Cameron’s co-op movement conceals privatisation agenda

[Friday]

As if Brown’s bullshit wasn’t bad enough, Cameron has copied the PM’s political cross-dressing by coming out in favour of cooperatives:

David Cameron has outlined plans to help people establish co-operatives which could set up or run local public services such as schools in England.

The Conservative Co-operative Movement would seek to promote co-ops which, he said, provide “flexibility and dynamism that a central state agency lacks”.

Perhaps this is Cameron’s “heir to Blair” idea for public sector “reform” (ie: privatisation). The Tories are pitching themselves to the ruling class as a better option for flogging off schools and hospitals to big business by using some nice-sounding concepts.

What’s needed is democratic control within the framework of public provision, of course. Cameron’s scheme will not deliver local control, but corporate control.

As Greenman notes,

The fact remains that without powerful workplace and community commitment and structures designed to resist the encroachment of the privateers, then local mutual and co-operative ventures are vulnerable to be picked off one by one by the corporate vultures that now roam the planet in search of victims. All the signs from the major parties are that despite their localist and cooperativist rhetoric, when it comes to the crunch they support the vultures, who after all, are some of their major funders. Mutualism and Cooperatives could play a big role in the move to a fairer, more sustainable and more democratic society – but not whilst the corporations are unrestrained by either political or industrial opposition. Until that time the better ventures will be constantly under attack, or at risk of being co-opted into the neo-liberal project.

And finally, the write-up in the Morning Star:

Unions blast Tories for new school push
TEACHING unions and the Co-op Party ridiculed Tory leader David Cameron’s newfound commitment to education co-operatives on Thursday.

Mr Cameron launched his “Conservative Co-operative Movement” in Manchester, the birthplace of the British co-op.

He claimed that the new organisation would help people to form groups to take control of their local public services.

He pledged that a Tory government would give these groups the power to open and run schools.

Mr Cameron said: “In other countries, co-operative education is central to the system. Over 100 schools in Sweden are co-ops and over 600 in Spain.

“So, I want to explore how we can create a new generation of co-operative schools in Britain, funded by the taxpayer but owned by parents and the local community.”

National Union of Teachers general secretary Steve Sinnott responded: “David Cameron has neglected to mention that there is a major democratic deficit in the running of schools.

“Private companies can now take over schools.

“Under the Conservative leader’s proposals, groups of parents can do the same.

“The losers from both approaches are the local communities themselves.

“Leaving the creation of schools to a local market creates social segregation,” he warned.

“Co-operatives have a proud and noble tradition. I am glad he has recognised that, but they will not address the core problem facing the education service – the fragmentation of school provision.”

Teaching union NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates agreed. “Unfortunately, teachers are again experiencing politicians vying with each other to come up with ‘big ideas,’ most of them barking, on how to run schools,” she said.

“The majority of parents don’t want to run schools and don’t have the capacity to do so. They want a good local school and there are already plenty of these to go round.”

Sacked for opposing health service cuts

[Friday]

 A shocking story, a stunning display of solidarity:

More than 150 health workers in Manchester started continuous strike action today in support of a UNISON activist sacked for speaking out against health cuts.

Community psychiatric nurse Karen Reissman was sacked last week following a disciplinary hearing at which Manchester Mental Health Trust found her guilty of bringing it into disrepute.

UNISON is appealing the decision.

A member of UNISON’s national health executive and chair of her branch, Ms Reissman has been a vocal critic of government health policies and local health cuts.

UNISON says the trust’s treatment of Ms Reissman was intended to gag her and intimidate other stewards, and is a direct attack on the union.

It has pledged to vigorously defend members’ rights to speak out without fear of persecution.

Support for Ms Reissman has been flooding in from around the country since she was first suspended on 15 June – the same day she received a letter offering her a promotion.

There have been a number of public meetings calling for her reinstatement. And health workers covering all inpatient, hospital and community psychiatric services across the city of Manchester have been holding a rolling programme of strikes in her defence since August.

George Galloway, the Respect MP, has issued the following statement of support:

“The sacking of Karen Reissmann is an utter scandal that cannot be allowed to stand. She is a dedicated public servants who was sacked merely for speaking to the press in support of those she cares for and her workmates. I will be working with others in parliament to raise her case and to generate support for the action her fellow health workers are taking to win her reinstatement. Every trade unionist and everyone who puts people before profit should rally in support of Karen. I’ll be raising this issue in the media as well, which has a vested interest in ensuring that people can give interviews freely.

“I shared a platform with Karen in Manchester on Tuesday night. Anyone who has heard her speak knows she is a dedicated nurse and committed trade unionist. We need more psychiatric nurses like Karen. And we need more health service trade unionists like her – standing up not only for her members but crucially for those she looks after, some of the most vulnerable in society, those who have been driven to despair by a world in which profit rules and the devil take the hindmost.

“I know Respect members and representatives will be joining with others to raise solidarity for Karen and her striking colleagues. We must do all in our power to ensure she is reinstated.”

John McDonnell, leftwing Labour MP, has also spoken in support of the strike and has sought to raise Karen’s sacking in parliament:

Her sacking is an absolute disgrace. Karen is a community mental health nurse and a member of the Unison National Executive. Who benefits from her sacking? Certainly not the community she serves who rely on public service workers such as Karen who are prepared to defend the services they provide against cuts.

Discontented generals enter into politics, again

[Thursday]

Now, given that the WRP’s view in the 70s that the UK was headed for military dictatorship wasn’t all that crazy in retrospect (see the Clockwork Orange smear campaign and the plot against the Labour government of Harold Wilson) this story from their daily, The News Line, should be cause for alarm:

Discontented generals enter into politics
THE formation of the United Kingdom National Defence Association (UKNDA) led by ex-chiefs of the general staff and politicians such as David Owen is a clear break from Britain’s bourgeois parliamentary tradition, and is a move towards a new form of rule in Britain.

Since the 1640s, when the New Model Army purged the House of Commons and forced through the execution of King Charles 1, and formed the English Republic, the British bourgeoisie has had a horror of political armies.

Since then it has always stressed that the armed forces are the servant of the British government and that their duty is to carry out the instructions of their political masters, a role that the army has been content to carry out, till recently.

In the period when British imperialism ruled the world there was no problem with this approach.

The bourgeoisie provided the armed forces with the tools, and the army did the job, defending the empire, which the British bosses were super-exploiting, from their rivals, whether they were German, Japanese or the national revolutionary movements.

Even when the Tories, under MacMillan, declared that Britain’s role east of Suez was over, the military chiefs bit their lips and loyally supported the withdrawal from Malaya, Singapore and Aden.

It was when Britain, much reduced in economic stature, surfaced under Tony Blair as the ‘partner’ of the US and its grandiose plans to reorder the world, and the British military was called upon to punch well above its weight, that the military revolt began.

Just before Iraq was invaded in 2003, the military command demanded assurances from the Prime Minister that the war was ‘legal’ and that the US-UK defiance of the United Nations would not land them in the ‘next cell to Milosevic’ as the matter was put by a leading British commander.

The illegal war has however done much more than land an officer in prison, it has demoralised sections of the officer corps and broken the Territorial Army, and the process of demoralising the officer corps is continuing in Afghanistan.

Now we have an army whose chiefs hold that they have been ‘betrayed by the politicians’, or as another theme would have it ‘been let down by the country’ which has not provided them with the tools and the manpower to do the job.

It is a process that is paralleled by the emergence of political police chiefs who demand of parliament that it legislates to satisfy their requirements.

The emergence of political army officers and police chiefs is a semblance of a move from a bourgeois democracy to an open dictatorship that the downsized British bourgeoisie requires to stay in power.

This is the essence of the emergence of the group of former senior military leaders and politicians such as David Owen and Winston Churchill who have formed the UK National Defence Association (UKNDA) and who want the military budget increased from 2.0 per cent (£34 billion) of Britain’s GDP to a figure put between three per cent and five per cent.

Other prominent supporters of the group include Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, and Patrick Mercer, the Conservative MP who serves as a defence adviser to the prime minister Gordon Brown.

The UKNDA president, Winston Churchill – grandson of the UK’s prime minister during World War II – said: ‘At the time of the Falklands 25 years ago we were spending five per cent of our gross domestic product on defence.’ However a name asssociated with the past does not equal the recreation of the past.

They want guns not butter, and their wish for a rebirth of the power of British imperialism can only be achieved by slashing the health and education budgets and smashing the Welfare State.

British imperialism is in its death agony. The role of the working class is to bury it to go forward to a socialist society. The moment when this will have to be done is fast approaching.