Labour right look to kick out SHA over criticism of Streeting and crushing defeat in exec elections

Original article republished from the Skwawkbox for non-commercial use

Right-wingers hammered in Socialist Health Association elections said to be aiming to disaffiliate SHA on pretext after organisation condemned Starmer and sidekick Streeting for appalling health policy

The Labour right is angling to kick the Socialist Health Association (SHA) out of the party after the faction was crushed in the SHA’s internal elections – and in revenge for the SHA’s resounding condemnation of Labour’s privatisation-friendly health policy.

The right-wing slate had tried to boycott the elections claiming, presumably after seeing how poor their chances were, that the election was set up against them – but left it too late and the vote went ahead, with the right losing by a ratio of roughly six to one. As one wag put it, it must have been quite some fix to achieve that kind of ratio.

The previous SHA exec last month issued a scathing condemnation of Keir Starmer and his health spokesman Wes Streeting’s plan to extend the use of private healthcare in the NHS, the contempt the pair have shown for the health policy unanimously voted for by Labour members at last year’s party conference and the pair’s readiness to accept large donations from donors with private health interests – a position now resoundingly re-endorsed by SHA members:

At the 2022 Labour Party Conference, the Health Composite Motion moved by the Socialist Health Association (“SHA”) stated that Labour would adopt “a position of outright opposition to and commit to vote against any and all forms of privatisation of the NHS” and “commit to returning all privatised portions of the NHS to public control upon forming a Government”. It also banned Labour MPs from accepting donations from private companies interested in outsourcing NHS functions. See Conference Arrangements Committee Report 4, page 12.

The SHA’s motion was endorsed by a compositing process involving rank and file members, local constituency parties, trade unions, and the shadow frontbench. The Labour Conference passed it unanimously.

The NHS is at breaking point after 12 years of Tory privatisation and outsourcing. It is therefore beyond disappointing that Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting has come out in favour of using private providers to bring down NHS waiting lists.

That is not the position democratically agreed at Labour Conference. And it is simply wrong, for the following reasons.

  1. It is simply wrong to say that the private sector has greater capacity to clear NHS backlogs. The people working in the private healthcare sector are, by and large, the same doctors and nurses who work in the NHS, and with the exception of the overseas health workers, the vast majority of them were trained in the NHS. Every hour of staff time devoted to private healthcare is an hour of staff time taken away from public healthcare for those who need it most.
  2. It is simply wrong to say that the private sector is more “efficient”. One example of this is that the Institute for Public Policy Research has found that Tony Blair’s Private Finance Initiatives cost the NHS almost £80 billion for only £13 billion of investment. The only party which benefits ‘efficiently’ from private finance is big finance – not patients.
  3. It is shameful that the Shadow Cabinet has failed to stand shoulder to shoulder with health unions in demanding fair pay and conditions for their members. The BMA has calculated that junior doctors have suffered a real pay cut of 26.1% since 2008 – meaning an exodus of qualified doctors driven out of the public sector just when patients need them most. Staff working conditions are patient treatment conditions.

The impetus for Labour’s ban on accepting donations from private companies interested in outsourcing NHS functions was a report that, in  2022, Wes Streeting accepted a £15,000 donation from hedge fund manager John Armitage. Mr Armitage’s fund owns shares worth more than half a billion dollars in UnitedHealth. UnitedHealth is America’s largest health insurer. It has spent millions of dollars lobbying US politicians against healthcare reform through seven different lobbying forms. This includes lobbying against the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which would guarantee supplies to insulin to diabetics who depend on it to survive. It is one of the largest profiteers from NHS outsourcing and one of the biggest potential beneficiaries of future privatisation.

It is therefore also beyond disappointing to see that Wes Streeting has accepted a further £60,000 from MPM Connect. Wes Streeting and the other recipients funds from MPM Connect (including Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and Mayor Dan Jarvis) should urgently confirm just what MPM Connect does; the terms under which they accepted a total of £340,000 from MPM Connect; just what MPM Connect expects in return; and whether its “investments in the employment sector” include further NHS outsourcing.

Accepting donations from private companies interested in NHS outsourcing creates an apparent conflict of interest, and undermines public confidence in Labour’s commitment to rebuilding a publicly owned and provided NHS.

We call on Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting to commit to the policy democratically agreed by the Labour Party – preventing further privatisation and immediately returning all privatised parts of the NHS to public ownership and control.

Mark Ladbrooke
SHA Chair

Harry Stratton

SHA Secretary

Esther Giles
SHA Treasurer

In apparent revenge, Skwawkbox understands that the Labour right – which now dominates the party’s national executive, is planning to table a move to expel or disaffiliate the SHA from the party, on the pretext that the result was somehow rigged despite the massive majority for the left slate, along with the membership status of one or more of the SHA’s elected officers.

The gross hypocrisy of this excuse cannot be overstated. The right-wing ‘Jewish Labour movement’ – of which many of the SHA right-wingers are strong supporters – was not disaffiliated by the party even though it retained members and officers who were actively, openly and officially campaigning against Labour and for the CUK ‘funny tinge’ party in UK elections, an act that is supposed to result in automatic expulsion and lengthy ineligibility to rejoin.

But it seems the right is so desperate to eradicate any left strongholds in the party – and to cover up the betrayal of the NHS by what passes for Labour’s ‘leadership’ – that it will resort to even the most grotesque and shameless lengths to achieve it.

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Original article republished from the Skwawkbox for non-commercial use

Continue ReadingLabour right look to kick out SHA over criticism of Streeting and crushing defeat in exec elections

Varoufakis Details Vision for Ending ‘Global Empire of Capital’ to Avert Catastrophe

Original article republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Yanis Varoufakis. Image: Olaf Kosinsky ( Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0-de

Creating a new international economic order “sounds like an impossible dream,” said the former Greek finance minister, but “not more impossible than the principle of one person, one vote, or of the end of the divine right of kings once sounded.”

KENNY STANCILDecember 12, 2022

Humanity faces a grim fate because the global ruling class refuses to depart from the capitalist status quo even as their quest to maximize profits intensifies the climate crisis and the prospects of a nuclear war. But with enough solidarity, progressives around the world can build an egalitarian, democratic, peaceful, and sustainable society.

That’s the message shared Monday by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who outlined his vision for how the left can work together to end the “global empire of capital” and forge a humane future—part of a Progressive International-led effort to chart a path toward a “New International Economic Order for the 21st century.”

Varoufakis began by noting that “we have never been closer to a nuclear holocaust than today,” as the doomsday clock that scientists invented in the 1940s quickly approaches midnight. Meanwhile, there is another clock “counting down to the moment humanity will have passed the point of no return from climate catastrophe.”

“What is the global ruling class doing to avert these twin calamities?” asked Varoufakis. “Their best to push humanity over both cliffs at once.”

“They have started a new Cold War,” said Varoufakis. “They are pursuing white-hot endless wars around the world—wars that help them sell more weapons than ever.”

“They are drilling with renewed gusto for oil and gas, while delivering speeches on environmental protection,” he continued. “They are turning the screws on workers everywhere, while waxing lyrical about social responsibility.”

“Enough of their hypocrisy, their war-mongering, their financialization of lives, and the privatization of our commons,” Varoufakis declared. “Progressives of the world refuse to take sides on this new ‘cold’ hot war. We are instead building a new non-aligned movement to fight for humanity’s survival by working for peace, solidarity, and cooperation,” he added, referring to the assemblage of Third World nations that refused in the wake of decolonization and throughout the Cold War to side with either the United States or the Soviet Union.

According to Varoufakis, the “one thing” that undercuts cooperation, solidarity, and peace is “the reign of capital over labor and the debt bondage it inflicts upon the majority everywhere—in the Global South, but also in the Global North.”

As the 50th anniversary of the United Nations’ 1974 adoption of the original non-aligned movement’s proposals for a New International Economic Order (NIEO) nears, Varoufakis argued that to turn progressives’ yearning for a NIEO into reality, a revived non-aligned movement must “direct large quantities of money into the things humanity craves, from plentiful green energy to public health to public education and poverty alleviation.”

Just imagine, said Varoufakis, if existing international financial institutions were restructured and invested “10% of global income into the green transition, especially in the developing world.”

“Unless we bring down the global empire of increasingly concentrated capital, there is no chance we can end wars, eradicate poverty, or avert climate disaster.”

“Of course,” he acknowledged, “this will remain a dream unless our movement manages to dismantle the global empire of capital.”

To end “the tyranny of capital over people” and reclaim “plundered commons on land, in the oceans, in the air, and soon in outer space,” Varoufakis called for two key reforms.

The first is to ensure that “corporations belong to the people who work in them on the basis of one person, one share, one vote,” said Varoufakis. The second is to deny “banks a monopoly over peoples’ transactions.”

Once that happens, banks and profits will “wither as society’s main drivers,” the political economist argued, “because the banks will be defanged” and the distinction between profits and wages erased. “The simultaneous euthanasia of the labor markets and the share markets, along with the defanging of the banks, will automatically redistribute wealth and as a magnificent byproduct, remove the main incentives for waging war.”

Moreover, “the end of capital’s power over society will allow communities collectively to decide health provision, education, [and] investment in saving the environment from our virus-like growth,” he continued. “Genuine democracy will at last be possible, to be practiced in the citizens’ and the workers’ assemblies—not behind the closed doors where oligarchs and bureaucrats gather.”

Varoufakis admitted that “the twin democratization of capital and of money sounds like an impossible dream.” However, he countered, “not more impossible than the principle of one person, one vote, or of the end of the divine right of kings once sounded.”

“Unless we bring down the global empire of increasingly concentrated capital, there is no chance we can end wars, eradicate poverty, or avert climate disaster,” said Varoufakis. “This twin democratization is nothing short of a precondition for our species’ survival.”

The former Greek finance minister concluded by calling on progressives everywhere “to unite in a common struggle not just for humanity’s survival but for a chance at giving every child that is born tomorrow and in the future a chance at a successful life… on a livable planet, where war has become extinct, along with poverty and fear.”

Varoufakis’ address is part of a campaign that Progressive International launched last Thursday at the People’s Forum in New York City, where scholars and policymakers from around the world met “to present, deliberate, and develop proposals for a New International Economic Order fit for the 21st century.”

In a pair of videos shared Monday, Jayati Ghosh, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and one of the thinkers who participated in last week’s discussion, stressed the need to ditch neoliberal policies, to “claw back some of the rights that we have lost over the past 50 years, and to reinvent what we see as a just, equitable, sustainable, viable international economy.”

To start with, policymakers must “undo the major privatizations” of the past half-century, said Ghosh. Alluding to the ongoing refusal of wealthy countries and pharmaceutical corporations to share know-how and transfer technology that would enable the expanded production of Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, she also called for action to address “the concentration of knowledge, which has become something that is actually obscene and actively killing people.”

As part of its campaign to win a fresh U.N. declaration on a NIEO by 2024, Progressive International has also launched The Internationalist, a subscription-based newsletter featuring exclusive interviews; accounts of struggle from trade union, social movement, and political leaders; academic research; translations; art; and more.

The latest edition includes an interview with Andrés Arauz, an economist and former minister of knowledge and human talent under ex-Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. The conversation with Arauz, who narrowly lost the 2021 presidential election in Ecuador and was part of last week’s panel convened by Progressive International, focuses on the “political economy of under-development in the Global South.”

During last week’s event, Yusnier Romero Puentes, deputy permanent representative of Cuba to the U.N., announced that the Cuban government had invited Progressive International to host a NIEO-focused summit in Havana on January 25, 2023.

Progressive International general coordinator David Adler told the audience that “we are again in a moment of rapid geopolitical transformation with the end of the unipolar domination of the United States—but we lack a common vision of the multipolar world that is now in formation.”

“Next month in Havana, we will bring together governments, political representatives, popular movements, scholars, and policymakers to start the process of constructing that common vision and building the power to bring it about,” he added.

Original article republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Continue ReadingVaroufakis Details Vision for Ending ‘Global Empire of Capital’ to Avert Catastrophe

WSWS on “Free speech” hypocrisy following Charlie Hebdo

The World Socialist Website comments on Western “Free Speech” hypocrisy after the strange events of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

While I support free speech, some reporting has been worse than useless. Does anyone know if there were two or three attackers yet? Were they Kalashnikovs or AK47s? I know what a rocket launcher is, but what’s a rocket grenade launcher? Do you really believe that an attacker left his identity card in the getaway vehicle? How fortunate … and haven’t we heard that one before many times?

“Free Speech” hypocrisy in the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo

Throughout Europe and the United States, the claim is being made that the attack on the magazine Charlie Hebdo was an assault on the freedom of the press and the unalienable right of journalists in a democratic society to express themselves without loss of freedom or fear for their lives. The killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and editors is being proclaimed an assault on the principles of free speech that are, supposedly, held so dear in Europe and the United States. The attack on Charlie Hebdo is, thus, presented as an another outrage by Muslims who cannot tolerate Western “freedoms.” From this the conclusion must be drawn that the “war on terror”—i.e., the imperialist onslaught on the Middle East, Central Asia and North and Central Africa—is an unavoidable necessity.

In the midst of this orgy of democratic hypocrisy, no reference is made to the fact that the American military, in the course of its wars in the Middle East, is responsible for the deaths of at least 15 journalists. In the on-going narrative of “Freedom of Speech Under Attack,” there is no place for any mention of the 2003 air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded.

Nor is anything being written or said about the July 2007 murder of two Reuters journalists working in Baghdad, staff photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh. Both men were deliberately targeted by US Apache gunships while on assignment in East Baghdad.

The American and international public was first able to view a video of the cold-blooded murder of the two journalists as well as a group of Iraqis—taken from one of the gunships—as the result of WikiLeaks’ release of classified material that it had obtained from an American soldier, Corporal Bradley Chelsea Manning.

And how has the United States and Europe acted to protect WikiLeaks’ exercise of free speech? Julian Assange, the founder and publisher of WikiLeaks, has been subjected to relentless persecution. Leading political and media figures in the United States and Canada have denounced him as a “terrorist” and demanded his arrest, with some even calling publicly for his murder. Assange is being pursued on fraudulent “rape” charges concocted by American and Swedish intelligence services. He has been compelled to seek sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, which is under constant guard by British police who will seize Assange if he steps out of the embassy. As for Chelsea Manning, she is presently in prison, serving out a 35-year sentence for treason.

That is how the great capitalist “democracies” of North America and Europe have demonstrated their commitment to free speech and the safety of journalists!

Continue ReadingWSWS on “Free speech” hypocrisy following Charlie Hebdo