Don’t trust the news on the NHS

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

nhs-image

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

Bem Bulletin #4: February 2015 -We Don’t Live In A Democracy Special, starring Lord Fink, Peter Oborne, Jack Straw, Malcolm Rikfind and Capitalism

democracyThis month: we wrote something outlining what for the moment we’re calling Modern Socialism, an attempt at a non-dogmatic, ecologically-sound twenty-first century redefinition of radical Left politics. It’s really what this blog was started for, and it only took us four years to finally get round to it. And that’s about it, because we spent most of February helping someone recover from major heart surgery, so here’s a list of fairly recent posts for you to peruse instead.

Fantasy fascism: how to enjoy action films, despite the politics

Podemos and pragmatic radicalism

Bemolutionary Mix-Tape 2014

Doing It For The Kids: The environment, the future, and whether they have one

The NHS in ‘The Apprentice’ society

That said, given that it’s been such a glorious month for British democracy, we still found the time for an extra-specially long Bem Bulletin to celebrate.

Music: Jimmy Witherspoon & Robben Ford; Paco de Lucia (on the first anniversary of his death) with John McLaughlin


In this month’s Bem Bulletin:

  1. Tax Avoidance for Everyone
  2. Peter Oborne and the Corporate Media
  3. Cash for Access
  4. Taking Liberties
  5. I Married ISIS

Continue reading

Digested: The All-Important Context Missing From Israel-Palestine Coverage

palestine israel

The Bemolution tends to leave conventional foreign policy alone. There are enough left-wingers banging on about it already, and we prefer to go after more neglected areas – particularly humanitarian disasters, African and Asian poverty and the like.

Occasionally, though, we get drawn in when there’s an issue we think is important and not being explained clearly enough, leaving people at the mercy of the often rubbish TV news. It was only a matter of time before we got round to Israel-Palestine.

Watch the telly coverage of the situation in Gaza and you’re left with the impression that it’s one of the most bafflingly complex geopolitical conflicts of the modern age. But it can be made blissfully simple to understand without all that much effort.

It’s a situation inextricably tied up with race and ethnicity. You can’t take them out of the equation completely. But you can ignore these subtleties, just for a bit, to get a better, clearer picture of what’s actually going on. Continue reading

Gaza-Ukraine: Doing The Western Hypocrisy Rag

Missile strike on Gaza

Israeli missile strike on Gaza

People picking through the wreckage of flight MH17

People picking through the wreckage of flight MH17

Last week, by grisly coincidence, two horrible tragedies occurred at once.

One saw a packed passenger jet shot out of the sky over rural Ukraine, probably by Moscow-armed pro-Russian separatists. 298 people were killed, 30 of them children. The other saw a defenceless slum-city the size of the Isle of White, already half-flattened by weeks of aerial bombardment, invaded by one of the most technologically advanced armies in the world. Even before Israeli troops entered Gaza, their air offensive had already killed 259 people, 39 of them children, and injured nearly two thousand.

Then ‘the West’ responded. The reaction, from senior politicians and the media mainstream, would be shocking, mad, morally baffling if we hadn’t seen it all before. Continue reading

“No Money Left” Says BBC

George Osborne and Ed Balls

George Osborne and Ed Balls

During a recent news item on George Osborne’s budget, a chirpy BBC correspondent did one of those smug pieces to camera about the ‘challenges’ facing the Chancellor and his Labour opposite number in the run-up to next year’s general election.

The biggest of all, Mr Reporter glibly declared, was they had to try and win over sceptical voters without being able to give them anything in return. Tax cuts, more health and education spending – they were all out of the question, because, broadcaster man stated like it was the most obvious thing in the world, ‘there’s no money left for big giveaways’.

It’s the message you get from practically all telly pundits nowadays. They blankly trot out the Coalition’s economic narrative as if it’s indisputable truth. Worryingly many probably believe it themselves. After all, it’s the line taken by governments all over the world, and if enough important-looking people in suits say something often enough, it’s quite easy to be duped into thinking it’s true if you’re not an especially questioning human being. Continue reading

Teach First Isn’t Very Good, And Neither Is Rampant Neoliberalism

The 'Tough Young Teachers', posing ridiculously

The ‘Tough Young Teachers’, posing ridiculously

The Bemolution has largely given up watching TV because most of it’s rubbish, but we’re informed by persevering telly-watchers that there’s a programme on about Teach First.

Teach First is a government initiative designed to encourage ‘high-flying’ university leavers to have a go at teaching before they join one of the more conventional graduate employers. Its stated aims are reasonably well-meaning. ‘Top’ graduates rarely go into education, the logic runs. They’ll go to into banking, PR, marketing and the like, but for some reason consistently dodge anything socially useful. If that excellence could be harnessed and directed at educating some of the most disadvantaged people in the country, perhaps it could strike a resounding blow against social inequality.

Successful applicants are put through six weeks training then sent off to work in a school for two years – almost always one in a heavily deprived part of the country. They get a nominated mentor, a fellow teacher at the school, and various other forms of support from Teach First itself, but in the classroom they’re very much on their own. And it’s here, apparently, that the BBC’s Tough Young Teachers looms in to follow the progress of six new Teach Firsters.

Someone who’s watched it told us that the featured newbies were posh and useless. That’s probably unfair, and/or a massive over-generalisation. And if it isn’t, you can hardly blame rich, socially segregated graduates who aren’t much more than kids themselves for being bad teachers when they’re parachuted into the toughest schools in the country after a month or so of PowerPoint presentations. Continue reading

Bieber Capitalism

Our Justin

Our Justin

Spare a thought for poor, exploited, squeaky commodity-man Justin Bieber

As much as the Bemolution tries to brick itself off from the worst bits of mainstream culture, it’s not managed to escape the Biebergeddon entirely unruffled. This is largely down to a wearisome internet cliché. Watch practically any music video on YouTube, especially anything vaguely alternative, and you’ll find one if not several commenters lamenting that while nobody’s heard of their favourite chanteuse, song-smith or rocking teenage combo, Justin Bieber is fanatically adored by millions.

That’s how we came to know of Justin Bieber’s existence – watching angst-riddled web-surfers competing to see how much bile they can rain down on a probably very decent, albeit now emotionally-squashed teenage boy who makes shit modern pop records. Continue reading