4. UKIP’s desperation to blame immigrants for everything gives away their only real election tactic – to create a climate of fear and capitalise on this by promising an authoritarian clamp-down on immigration and civil liberties. One can only wonder how much of UKIP’s transport policy depends solely upon reducing the migrant population.

UKIP are also doing this with the NHS:

Losses due to so-called health tourism are a fraction of one per cent of the NHS budget – a drop in the ocean of underfunding. But it’s a useful lie for UKIP – who want your vote but not to tell you about its own plans to privatise the NHS – and for the government as a smokescreen for its own failings.

The actual cost of people coming to Britain specifically for free healthcare (as opposed to falling ill or having an accident while here on holiday) is estimated to be around £70 million – which is a lot of money, but just 0.06% of the total NHS budget. So even if it the practice was wiped out completely, the NHS underfunding problems would remain. That is the truth.

If you’re waiting for your GP and a person of a different colour goes in before you its easy to think “If they weren’t here, I’d be seen sooner.” If you go to A&E and the people sitting next to you are conversing in a language you don’t understand, it’s easy to feel they must be interlopers. You’re sick, you’re stressed, you’re not thinking straight. But the politicians are thinking straight. They have the facts, they have the figures, but they’d rather play on your fears and anxieties to gain political advantage than own up to where the blame really lies.

So now the government is planning to spend more money checking up on foreign patients than it can ever hope to recover in savings. It costs the NHS, it put more pressure on practitioners, but it’s useful PR in their desperate electoral fight against UKIP. Meanwhile UKIP are rubbing their hands that focusing on immigrants stops voters noticing their preference for privatising the NHS.

“Keep our babies free at the point of delivery”

Maternity campaigner Jessica Ormerod tells us her concerns about the Americanisation of the NHS.

In the USA having a baby is an expensive business. To bring home a new bundle of  joy can cost the doting parents $42,000 – roughly the same as a mid-range car but with a lot more noise, nappies and, however much you might be tempted, you can’t trade it in for an improved model.

At the moment in the UK, our bundles of joy are free at the point of delivery. Bed, board and midwife are all inclusive. But, in a fragmented and privatised service such as the American healthcare system women are not at the centre of care, profit and the bottom-line is. Insurance based systems are perfect breeding grounds for unregulated intervention. Women and their partners are sold ‘maternity packages’ including regular scanning, epidural, even elective caesarian – never mind if these interventions are medically indicated, never mind that research has categorically shown that allowing childbirth to be as normal as possible is best for the mother and baby. And certainly no thought to public health policy which has years of experience and knowledge about serving the health and maternity needs of our population.

Mothers understand the complexity of maternity care. We believe that every woman should have a named midwife and that women be supported in their choice of where to give birth. We want a woman-centred care model that allows midwives to focus on our needs rather than the gruelling bureaucratic process of administration. We demand a compassionate midwife to woman ratio on our postnatal wards and that women are properly cared for in the community by regular postnatal visits at home. We are fighting for the right for every woman to have a free, safe and compassionate maternity service.

You can read more from Jessica Ormerod on the Lewisham Women blog.

Why Abolish Tuition Fees?

Until 1998, there wasn’t such a thing as a fee for going to university. Higher education was free and accessible to all, regardless of economic background. Then things changed.

Although the inquiry into tuition fees was launched by John Major’s Conservative government, it was a Tony Blair’s Labour government that voted to introduce fees of up to £1,000 per year. Future Mayor of London Ken Livingstone reportedly accused Labour of “whipping away a ladder of opportunity which they themselves had climbed”. Labour stated in their 2001 manifesto that they would “not introduce top-up fees”, but in 2004 raised the fee limit to £3,000 per year. And while it was the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats who subsequently raised the limit to £9,000 in 2010, they acted on the findings of a report commissioned by Gordon Brown’s Labour government.

Labour are supposedly promising to cut fees to £6,000 per year, but if Nick Clegg’s previous empty pledge not to raise tuition fees is anything to go by then we shouldn’t hold our breath. Regardless, the National Health Action Party believes that the government should end tuition fees entirely, as has already been done in Scotland and in Germany. But why should we abolish tuition fees? Here are a few reasons:

  • Equal access – if you believed what some Tory candidates have said in the past, then your children apparently need to come from a rich, private school background in order to get a university place. Historically this has been complete nonsense, with a combination of free higher education and grants for poorer students allowing everyone access to university. Now, an Ipsos Mori poll has found that the increase in tuition fees is putting off the majority of students from disadvantaged backgrounds from applying. To have a strong, healthy society, higher education cannot be the preserve of the rich – universities must be accessible to all.
  • The graduate premium – it is often claimed that graduates from university enjoy an overall increase in lifetime earnings of up to £100k, thanks to their increased earning potential. This ‘graduate premium’ is calculated based on various assumptions – that the student spends three years in university and then gets a job commensurate with their degree on leaving university. There are many obvious exceptions, such as medics and vets who spend at least five years at university, and teachers and nurses whose starting salaries may not reflect their level of education. Even for those who enter a high-earning job straight out of university, the graduate premium is already shrinking thanks to rising fees and competition from an ever-growing body of fellow students. Is it really fair to sell students a dream of a better future, then leave them saddled with debts while they struggle as an over-qualified employee of the catering or retail sector?
  • Affordability – as mentioned, fees didn’t exist in the UK until 1998, and Scotland has already done away with them entirely. And believe it or not, it was a conservative government in Germany who abolished fees after only a brief flirtation with the idea of charging. Both countries recognise that free higher education is entirely affordable, and that charging students to go to university is both unfair and deeply unpopular.