The State and the National Health Service
The creation of the National Health Service was a magnificent achievement. Previously health care was unaffordable for most working people. A visit to a doctor could cost as much as half a weekly wage. Consequently many illnesses remained untreated and either improved over time or deteriorated. Finance was provided by insurance companies for those who could afford them, local councils and some charities.
Aneurin Bevan was born in 1897, the son of a coal miner. He was one of nine siblings only three of whom survived. He left school at the age of thirteen and followed his father into the mine. It was during this time that his socialist aspirations developed and he became immersed in trade unionism. He became leader of the South Wales Miners and was involved in the General Strike of 1926. In 1929 he was elected as Labour MP for Ebbw Vale.
William Beveridge, concerned to improve the general health and wellbeing of the nation due to the austerity and decimation of the war produced his report in 1942. The Beveridge Report advocated that all working people should contribute to a state fund to be used to provide health and social care for all.
The Labour Party won a landslide victory in the 1945 General Election. Their manifesto promised universal health care influenced by the Beveridge report.
Clement Attlee became Prime Minister and Aneurin Bevan Minister of Health and Housing, who was to create the National Health Service.
The idea of State control was accepted by the majority partly due to the fact that under rationing during the war the health of the nation had improved.
There was however some resistance to the scheme mostly from the Conservatives but also from the British Medical Association who were keen to keep their private practices.
There was also some division within the Labour Party itself. Bevan eventually won the support of the medical profession by allowing the consultants to work both inside and outside the NHS, and treat their lucrative private patients at the same time. GP practices remained as private businesses but contracted to provide health care.
NHS Finally Born
The new Labour Government however was determined to establish a Welfare State, ‘Homes For All’, new towns and even some prefabricated housing to help with the housing crisis. Many of these were still standing decades after the war and were dilapidated but still used for homeless families. The Nationalisation of industries was thought to improve working conditions in key areas. However, an organised workforce leads to strength in Trade Unions which later Thatcher sought to destroy.
Nonetheless, despite some resistance, The National Health Service was finally born on July 5th 1948, health care available for all. It was not popular in some quarters and also with some doctors because of the enormous cost and soaring demand. So it has never been fully funded but even so it was a pioneer of its time for health care.
New Pamphlet - Britain, Our Nation
On May Day we think of workers like ourselves in all countries and wish them well.
Every worker should be active in their trade union; we represent the oldest, most democratic, most progressive organised forces in society.
Our new challenges are severe.
Capitalist exploitation of the environment for profit will lead to more pandemics. All the environmental scientists know this. Our efforts to create a greener world and stop the destruction of species and habitats must accelerate.
This terrible pandemic has been dealt with best where science and a disciplined set of public protections based on public service delivery have been supported.
In Vietnam out of a population of 90 million there have been only 35 deaths. Cuba has sent doctors all over the world to help other countries, despite the blockade.
In India where, ironically, many vaccines are made, both a science-based approach and public service support in dealing with the pandemic, have been ignored or rejected, with terrible results. Same in Brazil. A reckless neoliberal government has preferred to see its people die than be social.
The scale of pandemic-related deaths in the world’s biggest economy, the US, is incredible, testament to their almost entirely marketised health service. Despite this, the British government is keen to give more of our NHS contracts to US companies. Our health is not for sale.
On May Day we think of our common humanity. We reject racism, we reject religious sectarianism, we assert the strength and unity and creativity of all workers.
Our work makes the whole world go round. It is only the virus of profit and exploitation, and wars between nations that hold us back.
The world, as the first socialists in Britain in the 17th century said, is a common treasury for all to share. Private ownership of energy, health services, land, and pharmaceuticals is obscene.
Above all, the private ownership of the wealth we create by the banks who gamble it on the international money markets must be stopped.
We never supported the globalisation of production. It endangers the planet and it oppresses nations. It puts power and control in the hands of the financiers.
Instead of globalisation of capital, on May Day we say internationalism, solidarity throughout the world, we want nations living in peace and co-operation with each other.
If we believe this then nothing can stop us. Yesterday there was Trump, today someone less orange.
The CIA invented someone to try and take over Venezuela. Today, Maduro is still there, despite every dirty trick in the book being played to stop the people of Bolivia moving forward. Today, there is another progressive government there.
Not long ago, Britain was under the grip of the neoliberal undemocratic EU; now we are free of it.
We renew our call also for the release of Abdullah Ocalan a significant figure for peace in the Middle East still locked up in brutal conditions by the Turkish state.
On May 1st 2021, when workers across the world were celebrating, we launched our new pamphlet, Britain, Our nation.
A New Year - A New Epoch
Fings ain’t what they used to be
Leaving the EU has made us all reconsider what we have to do to make a better country to live in together without interference. This is a very good thing.
Here are some relevant words of a very human, socialist song by Lionel Bart:
“Consider yourself at home
Consider yourself one of the family
We’ve taken to you so strong
It’s clear we going to get along
Consider yourself well in
Consider yourself part of the furniture
There isn’t a lot to spare.
Who cares? Whatever we’ve got, we share.”
We will all rebuild Britain
Every worker, all 26 million of us and our families, can contribute to the new Britain.
In fact, that’s the whole point of real democracy, the rule of the majority. Our views don’t just matter and get patronised for a vote, they are the best, leading ideas in society.
Voting to leave the EU was never enough, it announced a new beginning, a real chance for change. We no longer have anyone we don’t elect controlling our Parliament. We have to reflect therefore on what Britain is and should be and what a nation is in a world in which environmental extinction threatens life on Earth and will cause more pandemics.
As if by sinister magic, or horror film, a tiny minority of people have managed to rule the roost, pillage, kill, plunder and steal, smashing nations and their people and get wealthier. Violence, not peace is their main instrument.
The British government, Parliament and state remain beholden to the large global corporations which wreak this havoc.
More pernicious is the idea that some people are superior to others and should have inalienable rights to private ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. They use this power to make others work for them so they can steal the extra value all workers create and sometimes get them to fight wars for them against their competitors elsewhere.
Along with this pure capitalist view has been the danger that politicians think themselves better than us. Witness idiots in Parliament trying to overturn the people’s vote in the referendum of 2016 because the majority was deemed too stupid.
Any leader should be accountable and representative and mandated. The people are always the best politicians. We give the mandate. In the strength of the mandate for those we elect resides our democracy.
All of the assets of our country material, human and intellectual should be dedicated to our advancement and thereby to benefit humanity.
If we don’t have such high aspirations, life will get even harder.
We must run the country, not endlessly protest against those who do and who fill their pockets as long as we fail to police them. We run everything every day, so why not run the country too? We’ll need to create a new constitutional settlement to achieve this.
Rise up, feel good.
As Bob Marley sang it: Everything little thing, gonna be alright.
Covid19 Health Care and Socialism
Learning Lesson from Socialist CountriesThe main lessons to be learned from the socialist countries were that they not only acted upon the science but had built and used a strong public sector. They were also able to switch manufacturing to the making of PPE to meet their own needs. Internationalism meant that they shared their information with the world and are participating in an international vaccine programme. Not vaccine nationalism USA style. New Zealand was also accused as ‘over-reacting’ to the virus. They shut down their borders and contained the virus. They had an efficient track and trace system and helped save their hospitality industry. In Britain, initially, the government had public support for Covid19 measures, including a national lockdown. Now however, support is evaporating. Despite government insistence that it is following the science, crucial mistakes were made at the outset. Under the guise of protecting the NHS, seriously ill people were released from hospitals back into care homes (84% of which are privately owned, many making a profit out of illness), which produced thousands of deaths and accelerated the spread of the virus. Too many people have died unnecessarily through government inaction, carelessness and slavish adherence to private companies and organisations. Billions have been thrown at private companies, often with Tory party connections, despite repeated failures across the board. Meanwhile, hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed. University hospital trusts in Birmingham and Manchester have made decisions to stop many major operations and direct all efforts to Covid patients. Andy Burnham makes his voice heard in Greater Manchester; one moment he’s railing against “punishing” local restrictions, next, he backs a national “circuit-breaker” lockdown. The much-promised world-beating testing and contact tracing system promised back in May has still not materialised – and never will while it is in the hands of companies like Serco. A command and control system does still not exist.
Pandemic Planning in Britain a MessPandemic planning is split between the Joint Biosecurity Centre, the National Covid Response Centre and the Covid19 Taskforce, all operating from different sites. Four separate IT systems are used (Synergy, CTAS, SGSS and HP Zone), meaning data is lost and work is carried out by a mish-mash of Whitehall officials, consultants and under-resourced local authorities. Around 300 000 people a day are being tested, while government says it’s on course to hit the target of a million by Christmas. The government’s scientific advisory group, SAGE, says it’s not enough. Results are taking much too long to process; as few as 63% of close contacts are being told to self-isolate. NHS Test and Trace is having only a “marginal impact” on transmission. Testing was never given the priority it should have been with tracing outsourced to Serco. £12 billion was allocated, with no penalty causes for missed targets; where has our money gone? On tracing, local health teams with local knowledge would have done a much better job. The Johnson government has been secretive in its dealings with the private sector. A sweet manufacturer in Northern Ireland was given £108 million in contracts to produce PPE without any competitive tenders; it smacks of incompetence and corruption. Covid19 and infectious diseases kill people, as does capitalism. The mixture of the two is a catastrophic combination that will return again and again unless the link is broken. Now more than ever, we need must protect people not profit
Labour Party Turmoil
Coup Actors Trounced in Elections by MAS
Right wing government-a lesson in corrupt dictatorshipThe vote increased for MAS compared to the annulled 2019 elections when MAS won by 47.08% to 36.51% for Mesa. Eleven months of government by the right wing coup actors showed their corruption and incompetence. One example which made the news was their claim to have bought 500 intensive therapy beds to treat Covid patients which could not be found anywhere and the purchase of ventilators from Spain unsuitable for intensive therapy for which they claim to have paid prices 3 times higher than the listed ones. Their minister Murillo, who made his name persecuting MAS activists, also acted against government officials who asked questions about financial dealings. People also remember the massacres of demonstrators by the army at Sacaba and Sencata where 21 people were killed and hundreds wounded. The government passed a law giving the army and police immunity for their actions against demonstrators. This law was repealed later by congress where MAS had a majority. Many of the young, had not experienced right wing rule, as the pre-coup MAS government had lasted 14 years.
Reaction against inclusionBut the most offensive actions by the coup actors was their obvious racism and rejection of the inclusion of the people of Native American extraction (85% of the population) by attacking their flag, the Wiphala and bringing a large Bible into the government ‘to eradicate devils signs’. Those images are unforgettable to all Bolivians. The election results put Bolivia back on course to keep building the Plurinational State of Bolivia. We must join their celebrations.
Wiphala flag on the left next to Bolivian flag, Blue MAS flags at MAS celebration of the election victory.
Feed The Bairns Ye Tory Rats
Decisive Victory for Bolivian Democracy
Scottish Independence: EU Domination
The Currency Question
The Price of Aid
Humans vs Markets
Workers' Party of Britain Statement
The Fight Against Covid-19
Workers' Party of Britain Statement
Workers' Party of Britain Statement
January 31st - Independence Day
Workers' Party of Britain Statement
There is nothing more politically precious than self-determination. National independence is the key to democratic and economic progress.The banks and large corporations have created a new world order of international free trade agreements, highly mobile capital flows and supranational bodies like the IMF, WTO, and EU. To free themselves to plunder, they had to break down national democratic parliaments and over rule the sovereign laws and protections of individual countries. The EU, aided by both the Tories and then New Labour, conducted a slow motion coup d’etat against Britain. First, our material sources of independence in agriculture, engineering and energy supply were pulled apart. Then, our public services and utilities were hollowed out and put under foreign ownership. As part of the attack, the global reach of the City of London and its speculators was given free reign as our own people started to starve and rely on food banks. Those manufacturers and service providers that remained were forced to compete for public contracts under the procurement rules in an unfair, rigged single EU market. Petty divisions within Britain were stoked by the EU under the illusion that if Scotland and Wales broke away they would be rewarded with a form of ‘independence’ that made them entirely subservient to the EU.