Monday, July 27, 2020

I am the very model of a modern Tory Minister

 To Carole Cadwalladr with huge respect

I am the very model of a modern Tory Minister
The way we get our funding now is nothing short of sinister
We wallow in the millions donated by Temerko
Despite the dreadful poisoning of Alex Litvinenko.

We’re dancing to the policies that stream out from the Kremelin
Like rats who scamper to their deaths behind the pipe of Hamelin.
We tolerate the poisoning of poor old Sergei Skripal
To keep the Russian oligarchs from closing down their Paypal.

But so long as right wing editors will never put the boot in
The voters never know about the links we have with Putin.  [x2]

We know that it would only take the journalists to dig more
Before they found the truth about the links of Andy Wigmore
What drives dear Lubov Churnukhin to be so free with her stash
And understand the motivation of Dmytro Firtash.
If any journo questions why the Russians wanted Brexit
We know Security will lead them quickly to the Exit.

I am the very model of a modern Tory Minister
The way we get our funding now is nothing short of sinister
So long as right wing editors will never put the boot in
The voters never know about the links we have with Putin.  [x2]

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Privatisation has failed to deliver in Covid management

The neo-liberal British Government has failed in its management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We are among the highest scoring nations in terms of disease and deaths. At the time of writing (early July 2020) our death rate for Covid-ascribed deaths stands at 44,000, whereas Germany, with a bigger population, stands at just 9,103.

Johnson made 22 major errors in his mismanagement of the pandemic and one of them was his ingrained favour of private provision. Instead of using established and experienced agencies such as the NHS GP service and Local Authority Public health departments to manage the pandemic, Johnson chose to hand contracts to newly created private companies to do the job.

These companies have failed to deliver.

Serco has failed to deliver a contact tracing service in good time. The firm was engaged despite a past history of fraud and malpractice.

The Government has paid £1.7 billion to private companies for Covid services without adequate tendering procedures. Later this figure was revised upward to £5.5 billion.
Government handed a £200 million PPE contract to a chocolatier company.

These are just a few instances plucked at random from the web. What we need is a methodical review of privatisation from a campaigning organisation (or an alliance of such) which will undoubtedly demonstrate that privatisation is not the panacea that Conservatives believe it to be, and that in fact it is a disaster. Then maybe we can say goodbye to this seemingly interminable series of increasingly incompetent Conservative Governments and have a Government that has at least a working knowledge of what is happening in the real world.

If Covid serves to demonstrate how useless privatisation is, it will not have been 100% bad.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Adressing institutional racism in the police and the armed forces

The murder of George Floyd by a US police officer in Minneapolis on May 25th 2020 has sparked international protests against the racism experienced by black people. There is a risk that the focus may drift into a discussion about statues and related generalities. It would be good if politicians, as well as demonstrating support and solidarity for Black Lives Matter movement, could also come forward with a radical, hard edged policy proposal that could be put forward in Parliament, hopefully with cross-party support.

This paper puts forward the proposal that police and senior Home Office officials should be required to re-apply for their jobs.

It is evident that the police service is still infected with the institutional racism that Sir William Macpherson found in his 1999 inquiry into the Stephen Laurence killing. Windrush shows that the Home Office is also affected by the same problem.

It is clear that we need crisp, clear-cut political changes in the police and Home Office. Without a clear policy goal, the momentum created by the Black Lives Matter movement will be diffused and absorbed into a few minor attitudinal changes. If the Green Party leads with a single, radical and effective objective, we may break through the barrier of indifference, and even if we do not succeed in delivering, we will certainly ensure that whatever changes follow will go further than if we do not provide a lead.

The proposal is that every police officer, and higher-rank Home Office officials should be required to re-apply for their jobs. The application process would include a written attitudinal examination and an interview. The written paper would be designed to pick up false prejudices relating to BAME people and other groups who may be seen in a prejudicial light. The officers’ service record would also be examined.

Wrong answers presented by the candidate would be brought to attention, and correct facts would be provided. Education programmes could be run for all officers, covering such topics as the history of slavery in the UK and the experience of racism.

The pass mark would be set, and low-scoring candidates might be accepted, but put on probation and re-tested after a few months. Some very low-scoring candidates would not be accepted.

The re-application would be rolled out in a phased way, with a manageable number of candidates examined each month.

Although the proposal may seem radical, re-applying for one’s job is a routine in some forms of employment, for instance, in the case of researchers employed by some Universities.

In order to sweeten the pill of this necessary filter process, reforms to the conditions of service should be brought in - simple practical reforms such as reviewing and improving the comfort and weather proofing of the police uniform, and bringing in limits to the number of hours police may be asked to work.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Green Wage Subsidy webinar on Tuesday June 9th

Next Tuesday evening, at 8 pm, I will be presenting a webinar on Zoom about the Green Wage Subsidy. Here are the details:

Topic: NS Green Party - Green New Deal
Time: Jun 9, 2020 20:00 London time

 Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 857 7848 5510
Password: 836741

The aim of the webinar is to get my local Green Party to persuade our MP to help set up a Green Wage Subsidy pilot in North Somerset. However, this is not confined to North Somerset. Anyone can play. Please join the webinar, and lobby your own MP to join this important initiative. 

There is a massive desire on the part of many people, well beyond the boundaries of the Green Party to re-boot the economy in safe and sustainable mode when lock-down is over. GWS is one way of changing the desire into reality. 

Here is a letter to the MP that you can use as a template:

John Penrose MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

I hope you and your family are safe and well.

The Covid-19 pandemic is bringing on a recession. I hope that you will be ready to help to bring about Green Wage Subsidy (GWS) as a way of countering unemployment caused by the recession.

We need to remove all administrative blocks to people moving into necessary work. The key point is that we must terminate the withdrawal of benefit which happens when a claimant finds work in vital sections of the economy.

This will require the Local Authority to appoint an officer who can issue accreditation to economically active groups whose work is of benefit to the environment or society.

The accredited employer is then able to engage people from the Job Centre, and on top of the benefit they continue to receive, the employer brings the wage up to the going rate for the job. The Job Centre simply notes on the record that the person has obtained work under the GWS.

At this point in time, the ability to hire workers easily, and at a low rate of pay, will be most welcome for the all employers, many of whom are facing unprecedented cash flow problems.

The economically active groups who should benefit from GWS at present are:

1.      NHS
2.      Agriculture, particularly since there is expected to be a lack of seasonal pickers
3.      Education and schools
4.      Water supply
5.      Sewage services
6.      Power services
7.      Builders for vital work such as roof leaks
8.     Waste collection services and other departments in the local authority

As the reinfection rate recedes and the economy is able to open up further, the following  areas of work can benefit from GWS:

      Meeting Environmental needs

1.      Energy conservation
2.      Renewable energy technologies
3.      Energy storage
4.      Energy efficient goods manufacture
5.      Public transport
6.      Pollution control technology
7.      Waste minimisation
8.      Repair
9.      Recycling
10.  Water management
11.  Sustainable agriculture
12.  Forestry and timber use
13.  Countryside management

Meeting human needs
14.  Housing - new building and refurbishment
15.  Improvements to visual environment
16.  Education and training
17.  Counselling, caring, and healing
18.  Community work
19.  Leisure and tourism
20.  Innovation, research, and development in these areas

I am sure you will agree that in the present situation, the removal of the bureaucratic complexities that impede people from moving from benefits to work is a good solution to what is otherwise a very major economic problem, and will significantly reduce the terrible burden that unemployment places on individuals and community.

The beauty of GWS is that it does not need new money: benefit that is at present paid on condition that the recipient does no work, is still paid in the same measure, but under GWS it becomes a subsidy to the vital, life preserving sections of the economy.

To come about, we need your good self to persuade the Treasury to give a derogation to North Somerset Council on the withdrawal of benefit for the purposes of running a pilot scheme.

I very much hope that you will agree to help take this forward.

Kind regards