I would remind you that …

Chilcot is expected to announce a timetable soon.

I would remind you that

1. It is under the Inquires Act 2005 i.e. the government is decisive and in charge of everything. The government is in charge of everything.

2. I’ll get back to you

later ed: The I[E]nquires Act 2005 did away with anything near a public inquiry one month before 7 July 2005 which was then described as …

oh what was it now? a …

something diversion?

that would be a something diversion from

the official narrative …

an unnecessary investigation …

that …

didn’t

with the government version of Blair and Campbell & Co

which we know is so robust

and beyond any, any doubt

The official narrative is beyond reproach.

signed
Blair, Blair, Blunkett, Reid, Campbell & Co.

We did fuck up that the train they were on didn’t exist that day. But you’ve still got to believe us because we’re not lying, honest.

Would I lie to you?
Tony Blair

That’s it – a Ludicrous Diversion

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4454FA415EE50059

a … Ludicrous Diversion. An investigation would be ” a ludicrous diversion” …

ed: References to Tony Blair calling an investigation into the London bombings of 7 July 2005 “a ludicrous diversion” are disappearing.

ed: And I hate starting a sentence with and …

27/10/15 Re: Iraq War, Cameron and the Chilcot Inquiry

http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/10/tony-blair-is-the-legal-net-tightening/

Sir Jeremy was Principal Private Secretary to Tony Blair from June 1999 to July 2003 and would thus have been party to every step of the scheming and untruths about the invasion and surely the plotting between Bush and Blair to attack, during their April 2002, three day meeting at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Subsequently Heywood stepped into the same position when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister after Blair’s resignation, a post he held between January 2008 and May 2010, so would also have been party to the plans for, and structure of, the Chilcot Inquiry into the war, which was set up by Brown. Thus those involved in the bloodbath and invasion, convened the Inquiry into the illegality.

Gordon Brown, as Blair’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, wrote the cheques for the years of illegal UK bombings of Iraq and for the UK’s participation in “Operation Iraqi Liberation” (OIL.) He also wrote the cheques for Britain’s part in the disastrous invasion of Afghanistan.

According to Ministry of Defence figures, the total cost of UK military operation in Iraq, 2003-2009, was £8.4 Billion – ongoing since they are back bombing, with Special Forces in Northern Iraq – and it would be unsurprising if also elsewhere in the country, given Britain’s duplicitous track record. To 2013 the cost of UK operations in Afghanistan reached £37 Billion, also ongoing.

David Cameron, who voted to attack Iraq, told a news programme at the time: “You’ve got to do what you think right, even if it’s unpopular …”, near mirroring Blair’s “I know I’m right” of the same time. Cameron admires Blair, regarding him as a “mentor.” At every level of government past and present, there are vested interests in the truth on Iraq never coming out.

Continue ReadingI would remind you that …

Cameron, Clegg and Ed sneak in a snoopers’ charter by the back door

A snoopers’ charter by the backdoor: One day until Drip is forced through

by Ian Dunt

Privacy campaigners are frantically trying to brief MPs about the implications of the data retention and investigatory powers bill (Drip), before it is forced through all of its Commons stages tomorrow.

The more experts look at the bill, the more convinced they’ve become that it provides authorities with the spine of the snoopers’ charter, but without any of the public debate or parliamentary scrutiny which were supposed to accompany it.

The charter – known as the draft communications bill before it was killed off – would have forced internet service providers and mobile operators to keep details of their customers’ behaviour for 12 months.

Analysis of Drip, which was supposed to only extend the government’s current powers for another two years, suggests it forces through many of those requirements on internet firms without any of the political outrage which derailed the earlier effort.

Clause four of the bill appears to extend Ripa – the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (basically Britain’s Patriot Act) – so that the UK government can impose severe penalties on companies overseas that refuse to comply with interception warrants. It also lays out situations in which they may be required to maintain permanent interception capacity.

Clause five then provides a new definition of “telecommunications service”, which includes companies offering internet-based services. That seems to drag services like Gmail and Hotmail into the law, and very probably social media sites like Facebook too.

The government insists the extraterritoriality clause merely makes explicit what was previously implicit. It’s tosh. As the explanatory notes for the legislation – released very quietly on Friday night – make clear, overseas telecommunications companies did not believe they were necessarily under Ripa’s jurisdiction.

“Regarding the amendments to Ripa, in view of the suggestion by overseas telecommunications service providers that the extra-territorial effect of Ripa is unclear, it is considered necessary to amend the legislation to put the issue beyond doubt,” it reads.

“This includes clarifying the definition of a ‘telecommunications service’ to ensure the full range of telecommunications services available to customers in the United Kingdom are included in the definition.”

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband insist Drip merely extends their current powers for two years. That’s nonsense. These two clauses, which have nothing to do with the purported aim of the bill, provide the spine of the snoopers’ charter.

They also appear to provide a legal basis for programmes like Tempora, the project revealed by Edward Snowden to allow GCHQ to tap into transatlantic fibre-optic cables and stored data.

Notably, Privacy International, Liberty and others are taking the government to a tribunal this week on whether Tempora is legal, even though the government won’t even admit its existence. Drip could make the tribunal ruling irrelevant.

read more

Continue ReadingCameron, Clegg and Ed sneak in a snoopers’ charter by the back door

Tim Berners-Lee condemns spy agencies as heads face MPs

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/06/tim-berners-lee-encryption-spy-agencies

Inventor of world wide web condemns ‘dysfunctional and unaccountable’ oversight as intelligence chiefs face MPs

 Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist who created the world wide web, has called for a “full and frank public debate” over internet surveillance by the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ, warning that the system of checks and balances to oversee the agencies has failed.

The damning assessment was given as the heads of GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 prepared to face questioning by MPs in the Commons on Thursday. In an unprecedented hearing in Westminster, questions over the conduct of Britain’s spy agencies will be raised when the heads of the three secret services – MI5, MI6 and GCHQ – go before parliament’s intelligence and security committee.

The 90-minute session will give the nine-strong committee, led by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a chance to question the agencies about the reach of the mass surveillance programmes that have provoked a global debate about privacy in the internet age. While critics have often despaired of the ISC’s lack of clout, Rifkind has promised to use new powers to provide robust scrutiny of the agencies and restore public confidence in what they have been doing.

As the inventor of the global system of inter-connectivity known as the web, with its now ubiquitous www and http, Berners-Lee is uniquely qualified to comment on the internet spying revealed by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In an interview with the Guardian, he expressed particular outrage that GCHQ and the NSA had weakened online security by cracking much of the online encryption on which hundreds of millions of users rely to guard data privacy.

He said the agencies’ decision to break the encryption software was appalling and foolish, as it directly contradicted efforts of the US and UK governments to fight cybercrime and cyberwarfare, which they have identified as a national security priority. Berners-Lee also said it was a betrayal of the technology industry.

In contrast to several senior British politicians – including the prime minister, David Cameron – who have called for the Guardian to be investigated over reporting of the Snowden leaks, Berners-Lee sees the news organisation and Snowden as having acted in the public interest.

“Whistleblowers, and responsible media outlets that work with them, play an important role in society. We need powerful agencies to combat criminal activity online – but any powerful agency needs checks and balances and, based on recent revelations, it seems the current system of checks and balances has failed,” he said.

As the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that seeks to forward global standards for the web, Berners-Lee is a leading authority on the power and the vulnerabilities of the internet.

He said the Guardian’s coverage of the Snowden leaks had to be seen within the context of the failure of oversight of GCHQ’s and the NSA’s surveillance activities. “Here is where whistleblowing and responsible reporting can step in to protect society’s interests.

“It seems clear that the Guardian’s reporting around the scale and scope of state surveillance has been in the public interest and has uncovered many important issues which now need a full and frank public debate.”

Talking in his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Berners-Lee said that though he had anticipated many of the surveillance activities exposed by Snowden, including taps on the internet through the Prism program, he had not been prepared for the scale of the NSA/GCHQ operations. “I didn’t realise it would be so big,” he said.

At worst, such spying could damage the public’s confidence in the intimate privacy of the internet as a free and safe place to interact. “When you take away the safe space, you take away a lot of the power of human problem solving,” he warned.

Berners-Lee will mark the 25th anniversary of his invention of the web next year by campaigning for greater public awareness of threats to the internet and by pushing for a charter that would codify the rights of all its users. As head of the World Wide Web Foundation, on 22 November he will release the 2013 Web Index, which measures the web’s growth, utility and impact across about 80 countries – including indicators on censorship and surveillance.

 Al Gore: Snowden ‘revealed evidence’ of crimes against US constitution

Former US vice-president Al Gore has described the activities of the National Security Agency as “outrageous” and “completely unacceptable” and said whistleblower Edward Snowden has “revealed evidence” of crimes against the US constitution.

Gore, speaking Tuesday night at McGill University in Montreal, said he was in favour of using surveillance to ensure national security, but Snowden’s revelations showed that those measures had gone too far.

“I say that as someone who was a member of the National Security Council working in the White House and getting daily briefings from the CIA,” Gore said, in comments reported by the Canadian Press.

Gore had previously said he believed the practice of the NSA collecting US citizens phone records was unlawful and “not really the American way”, but his comments on Tuesday represent his strongest criticism yet.

Asked about Snowden, the NSA whistleblower whose revelations have been reported extensively by the Guardian, Gore said the leaks had revealed uncovered unconstitutional practices.

“He has revealed evidence of what appears to be crimes against the Constitution of the United States,” Gore said.

Continue ReadingTim Berners-Lee condemns spy agencies as heads face MPs

Tax Special Investigation: HMRC ‘particularly feeble’ over failure to close loophole

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tax-special-investigation-hmrc-particularly-feeble-over-failure-to-close-loophole-8895209.html

Despite the tax exemption costing the UK economy at least £500m a year, the  Government bowed to  pressure after intense lobbying from the financial sector to allow companies to use it

The Government chose not to close a tax loophole which costs the UK economy at least £500m a year after intense lobbying from the financial sector, The Independent has learnt.

<snipped>

More than 30 companies are paying more than £2bn in total to their overseas owners every year as interest on borrowings. As these can be deducted from the companies’ taxable UK income, this amounts to a corporation tax saving of around £500m when compared to equivalent investment in shares in the company.

Without the exemption, any tax savings from the interest deductions would be greatly reduced by the 20 per cent withholding tax that HMRC would otherwise take from interest payments going overseas. As many more companies list debt in the Channel Islands, and the loophole also works in other exchanges including Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands, the total tax lost may be significantly higher.

27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.

dizzy

Continue ReadingTax Special Investigation: HMRC ‘particularly feeble’ over failure to close loophole

ATOS DWP appeal :: How it works

This article describes how the Atos Work Capabilities Assessment (WCA) and associated appeal system works and how the system is unfair and biased. A further article will look at how to appeal against a decision and use the appeal that I am doing soon as an example. A final article describes the appeal hearing.

Firstly, you have to realise that there is nothing fair, balanced or just about Atos assessments and appeals. They are about attacking the most vulnerable and least able to defend themselves people in society – the sick and disabled. They are not about ensuring that only ‘real’ disabled people who deserve it get benefit – they are all about denying benefit to those that deserve those benefits and are very seriously ill.

Larry, was found fit for work after an Atos assessment. After a long career in work, he had developed a serious lung condition, his weight had dropped from 10 to seven stone and he had trouble walking and breathing. In order to qualify for employment and support allowance (ESA), the new sickness benefit worth £95 a week, he needed 15 points in the test; he was given zero. He was dismayed to note a number of significant inaccuracies in the Atos report, and decided to appeal, but died from lung problems, before the appeal was heard. One of the last things he said to his wife before doctors put him on a ventilator was: “It’s a good job I’m fit for work.”

Last year the Guardian reported on the case of Ruth Anim, who was told after an Atos assessment that she was capable of finding work in the near future, despite the fact she needed constant one-to-one care, had no concept of danger and attended life skills classes to learn practical things like how to make a sandwich or a cup of tea. She was also described in the Atos report as a “male client”. Atos apologised for “any discrepancy in our report and any distress this may have caused”.

source

How it works

Disability benefits claimants are regularly reviewed and are therefore repeatedly subjected to Atos assessments and subsequent appeals – even in cases where their medical condition is very unlikely to improve. Vast sums of money are wasted on this unnecessary harassment of vulnerable and disabled people. Clearly, people with serious conditions which are not going to improve do not need to be repeatedly assessed every year or so.

The procedure starts with a questionnaire about medical conditions and activities of ‘daily living’. The claimant has a month to return the completed questionnaire.

The questionnaire is mostly ignored and an appointment is made for an assessment by Atos within a further month or so.

Atos conducts the Work Capabilities Assessment. It is mostly a question and answer affair with the Health Care Professional (HCP) inputting answers into a computer. There are a few physical examinations of the stand up, lift your arm above your head, touch your toes type. The HCP is often foreign and hard to understand. Foreign doctors and nurses who are not qualified to practice in UK are acceptable as HCPs.

The Work Capabilities Assessment consists of categories of activities for which points are awarded. For example there is not being able to stand or sit still for so long because of pain or discomfort. Less than 30 minutes is 9 points, less than 60 minutes is 6 points. Another example is walking within a reasonable time with the assistance of aids or a manual wheelchair. Less than 50 metres is 15 points, less than a hundred metres is 9 points, less than 200 metres is 6 points. 15 points are needed to be awarded – or continue to receive – a disbility benefit.

How can the Atos HCP decide that you’re able to walk over 200 metres without stopping due to pain or discomfort within a reasonable time? They ask you ridiculous, ‘opaque’ questions and draw ridiculous conclusions. How did you get to the test centre? You drove? Then you can walk over 200 metres without stopping due to pain or discomfort within a reasonable time. What’s your favourite television programme? Eastenders, eh? Watching Eastenders means that you can sit for 30 minutes and can even concentrate! or focus your attention! for 30 minutes. How many people just have the television on in the background?

The Decision Maker is advised of Atos’s conclusions and usually stops or refuses benefit.

The claimant has within a month to appeal. Asking for a statement of reasons for the decision extends the time to appeal to a month from receiving the statement of reasons. [28/07/13 1.40pm Looks like this has changed & you have to appeal within a month of the decision. Check for yourself.]

The claimant must appeal within a month. The claimant can ask for a paper appeal or an appeal in person.

The appeal is delayed for many months. A month or two before the appeal date the appeal ‘bundle’ of papers will be sent to the appellant. This is the Decision Maker’s legal argument and all relevant papers on which the decision was based.

The appeal is heard. Appeals are nowadays heard by a tribunal which is part of the Court Service. The tribunal is supposed to be independent and impartial and follow the rules of natural justice (procedural fairness). The Decision Maker’s position is argued by a practising solicitor or lawyer. [30/07/13 10.10pm This appears to have changed now. Often there is no Presenting Officer present. The Presenting Officer nowadays seems to be a different Decision Maker to the one that made the decision.] The claimant has the opportunity to argue against the Decision Maker’s case.

I haven’t been to an appeal for over a decade and the system has changed since. The Appeal Tribunal may tell you their decision on the day or make you wait. I have been to one appeal with such good legal argument that it was unchallenged. You need to argue law and on the basis of previous decisions.

If you win at appeal you look forward to doing it all again soon.

How it’s unfair

I’ve got a few ideas about how it’s unfair and biased against the claimant. No doubt I am also missing many.

It’s unfair because it’s intended to be unfair. The Decision Maker and the Atos Health Care Professional are not about being fair. Their whole purpose is to refuse benefits. They might pretend to be fair but they’re not.

Everybody involved except the claimant is trained, professional and experienced. There is nobody to assist or represent the claimant while he or she may be very ill and unable to prepare his or her own case.

The case is decided on the basis of law while this is not even made clear to the claimant. While claimants are advised to seek assistance from Citizens Advice Bureaus, Law Centres or Welfare Rights Advisors there is actually no help available. A claimant will be very lucky to even have the near useless help of a law student.

The Decision Maker can prefer Atos’s Health Care Professional’s opinion over that of the claimant’s GP. How on earth can that be fair?

[28/07/13 3am

The strange conclusions drawn from ‘opaque’ questions seem very unfair.

[28/07/13 12.30pm

There is a problem with the ‘opaque’ questions since they are taken to mean something other than what they actually mean i.e. they are interpreted in a certain way like a topic-specific discourse, a subset of language, a mini-language if you like (I’ll probably return to improve this when I have the correct term or phrase). Tribunal participants other than the claimant will be familiar with these alternate meaning while e.g. “can sow and knit” may be taken by the claimant only to mean that he or she can sow and knit.]

In the appeal I’m looking at both the Decision Maker and Atos’s HCP have avoided assessment of one descriptor completely. This is because my client didn’t complete the questionnaire very well. It is quite clear that this descriptor applies but it’s raised as an answer to a different question. It’s also blatantly clear in the request for appeal.]

If you have an appeal

Essential resources are the Welfare Benefit Handbook, the Decision Makers Guide and previous decisions. Use the web.

May be revised

 

I can do that. Gizza. Gizza.

Continue ReadingATOS DWP appeal :: How it works

Cameron’s war on the internet

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced steps to further censor the web – amoung other things – in a speech on Monday 22nd, July. The speech confuses and conflates many issues and appears intended to appeal to sexual prudes and religious bigots. Cameron’s proposals are half-baked and show a fundamental ignorance of internet technology. It’s all a bit disappointing and surprising because you’d expect his speech writers and researchers to do a better job – he is UK Prime Minister after all. It’s almost as if these researchers and writers don’t have any experience of porn but that can’t be right.

Many issues are confused and conflated: pornography, pornography depicting rape, child pornography, child abuse, childhood ‘innocence’. The speech even starts confused intended to appeal to prudes and bigots that believe any expression of sexuality is as bad as biting apples: “I want to talk about the internet the impact it is having on the innocence of our children how online pornography is corroding childhood and how, in the darkest corners of the internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out.”

It’s confused, isn’t it? By innocence he means ignorance as if ignorance should be encouraged and lauded. How is online pornography corroding childhood more than any other pornography? Children do not have access to online pornography. Adolescents probably doo but not children. And so what? Is it that much worse than war films or everyday violent television, television where people are getting shot, murdered and maimed?

“… in the darkest corners of the internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out.” If they’re in the darkest corners of the internet they’re not any danger to your children. Cameron is trying his hardest to scare you. Is this taking over now that terrorism BS is discredited and wearing thin?

“I’m not making this speech because I want to moralise or scare-monger, but because I feel profoundly as a politician, and as a father, that the time for action has come.

This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence.”

I think that’s exactly why Cameron is making this speech: to moralise and scare-monger. Protect our children and their ignorance innocence. Oh please stop it.

“The internet is not just where we buy, sell and socialise it is where crimes happen and where people can get hurt and it is where children and young people learn about the world, each other, and themselves.”

It is where SOME crimes happen. People can get hurt? Well not physically. Where children and young people learn about the world, each other, and themselves? Oh don’t be so stupid. The internet is only a small part of childrens’ world. They go to school because they’re children. They interact with other children. They watch telly. They are members of families. The internet is only one part of their lives.

“The fact is that the growth of the internet as an unregulated space has thrown up two major challenges when it comes to protecting our children.”

Here it comes …

“The first challenge is criminal: and that is the proliferation and accessibility of child abuse images on the internet.
The second challenge is cultural: the fact that many children are viewing online pornography and other damaging material at a very young age and that the nature of that pornography is so extreme, it is distorting their view of sex and relationships.

Let me be clear.

These challenges are very distinct and very different.

In one we’re talking about illegal material the other legal material that is being viewed by those who are underage.

But both these challenges have something in common.

They are about how our collective lack of action on the internet has led to harmful – and in some cases truly dreadful – consequences for children.

Of course, a free and open internet is vital.

But in no other market – and with no other industry – do we have such an extraordinarily light touch when it comes to protecting our children.”

Cameron says that these two issues are distinct and different … but I’ll conflate them anyway.

The ‘proliferation and accessibility of child abuse images on the internet’ is a myth. Cameron is quite simply making it up. The Internet Watch Foundation collates sites containing child abuse, tells ISP and the ISPs block them. That’s happening now. It’s difficult to find child abuse imagery, you have to make deliberate efforts.

Are many children viewing online pornography and other damaging material at a very young age? Is that pornography so extreme, that it is distorting their view of sex and relationships?

They’re unlikely to be that young. I would expect that they would certainly be in their teens and post-puberty to have an interest in it. Is pornography that extreme? It is certainly posed and acted but then the BS they see on telly will also distort their view of sex and relationships. It’s dead easy to distort childrens’ view of sex and relationships come to think of it. They will have one main, overwhelming model for a start: their very own parents.

Cameron’s on a roll now, there’s no stopping him. “My argument is that the internet is not a side-line to ‘real life’ or an escape from ‘real life’; it is real life.

It has an impact: on the children who view things that harm them on the vile images of abuse that pollute minds and cause crime on the very values that underpin our society.”

The very values that underpin our society. That will be page 3 then, that’s no problem. Somehow objectifying women is not distorting childrens’ view of sex and relationship? Oh that will be because it’s owned by Murdoch.

I’m getting tired of this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying sex and the sooner young people become aware of their own complex being, the better it is all round. To Cameron there is only one type of porn: evil, and I’m surprised he’s such a prude but then he’s probably not. [26/07/13 On reflection, I think that he probably is. He’s certainly no John Major, eh? Gizza. Gizza.)

25/07/13 Addendum

There is child pornography on the net but you have to look for it and will not stumble across it accidentally. There is some confusion amoung commentators on Cameron’s speech who should know better. Paedophile imagery is on hidden services, part of encrypted, anonymity networks. I would be surprised to find any on peer-to-peer (p2p) networks.

I would much prefer that Cameron and the government pursued real paedophiles abusing real children. I have stumbled across a real paedophile and have a pretty good idea who they are and why they are not pursued.

Cameron’s speech supports the why we must all be spied on agenda of covert spying agencies. If we are spied on as much as has recently become apparent, shouldn’t far more paedophiles be in  prison?

25/07/13 Addendum 2

“And today I can announce that from next year, we will also link up existing fragmented databases across all the police forces to produce a single secure database of illegal images of children which will help police in different parts of the country work together more effectively to close the net on paedophiles.

It will also enable the industry to use the digital hash tags from the database to
pro-actively scan for, block and take down these images wherever they occur.”

That will be incredibly easy – trivial – to avoid.

Cameron continues his speech talking about default-on ‘filters’ and outlawing extreme pornography. Filters are going to further censor the internet. The internet is already hugely censored in e.g. libraries and workplaces, through Microsoft produced censorship software. Some forms of extreme pornography is already illegal.

“Once CEOP becomes a part of the National Crime Agency, that will further increase their ability to investigate behind pay walls to shine a light on the hidden internet and to drive prosecutions of those who are found to use it.”

This is a clear mistake. There is nothing illegal about using the so-called “hidden internet” and no possible prosecutions per se. I’m running a hidden internet server FFS. This speech is a mess. I’m looking for work.

Continue ReadingCameron’s war on the internet

UK politics news review

 

Since the last UK politics news review the Labour party conference has ended and the Conservative scum conference has started. Towards the end of the Labour party conference there was the unveiling of familiar NHS imagery and the start of a criticism of the Conservative-Liberal-Democrat Con-Dem policy of austerity.

The Conservative scum party came to power illegitimately, having campaigned on many promises of protecting the NHS – “no top-down privatisation”, “I’ll cut the defecit, not the NHS”, etc – and then joining with their Liberal-Democrat-Conservatives to form the coalition government. While there was no clear winner from the 2010 general election, the ConDems have proceeded to pursue policies contrary to their election pledges for which they cannot possibly have any electoral mandate.

The Conservatives are known as the nasty party and follow Blair’s policies and philosophy. It has been noted by several commentators that their conference is a showpiece affair. Slasher Bully-boy Osborne’s speech was certainly of the reciprocal applause every sentence affair. Bully-boy and British prime minister David Cameron is expected to make his “I’m a pretty straight kinda guy” speech today – I feel that it could never be as deceitful as Blair’s on a very fundamental level.

 

Continue ReadingUK politics news review

NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat(Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

 

‘Chickens coming home to roost’ as number of debt-ridden NHS trusts rise

The Audit Commission report highlighting the increasing number of NHS organisations in debt shows that “chickens are coming home to roost” for David Cameron, Unite, the largest union in the country, said today (Thursday, 20 September).

Unite’s head of health, Rachael Maskell said: “We now know why the risk register into the coalition’s so-called NHS reforms never saw the light of day, despite the best efforts of the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham.
“The financial risks of Cameron’s reforms have resulted in trusts rapidly sinking into debt, leaving them ripe for accelerated privatisation.

“Services are being rationed which means patients have to wait longer or travel further for treatment which, in turn, puts the public at greater risk. No wonder Cameron exercised the Cabinet veto to stop the risk register being published.

“The new health secretary, Jeremy Hunt is on holiday in France, sipping fine wine, when he should be at his desk getting to grips with the chaos left by his predecessor, Andrew Lansley. The chickens are coming home to roost.”

The Audit Commission reported that the number of NHS trusts and foundation trusts in deficit increased from 13 in 2010/11 to 31 in 2011/12. Thirty nine NHS trusts reported a poorer financial position in 2011/12 than in the previous year, and 18 NHS trusts and foundation trusts received financial support from the Department of Health.

Increasing use of “zero-hours” contracts in Britain’s National Health Service

“Zero-Hours” contracts, which restrict workers to on call working, no guaranteed income or employment rights have been widely implemented across the National Health Service (NHS). The Independent recently reported that zero-hours contracts are increasingly being used “in core services such as cardiac, psychiatric therapy, respiratory diagnostics and adult hearing” describing this as “a key change to the fabric of NHS employment.”

Zero-Hours contracts are part of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat government’s plans to drive down wages and working conditions across the NHS and prepare it for full privatisation. The Independent report identifies the concerns of critics and experts, who warn of a “G4S-style” fiasco within the NHS, referring to the inability of private security firm G4S to provide the required amount of staff at the London Olympics due to the scandalous pay and conditions offered.

NHS workers have already suffered a two year pay freeze, attacks on pensions and increases in the retirement age. They will now be in danger of losing welfare benefits that top up their salaries, such as child tax credits. Qualification for these requires a person to work a minimum 16 hours a week. According to the Citizen Information Board workers on zero-hours contracts “are protected by the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 but this does not apply to casual employment.”

The protection offered by the Act is nothing but a rubber a stamp for slashing wages even further.

If a worker “under a zero-hours contract works less than 25 percent of their hours in any week they are entitled to be compensated. The level of compensation depends on whether the employee got any work or none at all. If the employee got no work, then the compensation should be either for 25 percent of the possible available hours or for 15 hours, whichever is less. If the employee got some work, they should be compensated to bring them up to 25 percent of the possible available hours.”

But as the report in the Independent outlined, the contracts being offered by the NHS Trusts and private firms “do not guarantee any specified number of hours”. NHS workers will be on call but will have no guarantee on hours, pay or employments rights and will only get paid for the actual time spent at work—meaning they are “in work, but not always at work” as one expert explained.

NHS faces £8bn cuts ‘after next election’

The National Health Service could face cuts of almost £8bn immediately after the next general election, according to the first analysis of the Government’s own figures as it draws up another round of spending reductions.

In a report published today, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank reveals the stark choices facing all three main parties at the 2015 election. Although most attention has focused on George Osborne’s plan for a further £10bn of welfare cuts, that would not ease the pressure on other budgets such as health, education, defence and law and order.

David Cameron has pledged to increase NHS spending by more than inflation every year but that might not be extended beyond the election. The Chancellor has already conceded that more cuts will be needed in the first two years of the next parliament because he will not clear the deficit as quickly as he originally planned after the economy went back into recession.

According to the IPPR, the Government’s fiscal targets imply real terms cuts of 3.8 per cent in 2015-16 and 2016-17 – higher than the 2.3 per cent average reduction now being implemented across Whitehall departments. Unless the NHS pledge is extended – a move the Treasury may oppose – its budget would be cut by £7.8bn in 2016-17. If the cuts were spread evenly, education spending would fall by £3.8bn, defence by £1.7bn, local government by £1.6bn and the Home Office by £500m.

£20bn opportunity for private sector in NHS

Changes in healthcare policy and pressures on public finances represent a “£20bn opportunity” for the private sector to increase its NHS provision, according to a research report out this week.

A report by Catalyst, the corporate finance adviser, said the private sector is becoming increasingly involved in delivering healthcare services as the NHS struggles to cope with the demands of an ageing population and the need to make efficiency savings of £20bn by 2015.

It said there is a significant opportunity for the private sector in primary and secondary care in particular, markets it estimates to be worth around £20bn.

The report noted that while the private sector currently delivers a very small proportion of primary and secondary care, “if the Government is to manage funding pressures and achieve improved outcomes for patients this will need to increase”.

It said that landmark contracts awarded to providers such as Circle, Virgin Care and Serco show growing “recognition from the public sector that leveraging the private sector’s ability to invest capital and use more efficient delivery models is necessary for the Government to reduce costs while improving the quality of healthcare”.

Justin Crowther, director at Catalyst and co-author of the report, said: “Despite many challenges, the private sector is increasingly providing healthcare services, whether paid for by the taxpayer or directly by consumers at the point of use.

“Whether this is to turn around underperforming hospitals, operate GP surgeries, deliver community services or create centres of excellence in areas such as pathology, [NHS] commissioners are increasingly using the skills and capital of the private sector.”

 

NHS privatisation: Compilation of financial and vested interests

 

 

We do want to break up the NHS. We don’t want to privatise it, we want to break it up.” Nick Clegg.

 

Nick Clegg’s demand for the NHS to be broken up

Opponents said the comments about the NHS, in a 2005 interview in the Independent, showed that Mr Clegg had no understanding of the way the health service works.

In the interview, carried out while Charles Kennedy was leader and two years before Mr Clegg took the job, he said: ‘I think breaking up the NHS is exactly what you do need to do to make it a more responsive service.’

Asked whether he favoured a Canadian or European-style social insurance system, he said: ‘I don’t think anything should be ruled out. I do think they deserve to be looked at because frankly the faults of the British health service compared to others still leave much to be desired.

‘We will have to provide alternatives about what a different NHS looks like.’

Under a social insurance system, members pay into an insurance scheme, either themselves or through an employer, to guarantee their healthcare. It means that those who pay into a more expensive scheme can get better care.

Under the NHS, however, everyone pays into the same scheme through taxes – and is then guaranteed care that is ‘free at the point of use’.

In the interview, Mr Clegg said ‘defending the status quo’ is no longer an option. Instead, he called on his party to ‘let its hair down’, ‘break a long-standing taboo’ and be ‘reckless’ in its thinking.

‘We do want to break up the NHS,’ he said. ‘We don’t want to privatise it, we want to break it up. Should the debate be taboo? Of course not, absolutely not.’

A year earlier, Mr Clegg had contributed to the notorious Orange Book in which those on the right of the party discussed how policies should change under Mr Kennedy’s leadership. The conclusion of the book outlines in more detail the type of insurance scheme he was outlining.

‘The NHS is failing to deliver a health service that meets the needs and expectations of today’s population,’ it said.

John Lister, of the lobby group Health Emergency, said: ‘These comments show Mr Clegg does not understand the NHS. He seems to be ignorant of the fact that social insurance schemes in Europe are far more expensive.’

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘The NHS is one of Britain’s most loved institutions. People will be worried that Nick Clegg wants to “break it up”.’ [!!! That’s Andrew Lansley pretending that the NHS is safe in Tory hands before the election !!!]

 

How the Orange Bookers took over the Lib Dems


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.

27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.

dizzy

Continue ReadingNHS news review

NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat(Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

 

 

Supporters of the NHS should fear Jeremy Hunt

If the Tories wanted to tell opponents of NHS privatisation (that’s most of the country, by the way), to commit an obscene act on their own person, appointing Jeremy Hunt as Secretary of State for Health was a pretty effective means of delivering the message.

Here is a man who, throughout the Murdoch scandal, proved an instinctive champion of corporate power. A pamphlet he co-authored in 2005, Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party, called for the NHS to be denationalised and replaced with a national insurance model. It is even rumoured he attempted to remove the moving NHS tribute from the Olympics Opening Ceremony.

 

And it gets much, much worse. The new guardian of our health pushed for his constituency’s own NHS Trust to be taken over by Virgin Care in a deal worth £650m. When Hunt was appointed, some mocked that he was about to hand the NHS over to Rupert Murdoch; it turns out Richard Branson is one likely beneficiary. If anyone was wondering what the future of the NHS looks like under this Government, look no further than the backyard of the Secretary of State for Health himself.

 

Jeremy Hunt is criticised for his role in £650m Virgin hospital deal

Jeremy Hunt, the new health secretary, personally intervened to encourage the controversial takeover of NHS hospitals in his constituency by a private company, Virgin Care, raising fresh concerns last night over his appointment.

Hunt, who replaced Andrew Lansley in last week’s cabinet reshuffle, was so concerned by a delay to the £650m deal earlier this year that he asked for assurances from NHS Surrey officials that it would be swiftly signed.

Virgin Care, which is part-owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, subsequently agreed on a five-year contract in March to run seven hospitals along with dentistry services, sexual health clinics, breast cancer screening and other community services. The takeover took place despite concerns being raised in the local NHS risk register about the impact on patient care following the transfer of management from the NHS to one of the country’s largest private healthcare firms, until recently known as Assura Medical.

The director of nursing highlighted the danger of “significant issues” emerging during the first year of Virgin Care control, which NHS Surrey has tried to ameliorate through contractual controls. There was also prolonged wrangling between NHS Surrey and Virgin Care over the terms of the deal, including staff’s terms of employment. However, during the lengthy delay before the deal was agreed, Hunt intervened to ask for assurances from the head of the primary care trust “that the delay is to ensure the best possible outcome for patients and staff”. Writing on his website about the issue, he added: “I hope that Assura and NHS Surrey are able to complete the transfer of services soon, but I am glad they are crossing every T and dotting every I.”

The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, said last night that the revelation would add to concerns about Hunt’s appointment and his affinity to big business so soon after the furore over the minister’s relationship with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp while he was culture secretary during the attempted takeover of BSkyB.

Jeremy Hunt booed by crowd at Paralympic medal ceremony

Hunt was the latest minister to feel the wrath of a Paralympic crowd after Home Secretary Theresa May and Chancellor George Osborne were barracked earlier this week.

However those who saw the jeering said that Hunt appeared unfazed by the reaction, and continued smiling as he handed out the medals.

We do want to break up the NHS. We don’t want to privatise it, we want to break it up.”  Nick Clegg.

 

Nick Clegg’s demand for the NHS to be broken up

Opponents said the comments about the NHS, in a 2005 interview in the Independent, showed that Mr Clegg had no understanding of the way the health service works.

In the interview, carried out while Charles Kennedy was leader and two years before Mr Clegg took the job, he said: ‘I think breaking up the NHS is exactly what you do need to do to make it a more responsive service.’

Asked whether he favoured a Canadian or European-style social insurance system, he said: ‘I don’t think anything should be ruled out. I do think they deserve to be looked at because frankly the faults of the British health service compared to others still leave much to be desired.

‘We will have to provide alternatives about what a different NHS looks like.’

Under a social insurance system, members pay into an insurance scheme, either themselves or through an employer, to guarantee their healthcare. It means that those who pay into a more expensive scheme can get better care.

Under the NHS, however, everyone pays into the same scheme through taxes – and is then guaranteed care that is ‘free at the point of use’.

In the interview, Mr Clegg said ‘defending the status quo’ is no longer an option. Instead, he called on his party to ‘let its hair down’, ‘break a long-standing taboo’ and be ‘reckless’ in its thinking.

‘We do want to break up the NHS,’ he said. ‘We don’t want to privatise it, we want to break it up. Should the debate be taboo? Of course not, absolutely not.’

A year earlier, Mr Clegg had contributed to the notorious Orange Book in which those on the right of the party discussed how policies should change under Mr Kennedy’s leadership. The conclusion of the book outlines in more detail the type of insurance scheme he was outlining.

‘The NHS is failing to deliver a health service that meets the needs and expectations of today’s population,’ it said.

John Lister, of the lobby group Health Emergency, said: ‘These comments show Mr Clegg does not understand the NHS. He seems to be ignorant of the fact that social insurance schemes in Europe are far more expensive.’

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘The NHS is one of Britain’s most loved institutions. People will be worried that Nick Clegg wants to “break it up”.’ [!!! That’s Andrew Lansley pretending that the NHS is safe in Tory hands before the election !!!]

 

How the Orange Bookers took over the Lib Dems


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.

27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.

dizzy

Continue ReadingNHS news review