Thursday, 30 April 2009

How Government Shafted The NHS

What’s Europe to do with us? It’s something I’ve sometimes wondered when the latest stupid story hits the news. It’s a constant refrain of “stupid foreigners doing stupid things”. But then, we’re pretty good at doing stupid things here in the UK and maybe we don’t always do things better than the Europeans.

There’s been a new phenomena created in British politics over the last decade, the cult of the “expert”. Time after time we’ve seen politicians hand over control of state institutions to experts in their field, conveniently absolving themselves of any responsibility. Ever wonder why we never see a Minister resign when something goes wrong? It’s because they’ve shifted the responsibility onto somebody else, somebody the public can’t touch.

Well, I’ve got news for these shirkers – that’s what we bloody elect you for! You’re supposed to take control. You’re supposed to influence whatever department you’ve got engraved on your solid gold nameplate. You’re supposed to stop them screwing up monumentally. You’re supposed to shoulder some responsibility. The buck stops with you, not your bank account.

I don’t mind somebody making a mistake. We’ve all done it. I get a bit annoyed if they make the same mistake twice and I get foot-through-the-telly annoyed when someone makes mistake after mistake and then pops up to spout the most amazing drivel.

Take Patricia Hewitt when she was Health Secretary. She presided over the formation of umpteen quangos staffed by “experts”. These quangos proved themselves to be experts all right; experts at making their staffs bigger and spending millions of pounds. Because they siphoned off so much money from the NHS Budget to spend on fancy offices and chairs so luxuriantly padded that even a princess’s arse would never notice a pea, they had to cut beds. Pesky things hospital beds. Sick people keep climbing in them and demanding costly things like bedpans and aspirin. Would you believe the fragrant Patricia announced in 2007 that “fewer beds are a sign of success – not of failure”.

Mind you, you’d have to be mad or desperate to get into an NHS bed these days. In 2007-8 the NHS had a budget of £95 billion. Labour poured money into it like Domestos down a transport cafĂ©’s lav and we all saw the result. Welcome Desks appeared in plush new receptions to meet and greet clients. Paint was sloshed around to make the inside of hospitals look like Disney on LSD. Carpets replaced tiles and hundreds of smart young executives were sent marching around corridors carrying clipboards and sneering at nurses. All visible signs of YOUR money being well spent.

Except, it wasn’t being well spent. All those “experts” building empires in quangos must have been a tad disconcerted at the figures coming back to them. No doubt memos were fired off and hasty conferences arranged in Barbados.

Because 34,000 people a year are dying in NHS hospitals unnecessarily. That’s 100 a day. And another 25,000 are left permanently disabled after encountering our NHS. To put that in perspective, 36,000 people died in Iraq in 2006 – in the middle of a civil war. An International study put the UK last out of 19 countries when it comes to patients dying when they could have been successfully treated. In fact, it’s estimated that of the 200,000 people who die from cancer or strokes each year, 30,000 would have survived in a European hospital.

I could go on and talk about C-Diff and MRSA, but you get my drift.

Nah, sod it, I will go on. In the UK someone catches MRSA or C Diff every 10 minutes and someone dies from one of them every 80 minutes. Every single day of the year. 6500 people a year die in NHS hospitals because of these infections that they caught in hospital. In European countries the figure is just 100 a year. Maybe there is something we can learn from Europe?

In 1997, in their manifesto, Labour promised to cut administrative spending in the NHS, “The key is to root out unnecessary administrative cost and to spend money on the right things – frontline care”. Really? We spend £722 million on health quangos every year, £425 million on ones set up by Labour since 1997!

All this has happened because Ministers shuffled responsibility over to “experts” and refused to use even a smidgen of common sense to question the results. Worse, they babble bullshit at us proles and expect us to lap it up. I mean, we’ve all seen the hospitals that have been closed down or A & E’s downgrade and relocated. What’s Patricia Hewitt’s response? “Increasing sophistication of ambulances means it is now safer for patients involved in emergencies to travel longer distances to get to a hospital”

She’s having a laugh, isn’t she?

Does she think we’re stupid?

Actually, I think she does and we are bloody stupid if we keep letting them get away with it. We’re not talking about Parties telling little white lies in their manifestoes. We’re talking about them killing tens of thousands of people every year because they refuse to do the job they were put there to do.

The Party Picking Your Pocket

One of the things I've been forced to consider as an Independent Candidate is the question of raising money to pay for advertising, leaflets, postage and so on. Unlike the main parties, I don't have oodles of cash to hire advertising agencies and to pay for celebrity endorsement films. Like every other regular person, I have my wages and a little savings so I'm going to need help just to try and get noticed. Of course, there are rules to political donations. It's unlikely I'm going to get a Bernie Ecclestone to hand over a million quid, but it's wise to check the rules anyway. What I discovered was donations to political parties of up to £500 can be deducted from the donator's tax bill.


Basically, the donator can choose to give £500 to a party instead of the tax man.

Or put another way, the political parties are legally allowed to steal taxes.

Nice one guys. But they don't stop there. I discovered this from the Finance Bill -

379AA.--(1) Tax relief shall be available to an individual (the donor) in accordance with this section on qualifying political donations made by him of up to £500 in any year of assessment.

(2) A donation is a qualifying political donation for the purposes of this section if it is made to an eligible political party and--

(a) it takes the form of the payment of a sum of money,

(b) it is not subject to a condition as to repayment,

(c) it is not conditional on or associated with, or part of an arrangement involving, the acquisition of property by the political party, otherwise than by way of gift, from the donor or a person connected with him, and

(d) the donor is resident in the United Kingdom at the time the donation is made.

(3) For the purposes of this section a political party is an eligible political party if, at the last general election preceding the donation in question--

(a) two members of that party were elected to the House of Commons, or

(b) one member of that party was elected to the House of Commons and not less than 150,000 votes were given to candidates who were members of that party.

So basically, the parties shut out the competition. Only a party can thieve from the exchequer. In a cosy little arrangement they've ensured that it's extremely difficult for any new party to raise money and virtually impossible for independents.

And they call this democracy?

I felt a little guilty about putting a Donate button on this blog. I've always been pretty self-sufficient and I hate asking for help. But seeing the way the main parties have connived to weight the system towards themselves, I don't think I should feel guilty. In fact, I'm so bloody angry about this I'm going to make it my mission if elected to make all donations to politicians subject to tax. How bloody dare they imagine they can blithely thieve from us all.

And, unlike them, I'll make it clear where every penny of donations goes to so you can see what your money buys. I'll publish a clear list after the election on this blog.

As a guideline, this is what a donation will do -

# £5 pays for 300 brochures
# £10 lets me leaflet 1000 people in a city centre on a Saturday afternoon
# £50 gives me a month's worth of Google Ads
# £150 pays for 500 badges
# £200 will print 1000 posters for supporters' windows
# £500 will pay for a month's worth of Facebook adverts

So don't feal squeamish about donating. Every penny goes towards breaking the stranglehold the parties have on us all.

Why you might only get half a vote in Europe

The European Parliament is made up of 785 members from 27 different countries. Traditionally over here most people just vote for the same party they vote for in UK elections; but that simply doesn't work in the very different and diverse European Parliament.. The voting system is totally different as well.

Voting for your local MEP is based on the unusual d'Hondt system; this is a long way away from the normal voting system we have for our parliament here in the UK.

It works as follows: In a given region the allocated seats are awarding using a quota system. The quota is the total number of votes received by a party (or if an independent candidate is standing alone) divided by the number of seats already gained in that region plus 1.

So, for a party with no seats the number of votes received is divided by one, and so stays the same. If the party has already been allocated one seat then its number of votes is divided by two, if it has two seats it is divided by three, and so on.

This means that the more seats you have already won, the harder it is to gain extra seats, so the overall allocation of seats is more proportional to the number of votes received.

The first seat that a party wins goes to the first person on its list, the second seat to the second person, and so on, until the party has either not won any more seats or has run out of names on its list.

The trouble with this emphasis on party voting is that of course the European Parliament doesn't have Conservatives, Labours, UKIP, Liberals and so forth. Members in the European Parliament are bunched into loosely named "similar" parties which are not at all the same as the parties here in the UK. As the European Parliament is made up of 785 members from 27 different countries; the British parties clearly have to adapt and work with all the others.

Because you only have one vote, by voting for the Jury Team, for the first time in the history of the European Parliament you will be helping to vote in a number of independents. These people will be able to assess what is going in the European Parliament and carry your views forward in the most appropriate manner. They will be best placed to work within the framework of the EU, working independently with members from all the other states to ensure your views are best represented without having to rely on party restrictions.

For the first time ever, here is a chance to bring change into the European Parliament. Vote Jury Team on June 4th - and help make a difference.

Written by Sally Smith, Jury Team MEP Candidate (South West Region)

What I take from that is this; every main party has a core vote that is essentially unchanging and who will turn out no matter what. In Scotland, these are the votes that guarantee the main parties will send a representative to Europe.

Every vote they receive after they cross the finishing line is at least halved. If you are reading this, chances are you aren't a core voter and you're looking around to see what else is on offer. Why not cast your vote where it will carry its full weight?

Use your vote wisely on June 4th. Vote where it counts.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I thought of it before Jury Team

I wrote this originally in December 2007.

As some of the more observant among you may have noticed, I despise politicians. Lying, cheating crooks every manjack of them. Totally useless and actually totally irrelevant. Now that Broon's signed the pink slip over to the EU, why the hell do we need 650 MPs? They can't scratch their backsides without some unelected Brussels nobody giving them written permission, so why don't we just take the opportunity to get rid of them? There are chief advisors for every main activity anyway, so let's just let them get on with it. Let a Dr run the Health Service, an Admiral run the armed forces, an engineer run the infrastructure etc etc. We have local councils to deal with local issues, so we could still have the illusion of democracy.

We trust 12 members of the public with trials where life & death issues are at stake, so why not with running the country? There's not a lot of substance they'd be in control of thanks to M le Sprout in the EU, so they can't do any damage. Can anyone say they would do a worse job than the shower of clowns that infest Westminster now?

The Road to Tyranny

Phillip Pullman

"Are such things done on Albion’s shore?

The image of this nation that haunts me most powerfully is that of the sleeping giant Albion in William Blake’s prophetic books. Sleep, profound and inveterate slumber: that is the condition of Britain today.

We do not know what is happening to us. In the world outside, great events take place, great figures move and act, great matters unfold, and this nation of Albion murmurs and stirs while malevolent voices whisper in the darkness - the voices of the new laws that are silently strangling the old freedoms the nation still dreams it enjoys.

We are so fast asleep that we don’t know who we are any more. Are we English? Scottish? Welsh? British? More than one of them? One but not another? Are we a Christian nation - after all we have an Established Church - or are we something post-Christian? Are we a secular state? Are we a multifaith state? Are we anything we can all agree on and feel proud of?

The new laws whisper:

You don’t know who you are

You’re mistaken about yourself

We know better than you do what you consist of, what labels apply to you, which facts about you are important and which are worthless

We do not believe you can be trusted to know these things, so we shall know them for you

And if we take against you, we shall remove from your possession the only proof we shall allow to be recognised

The sleeping nation dreams it has the freedom to speak its mind. It fantasises about making tyrants cringe with the bluff bold vigour of its ancient right to express its opinions in the street. This is what the new laws say about that:

Expressing an opinion is a dangerous activity

Whatever your opinions are, we don’t want to hear them

So if you threaten us or our friends with your opinions we shall treat you like the rabble you are

And we do not want to hear you arguing about it

So hold your tongue and forget about protesting

What we want from you is acquiescence

The nation dreams it is a democratic state where the laws were made by freely elected representatives who were answerable to the people. It used to be such a nation once, it dreams, so it must be that nation still. It is a sweet dream.

You are not to be trusted with laws

So we shall put ourselves out of your reach

We shall put ourselves beyond your amendment or abolition

You do not need to argue about any changes we make, or to debate them, or to send your representatives to vote against them

You do not need to hold us to account

You think you will get what you want from an inquiry?

Who do you think you are?

What sort of fools do you think we are?

The nation’s dreams are troubled, sometimes; dim rumours reach our sleeping ears, rumours that all is not well in the administration of justice; but an ancient spell murmurs through our somnolence, and we remember that the courts are bound to seek the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and we turn over and sleep soundly again.

And the new laws whisper:

We do not want to hear you talking about truth

Truth is a friend of yours, not a friend of ours

We have a better friend called hearsay, who is a witness we can always rely on

We do not want to hear you talking about innocence

Innocent means guilty of things not yet done

We do not want to hear you talking about the right to silence

You need to be told what silence means: it means guilt

We do not want to hear you talking about justice

Justice is whatever we want to do to you

And nothing else

Are we conscious of being watched, as we sleep? Are we aware of an ever-open eye at the corner of every street, of a watching presence in the very keyboards we type our messages on? The new laws don’t mind if we are. They don’t think we care about it.

We want to watch you day and night

We think you are abject enough to feel safe when we watch you

We can see you have lost all sense of what is proper to a free people

We can see you have abandoned modesty

Some of our friends have seen to that

They have arranged for you to find modesty contemptible

In a thousand ways they have led you to think that whoever does not want to be watched must have something shameful to hide

We want you to feel that solitude is frightening and unnatural

We want you to feel that being watched is the natural state of things

One of the pleasant fantasies that consoles us in our sleep is that we are a sovereign nation, and safe within our borders. This is what the new laws say about that:

We know who our friends are

And when our friends want to have words with one of you

We shall make it easy for them to take you away to a country where you will learn that you have more fingernails than you need

It will be no use bleating that you know of no offence you have committed under British law

It is for us to know what your offence is

Angering our friends is an offence

It is inconceivable to me that a waking nation in the full consciousness of its freedom would have allowed its government to pass such laws as:

the Protection from Harassment Act (1997),
the Crime and Disorder Act (1998),
the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000),
the Terrorism Act (2000),
the Criminal Justice and Police Act (2001),
the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001),
the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Extension Act (2002),
the Criminal Justice Act (2003),
the Extradition Act (2003),
the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003),
the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004),
the Civil Contingencies Act (2004),
the Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005),
the Inquiries Act (2005),
the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005),

not to mention a host of pending legislation such as

the Identity Cards Bill,
the Coroners and Justice Bill, and the
Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.


And those laws say:

Sleep, you stinking cowards

Sweating as you dream of rights and freedoms

Freedom is too hard for you

We shall decide what freedom is

Sleep, you vermin

Sleep, you scum

Do we need another Cromwell?

Another day, another MP caught with his fingers in the till. It's all rather reminiscent of the dying days of the Tories last time, when Labour shouted "sleaze, sleaze, sleaze" at every opportunity. It contributed to a Labour landslide and led Tony Blair to declare of his party "We will be whiter than white".

MPs however declare that "It's all within the rules", perfectly legal and above board. Rules that they themselves wrote of course. How strange that they lead the clamour against Fred Goodwin & his perfectly legal & legitimate pension, declaring it against the "spirit" of the rules. Hypocrites.

Rewind 350 years and we've been here before.

"It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!"

Cromwell, April 1653.

Just a pity that the "Parliament of Saints" turned out to be every bit as bad as the lot he kicked out. The lesson to be learnt is MPs need to be kept on a short leash.

Why I'm here

In a few weeks the European Elections will see something entirely new happening. Independent Candidates from all walks of life and with absolutely no party affiliations will be competing alongside the same old faces. They won’t have the fancy razzamatazz of the main parties because they are ordinary people, working men and women who are being supported by Jury Team. They are all Independents, but they all share the same disgust at the state the party political system has brought this country to.

We do not have democracy in this country; we have a cynical, exploitative system of government that exists purely for the benefit of a small group of privileged career politicians. These people put the party first, second and third in everything they do. Every word they speak, every empty promise they make comes from party headquarters. They are told where to be, what to do and what to say at all times. The party whip system ensures that they vote the way they are told and hell mend the interests of constituents. How else could a million people march against the Iraq War and yet the elected representatives of these marchers voted against their wishes?

These party MPs are so remote from the people they do not represent that, whilst workers are losing their jobs the length and breadth of the country, every single Labour MEP voted a 27% pay rise for themselves. The entertainment budget for Whitehall has just been almost doubled to over £800,000 for the forthcoming year. In the last few days we have discovered that MPs have a wine cellar in London with over 39,000 bottles of wine & spirits worth nearly £800,000. While the country is suffering, these politicians are planning a year of shindigs.

It’s time to end the party.

Every Independent Candidate supported by Jury Team is passionately committed to abolishing the party whips so MPs can represent the people who voted for them. They believe in Open Democracy with every aspect of an MPs perks freely available at all times to the public. The Candidates are ordinary people, sickened at the farce British Politics has become. They deserve to be heard and I hope that the media doesn’t just parrot the lies and spin the party machines spew out over the next few weeks, but gives a fair hearing to the Independents too.

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