Saturday, 31 December 2016

Outdated Unrepresentative UK Honours

10 years ago, as I was retiring, I was gobsmacked to be nominated for an MBE in recognition for my NHS work and community stuff ... in fact I thought it was a joke and for some time ignored the letter I received from Buck House!
Initially I decided to refuse it because :
1) I don't agree with the corrupt system which includes people who donate vast sums to Political Parties in order to be knighted et al.
2) I am ashamed of what Britain did as an Empire
3) I was only doing what I considered to be my job; along with campaigning to build a swimming pool on Islay. Recognition was unnecessary.

I was paid peanuts for the work I did as a single-handed, part-time radiographer / ultrasonographer ....on call for 36 years (24/7 for 30 years until WTD from the EU made it illegal) .... and my inept bosses refused all requests for training or support which might have improved my grading and my pension. At first I doubted that my managers had nominated me because I was a thorn in their flesh. However now, I think it was a cop-out because my pay & conditions were rubbish and this was supposed to be compensation.
I enjoyed my job enormously apart from the frustrations caused by ignorant, inefficient managers.

As for the swimming pool voluntary 'work' many others were involved much more than me....and it was fun! We loved it and used all kinds of ways to make the £1mil we needed (25years ago) in our community and nationally. My memory includes being wrapped in tinfoil from the waist down, wearing two clam shells and a glitter wig, selling kisses on the back of a float, which was decorated as a pool. 50 pence was quite a sum in those days....even for kissing a mermaid!

My point is that I was never told who nominated me. I still have no proof. If I had refused it or if I was to return it, some well-meaning, lovely people in my small community would be very hurt because I know the nomination (for the pool part at least) was made out of genuine kindness and gratitude.
So....I agree that the honours system is corrupt, outdated and demeaned by governments, as is the House of Lords, but there must be many others like me, who are in a difficult place!
It would make lots of difference if my MBE was useful....but sadly it isn't and the gong resides in the back of a returning it now would serve no good purpose because I am not a celebrity....

Sunday, 22 May 2016

More NHS Privatisation Stuff

I saw a UK Parliamentary discussion online the other day which has been etched in my mind ever since. It was between the exceptional Dr Philippa Whitford MP who is also a breast cancer surgeon. She has been an SNP MP for a year now and has impressed me tremendously.
Dr Philippa asked the odious Jeremy Hunt, our very nasty Health Secretary, renowned for hiding especially behind trees, even before he hid from the doctors who wanted to talk about their contract.
She asked about what kind of healthcare provision he envisages for the future in the UK and he replied praising the American business Kaiser Permanente which first reared its ugly head in the time of Richard Nixon....a well-known President of dubious morals.....
This business provides care for people who have paid insurance premiums ....but only to them of course. Apparently all these insurers only give care at their private facilities to those who have paid up....and they refuse care to all the rest. Included in the video was a clip of a mother whose young child died because the ambulance took her to the 'wrong' hospital where she was refused treatment. By the time they got to the 'right' hospital it was too late.
This can be found on utube...for anyone interested.
Kaiser Permanente is what we have to look forward to if we allow our most precious NHS to be privatised. It would be a total disaster and this is what the wretched Tories want for us....well not FOR US but for them to sell off to their rich pals who will make huge profits from the taxes we pay to provide health and social care in Britain. Who votes for these greedy arrogant shallow people? Who in the UK actually wants our healthcare service to be diminished so much that privateers from America can take it over and businesses not medics decide who gets treatment and more importantly....who doesn't ... because they haven't paid the particular insurance premiums to 'allow' KP to care for them? Most UK adult citizens are educated enough surely to understand this....but who in heaven's name votes for them?....and why?

Monday, 8 February 2016

TTIP and Why it Gives Me Huge Concerns

This article is plagiarised from lots of articles I have recently studied. I have grave concerns that if it goes ahead not only will we be giving huge areas of Government to businesses....often foreign businesses....but we will be placing our NHS in their hands to privatise making profit come before patients.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) 
is an attempt by the US and EU to renegotiate thousands of trade tariffs and reduce the regulatory burden on exporters
Talks between the two sides officially started in 2013, but preparations for the deal have been ongoing for decades, largely in secret and with privileged access granted to representatives from big business. They cover a wide range of policy areas from chemicals regulations to employment policy; data protection to agriculture and it is the biggest focal point for lobbying efforts now in Brussels.
As part TTIP businesses can sue governments or public sector bodies for any loss of profits. TTIP may turn out to be the worst trade agreement in decades according to critics. The problem is not so much with the agreement’s trade provisions, but with the most controversial element of TTIP the “corporate court” system, formally called:
ISDS(Investor State Dispute Settlement) which severely constrains environmental, health, and safety regulation; and even financial regulations with significant macroeconomic impacts.
This system allows multinational corporations and other foreign “investors” to sue governments for enacting regulations which damage their profits. Proponents argue that this offers investors, like small business, protection against “arbitrary” government action.
In particular, foreign investors would be given the right to sue governments in private international tribunals when they believe government regulations contravene TTIP’s terms (6,000 + pages). Previously such tribunals have interpreted the requirement that foreign investors receive “fair and equitable treatment” as grounds for striking down new government regulations – even if they are non-discriminatory and are adopted simply to protect citizens from newly discovered egregious harms.
Even regulations protecting the planet from greenhouse gas emissions are vulnerable.
The “Most Favoured Nation” provision ensures that corporations can claim the best treatment offered in any of a host country’s treaties.
According to Corporate Europe Observatory:  Discussions have sparked concerns that the trade deal will lead to attacks on environmental protections, safety at work regulations, laws to defend public health & food safety and will unleash oil sands (fracking) thereby fatally undermining climate efforts.
Regulatory cooperation procedures have already been used to delay, water down and prevent legislation in the public interest.
The origins and impacts of TTIP's proposals for regulatory cooperation shows that the process has been dominated by big business right from the start. Some examples are the weakening of EU ambition on the management of hazardous electronic waste, the lack of supervision of the insurance giant AIG in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crash, the free pass offered to US companies on the Safe Harbour agreement that allowed them to ignore rules on the protection of personal data, and delayed or weakened proposals on animal testing, ozone-depleting substances, and aviation emissions.
The favoured approach of the EU - to ensure laws are similar on both sides of the Atlantic - is exactly the kind of “regulatory cooperation” that has already resulted in lower standards.
That sets up a race to the bottom. 
HUGE corporations and the seriously wealthy will be the big winnersThat’s the implication of a study which shows that billions of pounds have been won by giant companies like Mobil, EDF, Enron, Suez and Cargill, which have sued governments under similar treaties for taking action they believe to be “unfair.”
The success rate of cases brought by such corporate giants is around 71% — far greater than the success rate of smaller companies and investors.
This means corporate courts act to redistribute income from the public purse to the richest people in the world.
Some $6.7bn has been won in 48 cases, with another $1bn being won by super-rich individuals.
The biggest sums have been won by well-known extractive and energy companies — with Occidental, Mobil, EDF, BG Group, Enron and Chevron winning cases, especially against countries like Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina.
Another big winner is the ISDS legal industry including a selection of corporate law firms, which have made an incredible $1.7bn in over 214 cases.
A recent Friends of the Earth report showed that legal costs for such ISDS cases average over $8m, exceeding $30m in some cases, while 80% of the legal costs end up in the pockets of the parties’ lawyers. Elite law firms can charge $1,000 per hour, per lawyer.
The biggest losers of all are the public. (In the cases studied by van Harten,) $10bn has haemorrhaged from the pockets of developing world governments.
But this will only be the tip of the iceberg if TTIP and its sister agreements like
CETA (the EU-Canada agreement) are agreed.
Most cases to date have been won outside Europe and the US. TTIP and CETA will open far more lucrative cases up to far more business.
The idea that TTIP is about hard-done-by small business is clearly untrue. 
TTIP is a vehicle for channelling wealth from the public to the 1%.Joseph E. Stiglitz Professor at Columbia University, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in economics states:
What was intended to be a global free trade regime has given way to a discordant managed trade regime. Trade for much of the Pacific and Atlantic regions will be governed by agreements, thousands of pages in length and replete with complex rules of origin that contradict basic principles of efficiency and the free flow of goods.
However even outside the Eurozone, our democracy is threatened. TTIP typically negotiated by the EU in secret with corporate interests, threatens a race to the-bottom in environmental and other standards. Even more ominously, 
it would give large corporations the ability to sue elected governments to try to stop them introducing policies that supposedly hit their profit margins, whatever their democratic mandate. It would clear the way to not only expand the privatisation of our NHS, but make it irreversible tooRoyal Mail may have been privatised by the Tories, but it was the EU that began the process by enforcing the liberalisation of the natural monopoly of postal services. Want to nationalise the railways? That means you have to overcome European commission rail directive 91/440/EEC and jump through more hoops!
TTIP has come under further fire after campaigners accused the UK government of blocking access to legal advice that shows its impact on the health service.
Campaigners warned that the legal documents could reveal the extent to which private health companies can sue the government using a secret tribunal system if a Whitehall policy change were to hit their profits.The business secretary, Sajid Javid, said in answer to a freedom of information request that disclosing the legal documents would make civil servants cautious when they “need space in which to seek candid advice from their lawyers”. He said: “They are less likely to seek such advice if there is an expectation that it will subsequently be disclosable.”
Nick Dearden director of ‘Global Justice Now’ which has campaigned for greater transparency in trade negotiations, said the decision would fuel concerns that NHS trusts could come under attack from private contractors using the ISDS tribunal system.
He said: “If this trade deal is supposed to benefit all of us, why has it been so secretive?
The documents we have seen so far have mostly come from Wikileaks or after intense pressure from campaign groups.
“After this move by the business secretary, the suspicion must be that it is a power grab by large companies keen to sweep away trade barriers and that the NHS is among the most vulnerable,” Critics have accused Brussels of conducting secret negotiations covering food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and a separate tribunal system that allows businesses to bypass the civil courts.
The UK government must be allowed to expand the NHS without facing a legal challenge.
The EU claims that the deal would bring a boost of £100bn a year to the UK.
However much stronger evidence is needed to back up its claim .

4 minutes on youtube tells the tale. 
Last week a Canadian newspaper reported that the EU had approached the new administration in Ottawa to revise a trade deal between the EU and Canada (CETA) that will be presented to the EU parliament for ratification in mid 2016, with a view to the deal becoming law in early 2017.
Brussels wanted the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, to strip out the ISDS tribunal and replace it with the new international courts system, putting pressure on the US to follow suit.

Sunday, 10 January 2016


SOCIALISM....not a word we see or hear much these days is it? Sometimes it's used derisively about Jeremy Corbyn's new plans for Labour and often it's used in America as a scare tactic...imagine how terrible it would be if Socialism became the norm in the USA and poorer people were cared for by the state! Horror indeed for ghastly gun-toting Republicans.
I spent a lovely couple of hours today watching the 'Will & Testament' of one of my heroes Tony Benn. I always knew I agreed with most of what he did and said but I had not realised by how much until today! Of course, he was privately his socialist father came to terms with this, I couldn't understand; suffice it to say they were different times. His perfect diction was magnetic and unmistakeable.
It was brave to continue to row against the current ... objecting to nuclear weapons, marching with miners, speaking against war and changing his opinion about nuclear power when he understood the real dangers, after previously promoting it in government. What a guy! His hatred of the Thatcher woman and his recognition of how cruel, greedy and arrogant she was, resonates perfectly with my feelings. The terrible damage done by this evil Prime Minister was recognised by Tony Benn and he fought against her ideology with great vigour. Sadly the present day Tories are even worse!
I understand Jeremy Corbyn and Tony Benn were surprise there! I just hope Jeremy sticks with his principles like Tony did. I hope he doesn't have to compromise to stay in his position as leader. The Party must realise how popular and necessary he is, and get stuck in behind him.....I despair of these Blairites who would prefer to be Tory-lite than to embrace SOCIALISM

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Junior Doctors Dilemma

I've just read a perfect letter to the appalling Jeremy (hide behind a tree) Hunt from a doctor who is amazingly 
frustrated by this monster and the way he is behaving concerning the junior doctors new contract:
Absolutely perfect! Just the right tone too!
This man is an abomination pushing through diabolical changes to destabilise the NHS and doctors in particular, so that 'failure' can be quoted as a reason for total privatisation. This is all an ideological project for greedy arrogant Tories who give no thought to patients, their needs or in fact to those who care unstintingly for them 24/7
Even if Hunt is removed from office...providing he can be found...there will be another ghoul to replace him....and another....
Why didn't all the Royal Colleges band together at the start of this travesty in 2010 (as I continuously urged them to do....along with others) and vehemently oppose the Tories' plan to demonise healthcare staff? They could have prevented the now inevitable demise of our precious NHS. I despair....40 years working for the NHS and it comes to this!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Sad Lives Lost

The photographs of world leaders marching in Paris are decidedly odd I think. It must be very difficult to know just how to hit the right public note when tragedies happen. Prime Ministers link arms with Chancellors and they all look terribly uncomfortable but allied in their show of grief and support for the bereaved families: a truly dreadful situation! There can be no worse feeling than the loss of a close family member but I wonder if it helps to have a public outpouring of grief and 'solidarity'. People have to deal with it in their individual all kinds of death experience. Coming to terms with tragedy and destruction seems an odd is this possible? Can one ever come to terms with heart wrenching sadness or do we just get used to the pain it causes?
The amazing photograph used in an Israeli newspaper, where all the women leaders had been photoshopped out, is one of the most bizarre records. Why? I have absolutely no experience of ultra Orthodox Jews, who seem very different to me and my contemporaries. I find what little I've learned about them to be alien and hard to accept....but each to their own!

The overarching concern in my mind is how we come to be in the situation where a few young chaps, with everything to live for, throw away their lives along with other totally innocent lives, in the name of a god who, to all intents and purposes, wants these poor souls to kill in his name. Apart from the promise of a few virgins in the after life, there seems to be no rhyme or reason. And...if they are dead how are they going to be able to deflower the poor virgins?...and then what? Not a lot of logic my mind. Perhaps I'm missing a vital ingredient of this mess...perhaps if I believed in a god it would be easier.

I have a friend who has had two years of serious illness. She is very well just now and has an amazing attitude to life. It's so precious and she wants to experience new things, enjoy old things....including her husband, family and friends, and be happy sharing and caring. These young boys in France can have no conception of these ideas...and I want to cry for them and the waste of all their lives. Zealots for a cause which overrides all other considerations....maybe this gives a point to existence but we really don't need a point or a reason to be here....we just are.

So back to mundane tasks and petty concerns.....back to deciding what to eat and when to do the laundry. I might build a snowman tomorrow if the snow stays....

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Tax Inequality

I agree with Bernie. Tax has become a dirty word in this nefarious government. It's time the Labour  Party reverted back to it's socialist roots and agreed to tax the rich like Thomas Picketty suggests....up to 80% The mega rich would hardly notice & the benefits to the community would be immense. Of course these taxes would have to be ruthlessly imposed & rigorously collected....more jobs for the Tax Office? I can see no earthly reason for these ideas not to be agreed by 'my' Labour Party unless to pacify the mega rich of their own....and the greed of the Snivelling Tories & LibDems....not to mention the unimaginably dreadful, xenophobic, racist ukippers.
I worry about what will happen after the Independence Referendum....whatever decision is made.
On the one hand we have Tories, Labour & LibDems (agreeing!) telling us we should stay together for the financial betterment of all sides: and the YES voters that we can do it better alone.
Devolution offered the chance to the UK Parliament for improvement in financial arrangements with Scotland but promises came to not-very-much. We have consistently been treated as second class citizens. Why should we believe they would honour any future promises after a NO vote? I am too cynical to accept any promise from Cameron & Clegg and fear that the Labour Party is so scared of losing the middle England vote that they will renege on promises even though they might have been made in good faith.
If I were sure that higher taxes (much higher) would be imposed on mega rich people....and that these would be collected not dismissed as uncollectable, I might reconsider my decision to vote YES. So far I don't see this happening and there are only 3 months to go!