Nick Clegg is described as ‘toxic’ on the doorstep which seems about right. He is a very hated figure having abandoned election pledges and supported nasty Tories. The truth is that Nick Clegg has always been a Tory – he was a member of Cambridge Uniersity’s Conservative Association, worked in Leon Brittan’s private office in Brussels (after Leon was relocated by Thatcher under some very nasty – scandalous even – er, alleged circumstances) and is an out-and-out Tory according to the Orange book and his calls to privatise the NHS.
Ed Miliband seems to be adopting a policy of doing nothing to differentiate himself and the Labour Party from the Tories or Liberal-Demonrats Tories in an attempt to preserve his narrow poll margin. He most certainly won’t have my support while he is trying to out-Tory the Tories.
Tens of thousands of people marched through central London on Saturday afternoon in protest at austerity measures introduced by the coalition government. The demonstrators gathered before the Houses of Parliament, where they were addressed by speakers, including comedians Russell Brand and Mark Steel.
An estimated 50,000 people marched from the BBC’s New Broadcasting House in central London to Westminster.
“The people of this building [the House of Commons] generally speaking do not represent us, they represent their friends in big business. It’s time for us to take back our power,” said Brand.
* Plans for this blog include regular updates and ‘monetizing’ (making money from it). I have resisted this but I can’t really see any alternatives. I’m sorry to say that ads are on their way.
[I want it to be absolutely clear that is historical and absolutely not current]
edit: I am pulling attention to Clegg’s past associations. I do not intend to and I consider it unfair to extrapolate to his current associations.#
Further edit: In this context.
Further further edit: This post is about Nick Clegg being associated with Leon Brittan. Nick Clegg worked in Leon Brittan’s office. Nick Clegg has always been a Tory and was a member of Cambridge University Conservative Association.
Nick Clegg is very keen to not be associated with Leon Brittan … but didn’t he work in Leon Brittan’s office?
Is it more than Nick Clegg is a Conservative? I think that (it) is established – he was at (a Conservative at) University and there is the Blue ‘Yellow’ Orange Book.
Leon Brittan. I’m certainly forming the impression that She got a gang of very sexually predatory on young people around her deliberately. I am have also have a very strong impression (or more) that this continued into the Blair years and that it may well be the way of Westminster …
later: Leon Brittan is prominent in Barnes (and Private Eye ;)
Later: Leon Brittan – as Thatcher’s Home Secretary didn’t act against PIE, the Paedophile Information Exchange. I don’t wonder why
edit: it may be worth thinking about how She protected them – there may be a pattern.
2am This may be about Nick Clegg and Leon Brittan.
Nick Clegg was a Tory at university and worked in Leon Brittans’ office afterwards. There’s more to it that that.
Nick Clegg hides the fact that he was a Tory and that he worked in the Tory office of Leon Brittan. Leon Brittan is very so obviously very suspect. FM just leave the kids alone.
Times have changed
er, but that’s no excuse for being a totally nasty bastard
Later: I am available to be employed as a consultant (conditions apply)
Later later: That’s a mistake, no? I did have a blanket last time I was in the cells – but shouldn’t everyone deserve a blanket without scabies and a cup of tea without pubes? Yes, even those protesters. Isn’t the point about democracy is that you can object? I think so. And I hate starting a sentence with and but lets consider the idea of democracy. [edit: I don’t think that makes sense but then it is nearing 3am and I am drunk.]
We have general elections in UK every five years. The problem here is that they make promises, they are elected on the basis of those promises but they don’t then keep those promises.
For example, Cameron said no top down reorganisation of the NHS. He’s totally renaged on his pre-election promise / commitment there. I think that he lied. It’s for you to decide if he lied. But he did.
How are these people different from criminals?
3am The point about protesters/demonstrators is that everyone in a democratic society have and – I think – an absolute right to show their opposition to how they are governed. I think that this is central to a democracy – it’s more than that challenges should be heared and considered. It’s also about being denied any medium of expression apart from demonstrating.
I submit that demonstrations and protests should be facilitated in any democratic society and that it is a legitimate political expressions.
Further: I consider that demonstrations of all political persuasions (should be) are facilitated. Counter-demonstrations should have the same regard for their rights.
edit: I suggest that political expression of all sorts should be facilitated in a democratic society. That includes protest/demonstration and counter protest/demonstration
edit: This post was originally about Nick Clegg and his being a Tory from his University days, and that he served as a Tory in Leon Brittan’s office in URUP (Europe). It should be known that Nick Clegg was a Tory and worked in Leon Brittan’s office but he’s pretending otherwise. That’s a matter of fact that Nick Clegg is hiding.
This post has gone beyond that as they do on my blog. I suggest and submit that the political system in UK should facilitate demonstrations of discontent and such demonstrations should be regarded as an integral part of UK’s democratic system. I submit that protest is a part of any democratic society. It’s a shame and probably to their detriment that governments ignore protests.
Britain is an extreme oddity regarding privatisation: nowhere else in the advanced world is there such a willingness to sell everything that isn’t nailed down. Time and again the British public is ripped off and sold out by its leaders.
A few weeks ago, London was the scene of a heist of spectacular proportions. We may never know the full extent of what was stolen, but the indications are that it was anywhere between £1 billion and an eye-watering £6 billion. Although the robbery was carried out in broad daylight, it is unlikely the money will ever be recovered or the perpetrators brought to justice. This is because they were sitting in some of the world’s largest financial institutions – Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Bank of America and UBS – and acting on behalf of the British government.
Their instrument was the undervaluation of shares in Royal Mail, which with the initial public offering immediately soared from 330p to above 500p. The company was sold at £3.3 billion but in J.P. Morgan’s estimation the real value may have been as high as £10 billion. No wonder the IPO was oversubscribed. It was, as TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady pointed out, akin to “selling five pound notes for four quid.” The biggest private shareholder is now the hedge fund TCI, which snagged 5.8 per cent of the company. The principal victim of this daylight robbery is, of course, the British public.
There has been plenty of public and media commentary – and even a little outrage – at this latest instance of the looting of Britain’s dwindling public sector. After all, even Margaret Thatcher was “not prepared to have the Queen’s head privatised.” The sell-off was conducted in the teeth of sceptical public opinion as well as fierce opposition from postal workers, with 96 per cent opposed in a recent ballot. Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union, denounced the manner in which a centuries-old public company, returning regular profits to the Treasury, was “flogged on the cheap for no good reason.” Postal workers have voted for industrial action, seeking guarantees on pay and working conditions.
Missing from most of the discussion, however, is any recognition of just how extraordinary all of this is. Business Secretary Vince Cable may have faced some tough questions about the handling of the flotation but it will blow over. No heads will roll. Asset-stripping of the public sector has become a fact of life. Even among the British left, battered by the serial privatisations of the 1980s and 1990s, there is a certain wearied resignation, a sense of going through the motions in the face of the seemingly unalterable order of things.
We should resist this normalisation. Viewed from an international perspective, Britain is an extreme outlier regarding privatisation. In no other advanced industrial country would quite so flagrant a rip-off have been engineered and tolerated. Nowhere else – not even in the corporate-dominated United States – is there such a degree of nonchalance about ownership and control over vital infrastructure and public services. In the UK, the attitude seems to be that if it isn’t nailed down then it is for sale. Privatisation is increasingly the British disease.
From Pinochet to perestroika
Privatisation has been a prominent feature of the British political landscape for decades, but on the basis of an assumed international policy consensus about how to improve efficiency and economic performance. It is true that, since the 1980s, privatisation has been a key instrument in the toolkit of neoliberal globalisation, enforced from Latin America to Asia to Africa wherever the writ of the IMF and World Bank could be made to run. By 2009, 132 of the world’s 500 most valuable corporations were privatised former state enterprises. But within this neoliberal framework, very few countries were actually prepared to go quite so far quite so fast as the UK.
In a 2002 encomium to privatisation, HM Treasury calculated that, all told, between 1980 and 1996 Britain had racked up fully 40 per cent of the total value of all assets privatised across the OECD. This is an astounding figure. Elsewhere, the only remotely comparable experiences occurred in countries – Pinochet’s Chile and the disintegrating Soviet Union – that were undergoing exceptional transitions and in which the rule of law was basically inoperative.
Chile was the original laboratory. Between 1975 and 1989, under the jackboot of the Pinochet regime and at the urging of carpetbagging Chicago school economists, the country implemented two waves of privatisation. Not merely companies nationalised by Allende but a host of older public concerns – including 16 banks and thousands of mines, real estate holdings and agricultural enterprises – were auctioned off to elites at bargain-basement prices.
Given the accolades afforded the “Chilean miracle” by Milton Friedman and others, it is worth noting that the first wave of Chilean privatisation was a major embarrassment. All but five of the banks and many of the other enterprises failed and had to be taken back into public hands. By 1983 the government-controlled portion of the economy again equalled that under Allende, and critics mockingly referred to a “Chicago road to socialism.” (The second wave of privatisation, beginning in 1985, eventually returned many of these firms to the private sector).
Road tested in Chile, privatisation was then exported out across Latin America and worldwide. Under Margaret Thatcher, Britain served as the most prominent conduit and cheerleader. With free market economists again hectoring from the sidelines (see Thatcher’s correspondence with Hayek), all memory of capitalist mismanagement of factories and mines in the interwar years was forgotten as the commanding heights of the economy – electricity, gas, water, steel, civil aviation, telecoms and railways – were delivered up for auction. It was a massive transfer of wealth from public to private interests, marketed to the people with soothing promises of a shareholder democracy.
As with Royal Mail, the brazenness of the theft was stunning. In his magnificent recent book on public ownership, Andrew Cumbers, Professor of Geographical Political Economy at the University of Glasgow, found “considerable evidence that state assets were sold off at remarkably cheap prices.” Shares in BT jumped from 130p at privatisation to £15 by 1999. Railtrack was sold for £1.9 billion, but within two years had soared in value to £8 billion. The rolling stock company Porterbrook Leasing, privatised for £528 million, was re-sold just eight months later for £826 million, while the other two rolling stock companies were subsequently sold for £900 million more than their privatisation price. The architects of privatisation could barely be bothered to disguise what they were up to. Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson went so far as to state in his memoirs that undervaluation was a deliberate government tactic.
Hugely important strategic considerations were at work, as was evident in the subsequent development of the UK economy. Privatisation not only allowed for attacks on the trade unions but also – together with big bang deregulation – contributed to the build-out of London-based capital markets. The £3.9 billion rollout of shares in BT in 1984, for example, was six times bigger than any previous IPO and four times the size of any other capital-raising exercise in the world at the time. In this way, the privatisations of the eighties and nineties helped secure the City’s continuing place as a world financial capital.
In addition, the sale of 2.5 million council houses at a total value of £86 billion – more than all other privatisations combined – helped generate the real estate boom and (as Stephen Wilks notes) ultimately contributed to the property credit bubble. Revenues from the sale of other public assets – totalling £69 billion between 1979 and 1997 – allowed successive Tory governments to maintain public spending while cutting taxes for short-term electoral gain. Leon Brittan insisted that “people always overestimated Mrs Thatcher’s grasp of economics while underestimating her grasp of politics.”
What Britain now has is a blue-orange coalition, with the little-known Orange Book forming the core of current Lib Dem political thinking. To understand how this disreputable arrangement has come about, we need to examine the philosophy laid out in The Orange Book: Reclaiming Liberalism, edited by David Laws (now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Paul Marshall. Particularly interesting are the contributions of the Lib Dems’ present leadership.
Published in 2004, the Orange Book marked the start of the slow decline of progressive values in the Lib Dems and the gradual abandonment of social market values. It also provided the ideological standpoint around which the party’s right wing was able to coalesce and begin their march to power in the Lib Dems. What is remarkable is the failure of former SDP and Labour elements to sound warning bells about the direction the party was taking. Former Labour ministers such as Shirley Williams and Tom McNally should be ashamed of their inaction.
Clegg and his Lib Dem supporters have much in common with David Cameron and his allies in their philosophical approach and with their social liberal solutions to society’s perceived ills. The Orange Book is predicated on an abiding belief in the free market’s ability to address issues such as public healthcare, pensions, environment, globalisation, social and agricultural policy, local government and prisons.
The Lib Dem leadership seems to sit very easily in the Tory-led coalition. This is an arranged marriage between partners of a similar background and belief. Even the Tory-Whig coalition of early 1780s, although its members were from the same class, at least had fundamental political differences. Now we see a Government made up of a single elite that has previously manifested itself as two separate political parties and which is divided more by subtle shades of opinion than any profound ideological difference.
I apologise that NHS news review is so late today – I’ve got serious debilitating toothache.
NHS news is mostly concerned with yesterday’s emergency debate on the health bill in the House of Commons forced by the Labour Party. There is also mention of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) opposition to the bill and I’ve found rather an amusing one by HealthInvestor about the expected benefits to private interests: “The NHS reforms will lead to “short-term pain” but huge long-term opportunities for independent healthcare providers …”. Yet still the lying shits will claim that it’s not about privatisation …
I’ve been wondering whether the Liberal-Democrats should dump Nick Clegg. He tried to distance himself from the Tories yesterday but it’s bullshit. He was a Tory at University, he worked for Tory slug Leon Brittan and he’s incredibly chummy with many Tories. I don’t see why he should change his ways and start putting his own party’s interests over that of the Tories.
I’m also fairly surprised that the Tories are trying to destroy the NHS. Isn’t it political suicide for them? Won’t they be shunned for decades until those who remember the NHS have stopped voting having died?
Conservative election poster 2010
A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.
The government has defeated Labour following an opposition debate on NHS reforms, amid signs of deep division between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.
The development comes as doctors warned David Cameron that the reforms could destroy the NHS.
MPs voted by a majority of 53 to defeat the Labour motion, following a bad-tempered debate in the Commons.
After a day which saw countless Tory and Lib Dem MPs attack each other on the airwaves and online, shadow health secretary John Healey told MPs: “The NHS has become [David Cameron’s] biggest broken promise.
“Many of the signs point to the prime minister’s pause to listen being a sham.
“We say [the bill] must be shelved in its current form. This is the test of the prime minister’s promise to protect the NHS.”
Health secretary Andrew Lansley commented: “I have been clear that there will be substantive changes to the bill if they deliver improvements for patients.”
[An obvious improvement for patients would be for the Secretary of State for Health to provide a national health service. The bill is getting rid of that requirement.]
The intensity of the campaign against the government’s Health Bill has increased following the Lib Dem leader’s adoption of a tougher stance in the wake of the local government elections.
In a Commons debate briefing, the BMA calls for Monitor, the foundation trust regulator, to protect and promote quality not competition.
It’s a message also sent by the Royal College of GPs to the Prime Minister in a letter this week. The RCGP calls on the government to allow Monitor, the National Commissioning Board and GP consortia to enable integrated services ‘without fear of a competition referral’.
RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada also urged the government to revise its plans for abolishing practice boundaries, which she said will “undermine the relationship between a local GP and local patients”.
The BMA calls for commissioning decisions to be driven by clinical need, quality, sustainability and local priorities, as well as best value.
A day after the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg undermined the reforms by claiming for the first time that the Health and Social Care Bill was deeply flawed, Labour said there now needed to be radical changes to the proposed reforms.
Opening a Commons debate, John Healey, the Shadow Health Secretary, quoted the Liberal Democrats’ description of the NHS reforms from their Spring Conference, saying the reforms were based on a “damaging and unjustified market-based approach”.
Mr Healey said that he agreed with Mr Clegg that “no bill is better than a bad one”. But Mr Healey said this was a bad bill and that a pause was no longer enough.
The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, rejected the calls, claiming once again that the plans for the NHS were an “evolution of the better policies of the past 20 years”. He said that fears over privatisation were misplaced. Mr Lansley said that it “was not his intention and had never been his intention to see the NHS fragmented and privatised”.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley has sought to allay fears about increased privatisation of the NHS as MPs debated the government’s controversial health reforms.
He insisted groups of GPs would not be required to turn to the private sector once they were handed control of much of the NHS budget to commission services from April 2013.
[This is just crap. GPs will clearly not be able to conduct their duties as GPs without delegating commissioning duties. GPs are private. It is still teh private sector even if they directly employ people to do commissioning. Lansley is saying that GPs will not be required to turn to the private sector but they will, they will not want that responsibility.]
The Health and Social Care Bill could end up “unravelling and dismantling” the NHS if it isn’t altered, according to the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
As part of the consultation while the Bill is put on ice, the college wrote to the Prime Minister David Cameron to tell him that the Bill needed to be overhauled. The college insisted that the NHS could cease to be a national service, the postcode lottery problem will get worse and companies outside the UK – including venture capitalists –will be able to take over hospitals and GP surgeries.
If there was more competition instilled into the NHS the service could disintegrate, costs could rise, and patient care could suffer, the RCGP warned. Also, GPs and hospitals could start charging patients for various services and some practices could collapse if patients are able to choose to see a GP outside the area where they live. This could mean surgeries in built up areas overwhelmed while those in rural areas might not be viable.
Cancer patients could receive poorer care as a result of the government’s plans to shake up the NHS in England, leading cancer charities are warning.
Andrew Lansley’s plans to stop funding England’s regional cancer networks next year will deprive GPs of a vital source of advice about where to send patients for treatment, according to the Cancer Campaigning Group (CCG), which represents more than 40 charities working on the disease.
They have told Lansley, the health secretary, that patients could suffer if the networks are disbanded a year before the planned new GP consortiums start work in 2013. They want funding extended until 2014.
The networks are groups of cancer specialists who help hospitals improve their cancer services and guide GPs about where their cancer patients should go to get the best quality care.
An overwhelming majority of comments left on the section of the DoH website dedicated to the NHS reform listening exercise are critical of the government’s plans.
Around 50 comments have been posted on the webpage for the NHS Future Forum, the group led by former RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field that is leading DoH efforts to engage with patients.
Many of the comments raised concerns relating to the introduction of competition, the lack of detail about the reforms in the government’s election manifesto and the evidence base for the reforms.
One comment said the proposed reforms were a ‘recipe for disaster’. It said: ‘Competition has never worked for the NHS and will not do so. What patients want is good quality local services, not services miles away from home.’
Another claimed that there was ‘no evidence’ that increasing choice was the most efficient way to improve quality. ‘Increasing choice decreases efficient delivery and effective use of funds,’ the respondent said.
Other comments referred to GP commissioning, with some concerned about the size of some consortia.
THE Government has the chance to scrap its health reforms and protect the much-loved NHS from privatisation.
Oldham West and Royton MP Michael Meacher made the plea as David Cameron came under renewed pressure to act following public calls from Lib-Dems to abandon the plans.
Health professionals have expressed great concern over Andrew Lansley’s proposed reforms of the NHS. The Health and Social care Bill will hand powers to GP to commission services in their area once the primary care trusts have been abolished.
Critics fear it will lead to privatisation of the NHS by the backdoor.
Mr Meacher said: “The NHS is a lifeline and that is why everyone loves it.
It is essential to the wellbeing and survival of everyone and it is the greatest pride of the last century. I have written to David Cameron about the 1,000 job losses at Pennine Acute and how he can stand by and say there will be no impact on front-line services. I am all in favour of cutting waste and value for money but he is making significant cuts to health service spending in real terms and it is completely unacceptable.
The entire bill should be withdrawn. There is no mandate for this, David Cameron went to the electorate on a promise of no top-down reorganisation of the NHS.”
The NHS reforms will lead to “short-term pain” but huge long-term opportunities for independent healthcare providers, according to a survey of 20 leading chief executives in the sector.
Consultants The Parthenon Group interviewed 20 CEOs from the UK’s biggest healthcare companies including Nuffield Health, Barchester, Four Seasons, BMI and HCA.
Around 8/10 of respondents remain positive about NHS reform in the long term, with the government’s Any Qualified Provider (AQP) policy still likely to open up much of the NHS market.
Alistair Stranack, partner at The Parthenon Group’s healthcare practice, said he expects around 50% of the NHS’s £120bn funding will be up for grabs via AQP when the reforms are finally passed.
But continued bias against the private sector and worsening bureaucracy means the value of contracts actually awarded to the sector is unlikely to rise above 5-10% over the next five years, he said.
One CEO, responding to the survey, said “the bureaucratic burdeon of AQP is likely to slow down private sector participation and may prove more cumbersome than existing systems of choice like Choose and Book.”
There would be “some hiatus in the short term” but there was “no doubt we will see growth in the longer term as new areas are opened up to AQP,” another company leader commented.
Speaking at a Parthenon event in London, Nick Bosanquet, health economist at Imperial College, predicted that the current crisis in the NHS’s finances would lead to up to 25% of all healthcare in the UK being self-funded or insurance-based by 2018.