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Health and Social Care Bill:
In the Face of Massive Opposition, Cameron Calls “Health Summit”
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The Coalition agenda represents an attack on the very notion of the public good. The conception of the “Big Society” in fact lays stress on the role of the individual to fend for themselves, to imagine that government does not have responsibility for the well-being of society and its members. But to the monopolies, it says that their claims must dominate the programme of government.
This has been underlined this past week as the opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill has mounted, and the government is desperately attempting to manoeuvre to overcome public opinion. But it is clear that opposition is directed against the NHS being run as an open market for the monopolies, and to safeguard its future as a necessary and integral feature of a modern human-centred society.
It has been underlined in the opposition to the notorious workfare schemes under which the unemployed and disabled are being dragooned into forced unpaid labour on pain of losing all benefits. Those affected even face a battle to claim the expenses of travelling to the site of their compulsory unpaid work, chiefly for retail monopolies such as Tesco. Challenges are under way to the programme as being contrary to the forced labour provisions in the Human Rights Act.
It has been underlined by the opposition to the Welfare Reform Bill. The essence of the bill is to attack the guaranteed payments of benefits as of right, introducing a “conditionality framework” and concentrating on the combating of alleged fraud.
One can also mention the continuing fight against the erosion of the guaranteed right to a decent pension, both in the public sector but also in the private sector. Once again the government promotes the conception that individuals must fend for themselves, and that the “Big Society” means the opposite of the state guaranteeing the well-being of its members.
All such aspects of the Coalition’s agenda represent the undermining of the government’s responsibility to the public good and the putting of the state totally at the disposal of the monopolies. This is clearly also at the heart of the whole European Union agenda where the dictate of the monopolies holds sway.
It might be mentioned that the House of Lords Reform Bill, originating in the Lords as a private members’ bill, but receiving support from the Coalition government, represents a component of the new arrangements being put in place with indecent speed by the present administration. In fact, it has received little attention that the Fixed-term Parliaments Act is already in place, having received the Royal Assent on September 15 last year. This is a further measure to prevent the government being held to account. It provides for elections only every five years, the next polling day being May 7, 2015.
These measures also represent the concentration of the royal prerogative in the hands of the executive. Thus is the arbitrary utilisation of power given a pseudo-legal basis. In other words, the ruling elite is attempting to exercise arbitrary powers with impunity.
The bottom line for the ruling elite represented by the Coalition is the reactionary imperialist programme of “making Britain great again”, in other words, competing for dominance in the global market. This is the raison d’être of its promotion of private interests, which include the financiers of the City. This is also the raison d’être of its imperialist adventures in north Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan, the South Atlantic and elsewhere. Behind these adventures is the striving for spheres of influence, zones for the export of capital, sources of raw material and the exploitation of cheap labour.
The organised Workers’ Opposition must be built to this Coalition agenda on behalf of private interests and the ruling elite, which tramples underfoot the public good. This organised resistance around the alternative must be zeroed in on the government’s arrogance that it can get away with anything. It must ensure that its takes up the perspective that the crisis must be resolved in favour of the working class and people, and that this is not just a rearguard action undertaken in desperation. There is a crisis of political representation, and it is because the voice of the organised working class is not to be heard in the hallowed halls of Westminster while the dictate of the monopolies is imposed.
Fight for the
Stop Paying the Rich! Increase Investments in Social Programmes!
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Health and Social Care Bill:
By the end of this week, almost 150,000 people have signed the e-government petition calling on the government to drop the Health and Social Care Bill, well over the 100,000 mark which obliges parliament to hold a debate. On Friday, 150 paediatricians also called on the government to scrap the bill, to add to the long list of health professionals who are now actively opposing it.
It is in this context that late on Friday we heard that David Cameron had called an “emergency summit” to discuss the Health and Social Care bill in Downing Street on Monday with invited guests. According to the same reports, this meant those that were strongly opposed to the bill like the British Medical Association (BMA) and others were not invited. Significantly, it was also revealed in an article last Sunday in the Sunday Mail Online, The firm that hijacked the NHS: MoS investigation reveals extraordinary extent of international management consultant's role in Lansley's health reforms1 that many of the bill’s proposals were drawn up by the management consultants McKinsey. This company works directly with global health monopolies and was closely associated with the John Major government on the disastrous Railtrack privatisation.
What this shows is that the opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill by health workers, health professionals and GPs is a struggle to defend public right over monopoly right. It is struggle where on the one hand the Workers’ Opposition represents public right and where the government represents directly the impatience of the monopolies to increase their hold over the NHS and where the publicly provided services are being cutback, fragmented, undermined and wrecked with the same aim in mind.
It is clear that the issue is not one of putting pressure on the House of Lords to defeat the bill but in expanding the struggle to all sections of society to hold the government to account. The aim of the movement to safeguard the future of the NHS cannot be limited in any way to an outlook that accepts the right of the monopolies to dictate to society as they do now through the cartel of Westminster parties. Neither can the initiative be handed to any of the big parties in Westminster to champion the opposition of health workers and the people. The present legislation brought in by the previous government has led to creeping privatisation through “commissioning” and the introduction of a market into health care and has enabled the present government to launch its grenade that they have now thrown into the NHS with the Health and Social Care Bill.
That all sections of the people are unceasingly getting involved to demand that the Health and Social Care Bill be dropped is further exposing the crisis and bankruptcy of the government's direction on health to put the NHS further in the grip of financiers, management consultants and health monopolies. The demand that it is the responsibility of the government on behalf of society to provide the NHS as a comprehensive and universal health care system equitable to all which is publicly provided and without charge is the only direction for a modern society. The right to health care must be upheld.
The government is continuing with its campaign of bullying and interference in Syria with the aim of bringing about regime change. This is a self-serving reactionary strategy on behalf of Anglo-US imperialism and must be condemned without equivocation.
Efforts to organise a new coalition for the purpose of regime change were stepped up this week during the visit that Foreign Secretary William Hague made to South Africa, which at the present time is a member of the UN Security Council, one of the leading countries in the African Union and a member of the so-called BRICS group of emerging countries. In his first major speech in South Africa, Hague reiterated the government’s promise to “intensify the diplomatic and economic stranglehold” on the government of Syria as well as its commitment to find means to increase its support to all those forces that are fighting against the Syrian government. In the course of his speech the Foreign Secretary justified the government’s right to intervene in the affairs of other countries “when thousands of lives are being lost”. and to disregard “national sovereignty” when, according to government, the tenets of international law and human dignity are being trampled on.
Of course, the Foreign Secretary does not regard his government’s interference in Syria, occupation of Afghanistan or invasion of Libya as breaches of international law nor contrary to human dignity. For the government considers that alongside its NATO allies it is the final arbiter of such legal questions and that might makes right. It was on this basis that the so-called “right to protect” was invoked in the case of Libya, although this “right” is not recognised in international law and is contrary to the UN Charter and the founding principles of that organisation established to maintain international peace.
In the case of Syria, the Anglo-American governments are orchestrating affairs through the League of Arab States (LAS), which is dominated by the countries of the so-called Gulf Co-operation Council and principally by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The British government and monopoly media continue to present the LAS as an entirely independent body, rather than a proxy of NATO, but although Saudi Arabia and Qatar clearly have their own motivation in regard to the government of Syria, there can be no doubt that they are co-ordinating their activities with those of the Anglo-Americans and NATO. Following the lead of the Anglo-Americans the members of the League withdrew their ambassadors from Syria and implemented economic sanctions. At its most recent meeting in Cairo the LAS called for joint Arab-UN peacekeeping forces to be established and echoed the British government’s calls for support for the Syrian opposition. It even went so far as to call for “all forms of political and material support” to be offered, a formulation that has been widely seen as approval for the supply of arms.
William Hague commended the LAS statement issued on February 12 and especially welcomed the establishing of a “Friends of Syria” group, scheduled to convene in Tunisia on February 24, in which the British government expects to play a leading role. He also welcomed the proposal for a joint LAS/UN force and the commitment to aid the Syrian opposition. As in Libya, the British government has openly committed itself to regime change and a completely new political system in Syria, while hypocritically claiming that it is for the people of Syria to decide their political future. As in Libya, it is encouraging, supporting and advising the opposition forces that have launched an armed rebellion against the Syrian government and openly inciting civil war, an illegal act under international law.
The Anglo-Americans condemned the announcement from the Syrian government that there will be a national referendum on a new draft constitution on February 26, leading to multi-party elections and other political reforms. A spokesperson for the US government even commented that such a proposal was “a mockery” of what he referred to as the “Syrian Revolution”, yet further evidence that the warmongering NATO countries, led by Britain and the US will only accept regime change that is in their interests and according to their demands. At the same time the French government announced that it was preparing a new UN Security Council resolution for further intervention by calling for the creation of what it referred to as “humanitarian corridors” in Syria.
As further evidence appears of the machinations of the British government and its allies in Syria, all such intervention must be resolutely condemned. All external interference in the affairs of Syria must be ended. The government and people of Syria must be allowed to determine their own future. The anti-war movement in this country must stand firm on these principles.
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