Labour leader Keir Starmer under pressure to commit to higher taxes for super-rich as Tory government prepares spending cuts

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/nov/03/labour-mps-press-keir-starmer-to-set-out-wealth-tax-plans

The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, is under pressure from campaigners, unions and his own MPs to set out plans for “wealth taxes” on the richest in society in order to support public services and help the poorest through the cost of living crisis.

As the government prepares to cut spending to fill an estimated £35bn black hole in the nation’s finances, calls are growing for higher taxes on the super-rich, many of whom have seen their fortunes soar during the pandemic.

Richard Burgon, the Labour MP for Leeds East, said: “While living standards are plummeting for most people, it’s been boom time for the super-rich, whose wealth has soared to record highs in recent years.”

Starmer, who is trying to position his party in the centre ground, has avoided committing to higher taxes on private incomes as Labour seeks to woo the City and businesspeople angry at the damage caused by the Conservatives’ mini-budget. But that approach is causing concern on his backbenches and more widely, with the Greens calling Labour “timid” on wealth.

Molly Scott Cato, the Green party’s spokesperson on finance, said: “The Tories have created a big hole the public finances but there is an obvious place to look to fill it: taxing the super-rich. Not only do they have the broadest shoulders but they also increased their wealth during the pandemic because of enforced savings.

“What is more surprising is to find Labour being so timid on wealth taxes. Their proposal to abolish non-dom status will only bring in a few billion while a proper wealth tax could yield tens of billions. We’ve now got two weeks for Labour to remember their egalitarian roots and support loud and growing calls for a wealth tax. Otherwise they will be colluding in the devastating cuts to public services that are being cooked up by the millionaires in Nos 10 and 11 Downing Street.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/nov/03/labour-mps-press-keir-starmer-to-set-out-wealth-tax-plans

Continue ReadingLabour leader Keir Starmer under pressure to commit to higher taxes for super-rich as Tory government prepares spending cuts

The Green Party calls on Rishi Sunak to show real leadership on the climate

The Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer calls on UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to show real leadership saying

“Global leadership must begin at home and we need to see a clear commitment from this government to keep fossil fuels in the ground. This means ditching oil, coal and gas for good in favour of renewables and a nationwide programme of home insulation to cut both emissions and energy bills.

With the UN warning that there is no credible pathway to keeping temperatures within the 1.5C limit, this year’s COP negotiations are more important than ever. The UN says that only an urgent transformation of society and our economy can avoid disastrous climate impacts. We need the UK government to rise to this challenge, show global leadership and help create a more secure and sustainable society and economy at home and abroad.”

Continue ReadingThe Green Party calls on Rishi Sunak to show real leadership on the climate

Green party conference opens with call for wealth tax to fund renewables

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/sep/30/green-party-conference-opens-wealth-tax-renewables

The Greens have kicked off their conference with a call for taxes on wealth and “dirty profits” to finance the transition to renewable energy – and a condemnation of Labour’s plans, unveiled last week, as woefully insufficient.

At the gathering in Harrogate, days after a Labour conference based heavily around clean power initiatives, the Green party in England and Wales – the Scottish Greens are separate – repeatedly stressed policy differences not just over renewables but also areas such as support for strikers and public ownership.

The party’s co-leaders, Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay, pledged in a joint speech that they would introduce an emergency tax package to fund renewable energy and a scheme for mass domestic insulation.

The Green Party: Tax the richest 1% to pay for better, warmer homes, say Greens

Continue ReadingGreen party conference opens with call for wealth tax to fund renewables

Green Party members vote to strongly endorse and affiliate to Enough is Enough

Enough is Enough is a mass movement resisting the cost of living crisis. It was launched earlier this year, and has grown rapidly. Over 500,000 people signed up to the campaign by the end of August and the group has held packed out rallies in cities across the country. On October 1, Enough is Enough held protests and actions in solidarity with striking workers in 50 towns and cities.

Enough is Enough has a set of five demands – delivering a real pay rise for workers, slashing energy bills, ending food poverty, ensuring decent homes for all, and taxing the rich. Recent polling from Survation found the group’s demands are popular with the public. Survation found 84 per cent support capping energy bills, 76 per cent support pay rising with inflation, and 72 per cent support increasing taxes on the rich.

Continue ReadingGreen Party members vote to strongly endorse and affiliate to Enough is Enough

NHS in crisis :: Caroline Lucas urges Labour to back bill to repeal Tory NHS reforms

Image of George Osborne asking where is the money to be made in the NHS

Caroline Lucas urges Labour to back bill to repeal Tory NHS reforms

The Green party MP Caroline Lucas has called on Labour to support a bill that would reverse much of the Conservatives’ NHS reforms, and was previously backed by Jeremy Corbyn.

The private member’s bill, named the NHS reinstatement bill, received cross-party support when it was first introduced to parliament in July, and was signed by Corbyn, the Labour leader, and the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, when the pair were backbenchers.

The bill would reinstate the secretary of state’s responsibility for the health of UK citizens, something the Health and Social Care Act removed. It would also abolish bodies such as NHS trusts, NHS foundation trusts and clinical commissioning groups, allowing commercial companies to provide services only if they were essential to patient welfare and the NHS could not do so itself.

Continue ReadingNHS in crisis :: Caroline Lucas urges Labour to back bill to repeal Tory NHS reforms

NHS in crisis :: Not fair, not safe – 6 reasons junior doctors are preparing to strike

Not fair, not safe – 6 reasons junior doctors are preparing to strike
by Nick Carpenter

Image of George Osborne asking where is the money to be made in the NHS

The junior doctor contract governs the pay and conditions of work from doctors’ foundation year to registrar level. All doctors who are not consultants or fully qualified GPs are considered ‘junior’ doctors. This contract was scheduled for renegotiation, but the British Medical Association (BMA) – the largest representative body of doctors – walked away because the offer on the table was not fair to doctors and not safe for patients.

The government’s initial response was brazen, and threatened to impose the new terms without consultation – a position it has had to water down since the BMA decided to ballot its members for strike action. Here’s why the BMA has done so the first time in 40 years:

  1. An NHS in crisis: overworked and undervalued.

Britain’s doctors have had enough. In a stretched and underfunded health system which doesn’t train enough doctors and nurses to meet its own needs – or invest in the infrastructure needed for new hospitals and facilities unless aprivate contractor is taking a nice slice of the pie – the solution seems to have been ‘work harder and take up the slack’. According to the Royal College of Physicians, the NHS “remains reliant on doctors working longer than their contracted hours…the amount of ‘goodwill work’ is increasing year-on-year.”

Trusts struggling to pay their tithes to the private owners of NHS hospital buildings have responded by reducing staff salaries, meaning fewer doctors and nurses are covering more patients and expected to do so for free. The situation has reached crisis point and doctors are experiencing enormous burnout, with more doctors applying to live abroad every year. Into this context came the new contract.

  1. It’s not about the money.

The ‘offer’ of the new contract has been condemned first and foremost as fundamentally unsafe. Just as with the recent tube strike, the new contract threatens to force doctors to work longer and later with fewer safeguards.

The BMA approached negotiations acknowledging financial limitations but determined to improve safety: it wanted no doctor to work more than 72 hours in a week; no more than four nights in a week on-call; a rest day either side of nights before starting back on day shifts; and facilities to sleep-in for those who otherwise make a dangerous long drive home.

The government was unwilling to accept these terms, and furthermore wanted to reduce breaks to just one 30 minute break in a ten hour on-call shift. As a recent viral video asked, could you save a life if you’d been up all night?

  1. But it is, also, about the money.

The new contract would mean a 15-40% pay-cut depending on your specialism, with GPs and emergency care doctors being some of the hardest hit. Let that sink in.

With wages starting beneath the national median anddecreasing yearly like all public sector pay, and out of pocket expenditure for licensing, exams and indemnities, junior doctors earn significantly less than the tabloids would have you believe. Their reports often use a cunning sleight of hand: taking the figures for the pay of those doctors doing the most private work – GPs who run a private practice and some consultants who run private clinics – and presenting the data as proof of ‘greedy’ public sector workers.

There are two ways doctors’ starting wages increase: extra pay for unsociable hours, and pay advancement as you progress through the ranks of seniority and responsibility. Both of these are under threat in the new contract.

The government has suggested that working from 7am until 10pm Monday to Saturday are sociable hours – and therefore should not be paid extra – which is funny considering MPs just reduced their own working hours and increased their own pay. As for pay progression with seniority, no actual offer was made.

  1. The changes hit women hardest.

The contract changes penalise those who take time out to start a family and those who work part-time –overwhelmingly affecting women in both cases. Additionally there are concerns that changes to breaks will make work more dangerous for pregnant women. As noted above GPs will be amongst those taking the largest wage cut, one of the few specialisms with more women than men.

  1. No confidence in Jeremy Hunt.

More than 200k people signed the petition to debate a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Hunt. He wrongly and infamously implied that doctors don’t work at night or weekends. After blaming the A&E crisis last winter on people attending inappropriately (rather than, say, the reduction of roughly 13k hospital beds over the last five years), Mr Hunt felt it was appropriate to take his own children to A&E rather than wait for an appointment like, you know, the rest of us commoners.

But most of all:

  1. This was an imposition, not a negotiation.

Hunt and the government have shown a complete disdain for even the barest semblance of actual negotiation. When the BMA walked away from negotiations a year ago, it wasn’t as a strategy to get better terms, it was because the negotiations were a farce. It has taken the threat of industrial action for a pathetic attempt at reconciliation to come from the Department of Health, full of vague, unconvincing rhetoric. It is too little, too late. No fruitful discussions can continue with Hunt as health secretary. We have no reason to believe in his word or his competence.

We deserve more. Doctors do not take strike action lightly. Whilst we will always maintain emergency and essential services, the BMA will be balloting its members to strike against the contract in the next month. We hope to see you on the picket lines.

 

  • About the author: Nick is a junior doctor. He tweets at @ZastaNick.This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

 

Continue ReadingNHS in crisis :: Not fair, not safe – 6 reasons junior doctors are preparing to strike

NHS in crisis :: The billions of wasted NHS cash no-one wants to mention

England’s Junior doctors held a 24-hour strike from 8am yesterday. It was the first of a planned series of strikes. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and the Green Party should be commended for their support of the strike. (The strike only applies to England).

[15/1/16 11.10am The Labour Party’s position on the strike is complex, ” … Labour’s health spokeswoman Heidi Alexander had explained to them that the party would stand by its policy of not supporting industrial action.” John McDonnell joined junior doctors despite Labour agreement to not endorse strike]

While it’s very tempting to address the strike, today’s featured article instead addresses a fundamental problem with the NHS which is largely ignored by corporate media – that of the huge bureaucratic overhead of imposing a fake, imaginary ‘market’ so that the private sector can extort it’s ‘tax’. The conclusions to be drawn from this article should be clear.

Image of George Osborne asking where is the money to be made in the NHS

The billions of wasted NHS cash no-one wants to mention

Continue ReadingNHS in crisis :: The billions of wasted NHS cash no-one wants to mention