Don’t trust the news on the NHS

The media side-lines, belittles and, often, entirely ignores the real reasons behind the healthcare crisis

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For ample evidence that the telly news remains the principal truth-distorting organ of our hell-in-a-hand-cart neoliberal dystopia, look no further than how it covers the NHS.

The health service is facing the biggest crisis in its history. A&E waiting times are the longest in 13 years. Cancer operations are being cancelled through lack of beds. More than 20 NHS Trusts have declared they can’t cope with overwhelming patient numbers. The social care system is on the brink. Mental health provision was already pretty dire. Now, for thousands of patients, it’s virtually non-existent.

The explanation you hear on the news exactly echoes the litany of distractions and excuses issued by the government. It’s down to fat people, old people, bed-blockers, foreign health tourists, and the worried well. In other words, just about everyone except the real culprits. Continue reading “Don’t trust the news on the NHS”

The Corbyn movement is obsessed with an election it can’t win

Next election-ism is the biggest threat to radical Labour

The charge most often thrown the Corbynistas’ way is that they don’t want to win elections. They’re supposedly fixated on ideological purity at the expense of getting into government.

But go to a Momentum event or a New Model Labour Party meeting, and you’ll find the opposite is true. Corbyn supporters are obsessed with winning in 2020, on the whole — to an extent that’s setting themselves, and socialism’s best chance in decades, up for a massive, quite possibly catastrophic fall.

The Westminster-Whitehall establishment is radicalism-proof. That was the case pre-Corbyn. That’s still the case now. Our electoral system pivots around affluent, individualistic, quintessentially neoliberal middle-class voters living in a few strategically important swing seats. The opinion-shaping machinery of the corporate mass media strictly enforces a neoliberal default worldview and seeks and destroys anything that opposes it. And what that means in practice is that it’s now staggeringly unlikely that anyone or anything worth voting for will a General Election in the foreseeable future. Even bland old Ed Miliband’s chances were crushed over five years of sustained belittlement, misrepresentation and ritual humiliation. Continue reading “The Corbyn movement is obsessed with an election it can’t win”

2016 was terrible – but not for the reasons you think

For billions of human beings, Brexit, Trump and dead celebrities are the least of their worries

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That viral Sgt Pepper’s 2016 picture that’s since had to be updated about twelve times

A year that started with the death of David Bowie and ended with Donald Trump as President Elect was never going to go down well. The ‘curse of 2016’ narrative surfaced early. Famous faces were kicking the bucket by the busload. Fascist-looking right-wing populism was on the rise. By now, as people look back on Trump, Brexit and a frankly surreal procession of celebrity deaths, talk of that ‘curse’ has hardened into a more blunt and straight to the point social media catchphrase — ‘fuck 2016’.

What it proves, more than anything, is our catastrophic insularity — our short-sightedness, our fixation with the trivial, and our profound detachment from suffering elsewhere in the world. Is it a shame some talented people have died? Yes. Is it terrible that far-right rhetoric is winning elections. Yes. Continue reading “2016 was terrible – but not for the reasons you think”

Why the Left ignores the global poor

For all their compassion, left-wingers are silent on the most crushing injustice of all

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Millions of people are dying, and you’re doing nothing about it. You could do – we all could. If enough of us did, every one of those deaths would stop. But you don’t. We don’t. And, as a result, in the next few years, hundreds of millions of people will die – of causes we could easily prevent.

Poverty is the single greatest crime one bit of humanity currently inflicts on another. It obliterates any claim we have to living in a civilised society. At very least, it accounts for a third of human deaths – 50,000 a day, 18 million a year, and, conservatively estimated, 400 million since 1990. Add up all those killed in all the wars of the twentieth century, and you’ll get a death toll half that number.

And yet we ignore it. Our ignorance and apathy subjects hundreds of millions to a level of human suffering that trivialises everything else. But when I say ‘we’, I don’t just mean catastrophically shallow, short-sighted, inward-looking, triviality obsessed modern society in general. I also mean the Left. Continue reading “Why the Left ignores the global poor”

Mindfulness for far-left miserablists

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As you’ve probably noticed, the world is phenomenally bad at the moment. The future’s not looking especially rosy for civilisation.

Then again, that’s been the case for a long time – and the fact that liberal metropolitans are wigging out so spectacularly over the (admittedly rubbish) news re the American Presidency shows just how detached people are from looming ecological disaster, immense, inexpressible suffering in developing countries, et cetera, et cetera, et cereta. But I digress.

Strange/stressful/horrible are these times in which we live. And, in order to 1) survive the mental ordeal of living through them, and 2) be as effective as we can be when it comes to trying to make them better, we have to take care of ourselves. Continue reading “Mindfulness for far-left miserablists”