They are all fiddling the system pretending that they have this wrong or that wrong with them. “I’d stop their benefits then you’ll see if they are fit for work or not” says the man on his fourth pint of Hobson’s or the middle aged lady in the queue at Tesco. Now I listen to these almost daily complaints about these archetypal villains of society, but I also hear voices of other people giving a completely different version of reality which makes me angry, very angry. Jim (not his real name), who lives in Wellington, had been working continuously since 1971 leaving school when he was 15 doing hard manual work until one day in 2008 when his spine was crushed as he and others were attempting to put the forks back onto a fork lift truck. Since then he has had to endure continuous pain only mildly suppressed with prescription opiates. He cannot sit down for more than 10 minutes or do any manual work that might stress his back. However, desperate to be active and to contribute, he volunteers for three charity groups as well as voluntarily looking after two vulnerable neighbours. He does all this work at his pace and when the pain allows. This you would think would be someone that society would applaud and celebrate as an example to us all, but the JobCentre dictates that he has to commit 35 hours of his week to searching for work (knowing that he is unemployable for either manual or office work) whilst doing all this socially useful work. If, because of the pain he endures he is unable to fulfil his quota of job searches he will be sanctioned (a better term would be punished) and he and his partner will go without food. Now Jim, I believe, is a scapegoat to hide the real villains hiding in the shadows. Compare the recent revelations of tax avoidance and the lack of societal scrutiny of these villains’ activities that are deemed to be victimless. “If they can get away with it good luck to them” I hear our gentleman on his 5th pint now say. This adventure with our tax receipts cost us all between £75 – 180 billions – a sum which would wipe out our annual debt and refurbish our NHS. However it’s Jim who will be demonised for the rest of his life and our aristocrats and business leaders who will be lauded for their contributions to the nation. Angry? No I’m spitting mad.
The DONHS meeting last Saturday, despite the great organisational outcomes, didn’t deal with the issues of campaign tactics or aims and objectives even after the success the Future Fit board has had from turning a 100% rejection by Telford CCG of Future Fit into a unanimous consensus. To plough onwards without any clear aim or objectives does a disservice to the activists and residents who deserve a fighting chance rather than a hope and a prayer.
I think that there is a major flaw and contradiction in the analysis of our campaign’s affect on Future Fit. Talking about successes in mitigating cuts is good for morale but doesn’t necessarily ring true. We all realise that the NHS bureaucrats and CCG clinicians are determining their remodelling programme according to Tory Government budgetary limitations, so surely campaign victories within the STP region will be felt as losses elsewhere – maybe where the political consequences aren’t so great. In other words it is the Future Fit budgetary targets that will shape the final look of our Health provisions. This was acknowledged by the Labour Councillor Arnold England at the Joint CCG meeting where the Clinical Commissioning Group announced that they had arrived at a consensus of supporting the C1 option. As a representative of T&W Council, Arnold advocated that Telford retain its A&E and Woman and Children’s unit almost exclusively on the basis of the saving of £60 million which it represented. In doing so he completely accepted the Conservative argument that we should be focused on cutting costs in a health service that is increasingly struggling with the demands placed on it. The NHS Alliance are by no means saying that campaigns over specific cuts aren’t essential, they are vital in raising awareness and bringing communities together. However, unless we increase the financial inflows into our regions Health economy any victories in halting cuts are only likely to be short lived or will simply be transferred to other areas in order that budgetary targets are met.
It is understanding the objectives inherent in the Sustainability Transformation Plans that has led Alliance activists and now the Trade Union movement of the region to conclude that another front be opened against these Austerity measures, one that can directly pressurise those who are culpable for voting in favour of a Austerity Budget and the 2012 Health and Social Care Act which prefigured Future Fit models throughout the country. At present, because there has been little light shone on their pro-Austerity positions, our Regional MPs are able to argue that they are fully behind their constituents’ local demands against cuts because they are lobbying against cuts in their constituencies. Only today I read about Lucy Allan’s heart felt concerns about a 20% increase in standard car parking charges at the PRH – she claims to worry about the effect on low income families. No one is challenging her record in supporting the Health Austerity cuts that are forcing Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust to commodify public assets in the first place. She and the other Tory MPs must be held to account for their hypocrisy. We intend to make this link and asking the public to adjudicate on their fitness (through a ballot) to represent them. We believe this to be complementary to the DONHS campaign and will influence our local Tory MPs to think again about whether supporting Austerity is worth losing or damaging their electoral chances for the future.
I was one of about 15 people who attended the Telford CCG board on 15th August. Not one Telford Borough Councillor was there. These events are always frustrating because the members of the CCG board will only reply to criticisms that they feel comfortable with answering. So they chose to ignore it when I brought up the inconvenient truth that the public have been consistently mislead about the direction and nature of the Future Fit project. The really big falsehood is their claim that Future Fit is a remodelling process with its singular objective to meet the clinical needs of the various communities within the region. However its primary function has been handed down by the Tory Government, which is to cut the Health service budget as part of a national drive to eradicate £22 billion from the NHS. For our region this means 2000 fewer posts and £135 million worth of budget cuts resulting in fewer beds and reduced services for Shropshire, Telford and Powys. Today we can see the cuts affecting hip and knee replacements, mental health talking therapies, IVF treatment, hearing aids, medicines that are deemed too expensive, aids for the elderly and much much more. The Council’s #PRH4Me is disingenuous as it implies that if the A&E and Woman and Childrens’ Centre remain sited at the PRH we are some how saved from these cuts. It is not true – it will mean a Hospital and Primary Care crisis for all wherever you live. The Cuts will be felt across the region and we need to ignore those that talk about getting the most for their patch as Future Fit is reducing capacity, reducing services and increasing waiting times and queues for all. There will no hiding places! Professor Stephen Hawking in his recent attack on these cuts and the politicians who were their handmaidens, made the point that the end game is remodelling our health service in order to make them attractive for privatisation. The only people who can change this are unfortunately the 5 regional MPs whose Party i.e the Conservative government, are the same Party who are responsible for these Austerity Health measures. So we need to unite across the region and threaten the five sitting MPs so that they know we have ‘GOT IT’ and understand that they and their Party will be held accountable by the people for the mess they have caused our health services.
Respect to Jeremy Corbyn. He played a blinder basically by not playing politics as usual and being able to present himself and manifesto unmediated by an anti-Corbyn press. The problem with the Labour Party both nationally and locally is that they refuse to co-operate with other parties in order to enlarge their intellectual and voting base by engaging in Progressive Alliances. Arrogantly they expect Greens and Lib Dems to forgo the opportunity to get their messages out to the public in deference to the need the Labour Party has to maximise its vote. When asked to stand down themselves in a few Council seats which would not affect their power on the borough Council, to allow other progressive Parties or candidates the chance to gain seats, they argued that the voters need to be given a choice. This does not seem to have upset too many UKIP voters in this recent election who weren’t given the chance to vote for their party in Telford. I’m sure they thought it a positive move not to oppose Brexit supporter Lucy Allan just as our supporters would have preferred not to stand against Kuldip whose Labour Party has recently moved closer to many of the Green Party’s policies.
So why on earth did the Labour Party not negotiate with Telford and Wrekin Green Party? It’s not as if they weren’t given notice of what could happen because, in the 2015 election the Telford and Wrekin Green Party was blamed for Labour losing to Tory Lucy Allan. I think it is inexcusable and shows a total disrespect for the 20,000 voters who thought that their local party would do everything in their powers to make their votes count and kick Lucy Allan out. It’s as if the Labour Party are playing analogue politics in the digital 21st Century when up and down the country Labour rejected co-operative deals where candidates holding progressive views could have got in. In fact Labour could probably have won an overall majority and be in government but because of this blinkered mentality we might have to endure up to five more years of austerity and continuous destruction of our NHS.
Politics in this country is Pantomime for the masses and most politicians are mere self deluded actors.
Why? Because like all good pantos the actor’s job is to construct stories that have baddies princes and princesses that have fantastical tales of adventure and danger. These actors just like most our of our politicians are paid to tell us lies about the world that will frighten us enough to vote for their Party.
The Green Party will always treat you as adults
Leaving the EU.
Does mean that we can reset international agreements and obligations.
We are told or, as we see it, lied to, that this bring us more control. We see this as the Tories and their UKIP allies conspiring to undermine this nation’s sovereignty and handing it over for trade deals that benefit multinationals abroad. Instead of being in a 28 country trading group we are alone and comparatively small fry. With little leverage we are bound to get costly deals and the national legislation that protects us as consumers and protects public services will be torn up to get trade agreements.
You sound like a ‘remoaner’
No we actually see that there could be a positive outcome but only if we see the dangers of the present management of Brexit.
We need to be far more economically self reliant so that we can trade from a position of strength, so that we are shopping more and more from local producers and not having to buy items that have travelled half way across the world.
Is Europe all you’ve got to offer?
What the Green Party offers is a new way of thinking and politics putting your and your family’s needs before the needs of the wealthy. Up to half of existing jobs are predicted to disappear in the face of robotics and advances in technologies so it’s vital that we look at different models for the future. The Green Party’s new politics provides a universal income for everyone, out of the increased wealth generated by new technologies. Universal Basic Income is our alternative to investing in a failed banking system. We believe in investing in the people of this country not their tormentors.
The new economy needs to be decentralised giving you more say and control. Railways buses and utilities should be taken back into public ownership. We, the people of the Wrekin, need to be able to halt unsustainable development – Over 1,000 new homes are being built in the Wellington and Newport areas with roads and GP practices already unable to sustain the existing population.
Just look at the direction that we are travelling and ask ‘why don’t I join them?’
The Green Party believes that a truly world class nationalised Health Service can be achieved by putting the same proportion of our GDP into it as the French or Germans. The three party consensus to preserve local services helps disguise the crisis that exists in the local health economy. Wherever the cuts are delivered we all suffer. 2000 health jobs are to go and £150 million of cuts will mean all services not just the A&E will be affected. We need a political campaign that is up to the job not one that is about protecting Labour’s voting base.
The Tories are looking at cutting £3 billion from the education budget which the Green Party would reverse. The Green Party would abolish tuition fees, restore the education maintenance allowance and provide free universal early education and childcare.
We need to green wash our communities and economy. Did you know that the vast amount of investment – wind turbines, solar panels etc is imported? This must change. A national investment bank must be created to deliver hundreds of thousands new well paid jobs for this new economy.
OF COURSE WE CAN PAY FOR IT!
This is one of the greatest panto myths forever told by the established parties. There’s always enough money for wars and vanity projects such as HS2 but not the sort of thing that is of benefit to ordinary people. We live in an obscenely unequal society and no political parties to date have the determination to take on those who often earn a 100 times as much as us. This is central to our mission in transforming our country.
What other Parties offer is the same old same old where global businesses are in control. We say really take your country back and make it great again.
Our Health provisions are in crisis but our corrupt politics carries on regardless. By corrupt I mean without principles and driven by cynical calculations. Up until it was made clear that the A&E and Women and Children’s services were being threatened at the PRH rather than the RSH the Labour Council in Telford were so relaxed that they even criticised Shropshire CCG for resisting the process of RSH losing it’s A&E. Now of course Shropshire politicians are quietly satisfied that PRH is to be downgraded even hypocritically complaining about the T&W Council leader for resisting. So, instead of these politicians uniting against the cuts that will affect the whole region’s health on the basis that irrespective of where you live the services will not be able to cope, the politicians are game playing to be seen to get the best deal for their constituents. It is the cuts in the region’s Health service not in a particular politician’s area that are causing people to die waiting on trolleys or in the back of queuing ambulances. Babies are dying because of inadequate care. People are living in acute pain whilst on ever extending waiting times. It’s getting to be impossible to get an appointment with any GP let alone one of your choice. The latest is this entirely bogus claim that Lucy Allan MP and the Chair of the local Tory party had saved the Woman and Children’s centre at the PRH (The future of our A&E has still to be decided upon and it’s future location will also determine the location of many of the services delivered by the Woman and Children’s department). This is fake news both to undermine Telford Council’s campaign to retain all the trauma assets both staffing and physical at Telford, and to give camouflage to the £150 million pounds and 2,000 staff cuts. We, the people of both Telford and Shropshire should resist these Austerity cuts in our hospitals, GP practices and social care. Its up to the people of Shropshire and Telford to save our Health Service and not to rely on vote grabbing politicians.
‘Our Customers’ says the senior commissioner for Adults with Learning Difficulties and my heart sinks. This re- categorisation of service users/people/adults as customers always seemed a fix that these public service providers used to de-humanise the people they serve. Only recently have I thought hard exactly why I had a beef with the use of this term. It gradually dawned on me that if you wished to reduce the public services you would have to take a leaf out of the private sector in managing demand and the first port of call is changing the lexicon within your profession. So instead of listening to them about their needs it is more cost effective to redefine those needs and what better way of doing this than considering a human being as a customer that you have to sell your produce or service to. The police and government have been told for decades that: we the public need more community policing on foot patrols, that we want to have our own named GP’s who are available the day that we make an appointment, that we have fully equipped and staffed nearby local hospitals that have no parking charges, that we have a cheap, efficient and effective public transport system especially in rural areas etc. As members of the public we expect to be listened to but as customers we expect to be sold to. The government have been selling its health cuts programme called Sustainability Transformation Plans to us the customer not us the voters. I’ve never heard of people demonstrating in support of the £100 billion Trident programme but I have heard a lot of politicians selling it as a product that we just must have. I have heard many politicians sell the lie – public bad private good, when the public and voters actually want a publicly owned railway service and publicly owned NHS. Let’s no longer listen to their publicity machines whose task is to persuade us that what they want is what we want. Customers get manipulated to buy goods and services they don’t need. People/Voters tell the bureaucrats and politicians what their needs are and what will happen if they’re not met.