Monday, 29 June 2015

It is not only “the mother of all parliaments” that is broken. Our entire political system is as well

Britain has the sixth richest economy in the world, yet 13.7million of our citizens are living in poverty and 4million of those are children. Our government are driving a counter productive, ideological program of austerity against the poorest and most vulnerable in society, while cutting the top rate of income tax and plans afoot to cut it even further from 45% to 40%. The chancellor intends to sell off our 81% shareholding in RBS, to an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, despite objections from the public that the sale will result in a £13bn loss on our initial £46bn investment. However, when inflation and interest repayments since 2008 are factored in, the actual loss to the taxpayer will be £32.6bn. A proportion of our share holding in Lloyds bank has already been sold off, but what we were not told is that it was at a loss to the taxpayer of £530million.

In 2014, an estimated £104bn in tax revenue went unpaid through tax avoidance and evasion. The independent living fund, which provides disabled people with independence and a much needed lifeline will be scrapped and the money it provides will not be replaced. In the name of austerity, all public sector workers have endured a pay freeze since 2010, while MP’s are in line for a 9.6% pay rise that will be back dated to April, which 88% of respondents to a public consultation carried out by IPSA voted against. Due to cuts in the legal aid budget, people are now being forced to defend themselves in court, against well paid and highly trained barristers & solicitors and this may be in breach of their fundamental human right to a fair trial. Despite their denial and having no public mandate to do so, successive governments have been pushing our NHS towards full privatisation.

During the election campaign, David Cameron promised us 5,000 new GP’s by 2020, but just six weeks later health minister Jeremy Hunt has been forced to admit the pledge is unachievable. Since the introduction of the Health & Social Care Act 2012, the provision of all NHS services must be put up for legal tender. But contrary to both UK & EU competition law the process is not a level playing field. As a public sector organisation, our NHS is unable to reclaim the VAT it pays on purchasing medicines, medical equipment, legal advice etc, while private corporations are able to. This means that NHS costs are always 20% higher than those for a private healthcare provider when bidding for a contract. Due to continuing under funding, a growing population, cuts to local authority funding effecting social care provision and staff leaving in their thousands, our NHS is teetering on the very edge of a cliff. Successive governments, who want to see it fall off the cliff so they can declare it is unaffordable and must be handed over to the private sector, have deliberately caused all of the current problems with our NHS.

The outcome will be a two tier health service, where world class healthcare will be available only to those who can afford it. Future governments will provide a certain amount of funding and we will all be expected to take out top up health insurance to cover the additional costs of treatment, or fund it ourselves. Those who cannot afford the top up insurance will not receive treatment. Our NHS is a national treasure and in 2014 was rated the best healthcare service in the world. No government, either past or present have had a mandate from the people for privatisation. It is our NHS, we pay for it and it is a shameful indictment of the state of democracy in Britain that our governments have been able to attack it in the ways that they have, for their own political gain. We should have been given a say in the PFI contracts that were forced upon NHS trusts, changes to the structure of our NHS through the introduction of foundation trusts, the changes made to GP contracts, the introduction of the HSCA 2012 and the way our NHS is funded. If we had, perhaps it would not be in the crisis it is in now and would not have the chronic shortage of GP’s we now have.

Successive governments have not been listening to us and despite their promises, have proven themselves both unwilling and unable to provide a better, more democratic society where we can all prosper. Britain is not a democracy and is playing dangerously close to the edge of becoming something much worse. As our governments have failed to provide the kind of democratic society we all want, it falls to us, the people of Britain to design and build it for ourselves. A society where all of it’s citizens are equal before the law, regardless of their position in society. A society where we decide the role of our government, monarchy and all other institutions. Where our politicians are truly accountable to their constituents, who will have the power to sack their politicians. The make up of government is reflective of our wishes, as expressed in general elections. A society where we set the rates of corporation tax and decide the consequences for those who do not pay what is due. We will decide the structure and funding available for our education system and our NHS. It will be for us to decide the role of our police forces and the powers with which they are entrusted.

In a democratic society, teachers will be free to teach, nurses and doctors will be free to treat patients without the added and unnecessary burden of forms and paperwork, if we so choose. We might decide that in the event of our government wanting to take us to war, a referendum will be called in order for the people to decide. It might be that we decide all government spending is made freely and publicly available, including full details of politicians expenses. All exceptional public spending will require public approval, for example in the event of another bank bailout being necessary, if we so choose. In fact all of the rules around how a new democratic Britain will work, including it’s institutions, would be decided by us, the people of Britain. This will require a mass movement of the people. A coming together of all creeds and races in the name of democracy, to build a better, more democratic and fairer British society. It would be a vast demonstration of people power and a statement to our government and institutions that we will not lay down and take their self serving creed anymore. We will not allow them to divide us. Instead we will unite and from now on we will be setting the rules.

This will be a movement of the people towards a citizens’ convention on the constitution. A constitution is basically a rule book which dictates how society operates and the role of it’s institutions. In Britain, we do not have a written constitution. The citizens’ convention will be a national event involving people from all corners of Britain. We will come together to decide the kind of democratic society we want to live in. We will decide the rules around whether we have a welfare state and how it will operate. We will decide if and when our share holding in RBS & Lloyds banks is to be sold off. We will decide if and when any of our public sector assets are to be privatised. We will decide how many foreign refugees to welcome into Britain. All of this and more, we will decide in the first ever written constitution of Britain. The peoples constitution.

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