Sell Off: The Abolition of Your NHS

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Posted by Matt | Posted in Health | Posted on 19-03-2015

I just watched this film in Worcester tonight and I recommend everyone interested in our NHS, which I assume is everyone in this country, to watch it. I must warn you that you may feel angry and depressed by the end, due to the likely future of the NHS.

The film-maker Peter Bach talks to various senior NHS insiders who tell the alarming story of how the health service as we know it is being quietly abolished. Care is increasingly being delivered by profit-maximising companies, hiding behind the NHS brand.

There is a lack of awareness about the abolition of the NHS amongst the public and I hope that once you’ve watched this film you can spread the word via social media and elsewhere.

You can find out more about the film and the danger to the NHS here: www.facebook.com/selloffnhshttps://twitter.com/Sell_Off_Film and www.selloff.org.uk.

Why young people need to vote

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Posted by Matt | Posted in Green Party, Politics | Posted on 27-02-2015

No VotersYounger people are more disillusioned with politics in this country than any other age group and as a result they are the least likely to vote. As people get older the more likely they are to vote. All political parties know this and consequently most of them tailor their policies towards those most likely to vote.

The result is that the group that has been worst affected by the economic crisis and the planned austerity are young adults. Hence, they become even more disillusioned with politics in this country.

Some examples of this are:

  • University tuition fees raised to £9,000 per year, despite the Liberal Democrats’ pledge not to do this. Now students graduate with debts of around £40,000 that limit their chances of getting a mortgage and is a constant source of concern.
  • Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), which helped poorer students, was scrapped.
  • Cuts to advice and support services, such as youth clubs and Connexions.
  • Cuts to mental health services for young people.
  • Proposed cuts to Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), which students in England can receive to meet the extra study costs arising from their disabilities.
  • Further Education (FE) cuts.
  • The average income of young people in work has fallen far more than older workers.
  • Unemployment is higher for young people.

If you thought that young people had been punished enough for the economic collapse that they certainly had no responsibility for, then you’d be mistaken. David Cameron’s recent announcement that 18-21 year olds would be forced to undertake community work if they tried to sign-on is another attack on the young. Then a few days later he announced that all pensioners’ benefits would be protected. You could not have a clearer example of how those that don’t vote get ignored and taken advantage of. If the young voted as much as the over 65’s, then you’d be sure that they would not be treated so badly.

The solution for young people is therefore fairly obvious; they need to vote. To some extent it doesn’t matter who they vote for. In fact, they can spoil their ballot paper if they want to. Once the political parties know that there are enough young voters to swing a seat, then they will start to introduce policies that actually appeal to this demographic.

The fact that the Green Party has many policies that do appeal to this age group may explain why many young people support them. However, the Green Party need these supporters to actually vote, and to be able to vote they must be registered. With the change to voter registration a huge number of young people have fallen off the electoral roll and it is imperative that they get back on in order to have a voice. Go to https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote to register online (all you need is your National Insurance number).

What support from Big Business really means

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Posted by Matt | Posted in Economy, Politics | Posted on 06-02-2015

Tags: , ,

Unsurprisingly, leaders of some big businesses have said this week that they back the Conservatives. With Labour and the Liberal Democrats desperately trying to find a business leader that supports them, one has to ask whether being supported by Chief Executives of multinational corporations is really such a desirable thing.

One of the few things that Ed Miliband has been praised for is when he has criticised certain big multinational businesses for not paying their taxes or not paying their staff a decent wage. However, as with many things, Ed appears to be backing down in the face of criticism from such businesses.

Criticising certain business practices, whether they be tax avoidance, paying well below the living wage, using zero hour contracts, etc., does not mean that you are anti-business. In fact, such criticism is in support of the many, mainly small and medium-sized, businesses who do not engage in such poor behaviour. How can you compete with a company like Amazon, that doesn’t pay the tax it should?

That companies such as Pricewaterhouse Coopers can engage in “tax avoidance on an industrial scale”, according to the Public Accounts Committee, perhaps shows why big business does support the Conservatives. Namely, they let them get away with such things.

Also, don’t forget that many of these companies are eagerly picking up private contracts as the Conservative government try to outsource and privatise what they can.

I’m proud to be a part of the Green Party that would actually crack down on such dodgy activities, rather than just talk about doing it. This is probably why the Green Party is quite happy not to be supported by big business. What is good for big multinational corporations, such as TTIP, is invariably not good for small business and individuals. Hopefully more people are beginning to realise this and are coming to see big business support as a bad thing.

Update: HSBC helping clients to hide their money from taxation.

At its height, HSBC’s secretive Swiss arm hid a total of $120bn (£78bn) in assets. These funds were collected from wealthy clients all over the world and have already led to criminal investigations and charges against the bank in France, Belgium, the US and Argentina. But in Britain, no legal action has been taken against HSBC and the evidence against it has never been made public until now.

Crowdfunding – an alternative way to raise money

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Posted by Matt | Posted in Green Party, Politics | Posted on 24-01-2015

The Green Party like to do things differently. One example of this is how they are using crowdfunding as a way to raise money. In order to have as many candidates standing as possible, you need to have the funds as well as the people. With the growth in support and members over the past year, the latter is not a problem. However, since the Green Party tend not to have big money backers, money is always needed.

The Green Parties in Worcestershire have got together to produce a video on the Crowdfunder website to call for funds to help stand a candidate in all six wards in the county. They have the candidates and £500 deposits for Worcester, West Worcestershire, Wyre Forest and Redditch.

They will soon be balloting local members to select candidates for the Mid Worcestershire and Bromsgrove constituencies.

They need the remaining two lots of £500 to cover the deposits required to stand a candidate in Mid Worcestershire and Bromsgrove. Any money they raise above this £1000 will be used by the Green Party in Worcestershire to produce leaflets to get the Green Party message across.

How to get people out of their cars

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Posted by Matt | Posted in Transport | Posted on 09-12-2014

Bus at Perdiswell Park and RideI pushed for a number of topics to be discussed at future meetings of the Environment, Economy and Communities Panel, of which I am a member. At the end of November one of these topics, sustainable transport, was addressed with expert evidence coming from Professor Parkhurst, from the University of the West of England.

Professor Parkhurst said that councils should invest in better bus routes further away from cities to reduce the need for car trips into places like Worcester. He criticised some Park and Ride schemes, saying that although they did ease congestion in city centres, they actually created more traffic further out. His preferred alternative is for a ‘Link & Ride’ scheme, which consists of small Park and Ride sites along a route.

The focus for any council should be on far better cycling, walking and bus provision. This is the most cost effective way of getting people to drive less and so reduce pollution and congestion, whilst also improving public health. Any new developments, such as in the South Worcestershire Development Plan, should be designed to make it far easier to travel by alternative means of transport, such as on foot, by bike or by public transport. Professor Parkhurst’s evidence will be fed into the next County transport plan and I will continue to ensure that sustainable transport remains a high priority.

 

Pride and Shame of immigration

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Posted by Matt | Posted in Immigration | Posted on 30-10-2014

Nicholas Winton

Nicholas Winton

On the same day that the Conservative-led coalition announced that it would not support search-and-rescue missions aimed at preventing migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, Sir Nicholas Winton was honoured at a ceremony in Prague. As a young man, Sir Nicholas had arranged for hundreds of Jewish children from Czechoslovakia to escape Nazi terror and find safety with foster families in the UK.

It is both shameful and a depressing reflection on the level of debate surrounding immigration that Government Ministers can claim that it is wrong to save the lives of people fleeing from war-torn countries in North Africa because doing so would “simply encourage more people to attempt the dangerous sea crossing”. These people are desperate and will continue to risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean. How can deliberately letting people drown be considered the morally right thing to do?

Whilst the story of Sir Nicholas is inspiring and fills me with pride, I am ashamed that the British Government have taken such an immoral and inhumane decision.

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