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Trade Union Congress 2012:
Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :
Trade Union Congress 2012:
A Future That Works
Appointment of New Health Minister:
An Attempt to Divert the Resistance against the Health and Social Care Act 2012
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Trade Union Congress 2012:
The theme of this year’s TUC Congress, “A Future That Works”, is of major importance for the fate not only of the workers’ movement but of society itself.
To pose the question as one of “austerity” versus “the alternative” gets to the crux of the struggle between the old and the new at this time.
The Coalition government is attempting to impose an austerity programme on society. What is the alternative that the working class puts forward to chart a way out of the crisis?
This alternative has to be a new direction for the economy and for society. It is a new vision for how society is organised.
This itself raises the issue of how the workers can realise that vision. It raises the necessity to achieve the political power to set the direction for the economy, to have that control over the natural and social environments so that they can defend the interests of their collectives and the general interests of society. In other words, workers must be able to be able to take the decisions that affect the economy and the future of society. They must be able to empower the people to be in control of their lives, depriving the monopolies and their political representatives of that power.
The working class must organise to take hold of and control what belongs to it. In the course of their struggle against the anti-social offensive and the neo-liberal agenda of the rich, workers must advance along the line of march to achieving this goal. This is what it means to achieve a future that works. It means at this historic juncture developing their independent politics on the basis that they, not the rich, must occupy the space for change, that their interests and vision must prevail and not those of the ruling elite!
Appointment of New Health Minister:
Thursday's reshuffle by David Cameron of his Coalition Cabinet saw the replacement of Andrew Lansley as health secretary by Jeremy Hunt. Whilst Lansley was said to be demoted to leader of the Commons, it was reported that Downing Street itself billed the reshuffle, the only major recasting of government planned ahead of the 2015 election, “as an attempt to promote ministers capable of delivering on policies already announced”. The same report said, “Hunt is rated by Cameron for his ability to focus on a clear political message. His first task will be to resell and amend Lansley's legacy, aided by Grant Shapps, the smooth-talking new Conservative chairman.” These reports also questioned the new health secretary's image in getting the Coalition government's message across when Hunt had played such a key role in Murdoch and News Corporation's attempted take over of BSkyB, and speculated that maybe News Corporation would be running the NHS in the future.
The Health Service Journal commented, “Policy direction will be increasingly influenced by key advisors at Number 10 – just as it was during the Blair years.” The publication emphasised that “it would be disingenuous to suggest that Mr Hunt will simply be a PR man”. It suggests: “His immediate check list includes, but is not limited to, deciding: if regional pay will work in the NHS; what he should do with South London Healthcare, the NHS’s first ‘bankrupt’ trust, and whether other struggling organisations should suffer the same fate; andif the Hinchingbrooke franchise model should be pursued at George Eliot or elsewhere.” It also points to the publication of the Francis inquiry into care failings at Mid-Staffordshire Foundation Trust which is likely to be published in November. “As Sir David has acknowledged, the inquiry’s findings could clash with key elements of the reforms.” Foretelling that Jeremy Hunt will step back from the responsibility of the mayhem that the government's health policy will cause they remark, “Mr Hunt has the challenge of being true to Mr Lansley’s word that the health secretary will remain above rows over hospital reconfigurations and the ‘rationing’ decisions of clinical commission groups.”
Lansley's legacy can hardly be “amended” as it is one of throwing a grenade into the NHS with the Health Social Care Act, 2012 in order to force through privatisation on the back of the previous government's measures that facilitated this neo-liberal direction in the provision of health care. Having taken away the responsibility of the government and the secretary of health to provide a comprehensive health service and only “promote” this service it shows very much that Cameron's appointment is in indeed aimed at “reselling” what the people in Britain have demonstrated their wholesale opposition to over the last two years. The new health secretary can focus all he likes on a “clear political message” that DowningStreet is calling for with this change but the working class and all sections of the people in Britain are opposed to the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and will not accept the imposition of private monopoly interests and will always uphold the right to health care.
This was shown in the hundreds of thousands that marched for the alternative last year and in the whole vigorous opposition to the passing of the Act over the last two years. The resistance and opposition continues every day in the struggles of health workers, against privatisation, against the attacks on their pay, pensions and conditions and in the build up for the mass demonstration in London on October 20 “For a Future that Works”. It shows very clearly that the demotion of Andrew Lansley and the appointment of a new health secretary in Jeremy Hunt will not fool anyone that this is anything but an attempt to divert the resistance and organisation against the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. In fact, it presages an even more vigorous pursuit of the neo-liberal agenda by the ruling elite, and health workers and the whole working class and people must get prepared to step up their resistance and strengthen their organisation!
(taken from Wikipedia)
Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt, PC, MP (born 1 November 1966) is a British Conservative Party politician, who is the Secretary of State for Health, and the Member of Parliament for South West Surrey.
Early life and education
Jeremy Hunt was born in Lambeth Hospital, Kennington, the elder son of Admiral Sir Nicholas Hunt, who was then a Commander in the Royal Navy assigned to work for the Director of Naval Plans inside the recently created Ministry of Defence, by his wife Meriel Eve née Givan (now Lady Hunt), daughter of Major Henry C. Givan. Hunt was raised in Shere, near the constituency that he now represents in Parliament.
Hunt was educated at Charterhouse School, where he was Head Boy, before attending Magdalen College, Oxford, where he graduated with a First in PPE. He became involved in Conservative politics while at university, where David Cameron and Boris Johnson were contemporaries. He was active in the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA), and was elected to serve as President in 1987.
After university Hunt worked for a short period of time as a management consultant, and then decided to pursue life as an English language teacher in Japan. Whilst living in Japan he became a proficient speaker of the Japanese language and enthusiast of modern Japanese and other Asian cultures.
On his return to Britain he tried his hand at a number of different entrepreneurial business ventures, including a failed attempt to export marmalade to Japan. Hunt joined Profile PR, a public relations agency specialising in IT which he co-founded with Mike Elms, a childhood friend. With clients such as BT, Bull Integris, and Zetafax Profile did well during the IT boom of the mid 1990s. Hunt and Elms later sold their interest in Profile to concentrate on directory publishing. Together they founded a company now known as Hotcourses, a major client of whose is the British Council. Hotcourses has subsequently provided financial support to Hunt's parliamentary office.
Member of Parliament
Hunt was elected at the 2005 general election, after Virginia Bottomley was created a life peeress. He was elected to represent the constituency of South West Surrey with an increased majority of 5,711.
After supporting David Cameron's bid for leadership of the Conservative Party, he was appointed Shadow Minister for Disabled People in December 2005. In David Cameron's reshuffle of 2 July 2007, Hunt joined the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. When the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats formed a coalition following the 2010 general election, Hunt was appointed Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (combining the roles of leading the Department for Culture, Media and Sport with that of Minister for the Olympics). He was consequently appointed a Privy Councillor on 13 May 2010.
In 2009, Hunt was investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards after allowing his political agent to live in his taxpayer funded home in Farnham as a lodger from November 2005 to June 2007. The commissioner found:
Mr Hunt was in breach of the rules in not reducing his claims on the Additional Costs Allowance in that period to take full account of his agent's living costs. As a result, public funds provided a benefit to the constituency agent... But I accept that Mr Hunt received no real financial benefit from the arrangement and that the error was caused by his misinterpretation of the rules.
Hunt’s offer to repay half the money (£9,558.50) was accepted. Hunt also had to repay £1,996 for claiming the expenses of his Farnham home whilst claiming the mortgage of his Hammersmith home. The commissioner said:
Mr Hunt has readily accepted that he was in error, and in breach of the rules of the House, in making a claim for utilities and other services on his Farnham home in the period during which it was still his main home. He has repaid the sum claimed, £1,996, in full. It is clear that, as a new Member in May 2005, his office arrangements were at best disorganised.
The Legg Reportshowed no other outstanding issues. Hunt's expenses were ranked 568 out of 647 in 2008–2009 and 548 out of 645 in 2007–8.
In April 2012, immediately following David Cameron's statement that he would not associate himself with anyone who carried out “aggressive tax avoidance”, the Daily Telegraph disclosed that Hunt had reduced his tax bill by over £100,000 by receiving dividends from Hotcourses in the form of property which was promptly leased back to the company. The dividend in specie was paid just before a 10% rise in dividend tax and Hunt was not required to pay stamp duty on the property.
In September 2010, The Observer reported "raised eyebrows" when Hunt's former parliamentary assistant, Naomi Gummer, had been given a job within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on a fixed-term civil service contract after Hunt had proposed departmental cuts of 35–50 per cent. The head of the Public and Commercial Services Union questioned Hunt's motives saying, "Political independence of the civil service is a fundamental part of our democracy and we would be deeply concerned if this was being put at risk by nepotism and privilege." Gummer is the daughter of a Conservative life peer, Lord Chadlington, who was a director of Hotcourses between 2000 and 2004.
As Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Hunt oversaw an expansion of the responsibilities of his Department. Competition and policy issues relating to media and telecommunications became the responsibility of the culture secretary; they were removed from the purview of the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, after Cable was recorded stating that he had "declared war" on Rupert Murdoch.
Hunt was consequently given the quasi-judicial power to adjudicate over the News Corporation takeover bid for BSkyB. Hunt chose not to refer to the deal to the Competition Commission, announcing on 3 March 2011 that he intended to accept a series of undertakings given by News Corporation, paving the way for the deal to be approved. Following a series of scandals concerning phone hacking, a House of Commons motion was planned that called on News Corporation to abandon the bid. The bid was eventually dropped. Hunt was alleged to have had improper contact with News Corp. Emails released to the Leveson Inquiry detailed contacts between Hunt's special advisor Adam Smith and Frédéric Michel, News Corp’s director of public affairs and therefore a lobbyist for James Murdoch. The revelations led to calls from the Labour opposition and others for Hunt's resignation. Smith, Hunt's special advisor, resigned on 25 April shortly before Hunt made an emergency parliamentary statement in which he said that Smith's contact with Michel was "clearly not appropriate". Hunt said Lord Justice Leveson should be able to investigate and rule on the accusations and requested the earliest date possible to give evidence to the Inquiry to set out his side of the story. Hunt appeared before the Leveson inquiry on 31 May 2012, when it emerged that Hunt had himself been in text and private email contact with James Murdoch, even congratulating him on the progress of the takeover bid, but nonetheless then took over responsibility for adjudicating on the bid.
In June 2012, Labour MP Chris Bryant accused Hunt of lying to Parliament. Speaker Bercow refused to require Bryant retract his allegation that Hunt was a "liar” on the basis that the debate was on a "substantive motion on the conduct of a minister [Hunt], the normal rules about parliamentary language frankly don't apply".
A Labour motion calling for an enquiry by Sir Alex Allen was defeated by 290 to 252 votes despite Liberal Democrats abstention.
As Culture Secretary, Hunt was also responsible for security at the London Olympic Games 2012. The resulting controversy, when it transpired that contractors G4S were not adequately prepared for the Games, saw Hunt claim he had been forced to '"think again" about the default use of private contractors'. Hunt also reportedly attempted to have scenes celebrating the National Health Service removed from the Olympics opening ceremony.
Hunt married Lucia Liu in China in July 2009. They have a son and a daughter.
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