2 September 2021
Diary of a Corbynista
Failures of the State
by Don Urquhart
Message Board responses to Corbynista in Shaw Sheet 290:
Starmer is increasingly looking like a Moebius strip. There is an appearance of continual forward movement but in reality no progress is made. I voted for him to be leader because he said he would unite the Labour party. He hasn’t and Labour party divisions seem to have increased. If Starmer cannot or will not do what it takes to unite Labour, he has to go. I am starting to wonder if Starmer runs Labour or if there is a cabal working behind the scenes that pulls Starmer’s strings. Despite being doused in cold water resulting in shrinkage of Johnson’s popularity, the Tories are still the voters’ preference. Tory (superficially stable) popularity looks like a reaction against Labour (publicly unstable) because of its clear divisions and internal war.
As an essentially lifelong apolitical (in party terms) person, your articles are largely coded to incomprehension for me.
They fascinate, however, as I try to interpret them and delve into your mind. A mind, it seems to me, of great intelligence and commitment that has failed to grasp the reality of life as it is.
A seeker of Paradise, wanting to save everyone, including those who cannot or do not wish to be saved.
I can but admire your persistence. I wish my guitar had such an owner!
Best item of this final week of the season for me: Lynda Goetz broaching the subject so plainly highlighted by the pandemic. I wish I’d been as brave in writing as I am in private conversation.
A young friend Anna 19 is starting at Art School in September and wants a part time job. She applied to be a carer. They offered her a zero hours contract with a proviso that she must repay them for the cost of training if she opts to leave them within 18 months of receiving said training.
She said…. am I being mugged off? I said yes, don’t accept this job.
It seems that you can pick the statistics you like about our battle with the pandemic.
The number of new cases per day fluctuates around the 30,000 mark; deaths per day are at about 90.
Are we winning?
Well, two key indicators are increasing daily.
927 people were hospitalised on 26th July. This is the highest since 25th February.
People on ventilation on 29th July stood at 869, the highest since 17th March.
Here’s David Oliver writing in the BMJ:
The failure to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to health and social care workers during the pandemic has highlighted the disintegration of any culture of integrity, transparency, honesty, and support for healthcare staff from the government and NHS employers.
A new report from the Public Accounts Committee said that “many healthcare workers” had been put in “the appalling situation of staff having to care for people with covid-19 or suspected covid-19 without sufficient PPE to protect themselves from infection.” It added that “health and social care staff had suffered PPE shortages as stocks ran perilously low,” with “some forced to re-use single use items.” The social care sector had not received “anywhere near enough PPE to meet its needs.”
In April 2020 Panorama reported that the PPE shortage was of the government’s making:
The government failed to buy crucial protective equipment to cope with a pandemic, a BBC investigation has found.
There were no gowns, visors, swabs or body bags in the government’s pandemic stockpile when Covid-19 reached the UK.
NHS staff say they are being put at risk because of the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The government said it has taken the right steps and is doing everything it can to increase stocks.
The investigation by BBC Panorama found that vital items were left out of the stockpile when it was set up in 2009 and that the government subsequently ignored a warning from its own advisers to buy missing equipment.
Calvert and Arbuthnot’s book Failures of State tells you all you need to know about the government’s callousness, negligence and mendacity in the first year of the pandemic. In this they were supported by the medical establishment. It is clear that “Protect the NHS” was really about protecting the jobs of those who had let it become unfit for purpose.
We can wait many years for the official enquiry but one thing that doesn’t need to be deferred is condemnation of the Government for discharging thousands of people into care homes knowing they were infected or not knowing because they hadn’t been tested.
Here is the October 2020 report by Amnesty International:
How credible is our government in purporting to lead the world in defeating Climate Change at COP 26.
MP Richard Burgon is right:
Every time a Tory Minister is on the media over climate change, journalists should ask:
Will you stop the new oil field off Shetland?
Prevent the new Cumbria coal mine?
End UK funding for the mega-gas project in Mozambique?
Across the press a showdown is foreshadowed between Sajid Javid the protector of our “precious” NHS and Rishi Sunak the tough chancellor struggling to balance the books.
Of course it is all completely phoney. They are both sticks of rock with AUSTERITY running through them.
The Guardian reports Starmer’s decision to throw Ken Loach out of the Labour Party:
On Twitter, 85-year-old Loach, a winner of the Palme d’Or for I, Daniel Blake, said: “Labour HQ finally decided I’m not fit to be a member of their party, as I will not disown those already expelled. Well … I am proud to stand with the good friends and comrades victimised by the purge. There is indeed a witch-hunt … Starmer and his clique will never lead a party of the people. We are many, they are few. Solidarity.”
My experience of Stanley Johnson as an environmentalist is limited to a seminar I attended in 2008. His sole contribution was to promote his son’s candidature for London Mayor.
I am in the camp of those puzzled by his introduction as an expert in the field by BBC Newsnight.
Here’s the Huffington Post take:
Stanley Johnson Baffles Viewers after going on Newsnight as an ‘Environmentalist’
The results of the ballot for the Unite General Secretary will be announced later this month. One of the candidates, Howard Beckett, did his reputation no harm by standing down to give the two remaining left wing candidates more chance. Here’s a tweet from him summarising the current state of the Labour Party:
Organising to win?
- Jeremy denied the whip;
- Legals ignored & ex staff paid;
- Left attacked;
- Forde blocked;
- BLM ignored;
- Left Unions leaving;
- Billionaires wined;
- Mandelson advising;
- 115k members gone;
- Ken Loach expelled;
- Staff sacked;
A growing list.
Jake Davison murdered 5 people in Plymouth. Much is being made of the police decision to reissue his gun licence despite his mental instability. But surely just as concerning is the lack of mental health support. However you look at it lack of investment in public services was a major factor.
The Daily Mirror reports:
Plymouth gunman killed own mum who begged mental health services to help him
Yesterday’s Afghanistan debate in the House and the BBC Question Time programme later gave all sorts of worthies the opportunity to expound the virtues of foreign people who had worked for the British military and were now in grave danger.
Some of the speakers might consider the irony of a situation where a number of Gurkhas who had fought alongside us for many years are being short-changed on their pensions and are hunger striking outside 10 Downing Street attracting nowhere near the level of sympathy focussed on the Afghans.
When you have to go to A&E you learn a lot.
We tried to avoid it as our experience in recent times has always involved long waits.
One thing that does not vary is the dedication of NHS staff from top to bottom. But we had time to talk to them and hear their bitterness about colleagues and patients who have died from Covid through lack of PPE, ventilators, beds and staff. Not getting a pay rise doesn’t help.
When we arrived at A&E we were asked to wait outside the building in a queue. Luckily it was not raining or cold.
A lady brought her child but gave up and took her away. Some people should have been at walk-ins and had been poorly advised. We arrived at A&E via telephone/ internet ping-pong between 111, our GP surgery and a walk-in.
The patients were charming and mutually supportive. There was queue-jumping but only by people whose need was immediate.
Of course we are dealing with sociopaths pursuing their evil agendas regardless of the wellbeing of the people they rule. You cannot trust anything they say.
And by all accounts the Taliban are just as bad.
For the full SP on the British Government’s pandemic callousness and stupidity I commend again Calvert and Arbuthnot’s book Failures of State.
“A ghost town very short staffed. Patients waiting for drugs, blankets, water, and assistance with alerts on machines so sleep looks impossible. I was given a handful of antibiotics pills instead of IV on an empty stomach.”
A patient reporting on her ward. And now they have lost her drugs and the prescription.
This is the calculated running down of the NHS in preparation for selling it off.
You worry about the integrity of the people running the NHS. The clinicians and the people who support them are first rate but there are people whose substantial incomes depend on pushing the Government propaganda.
Martin Bagot’s headline in the Daily Mirror:
NHS chiefs ordered to call revamps ‘new hospitals’ in ‘dishonest Tory spin’ memo
A Government spin document has been issued to the NHS ordering trusts to refer to refurbishments or new units as “new hospitals”.
The pandemic is entering a new phase in the UK. The critical statistics are on the rise for new cases, hospitalisations, long Covid and deaths. The R rate is 1.1 overall and 1.2 in Scotland.
To get an informed overview watch Tim Spector of the Zoe Covid-19 team who suggests the following as contributory factors:
Waning effect of vaccinations over time;
Return to school in Scotland;
Relaxation of restrictions including mask wearing.
Yet again we are heading into disaster with our government at the seaside.
The Mirror reports the election of Sharon Graham as General Secretary of the Unite Union:
Ms Graham won with 46,696 (37.7%) votes, while Steve Turner came second with 41,833 (33.8%) votes and Gerard Coyne came a distant third with 35,334 (28.5) – with a total of 124,147 people casting a ballot.
What I am missing in the reporting is that the real hero of this process is Howard Beckett, a highly fancied contender who pulled out because having three left wing contenders might allow Starmer acolyte Gerard Coyne through on the rails.
Mr Coyne’s 28.5% would have left 71.5% to be spread across 3 others which I make under 24% each.
Well done Howard Beckett!
BBC Breakfast had a reporter at a Stockport petrol station. The story was that we are now being offered two versions of unleaded. The regular one contains 5% ethanol and the new one 10% which makes it environmentally preferable. Luckily all of the people filling up thought this was a grand idea and were relaxed about the 10% option being more expensive.
I am pretty sure most of the people I know would ask why the climate change friendly version was not being offered at a discount.