Friday, April 24, 2015

NHS spending plans at a glance

I'm mugging up for a Protect our NHS hustings tonight (7:30 pm at the Blakehay Theatre, Weston s Mare). Been looking for days for this image, and found it at last - on my own computer. 

The magic £30 billion figure is the amount the NHS will be in debt by the end of this Parliament if the present situation continues. 

I notice that a billion has gone adrift from our calculations. However, we do have an additional £5.7
bn on the table to account for ageing.

Thanks to the NHA party for the image. I've been looking at your policies, and the overlap between yours and the Green Party's is striking. 

You are about to discover how painful and humiliating it is to try to make your way into the foully distorted and biased system that is UK politics. Good luck to you, and if you stick with it you may find yourselves polling at 5% in 40 years time. Alternatively you could come and join the Green Party, where you will be welcomed with open arms.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Basic Income as opposed to benefits

A letter replying to a disabled constituent asking about benefits:

As a GP I have known many people who were clearly unable to work. In my time they were given long term certification, which we renewed every year or so.

Now there is a mindset that anyone in receipt of benefits is a malingerer until proven otherwise. Certification has been taken away from GPs and put in the hands of commercial companies who have targets to fulfil, targets of the percentage of claimants that they judge to be fit to work. This means inevitably that some will be misclassified.  This policy change has been accompanied by a programme of vicious propaganda directed against disabled and ill people by the right wing press (whose readership outnumbers centre-left press by 3:1).

The testing is a stressful event for people who already live under constant stress due to illness and disability. There are many stories of people dying within days and weeks of being judged fit to work by Atos.

"of those who had been put into the 'Work Related Activity Group' (which prepares claimants for future work), 1300 died within 6 weeks"

The Green Party takes the view that all citizens should receive a dividend of the nation's common wealth as a right of citizenship - a Basic Income - irrespective of work status. If they go to work, their BI is unaffected. This system is very simple and straightforward, and saves a vast amount of administrative work. It can be introduced gradually via Green Wage Subsidy.
Sick and disabled people would receive a supplement to their BI to help meed their needs.

If someone can work, by sewing or ironing, say, they can do it. BI is not affected.

That is our approach. Simple, easy, humane, but unfortunately, like many green policies, distorted and misunderstood by a biased media.

Green Party position on Intellectual property

Today there has been a lot of criticism from creatives like writers and photographers against our manifesto point about copyright. I wrote to the Green Party Press Office about it, and they have replied thusly:

“Our manifesto for the next parliament says we would ‘make copyright shorter in length, fair and flexible, and prevent patents applying to software’. We would consult with copyright holders and the general public to establish an appropriate length, but believe copyright terms should be shorter than they are at present in order to reduce restrictions on our shared cultural heritage. Though our long-term vision includes a proposed copyright length of 14 years, we have no plans to implement this in the near future.

As I am a inventor (unsuccessful commercially) I remember being nervous about this policy when it came out years ago, and speaking against it. The rationale sets individual interests against common interest. I am sure that corporations do exploit copyright and patents, but individual inventors and creatives need encouragement. The policy seem insufficiently thought through to me.

As ever, there are two sources to be considered : our massive, 300+ page Policies for Sustainable Society (see 3.1.3 here) being a record of all policy decisions taken at Conference since the 1970s (updated occasionally), and our present Manifesto for the 2015 election (see p61).

The writer of the 2015 manifesto is going to refine the policy at the next Conference. Clearly we need to act to protect the livelihoods of our creatives.

Update: Caroline Lucas clarifies the position.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Balancing up the Jim Jepps thing

Jim Jepps, who is not a Green Party member but who is Natalie Bennet's partner, is drawing fire in the Mirror, the Mail, and from Guido Fawkes, over some ill-considered blog posts about childhood sexuality.

I wish Jim would read this, about the impact of sexual abuse on the survivors' subsequent lives.

Here is my edited comment on Guido Fawkes:

Just to balance it up, this Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Weston has created a website drawing together information about child abuse by VIPs here:, and an important critique of the DPP decision about Janner here: . I will also be holding a meeting in Weston to discuss the whole issue of corruption in Westminster, including protection of child abusers, but also the common or garden corruption of MPs, on 28th April.

Monday, April 20, 2015

3 more points for the EU 10 point plan

In response to the tragic drownings of migrants who t, the EU have a 10 point plan:

1. The EU will reinforce the EU's maritime patrolling operations in the Mediterranean, called Triton and Poseidon, by giving them more money and equipment. The EU will also extend their scope to patrol a wider area of sea.

2. The bloc will make a systematic effort to capture and destroy vessels used by the people smugglers, using the EU's counter-piracy "Atalanta" operation off Somalia as a model. EU officials said it would be a combined civilian and military operation but gave no more details.

3. The EU's law enforcement, border control, asylum and prosecutors' agencies will meet regularly and work closely to gather information on how the smugglers operate, to trace their funds and help investigate them.

4. The European Union's asylum support office will to deploy teams in Italy and Greece for joint processing of asylum applications.

5. EU governments will fingerprint all migrants.

6. The EU will consider options for an "emergency relocation mechanism" for migrants.

7. The European Commission will launch a voluntary pilot project on resettling refugees across the EU.

8. The EU will establish a new return program for rapid return of "irregular" migrants coordinated by EU agency Frontex from the EU's Mediterranean countries.

9. The EU will engage with countries surrounding Libya through a joint effort between the Commission and the EU's diplomatic service.

10. The EU will deploy immigration liaison officers abroad to gather intelligence on migratory flows and strengthen the role of the EU delegations

They should go further:

11 Take out full page advertisements in newzpapers of sending countries, setting out the costs and risks of the trip

12 Discover and address what is driving the exodus from sub-Saharan Africa. Poverty alone? Oppressive government?

13 Do more to stop the war in Libya. Stop the inflow of ammunition. Support the Government

Janner: a Trial of the Facts is needed

Regarding the Janner scandal, on Facebook, a Guy called Dave Ismay says: 

Why is everyone ignoring the Trial of Facts option which was introduced into the 1991 Act expressly to deal with the unfit to plead dilemma ?

If the court determines that the accused is unfit to plead then a “trial of the facts” takes place before a jury. This was introduced by the 1991 Act and ensures that the evidence against the defendant is tested to some degree.

The jury now has to be “satisfied…the accused…did the act or made the omission charged against him as the offence” before the matter can proceed to disposal. The criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt is used. If the jury is not so satisfied, they must acquit the defendant. The accompanying Government Circular to the 1991 Act states that the trial of the facts should not dwell on the defendant's intent (mens rea). Difficulties have arisen because to concentrate solely on the actus reus eliminates possible defences such as self‐defence yet to examine both the actus reus and mens rea makes the trial of the facts indistinguishable from a criminal trial

Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 (the 1964 Act), as amended by the Criminal Procedure (Insanity and Unfitness to Plead) Act 1991 (the 1991)

This changes everything. Why did the CPS not go for this?