David Cameron, a firefighter he is not.

It’s finally happened, after five years in office, David Cameron has finally gone mad.

David Cameron has twice compared himself to a firefighter in the final days of the General Election campaign. Most recently he calls Ed Miliband an arsonist and compares himself to a firefighter… Words escaped me, for a while.  

 Cameron might be many things, but a firefighter he is not. 

For a start, he would have seen his offices shut at Downing Street and Westminster with the DCLG building being downgraded to a post office. He would have had a reduction in his staff of 20% and his state of the art, chauffeur driven cars would be procured at a much lower spec and spend most of their time in workshops for repair. His suits would now be procured from Primark and he would have had a pay freeze for 6 years. At 48, he would have 12 years left to access his pension, or be just over 7 years away from losing it for failing a fitness test that he has less than 50/50 chance of passing.

Yes Cameron might be many things, cowardly, scheming and duplicitous, but a firefighter he is not. Remember that when you head to the polls.

 

@UtopianFireman

If you want to know what firefighters really think of Cameron, read this.

Stand by our NHS

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Today marks the start of ‘Britain needs a pay rise’ campaign by unions, lead valiantly by our under appreciated NHS staff who today took the unwanted decision to strike.

This morning for the first time in 30 years we will see paramedics, nurses, midwives and doctors take strike action for 4 hours as Westminster deemed our NHS staff not to be worthy of the below inflation public sector pay rise of 1%. This comes at a time when reports have shown that, despite living in a time of relative economic prosperity, wage repression today is on par with Victorian times. The NHS stand out in the cold, wind and rain begging for something that should have been given whilst David Cameron, George Osborne and the rest of the MPs complicit in this structured dismantling of public services gorge themselves in the warmth at Westminster. They should stand disgraced.

Pay is not the only Victorian social ill we have today as we are also witnessing the return of rickets in our children through malnourishment. A damning consequence of the ideological austerity running throughout this country.

In the last week I spoke with a care nurse who explained in-depth the lengths with which management teams were going to discourage workers from engaging in their lawful right to withdraw their labour. They have been told that they cannot picket, cannot walk with placards, with other carefully worded emails all designed to scare the workforce. Clear examples of corporate level bullying and harassment that we have come across and been made aware of throughout a number of professions on a much more frequent basis than you would imagine.

The clear agenda behind wage repression within the public sector is the desire to privatise it. Two key barriers to privatisation are staff terms and conditions and pension liabilities. This comes directly from a government think tank on outsourcing and privatisation and it is something we should all be very concerned about.

When we discuss privatisation of our health care we automatically think of the American system but we do not have to go as far as that to find alarming examples. In Ireland they do not have a national health service and a recent trip there highlighted to me just how dangerous the privatisation of our NHS will be to us. An average 2.4 children family explained how it cost €100 to go to A&E without a referral from your GP, it costs €50 to see your GP and you must have medical cover if you wish to see your GP in the same calendar year and that costs €2000 a year for the four of them. I was shocked. In my ignorance I had just assumed that the NHS was a model adopted by the Irish and makes me all the more concerned about the future of the NHS for today’s children. They will be the ones left paying the price for our inaction.

So today’s strike is an important step in the future fight against privatisation which is already on our doorstep, if they break the NHS staffs resolve over a 1% pay rise then all else will be given. If they think that the people who depend on the NHS do not care then the attacks will be relentless until their resolve is broken. It is not just their fight today, it is all of our fight. The NHS saved our lives at our births and will fight for us time and again between now and when we die. The least we can do is #StandByOurNHS in its hour of need.

The Choice, or the illusion of one? General Election 2015

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I was invited today to attend a Labour speech featuring the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, who was there to discuss ‘the choice’ facing UK voters in next years general election, a Labour future versus the Tory threat.

 

Surrounded by banners reaffirming the Labour position of One Nation ahead of Scotland’s bid for freedom and independence, the gallery of Labour supporters took their seats and awaited the Shadow Chancellor’s arrival. His speech (which can be found in full here) focused heavily on debunking Tory claims on their recovery plan. In his speech he states: “Last Friday we learned that our economy has, at long last, got back to the size it was before the global financial crisis. The fact that Conservative strategists are desperate to persuade us all that this is a significant moment for celebration is revealing. Not only is it two years later than the Chancellor’s original plan said, and three years after the US reached the same point, it’s also the case that, as our population has grown, GDP per head won’t recover to where it was for around another three years – in other words, a lost decade for living standards.” Quite why or how any politician can be crowing about an economic recovery when we have; food banks, 1 in 4 now described as working poor, 1 million children in poverty, zero hour contracts, low pay or no pay workfare slave labour camps in Tesco and all in the sixth largest economy in the world? Balls made the startling claim that wealth trickles down. It doesn’t, it bubbles up. This is reinforced later in the speech when he states: “And new analysis today from the House of Commons Library shows that under David Cameron working people will have seen the biggest fall in wages of any Parliament since 1874. It’s set to be the first time since the 1920s that people are worse off at the end of the Parliament than they were at the beginning.” This comes at a time not long after the UK received the largest orders of private jets anywhere in Europe. The recession has not been bad for everyone, for some it has been an opportunity to makes significant financial gains, not least those private firms circling around the NHS for a slice of the billion pound industry that is the sickness and health of the very people who built it in the first place.

The biggest thing to come out of today’s talk was a commitment to abolish the bedroom tax during hastily finished question and answer (cut short on purpose for his obvious delay), though my particular question was reserved for closed doors and off the record. The Shadow Chancellor kindly reminded us at this point (as if we did not already know) that it was not the fault of teachers, doctors, nurses or police for the economic recession (like most politicians omitting the fire and rescue service), but due to the poor regulation of the banks. He didn’t, however, go so far as to apologise for the Labour party bailing out the banks in 2008 whilst crying out ‘too big to fail’ and condemning the children he spoke of aiding in the future this morning, to a life time of austerity and cuts to pay for it, nor did he say that the problems the NHS are suffering are nothing to do with immigration.  No, I guess that may have been too much to ask for but then we should always be mindful that whilst the largest transference of wealth from the poor to the rich took place on Labours watch with the banking bailouts, Ed Balls was busy the morning 1 million people marched against austerity in 2011, telling us all on the BBC that the cuts were too quick and too deep. He did not call for a position of no cuts. This rhetoric was backed up by Ed Milliband on the stage at Hyde Park when he repeated the same tired message. You couldn’t make it up. 

The problem with Labour is best summed up by John Pilger, who wrote after Thatcher’s death that her greatest achievement was not in changing the philosophy of one party but of two, meaning that on Labours return in 1997, her political ideology was accepted as the way things had to be; PFI’s, academies, NHS privatisation, Fire service privatisation – NPA 60 – cuts, ambulance service decimation, ATOS and a whole list of other stuff all started or took place on Labours watch last time around. What is their position now? More austerity, more cuts and likely more bailouts when this mini bubble bursts. Where is this choice and what is it exactly? How can anyone be expected to re-affiliate or support a party that left half the world burning on a 21st century crusade led by war criminal Tony Blair, a party that gave our NHS away to vultures in the private sector, a party that gave our children’s future away to the banking cartels, a party that says: “Don’t look at me, let’s talk about immigration, the EU and anything else other than what we’ve done and will do!” Even though these things are as irrelevant to the issues society has as the public services he commended today (minus the fire and rescue service of course) This is not the Labour Party of the people, like the Conservatives, it is one that is mired by big business and corporations, it’s biggest backer not the unions that formed it, but the media moguls and military interests that shape our world.

To say we have #TheChoice would actually be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. We have greater choice of coffee than in our political spectrum. Firefighters in Spain and the UK say ‘Rescue people, not banks.’ Can or will the Labour party say the same come 2015?