Avaaz, 38 degrees, Care2… We British love a good petition. We can save the forests, halt Rupert Murdoch in his dark and dirty tracks. If enough of us get involved, heck, we could even save the NHS! Couldn’t we? Dr Kailash Chand’s petition to ‘drop the health bill’ currently stands at 151,565, surpassing the 100k mark backbenchers need in order to discuss the will of the people. By a long shot. The people have spoken, it would seem. The NHS is saved! Isn’t it?
Mark Donne wrote an enlightening piece for the Independent in which he explains that our collective voice has been given a platform that is not all we perceive it be. ‘Clicktivism’, signing a petition, hashtagging, is holding us back and merely “provide an extremely convenient holding centre for disgruntled or livid voters. Most are unable or just too busy/ exhausted/lazy to attend a demonstration or occupation, but click here, “like” this and you have resisted: you (and the forces you oppose) can sleep at night.”
A ruse to divert us away from actually acting. As a nation, we’ve been forced to subscribe to this method of activism because we have seen what happens when we do vote with our feet. Armed police on horses charge into crowds full of children, politicians strike up dialogue calling for water-boarding and rubber bullets and people get beaten and detained, their identities embedded into systems that will hold them for however long the establishment deem fit. We live in a tyrannical state.
When the Prime Minister of this country holds a summit to discuss NHS ‘reform’ and how these changes affect GPs yet refuses to invite said GPs, he is making a statement that the matter is not open for discussion. Why haven’t the BMA and Royal College of General Practitioners been asked to attend? Could it be because they oppose the bill and fear that rather than reforming the NHS, they are in fact destroying it? So PM Cameron is actively denying a voice to anyone that might object to his make-the-Tories-even-richer-by-going-private scheme. When a number of Lords and MPs look to benefit personally from us all going private, it makes it all the more sinister.
A selection for your perusal:
- The former Conservative Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley is a Director of BUPA, the health insurance, private hospital and care group.
- Baroness Cumberlege of Newick, Former Tory health minister, runs Cumberlege Connections, a political networking firm that works “extensively” with the pharmaceutical industry
- Baron Newton of Braintree – Advisor to Oasis Healthcare on dentistry and general healthcare matters.
- Lord Ballyedmond – Chairman of pharmaceutical company Norbrook Laboratories.
- Lord Bell – Chairman of Chime Communications group, whose lobbying clients include Southern Cross, BT Health and AstraZeneca. Tim Bell has a conviction for ‘wilfuly, openly and obscenely’ exposing himself ‘with intent to insult a female’ under Section 4 of the 1824 Vagrancy Act.
- David Cameron – Nursing and care home tycoon Dolar Popat has given the Conservatives £209,000. The Ugandan-born dad-of-three has amassed an estimated £42million fortune as founder and chief of TLC Group, which provides services for the elderly. Mr Cameron made the businessman a peer shortly after entering No10 last May, and Lord Popat’s donations include a £25,000 gift registered a week after the Tories’ health reforms were unveiled last July.
(For a comprehensive list of MPs and Lords set to financially gain from the dismantling of the NHS, please visit http://socialinvestigations.blogspot.com/2012/02/nhs-privatisation-compilation-of.html)
With all of this going on right under our noses, we have a right to be angry. We have the democratic right to protest, apparently we live in a ‘democracy’. Mark Donne agrees, posing the question to Noam Chomsky “what he thought the outcome would have been if the nearly 500,000 who have signed a yet-to-be presented petition against the privatisation of the NHS had joined the other 3,000 in occupying Westminster Bridge in late October.” Noam simply replied, “You would have no bill”.
Although petitions are proving to be entirely useless, history will remember we opposed this bill in our hundreds and thousands. To ensure an outcome, we need a million (wo)man march. Somehow we must fight back against the scare tactics employed to silence us. Disgruntled citizens the world over are saying enough is enough, organising marches, rallying, making their governments fear them and the will of the people.
Why do we remain so afraid of ours?