Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 43 Number 7, March 4, 2013 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

The demand for the delegated legislation to be withdrawn:

Repeal the Health and Social Care Act in Full

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

The demand for the delegated legislation to be withdrawn:
Repeal the Health and Social Care Act in Full

Sussex students stage occupation against privatisation of services, demanding a say and accountability:
Support the Sussex University Occupation!

Fight for An Anti-War Government!
Anglo-American Imperialism: Champion of Interference, Intervention and War

Stop the War Meetings on “The New Scramble for Africa”

EU and US Free Trade Agreement

Weekly On Line Newspaper of the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Website: http://www.rcpbml.org.uk
E-mail: office@rcpbml.org.uk
170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA.
Phone: 020 7627 0599:
Workers'Weekly Internet Edition Freely available online
Workers' Weekly E-mail Edition Subscribe by e-mail daily: Free / Donate
WW Internet RSS Feed {Valid RSS}

The Line of March Monthly Publication of RCPB(ML) Subscribe


The demand for the delegated legislation to be withdrawn:

Repeal the Health and Social Care Act in Full

The demand for that the “delegated legislation” on competitive tendering be withdrawn has highlighted the need for the complete repeal of the Health and Social Care Act in order to defend and safeguard the future of the NHS.

Since the Act was passed, thousands upon thousands of health workers and many more thousands of people have had to come out to defend their health services up and down the country. In recent months, 25,000 local people demonstrated on two occasions to save Lewisham Hospital’s A&E and maternity services, and the campaign is forging ahead to achieve its goal. But not only is the Act about massive cuts to the people’s health services. Ministers who tried to claim at the time of its imposition against the will of the people that the Act was about putting “doctors in charge”, that the Act was not about forcing “competitive tendering”, have been shown to have been economical with the truth. Competitive tendering is a mechanism of the financial elite to force the privatisation of health services under European competition laws.

For example, Earl Howe, the government’s health spokesperson in the Lords, claimed at the time in order to try and facilitate the passing of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 that “commissioners would not have to create markets against the interests of patients. Clinicians will be free to commission services in the way they consider best. We intend to make it clear that commissioners will have a full range of options and that they will be under no legal obligation to create new markets, particularly where competition would not be effective in driving high standards and value for patients. ... this will be made absolutely clear through secondary legislation and supporting guidance as a result of the Bill.” (Hansard col 1691). 1

However, as Clive Peedell, writing in the Guardian, put it: “[T]he privatisation debate has now been reignited by revelations about section 75 of the act and the associated statutory instruments (SI 257 regulations) making their way through parliament. The regulations are aimed at making competitive tendering compulsory for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), except in emergencies. At a stroke, they inject competition into the NHS and enable the market to decide how services are provided. Thus the reassurances ministers gave about clinicians and local people having control of how services are commissioned look set to be overturned. Private providers will gain rights under EU competition law, which will make it virtually impossible to stop them encroaching into the NHS market.”

Thousands of doctors, health professionals and all who are concerned about the future direction of the NHS have rightly become outraged by the lies and underhand way that the government has tried to push these regulations through by stealth, going against all the “assurances” to the contrary that were given. Health organisations and people right across the country have developed an emergency campaign to get the regulations withdrawn. In reality, what has been highlighted by the outrage of concerned people over the way the tendering regulations are set to be introduced is the dictatorial fashion of their passage into law, a subterfuge by those at the heart of government to by-pass the mechanisms of parliamentary democracy, and in the process swearing that black is white.

The demand for these regulations to be withdrawn and for the Act to be repealed full is growing in order to defend and safeguard the future of the NHS. This Act is fundamentally flawed as are those Acts that came under previous governments which do not guarantee the right of all resident in Britain to health care.

The very creation of a market in health care is a nonsensical conception of competition. It is in fact a further license to profit the rich at the expense of a public universal health care system forcing cuts in services, fragmentation and privatisation. Creating commissioners and providers has been and is the fundamental mechanism to defraud the NHS. It lies at the heart of the present anti-social direction of the health service. It has given rise in the hands of the Coalition government to implementing the programme of so-called fiscal constraints to the nth degree to completely transform the NHS into a business, pursue the interests of the monopolies, give a dominating role to the private sector, and go against the right to health care that all concerned people cherish.

The Health and Social Care Act embodied the abdication of the responsibility of government nationally, regionally and locally to fund, plan and provide a health care system that gives every resident in England the right to health care. Already, the government in its arrogance gives itself the right to wash its hands of decisions when plans by Health Trusts and commissioners are to drastically cut services. Government ministers say that this is the responsibility of local commissioners and providers and not the government. Most of all government tries to claim with this Act that it has nothing to do with these health policy decisions and imposition of massive cuts to health services when imposed “from below”.

The government hopes to hide its hand when such cuts lead to drastic deterioration in staffing levels and clinical standard such as at Mid Staffs as the hospital management attempted to pursue Foundation Trust status at all costs. That the government is behind these cuts is shown by the fact that if these or any other Trusts fail to keep within the ever-reducing budgets then the government intervenes as it did with the South London Healthcare Trust, and as it has now done with Mid Staffs in placing it in administration. The “overspends” and “deficits” of “financially failing” Trusts can be attributed to the vast profits of the drug monopolies claimed on the Trusts, the huge and ongoing costs of the Private Finance Initiative and the large costs related to capitalist agencies that play on the shortage of doctors and nurses in creating a market that is deliberately fostered by the government’s lack of funding of clinicians and nursing staff training.

It is interesting to contrast the situation of these “failing” hospital Trusts with the banks which were declared “too big to fail”. Or the super-inflated costs of the government’s unjust and illegal wars of aggression and interference which must be maintained allegedly in “the national interest”. In contrast, from the point of view of the public good, it is essential that the NHS does not fail and investments in public services are provided as a necessity in the interests of society.

The demand for the competitive tendering regulations to be withdrawn shows the need to repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 in full. The movement to defend the NHS and repeal the Act is growing in order to defend and safeguard the future of the NHS. Health care is a right! It must be guaranteed!

______

1. “Delegated or secondary legislation allows the Government to make changes to a law without needing to push through a completely new Act of Parliament. The original Act (also known as primary legislation) would have made provisions for future delegated legislation that could alter the law to differing degrees. Statutory Instruments (SIs) are often called orders, rules or regulations. SIs can have different types of Parliamentary procedure for example, the affirmative procedure or the negative procedure. These procedures will have to be followed before the change to the law can be made.” From the glossary on the Parliament website – in the case of the secondary legislation (SI 275) in question, it appears that the negative procedure would operate, i.e. the regulations would automatically be adopted if no MP raises an objection.

Article Index

ShareThis



Youth and Students

Sussex students stage occupation against privatisation of services, demanding a say and accountability:

Support the Sussex University Occupation!

For nearly a month, students and staff at Sussex University have been occupying lecture theatres and other rooms as part of their opposition to moves to privatise campus services. In an action that continues to gather momentum, three separate spaces have now been taken over: the Bramber House Terrace Room and the Michael Chowen and Jubilee lecture theatres.

The occupation began on February 8, following a demonstration by hundreds of staff and students the previous day and has won widespread support. As the Sussex Against Privatisation website 1 explains:

“In May 2012, the University announced its unilateral decision to sell off most services provided on campus, over 10% of its workforce, to private investors. This announcement came with no student consultation, and next to no consultation with the 235 workers and trade-unions concerned. In the months since, management has failed to offer anymore than a series of ‘negotiations’ and piecemeal Q&A sessions, which only occurred after repeated requests by students and staff, and the conclusions of which it repeatedly proceeded to ignore. The biggest effort from management to secure outside approval was in the form of a report from three undisclosed members of Council/Senate, which cannot be expected to represent the interests and variety of opinion of the wider community.”

They further point out that for the workers affected, “this will mean reduced job security, the handing of control over pensions to private companies and the deterioration of pay terms and working hours and conditions.”

They demand:

“1. An immediate end to the privatisation process.

“2. An immediate end to management intimidation and attempts to stifle dissent.

“3. The establishing of a means for us to hold management to account.”

They explain that their actions aim to highlight the refusal of management to engage in any meaningful dialogue. Students and staff have been kept in the dark over the plans and they have had to expose these plans themselves. The senior management have only offered to meet with students on the precondition of ending their action. “They have left us no choice. We will disrupt, block and destroy their ability to manage our campus.”

It is clear that the Vice-Chancellor Michael Farthing has lost any legitimacy in the university, with the passing of two votes of no confidence by the Students’ Union. The issue of accountability has taken on key importance. Students are demanding “a commission of students, staff and lecturers to be formed with full remit to re-evaluate procedures and channels for holding management accountable as well as reviewing and extending student and workers’ say in these decisions”.

The aim of marginalising the voice of the students and staff has turned to intimidation. Taking inspiration from the recent victory of last year’s student strike in Quebec (which exhibited a red square, the carré rouge, as its emblem), the campaign has adopted the symbol of a yellow square, which is being worn as a badge by students and staff at large, and is being displayed in the windows of university offices. Managers have been instructing workers not to wear these badges and are reportedly being pressuring them not to attend union meetings.

Bramber House is the centre of the occupation. Its Terrace Room, a conference centre, is where students and staff held a general assembly on February 13 to discuss their ideas and make decisions, establishing work groups and setting tasks. On February 28, students exhibited photography about studying, living and working in Sussex, presenting the jobs of the affected service staff, “with optimism and in celebration of our staff and this Sussex community that can never exist without them”.

The actions are part of the wider fight against cuts, austerity and privatisation and for the alternative. The alternative is always a central feature for students, who have the future of society at the forefront of their minds. In particular, they are raising issues of what education is, who it serves, and are defending the right to education by opposing the notion of students as consumers. The commoditisation of education and the introduction of market forces have been pushed for many years now by successive governments, and are an issue that is becoming increasingly sharp at present. Students are also actively taking up what kind of democratic decision-making and accountability serves their collective interests. Students and university workers deserve full support in their struggle against privatisation and in their increasingly high profile and organised actions to end their marginalisation.

______

1. sussexagainstprivatization.wordpress.com

Article Index

ShareThis



Anti-War Movement

Fight for An Anti-War Government!

Anglo-American Imperialism: Champion of Interference, Intervention and War

On February 25, Foreign Secretary William Hague and the new US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in London in which, on behalf of their two governments, they resolved to strengthen the Anglo-American alliance, and to continue the interventionist, warmongering and anti-people activities that have characterised Anglo-American imperialism in the past.

They reiterated the intention of the US and British governments to continue to intervene in Afghanistan and in Syria. They pledged to continue to meddle in what thy referred to as “the Middle East Peace Process”, to continue to bully and threaten Iran, to continue to support the NATO-imposed government in Libya and to step up their intervention throughout the Sahel, in Somalia and other parts of Africa. At the same time, they also stressed the need for an even closer economic alliance and the importance of a transatlantic “free trade” agreement, as well as strengthening their joint activities within the G8 and other international bodies.

At the press conference that followed what were said to be extensive and detailed talks, what was most apparent was the “right” that the two governments have given themselves to interfere in the affairs of other countries around the world. Hague, in particular, boasted of the fact that Anglo-American imperialism “has no equal in the world” What was also apparent was the role that the British government plays in this “partnership” as the faithful ally of US imperialism, especially in Europe but also elsewhere in the world. In this regard, it operates not just as the representative of the big British financial institutions and monopolies but also in the interests of those in the US.

In regard to Palestine, which Hague referred to as an “urgent foreign policy priority”, Anglo-American imperialism is preparing new efforts to undermine the continuing struggle for self-determination of the Palestinian people. The imminent visits of Obama, Kerry and others are being undertaken since they recognise that this struggle is growing in scope and strength. Conditions in the region and world opinion are favourable for the Palestinians. The long-touted aim of a “two state solution” is being continually undermined by the existence of its creation Zionist Israel and may be overtaken by events on the ground.

In relation to Syria, the Anglo-Americans are resolved to continue supporting regime change and doing everything in their power to support those fighting to topple the Assad regime. The US and Britain are not only acting contrary to international law but are also continually creating the conditions for the continued bloodshed over which they weep so many crocodile tears. As in Libya, Britain and its allies have given themselves the right to decide who is “the sole legitimate representative” of the people of that country to justify their intervention. They are arming and supporting those who refuse to enter into any negotiated settlement precisely because they have the agenda of regime change and advancing the interests of the NATO in the region. There is now every indication that Britain and the US will increase the support they provide to the opposition National Coalition on the grounds that it must have means of “self-defence”. In other words, they will continue to destabilise Syria.

The British government is already making plans for a new Syria under its military, economic and political domination, and amongst other things Hague and Kerry discussed how to continue to develop a similar approach to Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia. The model developed in Somalia also appears to be the favoured approach to Mali and the entire Sahel region of Africa, where military intervention is currently being co-ordinated between Britain, France, the US and other members of NATO. In Africa, the Anglo-Americans now talk of “fragile democracies”, which they will nurture against the alleged threat of “terrorism”. The era of “trusteeship” and “protectorates”, or new forms of colonial rule and proxy states, is being resurrected once again across Africa.

In summary, the representatives of the British and US governments reiterated their commitment to interference, intervention and war throughout the world. They asserted adherence to the medieval doctrine that “might is right” and that they will continue to demand that all bow down to their power. It is in this context that all democratic people must oppose their bullying of Iran, the DPR of Korea and other countries, as well as their military, political and economic interference throughout the world. Anglo-American imperialism has again announced that it will take any measures, including the instigation of endless war, to realise its ambitions. It is the task of all peace-loving people in Britain to discuss the need and step up the struggle for an anti-war government.

Article Index

ShareThis



Stop the War Meetings on “The New Scramble for Africa”

A number of local Stop the War Coalition meetings are being held to oppose the spread of war and Britain’s role in what is being called the “New Scramble for Africa”.

On February 26, close to 20 people attended a public meeting organised by the Oxford Stop the War Coalition. Ten years after the invasion of Iraq, the Anglo-American and European powers continue to intervene around the world, with so-called humanitarian justifications. Continuing the “war on terror”, now spreading to Africa, David Cameron recently declared that their “long struggle against murderous terrorists and a poisonous ideology that supports them” will last for decades. Britain and the other interventionist powers are resurrecting their national chauvinist idea of “failed and failing states” and other colonialist notions such as “ungoverned spaces” that may become “terrorist havens”. At present, this seems to be developing into a full scale new scramble for Africa reminiscent of the 19th century. The meeting was held to get discuss these developments.

An informative presentation given by speaker Dan Glazebrook was followed by constructive questions and contributions that led naturally onto the question of building the movement given the experience of the past and the conditions of the present. The quality of the discussion and comments from people after the meeting were representative of the positive and serious atmosphere.

A meeting attended by close to 70 people was organised on February 18 by the Wandsworth Stop the War Coalition. The topic was: Mali and the “War against Terror” – Britain and the New Scramble for Africa. A video of the presentation by Dr Hakim Adi can be found at: http://youtu.be/CLW7q3ivKOg.

The same speaker is addressing the Lambeth Stop the War Coalition on Monday, March 4 on the subject: The War on Terror Spreads to Africa – Britain & the West’s Military Interventions. Further meetings are also scheduled.

Article Index

ShareThis



Commentary

EU and US Free Trade Agreement

Following Obama’s State of the Union Address, where he announced “talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union” at which “everything is on the table”, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also declared that formal talks towards such a free trade agreement will begin. 2015 is being targeted for signing the agreement, according to reports.

The US-EU economic relationship is the largest in the world. According to the website of the Office of the US Trade Representative, total goods and services trade flows came to an average of $2.7 billion a day in 2012, which equates to nearly $1 trillion annually. US and EU investors together owned some $3.7 trillion in direct investment in each other’s economy in 2011. Such figures would make the agreement the largest bilateral trade deal ever signed.

The agreement is presented as eliminating protectionism, for the good of boosting growth, creating jobs, and so on. It is envisaged that the agreement will remove tariffs between the EU and the US, as well as non-tariff restrictions, for example health, safety and environmental regulations. A key word is “harmonisation”: the bringing together of laws, regulations, standards and other arrangements surrounding raw materials, production and distribution of goods, state-run enterprises and public services, labour relations, competition and related areas into a common, binding framework.

Attempts have been made in this direction for some twenty years. The latest announcement is being seen as a turning point, however. The crisis provides the pretext to push through such sweeping changes, while earlier moves such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the recently proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU, as well as the establishment of the EU itself, have laid the groundwork.

The aim of this and other free trade agreements is to benefit the multinational monopolies against the interests of the people.

At the EU-US Summit Meeting of November 28, 2011, the Transatlantic Economic Council was directed to establish a High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth, to look at how to increase trade, investment, international competitiveness; in short, all of the themes of the proposed agreement. Its final report, which was published on February 11, can therefore be seen as setting the agenda of the coming talks.

On services, which is certain to include public services (certain “sensitive” sectors), it recommends that “the goal should be to bind the highest level of liberalisation that each side has achieved in trade agreements to date, while seeking to achieve new market access by addressing remaining long-standing market access barriers, recognising the sensitive nature of certain sectors”.

Further, an agreement should contain “steps aimed at promoting regulatory compatibility in specific, mutually agreed goods and services sectors ... including consideration of approaches relating to regulatory harmonisation ...” The EU and US should “reach bilateral agreement on globally relevant rules, principles, or modes of cooperation in ... state-owned enterprises and other enterprises that benefit from special government-granted rights” and “measures designed to protect, favour, or stimulate domestic industries, services providers ... at the expense of imported goods, services ...”

In the sphere of state-run services, this translates into the liberalisation of state-run services and their opening up to the monopolies and the markets they dominate. This includes privatisation. The devastation of the NHS via the Health and Social Care Act can be seen in this context. “Harmonisation” here means to bring the NHS much more into line with the US system, where health care is mainly privately run and is paid for by payments from individuals and insurance plans.

In an article for the Socialist Health Association, researcher of international trade Linda Kaucher exposed how, at a civil society meeting in 2010, the EU Trade Commission stated its intention to push forward a US-EU Free Trade Agreement. The Commission admitted that the economic crisis would be used to push through the agreement as quickly as possible, that the important preparatory process would be regulatory “harmonisation” and that the first area to be “harmonised” would be health.

Such an agreement will not only be a direct attack on public services, but also on standards of public health and safety. According to Food & Water Watch, EU ad US officials have already been meeting to discuss meat safety, food labelling, regulations on chemicals in foods, and other “barriers to trade”.

In short, the free trade agreement being planned is about furthering the powers of the global monopolies to plunder the economies on both sides of the Atlantic, through new regulatory arrangements that suit their narrow interests, including the direct and indirect privatisation of social programmes.

The fact that a free trade agreement, after years of partial and false starts, appears to be coming to fruition, is not a sign of the big Euro-American powers putting their contradictions behind them. Rather, it is sign that trade wars have been stepped up, between the old powers of the US and Europe, and between them and the rising powers of Asia, in particular China.

Will the entirely parasitic City of London, the hub of British imperialism, continue to be the financial capital? Will it play a role of securing domination for the US in Europe? Are both the US and Europe on the decline in power relative to Asia? These are some of the questions being raised. In attempting to create a world economic super-bloc, the European powers and the US collude and compete in equal measure, each side seeking the best out of the bargain for “their” monopolies.

On the US side, for example, the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement is one of two such pacts, the other being the Trans-Pacific Partnership, indicating its view on using the two agreements to help secure its own global domination, in contradiction with the other parties to each of those treaties.

For both these reasons and that the planned agreement is set against the popular interest, sure to be met with opposition, secrecy has surrounded the negotiations. Now that the US and EU have chosen to announce the agreement, rather than provide information, the role of people having any say in the matter is being further blocked through disinformation. The British government is now proudly declaring its support, and using the media to sell rather than discuss the agreement to the population.

The aim is to prevent the people from finding their own orientation and to channel them, as during elections where they are used as voting cattle, into debating on the basis of siding with this or that monopoly interest, this or that monopoly-defined “national interest” or whether to side with free trade or protectionism. In reality, the monopolies and governments that represent them want to use both protectionism and free trade as pragmatic instruments, pushing aspects of one here and the other there, to dominate the global markets and protect their narrow, private interests.

The disinformation is spread to create the feeling that there is no alternative. Yet the opposite is in fact the case. Global trade is necessary in the modern world. Yet that between the dominant and dominated, controlled by powerful multi-national monopolies, cannot be called free. These monopolies seek the freedom to exploit and plunder. This is the conception of “neo-liberal globalisation”. Nations and peoples must be free from such oppression before they can freely trade for their mutual benefit, which requires the restriction of the assumed rights of the monopolies. The alternative is democratic international relations on the basis of equality, regardless of size and strength, between sovereign, self-reliant economies and trade for mutual benefit.

This alternative is what has to set the agenda for the discussion that must be taken up by the working class and peoples of Europe and the US, so that they can solve the economic problems with their own collective, human-centred interests at the centre of all considerations.

Article Index

ShareThis



RCPB(ML) Home Page

Workers' Weekly Online Archive