Tag Archives: Jeremy Hunt

Goodbye NHS

David Cameron - NHSThe Tory/LibDem policy of destroying the NHS has been sweeping along since 2010, to the financial benefit of Tory donors.

This is really just one more step, but it’s a big one.

The prolife Conservative party instituted charges for maternal health care for “immigrants and tourists” in 2011. With the obvious results:

The researchers heard the case of a woman who needed a caesarean for medical reasons, but who gave birth at home because she could not afford the charges. The midwives and overseas visitors officers told the charity that some women were not going to their antenatal appointments and were instead turning up in labour with severe complications.
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Paul Dacre Fisked

Someone must leak the letter Paul Dacre wrote the Guardian demanding a column….

“Out in the real world, it was a pretty serious week for news. The US was on the brink of budget default, a British court heard how for two years social workers failed to detect the mummified body of a four-year-old starved to death by his mother, and it was claimed that the then Labour health secretary had covered up unnecessary deaths in a NHS hospital six months before the election.”

Paul DacreA splendid opening from Paul Dacre, reminiscent of certain vast Russian novels:

Eh bien, mon prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now merely estates, the private estates of the Buonaparte family. Non, I warn you, if you don’t say this means war, if you still defend all these vile acts, all these atrocities by an Antichrist (for I really do believe he is the Antichrist), then I no longer know you, you are no longer mon ami, you are no longer, as you put it, my devoted slave. But, anyway, how do you do, how are you? I see I am frightening you, do come and sit down and tell me what’s going on.”

Of course Paul Dacre forgot to mention that this claim about cover-ups was made by Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative health secretary, on Twitter: and that on being contacted by lawyers pointing out that this was libellous, Jeremy Hunt had to write to the Labour health secretary acknowledging that the claim wasn’t true.

That’s a perfect example of a Daily Mail political story in minature. Correct enough not to be legally actionable, but actually completely misleading.
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New party?

NHA PartyYesterday, the National Health Action Party launched.

The idea behind the NHA Party is one I support: since the Labour Party is unable and unwilling to properly defend the NHS against the Tory attacks – unable because it is at present a minority party with an unpopular leader, unwilling because properly doing so would involve backtracking and acknowledging that the Labour Party itself went hellishly wrong during the Blair years – there must be political pressure on Labour to force them to act when, as I hope, they win the next election.

Founded by a group of health professionals, our party strongly opposes the Health and Social Care Act. We believe the Act is wrecking the NHS in England by allowing it to be broken up and sold off. We intend to put up around 50 candidates in carefully chosen general election constituencies, and we will urge the Labour party to repeal the Act. We’ll also field candidates in local council elections.

Party co-leader and cancer specialist Dr Clive Peedell said: “For generations we’ve trusted the NHS to be a safety net for everyone in times of need. Putting the values of business and the markets ahead of those of patients and communities will ruin the NHS. This destruction is being fast-tracked by Tory and coalition policies. We hope our new party will halt this process.”

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Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

Whenever Labour, the Conservatives, the LibDems, or the SNP, talk about how the important things are to let big companies pay less tax and to crack down on benefit fraud, we can be quite sure they are telling a story which is aimed at getting tabloid support:

Tax evasion currently costs this country £25bn a year; tax avoidance – that is, large companies and wealthy individuals who “take advantage” of the system – cost us £70bn a year. In addition to this, £26bn is going uncollected, adding up to a staggering £121bn in total – or, to put it in context, three-quarters of the annual deficit. To put it in yet more context, the amount lost to disability fraud is estimated at £1bn – and this figure should be considered in the context of benefit underpayment, which consistently saves more than the fraud costs. This does not of course excuse fraud, but it does make a mockery of the coalition’s claims that abuse of the system is costing money that they will save by being “efficient” – another euphemism.

All of these parties at Westminster and Holyrood seem to think they can tell us what should matter to us.

I am undecided about how I’ll vote in 2014, and free for nothing, I’ll tell both Labour and the SNP how they could convince me to vote their way.

Tell me you’re going to build enough council houses that everyone who needs to rent one can have one. And keep building them so that as the stock diminishes by Right To Buy, it increases by new builds. You know this will save money – Housing Benefit has effectively become a subsidy for people who can afford to buy a place for the purpose of renting it out. Nice little earner for them. You know this will increase employment, decrease homelessness, improve quality of life hugely, even improve educational scores – children don’t tend to do well in school when they’re living in a bed-and-breakfast. Continue reading

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Filed under Equality, Scottish Politics, Women

This is prolife governance

In 2008, fifteen Shadow ministers who are in the Cabinet today voted to cut the right to choose abortion to 22 weeks. (David Cameron: also Chris Grayling, William Hague, Philip Hammond, Jeremy Hunt, Andrew Lansley, Oliver Letwin, Francis Maude, Theresa May, Patrick McLoughlin, David Mundell, Owen Paterson, and Eric Pickles.) SPUC Off! Keep Abortion Free, Safe, and Legal

David Davies, Liam Fox, Damian Green, Patrick McLoughlin, Owen Paterson – in all twenty front bench Conservative MPs, including Jeremy Hunt – had earlier voted in favour of cutting the right to choose abortion to 12 weeks.

In October 2010, Jeremy Hunt was happy to “elaborate” on the role of Tory cuts in denying people on a low income support for large familes:

“The number of children that you have is a choice and what we’re saying is that if people are living on benefits, then they make choices but they also have to have responsibility for those choices,” Hunt said on Wednesday’s Newsnight. “It’s not going to be the role of the state to finance those choices.”
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Cabinet of despair

Government departments and their ministers, reshuffled

We’re in a recession heading for a depression, and George Osborne is Chancellor of the Exchequer. Osborne believes that the right thing to do when the economy is failing is to cut government spending and to make large numbers of people unemployed. Even economists who thought this theoretically might work realise it’s long since proved to be not working (Martin Wolf of the Financial Times was recommending in May that the government announce a change of plan): Nobel Prize winning economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, turn out – strangely enough – to know more about the economy than a man whose main qualification for being Chancellor is that he was in the Bullingdon Club with David Cameron.

Yet Osborne is set to continue cutting till May 2015. And short of revolution, we can’t get rid of him.
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Hunt for the NHS

Jeremy Hunt isn’t just an unscrupulous toerag – we knew that. He’s now Health Secretary, despite believing that:

  • Homeopathy works*
  • That this House welcomes the positive contribution made to the health of the nation by the NHS homeopathic hospitals; notes that some six million people use complementary treatments each year; believes that complementary medicine has the potential to offer clinically-effective and cost-effective solutions to common health problems faced by NHS patients, including chronic difficult to treat conditions such as musculoskeletal and other chronic pain, eczema, depression, anxiety and insomnia, allergy, chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome; expresses concern that NHS cuts are threatening the future of these hospitals; and calls on the Government actively to support these valuable national assets. (EDM 1240 in support of Homeopathic Hospitals, 2007, h/t Tom Chivers)

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Our constitution, July 2012: Public ethics

“Code of Conduct / Public Ethics”

There are, according to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, seven principles of public life – selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership.

I have to say – having taken part in many protests in Edinburgh over the years – that I have never felt afraid of Lothian and Borders Police. I warily arranged a phone contact before going to the SPUC OFF protest, because I did not know for sure that SPUC would stay non-violent and away from us and I wasn’t confident that the police would necessarily pick out the prolife aggressors over us feminist hippy weirdos with our hand-painted signs: but I was sure that so long as no one started any aggro, Lothian and Borders Police would simply allow both sides to have our peaceful protest. And I was very glad they were there at the BNP protest at Meadowbank.

But I have felt afraid on several protests in London – because I was part of a large crowd engaged in peaceful public protest, and the Metropolitan Police seemed by that to assume I was the enemy. They did not seem to regard any part of the crowd of protesters as the people whom it was their obligation to protect. We were, at best, there by their tolerance: and I only felt at risk in any crowd when I saw the Met Police in their riot gear.

I heard by unsubstantiated rumour that when the Metropolitan Police offered to send a detachment to Scotland to “help” police the G8 protest in 2005, the Scottish police forces gave the Met a joint dubious look, muttered “aye, that’ll be right”, and politely declined the offer, on the grounds that they wanted to keep the peace, not stir up trouble.

The UK Committee on Standards in Public Life was set up in October 1994 and issued its first report in 1995, under the chairmanship of Lord Nolan. It was established in order to investigate concerns about the conduct of members of parliament, after allegations that MPs had taken cash for putting down parliamentary questions. The Committee Report set out seven principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership. The ‘Nolan reforms’ established a new post of Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (see ombudsman) whose job was to maintain the Register of Members’ Interests and investigate the conduct of MPs; to set up a House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges; and to set down a Code of Conduct for MPs. In 1998 the Committee issued a report on the funding of political parties, which rejected calls for state funding. — Alistair McMillan, Oxford Dictionary of Politics

There is a Ministerial Code, which is – we discovered with Jeremy Huntharder to break than the Enigma Code. Apparently the unwritten “constitution” of the UK requires ministers to be accountable to the Prime Minister, not to anyone like the “independent” adviser on the ministerial code:

The current holder of this well-paid and undemanding sinecure, Sir Alex Allan, tried to convince the select committee that he would be proactive and would not be sidelined.

Giving evidence, he said he would quit if he were marginalised, and promised not to be anyone’s “poodle”. He even came up with proposals for how he could conduct inquiries more quickly than his predecessor, Sir Philip Mawer. But he was clear that the prime minister had no plans to change the fundamental tripwire: that only the prime minister could ask him to conduct an inquiry.

Arguably, constitutional propriety requires ministers to be accountable to the prime minister, and not to a Whitehall bureaucrat. But it is notable that neither the cabinet secretary nor the prime minister have been keen to pass any issue to the independent adviser. Indeed, David Cameron has never referred a single case, making one wonder how Allan spends his days.

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Filed under Corruption, Elections, Justice, Riots, Scottish Constitution, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

“One of Us! One of Us!”

In the last couple of days, David Cameron

threw his full support behind Mr Hunt insisting the Culture Secretary acted “wisely and fairly” and had given “a good account of himself” at the Leveson Inquiry.

Both David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt examined Hunt’s behaviour over the BSkyB bid, and Hunt decided

“I did think about my own position, but I had conducted the bid scrupulously, and I believed it was possible to demonstrate that, and I decided it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to go.”

Today, as it came out that Warsi had made a series of profitable “mistakes” when claiming MP expenses,

David Cameron has ordered an inquiry into whether Conservative Party co-chair Baroness Warsi breached the ministerial code when she was accompanied by a business partner on an official visit to Pakistan.

The Prime Minister called in Sir Alex Allan, his independent adviser on ministerial interests, to investigate after she admitted failing to disclose her business relationship with Abid Hussain.

Sayeeda Warsi has apologised, and says she understands she should have declared her share in a spice business (Ruperts Recipes) and made clear she had a business link with Hussain. There also appears to be some question about whether she claimed for rent that she wasn’t paying when she stayed in a friend’s flat in London when attending the House of Lords. All in all, an independent investigation seems appropriate.

But as both Cameron and Hunt had decided there had been no breach of the Ministerial Code in Hunt’s case, there was no need to refer Jeremy Hunt to the independent investigator Continue reading

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Sixty years? My dad’s worked for longer than that

My dad graduated in 1948, and, even then a committed pacifist, went off to work in India for two years as a volunteer for the Friends Ambulance Service. He’s worked for sixty-four years: teacher, Peace News seller, anti-nuclear activist, campaigner for peace and justice, parent and grandparent. No one will put my dad on a ten pound note for his exceptional public service and unwavering dedication to duty. (And he would be highly embarrassed if anyone were to suggest it, though I like the idea that I could always bank on my dad to buy me a cup of tea and a scone.)

I liked Patrick Harvie’s motion for debate

The parliament congratulates Elizabeth Windsor on the occasion of her diamond jubilee; expresses its gratitude for her exceptional public service and unwavering dedication to duty over sixty years in a changing world; affirms the respect that is held for all such dedicated public sector workers; and looks forward with anticipation to a broad debate about the best means of choosing a head of state in an independent Scotland.

and I am sorry the Scottish Parliament instead wasted parliamentary time in in a kneejerk yes-ma’am congratulatory fest for one of the richest women in the world. Alan Cochrane’s spite about Patrick Harvie’s affirmation of respect says a great deal about the Torygraph, but nothing we didn’t already know.

As others have noted: in Scotland, we’re mostly just not that keen on Royalty. Continue reading

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