Here’s our round-up of frontline blogs we’ve particularly liked from the week of 25th February 2013. Let us know which posts we’ve missed and which other bloggers we should be following for next week’s round-up.
This week, in various ways many frontline bloggers have addressed the issue of deception by politicians. First up, the Department of Health. Ministers laid down secondary legislation under section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act in Parliament earlier this month and it has generated a wave of protest in the frontline blogosphere.
Dr David Wrigley took issue with this legislation, arguing that it is the latest attempt by ministers to force privatisation of NHS on local commissioners through the back door:
“Assurances were given by ministers during the passage of the Bill through Parliament that it did not mean the privatisation of the NHS, that local people would have the final say in who provided their NHS.”
He went onto argue that this legislation breaks this promise because it creates:
“…requirements for virtually all commissioning done by the National Commissioning Board (NCB) and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to be carried out through competitive markets, which will have the effect of forcing through privatisation regardless of the will of local people. They contain legal powers for Monitor to enforce the privatisation spontaneously or at the request of private companies that lost bids.”
David has collected the names of over 1,000 nurses, doctors, porters, professors and senior consultants in the NHS who are prepared to sign an open letter to campaign against this ‘forced privatisation’.
Caroline Molloy writing on Abetternhs’s Blog also took issue with Section 75 and urged readers “We have just over a month to stop them, and we need to start straight away.” She laid out five ways people could get involved in the campaign to prevent these proposals from becoming law, but also noted that this type of legislation isn’t usually debated by Parliament and so pressure needs to be brought to bear on MPs on all sides of the House of Commons to get the issue on the political radar.
George, a GP in Tower Hamlets, in an open letter to MPs published on One GP’s Protest, argued that these proposals are an example of how politicians don’t seem to understand the NHS – or don’t care:
“The NHS Competition regulations (SI 257) made under the Health & Social Care Act 2012 are a case in point. Assurances were made to CCGs (of which I am a member) that we would not be compelled to put out all services to competitive tendering, and now we see that these regulations contradict these assurances. This is an act of deception.”
Something also seems to be going on at the Department for Work and Pensions. Joe Halewood writing on SPeye took issue with the claim by Work and Pensions Minister Steve Webb that there are one million spare bedrooms in social housing subsidised by the taxpayer:
“Steve Webb the junior minister at the DWP, the department responsible for the bedroom tax, is blatantly misleading Parliament by stating over and over again that there are one million spare bedrooms in social housing. That cannot be true by the DWP’s own figures which say 660,000 social housing households are affected…you know the bedroom tax scroungers!”
He dissected the claims made by Webb, arguing that this one million figure is deceptive:
“Of this 660,000 the DWP says 540,000 under-occupy by 1 bedroom – so that’s 540,000 spare bedrooms on those figures. Yet to be ONE MILLION spare bedrooms in social housing the other 120,000 (660,000 less 540,000) need to under occupy by a total of 460,000 bedrooms.”
He speculated that ministers are inflating the numbers by including pensioners in these figures (who are not covered by the bedroom tax), otherwise there are a staggering 120,000 households in Britain who have four spare bedrooms in their home.
Jim Brown writing on On Probation Blog questioned whether DWP ministers and prime contractors are engaging in a bit of (self?) deception about the performance of the Work Programme:
“What amazes me is that faced with all this blindingly-obvious and damning evidence, the ‘primes’ continue to be bullish about their ‘success’ and the DWP says things will get better. It’s utterly surreal.”
Jim was writing in response to the recent report from the Public Accounts Committee, which found that the performance of the Work Programme is so poor, that it is actually worse than the Government’s own expectations of the number of people who would have found work if the programme didn’t exist.
Michael Gove also seems to be in a spot of bother at the Department for Education. He has been summoned to reappear at the Education Select Committee to clarify what he did or didn’t know about internal allegations of bullying and harassment in his department. Backbench Conservative MP Tim Loughton has tabled a number of parliamentary questions to get to the bottom of what Gove knew. Watch this space.
Finally, in reference to recent revelations about the predatory behaviour of some powerful men in politics and the church, Auntie Stavvers writing on Another angry woman argued that the “traditional methods of covering the whole thing up are unravelling at the seams”. She offered these men some helpful guidance on how to avoid a sex scandal:
“1) Don’t rape anyone. Same goes for sexual abuse, sexual assault or sexual harassment. Those things you call a sex scandal or an indiscretion? That’s what they are. You’re not entitled to sex. Learn some respect, practise enthusiastic consent, and you’ll be fine.
2) There is nothing else to it. Just behave like a decent fucking human being, and you won’t find yourself in these situations.”
We’re always interested in hearing from frontline bloggers, so if you’re interested in having your post featured on Guerilla Policy then do get in touch: [email protected]