At the crossroads

A bit of culture – a satirical poem by Adrian Mitchell:

At the crossroads
I built the best of England
With my brain and with my hands.
Liberty Equality Fraternity –
That’s where I took my stand,
And the people called me Old Labour
The brave heart of this land

I walked out of the smoky streets
To enjoy some country air,
But when I came to the crossroads,
I saw a weird sight there –
A man in a silver business suit
Swivelling in a black leather chair

He jumped right up and shook my hand
and giggled with mysterious glee.
Then he stared and said: ‘Old Labour,
I can tell your destiny.
I’m the Great Political Entrepreneur –
Would you like to do a deal with me?’

Well, the style of his smile and the size of his eyes
Made him look like a shopping mall.
I told him straight: ‘I’m a socialist,
I support fair shares for all.’
He said: ‘Capitalism means fair shares,
Provided that you play ball.’

I said: ‘I can think of something
Capitalism can’t arrange
And that’s the common ownership
Of the means of production, distribution and exchange.
And war makes so much more profit
That the idea of peace is strange.

‘I was born for peace and justice
For every race and nationality
I’m for people, not for profit,
I want to see the children free
With no more than 12 kids in a class
Revelling in liberty.’

‘But let’s not talk about the people,’
The sophisticated stranger said.
‘You must have targets of your own –
Let’s talk about you instead.’
And my brain was enthralled by his silver voice
Though my heart was filled with dread.

‘I know you have a heart,’ said the shining voice
‘And I know you have an excellent mind.
Why not become an Entrepreneur –
Leave those people of yours behind?
You shall live in mansions and grand hotels
And be constantly wined and dined.

‘You shall have your own island and bodyguard
And your own show on TV,
And a heated pool and a gymnasium
And become a powerful Celebrity.’
‘I think I could fancy that,’ I said,
‘But what’s the cost going to be?’

Well, I knew. But I signed – in my own life-blood.
He extracted my soul with care
and placed it in his credit card case
And gave me his black leather chair
Then he laughed and said: ‘You are New Labour now.’
I said: ‘Thank you, Mr Blair.’

Journalists strike at the Express and the Star!

Richard Desmond pays himself a million quid a week for owning the bloody paper, yet won’t give a decent pay increase for those who write the paper! Desmond won’t be hit too hard by growing inflation, but his employees will. Hence the strike action:

NUJ members at the Express and Star are on strike today (04/04) following refusal by the papers’ management to meaningfully negotiate a fair pay deal for journalists.

Picket lines in London and Preston were manned from 6am this morning and over 100 messages of support have flooded in from journalists across the country. It is the first full-day strike by journalists on a major national newspaper in 18 years.

The strike at Express Newspapers follows a refusal by management to engage in meaningful negotiations with the NUJ on pay. The company is attempting to force a three per cent pay rise on journalists, despite having increased its printers’ pay by 4.3 per cent. NUJ members working on the company’s papers, the daily and Sunday titles of the Express and Star, say they are working under ever-greater pressures yet getting scant recognition for their efforts by management.

Union members on the picket lines are carrying placards with slogans designed to drive home their message, including: “3% is not OK!”, referring to the celebrity magazine also owned by Express proprietor Richard Desmond, and “pay up RICHard”.

Guess which political party this parasite supports? That’s right, New Labour…

RICHard says he’s a socialist. What – like Wendy Alexander is a socialist?

He’s having a laugh, isn’t he?

Govt forced to put breaks on NHS privatisation in England

[Friday]

Well, some good news. I don’t doubt that its happened because of the pressure from below, the many protests against cuts and closures have led to an awareness that the health service is under threat.

The title of this news item is “NHS private sector deals scrapped“, but don’t for one minute think that New Labour has lost this battle – promises have been made to investors concerning Darzi’s polyclinics plan…

The government is rowing back on its use of the private sector for NHS care by scrapping a series of projects.

Six clinics in the pipeline and another already up-and-running will fold at a cost of millions of pounds as they do not provide good value, ministers said.

In recent years, the government in England have signed deals with firms to provide NHS treatment and diagnostic centres in a bid to cut waiting times.

Doctors said the waste of money was a “crying shame”.

It comes after Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced in July there would be no third wave of independent sector treatment centres.

It’s pretty sickening that the privateers are treated better than patients they profit from. The FT notes:

In an attempt to appease the private sector, Mr Johnson yesterday promised a campaign to raise the awareness of patients’ right to choose, and a new advisory forum of private providers.

In public, the private operators reacted with restraint at the cutbacks. In private, they were furious.

Neil Bentley, the CBI’s public services director, said the decisions were “a Christmas present for opponents of reform” and that “patients are the losers”.

Karen Jennings, head of health at the trade union Unison, welcomed the government’s “change of emphasis” on private sector involvement, as the Conservatives accused ministers of “incompetence” after spending tens of millions of pounds on the failed bids.

I doubt that the whole farce of private sector involvement in the NHS – back-door privatisation – would have happened if England had a devolved parliament, like Scotland and Wales, instead of having health policy being the preserve of the UK government.

An English parliament with proportional representation would enable the working class movement to mount an effective political challenge to the three big parties and their policies of war and privatisation…