Recent Articles

Does Comic Relief tackle poverty?

by Ellie Mae     March 17, 2011 at 9:00 am

Brazilian archbishop, Dom Helder Camara, famously said, ‘when I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.’ It’s an interesting quote, and one that I am often reminded of when watching Comic Relief: a phenomenon that is astoundingly good at doing the former, without doing the latter. continue reading… »

Despite his politics, Aaron Porter does not deserve the harassment

by Ellie Mae     February 17, 2011 at 9:20 am

Let’s remind ourselves of the catalogue of disappointments commonly known as Aaron Porter’s career as NUS president.

He failed to support union members facing legal action, he opposed most demonstrations his members wanted to hold, and yesterday it transpired that he allegedly praised the changes to higher education tuition fees as ‘progressive.’

So far, so contemptible. It’s little wonder a motion of no-confidence was raised against the NUS’s El Presidente, and quite right too.
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Why I u-turned and joined the Labour party

by Ellie Mae     February 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Yesterday morning I got into a Twitter exchange with Ed Miliband (or the cyborg that controls his account), in which I declared I would never again be able to trust the Labour Party.

By the evening, I had joined. Given the scale of my U-turn, I should fit in well. So, what gives? I hear you ask.

What indeed. Well, in short, it was a pub conversation with a couple of Labourites. After a few hours of deliberating, I made a beer-fuelled acknowledgement that, in the last six months, my priorities have changed.
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David Cameron on the NHS – in his own words

by Ellie Mae     January 18, 2011 at 8:55 am

Following Cameron’s lovely foray onto BBC Radio 4’s today, in which he waxed lyrical about the NHS; I thought I’d share some choice quotes with you, dear reader:

I believe the creation of the NHS is one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. I always believed this.
David Cameron, 2006

Our PM was moved to utter the above during a party conference speech in 2006.
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Why the BBC and Charlie Brooker are wrong over Eastenders

by Ellie Mae     January 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm

For those of you that don’t follow life in Albert Square: a controversy has engulfed Eastenders’ baby swap story. It focuses upon the eternally tragic Ronnie Branning (neé Mitchell), and the loss of her newborn son to cot death.

After discovering her son, a grief-stricken and confused Ronnie wandered into the Vic and swapped him for Alfie and Kat’s baby. Since then, Ronnie has become increasingly irrational and paranoid as she attempts to keep her actions secret, whilst Alfie and Kat have been grieving for the child they believe to have died.

Charlie Brooker used his column in yesterday’s Guardian to dismiss the controversy and the 6,000 complaints it has elicited.
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My predictions for 2011

by Ellie Mae     December 26, 2010 at 3:33 pm

2010 will most likely be remembered as the year we all looked at each other and said, ‘you mean people still vote Conservative?’

But what of 2011? What thrills and spills are to come? Here are a few of my predictions. Why not read them and offer a few of your own?
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The true horror of NHS privatisation is slowly coming out

by Ellie Mae     December 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm

It seems the BBC has started to cotton on to what those of us on the left have known for a while: that there will be no dancing in the streets when the NHS is finally liberated from something-or-other.

Au contraire: the NHS reforms are likely to be shambolic at best; damaging at worst.

A news story focuses on the Commons Health Select Committee’s response to the obligation of the NHS to make 4% savings year on year for four years, as outlined in Lansley’s white paper.
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Why the Facebook campaign on child abuse is misguided

by Ellie Mae     December 6, 2010 at 11:20 am

Nothing quite brings out my more miserly and rancorous qualities like a Facebook campaign. And the ‘cartoon character’ campaign is no exception.

For those of you yet to have the displeasure, the campaign asks Facebook users to change their profile picture to a cartoon character in order to prevent child abuse. Or raise awareness about child abuse. Or just remind us that ‘abusing kids is bad LOLZ!’

I wasn’t clear on the detail.
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Will Conservatives u-turn on NHS reforms too?

by Ellie Mae     December 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm

It was back to the drawing board for the Department of Health this week; as party policy extraordinaire Oliver Letwin was brought in to scrutinise Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms.

Given that Letwin once declared he would ‘give his right arm‘ to send his children to private school, it seems unlikely he’ll take much issue with the looming prospect of privatisation: his concern is more to do with Lansley’s apparent inability to explain how his reforms will be implemented.
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Worried about NHS being privatised? You should be

by Ellie Mae     November 30, 2010 at 10:30 am

When Tony Benn was asked how the public would respond to the NHS being privatised, he replied “there would be a revolution.

He was right. But the government, despite some of its more absurd recent decisions, is not so stupid. Lansley, Cameron et al know that you don’t privatise the NHS: you liberate here, you outsource there, until the groundwork is laid to such an extent that one of the biggest milestones of privatisation can be reached, and it is barely reported at all.

This week, Hinchingbrooke NHS Hospital in Cambridgeshire was almost completely taken over by Circle Health, the biggest private healthcare operator in the EU, in what the CBI unnervingly called a “trailblazing deal”, and what the BMA more bluntly said was “an untested and potentially worrying experiment.

The decision represents the most significant step ever towards privatisating the NHS, and was described by the Financial Times’ Public Policy Editor as “an historic moment.”

Circle Health, in case you’re wondering, is a partnership (like John Lewis) which is managed, delightfully, by a former Goldman Sachs investment banker named Ali Parsa. The deal with Hinchingbrooke has been given a dose of PR, with press releases emphasising that Circle is ‘employee-owned.

But Circle is far from a socialist utopia: half of the company is owned by private investors, including Blackrock – an asset management firm owned by the most well-paid CEO on Wall Street and famous for its lucrative hoovering up of the casualties of the 2008 financial crisis.

Make no mistake: Circle Health is a corporation at its mercenary best, with designs on expanding the UK’s private healthcare industry, and wooing the UK’s healthcare professionals away from the NHS. Andrew Lansley’s decision to give GPs control of 80% of their funding resonates harmoniously with Circle Health’s business practices, in which doctors are awarded shares in return for sending patients to Circle hospitals.

Such an alluring carrot would surely result in doctors prioritising private healthcare, not least because once they are given shares in Circle they would have a vested interest in the company’s profit margins.

It is slowly becoming clear is what a goldmine the NHS is, as more and more corporations emerge from the woodwork to siphon a bit off for themselves.

Reactions to Lansley’s NHS reforms were mixed at best, but it was private healthcare giant, Humana, whose charmless statement shed the most light on who the real beneficiaries will be. A spokesman for the company, which was once described by a whistleblower as “inherently unethical,” said: “are we optimistic? You bet we are.

The rest of us, I suspect, should be feeling apprehensive.

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