Fossil fools: Why governments are not addressing the climate crisis :: DRAFT subject to revision Revision 7

[3/11/22 I’m suffering from a temporary health condition [4/11/22: Baker’s cysts] which is very painful. I’m not thinking straight and find myself shouting at people on the radio, etc because of the pain. I may have lost my way with this and it’s probably best that I leave it for a while.]

This is the article the earlier Coming soon relates to. It is getting revised and elaborated. This is my understanding and judgement. I am not claiming that it is wholly correct but it is approaching it.

Every adult has a responsibility to future generations. Current governments are woefully failing that responsibility through neglecting to address the climate crisis. There are many reasons for this which I am trying to identify in this article.

Public (private) education

Privately-funded education in UK is incorrectly called public education so that you have public schools which are actually private fee-paying schools that rich people send their children to. It is generally a high standard of education, far higher than the real pubic free schooling system provided by the government and financed through taxation.

In addition to academic achievements public school students are taught how to rule, to be in charge. Many UK politicians – particularly Conservative or ‘Tory’ politicians – are privately educated with some attending the elite Eton public school before progressing to study PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) at the highly regarded Oxford University. By contrast I was educated at many different state-run schools, left school having completed O-levels at 16 and later achieved a BSc at a polytechnic and later again a MSc at the same polytechnic which by then had converted to a post-polytechnic university. I am quite capable in different ways through my experiences and despite receiving a less than first-class educational experience.

Three aspects of the education that public school students receive in addition to the academic education – often called the ‘hidden curriculum’ – are (i) that they should be concerned only with their own welfare, (ii) that they should trust and act on their intuition disregarding and regardless of evidence to the contrary, and (iii) that they will never be held to account for their actions. These three taught aspects have awful consequences for the World since they lead to neglecting to address the climate crisis.

There is a phrase “A gentleman never lies”. What this means is that public schoolboys are never accused of lying. They do lie of course – look at Tony ‘Bliar’ Blair and Boris Johnson. Lying was Boris Johnson’s first instinct – you would be nearer the truth by believing the exact opposite of anything he said. I was out drinking and fraternising locally and this posh public schoolboy student was taking the piss out of me. He was probably a student of law or something similar. So he’s repeating to me “I’m not taking the piss out of you.” as he was taking the piss out of my beauty mark, being hugely personally insulting. So I’m repeating back “That’s exactly what you’re doing.” It’s impolite to accuse somebody of lying of course but he was a total cnut trying to invoke personal stigma not understanding the accusation of being a liar because he had never experienced that.

These posh boys are also never contradicted so that they exist in some parallel universe. Blair may well have believed in weapons of mass destruction because he had poor abilities judgement abilities. The richer they are the more detatched from reality they are. People suck up to them. You never discuss prices with these posh boys because money is not an issue for them, they’re rolling in it.

These are the people in charge, really nasty people who don’t care about anyone else, appear concerned only with the immediate, don’t seem to take anything seriously and enjoy humiliating plebs like me. I can’t say that they’re all like that of course but that’s how they’ve been moulded so it would be difficult for them to not be. So, back to the main issue here: Why governments are not addressing the climate crisis. These are the people in charge who control governments. These are the people with superyachts, the people who fly around the World in private jets who just don’t care about anyone or anything except themselves. It might be fairer to say that it is the elite of this elite that is the problem, the 1% of the 1% who depend on big oil and gas to keep them rich and powerful. What sort of cnut do you have to be to take part in space tourism?

Elite education may have been appropriate in the era of Empire but is totally inappropriate now. Elite establishments should use their lead to teach compassion, co-operation and respect for all. I appreciate that state school teachers are constrained in how they can behave and what they can teach. School students should not be bullied for being poor, independent or free-thinking as was my experience. State school teachers and lecturers need to respect students’ human rights, help young people develop their potential and encourage participation in the democratic process.

The very concept of childhood is relatively recent and even today doesn’t exist in much of the World. Children are not educated and through poverty are forced to work in much of the World.

I started this article by stating that every adult has a responsibility to future generations. Privately educated Rish! Sunak has more of a responsibility than all other UK adults since he is UK prime minister. However, by chosing to neglect the climate crisis and by actually accelerating climate destruction he is even neglecting his responsibility to his own two daughters.

Climate activists are challenged while climate destroyers are not. Where are the questions Why are you destroying the planet? You’re promoting space tourism that causes … why are you doing that? Do you realise that this superyacht causes … ?

  • Fossil Fuels 
  • The fossil fuel industry has deliberately developed contemporary societies to be hugely dependent on oil and gas. UK is an oil-dependent society rather than an industrial or any other society.
  • Politicians are so close to the fossil fuel industry that it is difficult to distinguish them.
  • There is a lack of imagination, politicians and others cannot imagine anything other than oil-dependency. There are alternative, renewable sources of energy that are cleaner and cheaper and do not cause climate destruction.

Continue ReadingFossil fools: Why governments are not addressing the climate crisis :: DRAFT subject to revision Revision 7

Bye-bye Boris, you worse than useless absolute cnut

Image of Tory idiot Boris Johnson
Tory idiot Boris Johnson

Heavy-drinking Criminal Boris Johnson is out. He should never have been prime minister since his character and history was well documented. There was plenty of evidence that he was a worse than useless absolute cnut. To be fair to him, he partied well.

Image of Boris Johnson sucking up to Rupert Murdoch
Boris Johnson sucking up to Rupert Murdoch

Unfortunately the Conservative Party is now going to inflict a militaristic, pea-brained, basic maths misunderstanding prime minister in the pocket of big business on us. I was tempted to call her a bungalow but I’m thinking of a rattle with just the one pea moving freely inside bouncing and rattling off the inside of her skull.

Image of Tory idiot Boris Johnson
Tory idiot Boris Johnson

Johnson to exit Downing St in a shower of sleaze and sexual misconduct claims

Two women allege they were assaulted and groped by figures within the government.

One woman told Sky News she was “sexually assaulted by someone who is now a Cabinet minister”.

A second woman said she was working at a Conservative event when she was groped, adding: “I turned around and this guy was just looking right at me.”

She complained and raised it again when the man was due to get a top job in No 10, but “nothing happened”.

Image: Boris Johnson confirms his thumbs up from Rupert Murdoch
Boris Johnson confirms his thumbs up from Rupert Murdoch

Huge leaving card showing naked Boris Johnson running from chaos delivered to No10

The grim 6 foot-tall card contains messages from thousands of people who suffered during the PM’s leadership.

One message read: “My wonderful mum – a brilliant yet horribly overworked NHS surgeon for over 30 years – died in 2020 and I had to watch her tiny Covid-restricted funeral online from my home rather than being there.

“Meanwhile you were partying. You have no shame. You have no conscience. You have no integrity. You won’t be missed.

Another stated: “When a clown moves into the castle he doesn’t become a king, the castle becomes a circus. Good riddance.”

Image of Oxford's Bullingdon Club including Boris Johnson
Oxford’s Bullingdon Club including Boris Johnson

Continue ReadingBye-bye Boris, you worse than useless absolute cnut

Even the sycophancy of an amoral Tory press couldn’t save Boris Johnson

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/even-the-sycophancy-of-an-amoral-tory-press-couldnt-save-boris-johnson

Historians will be baffled by the readiness of Britain’s largest media organisations to lick Johnson’s boots for so long, and will surely look for an explanation. Part of the reason is ideology. Murdoch and the Barclay brothers personally supported the Brexit movement which propelled Johnson to power. 

Another is that Johnson cleverly ensured the major newspaper groups had a vested interest in maintaining him in office. Though lazy and incompetent, Johnson understands the press exceptionally well, and as prime minister managed it skilfully, giving the newspapers everything they wanted in exchange for their support.

This meant allowing media barons to set his agenda. The BBC has long been a target of the press—Murdoch in particular—because it occupies public space which corporate media craves for itself. Johnson’s attacks on the licence fee—and the briefing by allies of his culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, that on her watch “it’s over for the BBC” as we know it—look like gifts to his media backers. So was the appointment of an unqualified Tory donor, former banker Richard Sharp, as chairman of the national broadcaster. The same applies to the proposed Channel 4 sell-off.

Sunday Times Rich List: Frederick Barclay still wealthiest on Channel Islands

Who are the Barclay brothers?

Continue ReadingEven the sycophancy of an amoral Tory press couldn’t save Boris Johnson

Meet the real Jeremy Hunt, the man who ruined the NHS

Republished from OpenDemocracy.net under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence

Jeremy Hunt: Next PM could be the man who ruined the NHS

As the former health secretary vies for No.10, the truth of his ministerial past puts paid to his ‘sensible’ image

caroline m.jpg

Caroline Molloy

8 July 2022, 12.00am

Jeremy Hunt pitches himself as the safe choice after Johnson | Belinda Jiao/Thomas Krych/Alamy Stock Photo. Composite by James Battershill

If Jeremy Hunt succeeds in replacing Boris Johnson as British prime minister, it will be another instance of the ‘nice Tory’ coming after the panto villain.

Hunt’s pitch to the Tory faithful is that he’s the ‘serious’ one: the earnest ex-head boy with a grasp of detail and the ability to get things done. And that impression appears to hold water, with even the liberal media repeating these ideas.

Earlier this week, The Guardian’s Ben Quinn waxed lyrical about Hunt trying to play the role of “elder statesman from the backbenches, offering gentle and usually friendly criticism over the government’s Covid mistakes”. Of his latest leadership hopes, Quinn was positive: “Firmly on the centrist side of the party, he could be viewed as a calming presence after the tumult of the Johnson years, if the membership are desperate for some stability.”

It isn’t the first time Hunt has vied for the leadership; when he ran in 2019, The New Statesman was impressed by his “empathy” and “compassion”. The Guardian described his “genial disposition” and “record of departmental diligence and attention to detail”.

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The fact that Hunt was health secretary – the longest-serving in history – barely makes it into the narrative at all. If it does, it’s restricted to his battles with junior doctors and funding – both of which Hunt likes to portray as victories.

Maybe it’s not surprising that so much of the media takes at face value Hunt’s self-presentation as a nice guy with a “consensual approach” (slogan: “Unite to win”). For most of his tenure as health secretary – except, perhaps, during the junior doctor dispute – they fairly uncritically adopted Hunt’s persona of the ‘champion of patient safety’.

I spent much of Hunt’s period as health secretary running openDemocracy’s OurNHS section, investigating what he was really up to. I soon discovered that when you looked past his press releases, you found a very different story – one of missed targets, lengthening waits, crumbling hospitals, missed opportunities, false solutions, funding boosts that vanished under scrutiny, and blaming everyone but himself. This is that story, which was first published on openDemocracy on 13 July 2019.

Hunt’s hospital legacy

Hunt took over responsibility for the NHS in 2012. By the time he left the post six years later, patient experience and staff morale had both taken a dramatic turn for the worse across many key indicators. Winter crises deepened, with official figures showing 2017, 2018 and 2019 were successively “worst on record”. The British Medical Association (BMA) reported that by 2018, “the “winter crisis” has truly been replaced by a year-round crisis”.

NHS rules say 95% of patients visiting A&E should be seen within a maximum of four hours. When Hunt took over, the performance was just below target – 94.9%. Performance worsened steadily during his tenure and was 84% by the time he left, with the target having been missed every winter since 2013/4, and every single month since July 2015. That meant three times more patients waiting over four hours to be seen in A&E when Hunt left office than when he started.

Hunt’s answer (aside from making it harder to access the figures, as we’ll see below) was to float the idea that patients could perhaps be banned from just walking up to A&E – an idea that he was forced to disavow, but that has resurfaced recently.

A&E is a bellwether for the NHS. The number of hospital beds (already low compared with those in most developed countries), also dropped significantly – from 135,559 beds in the quarter that Hunt took over, to 127,305 when he left, a loss of over 8,000 beds. Bed occupancy rates over 85% are considered overcrowding, and increase infection risks, cancelled operations and pressure on nurses. They peaked at record levels of over 90% in Hunt’s last winter – and this was an average, with some hospitals repeatedly hitting 100%.

Other targets – notably cancer referral times and waiting times for planned operations – also went from being comfortably exceeded to being missed every month under Hunt’s watch.

Nationally and locally, a range of treatments were restricted. Hernia, hip and knee operation patients weren’t treated until they were in severe pain. Cataract operations and hearing aids were restricted to one eye or ear (who needs two anyway?). Vasectomies, erectile dysfunction treatment and diabetes monitoring were scrapped or severely restricted in growing numbers of areas. In response, NHS hospitals increasingly turned to offering ‘self-pay’ options to private patients.

Hunt oversaw years of historically low funding increases (around 1%, compared with an average of 6% in the years between 1997 and 2010, and compared with the 4.3% recommended by the Office of Budget Responsibility and the likes of the Kings Fund, Health Foundation and Nuffield Trust, as the minimum to keep up with health inflation and increasing demand). Perhaps most damagingly, he oversaw a significant cut to the amount that hospitals were paid per procedure (payments which make up three quarters of their income).

Hospitals now receive on average 10% less for treating a patient than the treatment actually costs the hospital (by the admission of the head of the then regulator, Ian Dalton). And when cash-strapped hospitals missed financial and performance targets that the Public Accounts Committee said were ‘unrealistic’, they were fined, something that – unsurprisingly – has been shown to do nothing to improve performance.

Hunt’s response was to send out “failure is not an option” missives to hapless local NHS executives, instructing them (on pain of having their entire board suspended) to clear their financial shortfalls, while making sure they did so “without compromising patient care”. So that’s all right then! Even when “extra” money was found, as it was to some extent after the 2015 election, it came with so many strings attached that frontline patient care received little benefit, and was often in the form of loans that mean, remarkably, hospitals are now more ‘indebted’ to the government, than they are to the PFI deals that are still squeezing them. Hunt’s parting gift, the NHS ‘Brexit Dividend’ birthday present, is also full of strings and inadequacies, as we’ll see below.

Throughout the period, hospital campaigners were run ragged trying to defend their local services from closure. One of Hunt’s first big decisions involved trying to close over half the services of the (top performing and much loved) Lewisham hospital, including its maternity and acute wards and downgrading its A&E departments, to boost a PFI-indebted neighbouring trust. Campaigners defeated Hunt in the High Courts (twice), successfully arguing that Hunt had acted outside his powers, and the local community had not been adequately consulted.

Hunt’s reaction to this was to introduce what I dubbed a “Hospital Closure Clause” into an unrelated piece of legislation, which stripped away many of the requirements to consult local people on future closures. Further closures, land sell-offs and down-grades to services and opening hours have followed. And justifications that the land sold off by hospitals would be used to provide homes for nurses have proved utterly hollow when it turned out that only 17% of the houses built – fewer than 1000 homes – would be ‘affordable’. The trend is likely to continue, given that Hunt’s much trumpeted ‘NHS birthday present’ (of which more later) did not cover capital funding for buildings and equipment.

In 2019, the NHS had a £6bn backlog of essential maintenance and repairs, as under Hunt £4.3bn was raided from capital budgets to pay daily bills. And hospitals were told (by the Naylor review) that the way to make up this shortfall was to sell off more land and buildings, and enter into more private finance arrangements.

Meanwhile, it’s been quids in for the private companies routinely used to provide beds to make up the shortfall. In June 2019, NHS England boss Simon Stevens finally admitted that the policy of bed closures had gone too far, leaving NHS beds “overly pressured”.

Save Lewisham Hospital campaigners celebrate a High Court ruling preventing services being reduced at the hospital.
Save Lewisham Hospital campaigners celebrate a High Court ruling preventing services being reduced at the hospital. | PA Images

Plans developed during the Hunt years, most notably “Sustainability and Transformation Plans” claimed that hospital bed closures would be made up for by improved ‘care in the community’. But numbers of community matrons, district nurses and school nurses continued to decline under Hunt, and there had been a dramatic drop in the number of community health visitors by 2019.

This policy failure, during a funding squeeze, is perhaps not surprising – the reality is that care at home requires more, not less, funding than care in hospitals, as reviews by the University of Manchester, the British Medical Journal, the National Audit Office and even the Department of Health itself have shown. Hunt repeatedly ignored the many experts warning him that this was the case. In the end, though, billions of pounds of ‘transformation’ money supposedly set aside to deliver the policy change, instead had to be quietly re-purposed into keeping cash-strapped hospitals just about afloat.

Meanwhile, in vital but neglected areas such as general practice, maternity and mental healthcare, Hunt routinely over-promised and under delivered.

In October 2017, Hunt told MPs: “We’ve got 30,000 more people working in mental health today than we had when [Labour] left office” – a claim that was revealed to be false. Not long before leaving office, he won headlines for promising that mothers would get a ‘dedicated midwife’ throughout pregnancy and birth, although later reports suggested that this wasn’t, in fact, the case, and that women were just being promised ‘one of a team’. In other words, no change.

Hunt called general practice the “jewel in the crown” of the NHS, and in 2015, said: “We want 5,000 more GPs by 2020” – but he backed away from the commitment within days, talking of the need for “flexibility”. According to Channel 4’s Factcheck, the actual number of additional GPs he achieved in the following three years was… 162. By the last year of his oversight, the BMA described the number of GPs leaving their jobs as a “crisis”, with half a million patients seeing their GP surgery close last year.

Perhaps GP demoralisation wasn’t surprising – Hunt described the years of underfunding of GPs as their “penance” for the contract the Labour government signed with them. And just as importantly, GPs’ professional autonomy and connection with the patients was repeatedly watered down. In some areas, they were offered cash incentives to refer fewer people to hospital – including cancer patients. Those who weren’t swayed, nonetheless saw increasing attempts to second-guess their referrals by ‘referral managers’ who haven’t even seen the patients but aimed to reduce their referrals by as much as 30%.

Privatisation – the wrong ‘solution’

Not long before his departure, Hunt told Parliament that NHS privatisation “is not happening” and was “fake news”. But his actions suggest he was as ideologically wedded to continued competition and privatisation (in various guises) as his notoriously destructive predecessor, Andrew Lansley. An enormous amount of clinical and management energy was wasted in having to work to keep services from being chipped off by the private sector – even though such privatisation is a hugely costly process with no proven benefits.

While various privatisations collapsed, failure seemed to be rewarded. In 2013, a privatised treatment facility in Stevenage run by the company Clinicenta was bought back by the NHS following the deaths of three patients during routine surgery, with local officials raising concerns about “serious failings” and “evidently substandard” care. But just as Clinicenta was collapsing, its parent company – Carillion – was rewarded with further NHS contracts including major PFI schemes at Royal Liverpool Hospital and Midland Metropolitan Hospital.

After Carillion itself collapsed, The Guardian revealed documents that showed that, “civil servants working for Jeremy Hunt successfully lobbied the Cabinet Office to stop failing Carillion hospital projects from being overseen by an independent watchdog”.

Similarly, Circle’s privatised Hinchingbrooke hospital collapsed after inspectors found shockingly poor care – but Circle has since been rewarded with other contracts, including the takeover of a dermatology clinic in Nottingham that led to virtually every consultant resigning rather than work for the private firm. The unit, formerly a national centre of excellence, was forced to scale back its services and to recruit overseas locums at a cost of up to £300,000 each. An independent report labelled the contract an “unmitigated disaster”. Then, Nottingham NHS bosses decided to take Circle’s local treatment centre (which provides a range of operations) back in-house, and Circle sued them in response.

From ambulances to eye operations, out-of-hours care to the NHS’s 111 medical helpline, drug treatment and prison services to musculo-skeletal services, private firms cherry-pick cash and ‘easy’ patients from the NHS – leaving the NHS underfunded and struggling to survive.

Virgin Care won almost £2bn of contracts during Hunt’s tenure, including highly controversial contracts to look after children and frail, chronically ill people in many parts of the country. One of his first acts was to personally intervene to help Virgin’s takeover of swathes of services in his own Surrey area. 2018 saw a 57% rise in privatisation cash overall. Hunt also pushed repeated, though ultimately fruitless, attempts to privatise NHS Professionals – the NHS’s own in-house agency and its last line of defence against profiteering temporary agencieseven as he told hospitals to reduce their reliance on agency staff.

Other novel forms of privatisation were also pursued during Hunt’s tenure – from the NHS creating separate businesses for portering and facilities management to “personal health budgets” – an updated version of Thatcherite health vouchers, in which seriously ill patients are handed fixed sums for their healthcare needs and encouraged to ‘shop around’ across the public and private sectors.

The tech bonanza is another novel form of privatisation. Hunt’s successor Matt Hancock has been criticised for an overly credulous attitude to technology, but Hunt laid all the groundwork. The NHS signed substantial contracts with the likes of health app firm Babylon under his oversight, as well as running into a massive controversy over the care.data project in which Hunt and his tech Tsar, Tim Kelsey, were unable to adequately reassure a concerned public that personal data would not be sold to private firms. In what he described as his “most important speech as health secretary”, Hunt boasted that; “The future is here… 40,000 health apps now on iTunes… this is Patient Power 2.0.” The announcement was somewhat overlooked as it was also the speech in which he launched his astonishing attack on doctors (more below). But perhaps Hunt envisaged a future with fewer doctors – not long afterwards, he faced fierce criticism by doctors for issuing “potentially fatal” advice to parents to use “Doctor Google” to diagnose their children’s rashes.

David Cameron sold the controversial 2012 Health and Social Care Act by claiming that it put doctors in charge of decision-making. In reality it put privatisers in that position, along with commercial providers taking over and sub-contracting to the NHS. In 2016, openDemocracy reported on a version of these arrangements called “Accountable Care Organisations”, an idea based on US hybrid insurer-hospital organisations such as Kaiser Permanente. This gives private providers involvement in decision-making about what treatments patients do or don’t receive, and financial incentives to minimise treatment (as Michael Moore’s film ‘Sicko’ exposes). Hunt visited the US firm at least three times.

Hunt told MPs in 2016 that his department was “finding our way forward to the kind of budgetary arrangements that you would have in Kaiser Permanente”, although given the backlash against Accountable Care Organisations, they were… renamed as “Integrated Care Providers”. Hunt also gave the US medical centre chain, Virginia Mason, £12.5m to teach NHS hospitals about safety, calling it “probably the safest hospital in the world” – only to see the US organisation fail its safety inspection a few months later. For all Hunt’s plaudits, neither Virginia Mason nor Kaiser Permanente have anywhere near the cost-efficiency per head of the NHS. During Hunt’s period, concerns have been swirling about the impact of a US trade deal – and the reassurances that the NHS will be excluded from such deals are simply not plausible.

In social care (which Hunt repeatedly promised to ‘integrate’ with the NHS, though he was not directly in charge of social care until the last few months of his tenure), once again, Hunt’s commitment to market ‘solutions’ meant that the discussion was rarely about the real problems. Many of these were, in truth, decades old – including the Tory 1990s legislation that paved the way for much healthcare to be gradually redesignated as social care, thus privatised, means-tested and charged for.

However, Hunt did little to promote the real solution – reintegrating social care under the NHS’s public, free provision. Instead, he suggested that the ageing population was a massive “commercial opportunity” – and ‘integration’ began to look to campaigners like merely code for ‘helping the private care sector get its hands on more NHS cash’.

The underlying issues were left unresolved, the promised social care green paper was delayed no less than five times (and counting), experiments to ‘integrate’ ran into frequent problems, and the social care sector continued being just another convenient scapegoat for delays in discharging people from hospital. Hunt is still pursuing market solutions, suggesting during the leadership campaign that while social care cuts had gone too far, the answer is to ‘incentivise’ individuals to save for their own social care.

Perhaps none of this is surprising. Back in 2005, Hunt co-authored a book called ‘Direct Democracy’, which stated; “Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in effect denationalising the provision of healthcare in Britain” and that the NHS was “no longer relevant in the 21st century”, although he has since distanced himself from the book’s vision.

Hunt adopted three key strategies to ensure that the NHS wasn’t his career graveyard, as it had been for many Tory predecessors: hiding, hiding, hiding the figures, and (most of all) hiding behind someone else. His biggest talent is also, in fact, Boris Johnson’s: ducking accountability. The strategies are somewhat different, of course. Johnson’s bluster makes you suspect you’ve been had (but it appears that Britain, or at least the Tory part of it, includes a lot of masochists who rather enjoy that). Hunt’s smoothness means you don’t even notice. And the success of these tactics tells us much about technocratic attitudes to democracy, accountability, leadership and so-called public service ‘reform’.

Hunt’s complaints about Johnson refusing to debate him rang hollow to those of us who have followed him closely. Hunt is famous for dodging debates, whether with junior doctors, angry hospital users, in parliament or on the ‘Today’ programme, on which Hunt was a regular no-show during NHS crises. Where he did appear, he often restricted his appearances to issues over which he had no actual control, such as promoting a sugar tax. In fact, he became so notorious for shirking debate that hospital campaigners launched a “Hunt the Hunt” campaign, and junior doctors camped out on his departmental doorstep.

Blaming the patients

Hunt had no end of people that he (and his media cheerleaders) could blame for the problems besetting the NHS.

First off, patients. Be they old people, for being too old (“a challenge more serious than global warming”, Hunt said, even though this narrative doesn’t actually reflect the reality that health needs are highest in your last years of life, whenever that comes). It is true that health needs are rising among the poorest – and health inequalities increasing sharply – but blaming austerity policies and inequality for rising health demand wouldn’t have endeared Hunt to anyone in the Tory party. Instead, he relied on the ‘ageing population’ line routinely, when pressed on failures to meet NHS targets – such as an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, where he said, “the targets you talked about are because of the pressures of an ageing population”.

To add insult to injury, under Hunt’s tenure, the dehumanising labelling of old people as “bed blockers” returned, even as he did nothing serious to solve the issues of social care. Then there were children – and parents – blamed for being too fat, even as public health funding to address such issues was slashed. And smokers, who, along with overweight people, started to be banned from routine surgery under Hunt’s watch. Such patient-blaming decimated the NHS’s core values of universalism and comprehensive care, to the horror of doctors and nurses.

Devon’s 2014 attempt to ban smokers and obese people from all routine operations, regardless of clinical recommendations, generated a huge backlash. But in the next couple of years, Clinical Commissioning Groups (the NHS organisations that allocate local health funding) followed suit, with consultations geared towards removing certain types of services, in particular from the ‘undeserving’. A number of areas have now implemented these policies.

I asked Hunt about this at an Institute for Government event not long before he left office. He told me blandly that, “this shouldn’t be happening”. But there was no sign of him taking any action to stop what he routinely blamed on ‘local decisions’ (as we’ll see again with rationing of care).

Always top of the scapegoat list, of course, are migrants. From 2013 onwards, Hunt’s department worked closely with the Home Office on a string of initiatives to impose the ‘hostile environment’ (a policy which the former head of the NHS described as a “national scandal”). That led to cases like Albert Thompson, the Windrush victim who was denied cancer care. Hunt went pretty unscathed when these scandals finally broke through into the public consciousness, and these restrictions are still largely in place – along with the upfront charging systems now set up in hospitals, which many have observed could now easily be rolled out to others.

Junior doctors camp outside the Department of Health in Whitehall, London in the hope of questioning Hunt over his proposed new contract.
Junior doctors camp outside the Department of Health in Whitehall, London in the hope of questioning Hunt over his proposed new contract. | PA Images

Blaming the staff

Blaming the staff is, of course, another favoured tactic of politicians, and one that Hunt embraced wholeheartedly (though he would no doubt like to think of it as ‘delegation’).

In terms of senior staff, in 2013, Hunt hired his Oxford contemporary, Simon Stevens, as chief executive of the NHS. Stevens quickly adopted the role of media frontman whenever the going got tough.

In hiding behind Stevens, Hunt benefitted from the post-2012 legal framing of the NHS as a standalone organisation (or rather, a tangle of competing, squabbling standalone organisations), given its money and left to get on with it. When problems arose, it was down to ‘the NHS’s own plan’, and ‘local decisions’. No longer did the secretary of state have a duty to provide or secure healthcare for us all.

Hunt got away with these tactics to a surprising degree, because the 2012 Health and Social Care Act that he inherited was poorly understood by journalists (and had been poorly explained by a Labour opposition then keen to hide its own Blair-era role in laying the groundwork). The Act was a nonsensical, destructive muddle, partly as a result of coalition compromises, so the implementation was critical – and the content and tone of that was down to Hunt. His first move was to add in the secondary legislation that gave the act its full privatisating force – including the Section 75 privatisation regulations that more or less forced local commissioners to offer any changes to local provision, out to tender.

But on the whole, Hunt outsourced strategic policy thinking (and ‘heavy lifting’ to shift public attitudes on charging, privatisation and hospital closures) to costly and wasteful management consultants including the Big Four accountancy firms (despite promising to rein in this spending), not to mention a collection of sirs, lords and commissions, regulators, right-wing think tanks, and in-house consultants dubbed “ninja privatisers” who were responsible for numerous expensive failures. (To be fair to Hunt, quite a bit of this policy outsourcing strategy was developed by his health secretary predecessors, both Tory and Labour).

As a result of the 2012 Act, Hunt had just one last bit of legal and parliamentary accountability for the NHS – the “mandate”, which required him to put the NHS’s annual objectives before parliament. But in 2015, when the scope of the mandate was being revised for the next five years, his department issued a public consultation that Hunt somehow failed to actually tell anyone about (it wasn’t even published on their departmental consultation page) – a ruse that caused something of a backlash after OurNHS got wind of it, particularly given the hints about widespread withdrawal of treatment.

Frontline staff became Hunt’s favourite whipping boy

While senior staff and outsourced policymakers were convenient stooges, frontline staff became Hunt’s favourite whipping boy. He kicked off his tenure by telling parliament that “cruelty became normal in our NHS and no one noticed”, implying that the criticisms of the terrible Mid-Staffs scandal were normal for the million plus NHS workers.

Blaming staff – and roping in the media to help – was pretty bad form seeing as their goodwill (including ‘donating’ £1.5bn a year in unpaid overtime) was the only thing keeping the show on the road during the post-2010 squeeze on NHS funds and staff pay. In October 2014, 450,000 NHS staff walked out in the first strike by health workers in 32 years.

But all this was just a foretaste of what was to come for doctors, nurses and other health workers.

In 2015, Hunt and Cameron promised a “seven-day NHS”, but Hunt was condemned in May 2016 by parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, which deemed the plan “completely uncosted” and said that Hunt’s department had made “no coherent attempt” to address the staffing impact of this pledge.

Instead, the burden fell on junior doctors, upon whom Hunt attempted to impose a contract to work more anti-social hours. The first junior doctor strikes in 40 years took place in response in 2016, and forced Hunt back to the negotiating table. But Hunt went on to impose the contract despite another ballot with a clear rejection of the deal.

After the junior doctors’ strike, in 2017, nurses threatened to strike for the first time in history. Hunt saw the strike off by promising what appeared to be a relatively generous offer of 3% rise for everyone. But days after he finally left office in July 2018, OurNHS uncovered how staff had had the wool pulled over their eyes and many were getting much less than they’d thought or been led to believe. Nurses were outraged and the head of the Royal College of Nursing had to resign over her role in selling the deal.

Although Hunt liked to portray his victory over junior doctors as boding well for any potential negotiation with the EU, the legacy of that dispute (and his management of the NHS’s workforce in general) was in fact one of enormous ill will and brain drain, with frontline doctors and nurses leaving the NHS at alarming rates. Nursing had a record vacancy rate of 41,722 nurses (11.8% of the entire nursing workforce) the month before Hunt departed. While Brexit was a factor, there was also huge demoralisation among NHS staff aware that they were struggling to provide safe care for patients. Meanwhile, Hunt scrapped the nurses’ training bursary, which resulted in applications to study nursing dropping two years in a row.

Hunt veered close to accusing anyone standing in his way of being responsible for “avoidable deaths”

Perhaps what aggravated and demoralised doctors and nurses more than anything else, was Hunt’s audacious use of tactical shroud-waving. Previous Tory health ministers frequently accused their opponents of using deaths to make political points. But Hunt repurposed this trick against his opponents, veering close to accusing anyone standing in his way of being responsible for “avoidable deaths”.

Announcing his intention to impose a new contract on doctors, Hunt claimed that “around 6,000 people lose their lives every year because we do not have a proper seven-day service in hospitals… No one could possibly say that this was a system built around the needs of patients – and yet when I pointed this out to the BMA they told me to ‘get real.’ I simply say to the doctors’ union that I can give them 6,000 reasons why they, not I, need to ‘get real’.”

Experts took apart Hunt’s claims, showing that his use of weekend mortality data was “a shambles”. Hunt’s suggestion that the BMA was “turning medicine into a Monday to Friday profession” alienated the doctors who provide 24/7 emergency care (check out #ImInWorkJeremy), and he was even accused by doctors of having put at least 14 patients at risk by incorrectly implying that 24/7 emergency care wasn’t available.

Margaret McCartney, a GP, author and broadcaster, told me: “It’s dangerous to keep on misrepresenting data even when experts have told you that you are making a mistake… Hunt’s claim about weekend deaths, used to justify changes to the junior doctor contracts, has been debunked (patients admitted at the weekend tend to be sicker).”

The shroud-waving was a tactic he had already deployed effectively against his first parliamentary opponent, Andy Burnham, and indeed against interviewers. Questions about failures to meet targets on waiting times, when not being excused by the “ageing population”, were often met with impassioned statements about patients failed by the NHS in Mid Staffs, Morecombe Bay, Gosport and elsewhere – a strategy he also deployed consistently in media interviews (such as his interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, when he was challenged on LBC by an angry doctor in the same week).

He had deployed the tactic too, against Lewisham campaigners, when his administrator’s report suggested closing the hospital and related changes would “save around 100 lives a year”.

Indeed Hunt has made the “patients’ champion” persona his own. He told the New Statesman that he had made patient safety his “life’s mission” and that when he left frontline politics; “I want to write a book on patient safety. I would like to do for patient safety what Al Gore has done for climate change…”

In reality, having wielded the Francis report into the Mid Staffs scandal as a weapon from the get-go, he junked most of its key recommendations.

Having promised in 2013 to bring in minimum standards of safety for ratios of nurses to patients, two years later he and Simon Stevens quietly tore these promises up as too “mechanistic”, to the concern of the report’s author, Robert Francis. Hunt’s repeated promise to put the patient at the centre of everything that the NHS did, including in its constitution (another Francis report recommendation) was similarly junked a year after its headline-garnering work was done. Promises to protect whistleblowers resulted in just another toothless system. Moves towards openness were undermined by increased reliance on the market and private sector provision, with nothing done to address the destructive ethos of competition between and even within hospitals that Francis had identified as a key part of the problem at Mid Staffs.

Phil Hammond, the doctor and broadcaster who has written extensively on patient safety, told me: “Hunt developed a selective interest in some aspects of patient safety… so although he will be able to cherry-pick to make it look as if some aspects of safety got better…. Hunt repeatedly refused to introduce mandatory safe staffing levels… There are of course some brilliant NHS staff who are very dedicated to safety, who have improved the situation in their particular hospital or GP practice, but I don’t really see how Hunt can take credit for that. Finally, despite his strong words about no more cover-ups in the NHS and better support for NHS whistleblowers, many of them say the situation hasn’t improved and they are still not being listened to and are being persecuted.”

So much for Hunt’s “patients’ champion” persona.

And of course, much else that happened to the NHS under his watch wasn’t very good for patients, either – in terms of safety, but also access to healthcare, privatisation and rationing. And this is where the last of his strategies came in very useful.

Playing with the figures

Part of Hunt’s pitch is that he is “on top of the detail”. In reality, he has worked to make it harder or impossible for the rest of us to check-up on the detail. Once A&E waiting targets were routinely being missed, he simply stopped publishing weekly data on the failures and dropped hints that the target would soon be dropped. Similarly, in response to regularly missing the target on maximum 18-week waiting times for planned operations, that target was quietly dropped. In response to alarming headlines regarding the rising number of hospitals declaring ‘black alert’ (unable to guarantee life-saving emergency care, and having to divert patients elsewhere), the ‘solution’ was to ban hospitals from using the term ‘black alert’.

In June 2017, Hunt was summoned to the Commons to answer questions about whether he had sought to cover up a damning report that found a private contractor had failed to process over 700,000 pieces of medical correspondence, a scandal that reportedly may have harmed the health of at least 1,788 patients and has cost at least £6.6m. A year later he was criticised by charities for waiting up to four months to tell the public about another error that meant 450,000 women hadn’t received breast screening invitations and – as Hunt admitted in parliament – 270 may have died as a result.

Under Hunt, the Department of Health routinely refused to answer parliamentary questions and Freedom of Information requests about which private companies the NHS’s money was going to on the basis that they didn’t centrally collate it. And it was also reluctant to release raw, uncollated spending data, being the last department to do so and only giving in after a petition to release it. Inconveniently timed information on the financial crisis engulfing hospitals was tucked away from view too.

In terms of money, in 2015, the UK Statistics Authority told Hunt to stop saying NHS spending was up, and a year later a committee of MPs found he had misled them on this point and he admitted he had played with the time periods.

And what of Hunt’s defining claim in the leadership campaign – that he was “the person who secured a historic funding boost for the NHS” just before leaving office in July 2018? While Hunt claimed that the deal was “one of the single biggest increases in funding for a public service in our history”, numerous experts pointed out that most NHS increases were generally “the biggest yet” (due to inflation), that this increase (at most, 3.4% a year) didn’t match the level of actual health inflation and higher need, and hadn’t made up for the shortfall in funding in preceding years. In the words of the National Audit Office, the funding boost was “inadequate” and left the NHS “unsustainable”.

Also worrying, it turns out (in the long term plan) that Hunt’s deal was conditional on the NHS achieving significant savings through the use of technology (something that many experts were dubious about), reducing face-to-face appointments by one third, and also on there being no additional pressures from the social care sector (that was on the verge on collapsing). And this 3.4% doesn’t apply to capital expenditure, staff training and pay, or public health budgets – all of which would remain up in the air until the next spending review. Theresa May promised the “Brexit dividend” would fund the increases. That didn’t quite pan out though, did it? As a Nuffield Trust health expert put it, “The NHS would be wise to hang onto the receipt for this particular birthday present.”

There are many more facts I could throw at you to help you see Hunt’s legacy. Public satisfaction with the NHS fell during Hunt’s time in office, for example. Both maternal deaths at childbirth and infant mortality started to worsen again towards the end of Hunt’s tenure, after decades of improvement. And one last statistic is perhaps the most damning. In an interview with the New Statesman, he quoted Stephen Pinker as saying that “life expectancy has gone up!”. While this is true globally, the story in Britain is different. Since 2015, projections for life expectancy in the UK have fallen by more than a year.

It tells you much about British politics that a man with Hunt’s record was promoted to foreign secretary, and after losing one leadership bid, again now stands a small chance of becoming prime minister. It tells us a huge amount about the state of the British press that Hunt is treated as a serious candidate.

And it’s worth remembering, that whoever succeeds Johnson will face the same advantages that Hunt has always had: an establishment that doesn’t care too much what happens to ordinary people’s services, so long as no one makes a fuss, and a pliant media, always ready to believe the spin of some old public schoolboy.

Continue ReadingMeet the real Jeremy Hunt, the man who ruined the NHS

Meet the real Richy Sunak

OpenDemocracy has dirt on the longtime Boris Johnson facilitator and collaborator

Rishi Sunak could become PM. Here’s what he doesn’t want you to know

Rich as fekk, privately educated at ridiculously expensive public schools, owns many properties worldwide, cut benefits, helped cause the 2008 financial crisis, has a hedge-fund company called Theleme ! registered in the Caymen Islands, unknown business dealings, his missus Murty is richer than the Queen, has strong links to right-wing think-tanks, employs slick PR.

By bailing out vulture capitalists, Rishi Sunak has revealed his true priorities

Last week, in a largely unreported decision, Rishi Sunak quietly announced that private equity owned companies would now be eligible for government bailout loans.

This means that fabulously rich private investors like Blackstone, CVC Capital Partners, Apax Partners, Permira Adviors, and Bridgepoint will have access to government business support schemes such as the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) and coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme (CLBILS).

In many ways, this aligns with the government’s broader strategy towards COVID support schemes: they are primarily designed to support ‘business’. And this means that although some jobs may or may not be saved, this is incidental. The main aim is to preserve the corporate economy.

Rishi Sunak said he’d protect the vulnerable. So why is he making them pay?

Overall the Budget seems designed to fuel a two-tier recovery, where the winners from the pandemic prosper at the expense of everyone else. Ultimately, the effect is to shift the cost of the pandemic onto those who can afford it least. In practice this is disproportionately the young, women and ethnic minorities.

Continue ReadingMeet the real Richy Sunak

Government policies will not get UK to net zero, warns damning report

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/jun/29/government-policy-failures-are-obstacle-to-uk-net-zero-target-advisers-warn

The government is failing to enact the policies needed to reach the UK’s net zero targets, its statutory advisers have said, in a damning progress report to parliament.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) voiced fears that ministers may renege on the legally binding commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, noting “major policy failures” and “scant evidence of delivery”.

Lord Deben, the chair of the committee and a former Conservative environment secretary, said the government had set strong targets on cutting emissions but policy to achieve them was lacking. “The government has willed the ends, but not the means,” he said. “This report showed that present plans will not fulfil the commitments [to net zero].”

He said net zero policies were also the best way to reduce the soaring cost of living. Average household bills would be about £125 lower today if previous plans on green energy and energy efficiency had been followed through. “If you want to deal with the cost of living crisis, this is exactly what you need to do,” he said.

The greatest failure was the insulation policy. Britain’s homes are the draughtiest in western Europe, heating costs are crippling household budgets, and heating is one of the biggest single sources of carbon emissions, but the government has no plans to help most people insulate their homes.

Five things we have learned about the UK’s path to net zero

Energy efficient homes could be an easy win, but we’re ignoring it

There are currently no credible plans to help the majority of households to improve their energy efficiency, the progress report from the Committee on Climate Change concludes: a gaping policy hole that is costing the UK dear, not just in climate terms but in unnecessarily high energy bills for our leaky homes. Insulating buildings would be the quickest and most effective way to counter soaring gas prices, but has been largely ignored by the government after the botched “green homes grant” was scrapped last year. Even our new homes are not efficient: at least 1.5m homes have been built in recent years that will require expensive retrofitting. “It’s a complete tale of woe,” said Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change.

Continue ReadingGovernment policies will not get UK to net zero, warns damning report

Politicians are very slow

Kwasi Kwarteng, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy dishonestly misrepresents Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion’s demands. “I will launch another licensing round later this year.” and ” … we will not bend to the will of activists who naively want us to extinguish production in the UK continental shelf.” I think that means the North Sea.

The IPCC, United Nations and Just Stop Oil are calling for a stop to any new oil and gas exploitation not that North Sea oil and gas is “extinguished”. These politicians are very slow. This is just the start. We’re not going to let you destroy this planet without a fight and I’m hoping that politicians like Kwarteng and Boris Johnson will be held personally responsible for their actions. They’ve been warned told in no uncertain terms that all new fossil fuel exploitation must stop.

“extinguished”. Is that a reference to gas flaring? They really should just tell the truth instead of talking shit.

Continue ReadingPoliticians are very slow

Extinction Rebellion scientists: why we glued ourselves to a government department

Charlie Gardner, University of Kent; Emily Cox, Cardiff University, and Stuart Capstick, Cardiff University

One recent Wednesday, while most scientists around the world were carrying out their research, we stepped away from our day jobs to engage in a more direct form of communication.

Along with more than 20 others from Scientists for Extinction Rebellion and assisted in our efforts by Doctors for Extinction Rebellion, we pasted scientific papers to the UK government’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). A group of us glued ourselves to the building, and nine scientists were arrested.

This kind of action may seem extreme for a scientist, but these are no ordinary times. As most members of the UK public now recognise, addressing the climate crisis requires drastic changes across society. In 2019, the UK parliament itself declared a climate emergency – and in an emergency, one must take urgent action.

Seemingly endless academic papers and reports highlight the need for the immediate and rapid decarbonisation of the global economy if we are to avert climate change so serious that it risks the collapse of human civilisation. The International Energy Agency, a respected policy advisory body to countries around the world, warned in 2021 that “if governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated that “it is time for us to listen to the warnings of the scientists” on the climate emergency. But despite this, the UK government is choosing not to wind down the fossil fuel industry, but instead to expand it.

The government recently published its energy security strategy. However, rather than focusing on home insulation, energy efficiency and onshore wind as most experts suggest, the strategy promotes the expansion of oil and gas production.

Such measures do very little to address the pressing issues of rising fuel bills or heavy imports of Russian oil and coal. And as a self-proclaimed leader in global climate action, the UK’s doubling down on fossil fuels also sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world.

Evidence alone is easily ignored

In a choice between fossil fuels and a liveable planet, the government has chosen oil and gas. For scientists who have dedicated their lives to research, this is hard to take. Many of us do our work in the belief that, if we provide scientific information to decision-makers, they will use it to make wise decisions in the public interest.

Yet the global response to the climate crisis, despite decades of increasingly dire warnings, shows this to be naive. The reason is as simple as it is obvious: governments don’t respond to science on these matters, but to the corporate interests that invest so heavily in political donations and lobbying.

Scientists must face a difficult truth that doesn’t come easily to those of us who are most comfortable working diligently on experiments and journal articles: evidence alone, even if expertly communicated, is very easily ignored by those that do not wish to hear it.

If we are to help bring about the transition away from fossil fuels that the world so urgently needs, we are going to have to become much harder to ignore. This does not mean disregarding the evidence or abandoning our integrity: quite the opposite. We must treat the scientific warnings on the climate crisis with the seriousness that they deserve.

Become hard to ignore

History suggests that one of the most powerful ways to become hard to ignore – and one of the few options available to those who do not have deep pockets or the ear of politicians – may be through nonviolent civil disobedience, the refusal to obey certain laws in order to bring public and media attention to an unjust situation.

From universal suffrage to civil rights for people of colour and action on the Aids pandemic, many of the most progressive social changes of the 20th century were brought about in this way. Many would likely agree that such actions are morally justified in a planetary emergency.

The recent blossoming of environmental civil disobedience movements around the world, led by Extinction Rebellion and the Greta Thunberg-inspired youth strikes, has been hugely influential in changing the global conversation on climate. These movements have been linked to an unprecedented surge of public concern and awareness about the climate crisis.

The scientists arrested on that Wednesday included an expert in energy policy, an air pollution specialist, three ecologists and two psychologists, across all career stages from junior researchers to established professors. Some work on the planetary crisis itself, others on our societal responses to it, but none of us took our actions lightly.

Our understanding of our planetary peril obliges us to take action to sound the alarm, even if it means risking our civil liberties. And we are not alone. On April 6 more than 1,200 scientists in 26 countries participated in a global Scientist Rebellion, which included pasting scientific papers to the UK headquarters of oil giant Shell.

Civil disobedience doesn’t always need a particular target to be effective, because the main objective is to ring the alarm by generating media and wider public attention. Extinction Rebellion protests, for example, has targeted fossil fuel infrastructure, media and finance institutions and airports used by private jets, in addition to the general disruption caused by roadblocks.

But we went to BEIS because, as the government department responsible for climate change, it should be leading the transition away from fossil fuels. Instead, through enabling and promoting new fossil fuel extraction, it is doing the opposite.

Recent acts of law-breaking by scientists may seem radical, but the world’s most senior diplomat disagrees. On the release of the IPCC’s latest report, the UN Secretary General António Guterres said: “Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.”

He could not have said it more clearly: while we scientists may have been breaking the law, it is the government that’s placing us all in danger.

Charlie Gardner, Associate Senior Lecturer, Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent; Emily Cox, Research Associate, Environmental Policy, Cardiff University, and Stuart Capstick, Senior Research Fellow in Psychology, Cardiff University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

First dog

Continue ReadingExtinction Rebellion scientists: why we glued ourselves to a government department

Climate protest news 21 April 2022

Just Stop Oil calls one-week halt to protests in hope of action from No 10

Just Stop Oil has said it will suspend its direct actions against fuel distribution for a week, but has told the prime minister its members will escalate their disruptive protests “if you do not fulfil your duty to the people”.

For two and a half weeks, the climate activists have been targeting oil terminals and oil tankers in the Midlands and the south-east of England with blockades and mass trespass.

The government and petrol retailers have attempted to downplay the scale of the disruption to fuel deliveries. But there have been widespread reports of petrol station forecourts running dry in various parts of the country.

Just Stop Oil’s activists have vowed to continue their campaign until the government agrees to a ban on new oil and gas extraction projects, or until they are all jailed.

Extinction Rebellion and Palestine Action activists blockade entrance of Israeli arms firm’s London HQ (Yesterday)

CLIMATE activists today targeted the London HQ of Israel’s largest private arms firm in protest at “brutal” attacks on al-Aqsa mosque by Israeli forces in recent days.

Members of the youth branch of Extinction Rebellion teamed up with the Palestine Action group to blockade the entrance of Elbit Systems’ offices in Holborn on Wednesday morning.

The groups said the action, which saw activists lock on to the entrance of the building at 77 Kingsway Road and hurl red paint across the facade, forced the offices to shut for the day.

Palestine Action said the activists wanted to show solidarity with Palestinian worshippers during Ramadan after Israeli forces launched a series of raids on the al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem, injuring dozens of Palestinians.

‘No Wars, No Warming’: Extinction Rebellion Marches on NYC 18 April 2022

Members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) marked Tax Day with the “No Wars, No Warming” demonstration outside a federal building in NYC where various agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), have offices.

Demonstrators perched on top of and locked themselves to two 15-foot tripods installed near the Charging Bull sculpture to block traffic on Broadway, according to organizers. Nine activists were arrested.

“We recognize that the people who are most often placed in harm’s way from armed conflict are also the people who have and will continue to face the brunt of the climate crisis,” says the XR event webpage. “In this moment, after two years of Covid-19, our tax money should be funding social services that benefit the communities most impacted by the climate crisis and most affected by decades of systemic underfunding.”

Continue ReadingClimate protest news 21 April 2022