Red Rain

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Peter Gabriel and Red Rain.

Red Rain by Brian Paget on Flickr.

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Red Rain

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Our MP wants to save the NHS

Over at the Shields Gazette, South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck slaps herself on the back for courageously voting for whatever lobby fodder are told to vote for. And what could be more core Labour voter friendly than a soft soap early day motion that makes all the right NHS noises?

The Tories and Lib Dems may be holding the axe to the neck of the NHS, but Labour brought it to its knees. Before the Tory reorganisation, Labour saddled the NHS with its very own reorganisation, the Private Finance Initiative. PFI has landed NHS trusts with decades long debts worth billions. On top of that, Labour obligated trusts to offer services to private providers, even if the NHS services were better value for money. Even without the Con-Dem slashing, a Labour government would have meant cuts to NHS services.

Labour put profits before people.

If Labour is serious about saving the NHS, then cancellation of PFI debt must be at the top of the wish list. Next would be to put the NHS at the heart of a British constitution to stop future governments using the NHS as a political and profit football.

But it won’t happen. Labour is as wedded to dismantling public services and handing them to the circling privatisation vultures as the Tories, Lib Dems and Ukip.

Together

So the family of nations of the UK will remain together.  For now.  We have been handed an opportunity to build a new, better UK – for all of us.  Cameron’s offer of pseudo devo city regions should be ignored as a cynical attempt to silence calls for regional and national devolution under a federal government, with a model which will pit city against city, each competing for scraps from Westminster’s table.

Scotland has lead the way and the debate has shown there is a desire for a better, fairer and more representative democracy.  This isn’t the end of Scottish independence, it should be seen as an opportunity for all the parts of the UK to campaign together for more local democratic self determination.

Despite the inevitable posturing over the result, Westminster is running scared.  They know we have the power to make changes for the better.  After yesterday, we know it too.

And that’s why we need to keep them worried.

Where next?

I had prepared a blog post on what next after today’s Scottish Independence Referendum, whichever way the vote goes. But Caroline Lucas has pretty much hit the nailed it at Left Foot Forward with her open letter to the three party leaders – I recommend reading it.

Whoever wins (I hope by a significant majority) there is some optimism to take away from the campaigns in the run up to the referendum. Not from the party leaders or the celebrity political names like Sheridan and Galloway, but from people on the street engaged with their politics, other people, and their own future. If you’ve visited Scotland in the last few months you can’t have missed the Yes and No posters on walls, in house windows, on fences in fields and by the road. People have been talking to each other. True, there has been some negativity from both sides and I have witnessed naked nationalism and outright dishonesty, but in the main people have been good natured, and most importantly, positive and with a real optimism for the future.

For too long optimism has been missing from political discourse, hidden behind cynicism and the personal ambitions of lobby fodder polticians. In the referendum battle we’ve seen people take politics back into their own hands, and they’ve made their way to the polling booths in unprecedented numbers. And the politicians are scared.

I hope this optimism and drive for self determination catches on, and heads south of the border. In a country dominated by political parties that put people before profit, we’ll need it.

Good luck Scotland.

Trow Rocks rescue

Long distance shot of a Seaking helicopter on a rescue at Trow Rocks, South Shields.
Trow Rocks rescue

Morning sky

Newcastle Central Library
morning sky