What MPs get paid for. Self interest it seems!

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My good friend John Fryer sent me this and I’ve shared it widely. It seems as if those I’ve sent it to are doing the same! It’s unbelievable that the House of Commons is virtually empty when considering the issues for debate: war in Afghanistan, child sex abuse, knife crime prevention, drug laws, impact of welfare reforms on the sick and disabled, a living wage, recognition of Palestine (the nest attended of this group), tenancy reform and schooling for Syrian refugees. Yet when it comes to debating MPs’ pay and expenses there is overflow.

What then do we elect representatives to Parliament for? The question of leadership jumps into my mind. If it is effective then would you expect this to happen.

Perhaps Parliament practices and procedures are already set out so when the new member enters the place for the first time expectations of an outmoded tradition which has lasted hundreds of years takes them over. Dave Nellist spoke of his experience when he was offered directorships of companies for himself and family and friends maybe. We see the revolving door in operation, the lobbyists that one David Cameron, vowed to tackle. No Dave, you don’t change the system and those upholding it: they change you!!!

As far as involving Britain in wars MPs have come to understand they don’t have a role to play. It became abundantly clear after war in Iraq was put into motion that what anybody thought other than the “leadership” meant diddly squat.

Hansard gives detailed reports of debates. This one on child sex abuse took place on 27th November, 2014.

Improving access to appropriate mental health services for BME communities

Unit for a syllabus: Improving access to appropriate mental health services for BME communities

Year 3 Report of “If only we were told…” Project

Sikh Community & Youth Service (UK)
Information Advice & Gu
idance Centre
Serving All Communities
(Charity No. 518946)
75 Holyhead Road, Handsworth
Birmingham, B21 0LG, UK
Tel : 0044 (0)121-523-0147
Website : www.scysuk.info

Section 1

Year 3 of Project update 2013-2014

1.
1.1 Decision to provide a Unit resulted from discussions with staff of University Departments and Colleges offering courses in Mental Health say that syllabuses already exist for their purposes. Birmingham City University exemplify City and Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Community Mental Health (for people aged 18-65 years) (ref 3056-31). Earlier on in this Project a member of staff from the Metropolitan College, Birmingham, had indicated that they would find a Unit addressed to the issue of use to them.

1.2 Although there are existing syllabi addressing Community Mental Health knowledge and understanding of issues such as “cultural competence” are assumed. Evidence cited below shows that there is little coherence in the concept although ideas are emerging. On the other hand it is evident that inequalities persist in mental health provision. “No Health Without Mental Health” was the flagship of the coalition government’s approach when they claimed that mental health would be given parity of esteem with physical health. A recent report states that while mental health problems are set to exceed those of physical health adding that their effects are more debilitating and cost the economy huge sums many are getting no treatment.

“only a quarter of all those with mental illness are in treatment, compared with the vast majority of those with physical conditions. It is a real scandal that we have 6,000,000 people with depression or crippling anxiety conditions and 700,000 children withproblem behaviours, anxiety or depression. Yet three quarters of each group get no treatment. One main reason is clear: NHS commissioners have failed to commission properly the mental health services that NICE recommend. The purpose of this paper is to mend this injustice, by pressing for quite new priorities in commissioning. This might seem the worst possible moment to do this, but that is wrong……This is mainly because the costs of psychological therapy are low and recovery rates are high. A half of all patients with anxiety conditions will recover, mostly permanently, after ten sessions of treatment on average. And a half of those with depression will recover, with a much diminished risk of relapse. Doctors normally measure the effectiveness of a treatment by the number of people who have to be treated in order to achieve one successful outcome. For depression and anxiety the Number Needed to Treat is under 3. In the government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme, outcomes are measured more carefully than in most of the NHS, and success rates are much higher than with very many physical conditions.”

How Mental Illness loses out in the NHS, LSE pp1,2 2012.

1.3 The provision of IAPT needs to be coupled with the assurance that it will be available for all across language and culture so that practitioners are able to be culturally competent. An IAPT document spells out the principles but no guidance is given on how this is to be addressed practically.

1.4 This year there have been some key conferences addressing BME mental health.

1.4 (i) The Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health services for people from bme communities report was launched at the Botanical Gardens, Edgbaston, Birmingham. Launch attended.

1.4 (ii) Birmingham City Council put together a working party and produced a document: Mental Health: Working in Partnership with Criminal Justice Agencies. (Download). This provides a protocol where agencies work together to ensure that vulnerable people are taken to a place of safety rather than end up in a police cell. In the African Caribbean community individuals disproportionally end up receiving coercive treatment for mental health problems. Meetings attended and input made.

1.4 (iii) Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust launched a project “300 Voices” aimed once again at African Caribbean men. This looks like a replay of actions taken following the David Bennett Report 10 years ago. Could it be that this is reinforcing stereotypical views by focussing on inedividuals rather than the agencies where there is lack of understanding leading to misdiagnoses. It may be that it is institutions and practitioners that need to change their practices. Meetings attended and input made.

1.5 My personal experience of applying cultural competence to cases is very disappointing given the high claims made. Staff appear to be tasked with severe budget reductions and have little time or inclination to get involved in furthering measures to combat inequality. Cultural competence appears to be a remote concept to many staff with much indifference and denial of need. This reflects the situation described in the Francis Report on Staffordshire Hospital and the Winterbourne View account of care practice.

Section 2

Rationale for the Unit

2.1 This additional separate Unit encompasses principles and actions governing other Units of a mental health syllabus. In this case reference is made to the City and Guilds (C & G) Certificate in Community Mental Health (for people aged 18 to 65 years) levels 2/3. The soundness of what is in the syllabus is not questioned, rather it is intended to add a dimension addressed at dealing with diversity which may well be implied but evidence shows cannot be taken as read.

2.2 The Philosophy underpinning the C & G syllabus states:
(6.3 Philosophy) “The content of the Certificate is underpinned by the philosophy that to provide effective mental health services, practitioners at all levels need to understand the service user’s perspective. They should respect diversity and deliver appropriate individualised responses to meet the needs of service users. Effective practice is centred on the user and recognises and values the experience and insight of the service user in respect of his or her own mental health. Workers should enable and empower service users to enhance the overall quality of their lives, and should promote partnerships that service users find helpful.”

2.3 Background. The David “Rocky” Bennett Report (2004) made findings and recommendations which were taken up by the Delivering Race Equality (DRE) agenda and the Count Me In annual statistics for much of the next decade. Inequality and injustice was to be given added weight and media coverage with the publication of the McPherson Report on Stephen Lawrence.

2.4 The effects of “Race” and “Racism” and on individuals are still hotly debated .Diverse views range from the denial that they have an effect to the belief that experiences are integral to the lives of individuals. As shown in the reports on Bennett and Lawrence they may have a profound effect on the individual’s mental health. Denial of such experiences by professionals lead to misdiagnoses. The incidence of schizophrenia diagnosed for African Caribbean men for example is 6 times higher in the UK than anywhere else, including Caribbean islands. David Bennett’s experience is just one example where the Report itself questions whether the “schizophrenia” was a medical condition he suffered from, or a either a misdiagnosis of a condition brought on by the use of Cannabis. It is clear that Bennett had to deal with racial abuse in the description of events leading to his death. He had deal with a level of provocation that could seriously affect anyone.

2.5 During the next 10 years there have been many repetitions of David Bennett’s experience when African Caribbean men have died in custody. Disturbingly there is little sign that his report had made an impact on those dealing with such cases. Regrettably deaths in custody and violence to individuals have continued since the Bennett Report. Deaths of Mikey Powell and Kingsley Burrell, both African Caribbean men, in Birmingham following police intervention have been followed by prolonged periods where families have been left in the dark about what happened, all reminiscent of Bennett’s death. There have been many other examples across the country. While Mikey was known to have a history of mental health problems before the highly inappropriate police involvement Kingsley Burrell did not until he was taken into custody at the Mary Seacole Centre in Winson Green and sectioned under the mental health act.

2.6 A characteristic of the decade following Bennett that the focus remains on the African Caribbean community. This has lead to the ignoring of trends in mental health in other communities, some of which may share similar experiences to the African Caribbean.The work of such authorities as Sashidharan, Bhui and Swaran Singh has shown that their are considerable anxieties in South Asian communities. The earlier SCYS “Talk to Us Project” showed that many others shared these anxieties and faced problems in accessing appropriate mental health services.

2.7 Misdiagnosis. The term “schizophrenia” is associated particularly with African Caribbean men. The question is raised in the Bennett report whether he was misdiagnosed as a result of stereotypical views held by clinicians. A report from the US asks questions. This is an experience shared by many in BME communities.

“Racialized experiences have long been linked with the mental health and illness of Black people (See Fanon, 1952; Grier & Cobbs, 1968; Pierce, 1970). At the same time, integration of non-White minorities into majority White populations (a common feature of multiracial societies) arguably results in an increase in racialized experiences, and exposure to White racism. Of particular interest is the case of the UK, a country where the integration and assimilation of the Black population is particularly intense. This paper considers the role of the UK racial situation in the very high rates of schizophrenia found in the UK African Caribbean population.
Schizophrenia is the most chronically disabling of all the major mental disorders and typically affects only one percent of any given population. However, there is a six- to eighteen-fold elevated rate of diagnosed schizophrenia in the UK African-Caribbean population compared to Whites (Hickling, 2005). Moreover, the Black incidence rate of schizophrenia is higher in the UK than anywhere else in the world (Cochrane & Sashidharan, 1996).
The issue of extremely high rates of schizophrenia in African-Caribbeans in the UK has been a topic of interest to British scholars since the 1960s. However, much of the British research has been criticized with regard to its preoccupation with biological explanations for this issue (See Sashidharan, 2001). Indeed, it is only recently that sociological factors have been given recognition with regard to the dynamics of ethnic schizophrenia in the UK (See Boydellet al., 2001, Mallett, Leff, Bhugra, Pang & Zhao, 2002; Whitley, Prince, McKenzie & Stewart, 2006). In 2001, Boydell et al. demonstrated that the incidence of schizophrenia in non-White ethnic minorities in London was higher when they constituted a smaller proportion of the local population, indicating that social factors were having an influence on the elevated rate of diagnosed schizophrenia. Additionally, in 2002, Mallett et al. found that the rates of schizophrenia among African-Caribbeans in London were significantly higher than those in Trinidad and Barbados, again suggesting that social factors played a key role in the Black incidence rate of schizophrenia. In a similar vein, Whitley et al. (2006) demonstrated that mental illness was greater among minorities in areas where they comprised a smaller proportion of the population.
While the above research studies indicate a willingness to consider how society may play a role in ethnic schizophrenia, there is a lack of discussion on how “racialized experiences” could be influencing the elevated rates of diagnosed schizophrenia. For example, while Mallet et al’s (2002) study draws attention to the importance of social factors in the high rates of schizophrenia in African-Caribbeans in the UK, there is little reference to African-Caribbeans as “racial minorities”, and the role that racism might play in the Black incidence rate of schizophrenia. While their research highlights the significance of “social disadvantage” as a cause of severe mental illness, Mallet et al. (2002) focus on issues such as unemployment, and on individuals who had been separated from one or both parents during childhood.
It is argued here that more attention needs to be given to the experience of African-Caribbeans as racial minorities with regard to this topic. As Jamaican scholar and psychiatrist, Frederick Hickling (2005) points out, the evidence regarding the Black incidence rate of schizophrenia is shifting in favor of factors of social alienation and racism experienced by Black people in the UK, and to misdiagnosis by White British psychiatrists. Hammack (2003) notes that an individual’s minority status represents an intrinsic stressor, and Bhugra & Ayonrinde (2001) draw attention to the idea that racism is likely to act as a chronic stressor, and that chronic racism may well precipitate psychiatric disorders. Moreover, it has been suggested that psychiatry as a discipline is inextricably linked with racism (See Littlewood & Lipsedge, 1982; Fernando, 1988; Sashidaran, 2001; Timimi, 2005); as such racial bias in psychiatric diagnosis might also be an important factor in the Black incidence rate of schizophrenia. For these reasons, racialized experiences (racial minority status stress, racism-induced stress, and racial bias in diagnosis) need to be seriously considered in the analysis of the elevated rate of diagnosed schizophrenia in the UK African-Caribbean population.”
Racializing Mental Illness: Understanding African-Caribbean Schizophrenia in the UK by Clare Xanthos, M.Sc., Ph.D., Senior Researcher National Center for Primary Care, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia. Abstract.

Consideration must be given to institutionally racist views and practices in psychiatry. The following article discusses this:

“Although the debate about race and psychiatry is as old as psychiatry itself, it is only in the past three decades that the psychiatric institutions and practices in this country have come under critical scrutiny for their racial bias. During this period, much has been written about the experience of Black and other ethnic minority groups within psychiatry and the tacit acknowledgement that there is a problem about race within British psychiatry appears to be shared by psychiatrists in general. There have also been many attempts in recent years to make mental health services more culturally aware and sensitive. How we provide better services for Black and other ethnic minority groups has become a service priority in many areas.
Despite the commitment by both professionals and managers to provide ethnically sensitive and culturally appropriate services the overall experience of psychiatric services by Black and South Asian people in this country remains largely negative and aversive. The disparity between ethnic minority groups and White people in service usage, service satisfaction and outcome persists with little to suggest that the situation is likely to change. In fact, there is no single aspect of contemporary psychiatric care within which Black or South Asian people are not disadvantaged.
One conclusion that we can draw from all this is that the various changes and innovations around ‘ethnically sensitive services’ have largely failed to address problems with race and psychiatry. Perhaps the practical emphasis placed on improving services for particular ethnic groups has distracted us from the more fundamental but also the more difficult task of addressing racism within psychiatry. In other words, until we begin to address racism within psychiatry, in its knowledge base, its historical and cultural roots and within its practices and procedures, we are unlikely to achieve significant progress in improving services for minority ethnic groups.”
Institutional racism in British psychiatry †S. P. Sashidharan, Professor of Community Psychiatry and Medical Director

2.8 Experiences of Asian and other BME communities. The virtually exclusive focus on mental illness on African Caribbean communities ignoring the experiences of other groups has led to increasing assertion that much need is
not being met. The “Talk to Us” Project met with representatives of many other communities each of whom spoke of problems being faced by them. Somalian and Bosnian communities included many who had experienced the trauma of wars and forced displacement. Others, including South Asians, said that what was being said about the African Caribbean community was recognisable to them, including access to appropriate mental health services. This was discussed in the second year report of the current Project “If only we were told…” (a comment made by Dr Joanna Bennett, sister of David, echoed by many since). See section 4.

2.9 The history of “cultural competence” in relation to health care is coupled with a patient-centred approach in a brief history of this in relation to health care in the US. While these aspects are also familiar in the UK it is more difficult to trace a coherent approach.

2.10 A model showing an iceberg, with matters commonly regarded as being the essence of “Cultural Competence” reveals the complex nature of the subject, with the hidden aspects affecting an individual’s understanding of life being subject to self-concept, position in family, values etc. These aspects cannot be captured within formulae since they will be particular to the individual concerned, although within a framework of the specific culture, within its traditions and histories. This has at first to be recognised if not immediately understood. Understanding can only be gained by interacting with the individual, their family and community. While here may be factors presenting problems, there are also traditional support networks existing in communities which could provide considerable help.

2.11 Kamaldeep Bhui and others examined courses promoting cultural competence in 2007 and only found few courses in North America that met their criteria. They were looking for courses which had been evaluated to show that outcomes were effective in improving competence. Bhui cites the report into the death of David “Rocky” Bennett (download) as a call for training in cultural competence for health workers, but outcomes for BME communities remain the same as before. While there appear to be many scattered attempts at making improvements funding crises have led to statutory care agencies failing to act while many voluntary organisations (some 40 documented in the earlier SCYS “Talk to Us” Project report in the West Midlands) have lost the capacity to help if not closed. This is spite of the current Government’s “No Health without Mental Health” document which recognises the persistence of serious inequality in appropriate service provision affecting BME communities.

2.12 While “Cultural Competence” is widely spoken of but in reality there is little coherence in course provision with little evidence of their effectiveness, although there are individuals in the UK who are trying to change this. At present it is necessary to look to North America for a more sustained approaches, although “Cultural Competence” courses are coming into favour in the world of business. When it comes to the imperative of profit rather than health there appears to be a greater enthusiasm to grasp principles. Is there something to learn from this?

2.13 Talking Therapies
Many people from BME communities have said that they have been unable to access key developments on mental health, including talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Governments have shown interest since early findings were that such therapies could be as effective as medication in appropriate cases. It was announced that Newham would be the place where developments would be trialled on giving access to BME communities. This was 2006-7. Newham’s current website gives information on their Talking Therapies services but it is not immediately apparent how accessible it continues to be in addressing equality. The one aspect which stand out as important in the ability to make self-referrals, a declared barrier in the past.
As with other treatments it is necessary for practitioners to be fully aware of cultural understandings relating not only to individuals but to families and community because of a key difference between nuclear and extended family practices and understanding. In the west it is usual for individuals to decide on action they take without necessarily referring to anyone else, whereas in Asian cultures, for example, actions are taken within the context of family and may impinge on relationships with a number of people, all of whom have beliefs and expectations. It is often assumed that those expectations may be negative and unhelpful, but it is wise to consider whether traditional support may be just what is needed by the individual concerned. In this respect agencies, families and communities need to work together.

A report on BME counselling in Devon is worth consulting as it appears to promote a considered approach.

2.14 What is on offer here is a unit considering factors which will act as a guide to ensuring that groups identified as receiving less favourable, or no treatment, can be directed to appropriate services that meet their needs and help their families and communities develop support networks in partnership with statutory bodies. Earlier reports “If only we were told” (Year 1) and “Cultural Competence” (Year 2) made links to many reports and articles relevant for students following this Unit. The two reports can be seen at the Project website with the warning that some of the links need updating where reports have been removed.

2.15 The Unit is modelled on City and Guilds Level 2/3 Certificate in Community Mental Health Care (for people aged 18-65 years).
Level 2:
Level 3:
The Unit however may be regarded as stand alone or be used with other courses for training, particularly with regard to Cultural Competence.

Section 3

Unit: improving access to appropriate mental health services for BME communities.
Level 2/3

Outcome 1 To consider how diversity in language, culture, ethnicity and experience vary individual and community’s concepts and understanding of mental illness.
The candidate will be able to
1. understand how the experiences of BME communities affect their lives and particularly how this can be a factor in mental illness
2. understand recommendations of key reports on those who have had poor experiences of living in Britain because of their “race” and ethnic origins eg David Bennett and Stephen Lawrence
3. consider their own beliefs and values regarding “race”. ethnicity and religion, recognising stereotypical views and ideas resulting from our colonial history
4. listen to the experiences of individuals from diverse background non-judgmentally.
Outcome 2 For providers to recognise the need for understanding the aspects of cultural competence essential for providing an appropriate service
The candidate will be able to
1. know with actions which followed for 10 years following the David Bennett Report in 2004
2. assess factors for failures to fundamentally alter the situation of intractable inequalities continuing after 10 years addressing the issues raised
3. understand the views and feelings of other members of BME communities and their ability to access appropriate and effective mental health services
4. understand what aspects of “cultural competence” need to be recognised and understood i.e. in the “iceberg model” is hidden factors which are crucial for consideration rather than superficial knowledge about different cultures

recognise why many from BME communities don’t come forward for help, or are unable to access appropriate services
Outcome 3 To assess how developing talking therapies such as CBT can be accessed by and delivered to people across languages and cultures.
The candidate will be able to
1. consider how effective talking therapies can be offered to those with different languages, cultures, religions etc.
2. take account of involving family members and communities in helping deliver support to individuals in need
3. examine cultural assumptions underlying such burgeoning remedies as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and be prepared to modify their approach
General outcome: The candidate will be able to apply principles appropriately throughout the syllabus. (City an Guilds Community Mental Health Certificate level 2/3)

A special thank and a big shout out for all the marvelous Christians of Gaza…

A MUST READ!!
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A special thank and a big shout out for all the marvelous Christians of Gaza…

We all know about the previous summer aggression on Gaza and how many Treacherous countries stood beside it, utterly and completely supporting it, financially and emotionally.. We all know also about the traumatic harrowing scenes that all saw through the media during the sudden circumstances of that brutality. And we all know as well about the very first crisis that happened with the people of the boarders, especially in the east ( Al-Shojaeya, Al-Zaitoon, Khoza`a and the boarders of Rafah) Most of those people evacuated their properties as quick as they could before facing the death. They went, with their innocence, to the schools of the UN which they sheltered in to protect their families from the madness of the enemies. And many of the refugees, especially in Al– Shojaeya and Al- Zaitoon, left their homes and suburbs and went to the churches of the Christians. Perhaps some of you would wonder and say that the writer of this piece is mad or silly in saying something all know, but the truth is that I must mention how great the people of Gaza are and let the world know who we are.

A week ago, I made a short conversation with one of the refugees, who lives in my area, about his days during the war.

-“How were you feeling when you left your home with your family?”I began the conversation,
-“Well, First of all we all have to pray to our God to bless our great precious martyrs and to pour from his glorified Mercy on them. Then we pray to God to put a quick healing on our brave injuries and to make their families patient, Ameen. When I heard the tragic bombs and when my eyes saw the flying mutilated bodies in the skies, I decided with my family to leave my dangerous home to escape from the real death. Actually, we left it and went to a UN school, but it really was not a good place to stay in especially when you have young daughters like me. The school really was so crowded as a hell. As a result, I decided to leave that school…”

-“Ohhh, so tragic, well, when did you go eventually?
-“After leaving the school, I searched and searched for another place to stay, but I failed and my feet got exhausted. Eventually and after hours, I found a church called the church of the Patriarch Provius. I did not care about it and even I was not thinking of entering it as I knew that that place just would be for praying and preaching not for staying and sheltering. My wife asked me to enter it, but I was so hesitant. I thought that the warden would refuse and reject us due to the religious goals of that church. Well, I entered it anyway after a while and then really got shocked of what I saw. There were refugees inside that church with their entire families. So I found someone not to feel alone. The owners of that church welcomed us so hardly as though we were their special guests”

-“Mashallah, and what happened then?”
-“Then they gave us a special place to stay in and six mattresses and three bottles of water. We used to get three meals per day. The basic services were really acceptable and no one of the refugees complaint about anything. The owners of that church really dealt with us as special companions even if we are Muslims. Finally I got assured about my young daughters”

-“Where the vicars and the Christians praying inside that church and where did you use to pray?”
-“Believe or not, no one from the vicars or the prayers came every Monday. They refused to pray in order to let us rest well and feel free with our stricken families. They are really generous! We as Muslims were praying inside that church and used their water to have ablution. I was really feeling that that church was like my home and even better!!”

Those are the people of Gaza. We are humans and we love each other Muslims or Christians. We are two souls dwelling to each other to hoist the fluttering flag of our Palestine.

Mohammad S Arafat (Mr. Pen)

We need Socialism in Scotland and UK not the SNP

Would Alex Salmond like to vote “NO” today? The Independent gives reasons to show that he might, except for the slight problem he is stuck with leading the “Yes” campaign.

Independence for Scotland cannot be achieved without ensuring you have sustainable and lasting resources. The promise of oil from the North Sea came and went in the twinkling of an eye after politicians promised us all a bright future. That future is now a country dogged by austerity where public institutions are closed down leaving the vulnerable without the safety net achieved to some degree by the welfare state. Capitalism has squandered it all to the benefit of the few, and a wealthy elite is enjoying the spoils while showing utter contempt for the majority. Of course the Scots are sick of this, as are we all. But Salmond’s SNP is not offering anything different. You’re hardly independent if you depend on other Capitalist dominated institutions like the EU run from Brussels or NATO. Will Rupert Murdoch save Scotland?

The British Parliament has really been shown up. When leaders of the three main parties joined together and went mob handed to Scotland who cared. UKIP might possibly appeal to nationalist sentiment but I didn’t notice Farage getting a hero’s welcome! One thing we can thank Scotland for is waking everyone else up.

The SOCIALIST LABOUR PARTY in Scotland released the following statement:

Statement by Socialist Labour Party Scotland

Scotland Needs Socialism – Not Sham Independence

A Scotland in the European Union, NATO, under the fiscal and economic jurisdiction of the Bank of England and with an unelected monarch as head of state may have gained some elements of separation after a Yes vote but what it will not be will be independent. And this is the SNP’s Plan A!

This anti-independence would deny the Scottish people through their elected parliament, without outside interference, the right to invest in …industrial regeneration, to retain the NHS as a free at the point of need public health service, to build homes for the 200,000 plus on council waiting lists or freely develop policies to tackle many of the other essential needs of the Scottish people. There would be no independence either when it comes to fishing or farming policy. And with the drive towards “fiscal and monetary union” in the EU, economic policy as well as tax, pensions and welfare benefits would all be further subject to decisions and veto from outwith Scotland.

The Socialist Labour Party in Scotland is opposed to this sham independence and advocates a NO vote. The Scottish people, as do the peoples of Wales and England, need jobs, social and welfare security and a vibrant productive economy. Working people need to know that they can rely on a National Health Service and be able to look to a future dignified life in retirement free from financial worry. Salmond’s so-called independence jeopardises these things because it will undermine the unity that built the welfare state after the second world war and open up our public services to the bureaucrats of the EU commission, the IMF and the sharks of international finance – ask the Irish, the Greeks, the Portugese, the Cypriots, the Spanish or even the Italians.

Our world remains in the grip of the greatest capitalist economic crisis in living memory and the only long term viable solution for working class people everywhere is to move in a socialist direction. To achieve that we need to build the widest possible unity of working class people – separation and division as proposed by the SNP and their confused, red tartanites and MacTrotskyite acolytes undermines this and would be a backward step.

SLP Scotland say No to the EU, No to NATO, No to the monarchy and No to tax cuts for the big corporations.

Vote No on 18th September.

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Academies prove privatisation ends in tears

A report on academies has shown that Heads of academies are agreeing considerable sums to be paid to their own sponsors, trustees and friends for contracts such as training.

As we have seen over and over the relentless privatisation of public services ends up in tears: those of us, the public, whose money has been passed over to the privatisers benefitting the directors and share holders, and the users: school children and their families. What can we do about it? Not much since control of schools has passed to national government as local government is starved of resources and power.

Invisible Victorians

In 1993 Vital Link Educational Limited was formed. It’s first publication was called “Invisible Victorians”. It asked the question why were a group, sometimes referred to as “a visible minority”, be invisible in history. Of course this refers to the many, notably women, who have been grossly overlooked in successive patriarchal societies that have defined what recorded history should include or leave out. As Winston Churchlll famously said “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

An exhibition in London explores that dimension of Victorian Britain members of Vital Link and others have from time to time uncovered.

Shoja`eya`s Diaries (1). Young Gazan Writers

 

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“Ya Allah, I`m so weak and I can do nothing….I cannot make decisions, so please help me” The Paralyzed mother Om Ahmad was praying to Allah (God) to help her getting ut her serious problem.” Ya Allah, I`m disabled and cannot walk like others. I lost all my family last week and I`m alone with my little baby Ahmad who is mentally disabled. I cannot deal with this difficult situation. I wanted to leave this dangerous place as I`m so scared of the coming few minutes, but I cannot leave with him, so please help me.”

The dreadful bombings where targeting the homes all around Om Ahmad`s home mercilessly. The horrible voices hither and thither where heard loudly. There were no sirens although the streets were full of spread burnt corpses and injuries. Om Ahmad went out her home carrying her baby difficultly, creeping like children, and not knowing whether she would live or die. She could not carry him for a while, and she did not know what to do. She cried and moaned. She wailed like children over the harsh situation that she was in, but the blare of a rocket cut in her voice. Miraculously, she left her baby in front of the door crying, and then she left the area on the last spurt creeping on her knees. The baby remained in that dangerous area under the bombs not knowing his fate and the mum hurried to an unknown area leaving her little kid crying. Finally, this story can be over when we say that the entire family got abolished as if the air removed the dust.

Done by: Mohammad S Arafat (Mr. Pen)

Scottish separation is not the way to get rid of the Tories

Saying “yes” to independence for Scotland is very tempting, but those of us left with the Westminster elite feel dismayed that a country with a strong Socialist tradition want to go it alone. We all want the chance to say “yes” for an independent West Midlands not mention Cornwall, Wales and Ireland. So why say “no”?

I remember the great struggle for an independent South Africa under a seemingly Socialist ANC led eventually by the iconic figure of Nelson Mandela. The name was going to have to change to Azania if I remember correctly. I can’t say from personal experience since I have only set foot on South african soil briefly, in transit to and from Zimbabwe, but I am sure things have changed greatly. For the better for many, yet not by any means for all. An elite continues to exist, not along the apartheid lines with black people excluded from power, but leaving many, the majority black, still waiting for a modest place at the table. Socialist it surely ain’t.

With the Westminster elite launching themselves on Scotland only days before the referendum, comment that panic had set in seemed spot on. Given that they are the very reason that we’d all say “yes” how wise the idea was remains to be seen. Why say “NO”?

Seumas Milne writing in the Guardian sums up why Salmond’s promises can’t and won’t come to fruition:

The message that if you vote yes you’ll never get another Tory government could hardly be a more powerful one in a country that polled 42% for Labour and less than 17% Conservative in 2010 and ended up with Cameron as prime minister all the same.

But the idea that a yes vote would be a short cut to a progressive future in a Scandinavian-style social democracy is another matter. It’s not just that Scottish voters aren’t being offered genuine independence at all. Instead, the state cooked up by the SNP is one signed up in advance to the monarchy, Nato, the EU and a currency controlled from London.

Sure, Whitehall and Brussels will negotiate terms if it comes to it. But that will certainly be on the basis of harsh debt and deficit limits – turning an already tight fiscal inheritance into a turbo-charged austerity that would make the kind of welfare system Salmond is promising impossible to deliver.

On top of that the SNP, which would doubtless rule the roost in the aftermath of a vote for independence it would rightly be seen to have brought about, is still no party of the centre-left. Backed by tax avoiders, hedge funders, privateers and Rupert Murdoch, its central economic policy is to cut corporation tax 3% below the British rate to attract capital to Scotland.

The Socialist Labour Party in Scotland is calling for real Socialism to be established which is not on the agenda of the SNP:

Statement by Socialist Labour Party Scotland

Scotland Needs Socialism – Not Sham Independence

A Scotland in the European Union, NATO, under the fiscal and economic jurisdiction of the Bank of England and with an unelected monarch as head of state may have gained some elements of separation after a Yes vote but what it will not be will be independent. And this is the SNP’s Plan A!

This anti-independence would deny the Scottish people through their elected parliament, without outside interference, the right to invest in …industrial regeneration, to retain the NHS as a free at the point of need public health service, to build homes for the 200,000 plus on council waiting lists or freely develop policies to tackle many of the other essential needs of the Scottish people. There would be no independence either when it comes to fishing or farming policy. And with the drive towards “fiscal and monetary union” in the EU, economic policy as well as tax, pensions and welfare benefits would all be further subject to decisions and veto from outwith Scotland.

The Socialist Labour Party in Scotland is opposed to this sham independence and advocates a NO vote. The Scottish people, as do the peoples of Wales and England, need jobs, social and welfare security and a vibrant productive economy. Working people need to know that they can rely on a National Health Service and be able to look to a future dignified life in retirement free from financial worry. Salmond’s so-called independence jeopardises these things because it will undermine the unity that built the welfare state after the second world war and open up our public services to the bureaucrats of the EU commission, the IMF and the sharks of international finance – ask the Irish, the Greeks, the Portugese, the Cypriots, the Spanish or even the Italians.

Our world remains in the grip of the greatest capitalist economic crisis in living memory and the only long term viable solution for working class people everywhere is to move in a socialist direction. To achieve that we need to build the widest possible unity of working class people – separation and division as proposed by the SNP and their confused, red tartanites and MacTrotskyite acolytes undermines this and would be a backward step.

SLP Scotland say No to the EU, No to NATO, No to the monarchy and No to tax cuts for the big corporations.

Vote No on 18th September.

The Stolen Surprise. Gazan Young Writers

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“Mum, when will I see my little brother Ahmad in front of my eyes?”
Kholood, the eldest daughter, asked her pregnant mother happily, waiting
for the day to see her brother Ahmad in.” I want to see him very soon,
please. I want not to stop hugging and kissing him. I want to play with him
and to be proud of him as many of my friends vilify me because I don`t
have a brother. But now they will never dare to. He will protect me and my
three sisters when he grows up Inshallah.” 

“Hahahaha,” the tired mother smiled a very lovely innocent smile” you will see him very soon. Just try to force yourself to be patient for just five days. Your dad will get so happy and finally he will be a father of a real son. He finally can walk proudly among his neighbors not caring about their insulting words. I`m sure he will be the happiest father in this life. My aim is just to cheer him up.”

The five days have gone very quickly in safe and sound, full of joy and smiles in spite of the sever situations that Gaza was in. The family did not know the taste of sadness after the happiness killed their sorrow. But all of that was erased after the news about their uncle reached them. The mother`s brother got martyred with his entire family. That news made the family upside down. Their hopes got abolished and their joy got stolen. Everyone got shocked.

The mother was about to deliver the baby on that day, but she began to bleed severely before the time of delivering came. So the father called the ambulance and it arrived after ten minutes. Then the mother was moved to the hospital and entered the intensive care room to be treated before going to the room of birth. Doctors did their bests to make the mother alive, but, alas, she passed away.

Kholood and the sisters` screaming filled the hospital and everyone got really sad. They realized that they will never have a mother again and a brother as well. Everything has happened in some moments quickly.

After half an hour of crying and suffering, they heard a crying of a baby boy from the intensive room, so Kholood smiled a fake smile under a shade of sorrow. She did not know if she should smile or cry. Everything got mixed with each other. Happiness was mixed with sadness, but sadness was more. Her brother Ahmad was alive and her mum got dead. His tears were mixed with theirs. He will be motherless from the first day he saw the life in. Who will care him? Who will nurture him and make him a man to protect his four sisters? Who will look for Kholood and the other three sisters? Who will care the father? Where the family will get the humanness from after they have lost it? Who will let the family`s life smile? Those questions have been asked by kholood and her three poor small sisters until now.

Written by: Shaima` Al- Kholy
Edited and translated by: Mohammad S Arafat (Mr. Pen)

 

My Beloved Home!!! Gazan Young Writers “Mosab and Mohammad”

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Arif`s family got their breath back after about forty five days at the UN school and its bad circumstances. They lived in what no one would live in miraculously. The class, that they used to live in, had more than seven stricken families, and every family of those had more than eight members including crying babies and little needy children. The class was really crowded as though there was an enthralled audience watching a very heroic film. The crying of the babies filled the place and the groans of the elders were heard as if it was a room in a full of patients hospital. Men did not know how to stop their and their children`s suffering as there was no choice except accepting their cursed fate. Women were just thinking of nothing, but were thinking anyway. The clashes between couples filled the class and the slapping on cheeks was really hard. The situations there were really too dreadful and merciless for Arif and his family who were patient until the final spurt of the brutality. Once they heard the news about the ratified ceasefire, they forgot every bad moment that they lived in.

“Let’s gooooooooooo!!!” Arif cried out happily at his family.” Let’s go back to our home. It`s waiting for us as we used to wait for this moment!!”
“Al Hamdulilah,” Arif`s wife praised her God smiling at her husband,” Finally we got to go to our beloved home and enjoy our life with our children like others.”
The wife wanted to collect the things that the charities donated for them, but Arif stopped her” What are you doing? We are not going to take anything from this place to our home. There are still many families lost their homes and they need these things.”

Arif`s wife got smiled and collected asked her children to begin the magnificent journey to their home!!

While walking towards home, everyone of Arif`s family was thinking of what he/ she would do once arriving the home. The girls thought about their pink room that their father painted for them before the beginning of the aggression. They thought about the big dulls and toys that they will play with. The little boys thought about the pets that they left at their home and about their little babies that should have been bigger by now. The eldest son thought about his new room that his Father built for him to get married in. The mother was thinking of her lovely big kitchen that she missed and the clothes that her husband gifted to her in their wedding. All were thinking about their lovely things except Arif who was really worried about the shock that he would get if something would happen to his home. He just stayed silent waiting for the emergence of the home.

After half an hour of walking, the family arrived at the area of their home happily diving into their hopes and dreams, dreaming for a better future and thinking positively, but the scene that they saw as they arrived destroyed their dreams and turned their hopes into ghastly horrible nightmares.

The home was disappeared as though someone uprooted it and threw it into an unknown place…

Mohammad S Arafat (Mr. Pen)