Thursday, 8 October 2015

Will of people ignored over closure of Wanstead Hospital Wards

The most amazing thing about the ongoing destruction of the Heronwood and Galleon wards at Wanstead Hospital is the blatant denial of the democratic will of the people. If members of the Clinical Commissioning Group (CGC) and Redbridge Council came out of their ivory towers for a moment and actually spoke to real people on the streets of Wanstead and the surrounding area they would find strong support for the retention of the services at Wanstead Hospital. As someone who has stood out on the high street over recent weeks collecting signatures to try to get Redbridge Council to do what they should have done months ago, namely refer the decision to close the wards to the Secretary of State, I have been struck by just how many stories there are from people who have been helped by the hospital. There is a fierce loyalty to the wards, born of the excellent treatment people have received down the generations. There was never a problem getting signatures to oppose the closure, people simply flocked to sign the forms. Not one person to my knowledge actually came up and said I favour shutting these facilities and moving the service miles away. But despite these clear expressions of concern the CCG and Redbridge Council have continued to ignore the popular will. It is not too late ofcourse to bow to public opinion and halt this ill thought out decision. The local people would respect councillors and CCG members if they reconsidered the move and restored services, failure to do so will simply breed further contempt.

* published in the I - 8/10/2015

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Wit and wisdom of Denis Healey

It was sad to see the passing of Denis Healey at the age of 98. I remember seeing him at the Irish embassy Christmas and St Pats do s over recent years - hardly recognisable until that booming voice rang out and then the eyebrows slotted into place. Famed as a right wing member of the Labour Party, he would be far to the left of many in the Parliamentary Labour Party today.
Healey spent much of his retirement at his home in Alfriston, near Eastbourne in Sussex. He talked of the need for a hinterland beyond politics - he was fond of music, poetry and photography. No one should be one dimensional.
Remembered for his role on the political stage there were many examples of his brilliant wit in the House of Commons chamber. He had some great barbs directed at Margaret Thatcher, such as when he accused her of "adding the diplomacy of Alf Garnett to the economics of Arthur Daley." 
He also described her as "la pasionaria of middle class privelige" and comparing her to Florence Nightingale  declared "She stalks through the wards of our hospital as the lady with the lamp. Unfortunately it's a blow lamp."
On being attacked by Tory Chancellor Geoffrey Howe he likened it to "being savaged by a dead sheep."
A great wit, ranconteur and politician, the like of whom we are unlikely to see again.

If Theresa May wants to integrate migrants she should be seeking to strengthen trade unions and implement a living wage

Theresa May's speech flew totally in the face of the economic reality of immigration. Britain has a rapidly ageing population and needs all the migrants it can get. If May is concerned about low pay and migrants undercutting indigenous workers wages and conditions there are two measures that can be taken to remedy the situation. First, raise the minimum wage to living wage level and vigorously enforce it, second, strengthen trade unions and get the incoming workers to join up. Not only would this stop the undercutting of wages and promote community cohesion but it would also mean that May's Tories could really call themselves the party of working people. Win win surely?

* published the I - 8/10/2015

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Jeremy Corbyn’s way of doing politics is exposing just how banal and stale the approach of the political class and its supine media has become

What the whole Jeremy Corbyn approach has demonstrated most aptly is just how false and pretentious the “normal” way of doing politics has become. Corbyn says what he thinks and acts according to his principles. He treats party members and the public with respect, regarding them as fellow intelligent grown up people. He has been pretty much unspun.
The Labour Party Conference was a success because it was not prescripted like some Hollywood movie. Corbyn and John McDonnell spoke to people like adults. They received acclaim but neither felt the need to roll out their wife or partner in some fawning role.
Whilst the media tried to pour scorn on Corbyn’s speech, it was reported that another 2,000 people joined the party after delivery. There must be a real worry for the establishment parties that the Corbyn appeal that brought so many into the party and his eventual victory will reach out to the public beyond.
It may have resonance amongst the people who didn’t vote (all 33% of them) and those who think it a disgrace that a million plus go to foodbanks in a country that hosts 130 plus billionaires. Or that 100,000s of properties lie empty, whilst so many have nowhere to live.

The political establishment and its media have certainly done their best to discredit Corbyn. The childish abuse, the attempts to make not singing the National Anthem into some sort of capital offence. The digging up of quotes from years ago about Ireland to beat Corbyn and McDonnell over the head about. (Both men, together with Ken Livingstone, played significant roles in laying the ground for the peace process.) The constant resorting to the neo-liberal orthodoxies, that brought the crash of 2008, and have since played such a part in making the most poor and vulnerable pay for that crisis, as some sort of one true way.

What must be striking more and more people in the wider electorate is just how much those in the political establishment and media class have in common with each other rather that the mass of people they purport to represent. They reflect power and power relations. They are happy with things the way they are, so continue to defend the status quo.

Corbyn represents a breath of fresh air, a new way of doing politics with  policies based in social justice. If the commentariat and Westminster village ever get past banality when it comes to what Corbyn and co are talking about, they will realise it represents a new way forward. A way that values people over profit, respects neighbours whether in the next street or next country. A path based on peace and peace making. It is also about community, caring for one another. A way that recognises the need to address the threat of climate change and poverty. And whatever the future might hold, Jeremy Corbyn deserves credit for putting these values back on the political agenda.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Media reaction to Jeremy Corbyn leadership reveals a country run for the few, not the many

It is interesting to watch the establishment media seek to pick away at the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. They are really struggling to attack the policies, so routinely have to resort to the irrelevant personal abuse such as about Corbyn not singing the national anthem and something McDonnell said about the IRA in 2003.
When they do engage on policy, everything has to be measured against the moribund neo-liberal lexicon that has brought a fundamentally unstable country that boasts 130 plus billionaires, while more than a million people go to foodbanks.
The whole new approach of Corbyn and co is most refreshing, providing signs of hope and a real insight into what a lot of claptrap really does go on in this country to maintain a status quo that favours the few and not the many

Monday, 28 September 2015

West Ham 2-2 Norwich

Bilic declares West Ham are not a big gun

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic seemed to be trying to lower expectations after this hard fought draw with Norwich City.
Bilic intimated that the clubs recent impressive away form that has netted wins at Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal may have some thinking West Ham are up there with the big boys. “We’re not one of the big guns, we have great players but have to work our socks off every game,” said Bilic, who likened Norwich to West Ham’s previous conquerors at home: Bournemouth and Leicester. “These teams are disciplined, energetic and aggressive,” said Bilic, who despite the sporadic home form forecast that his team would have more home than away wins come the end of the season.
Norwich drew first blood when in the eighth minute Mark Noble poked a hopeful ball into the middle of his own back line. James Tomkins stretched but failed to reach the ball, which was picked up by Robbie Brady, who drove home under home keeper Adrian. Johnny Howson and Cameron Jerome then wasted good chances to stretch the visitors lead.
It was the 23rd minute when West Ham struck back, the industrious Diafra Sakho switching the ball out to the right where Dimitri Payet was able to advance and measure his cross for the onrushing Sakho to sweep home.
The striker then had a chance to put his side ahead, after keeper John Ruddy had failed to make the cross only for Sakho to scoop over.
At the other end Adrian pulled off a point blank save from Jerome, who met the cross from Howson.
It was the 81st minute when Norwich took the lead, substitute Nathan Redmond picking up the ball from a corner and drilling it into the far corner. West Ham though were not to be outdone, continuing to press on into injury time, they were finally rewarded when Ruddy saved but the ball fell nicely for Cheikhou Kouyate to sweep home.
Norwich manager Alex Neil was pleased with his side though admitted “it was a pity we didn’t see it out.”

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Artists and ethical investors celebrate at the Human Nature exhibition in Soho

Abundance supporters and artists gathered for the Human Nature exhibition at the Art of Progress gallery in Greek Street, London, last night.
The Human Nature exhibition started on its travels in London last December, going to Leeds and Bristol before coming to the Art of Progress, where it will reside until 27 September.
The exhibition arranged over three floors shows artists exploring the changing relationship with the environment. Among the exhibits are three pictures of a goshawk, little owl and reed warbler by London based street artist ATM. The bird theme was continued by Jane Laurie with a striking picture of a barn owl set above a bed at the exhibition.
On the top floor there was film maker Dorothea Gibbs short film, Natural Reality 2:1. Dorothea delves into how the online world has the power to connect people but also create a strange disconnected world of virtual reality.
Among those attending the Abundance Generation sponsored evening was environmentalist Jonathon Porrit, who sampled the relaxation area where people could sit and mediate, conjuring up visions of being on a Norfolk beach.
The evening offered an excellent opportunity to view the artistic exhibits and talk about the state of the renewable energy industry, presently under assault from the government with its pro-nuclear and fracking approach to energy security.
Abundance has been one of the companies seeking to counter global warming by setting up a number of sustainable projects across the land involving solar and wind energy.
Abundance launched in 2012, since when almost 2,000 people have invested £11 million funding 12 projects so far.