Thursday, 8 January 2015

Liberal Democrat NHS Betrayal

The Conservatives promised before the 2010 general election not to impose a top-down reorganisation of the NHS. What followed was one of the most fundamental NHS reorganisations yet envisaged, which generated especially widespread "opprobrium" (quote from Wikipedia). This Path to Privatisation was achieved with the active help and support of the Liberal Democrats and by building on the privatisation started under New Labour. (Remember the great PFI scandals?) Now more than a third of doctors on the new clinical commissioning groups have links with private health-care companies. The Liberal Democrats in government have become notorious for reneging on their manifesto promises. Whilst their disgraceful volte-face on both tuition fees and electoral reform are well known, it is their betrayal of the NHS that is most unforgiveable in my opinion. The Liberal Democrats pledged to "cut NHS centralised targets and bureaucracy" and improve waiting times (Lib Dem Manifesto 2010). We now know the exact opposite has happened, with Accident and Emergency departments across the country crumbling after the coalition government, including the Liberal Democrats, reduced their funding to just one third of what they need. NHS England (created as part of this mammoth reorganisation) reports that it missed its four-hour waiting-limit target by 2.4% for the last quarter of 2014. The money wasted on this reorganisation, along with direct cuts in the Accident and Emergency budget, has led to 133,000 people waiting more than four hours and NHS performance dropping to its worst level for a decade. Now here is a pledge that will not be broken. The Green Party will take the NHS back into public ownership and ensure it is adequately funded. This means an extra £8bn by 2020, funded in part by cancelling Trident. Here are some of the Green Party health policies: The Party will continue to support the principle that the NHS is a national service, free at the point of entry and fully funded by taxation. Opposition to third-way health reform, so we actively oppose and seek to reverse any public-service health-policy reforms that lead to: • a two- or multi-tier health service with uneven standards and service provision, • further disconnection of the service from public accountability – via local, regional or national government, • the undermining of a fully integrated NHS, publicly funded and committed to high-quality universal provision with free services at the point of use, or • creeping privatisation. What can you do to campaign to keep the NHS public? Join the national events in February 2015, which can be found easily on the Keep Our NHS Public website I also recommend you read NHS SOS, available from the publishers, One World. Proceeds from NHS SOS will go to Keep Our NHS Public. The May 2015 election will be vital in deciding the future of the NHS. NHS SOS shows that the Conservatives (supported by the Lib Dems) clearly wish to privatise the NHS, have already started the process and will continue to do so. They appear to be lining up their friends in private companies for lucrative contracts. The book also highlights Labour’s involvement in privatisation and the Private Finance Initiative. The Green Party is the clear choice if you want to keep the NHS public. “A free health service is a triumphant example of the superiority of the principles of collective action and public initiative against the commercial principle of profit and greed.” Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A Quiet Revolution!

A happy New Year to all our readers! I hope that 2015 will be a good year for you all, a year of positive change! To help achieve this I am proud to have been selected by the Richmond Constituency Green Party as our Parliamentary candidate for 2015. I stood in 2005 and 2010, but this year sees a major change in the fortunes of the Richmond Green Party. Support for the Green Party has never been higher and in 2014 we doubled our membership. I believe that this takes us ahead of the Liberal Democrats. So what change is needed in 2015? I believe that what is needed for good and lasting change is nothing short of a revolution! A peaceful revolution, but a revolution all the same. If elected, Green MPs will call for a Constitutional conference as soon as possible after the election, to look at all aspects of democracy and public administration. For too long have we been governed by an elected dictatorship of public schoolboys, selected via a corrupt system ruled by money and privilege, where the wishes of local people are over-ruled by the vested interests that control all the old political parties. The Labour Party produced Tony Blair who took us into illegal wars and got rich from the aftermath of war. The Tory Party are ruled by a public school elite who ignore local talent and put up one millionaire after another as their candidate, none of whom can claim to have done one solid thing for the Richmond constituency. For instance, they claim to support the Friarage Hospital, but it is Tory legislation that is cutting NHS services and privatising the remainder. The Liberal Democrats just break their promises, like their written pledge to abolish tuition fees. The Green Party will campaign for a Constitutional Commission which will be required to draft a written constitution, oversee and arbitrate the process of decentralisation and take over the functions of the Boundary Commissions and the Electoral Commission. The Constitutional Commission would also be responsible for overseeing the appointment of an independent judiciary. The Commission must be accountable, representative, diverse, aware of practical requirements and grassroots concerns and be independent of Westminster. The Green Party will recommend to the Constitutional Commission that a gradual but complete decentralisation of powers be written into the Constitution; that the Constitution be based on agreed moral principles and that it fully guarantee political rights as well as wider human rights. North Yorkshire County Council is in the process of reducing services to a bare minimum, public transport and the library service being the latest victims of their cuts. In order for councils to be sufficiently legitimate and trustworthy to take on increased responsibility, large-scale electoral reform will be required, along with immediate legislation for citizens' rights. That electoral reform would guarantee that all citizens are represented in local and national government, not just the largest (or richest) minority. Parliament needs to be prepared to surrender many of its traditional powers, and actively assist in the process of decentralisation. To this end, Parliament has a number of key roles to play: first, to devolve functions to more local bodies; second, to lift its hold over councils and enable them to manage their own affairs and third, to work with the Constitutional Commission to meet demands from local Government to take on responsibility for resources and functions that are currently dealt with at too high a level by central Government and increasingly, the private sector. The Constitutional Commission will be responsible for keeping the boundaries and structures of local and regional government under review, taking account of the views of local authorities and residents. The aim should be to move towards structures that better reflect the ecology of the land and the character of local communities and that guarantee better democratic decision-making and the effective provision of public services. Any significant proposed changes to such structures would be subject to a referendum of all residents affected. The result of these policies will be to strip power from the political élite and give it back to local people. This is the revolution I want to see in 2015. If you are sick and tired of the corruption at the heart of Government, then please join the Green Party in calling for real change in 2015. Together we CAN BRING ABOUT A REAL REVOLUTION!