Letters to the Canary: Truss’s ‘comeback’, a crowdfunder for striking workers and arms for Saudi Arabia
The Canary is excited to share the latest edition of our letters page. This is where we publish people’s responses to the news, politics, or anything else they want to get off their chest. We’ve now opened the letters page up so anyone can submit a contribution. As always, if you’d like to subscribe to the Canary – starting from just £1 a month – to continue to support truly radical, independent media, then you can do that here:
This week’s letters
This week we have some thoughts on Liz Truss’s ‘comeback’, two letters on the NHS, a response to a previous letter, and whether the public should crowdfund for striking workers.
Crowdfunding for strikes?
I was wondering if we could liaise with trade unions and other strikers’ organisation to organise a unified crowdfunding initiative to support the strikers – all of them together. I understand from a statement by Mick Lynch that Rishi Sunak is using our public money to subsidise the profits of the companies who refuse to negotiate. So, a crowdfunder could be an effective way of sending the message of support for the strikers – as well as claim a tax refund, since GoFundMe for example is a charity and its’ funds are not subject to tax.
When Jonathan Ware attacked Jeremy Corbyn, a lady called Carole Morgan started collecting money for Jeremy’s legal fund. She went through GoFundMe, which is a charity so is exempt from tax. The fund is healthy as it has a strong following. I understand that our show of support sent the right message to the other side. Maybe we could do something similar for the strikers, but on a much larger scale. This is why I wrote to you, as I feel the Canary is large enough to organise it. But there are similar funds organised by the relevant unions, so it may be a good idea to liaise with them, both to collect the money and to show support by all of us for all of them.
Let me know how I can help because I feel very strongly about this, I trust that the Canary is a good organisation for us and – last but not least – I will do my best to help, but am not in a position to lead.
Hope we can work it out and am sure something good will come out of it.
Duska Rosenberg, via email
ED – readers, let us know what you think about this. Email membership(at)thecanary.co
UK weapons to Saudi Arabia?
This government can’t be so desperate for trade that they they will go back on their word not to sell arms to Saudi Arabia? That country’s reputation on human rights is appalling, and there is no way we should be doing this. There were 81 people beheaded in one day in 2022, many of these people have opposed the regime and paid the worst penalty.
M Williams, via email
What would happen if MPs went on strike?
If parliament went on strike what would happen? Civil servants would continue to function as they do in any case – perhaps badly, but no change there, then.
If refuse collectors go on strike what would happen? Within days the streets would be like a rubbish dump.
If nurses go strike what happens? Patients can be left unmedicated, unwashed, uncared for. People die.
If teachers go on strike what would happens? Children would remain untaught and parents couldn’t work.
If transport workers go on strike what happens? Nobody gets to work, congested roads, chaos ensues.
If the emergency services go on strike what happens? The injured remain in pain. Houses burn down. Heart attack victims die.
If we were French and understood the meaning of unity, what would be the result? Enlightenment!
So, in the cold light of day, with a government such as ours who are merely looking after themselves and an ‘Opposition’ that is not just pitiful, but despicable, I say again:
If Parliament went on strike… would we be better or worse off?
So, Rishi et al: could you not all pop off to your second or third home somewhere, and take Keir Starmer and his puppets as house guests/lackeys/the entertainment?
The country could not be worse off. What we have is not anarchy in parliament, but certainly each man for himself – starting at the top!
Eileen QW, via email
The plight of our NHS
If our NHS is continuing to deliver on its catch-up programme, as claimed by MP Victoria Prentis in a previous ‘Banbury Guardian’ article, it is entirely due to its hard-working, overstretched and under-paid staff. The NHS has suffered from many years of Tory underfunding – considerably lower than in comparable EU countries.
The Tory Party wilfully ignored recommendations made following a test of pandemic preparedness years before. So, when the pandemic arrived the NHS still lacked stocks of PPE etc. Financial impropriety could be observed over efforts to belatedly acquire necessary equipment. Factory farming and lack of space for nature make zoonotic diseases more likely.
Our NHS has long had an unacceptable level of unfilled vacancies. Insufficient staffing threatens patient safety. EU staff leaving following Brexit exacerbated the situation. We need to train and retain more doctors, nurses, etc. Tory miserliness over grants and incentives – and even limiting the number of university places for medicine – foils moves in this direction. Current strikes are about unsafe staffing levels as well as sufficient pay to attract and retain staff, especially in modest positions that fail to receive a living wage and pay less than supermarkets.
Hospitals need more beds to avoid the need to discharge to make room for admissions. This can lead to some patients being discharged earlier than ideal and possibly to re-admissions. The deplorable and increasing lack of community care – long left unfaced – predictably increases bed-blocking. Lack of beds leaves patients stuck in ambulances, whose crews are then unable to attend other emergencies. Good carers are worth their weight in gold to patients, but minimum wages make them hard to attract or retain. Private care agencies replaced council home care but lack of availability of staff to provide care packages means increasing bed blocking, as patients cannot be safely discharged. Community care and the NHS should be under the same umbrella.
Prolonged hospital stays make functioning harder post-discharge. Rehabilitation and intermediate care make sense. We used to have rehabilitation wards, but also local authority homes with input from district nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists to improve patients’ functioning, and social workers to assess via a home visit what care package was needed to enable them to return home safely and organise when this could start. Most patients want to return home and remain there. However if sufficient staff are not available to support them this can no longer happen. That is simply not good enough and the situation needs to be resolved.
Carol Broom (retired hospital social worker), via email
In response to a Canary letter on older people and use of language
No unelected old or new party on the left has ‘grey vote’ policies, because they are mostly men, mostly young people, and simply have not the expertise gained by the 1950s born ladies – pension campaigning since 2013, because of half a decade of theft of their state pensions.
We learned from each other, our miserable shared experiences, and the history of how badly Tory, Labour and Lib Dems all treated women pensioners, in a continuous timeline of governments from late 1970s. So for us, the grey vote, indeed all elected parties are the same.
The new and old unelected left-wing parties do not have grey vote policies, nor the knowledge of just how much is needed to deal with the state pension and National Insurance issues.
There is no need to change the hearts and minds of older people from age 50 to 100 plus, because there are many socialists amongst us, but so many simply don’t know anything at all about even the most basic knowledge about politics.
As Gandhi observed, people’s politics are their daily bread, so the public are only about policies.
The grey vote are the last age group actually turning out sufficiently to vote, whereas the young in their 40s and below are often not voting.
The truth is that the grey vote are the voters for any and all parties, whereas the young often do not vote at all for any elected or unelected parties, in any elections, even general elections.
As admin of the Grey Swans Pension Group, I am endeavouring to gain moral support for creation of our new Over 50s Party.
Our volunteer admin team has the huge task of creating the manifesto already done, and the party is ‘oven ready’ to get registered.
Please see our website www.over50sparty.org.uk
Christine, admin of Grey Swans, via email
Truss’s attempt to redeem herself tells us rather more than most people think
Regarding Liz Truss and her ‘comeback’. Firstly, though her mini budget was shot down by the markets, it must have been approved by the Treasury and Bank of England. But why would they approve of a tax giveaway costing £48bn with no guarantee that it would boost the economy (in fact probably the opposite)? The obvious answer was immediately offered by economist Stephanie Kelton. She called it “the oldest trick in the book”. It would transfer government money disproportionately to (rich) Tory voters, and then give the perfect excuse for further austerity. But why, after 12 years of austerity which saw no improvement of economic growth, would the government seek more austerity?
Former Canary director Kerry-Anne Mendoza, in her book “Austerity, the Demolition of the Welfare State and the Rise of the Zombie Economy” lucidly explains why this government adopted a long-term austerity programme in 2010 which continues to this day. It is the essential part of the government’s plan, not to ‘balance the books’ as claimed, but to demolish the welfare state and transfer the UK from social democracy to corporate power – a process set in train at the end of WWII, at the notorious Bretton Woods conference.
One goal, the symbolic ‘Holy Grail’ of this process that this government has been seeking since 2010, is the privatisation of the NHS – whose huge budget is a magnet for corporate power-seekers.
After 2010 we saw, in the appointments of Andrew Lansley and then Jeremy Hunt, both fierce advocates of NHS privatisation as health secretaries, the determination of the government to pursue NHS privatisation. These two ministers established policies of attrition in the NHS, designed to debilitate it – which has continued from 2010 to this day, and are widely recognised as preparing the way for privatisation as the ‘saviour’ of a broken NHS.
Truss doubtless saw herself as ‘the Tory hero who finally pushed NHS privatisation over the line before 2024’ – when the Tories are expected to lose power.
Andrew McLauchlin, via email
ED: other books on austerity which people may find more interesting and incisive are obviously available…
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