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Saving Owen Smith

It’s all been an incredible mess.

Take for example Owen Smith MP talking about the EU referendum with David Dimbleby last thursday on the BBC’s flagship programme Question Time.

DD: You said you would like to see Labour going into the next election saying our party policy is to go back into the EU.

OS: Yes.

DD: You ignore the Brexit vote.

OS: Exactly.

DD: Exactly?

OS: Exactly. We need to find out what it is. The Brexit vote set a direction, if we like. We don’t know where we’re going.

DD: You know where you are going. You are going back in.

OS: Well, I hope we are. And I think we should be strong about that.

You could probably fill an entire blogpost with Owen Smith MP’s greatest gaffes. But this is no time for such hilarity.

The latest journey into the Trump school of campaigning involved Owen Smith MP ‘winning’ at something. Yes – winning at getting married.


Cast your mind back to a long time ago – when Owen Smith MP tried to ‘counsel’ Jeremy Corbyn before launching his leadership bid. That bid was to prove it was all about winning.

Remember this?


Embarrassingly, the man whom Owen Smith MP derides for “not winning” is, according to polls which have been known to be unreliable in the past, perhaps on the brink of winning by a landslide.

For me things got so testy I even wrote a non-abusive tweet complaining about Owen Jones MP!

@chunkymark often refers to ‘the man behind the curtain’. This is a reference to that classic scene in the Wizard of Oz, one of my favourite films.

Here, the man behind the curtain included our so-called friends at the Mirror.

Except the man behind the curtain was shouting above the real story, and was not that impressive after all. Cr68ZUgWIAAp36C







































You name any policy area, and Owen Smith MP has made a mess of it. Owen Smith ended up trying to defend why he wanted to back increasing funding to the failed PREVENT policy, accused of causing further problems for UK muslims, in the Question Time debate last week.


This was reported in “The Canary” 


Audience member:

You say definitely Owen, you’re the one that endorsed the Prevent strategy…

Victoria Derbyshire Show, Owen Smith MP in the Labour leadership debate on 11 August:

…consider the issue of terrorism: I’d invest in our communities. The Prevent strategy, that is grossly undermined and under-resourced in this country, ought to be at the forefront of Labour’s policy, making sure we foster better community relations in Britain.

Owen Smith MP says he dislikes slogans, when he has often repeated the same slogans ad nauseam in the live TV debates. He accused voters in TV debates several times, “you’re wrong”, even flying completely in the face of all evidence. He has persistently denied that the orchestrated mass resignation of the majority of the Labour PLP was not contributing to the general poll ratings of Labour.

Unsurprisingly the members of the Socialist Health Association had backed Owen Smith. I have experience of that organisation which is the most pale, male, stale and useless Labour-affiliated entity currently in existence, having been of ABSOLUTELY NO USE in criticising policy, such as the outsourcing clause of the Act of 2012 or the private finance initiative. – or about as much use as a chocolate teapot or fireguard, being more generous.

Owen Smith MP’s campaign has been so shambolic it now looks as if, incredibly, it will be worse than Zac Goldsmith’s. And he resoundingly lost. The problem now for the PLP after September 23rd will be try to heal the rifts in the meantime, when this fiasco they have created has diverted news media attention away from Tories fighting like ferrets in a sack over the meaning of #Brexit, the introduction of an ill-thought out and highly divisive policy on grammar schools, and catastrophic financial performance of the NHS as a whole. Members of the parliamentary Labour MP now need to get a grip, or they deserve to be deselected. Had they actually done their job properly, and if Corbyn had lost 2020 monumentally if only because of the boundary changes, they could have easily blamed Corbyn. John O’Donnell MP has signalled that he and Jeremy would not be sticking around if Labour lost in 2020, but at the moment the parliamentary Labour Party have no moral integrity to call the shots. Perhaps some in the NEC will call this comment ‘abusive’, but in a healthy democracy, free speech should be welcomed. New members to Labour, say from the Green Party, should be welcomed, many feel, to build a strategic force to end Conservative rule. OK, the Labour PLP can put up their stooges for the shadow cabinet, but it should be remembered in this no-more-something-for-nothing world, if Labour MPs are not up to the job, they should be booted out. I strongly suspect, anyway, that Owen Smith MP having been pushed under the political bus by the Labour MP will be chucked out by the voters in Pontypridd in any case.


Owen Smith MP must surely have been aware that the NHS is being rapidly privatised?


David Cameron himself slammed “top-down” reorganisations, before introducing a £3bn reorganisation of his own.

The changes which seem to fragment the system and introduce a number of new elements, such as the purchaser-provider split, Foundation Hospitals, were many changes under New Labour. And they did not cohere, and ultimately led to the Health and Social Care Act (2012). That of course is a massive fear of what Owen Smith MP would do to lay the foundation slabs for a future demonic Conservative government, despite his current poetic words.

This issue is beyond party politics, and not even about Owen Smith’s doomed leadership bid.

Not even about my support of any one Labour leadership candidate, or another.

I was unable to get a word in edgeways on a popular radio show about this last night, but I did get a chance to rebut fully a previous caller, by the name of John Redwood MP, Conservative MP for Wokingham. He claimed that there had been “no secret plan” to privatise the NHS, and that the Conservatives had been vocal critics of “Labour’s PFI”.

The “private finance initiative” was started in 1992 under John Major, and continued with much more force under Tony Blair from 1997 onwards. It was exasperating that this is still barely talked about by followers of New Labour as it was continued by the Coalition under George Osborne in 2010-5.

This ‘off budget accounting’ of PFI under New Labour was brought in at a time to address the poor physical infrastructure of the NHS. The risk was transferred to the public sector, while all the reward went to the finance sector. You can even trade in PFI units in the City.

The effect of this substantial privatisation technique? Firstly, due to the ‘corporate wonga’ nature of the loan repayments for these PFI hospitals money for safe staffing is driven to the bone. It is therefore effectively investing in shiny buildings and the City and disinvesting in people and skills in the NHS.

And back to John Redwood.

And, if there had been no “secret plan”, why was it then that John Redwood and Oliver Letwin in 1988 published a document for the Centre for Policy Studies called, “Britain’s biggest enterprise – ideas for radical reform of the NHS”.

On reflection, I actually agree with John Redwood MP.

This plan was far from secret.



And the conclusion could not be more blatant.


The Conservatives persist with the lie that privatisation is ‘not happening’ and yet boast of how things would be much more ‘efficient’ if the NHS were privatised.

The depth of this deception to the general public is completely laid bare by private companies providing NHS services hiding behind the NHS logo not their own corporate logo.

And you can still buy this from Amazon – authored by now Conservative Peer, Lord David Willetts, from 1993, the ‘golden era’ of John Major PFI.


A Guardian article yet again yesterday outed the lie there had not been any privatisation.

The ‘public face’ of the Conservatives is that they are ashamed of privatisation, whilst propelling it at full force. For Owen Smith MP or any others to argue that they were unaware that they were letting the NHS progress on this privatisation road is either deeply negligent or massively fraudulent, as the facts speak otherwise.

The Conservatives rely on the fact that there’s no ‘big bang’ flotation of the NHS, like the ‘Tell Sid’ campaign of privatising British Telecom in the 1980s.

Of course, the notion of the ‘privatisation of the NHS’ is deeply unpopular. People who are “experts”, like Christine Lagarde, Mark Carney and George Osborne, warning about economic armageddon delivered a #Brexit vote, were utterly rejected in the #EUref, reflecting perhaps the contempt that the City is held by some voters.

This contempt is not superficial – it is an endophenotype of how investment bankers crashed the economy, and yet nurses on their pay freeze or low paid teachers or the disabled are somehow meant ‘to pay for it’.

And then the next trick is to avoid defining what privatisation is. All privatisation is is transferring assets from the public sector to the private sector.

This is completely in keeping with other mutterings elsewhere from the Conservative Party – as described in “Opening the oyster: the NHS reforms in England” by Dr Lucy Reynolds and Prof Martin McKee (Clinical Medicine, Journal of the Royal College of Physicians) April 2012.

“According to a glossy brochure summarising the conference held last October, Britnell told his audience: “GPs will have to aggregate purchasing power and there will be a big opportunity for those companies that can facilitate this process … In future, the NHS will be a state insurance provider, not a state deliverer.” He added: “The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.””

(David Cameron’s adviser says health reform is a chance to make big profits, 14 May 2011, Guardian)

And remember Oliver Letwin MP, John Redwood’s co-author of the pamphlet above?

“Oliver Letwin has reportedly told a private meeting that the “NHS will not exist” within five years of a Conservative election victory. The Shadow Chancellor said that the health service would instead be a “funding stream handing out money to pay people where they want to go for their healthcare”, according to a member of the audience. The remarks, which have been furiously denied by Mr Letwin, were last night seized on by Labour pecks evidence of the Tories’ true intentions towards the NHS. It is not disputed that Mr Letwin met a gathering of construction industry representatives in his constituency of Dorset West on 14 May. During the meeting he urged the group of around six local businessmen to work together to win contracts for a new PFI hospital to be built in Dorchester. Mr Letwin then astonished his audience, however, by saying that within five years of a Conservative election victory “the NHS will not exist anymore”, according to one of those who were present.”

(“Letwin: NHS will not exist under Tories”,  Andy McSmith, 6 June 2004, Independent)

It is simply up to the Conservatives and New Labour to defend this blatant policy, rather than lying to the public about it.

I’ve mentioned one technique which has delivered poor value for the taxpayer (the poor value for money to subsidise shareholder profit is an onrunning Conservative and New Labour theme; it is no accident that the privatisation of the NHS was conceptualised by Andrew Lansley like the privatisation of the utilities).

But there are many other techniques – and they’ve all been attempted/completed.

For example, the privatisation of auxiliary services – e.g. chemists, cleaners, lab staff.

Or, the selling off of NHS property (including buildings and land).

Or, the rampant outsourcing of NHS services/contracts to private sector (Health and Social Care Act 2012, section 75).

The components of the NHS privatisation jigsaw have been put in place by Tony Blair’s re-introduction of the internal market, and the introduction of the purchaser-provider split. (Tony Blair had originally won a mandate to get rid of the internal market, which had been advanced in statutory instruments such as the NHS and Community Care Act, but actually in the end ended up amplifying it. It is argued that Frank Dobson tried to stem the advance of the private market, but his work was thwarted in this respect by Alan Milburn)

And we know from New Labour’s watch, that the rush for Foundation Trust status, including financial competitive autonomy, means that some clinical services went down the pan. New Labour don’t like talking about Mid Staffs much for good reason.

There is no evidence that the private sector in producing clinical services is any more efficient.

In fact, there’s substantial evidence that there’s massive reduplication of unnecessary work, as that can cause repeated billing.

And it was a farcical situation when under a previous Government a merger could not take place which would have been for the benefit for providing better quality clinical services, as it breached competition law.

And the mere act of funnelling everything through private contracts, consequent to 2012 (and laid in place from the New Labour NHS Act 2007 and Public Contracts Regulations 2006), has seen a massive amount of extra paid work for corporate lawyers in litigation and other dispute work.

What is even more incredible is that a ‘serious’ Labour leadership candidate could have been unaware of this.

If the Right of the Labour Party want to throw their toys out of the pram, and split, and not support democracy or the vast majority of the membership of the Labour Party, they’re welcome to leave.

But – parliament is ultimately about sending delegates who represent the public’s feelings, not representatives of a big slick corporate marketing machine.

And look what happened to the SDP in the 1980s.


Privatisation timeline

It is necessary to refer to the Adam Smith document by Pirie and Butler (entitled “The health of the nations – solutions to the problem of finance in the health care sector”) which charted all of this – in 1988.


Phase I  1988 – 1997  Thatcher/Major Abolition of District Health Authorities  

“Perhaps a better candidate for abolition or reform, however, would be the tier ofDistrict Health Authorities”

The NHS internal market, and purchaser-provider split 

“There must be more of an internal market within the NHS — that those units and districts with excess capacity or with some particular expertise should be more able to market their services to others who need them.”

Phase II – Blair and Brown (1997-2010) Payment by resultsFoundation Trust hospitals and HRG diagnosis-related groups systems

“With a direct charging mechanism, with hospitals as cost centres, and with the use of management budgeting techniques by which each service provided by a hospital can be properly costed, such an I internal market could be vibrant.”

Use of private sector hospitals to clear NHS waiting lists for elective surgeries

“Private hospitals, undertaking 400,000 operations per year, have a number of special strengths: they are particularly experienced at hip replacements, for example, because many older people who have saved to make their retirement comfortable happily spend the money on going private rather than waiting for two years or more in the public sector. Buying in such operations from the private sector — with NHS patients going to private hospitals for their treatment, but continuing to receive it free of charge — could be a cost effective way of clearing the waiting lists.”

PFI It is of course remarkable that in an article called “Private equity pioneer”, the impact of Michael Queen is laid bare. The timing of this is particularly noteworthy, predating the Blair government commencing 1997.

“CEO of 3i Michael Queen on his accountancy roots and how private equity can help develop world infrastructure. As chief executive of 3i, a FTSE 100 company and one of the world’s leading international private equity groups, Michael Queen is one of the most influential business people in Britain. In his 23 years with the firm, Queen has notched up many successes. Working his way through a variety of roles including finance director, he led the firm’s growth capital business and founded its infrastructure investment arm. In the mid-1990s, he found time to pioneer the NHS private finance initiative (PFI) which kick-started hospital building in the UK for the first time in decades. Recently, as CEO, he’s turned a £2bn debt in 2009 into £350m currently, built some £2bn in cash reserves and led a restructure of the group’s private equity business. And he’s just won the ICAEW’s Outstanding Achievement in Corporate Finance Award for his major contribution to UK business, entrepreneurship and the economy. But none of these are the moments that have defined his career. That was getting a position as an accountancy trainee with Coopers & Lybrand.”

As Andrew Sparrow outlined in an article last year in the Guardian,

George Osborne, the chancellor, is pressing ahead with private finance initiative (PFI) projects on a multibillion-pound scale despite having dismissed the infrastructure funding mechanism as “discredited” when he was in opposition, research has revealed. A report on Channel 4 News shows 61 PFI projects, worth a total of £6.9bn, have been taken forward since the general election. This is despite claims that private sector borrowing costs currently make PFI particularly poor value for money.”

The Health of Nations had provided:

“The private sector may also be able to help in terms of raising capital for new facilities. In areas where medical treatments have been contracted out, one of the first actions of the private sector providers is commonly to scrap existing buildings and equipment and start afresh with facilities that are less costly to maintain and more pleasant to work in. Sale and leaseback arrangements might well be a good way of raising capital for the public hospital and simultaneously contracting out certain forms of care, such as long-stay care, which the private and charitable sectors might be better able to provide anyway. Contracts with private consortia to design, build, and operate complete hospital units on behalf of the Service would seem to be a logical extension of present practices. In addition, they could provide aninteresting source of new approaches to medical care.”

Phase III – Cameron/Clegg (2010 – present day) Formation of the NHS National Commissioning Board

“Making the Service less political may help to solve some of these problems. At national level, it might be better to run the NHS through a board which, like other nationalized industries, does not include the direct involvement of government ministers and does not allow their day-to-day involvement in the running of the industry, but is ultimately responsible to them.”

Monitor and the licensing of CCGs (or “HMUs”)

“With the management of the NHS switched over to HMUs instead of Regional and District Health Authorities, national supervision of the HMUs will be necessary. A ministerial body will license each HMU and specify the standards which they are required to attain. It will also have the responsibility of ensuring that the levels of service reach those required. It will publish the criteria and compare the performance of HMUs across the country. If the HMUs make use of sub-contractors for certain aspects of health care, these, too, will be required to attain what are deemed to be the appropriate standards.”

2012 Outsourcing of Hinchingbrooke Hospital to be run by a consortium of investors headed by a former banker

“Perhaps one of the most exciting new ideas, however, is the concept of management by contract, which works well abroad and is just now being tried out within the NHS.” “contracts can be of any duration, though five years is a workable minimum” “In this new version, however, it is the managers who are under contract, rather than the front-end service workers. The skills needed to run each function come not from in-house managers but from outside experts, hired under a contract of finite duration. They must achieve whatever targets are negotiated and agreed at the beginning of the contract, or risk losing their work to a competitor.”

2012-2013 Outsourcing of South-East London & Northwest  Healthcare Trust 

“Contracting out the management of an entire hospital, including the medical services, could lead to greater opposition, but on, the other hand it might be seen as a lifeline to units that are threatened with closure because of demographic changes, smallness or obsolescence.”

Choose and Book (“AQP”) with CCGs funded by PHBs (“vouchers”)

“In more radical versions of the idea, however, patients are given a wider choice about the NHS doctor and hospital they want to treat them, and the average per caput health expenditure represented in the voucher actually follows them when they choose.”

Introduction to CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) funded by PHBs Abroad, in the Netherlands, “unintended consequences” of PHBs have now been described.  The “Health of Nations “provides:

“Fundamentally, HMOs offer a complete health care delivery service to groups of individuals in return for a fixed and prepaid annual premium. A group, such as a group of employees contracted into the HMO by a company, pays a premium on joining the scheme, and for that the HMO guarantees to provide each member with all the GP and hospital care that may be needed in each case. The scheme managers will in turn contract with the doctors and hospitals they need in order to provide this whole-care service.”

The CCGs use the PHBs to  contract with GPs of CCG member practices & purchase hospital and other secondary care through competitive tendering or through Choose and Book (“AQP”)

“For example, we might break down the NHS delivery system in a particular city or area, transforming it into a series of competing whole-care delivery plans on the HMO model, whose budgets were allocated on a per-patient basis rather than from a DHA grant, and who contracted with their own doctors and bought in the necessary hospital treatment from the private or public sectors.”

The insurance risks for CCGs are highlighted

“However, difficulties remain. There are still no obvious structures presently in existence within the NHS which would provide the nucleus around which new HMO-style systems could be grown. Some group — managers or doctors — have to accept the risk that they can deliver a complete health care service within the per caput budget, and neither group currently working inside the NHS is likely to accept that new challenge with much pleasure. In fact, staff at all levels would be worriedby the prospect of their service being divided into competing units.”

Patient choice will not extend to consultation over exchanging universal tax-funded NHS coverage for an insurance-based healthcare

“Even if a new structural arrangement could be devised, there would be the problem of how to allocate residents to each of the new plans. A free individual decision to stay with the present structure or opt for the new plan might be dangerous in the initial stages at least, because those in most need of treatment might self-select. Thus, it would be a case of compulsorily transferring patients from the existing structure into the new plans, which again might not be a popular proposal. Any move to explore the possibilities of how best to do this, however, would undoubtedly meet loud objections against using NHS patients as guinea-pigs for some new organizational theory.

Phase IV Cameron/Clegg (2012-5) Abolition of SHA & PCT management superstructure

“The key to reform of the NHS, as in education, lies in reorganization of its management structure. In place of the Regional Health Authorities and the District Health Authorities there should be management bodies which have every incentive to spend resources in ways which are cost effective and attractive to patients. These bodies should be funded from taxation and should have the responsibility of proving a full health care service for patients. They should distribute resources to general practitioners at the primary level, and to hospitals and consultants at the top. They will be, in effect, Health Management units (HMUs).”

CCGs as statutory health insurance? The idea of CCGs as “insurance schemes” has been previously mooted. The ‘pooling of risk’ is explicitly referred to in the Department of Health’s Health and Social Care Bill (2011) impact assessment thus:

“CCG Size: There is no consensus on a minimum size to handle the financial risk.2 5 Inter-GP relations and peer review are strong forces and can counter the effects of higher statistical risk in smaller CCGs for many services. However, while some high risk services are best covered at a more regional level, risks could be shared by CCGs grouping together to form their own risk pools.”

Meanwhile, the “Health of Nations” provided,

“The public sector HMUs, taking responsibility for total health care of NHS patients, are not too far removed in structure from private insurance and management bodies. The funds for premiums are publicly provided, but the same competition and incentives operate, and the same choices are made available.”

PHBs as the basis of calculation of the funding allocated to CCGs

“The HMUs themselves will have to provide total health care on the basis of an average annual allocation per patient. They will have the incentive to make sure they get value for money from the GPs who subscribe to them, and for the hospital and consultancy work they obtain for their patients.”

Performance management of GPs and hospitals by CCGs

“They will have the incentive to make sure they get value for money from the GPs who subscribe to them, and for the hospital and consultancy work they obtain for their patients.”

Situation of GPs once CCGs are authorised

“The HMUs will be licensed non-profit bodies responsible for the total health care ofthe patients registered with their doctors. They will be management bodies, drawingupon the existing skills of health managers.” (p.32) “The HMUs will be required to buy hospital and specialist services for their patients as required” “The payment and monitoring of their GPs will be part of the task of HMUs, and will be performed in ways which ensure value for money. Cost details of GP work will be compared, and action taken where necessary to improve efficiency. HMUs will be   vigilant in the selection of specialist and hospital services for their patients. They will be concerned to provide these on the most cost-effective basis they can, because the less they pay for each service, the more services they ‘will be able to offer to patients’ and the more attractive will be the rewards they can offer to personnel. The HMUs will not operate on a simple least-cost basis, but on a most cost-effective basis. Patients and their GPs will have the choice to move to an HMU whose services are more attractive, and will take with them the state’s allocation per patient. It will be very much in the interest of the Health Management Units to lower the cost per patient by timely preventive work and early diagnosis by regular check-ups. The move to HMUs will have a dramatic effect on the costs and the efficiency of hospital treatment. As hospitals go to independent management they will have to cost each service and will need to be aware of precise cost information. They will be very much more flexible in their management and method of operation. Pay scales will be more flexible and will be negotiated on a local basis instead of the rigid system of national scales and procedures. It is doubtful if restrictive practices in operation at present in the NHS will survive the changeover. There will be an incentive towards efficiency and flexibility, as well as to specialization. In some areas it is quite possible that HMUs will send their patients to the private sector for some categories of service and treatment. Where private clinics offer better value than state hospitals, there will be every incentive for them to do so. What certain hospitals do in particularly effective ways they will be able to sell widely, leading to the expansion of what each does well. The result will be for a new partnership of private and public medicine, with the services of each available to NHS patients on the basis of their comparative efficiency. An early result of the switch to HMUs will be the development of specialist low-cost treatments. Existing NHS hospitals and new intermediate facilities will have every incentive to develop methods of treatment which can bring economical results. Again, the example of other advanced countries and the private sector in Britain suggests that new methods will be pioneered which involve shorter hospital stays, more localized services, more preventive medicine, and a generally less costly style of care. The incentive will be there with HMOs seeking to provide health care efficiently. HMUs and hospitals will be able to undertake new capital projects with a combination of central grants and monies raised or saved locally. Funds from the private sector might well be attracted to areas which promise a saving on current expenditures. GPs acting singly or in groups will have the incentive to add facilities, perhaps leased from their HMUs, in order to compete with the cost of more expensive hospital services. Some of the work which now has to be done in hospitals will move out to smaller and lower cost treatment centres, some in the surgeries of doctors.”

Abolition of GPs’ Minimum Practice Income Guarantee announced October 2012

“The proportion of remuneration which derives simply from having patients on their books will disappear, leaving payment only by results.” 

Patients and their GPs will have the choice to move to an HMU whose services are more attractive, and will take with them the state’s allocation per patient. 

“It will be important to prevent HMUs from selecting patients by picking the one’s which cost least to treat. HMUs will be required to accept patients who register with their doctors, without any selection permitted other than on the basis of optimum size of the HMU. Even here, where patients are refused because an HMU is at its optimum, waiting lists will have to be established with new patients admitted in order of application as places become available.”

CCGs as a vehicle for increasing uptake of private sector hospital care and other commercial services

“In some areas it is quite possible that HMUs will send their patients to the private sector for some categories of service and treatment. Where private clinics offer better value than state hospitals, there will be every incentive for them to do so. What certain hospitals do in particularly effective ways they will be able to sell widely, leading to the expansion of what each does well. The result will be for a new partnership of private and public medicine, with the services of each available to NHS patients on the basis of their comparative efficiency.”

GP incentive scheme?

“GPs acting singly or in groups will have the incentive to add facilities, perhaps leased from their HMUs, in order to compete with the cost of more expensive hospital services. Some of the work which now has to be done in hospitals will move out to smaller and lower cost treatment centres, some in the surgeries of doctors.”

CCG funding

“The basis of funding will be the annual health allocation for each patient registered  Health Maintenance Organizations is largely avoided by keeping patients with their present GP. The resources go to the HMU selected by the doctor, although the ultimate choice lies with the patient, who can change HMO by going to a doctor registered with another one. The resources are thus directed to the HMOs which are most favoured by doctors and patients.”

PHBs calculated with demographic weighting

“The size of the average health allocation will be set each year, and there will be pressures to keep up with an advancing standard of living. A major difference is thatthere will be internal competition, with some HMOs managing to offer a greater range of services than others do on the same per caput budget. There will be the option available to vary the health allocation for each patient according to the local health costs. Geography will play a part, but so will the age pattern of the population. It may be desirable to vary the allocation by category of patient, on the grounds that older patients are more expensive to care for. This is not different in degree from varying the central funding for each age group of child in the education system.”

Personal health budget (partial roll-out now commencing) as allocations calculated for individuals which the individuals can transfer from public to private sector providers (from CCGs to insurance companies selling NHS top-up insurance)

“Under this idea, each individual would receive from the state a health voucher, equivalent in value to the average per caput sum that is presently spent on providing health care. The voucher can be used towards the purchase of private health insurance or exchanged for treatment within the public sector health system. Through this mechanism, the state honours its assumed obligation to ensure that everyone has access to health services. Those who opt into private insurance can use the voucher to pay their premiums, and the insurance companies then collect the cash value of the voucher from the government. This guarantees that everyone can afford at least a basic level of insurance cover, and (perhaps more importantly) it allows each individual a choice between different insurers and insurance packages, no matter how rich or poor they might be. However, people who decide that health care is particularly important to them are free to add to the amount covered by the voucher and thus purchase more expensive forms of insurance, perhaps covering more unlikely risks or providing superior standards of comfort or convenience. The voucher does not force people into private insurance, although it certainly makes the option of going private instantly available to everyone. Those who want to use the state service will continue to receive it, their voucher being their ticket to free treatment just as their national insurance number is at the moment. Under the more modest voucher proposals, that is the end of the story, the NHS continuing much as before — though perhaps losing some customers to the private sector that has suddenly become so much more affordable to all. In more radical versions of the idea, however, patients are given a wider choice about the NHS doctor and hospital they want to treat them, and the average per caput health expenditure represented in the voucher actually follows them when they choose. Thus, the pressure of competition is introduced in the public sector as well, because those doctors and hospitals which are popular with patients will be taking in more vouchers and thus getting a larger share of the government’s health budget. There are strong incentives to improve standards of care and to regard the patient more as a paying customer who must be satisfied.”

CCGs as transitional structures leading to unification of the NHS with the private healthcare industry

“Perhaps the greatest advantage lies in the flexibility of the new system. In place of the rigid demarcation between a public health service which does what it can on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, and a private system for the rich which offers choice and competition, the distinction between the two is blurred. They begin to overlap, each on the territory of the other. “

CCGs as insurance mechanisms

“The public sector HMUs, taking responsibility for total health care of NHS patients, are not too far removed in structure from private insurance and management bodies. The funds for premiums are publicly provided, but the same competition and incentives operate, and the same choices are made available.” “This convergence is one of the most attractive features of the change which HMUs will bring. The HMU principle lays the groundwork and the basis for further changes at a later stage, but it brings its benefits immediately. Most of the groups involved in health care stand to gain from its introduction, the patients most of all. It is from realities such as this that change is made possible.”

Phase V Here are the new resources to be brought into the healthcare system that the 2010 White Paper mentioned: payments to private health insurance companies from private individuals to pay for their healthcare, as in the USA. PHBs have been created in the form of transferable vouchers which can be spent on a pooled basis through CCGs or transferred to supplement a purchased top-up insurance policy. Such top-up policies are already being marketed intensively in England as the insurance industry prepares for the Transition planned by the DH.

“At present in the UK, car drivers are required to have a motor insurance policy that compensates other people in the event that they cause damage or injury in an accident. Similarly, it is argued, we could meet the health needs of everyone without the need for the government itself to provide health services through the NHS, simply by requiring that all individuals have medical insurance cover for a range of services that are deemed to be the acceptable minimum standard of health care. Of course, those who wished to have a superior standard of service could take out a more extensive policy: there would be no Objection to individuals insuring themselves for additional or more costly services, as long as the basic requirements are met.” “A key advantage of the universal private insurance approach is that individuals have much more choice and that the insurers and health care providers face far more competition than the NHS faces at present. Although people are obliged to have a minimum level of medical insurance cover, they can shop around between insurers and decide which provides the best value for their premium money. Because there is competition, they can decide which insurer’s particular package of services is most suited to their individual needs, instead of having to accept the standard service provided by the NHS. In addition, they can spend more on their health care, if they judge it worthwhile, than is presently spent on their behalf by the government, so new resources will be brought into the health care system.” “Under this idea, each individual would receive from the state a health voucher, equivalent in value to the average per caput sum that is presently spent on providing health care. The voucher can be used towards the purchase of private health insurance or exchanged for treatment within the public sector health system.” “The actual provision of health care services in such a system of universal private medical insurance would be undertaken by private sector doctors and hospitals, and the nationalized health sector in the shape of the National Health Service would lose its reason for existence.”


Owen Smith MP is doing a great disservice by pretending to be the ‘controlled opposition’ to the privatisation of the NHS, when there are great NHS campaigners who have vociferous about this for years.

As such it won’t matter – as I bet my life Owen Smith MP won’t win the Labour leadership.


Why has Owen Smith MP lost all momentum in his leadership campaign?

owen losing momentum














It’s totally clear to me now having spoken to several MPs who had not voted for Jeremy Corbyn originally, who then said, “Believe me we wanted to make it work!”, those MPs had no intention of ‘making it work’ whatsoever. They invariably incite the most petty and vindictive examples of where it is ‘impossible’ to work with Corbyn’s office, such as not picking up the phone over lunchtime. We got a whiff of this over the entirely over the top way Seema Malhotra reacted to somebody from estates using a keycard to inspect an office one would customarily have vacated weeks before on resignation. We also got a whiff of this with the way Wes Streeting attacked Shami Chakrabarti for become a member of the House of Lords, together with full innuendo of the ‘apparent bias’ without explaining the full test given by the Porter v Magill case (i.e. how it would look to a reasonable observer KNOWING ALL THE FACTS.)


The smear was even more excruciating to watch on BBC News 24 as it implied that somebody of Chakrabarti’s standing in the legal profession (wiki education and training here) would not have been aware of what the ‘apparent bias’ test isbut somebody with minimal legal training like Wes Streeting would (wiki education and training here). Instead of focusing on why heads of publicity in David Cameron’s office had received high honours for doing their job, including stylist work for SamCam, Streeting went on a tirade against a lawyer held in extremely high esteem for her impartiality, professionalism and legalistic advocacy. The proper arena for these smears for Streeting is the Bar Standards Board, if he really feels there is a case to answer.

If there is a genuine complaint over the independence and impartiality of the work done by Chakrabarti, it has to be done through the correct channels not by smear on TV news (which is exactly the same means of communication used to discredit Corbyn.) The most relevant clause in the current code of conduct for barristers from their code of conduct is 301.


Overall, it’s dreadfully easy to pick up a picture of the sheer degree of nonsense with which John McDonnell MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP have had to deal with. These #Labour171 are not professional MPs, but the majority of Labour MPs are nasty, vindictive idiots who need the publicity of TV studios to make their vacuous post corporate life publicity work.

But this TV interview from the HardTalk series with Lord Mandelson from 3 November 2015 is very revealing. Bear in mind that the leadership election result had only been disclosed publicly on Saturday 12 September 2015.

And the disarray of Mandelson’s answers explain fully why Owen Smith MP’s campaign is in utter disarray, even if you discount complete own goals like standing up for female lib while claiming simultaneously, albeit in a half-jokey way (according to him), to “‘smash’ Theresa May back on her heels”. Owen Smith MP came later to defend the need for promoting gender equality within Labour, having deprived the only female candidate in the leadership contest from going in competition with Jeremy Corbyn MP.

You see, I can’t find anyone at all – and I’ve searched pretty comprehensively – any Owen Smith MP supporter who can explain at all how Owen and Jeremy materially and substantially diverge on policy. Apart from Trident, which could be offered as a legitimate answer (but bear in mind Corbyn got a huge applause for arguing that Trident was not the most appropriate defence spend given current problems), there are no massive policy differences. Jeremy Corbyn MP has maintained that he is a reluctant Remainer in the European Union, seeing a strong case for certain legislative protection from EU laws including human rights and a good working relationship with people in Europe. Corbyn managed to get about 10% more of his party members to vote Remain than Cameron – Corbyn did more media appearances rallying for remain than the rest of the shadow cabinet put together.  But it is worth noting that there is a substantial number of members of the party, who completely unlike the parliamentary party, wanted ‘out’ on Europe, and like Frank Field MP think a second #Brexit vote would serve no utility. I lost count of the number of times Owen said, “I agree with Jeremy“, in the hustings from Cardiff.

In the HardTalk interview, Lord Mandelson trots a complete argument for why the current leadership bid by Owen Smith is a complete nonsense, and a waste of everybody’s time, when Labour MPs could and should have been concentrating on the Conservatives. Mandelson talks about “my party”, when in fact it is “our party”, and then describes Jeremy Corbyn as “far left” when his policies, which apply to a world of 2016 not 1983, on getting rid of PFI, tackling the lack of social housing, tackling aggressive tax avoidance, stopping rampant privatisation of the NHS, producing a national investment bank to build up infrastructure in harmony with many European countries, re-nationalising the rail industry, are policies which are hard to disagree with. These are in fact policies which successors to New Labour could have produced themselves between 2010-2016 if they were so desperate to produce their own successor. Even Blairites concede that they need to win in the world of 2016 not 1997 now. Mandelson says critically of the Blairites “but in fairness to Corbyn, the modernisers had failed to modernise themselves.”

So Mandelson refers to poor poll ratings of Jeremy Corbyn MP – but without any reference to the general unreliability of polls (take for example their uselessness in the EU referendum or the 2015 general election). Or, for that matter, he does not refer to the pretty dreadful poll ratings of Gordon Brown or Ed Miliband. Mandelson views Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership chances entirely through the prism of a ‘beauty contest’, when it is clear that Mandelson is ‘no oil painting’ himself. Mandelson trots out the need for electability, the Hilary Benn ‘winning’ argument, when Labour were annihilated in Scotland in 2015 (down from 41 MPs to 1 MP), disasters in 2010 and 2015, and a declining % of the vote for Labour from 2005 roughly onwards. Mandelson appears to resent that “the doors were thrown open to new members”, all of whom were vetted, and did contain many people returning from Labour having been totally pissed off with Labour during the Blair years. Mandelson refers to the other three candidates in the 2015 leadership election as “business as usual”, when that is precisely what Owen Smith MP appears like. Owen Smith MP flip flops from one position to the next, whether it’s on PFI or 100% state ownership, and there is absolutely no consistency in his policies from week to week.

Mandelson said of Corbyn in September 2015:

“Nobody will replace him, though, until he demonstrates to the party his unelectability at the polls. In this sense, the public will decide Labour’s future and it would be wrong to try and force this issue from within before the public have moved to a clear verdict.”

Mandelson then describes Corbyn as “not the election winning person he presents himself as he pretends to be” – but there’s the rub. Corbyn critics were desperate for Corbyn to put a foot wrong, but this opportunity did not present itself in the Labour or Bristol mayoralty elections or in 4 by-elections (which Labour all won including increasing its share of the vote in three). Mandelson continues “we have to be ready..with serious new fresh policy ideas to win support from in the party and then in the country“. But there has been no alternative vision from Corbyn critics – if they really want to be ‘electable’, is it, for example, their plan not to do something about the rip-off PFI, just ignore aggressive tax avoidance, think the debacle in Southern Rail is ok, do nothing about rip off energy bills, do nothing about the disaster in social housing, or to promote yet further privatisation of NHS and social care? Would that do it for Mandelson and his ideological-terrorist sympathisers?

Without a hint of irony, Mandelson continues:

“We’re not going to win this time with brilliant public relations. We need a renewal of policies”.

“We need to organise not only in our grassroots but also in communities where we want to win”.


So – let’s get this straight – Corbyn has done what he’s been done, i.e. produced a ‘national debate’, and mobilised new supporters and members of Labour, and he’s being criticised for this?

Mandelson then goes onto sneer at “quantitative easing”, in the context of a wacko Corbynomics policy, when the Bank of England announced a further boost of quantitative easing only this week as described in the Guardian:

“Plans to pump an additional £60bn in electronic cash into the economy to buy government bonds, extending the existing quantitative easing (QE) programme to £435bn in total”


Mandelson admits, “we ceased to be exciting”.

I think it’s worse than that – despite early successes such as the Human Rights Act and the national minimum wage – and especially after Chilcot – New Labour has become a very toxic brand, so much so Ed Miliband MP couldn’t wait to wash his hands clean of it (whilst signing up to ‘austerity lite’ and having few exciting visionary policies of himself.)

And months and months of a time period where Mandelson and colleagues could’ve planned for ‘their moment’, it is quite incredible that no credible candidates have been stumped up at this point in time. It could be that good candidates like Lisa Nandy MP or Sir Keir Starmer MP, if we believe the Labour PLP at face value, would rather Labour MPs to succumb to their fate as per the Battle of the Somme, rather than put themselves forward and genuinely ‘save Labour’. Mandelson continues with the meme, ‘we have to decide as to whether we want to be a party of government rather than a party of protest‘, when it is perfectly clear Mandelson and his merry band of ideological-terrrorist sympathisers are getting off on the high of being a Blairite party of protest within the Labour Party.

So Owen Smith MP is likely to lose – badly.

A pity really – despite being a Pfizer ex-lobbyist etc. I think he’s quite a fun and pleasant person. But there were always two stalking horses in this particular contest.

And will the Labour MPs then unify under Corbyn?

Will they hell…




Owen Jones’ interview reveals Owen Smith MP is dangerous for the nation’s health












I didn’t get round to looking at Owen Jones’ list of questions which every “single Corbyn supporter should answer”. That is because I don’t like on principle like arranging my activities around other people’s narratives. Secondly, medium informed me that it would take me close to half an hour to even read it.

I do feel like reading Paul Mason’s post capitalist reply at some stage. As it happens, I am not a regular viewer of Owen Jones’ material, though I’ve found his stuff quite interesting and entertaining; catch his interview with Clive Lewis MP or the singer called Palomo if you can?

When the Socialist Health Association ‘came out’ in support of Owen Smith MP, I was trolled endlessly. Parking aside that the first poll this year had been done in a hurry and had been beset with shilling for the Smith camp, I spent two years recently actually on the Central Council of the national Socialist Health Association. A stereotypical ‘male, pale and stale’ force of true magnificence, I was utterly underwhelmed by the sheer incompetence and manner of its members. I have no idea why I stuck with it for so long, given they utterly failed to oppose the pivotal clause of the Health and Social Care Act (section 75 which turbo-boosted outsourcing and privatisation). They had previously been utterly pathetic in their opposition to PFI. So people I’d never heard of took exception to my remark that they’re a professional body of Blairite shills. All blocked.

I still quite like Owen Smith MP. I have not had an alcoholic drink since my cardiac arrest in 2007, but Owen is a guy I would enjoy having a non-alcoholic  beverage with though probably not in a Pontypridd pub. I ‘got’ his justification of why working for Pfizer might indeed be useful for his political makeup. After I became physically disabled in 2007, I spent a few years working for and successfully graduating in my Master degrees in international corporate law and business administration, which gave me terrific insights into the bullying ethos of multinational corporates as well as the pivotal nature of employment rights. OK, so Owen once called PFI an ‘ideological nuance’, but it is clear that he has subsequently discovered that this represented extremely poor value for money for the taxpayer. He referred to the halyçon era in New Labour right at the very start when New Labour sought to rebuild crumbling buildings and to clear backlogs in waiting lists, and credit where credit is due the New Deal and Alan Milburn MP (before Milburn overreacted himself) were initial successes of a previous Labour government. But the policy went wrong as well know – with the introduction of the purchaser-provider split, costs of the internal market’s introduction, PFI, Mid Staffs and subsequent disasters.

I do take massive exception to Owen’s interpretation for where we now are in NHS policy, as revealed in his interview with the other Owen. I don’t think this is founded in malice, however, but in sheer ignorance. One of his criticisms was allowing the ‘fallacy’ to emerge that Labour had effectively started this policy, and the Conservatives merely continued it. This is by no means a fallacy. The legislation of the late 2000s and government policy meant that Labour put in place the infrastructure for the transfer of assets from the State to the private sector. There was no ‘big bang’ as in an initial public offering. But the atomisation of the NHS into Foundation Trusts, ripe for subsequent privatisation, was a crucial part of the overall game plan which had begun with full gusto following the publication of the Adam Smith document, “The Health of the Nations”.  Key statutory instruments giving effect to these policy planks were the National Health Service Act 2006 and the Public Contracts Regulations 2006. At the time, it is an open secret that Lord Warner had put out an advert for international corporates to help with management of the NHS, whilst Tony Blair was seeking the EU presidency. Harmonising the NHS with a competitive internal market of the EU was therefore no accident.

Where Owen happens to be bang on the money, pardon the pun, notwithstanding, is his criticism of the criticism that the NHS is ‘unsustainable’ whereas the deficits merely show that the NHS is grossly underfunded. As Owen alludes to, these are classic instruments of privatisation, as described by Noam Chomsky, where you strip public services of adequate resources meaning that the private sector ‘has to save the day’. But Owen fails on the own standards he sets regarding the failure of the 2015 Miliband general election campaign: that Labour set out a series of problems, but ultimately no sunny uplands, or no vision. Owen doesn’t want to talk about the need for funding the NHS out of general taxation, having identified the problem, in much the same way he skirts around the funding of his “new deal” apart of general ‘borrowing’. One suspects Owen is frightened of putting off floating Conservative voters, even though he has previously produced the cognitively dissonant argument that he would bring back the 50p rate of tax.

This absence of Owen, albeit not referred to by the other Owen, is remarkable. But the critical mistake of Owen is his airbrushing of social care from the entire scene, compounded further in his lack of mention of social care when referring to the needs of the elderly. It is a flagship Corbyn policy to tackle years of underinvestment in social care; social care funding in England and Wales has been on its knees since not being ringfenced in 2010. The extreme pressures on the social care system has been a major reason, but not the entire reason, why many patients acutely admitted to hospitals are not able to leave hospital in a timely way. There are other reasons of course, such as the gross underfunding of intermediate care. The vision that Owen needs to offer is an integrated health and social care system, a whole system which is able to cater for patients and users being seen in the right place, right way and right time.

At first, it might seem baffling why Owen has been put forward as the ‘competent version of Corbyn’ candidate. I still feel that his election as Labour leader would be disastrous for Labour in the long term, as it would set the foundations for an even worse Conservative government in future. But watching the Owen versus Owen YouTube video in full last night, it is clear to me at last that the parliamentary Labour Party has shafted Eagle to stump up Smith to try to get some morsels of Tory-Labour marginals. This is why many in the grassroots membership of Labour, particularly those attending Corbyn ‘rallies’ in Liverpool or Leeds, will find his talk about employment rights, social housing or privatisation a paler imitation of the Corbyn McDonnell show. But this would explain why for example Bradshaw, Reed, Streeting and Malhotra are frothing at the mouth, launching snide, nasty, vitriolic attacks on a man who was merely elected only nine months ago. People like me who are not Corbyn supporters, but longstanding Labour members (I’m 42 now), like Jeremy Corbyn’s policies as we feel there is where Labour ought to be, on opposing cuts in disability welfare, in strengthening employment rights, in fighting NHS opposition, in resurrecting social care, in getting rid of PFI, in tackling aggressive tax avoidance, and so on. Of course, this won’t please Tory-Labour marginals in a way which will favour those sitting Labour MPs. But if such Labour MPs are simply unable to support official party policy as set by the leadership and membership, it might be better for some more suitable candidates to ‘have a go’. I think the more burning issue is in fact Scotland, and I don’t think Labour has a hope in hell of reversing the 2015 annihilation (for them). But I think if some core Labour voters return, including some #Brexiters, perhaps even in the North of England, Labour-SNP could find itself in coalition without some of the offensive obnoxious current Labour MPs. Caroline Lucas MP has already indicated that she supports some form of NHS reinstatement. And why would this better than Miliband-Sturgeon?

This is because  Corbyn unlike Miliband is able to articulate socialist values – unlike Ed Miliband, Jeremy Corbyn is a strong leader.




Why the level of vitriol against Jeremy Corbyn?


Whilst literally a derivative of metals, ‘vitriol’ according to the Oxford Dictionary, means bitter criticism or malice.

I quite enjoyed the pantomime of yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, the last appearance in that context from David Cameron. The body language on the front row was somewhat tense between Theresa May MP, about to be invited by the Queen to form a new government later that afternoon, and George Osborne MP, about to be sacked by the new Prime Minister.

Osborne, the Chancellor or ‘Chancer’ as he affectionately came to be known, had an atrocious record in government. This included at various points downgrading of the national credit rating, missing of all his self-set targets, and a ballooning national debt which in a few years of his tenure had even superseded the total which Labour had amassed in thirteen years.

Craig Oliver, close to the Cameron government, called Cameron the ‘quiet revolutionary’. It was  a genuine belief, it appears, of that incoming Government in 2010, that they were coming together in the national interest to deal with a large financial deficit left by Labour. Much of the Ed Miliband time in government was spent in critics of Labour drawing attention to this deficit, without Ed Balls doing much to address how it came about, arguably leading to his personal defeat and the Labour Party’s defeat in 2010.

And yet the economic performance of Osborne was bad. He was personally blamed in the sense that he was boo-ed at the Olympics. David Cameron, as it happens, was boo-ed twice this week, first with his mother at the Wimbledon final on Sunday, and second yesterday with Sam and children as they left Downing Street.

However, approval ratings of Cameron ‘as a leader’ have been consistently high. Even there was no putsch to get rid of Osborne, despite his atrocious performance. Cameron could always point to other aspects of the macroeconomy, but mainly a record level of employment. The qualification to this routinely trotted out by Labour was that this was mainly due to zero-hour contracts, but the Conservatives were able to combat this criticism with various statistics. Not once was it ever conceded that a record level of employment might have been due to a free movement of persons, something which you could credit the EU for.

Nobody openly asked for Osborne to be sacked. There was no coup against Osborne. Osborne and Cameron, despite the reality of the situation, were keen not to portray any psychodrama as had dogged the days of Brown with accusations of throwing Nokia phones. Such a schism would have done much to destabilise a Government, now with a wafer-thin majority. Any destabilisation might have set in process events which could cause a motion of no-confidence in the Prime Minister leaving due to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (although this statutory instrument was first devised to stop the LibDems from leaving the coalition.)

The contemporary meaning of vitriol these days is ‘bitter criticism’ or ‘malice’. Through the way that the defamation law works in England, you can’t sue me if I say something that’s true, or fair comment; or said perhaps in a court of law or parliament (even if the accusation is a strong one like being a ringleader of a pornography ring). But defamation is defeated by malice.

For supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, which includes non-exclusively ‘Corbynistas’, it has always been difficult to tell how much of the criticism is motivated by malice. People who haven’t experienced first hand the working style of Jeremy Corbyn will find it difficult to opine on his team building ability. However, when you get criticisms like ‘the leader’s office won’t even pick up the phone’, one is forced to wonder how much experience such critics have of the real world. I, for example, normally find it impossible to get hold of anyone in a large organisation. I don’t think I’d even know where to start in finding someone at the BBC or the NHS , let alone parliament.

Therefore, it has become easy to approach criticism of Jeremy Corbyn, even if valid roots, with much cynicism. For example, when you have Lucy Powell on the airwaves talking about how Corbyn doesn’t leave the bunker, or Angela Eagle saying he is shut behind ‘closed doors’, this produces massive cognitive dissonance with the numerous images of Corbyn addressing confidently large rallies in public.



Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership hustings appearances are available for all to see on You Tube. In fact, I recommend you watching them with the benefit of hindsight of who actually won. It’s obvious how the presenters undermine his existence at these debates by “begging up” the three other candidates (Kendall, Burnham and Cooper), of good New Labour stock compared to him, in both unspoken ways and spoken ways (“Jeremy Corbyn sneaked onto the ballot and had the fewest nominations by far“).

Corbyn has never been popular in the parliamentary party. In his heyday, he amassed 36 nominations, and this included Dame Margaret Beckett who was later to yield a verbal machete to him saying she had been a ‘moron’ a term widely used by John McTernan. McTernan mysteriously had become the self-selected expert of campaigns despite his heavy recent defeats in Scotland and in Australia. McTernan’s mission was to make Jim Murphy the Scottish heir to Blair, but of course that went belly up. The number of people who did not vote ‘no confidence’ (who logically do not necessarily hold confidence) was 40 the other week.

The late not so great Margaret Thatcher used to have a phrase ‘oh he’s one of us’. Corbyn is clearly not one of them, not having graduated through Fabian Women (joke), or Progress. He did not go to Oxford or Cambridge.

Corbyn has voted for what he has perceived as ‘good law’, and in fact these  tend to be the same examples Blairites use to describe their successes. such as the Equality Act or the national minimum wage. He has, however, voted on principle against the whip on matters he disagrees with, including the Iraq War. Tony Blair somehow managed to give an hour’s speech the other day in response to Chilcot without proferring an apology for the hundreds of thousands of innocent deaths, or the argued lack of due process in going to war including rigid observance of international law.

Corbyn was attacked for his perceived lack lustre performance in the EU referendum campaigning, even though he says he toured flat out to argue for the benefits of staying in a reformed Europe. This was exactly the same pitch as the Prime Minister’s, knowing that most of the country were fundamentally 50/50 or by a smidgeon ‘reluctant Brexiteers’. Cameron achieved 10% less than Corbyn “remainers” in their parties. Margaret Hodge MP representing a constituency profoundly Brexit blamed Corbyn and launched the no-confidence motion in him. But everyone knows that there were unresolved local issues in Barking and Dagenham, due to community disquiet about immigration.

All of this narrative is to frame Corbyn as a ‘failure’, and personally responsible for 52/48 vote in the EU Ref. But there were many other actors in the EU Ref, such as Alan Johnson MP whose own campaigning really was dismal. And the ‘failure’ narrative is catalysed by the idea that somehow voters are gullible or stupid, and it’s Corbyn’s fault not to have put his heart into setting out the case. Or even worse, many of his own voters are actually closet racists, and wanted to leave the EU, but Corbyn’s relative silence had somehow tipped them over the edge. It could be possible, for example, for all the best will in the world that many Labour voters consider themselves internationalist rather than attached to the EU – for example, Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper specifically referred to themselves as ‘internationalist’ as regards the UK’s place in the world in the Labour Leadership hustings last year.

This is not only profoundly insulting to Corbyn but also to the voters in the UK who voted for Brexit. Worryingly, it seems to be phenotypic of an arrogance, or at least out-of-touchness, of a part of Labour political class which does not really understand the immigration issue. Labour MPs are either intensely stupid or highly fraudulent to ‘blame’ Corbyn for that. Hilary Benn also might like to ‘react’ to the fact that the Conservative Party have just appointed two SoS Dr Liam Fox and David Davis MP as International Trade and Brexit ministers respectively – are the Tory Party getting chummy with UKIP voters because they think this holds the key to winning?

The reality is, nonetheless, that there have been moves afoot to undermine Corbyn and to get rid of him from day one. This is not paranoia. This is evidenced fact. Yesterday, John Mann had stated openly that he had been approached by a member of Owen Smith MP’s team about a possible leadership challenge six months ago. There has apparently been a Gmail list so people can co-ordinate action against Corbyn. All the media papers have taken a strong line against Corbyn, even though he has met all his local election challenges and has had a number of high publicity policy successes (e.g. on working tax credits).

We know that the Corbyn team has been undermined from day 1, and even before the actual announcement of the result of the election. As Tony McNulty MP correctly pointed out the other day there is a difference between ‘lack of solidarity’ and ‘people who simply disagree with you’. But it has to be remembered that potential key players has refused to work with Corbyn even pre-dating the result including Cooper, Reeves and Umunna. This of course has been incredibly frustrating for the Corbyn team.

The premise for the rejection of Jeremy Corbyn’s positioning is that his policies are radical, dangerous or plain weird. The outstanding problem is they are hugely popular with vast swathes of the current blossoming membership of Labour – for example improving the quantity and quality of social housing, doing something about the unconscionable poor value for money PFI contracts in the NHS, tackling at long last the failure of numerous success governments in tackling aggressive tax avoidance, not using austerity as an excuse to impose policy damaging the most vulnerable in society (such as welfare benefits for citizens who are physically disabled).

There is little real appetite to airbrush genuine serious inclusion problems in Labour which pre-date Corbyn. Unfortunately, some of the accusations of anti-semitism have been confused with genuine criticisms of the Netanyu government. It has been deeply unpleasant for people like me on Twitter, who are not anti-semitic at all, to be accused of being immoral for appearing to support Jeremy Corbyn.

Another “guilt by association” is the conflation of being a supporter of Corbyn with being a member of Momentum – and the meme that all members of Momentum are violent and aggressive Trots. Such high standards of guilt by association are not held, for example, for Thatcher and Pinochet, or certain people in Saudi Arabia Tony Blair has been photographed with with less than great records on human rights.

The ‘not one of us’ legitimises a reluctance to integrate with Jeremy Corbyn, meaning that there is little outward motivation it seems for the Labour parliamentary party to work with their leader. This is of course incredibly demoralising for people who have legitimately voted for Corbyn. Not all ‘entyists’ are people who know nothing about politics – many are indeed ‘returnists’ who have finally found a political philosophy they can agree with, from which they had felt disenfranchised.

For all the talk of Hilary Benn of winning, who has a vested interest in protecting the reputation of the policy of New Labour, there were serious flaws in policy in the New Labour era. One clear example is a target-driven culture, together with a rush to regulation and imposed financial constraints, which led to problems such as Mid Staffs, arguably. But there were others, such as disabled citizens feeling Rachel Reeves MP had very little interest in standing up for their interests. The decline of social care had become legitimised under New Labour, which is a massive problem as the NHS and social care operate in one ecosystem. This is all objectively captured in Labour progressively losing shares of the vote, even while ‘winning’. And the implosion in Scotland is undeniable.

The ‘not one of us’ narrative is incredibly pervasive. One of the attacks of Cameron, one of his more popular ones, was the report of his mum saying Corbyn’s choice of suit in #pmqs was unprofessional.

Corbyn yesterday was wearing a much more expensive suit, and Cameron was happy. It is uncertain what other personal sacrifices Corbyn has had to make to placate the mass media, like brushing the Queen’s hand when he became a Privy Councillor, nodding at a respectable inclination to the Queen, singing with gusto the National Anthem, and so on. These are not reasons to hate Corbyn – merely bully-boy excuses.

Margaret Hodge has repeatedly referred to the culture of ‘intimidation and bullying’ under Corbyn, and yet it is precisely a culture of intimidation and bullying demonstrated by Labour MPs touring TV studios trying to humiliate publicly Corbyn. They could spend more time doing their actual work.

All of this is a far cry from the murder of Jo Cox only recently. But for Hilary Benn ringing round collecting signatures of people who couldn’t work with Corbyn to relay to Corbyn in his face, Benn probably would not have been sacked. And the ludicrous situation would not have occurred where the NEC by only four votes allowed Corbyn to go automatically onto the ballot paper. It is pretty certain Corbyn will now win, with 171 parliamentary MPs having declared ‘no confidence’ in him. It is even more likely that he will win if the Eagle and Smith votes split the opposition. Owen Smith MP is not naturally attractive to core Labour voters because of his stance on NHS privatisation. Much core support for Labour has been lost of late in their lack of perceived defence of public services.


From “Crocels News”:

“The member of Parliament for Pontypridd, Owen Smith, has been outed as a supporter of greater private involvement in the NHS, only hours before his wife Liz Smith asks for the support of the people of Llantrisant in voting for her.”

“Prior to standing for election Owen Smith worked as a lobbyist for drugs firm Pfizer. During that time, Owen Smith called for more involvement of such private firms in the NHS. “We believe that choice is a good thing and that patients and healthcare professionals should be at the heart of developing the agenda,” he said on behalf of the firm.”

“Asked to explain why he sought public office whilst earning a six-figure sum from Pfizer, Owen Smith said Pfizer were “extremely supportive” of him seeking to enter Parliament. Speaking about the early-day motion to reduce the involvement of Pfizer in the NHS, Owen Smith added: “We (he and Pfizer) feel that their (other wholesalers’) campaign to mobilise opposition to our proposals is entirely motivated by commercial self-interest.“”

On PFI, Smith declares, “I’m not someone, frankly, who gets terribly wound up about some of the ideological nuances.” These ‘ideological nuances’ have instead caused much taxpayers’ money to leach out into the private sector at an unconscionable rate, stripping the NHS bare of money for frontline staff.

If it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

So – if the party is intensely relaxed about City-friendly policies, and the culture of the parliamentary party is fundamentally different to the membership, the logical conclusion is that the leaders for the overall party and the parliamentary party are not necessarily the same. But in a case of ‘who gets to keep the china’ in divorce proceedings, there is a legitimate question of whether Unions should sponsor MPs who are perceived to undermine the leadership.

“Representatives from the CWU Bristol branch, which has 3,000 members, voted unanimously to halt payments to all three MPs last Wednesday and the decision was ratified this week. Their plans were announced at a pro-Corbyn rally on June 29.

Wotherspoon said: “If someone wishes to stand against the leader there is a process for that – and there will be an election, which is entirely fair. We would expect Jeremy to be returned with an increased mandate.

“These MPs did not bother to meet with their local parties or supporting trade unions before getting involved in this failed coup, who would have overwhelmingly opposed such action.””

Be in no doubt – Corbyn is the victim of real toxic leadership from other Labour MPs and ‘media friends’ of theirs.

Whereas his critics are making much noise, Corbyn looks set to a peaceful ‘quiet revolutionary’.

But he will need to neutralise at least the vitriol of others aimed at others, like the very dangerous levels of nastiness at female MPs – from a class of misogynist terrorists. The very least is that he should expel them after due process from the Labour Party if at all connected. The stand on this has not been strong at all, giving the impression that Corbyn does not actually care (which is presumably not the case). Also, there has been very little in the way of detail for Corbyn’s policies as opposed to grandstanding on pretty unobjectionable socialist (but moderate) policies. Much of the fear that these policies are extremist I feel could be mitigated against if Corbyn had a crack team of intelligent policy people who could work out how to operationalise his strategy, for example on negotiating PFI or tackling aggressive tax avoidance. This does mean a universe more substantial than the leaders’ office, and possibly substantially more resourcing unless there has been a boom in Paul Mason post capitalism. Corbyn and McDonnell have made huge inroads in economic policy, despite some casualties, but health and social care would be a one to target next. Furthermore, it will be necessary to draw on existent work, including the anticipated work on #Brexit from May’s government and the civil service. If #Brexit is going to be the big issue in the next four years, there might NOT be much time, money or inclination to turn the UK into a socialist superstate nirvana anyway.

The situation is rather tragic actually, but, as someone who has voted Labour for the last 26 years for all of my adult life, I can say confidently it is all of the parliamentary Labour Party’s making. Just look to see the humiliation Corbyn had to go through with the NEC, when the rules were perfectly clear that he would be entitled automatically to be on the ballot.


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