Petitioners.. Lend me your ears

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.

HT @socialindepth

(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?

REFERENCES

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/mark-donne-could-a-renewed-activism-translate-into-serious-pressure-on-the-government-6256633.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/feb/19/david-cameron-nhs-summit-criticism

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8 comments

  1. I prefer to think we live in a democracy where we all have the opportunity to make change in a civilised way at the ballot box. And if the outcome of the election doesn’t go our way it just means lots of other people don’t agree with our view and who we want to run the country. In them circumstances I petition and campaign and hope that next time around more people will see my point of view and vote accordingly.

    What I don’t do is try and force my views on other people by violence or disruption. That would be so undemocratic it’s almost fascist. ‘The will of the people’ is at election time and fighting back is what bullies do when they don’t get their own way. .

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    1. Violence? No call for violence. I didn’t vote for this government and I can make them aware of that. People that did vote for this government were reassured the NHS would remain untouched.. They lied. We have the right to protest in a democracy.

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    2. You have a lot of faith in the ballot box. It is not as if the NHS privatisation ‘reforms’ were put to the people, and in fact statements of another kind were made. It is not as if the vast majority of the voting people of this country voted for the party that is trying to force the bill through either. In addition, your claim that somebody suggesting a protest is a fascist action is pathetic, and what violence? Protest is a vital part of any democracy, and if I so choose, I will participate.

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    3. It is all very well reacting through the ballot box. But when the NHS has been destroyed therecwill be no getting it back.

      A march would send a clear message of thecview of people

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  2. Politicians promise one thing before going to the ballot box and then do the complete opposite when they get there. That’s why people have to stand up for what’s right through petitioning/protesting!

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  3. “I didn’t vote for this government and I can make them aware of that”

    Of course we all have a right to protest. I exercise mine at election time. I had to suffer many years of nasty Labour but never went out to scream about my dislike for them on the streets. There are far more intelligent ways – and at the end of the day, Labour were elected under a long-standing democratic process so I lived with it. It’s the only way to get things done. Peaceful protest doesn’t work, although I concede violent protest evidently does, but that’s just childishness when people resort to smashing the place up because they can’t get their own way. It’s simply undemocratic to suggest that when an election doesn’t go our way we should try and overturn the will of the people by protesting until the elected government alters their policies to suit us.

    “People that did vote for this government were reassured the NHS would remain untouched”

    That’s not true. Both Labour and Conservatives talked about Involving the private sector in the NHS. Indeed it was certainly something Blair embraced and it’s continued since. Furthermore, it was actually the Labour Party which initiated the very first privatisation of an NHS hospital (Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire).

    “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”

    A survey on BBC 5Live this morning concluded 58% don’t even know what the health bill actually involved. Says it all really.

    The democratic process gave us a coalition government, I think it’s fair and reasonable to suggest if you don’t like it you try and persuade other people to change their voting habits based on fact and reason as opposed to trying to change what that democratically elected government does to something an unpopular, unelected one would have done.

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  4. “A survey on BBC 5Live this morning concluded 58% don’t even know what the health bill actually involved. Says it all really.”

    When the mainstream news has a blackout on all NHS related news, it is any surprise the public haven’t a clue? Where was the coverage on BBC news programmes, Newsnight, Question Time? And it’s not like the government are spelling out for the average Joe just what the bill means. Reform! They really should stop calling it that.

    When Lords and MPs are set to financially gain from Britain going private, haven’t we the right to question whether that should be allowed? Do I need to point out why it is so so wrong?

    Also, it’s irksome when Tories resort to pointing the finger at Labour, “they started it!” I’m not a Labour supporter. I don’t care who started it, they’re both going to bed without supper.

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