10th January 2016. Squeeze. Andrew Marr. David Cameron. A BBC studio. A rendition of ‘Cradle to the Grave‘.
‘I grew up in council housing, part of what made Britain great, there are some here who are hell-bent, on the destruction of the welfare state’.
Marr politely clapped. Cameron politely clapped. The message however rings true. Cameron and his party are ‘hell-bent‘ on the destruction of the modern welfare-state. The erosion of the pillars of modern Britain. Fraser Nelson (editor of The Spectator) tweeted in defence of Cameron and the Conservatives. If you want to read his reactionary, empty & asinine opinions, feel free. The man, whatever his journalistic chops, is clearly what my brother likes to call a ‘mega gonk‘.
I don’t agree with Fraser at all. Its Sunday night (as I write this, I’ve had a nice family dinner and abit too much wine) I want to make my case and show that Squeeze are correct and that Fraser Nelson is wrong. I think the evidence speaks for itself. Legal aid. Decimated. Social Housing & Council Housing. Gone. Sold off to oligarchs, speculators & private capital. The introduction of the Housing Bill. More houses will be built, ‘starter homes’ at over £450,000 in London, but will be affordable to very few. The Trade Union Bill. A devastating attack on workers human rights, the right to freedom of assembly and the right to strike. Plans to scrap the Freedom of Information Act. Louise Haigh, shadow Cabinet Office minister:
Rather than removing accountability from public services, we have been clear that they should instead be considering how to extend it to all providers, including private companies, where they are paid from taxpayers’ money.
Plans to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) Tory plans to repeal this fundamental act will have profound consequences for the future of human rights in the UK. The HRA directly incorporates international human rights law into British jurisprudence. It is a pillar of the modern British constitutional arrangement, and though a mere piece of legislation holds a talismanic status as a bastion of liberty against the worst excesses of the use of state power. The erosion of public services via cuts to local councils – hundreds of public libraries closed. Sure Start centres – closed or funding decimated. Fire stations and other emergency services – slashed. Investment in flood defences – reduced year on year since 2011.
Police cuts have stretched the ‘thin blue line‘ to its thinnest since 2001. The overall police workforce has dropped from around 245,000 in March 2010 to just under 208,000 in September 2014. And this could drop further. The army. Its numbers have fallen under the Torys watch; interesting which party is really a threat to ‘national security’. Regular Army soldiers have been reduced from 102,000 to 82,000 through the defence review. Again this number could be reduced further. The sale of the state run franchise ‘East Coast Mainline‘ , which was profitable, delivered over £1bn to the Treasury, kept fares down and had record passenger satisfaction. Royal Mail was sold off (undervalued) to the private sector at a loss of around £1bn to the public purse. The list could go on….
……the DWP & Iain Duncan Smith ……enough said……..
The NHS has been a principle target of the Tory attack on the welfare state and will be used as the primary example of this piece to show the impact of Conservative policies. The cancellation of student nurses bursaries & the imposition of new contracts for junior doctors, represent the latest assault by the Conservatives on the public sector. Cameron & his health secretary Jeremy C…..sorry I mean Hunt, are undermining the health service. The junior doctors contracts issue is being deliberately politicised with the express purpose of demonising junior doctors, attacking the British Medical Association (BMA) & turning the public against the NHS.
At the 2010 election, David Cameron pledged he would ‘cut the deficit not the NHS‘. In fact he has done the opposite. Under his watch (with his chancellor man of the people Gideon Osborne) the deficit remains at around £70bn, despite the apparently ‘necessary’ cuts to public expenditure. The total national debt is ever increasing ( £1.536 trillion at the end of November, or 80.5pc of gross domestic product (GDP).
In terms of the NHS, under Cameron’s premiership it has been changed beyond all recognition. The Health And Social Care Act (HSC) has severed the government’s responsibility for the NHS devolving it to ‘clinical commissioning groups’. The HSC 2012 has put huge chunks of the NHS (in £9.63bn worth of NHS deals signed, £3.54bn – nearly 40% of them – went to private firms) up for tender to private sector involvement. The government claims private providers will improve standards through competition and choice. The experience of the NHS with the private sector has been disastrous. Further under the Conservatives the NHS has faced £15bn to £20bn of ‘efficiency savings’ (Britain spends less than other European states on healthcare – out of the G7, only Italy has a similarly low level). Hospitals across the country face closures. More than 20 NHS trusts, comprising about 60 hospitals, are at risk of going bust.
The saga of the #juniordoctors & their contracts has been long & protracted. Jeremy Hunt has deliberately used this issue politically to undermine the NHS as a whole. By presenting junior doctors as an ‘enemy’ or a ‘militant’ group, Hunt is attempting to turn public opinion against both nurses, doctors and the NHS. An utterly absurd piece in ‘The Sun’ & another in ‘The Daily Mail‘ attempted (poorly) to paint junior doctors & doctors in the NHS as living the life of luxury. Speaking to friends of mine studying medicine they were appalled and bemused at being branded ‘moet medics‘. Hunt, Cameron and their friends in the Murdoch press are attempting to recreate what Thatcher did with the National Union of Minerworkers (NUM) during the 1980s. To crush those opposed to their reforms and turn them into enemies of the state.In an interview Jeremy Hunt attacked what he described as ‘hardline’ factions within the BMA:
There is a tradition inside the BMA of taking very extreme positions against the health secretary of the day. Nye Bevan, the founder of the NHS, was described as the medical führer by the BMA only three years after the second world war. But patients must always come before politics. Of course it’s a concern if some elements within the BMA are seeing this as a political opportunity to bash a Tory government that they hate. I am sure the vast majority of doctors are not in that place
The Conservatives are determined to deliberately under-fund, overstretch & degrade the NHS in order to inevitably justify greater and eventual total private sector control. Hunt has tried to paint junior doctors as only concerned about money. The reality is far from his twisted & false rhetoric:
The Government has failed to fully address junior doctors’ concerns … The Government’s proposals do not go far enough to prevent junior doctors working unsafe hours and would leave those working the most unsocial hours worst off, affecting doctors in our A&Es and other areas of medicine that are already struggling to recruit and retain staff – BMA Spokesperson
The Independent recently revealed emails between senior Department of Health (DoH) staff and Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the Medical Director of the independent body NHS England, and Jeremy Hunt. In one email, sent the day before the strike was declared, Sir Bruce was told by a DoH official that the risk of a ‘major incident’ would be ‘pressed quite hard in the media once the strike is formally announced’ and he was advised that ‘the more hard-edged you can be on this, the better‘. In essence Jeremy Hunt was directing Keogh to ‘sex up’ the letter and hypothetical possibility of a Paris-style terror attack.
Heavily redacted emails show how Department of Health officials had were closely involved in writing this letter – down to the timing of its publication online, on 19 November, the day the BMA revealed junior doctors had voted 98 per cent in favour of strike action. The BMA has condemned what it said was evidence of ‘political interference‘ with Sir Bruce’s letter. The letter & its publication evidently is an attempt to make use of the very real fear of a terrorist incident (ala Paris on 13th November 2015) to incite the public into considering the reasonable actions of junior doctors and medical professionals striking for satisfactory working conditions (as a final resort) as ‘unreasonable’.
This level of political interference is extremely concerning and will only serve to worsen junior doctor’s lack of trust in the Government’s handling of negotiations
Jeremy Hunt is playing ‘russian roulette‘ with the NHS, but pointing the gun at the public. Norman Lamb (a former health minister) has condemned the government saying it is taking a ‘dangerous step‘ in confronting junior doctors at a time when the NHS faces ‘existential challenges’ over its funding. Hunt continues to place the onus for the break down of talks on the BMA, rather than the actuality of his unreasonable policy decisions & absolutism. I will be supporting the junior doctors. I hope the public at large will. The conservatives want public anger as a reaction to the strikes, to paint the junior doctors as the problem and not the systematic dismantling of the greatest public institution of modern Britain by an ideological government. The evidence shows, clearly, that Hunt, Osborne & Cameron are in the words of Squeeze ‘hell-bent on the destruction of the welfare state’.
By Frederick Antonio Gallucci | International Law LLM | @gibblegbble