Sunday, 26 July 2015

Propagate the Corbyn Message to the Millions of Disenfranchised Poor

Jeremy Corbyn, whether by design or not, is creating a ‘Scottish’ moment within sections of the labour Party, and maybe beyond. Just as politics took on a new lease of life in Scotland last autumn Corbyn is reenergising political debate and discourse within, particularly though not exclusively, English politics.

Last week’s welfare reform vote has, even if inadvertently, brought about discussion within the Labour Party and most definitely beyond. People, other than political activists, are beginning to question Labour values; and the answers point unquestionably towards Jeremy Corbyn.

The prize now is to get this debate out into those areas where Westminster politics doesn’t reach. We must draw the working classes and those millions disenfranchised from politics back into the debate. We must get the Corbyn message out to them so they realise that at last they too have someone who is speaking for them.   

How Dare the Left Lead the Labour Leadership Race

Incredible. Corbyn gets onto the leadership ticket as a makeweight for the debate, in order to mollify the Left, but allowing for one of the right of centre, or blatant right-wing, contestants to win the leadership contest; and the future of Labour Party is in question.

If Cooper, Burnham and Kendall were making the front running we’d not hear rumblings of discontent about the direction of the leadership race; there wouldn’t be calls to stop the contest on the grounds that the wring candidate is in the lead.

The right is complaining that it suspects that many of the 140,000 newly joined members to the Labour Party may have only joined so they can vote for Corbyn. That’s like the management of the National Lottery complaining that people are only buying tickets because they want to win a lot of money.

Corbyn is being blamed for embarrassing the party in its recent voting performance on welfare reform. Heaven forfend that a Labour MP should ignore the whip and vote against a policy that only serves to impoverish millions of poor people.

Yes, the Labour Party is in crisis. And it’s a crisis created by the right wing of the party. It is not a situation created by the one leadership candidate who is adhering to what can only be described as traditional Labour values.

Corbyn has reignited a belief that Labour can and should resort to acting like a party of the workers. A party that gives succour to the disenfranchised and the poor. A party that looks to governing for the majority; not merely pandering to the banks and big business.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Don't allow the NHS go the same way as British Rail

This government’s drip-feeding of bad news days in the NHS is the same game played by Thatcher and Major throughout the 80s and 90s with British Rail. Years of disinvestment to BR in conjunction with a negative press and media campaign of the service soon portrayed it as the sick man of British industry.

Eventually it became a laughing stock; synonymous with all that was considered wrong with public ownership of industry. In the view of the Tories only the private sector could efficiently run a national rail service.   

So by the mid-1990s BR had been set-up to fail through a combination of disinvestment and propaganda. This allowed Major to break up the service into hundreds of pieces and sell it off. A whole bunch of millionaires were created overnight as senior BR managers scooped up shares in the newly privatised industry.  

Today commuters pay three times more of their salary just to get to work and back compared to Germans, French and Spaniards making comparable commutes. Plus the tax payer is paying out more in subsidy to the private companies who own the railways than when the system was in the public domain.

Imagine an NHS alternative. A privately run health service paid for at the point of need yet still receiving a subsidy from the taxpayer. Such a service would disenfranchise millions of low paid workers as well as disabled and elderly people who could not afford to pay per GP visit, let alone for medical procedures in hospitals.  

The Tories and their predecessor coalition have and are doing exactly the same thing to the NHS as their counterparts in the 80s and 90s did with BR. That's why it is so important for us to support our NHS and propagate good news stories and successes that this service accomplishes every day.

London's Inaccessible Public Transport System

Some years ago the late Simon Hoggart wondered, in his Guardian column, why people were complaining about disability access on the London Underground when he saw so few wheelchair users actually using the system. Of course Simon was lambasted for his gaff.

The image below shows just how poor a service wheelchair users are offered by the London Underground service. Accessibility ranges from no access on the Waterloo & City Line to 3 out of 5 stations usable on the Jubilee Line.  

With such a pitiful underground system available to wheelchair users it is just as well we have an excellent bus service to fall back on. Except, this isn't always the case.

While London buses are undoubtedly more accessible that they've ever been, there are still major issues with the system. The endless feud between buggies and wheelchairs continues; and of course the judgement made that states parents don't need to vacate the 'designated' wheelchair space on a bus in favour of a wheelchair user doesn't help.

Yet the buggy is not the biggest problem faced by wheelchair users in Central or Inner London. As a wheelchair user I would not attempt to board a bus say in Brixton or the Elephant and Castle during rush hours; Oxford Street's another place I'd avoid.

As a wheelie trying to board a bus at a busy stop is problematic, especially if you're alone. In the first instance you must rely on the kindness of other travellers to allow you to indicate to the driver you wish to board. Sometimes a kind stranger will inform the driver for you; at other times it's the luck of the draw.

Even when the ramp is deployed and you're on the bus, trying to get to the designated wheelchair space can be very difficult. You'd be surprised just how many people can occupy such a small space; and attempting to displace them and manoeuvre the chair through a throng of bodies is no fun.

Passengers seem to think that by moving an inch or two they have performed their civic duty for the month. Good grace is furthest from people's minds as their routine of inching along the bus a bit to accommodate another passenger is massively compromised by a git in a wheelchair expecting them to actually get out of the fucking way!

Thus, until other bus users learn to understand the needs of wheelchair users I can't see any solution to the problem of wheelchair users accessing buses in busy traffic locations.