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From The Office Of...1

(I intended to write this before the resignation of Iain Duncan Sauron. That was not something I was expecting and I don't think for one moment it will make any difference to Tory plans. In fact it now frees Osborne to place his own pro-EU man into the post. Consequently this means nothing will really change - not that I believe IDS is the saint he thinks he is).

All you need to know about my MPis that he is a Tory and that he's also the one responsible for culling people from the electoral register. He claims that these are people that are inactive or don't exist any more. I don't trust a Tory and that's why I regularly contact him - usually through the many online petitions and campaign that groups like 38Degrees organise. Fortunately they make it easy enough to do. Even more fortunately, people like my MP respond. When they do so they always claim that 38Degrees are partisan and biased - though entertainingly this has to be done in a friendly way so as not to alienate the constituent. It's pretty transparent though.

His response to my questioning the government's handling of the NHS, particularly in the context of the capitalist maw threatening to swallow our economy known as TTIP, claims that the NHS will be exempt from such an agreement. 

He says:

On whether Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will endanger the NHS, I'm pleased to report that the European Commission has confirmed that TTIP specifically exempts public services like health, and won't require any EU country to open up their national health systems to private providers. A letter from the EU trade Commissioner, Celia Malstrom, to the former UK Trade Minister, Lord Livingston, confirming this is published here: 

This document seems to agree:

To be clear, the effects of the EU's approach to public health services in trade agreements such as TTIP are that: 
• Member States do not have to open public health services to competition from private providers, nor do they have to outsource services to private providers

This of course assumes that the NHS will remain public. That's the elephant in the room: we all know the Tories are hell for leather intent on privatising as much as possible - and this now includes the wholesale academisation of the school system as announced in the budget. So while public services may be exempt, there's no guarantee those services will remain public. Furthermore the comment from Celia Malstrom says that member states can still choose to open up public health services. Given that it's highly likely the Tories will, even if the NHS remains public, they will still allow TTIP to screw with it.

He continues:

 In spite of all the political rhetoric about competition and privatisation, almost every GP practice in the country has been a private, profit-making company (or partnership) since the NHS was first created back in 1948. Of course (and rightly) no-one suggests they should be excluded from the NHS as a result; in fact GP practices are usually held to be one of the crown jewels in British healthcare.

He assumes I want GP practices to be private and profit making. I don't.


So I'm happy to say the e-mail you've been asked to send me is basically wrong (and rather party political too, I'm afraid). And I fear it shows that 38 degrees' claims to be an apolitical organisation are pretty silly - from all the emails I've received so far, their briefings to their members are frequently one-sided, and overwhelmingly left-wing, even if they aren't officially affiliated with any specific political party. I suppose it just proves the old saying, that we can't believe everything we read in the papers - or, nowadays, on the internet either!

No, sir, it's not wrong. You've just put a spin on it that suits your party's agenda; thus it's pretty ironic to make accusations of bias. I've made no claims as to whether 38Degrees are non-partisan. In fact I don't want them to be; I want them to oppose your politics (and you are hardly non-partisan either) from a strong ideological centre, just like me - that's why I agree with them!

So yes, I'm non-partisan. I'm not interested in a facile notion of 'balance'. I want you, your party, and your politics, gone. Balance only exists in the feeble minds of media pundits who seem to think that discussions about important issues can be reduced to a 1v1 discussion, regardless of the strength of evidence on either side.


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