A couple of months back, I took part in a protest in support of the Babington Hospital in Belper, which was threatened with reduction in services or closure. With the ongoing campaign to protect the also threatened Newholme Hospital in Bakewell and the targeted Oker Ward of the Whittington Hospital in Darley Dale, it feels appropriate to publish the transcript of my speech from the Belper protest, as a unifying call for support for our hospitals across the region:
"The NHS. Fondly called the envy of the Western World. Founded on the principle that everyone - man or woman, pensioner or child, labourer or manager, should be entitled to a basic minimum standard of healthcare - and should not be forced to pay an arm and a leg for it. That in a civilised society NOBODY should die of curable diseases or injuries because they don’t earn enough to be cured. On the 5th of July 1948, when the NHS first opened its doors, the Labour government of the day declared:
“[Your new National Health Service] will provide you with all medical, dental, and nursing care. Everyone – rich or poor, man, woman or child-can use it or any part of it. There are no charges, except for a few special items. There are no insurance qualifications. But it is not a “charity.” You are all paying for it, mainly as taxpayers, and it will relieve your money worries in time of illness.”
Now 68 years old, the NHS is viewed by governments as a troublesome maiden aunt - that unloved elderly spinster - desperately being palmed off to anyone who will take her. In 2012, under the Health and Social Care Act, the government finally abandoned all responsibility for her to a series of locally commissioned bodies. Significantly, this Act also removed the “burden” of healthcare free at the point of use - restricting the obligation to emergency services only. Any other services you may require are now provided solely on the whim of the Clinical Commissioning Groups. And thus our so-called “free” healthcare is now a postcode lottery; services provided varying from region to region. In Devon, routine surgery is restricted for obese patients and smokers. In North Staffordshire and Kernow, eligibility criteria was introduced for hearing aids, that will deny them to those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
For those newly diagnosed with cancer, it is better to live in North East Hampshire, where only 24% of those diagnosed will die within a year. Whereas in the London borough of Barking, delays in treatment result in a 38% fatality rate within a year.
Whilst one accepts that this favourite aunt cannot continue to meet every demand of a growing and ageing population, it is a considerable disgrace that one's life and death hangs in the balance of one's postcode.
I am a young person, and I am watching the systematic dismantling and piecemeal privatisation of this flagship equalizer; this leveller; which has historically regarded each human life as being of equal value regardless of age, wealth, or circumstance.
We stand at a Healthcare crossroads, on the edge of the point of no return - and if we choose to blindly follow governments down this one-way road there will be no way back.
We ought to have learned from the creeping privatisation of dental care; we now have some of the poorest dental health in Europe. People from deprived backgrounds are now three times more likely to lose all of their teeth than those from more privileged backgrounds.
We now have an NHS in which there are not enough doctors & nurses to go around. Junior Doctors are overworked and underpaid, and are being subject to a dangerous worsening of their conditions under new government contracts; there are not enough GPs to go around; and people are waiting several weeks for appointments.
Our NHS appears to be heading in the same direction as BHS.
Meanwhile, many treatments are being contracted out to expensive private companies, such as London’s Cromwell Hospital ran by Bupa - a third of whose brain-tumour patients are sent to them by the NHS, costing our public Health Service £7,300 per person.
We stand at a Healthcare crossroads. But we can choose - today - here and now, to stand up for this maiden aunt who has always been there for us in times of need. We can nurse her back to good health. We can choose to take a stand. We can fight against closures and cuts, locally and nationally.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting Harry Leslie Smith. He spoke about poverty in the 1920s and 1930s, about life before the Welfare State and NHS, and about how we are heading towards those times again. He spoke about the shame of moving from slum to slum in the night, the degradation of a life lived in poverty. He spoke of his sister Marion, who died in the 1920s of Tuberculosis at the age of only 10 years old, because her family could not afford to pay for her to receive proper healthcare.
Harry and his generation saw a time before the NHS.I will fight until my dying breath so my generation and I will NEVER see a time after it."
News of a walking protest from the areas affected, meeting in the middle to unite against hospital closures will follow on the Derbyshire Dales Labour website.
A couple of months back, I took part in a protest in support of the Babington Hospital in Belper, which was threatened with reduction in services or closure. With the...
This blog is part of a series by Christian Weaver which can be found here
On 26th May I met up with Nottinghamshire Labour Party members to discuss all things mental health. The meeting was productive, with a number of innovative ideas coming out of it. Below is a snapshot of the key points made:
Addressing the Stigma
In horror films, the ‘scary’ person / villain is often depicted as somebody with mental health issues. This depiction is damaging in terms of addressing stigma.
Young people should be exposed to and have an understanding of those suffering from mental health issues from a very young age.
In the same way consideration must be given to ‘health and safety’ when decisions are made, mandatory consideration must also be given to mental health issues.
There was a view that more research was needed. This would enable the Labour Party to develop a clearer picture on what needs changing. Research in to the following areas was suggested:
Why do incidents of mental health disorders appear to be increasing?
What pressures are being put on young people through social media and is this contributing to mental health issues?
Why do some people miss their GP appointments? Once we understand this, we can work to combat it?
Issues Regarding the Student Community/Young People
Society still promises young people ‘the earth’ if they achieve well academically. This puts often unsurmountable levels of pressure on them and can lead to mental health issues.
Bursaries for doctors who commit to spending at least working within psychiatry upon them becoming qualified as a doctor.
Other Discussion Points
A greater emphasis should be put on treatment of mental health issues by way of socialising, meeting with friends and family and taking up a sport, as opposed to the exclusive use of drug use.
More respect must be given to mental health workers. They need to be up there with junior doctors.
Trade Unions supported people with mental health issues. Their decline has been to the detriment of employees.
If there is anything you want to add, please submit to:
NPF Rep East Mids (Health and Care Policy Commission)
This blog is part of a series by Christian Weaver which can be found here On 26th May I met up with Nottinghamshire Labour Party members to discuss all things mental...
YOUTH ACTIVITIES GRANT - COMMUNITY GROUPS CAN APPLY TO DCC
YOUTH ACTIVITIES GRANT - COMMUNITY GROUPS CAN APPLY TO DCC Read more
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psp8JGmlkBA&feature=youtu.be Read more
Over 30 young people attended this exciting event in Whatstandwell this evening. The panel was chaired by Uther Naysmith, Our Young Labour CLP Officer.
The debate was open, passionate and informed. Topics included the EU, immigrants the role of women and the current world conflicts.
Here is the link to our You Tube video of the event. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObfSVVqadHk
Thank you to Uther and his team for organising this excellent event and to the Family Tree @ Whatstandwell for the venue.
And a bid thank you to the panellists - Umaar Kazmi, Sophie Vale, Dan Mayhew and Charlotte Tyler.
Over 30 young people attended this exciting event in Whatstandwell this evening. The panel was chaired by Uther Naysmith, Our Young Labour CLP Officer. The debate was open,... Read more
Our next monthly social will be a special Question Time event held in April.
You can find out more details and RSVP at http://www.derbyshiredaleslabour.org.uk/youth_group_event_in_whatstandwell.
Please feel free to bring a friend or two.
Looking forward to seeing you all there.
DD CLP Co-Youth Officer
Our next monthly social will be a special Question Time event held in April. You can find out more details and RSVP at http://www.derbyshiredaleslabour.org.uk/youth_group_event_in_whatstandwell. Please feel free to bring...
“A spectre is haunting Europe.”
-the spectre of Socialism.
What is Socialism in the 21st century?
I was born in 2000. As a result, I have no first-hand experience of old-Socialism. But, the stereotypes (and that’s all they are: stereotypes) promote the image of a loud, aggressive movement characterised by: so-called disruptive Trade Unions, the Winter of Discontent and men in flat caps on soapboxes. I do not think this represents Socialism in the modern era.
Socialism is a dirty word, used by the gutter press as an insult as though Socialists are going to send Union thugs door-knocking to steal your money, force you into manual labour and eat your children. Socialism is the victim of a mass campaign of slander by just about everybody. It is time for Socialism to update itself to appeal to the 21st century palate. The days of “dark Satanic Mills” are long gone. Socialism needs to evolve to form a sleek, modern movement that carries the principles of old-Socialism headfirst into the 21st century. I am not suggesting we abandon its core principles: nationalisation, trade unionism, welfare, protection of the people and social justice. Rather, that we stand up for truly Socialist values in a way that is compatible with the hyper-globalised, fast-changing, modern world.
So, how do we transform Socialism from a misunderstood, misaligned outdated ideology into something fresh and relevant to the world we live in, and yes, something that will appeal to voters?
The Socialist Party of Great Britain, whose document of principles has proudly been the same since 1904, defines Socialism as:
“The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.”
But, it is 91 years since Ramsay MacDonald formed the first ever Labour government; further, it is 115 years since Keir Hardie, in pursuit of State Socialism, proposed “a distinct Labour group in Parliament, who shall have their own whips, and agree upon their policy…”. The Labour Representation Committee which, without time to campaign, only sponsored fifteen candidates in the 1900 “Khaki” Election - and only won two seats.
However, in 1945, the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party noted that, despite the Labour Party’s advocacy of State Socialism;
“[The] evolution of Capitalism has revealed for all to see the fundamental error of the reformist parties which turned aside from the working class problem of ownership to busy themselves with the problem of control, only to find that Capitalism had moved on and made their schemes obsolete. … Further, they realised that State industries ... were not even particularly acceptable to working class voters … Thus the Labour Party has changed its line and is walking in step with capitalist interests.”
In short, in a democratic society in which the power to lead and to reform is bestowed upon governments by a self-determining and educated electorate, popular appeal - and thus the winning of votes - necessarily shapes and dilutes the extremities of Socialist ideals.
The more popularist Democratic Socialism, is defined by the Democratic Socialist Party of America, as:
“...a political ideology advocating a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system, involving a combination of political democracy with social ownership of the means of production.”
In practice, the principles of Democratic Socialism incorporate elements of Socialism into the Capitalist, free-market dominated society. ‘True’ Socialists argue that Socialism and Capitalism cannot co-exist. Democratic Socialists recognise that in a hyper-globalised, democratic society, the public vote demands that the two must co-exist, giving rise to an imperfect balance of striving to build Socialist economies which are dependent upon Capitalist free-markets.
This dichotomy gives rise to an inherent and troublesome contradiction within the Labour Party.
Speaking of the privatisation of British railways, Mick Cash, press officer of the RMT union stated, in 2014;
“It remains a disgrace that the last Labour government allowed the private profiteering and exploitation on our railways to continue unchecked and it’s about time the party endorsed RMT’s programme to bring the entire system under public control, free from the racketeering and greed of the past two decades.”
However, the then party leader, Ed Miliband was quick to disassociate himself from old-Socialist policies and ideologies saying:
“Old-fashioned Socialism was somehow about wholesale nationalisation of the commanding heights of our economy. That is not what I am about.”
Miliband nonetheless accepted that the current railway system was flawed: a system where consumers pay high prices and private companies rely upon big subsidies from the taxpayer. Miliband added;
“There is a balance to be struck here because there are some benefits you can have sometimes from competition and we are not going back to the old monolithic model that was British Rail. But we do need to look at how we can have a coherent system. … What I’m about is how do we make markets work properly in the public interest.”
And there lies the dichotomy: how do we make free markets - founded upon Capitalist ideologies which in practice rely upon the exploitation of low level workers to increase revenue and profit for the benefit of the few - work properly in the public interest, for the benefit of society as a whole?
In Sweden, recognised for “its sophisticated and once visionary social security system”, Save the Children reported, in 2010, that 242,000 children (or 12.7% of children) in Sweden were living in poverty. Meanwhile, Swedish film director Lisa Ohlin, who ‘enjoyed years of tax cuts in an economy the envy of Europe’, pines for the return of the welfare state. Further, of Swedish education, she comments;
"Classes are more about storage (of kids) than anything. Teachers cannot handle the workload they have in some classes. There is poor discipline and poor attention. There is a huge fear of going over the budget.”
In short, the Swedish welfare state and public services have withered. In response, both government and opposition necessarily campaigned to end tax cuts in order to win back voters in their general election.
And thus the pendulum continues to swing, back and forth, between left and right - first into the arms of Capitalism and the favoured few, and back again to address the needs of the ‘huddled masses’ whose interests seem to be permanently at odds with the interests of Capitalism.
What is increasingly clear to me is that this is a war that can neither be won, nor lost.
“A spectre is haunting Europe.” -the spectre of Socialism. What is Socialism in the 21st century? I was born in 2000. As a result, I have... Read more
As we are about to kick off the new year 2016, we are pleased to announce that we will be having a monthly social event so we can all get together to discuss the things that matter to us and talk to MP's about their experiences.
It will be held on the 1st weekend of each month at different locations so that everyone has a chance to attend throughout the year. Details of each event including who our guest speaker will be, location and other key details will be published on the events page so keep checking back there for information about the next event.
As we are about to kick off the new year 2016, we are pleased to announce that we will be having a monthly social event so we can all get...
To all young members in Derbyshire Dales, a reminder that voting has started for the delegates for the Youth Conference 2016 in Scarborough. 19 Places need filling. Please check your inboxes for the link to the voting.
Also see candidates' comments on the East Midlands Young Labour facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3093010289/?fref=ts.
If you have any queries feel free to contact me via my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/uthernaysmithdaleslabouryouth/
Hope you have a Merry Christmas, and hope to meet up with you all in the New Year.
Uther Naysmith - Derbyshire Dales Co-Youth Officer CLP
To all young members in Derbyshire Dales, a reminder that voting has started for the delegates for the Youth Conference 2016 in Scarborough. 19 Places need filling. Please check your...
67 Years ago today, at the Pailais de Chaillot in Paris. - A document was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.
The document was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, inspired by President Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” 1941 State of the Union Address to Congress. The declaration reaffirmed the fundamental Human Rights: the basic minimum of care for everyone granted, without prejudice, to all citizens; a gift, for being human. It gives everyone the right to a free and fair trial, protection from torture, and from slavery, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to life - amongst other things.
It was signed on the back of the second world war; a war that saw over 6 million men, women and children slaughtered by the Third Reich for the crime of being Jewish, or gay, or Romany or Communist or Slavic ... It was a war that saw over 70 million people die. Not just men with rifles, but women in factories, children in schools and pensioners in parks. It was the war where innocence died.
And when that war was over, the gunfire had stopped, and humanity stepped back to look at the ashes. What they saw was so horrendous, so… implausible, that humanity could do nothing but say ‘never again’. Against this background, it was the forming of the United Nations in 1945, and the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, that symbolised humanity's collective will to say never again.
But that was a long time ago, and the original message seems somewhat lost.
The current Conservative government seems intent on destroying the rights originally set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Whether it is the right to a free and fair trial - maimed skillfully by the Justice and Security (Secret Courts) Act 2014, or the right to privacy - weakened by the Investigatory Powers Bill which will force internet companies to retain individual internet histories for the use of Government; or the recent GCHQ scandal - Government information gathering, alongside the American NSA, from private communications; or the good old-fashioned right to join and form Trade Unions, potentially undermined by the recent Trade Union Bill.
And more people than you would think seem to be in the same mindset as the Government. The amount of times I have heard people decry terrorists and criminals and say: “they shouldn’t have human rights - they’re not human!” Is this really what people think? Do they not understand that the rights of the criminals and terrorists are also their rights too? The right to a fair and free trial applies to ALL human beings - regardless of innocence or guilt. The prohibition of torture applies to ALL human beings - regardless of innocence of guilt.
This is not for the protection of terrorists and criminals, but for ours: if we remove the rights of criminals and terrorists, then we are removing the rights of ourselves. In February 2015, 75 UK citizens were imprisoned abroad, 23 of whom awaiting execution. The other 52 already on trial for capital offences, facing the death penalty. This includes British citizens who have either consistently maintained their innocence against the charges alleged, such as drug smuggling and alleged espionage, or suffer mental health conditions which under British law would render them unfit for trial. Clearly, certain of these individuals are guilty. But some of them are innocent. All of them are relying upon the British Government, acting with the buttress of Human Rights law, to either spare them the executioner's block or to them home safely - regardless of innocence or guilt.
67 Years ago today, at the Pailais de Chaillot in Paris. - A document was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The document was the Universal Declaration of... Read more