Thursday, 25 July 2013

Letter 112: Cameron and Lynton Crosby's Lobbying Row Upstages the Royal Birth

"Dear Dave,
I have not watched the Andrew Marr interview this week, where you were repeatedly questioned about Lynton Crosby and plain packaging, but I have been reading the papers. Despite good news of royal births and the questionable changes to the internet proposed by you, the lobbying issue hasn't really gone away. There, Lynton and yourself are, standing centre stage, issuing denials (or not, as the case may be) while Sheila Gunn, former spin doctor to John Major expresses the opinion that all is not what it seems. Very confusingTo make matters worse, it's been uncovered that Mr Crosby has also advised private healthcare providers on the best ways to exploit perceived failings in the NHS. And what's this about his connections to lobbying on behalf of the fracking industry?

As I have previously mentioned, you have been described  as:
"A man who has made transparency not just a political philosophy but a personal credo over the last few years", but I remain unconvinced. If what I've read is true, your plans for a register of lobbyists would allow Lynton Crosby to keep his clients secret.
So how about you put your money where your mouth is? In honour of that transparency you claim to cherish, and in order that we can rule out any conflict of interest, might now be a good time to
publish your Australian strategist's FULL client list?
With best wishes, etc"

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Letter 111:Privatisation and NHS; lock everything up, the Tories are in charge.

"Dear Dave,
So you've finally done it, sold off our NHS plasma supplier (or 80% of it) and sneaked the announcement out just as Parliament went into recess. So much once again for transparency and for "no decision about me without me". 
Is this how you think the trust of voters is earned? By selling such a precious, integral service to Bain Capital, a US private equity firm co-founded by Mit Romney  which has a reputation for aggressive asset stripping? According to Dr Lucy Reynolds who works at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, your deal undervalued the company. Earlier this year she wrote an academic paper strongly arguing against the sale of PRUK. She has said:
"Plasma supplies have a long record of being operated on a not for profit basis, using voluntary donors where all the necessary checks take place. The difference with a commercial firm is that they will want to have as many donors as possible and be looking to secure large profits first and foremost.This amounts to the government abandoning UK blood products users to the tender mercies of the cheapest supplier."

Is she correct in saying that there isn't any mechanism to protect the interests of UK users from harm caused by the change of ownership?  Did Lord Owen's advice mean nothing to you
Of course, this is entirely predictable. Your Government scapegoats doctors and nurses on a weekly basis for funding and organisational failures within the NHS. Isn't that also an attempt to undermine public confidence, running down the service so it can be outsourced or privatised more easily? The orthodoxy that Tories can never get ahead of Labour on the NHS has too many strands to it, to be simply brushed away by Jeremy Hunt using Sir Bruce Keogh's review as a political football, attempting to smear both the Opposition and the NHS in Parliament this week. But there's too much distrust for Jeremy to scapegoat away, full stop. Voters love the NHS and with good reason, so to trust the Tories with it seems idiotic, especially when 13% of your Party funding comes from the Private Health sector. Or when so many Tory MPs stand to gain financially from the outsourcing of NHS services to the private sector. If you factor in A&E waiting times, the possible unsustainability of the NHS 111 service, and the expansion of privatised services in NHS hospitals, it's clear: 
        Much, much louder.
Yours, etc"

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Letter 110: Transparency, gone up in a puff of smoke

Dear Dave,
Dearie me. First Andy Coulson, now Lynton Crosby. Pure coincidence I'm sure, but once again, it does appear that money talks for your Conservative led government. How worrying that the interests of big business takes priority over the health of our children.Whatever happened to your pre election promise of cleaning up politics?Transparently, it's disappearing like a puff of smoke... 
Yours, etc

List of ingredients found in cigarettes:
Acetone (solvent)
Methanol (used as rocket fuel)
Naphtalene (moth repellant)
Nicotine (used as a herbicide and insecticide)
*Cadmium (used in batteries)
Vinyl chloride (used in plastic materials)
Carbon monoxide (found in exhaust fumes)
Cyanhydric acid (was used in gas chambers)
Ammoniac (detergent)
Toluane (industrial solvent)
Arsenic (lethal poison)
*Polonium 210 (a radioactive element)
DDT (insecticide)

*known carcinogenic substances "

Friday, 12 July 2013

Letter 109: MPs salaries, even without a rise are an embarrassment of riches.

"Dear Dave, 
Ever shopped in Iceland? Aldi? Scoured the supermarket's reduced aisle, not because it's fun to nab a bargain, but because you were down to your last quid, days before the next paycheque? Or have you visited a food bank because Sam had to forgo breakfast, dinner or supper (or even all three) so that your children had enough to eat? No... that would be silly, your wife earns a very good income as do you. 

I can see IPSA's suggestion that MPs salaries should increase by 11% is more than a little embarrassingespecially when you realise that in the three months since your Government's welfare changes took place the number of people being fed by foodbanks has increased by 200%. Are subsidised forks ever put down in Westminster long enough to consider that there may come a time when people will have had enough of the inequality? In just one foodbank, (Sparkhill, Birmingham), ONE TON of food is required by the desperate PER week, some of whom are working people, referred for food parcels because their wages cannot meet family need. Not surprising, with food costs up 27%, gas/electricity up 15% and wages rising at only 1%. Maybe in George's spirit of  "all being in this together", MPs would like to share their £5.7m taxpayer bankrolled "hardship fund" with some of these families?
What to do though and which to tackle first? PR, posturing, or public concern? I have watched with wry amusement as MPs, yourself included, speak of personal discomfort accepting an 11% pay increase in such hard economic times. But you miss the point, made most ably in this article:
which I suggest you read, despite how much it may make you squirm.Why not print it off and nail it to one of Westminster's many subsidised dining rooms walls for the hell of it? Then MPs can see what voters know. Your pay does not need to be increased, and noble suggestions to manage within the current system ring very hollow. Most people rightly feel that the gravy currently flowing freely on the Parliamentary train should be most definitely rationed, rather than rationalised as IPSA suggests. MP's salaries, even without a rise, are an embarrassment of riches, especially as foodbanks mushroom on your watch in a way even Labour can't take credit for. 
Yours, etc"