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Broken Britain 5: Martin Wolf annotated. Plus a lesson from Delhi

Extracts with bracketed comments = original text here, may be subject to paywall

In the Financial Times, Wolf asks: “Why has the appeal of populist ideas grown in western countries? Is this a temporary phenomenon?”

He continues: “What, first of all, is a populist?” And answers:

  • The abiding characteristic of populism is its division of the world into a virtuous (powerless) people on the one hand, and corrupt elites . . . on the other.
  • Populists distrust (corrupted) institutions, especially those that constrain the “will of the people”, such as courts, independent media, the bureaucracy and fiscal or monetary rules.
  • Populists reject credentialed experts (funded to serve vested interests). They are also suspicious of free markets and free trade (misnomers – so-called free traders erect tariff barriers whenever they can).
  • Rightwing populists believe certain ethnicities are “the people” and identify foreigners as the enemy. They are economic nationalists (but keen exporters and speculators) and support traditional (discriminatory & inhumane) social values.
  • Populists (left and right) put their trust in charismatic leaders
  • Leftwing populists identify workers as “the people” and (only the uncaring) rich as the enemy. They also believe in state ownership of property (if there were ever to be an honestly run state)

Wolf asks why these sets of ideas have become more potent (because central control, corruption and deprivation is increasing alarmingly). He refers to a Harvard study which considers immigration a cultural shift but argues that it can also be reasonably viewed as an economic one (because it’s cheaper to import subservient low-cost labour than to educate one’s own citizens)

What has changed recently?

“The answer is the financial crisis and consequent economic shocks. These not only had huge costs. They also damaged confidence in — and so the legitimacy of — financial and policymaking elites.

“These emperors turned out to be naked” (Correct).

He thinks that the results of past political follies have still to unfold:

  • The divorce of the UK from the EU remains a process with unfathomable results.
  • So, too, is the election of President Trump. The end of US leadership is a potentially devastating event.
  • Some of the long-term sources of fragility, cultural and economic, including high inequality and low labour force participation of prime-aged workers in the US, are still with us today.
  • The pressures for sustained high immigration continue.
  • The fiscal pressures from ageing are also likely to increase.

Wolf’s remedy the economic anxieties can and must be addressed: we must recognise and address the anger that causes populism. He continues: “populism is an enemy of good government (the status quo) and even of democracy (which has yet to be achieved)”.

Aam Aadmi (the Common Man’s Party) originated in the India Against Corruption (‘anti-graft’) movement. It claimed that the common people of India remain unheard and unseen except when it suits the politicians. It stresses self-governance, community building and decentralisation; advocating government directly accountable to the people instead of higher officials. It was formally launched on 26 November 2012 and won 67 of the 70 seats in the Delhi state assembly elections in 2015.

IMHO, as one correspondent often opens, building a stable democracy will require:

  1. proportional representation in which the votes cast reflect the true support for all participating parties and independent candidates;
  2. the attraction of parliamentary candidates with a track record of public service, offering only the national average wage, supplemented by basic London accommodation where needed and travel/secretarial expenses.
  3. and the clear understanding that after election these MPs (and their families) should acquire no shares or non-executive directorships.

And “self-governance, community building and decentralisation; advocating government directly accountable to the people instead of higher officials”.

 

 

 

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Councillor Harry Hayfield joins the National Health Action Party

Llansantffraed Community Councillor Harry Hayfield’s personal experience has led him to realise that whilst there are differences between what is happening to the NHS in England and the NHS in Wales they share a common problem – underfunding – which leads to cuts in service. Cllr Hayfield says:

I have been a Liberal Democrat for the past twenty four years, however last March a chain of events started that has persuaded me it is time to change.

nhap graphicWhen my grandmother was put onto the Welsh NHS’ waiting list for a hip operation, I was fully aware that she would have to wait at least eighteen months.

But what I was not aware of was just how painful the condition was. She was forced into a position where her only option was to have private treatment.

Although the operation was a success she was discharged without being completely tested for after effects. That treatment was to lead to complications which meant she was admitted as a patient to the NHS, after all.

The NHS is obliged to provide emergency treatment but its underfunding is restricting its ability to provide a timely service to the public. It is clear to me that a market for the private sector is being opened up.

“I was elected as a Liberal Democrat community councillor in Ceredigion but worry that, because the money for the NHS comes from Westminster, the Welsh service is in desperate need of help that the Assembly has little control over.

“Having seen that it’s the NHS which picks up the pieces after private healthcare has made its profits, I am concerned that there is no clear political voice spelling out what the real issues are. I have therefore made a personal decision to join the National Health Action Party in order to campaign for people, like my grandmother, to get the care and treatment that they deserve.”

clive-speech-1-1

Dr Clive Peedell the NHA party leader (above) said, “We are delighted by Cllr Hayfield’s decision. We do not want to see the NHS in Wales – or in Scotland – following the same route as in England. We were very disappointed to hear Leanne Woods talking before the Welsh Assembly elections about creating lean organisations, bringing in the private sector and tightening up the public sector. This sounds worryingly like the language of someone who has accepted George Osborne’s austerity agenda.

Progressive politics recognises the importance of a clear distinction between public service and private business. Investing in the NHS as a public service brings rewards to the greater economy, it is not a drain. Cllr Hayfield wants to use his change of party to highlight that distinction, to make people realise that better services cannot be provided under a constant regime of cuts and change. The NHS in all the UK’s countries needs stability, public provision and decent funding.

Cllr Hayfield also has a personal reason for wanting to be part of NHA. He grew up in the area served by Dr. Richard Taylor, who co-founded the NHA with me and is now its life president. Dr Taylor was the MP for Wyre Forest, and was elected twice as an independent candidate fighting for an NHS that was fit for purpose. The National Health Action Party welcomes Cllr Hayfield as part of that campaign.”

Cllr Hayfield will be making a public statement, which we support, about his change of party. If there are 10 people from his electoral area who object to his change of party then he will stand down and campaign for his community council place under his new colours. We hope his local electorate will understand and respect his reasons for change and allow him to help the NHA to highlight the danger our NHS faces from underfunding and privatisation.

An audit report about NHS waiting times in Wales: http://www.audit.wales/system/files/publications/nhs_waiting_times_technical_report_english.pdf

 

 

MP Charlotte Leslie’s welcome stance on whistleblowing

charlotte leslie mpAs the BBC records the coroner’s verdict on deaths at Orchid View, a ‘care’ home now closed down, radio news today mentioned a move to improve the lot of sincere whistleblowers by Charlotte Leslie, versatile Member of Parliament for the Bristol North West constituency. She called for ministers to launch an inquiry into how whistle-blowers are treated, in the wake of the Orchid View care home scandal.

Whistleblowers have been featured on this site, recently in February, March this year, three times in August & October 2012, December 2011 and on earlier dates.

Whistleblowers lose their jobs but confirmed culprits are still employed

Lisa Martin, who informed police of the situation at Orchid View, said she felt she had no choice but to come forward. Speaking outside the inquest, she said: “I had witnessed too much poor management and care to vulnerable adults”.

Though, during the inquest, the coroner said it was a cause for concern that many people who worked at Orchid View were still employed in the industry, we note that Lisa, who had rendered this public service, has not been able to get work for two years.

Charlotte Leslie’s forceful salvo in May:

“I am sickened to hear that David Nicholson will be retiring in March 2014”. She added that while whistle-blowers who raised serious concerns about patient safety were sacked, and had their careers ruined, this man walks away with a large public sector pension. She lists some of her concerns that Nicholson:

–          misled Select Committees,

–          did not intervene as promised in whistle-blowing cases,

–          implied those raising concerns about mid-staffs were simply ‘lobbying’

–          and who presided over the culture of fear and bulling in the NHS.

She continues: “In the meantime, Sir David has ensured that he is succeeded by his friends, appointing Dame Barbara Hakin as his deputy – a woman who is facing possible investigation for stifling the whistleblower Gary Walker.

“Our NHS is not a system. It is the people who work in it. David Nicholson has lost the trust of those who actually deliver healthcare and look after patients – doctors and nurses, and those effective managers.

“How can we herald in a new era of trust, transparency and accountability when the man who not only presided over, but in the eyes of many health care professionals concerned for patients safety, has became synonymous with that very culture of bullying, targets at all costs, and covering the facts is at the helm.

“It is a terrible indictment of our political system that he has not already been fired. It is an even worse indictment that in an era where we talk about accountability, he should walk away to an enormous pension, funded by the public”.

anti corruption APPG header

In the account of the September APPG proceedings, ‘CL’ said that rewards risk undermining the moral basis for whistleblowing. A far better way to encourage whistleblowing might be to understand the psychology of those who blow the whistle rather than introducing monetary incentives.

Also, when trying to promote whistleblowers perhaps attention should also be paid to the organisation. The right organisation will welcome whistleblowers.