Category Archives: lobbying

“The Hidden Agenda”: The Planned Destruction Of The Welfare State?

bs_Greetings_from_the_Welfare_State The report reproduced (with kind permission) below is a short summary of the vitally important research into the origin of the current government’s campaign against disability and incapacity benefits and the involvement of Unum (formerly UnumProvident) and ATOS.  This remarkably detailed  work was carried out over the last three years by former healthcare professional and disabled veteran, Mo Stewart*. Mo has worked relentlessly and determinedly, despite her own pain and fatigue, to bring together a vast amount of damning evidence against this cruel system which has and continues to bring misery and even death to people whose only ‘crime’ is to be chronically sick or disabled. What you are about to read below is but a tiny example of far, far more material some of which can be found on her website here or by following the links she provides in her reference list at the end of the articles.

*(Mo Stewart is a former healthcare professional, a disabled female veteran and, for the last 3 years, has researched the links between the DWP, Atos Healthcare & Unum Insurance. To date, the research evidence has been quoted during welfare debates in the House of Lords, the House of Commons and in Westminster Hall. Mo routinely shares all research evidence with academics, medical and healthcare professionals, frontline national charities, selected
politicians and service users.)

THE HIDDEN AGENDA: a research summary by Mo Stewart

(The Hidden Agenda © Mo Stewart – March 2013)

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is exclusively conducted on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) by the corporate giant Atos Origin IT Ltd Medical Services, better known as Atos Healthcare. This ‘non-medical assessment’ was introduced in 2008 by the Labour government, and was identified as a ‘medical examination’ to be used to identify genuine claimants for long term sickness and disability benefit. However, what was unknown at the time was the fact that the WCA was a continuation of the planned agenda of the previous Thatcher government, whose ultimate goal was the destruction of the Welfare State.(1) The WCA was promoted as a ‘fitness for work’ assessment for claimants of what was once known as Incapacity Benefit, now re-named as the Employment and Support Allowance.(ESA) In reality, in order to reduce the welfare budget, the WCA was designed to resist as many sickness benefit claims as possible regardless of confirmed and identified permanent illness or disability. By 2010 the planned DWP welfare budget reduction was deemed to be
too slow. The new Coalition Government enhanced the WCA and, following the previous Labour Government’s lead, it became much more difficult to qualify for the ESA(2) as the WCA totally disregarded diagnosis, prognosis or limited life expectancy.

Aided and abetted by the national press, using insidious press headlines to manipulate public opinion(3)(3b), the Coalition Government successfully introduced tyranny, fear and despair to the nation’s most vulnerable people, using a disability assessment model as designed in consultation with Unum [Provident] Insurance; one of the most discredited corporate insurance giants in the world.(4)(4b) At the same time, reported disability hate crimes in the United Kingdom(UK) were rising to record levels.(5) The first two years of independent research into the WCA concluded at the end of November 2011 with the
exposure of two government memorandums provided by Unum Provident Insurance.(6) Initially, the link between the UK welfare reforms and the likely move to an insurance based benefits system was identified by Baroness Tanni Gray-Thompson during the welfare reform debates in the House of Lords.(7) Nine months later, the link between Atos Healthcare and Unum Insurance was exposed by Kevin Brennan MP during debate in Westminster Hall(8) and, more recently, during an emergency Backbench Business debate in the House of Commons(HOC), Michael Meacher MP identified the possible influence of Unum Insurance with the UK Government.(9)

Of course, this destruction of the welfare state could never have been so readily achieved without the unelected former Labour adviser, David Freud. He was ennobled to permit appointment initially to the Shadow Cabinet but, following the 2010 General Election, he was appointed as the Minister for Welfare Reform for the Coalition where he has excelled. Indeed, one of Lord Freud’s most recent claims was that: “Poor people should be prepared to take more risks because they have the least to lose…”(11) Clearly, this man is yet another millionaire Minister who demonstrates no concern, and no comprehension, of human need.
The ongoing DWP medical tyranny, masquerading as welfare reform, has permitted Atos Healthcare to conduct the WCA by employing the totally discredited Bio-Psychosocial(BPS) model of disability assessment that remains free from all public accountability according to the General Medical Council and the Care Quality Commission. The BPS is the assessment model as used by Unum Insurance when assessing healthcare insurance claims, and it is also the assessment model enthusiastically promoted by Professor Sir Mansel Aylward. The Professor is the Director of the Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University, initially sponsored by Unum Insurance from its inception in 2003 to 2009.

However, prior to his move to the Centre, the Professor was the DWP’s Chief Medical Officer who, in 1994, was in post when Unum Insurance was invited to become corporate ‘advisers’ to the UK government.(12) Whilst the BPS model is an interesting theory, the selective use of the BPS model of disability assessment, as used by both Unum Insurance and Atos Healthcare, was exposed long ago as an invention of the insurance industry.(13)(14) By concentrating on the psychological model of disability, to the detriment of the social model, the WCA was always destined to promote unacceptable results for many thousands of ESA claimants. In one six month period alone 37,100 people had waited up to a year to have their ESA benefit reinstated following appeal, yet no-one is asking what would have happened to these genuinely sick and disabled people if they had not had the strength to pursue their claim to appeal?(10)

Indeed, a recent Panorama documentary: ‘Disabled or Faking It’,(15) demonstrated quite categorically the dangers of the WCA with seriously ill patients, diagnosed with life threatening conditions such as heart failure and end stage emphysema, being found fit for work.(15) However, with the national press still refusing to expose the identified influence of Unum Insurance with the DWP welfare reforms, the British public remain in ignorance as the government covertly convert the UK welfare state into the American healthcare system, ultimately to be funded by private insurance.(12)(13)(14) Meanwhile, Unum Insurance is happy to continue to offer new careers to former government ‘advisers’. (16) The WCA is an American imported ‘disability assessment model’ and has no medical credibility whatsoever, as confirmed by the British Medical Association(17), yet it is enthusiastically employed by the DWP and causes devastation to those least able to protest. This ‘medical assessment’ is working very well as the thousands of genuine claimants that have either died, committed suicide, been forced into poverty due to mounting debt, or who have developed a mental health problem due to anxiety are now the disregarded victims.(10)

Many had been in receipt of Incapacity Benefit before being re-assessed by Atos Healthcare, using the fatally flawed WCA, only to fail to qualify for benefit following ‘assessment’. The Internet provides evidence to this government imposed suffering at a cost to the tax-payer of £110million per annum for the confidential Atos contract and an estimated £60 million pounds per annum, and rising, for the costs of the appeal tribunals. Yet, still, Members of Parliament (MP) continue with their very courteous and diplomatic debates(8)(9) as the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and, especially, their corporate partners all celebrate the ongoing planned destruction of the welfare state that appears to be unstoppable.

What is still disregarded is the fact that Professor Sir Mansel Aylward’s research activities were funded for six years by Unum Insurance.(12) Indeed, due to his significant contribution to the future reduction of the DWP welfare budget by promoting the use of a ‘non-medical’ assessment, the Professor was rewarded with a Knighthood for “services to disability assessment.” Therefore, his support for the BPS disability assessment model was presumed to be guaranteed. Yet, when confronted six months ago, the Professor actually confirmed that he now considered the BPS model to be “unsatisfactory” and that he believed it “no longer addresses the real needs of disabled people and the exclusion of disabled people from society”.(18) Of course, the question remains as to why there was no official DWP announcement following this amazing change of ‘expert’ professional opinion, as the entire national press totally disregarded the press release that was distributed last September following Sir Mansel’s unexpected statement. Perhaps the Professor was safe in the
knowledge that the press release would be ignored, and perhaps this is why he continues to travel widely, still lecturing about the virtues of the totally discredited BPS model of disability assessment? The most recent lecture was at the Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference in Birmingham, from 5th-6th March 2013,(19) where Professor Sir Mansel Aylward was listed as a keynote speaker on the subject of: The New Public Health Agenda: Its Impact on Health and Wellbeing at Work. Given the title of his speech, one can only presume that the Professor has yet to advise other professionals of his reported change of expert opinion.(18)

This is how the UK welfare state will be destroyed. There is a BPS ‘expert’ in place, and an American corporate insurance giant has influenced the UK Government to totally disregard human suffering, in favour of a reduced welfare budget, using an identified bogus ‘medical assessment’. Unum Insurance have begun their mass marketing to encourage able bodied members of the British public to invest in their ‘Income Protection Insurance’ or their ‘Back-up Plan,’ that’s only available via the workplace, and these are the healthcare insurance policies that the company has historically tried very hard to resist funding when a claim is made.(20)(21) Given that the unacceptable practice of Unum Insurance was previously exposed by MPs during a House of Commons debate in 1999(22), the question remains as to why was this highly discredited American corporate insurance giant ever permitted to influence UK welfare reforms and why the national press, en masse, refuse to expose this insurance company’s confirmed influence despite it being identified by a BBC News report in 2007?(23)

The recent exposure of a 2005 internal Unum report, that actively boasted that the company was ‘driving government thinking’ regarding the reform of Incapacity Benefit (24) leads to the much more sinister possibility that the DWP are simply administrators of these brutal welfare reforms, and that the perpetrators of the devastation caused to the victims of this UK government funded medical tyranny are, in fact, Unum Insurance. Michael O’Donnell was the author of the 2005 internal Unum report that was written when he was the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Unum Insurance. Michael O’Donnell is now the CMO for Atos Healthcare…..

The difficulty remains that no-one is asking the relevant questions. Perhaps MPs should be asking the Prime Minister why he’s been funded by ‘healthcare companies’ to the value of £750,000(27) since he became Prime Minister (25) or why every report produced by the President of the Appeal Tribunals, all of which identified the Atos Healthcare WCA assessments as “failing to coincide with reality”, was totally disregarded by the DWP? (12)
Until and unless more significant questions are asked in the House of Commons, victims of this government funded medical nightmare will be forced to turn to the law for help, just as in America.(26)

Until and unless the national press demonstrate that the UK really does benefit from a free press, and not a government controlled press, the most vulnerable of all British people will continue to suffer and the British public will continue to be deceived.(12)

References:
1) Margaret Thatcher’s role in plan to dismantle welfare state revealed:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/dec/28/margaret-thatcher-role-plan-to-dismantle-welfare-state-revealed
(2) Cuts to UK benefits: http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/type/text/cuts-to-uk-benefits.html
(3) ‘Ello, John, got a new Motability motor? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2047593/Motability-schemes-starting-resemble- worst-excesses-Arthur-Daley-.html
(3b) Half a million incapacity benefit claimants are fit for work, Government’s own figures show: Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2115476/A-incapacity-benefit-claimants-fit-work-Government-s-OWN-figures show. html#axzz2JqkmNFAR
(4) New York Attorney General Spitzer’s ruling: http://www.insure.com/articles/healthinsurance/unum-settlement.html
(4b) The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America – The American Association of Justice
http://www.justice.org/docs/tenworstinsurancecompanies.pdf
(5) Hate crimes against disabled people soar to a record high:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/hate-crimes-against-disabled-people-soar-to-a-record-level-7858841.html
(6) The truth behind welfare reforms: http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveteransreport20111120.html
(7) BnsTanni Gray-Thompson: House of Lords, welfare reforms
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/110913-0002.htm
(8) Private Members’ Debate: Atos Healthcare: 4th Sept 2012
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120904/halltext/120904h0001.htm
(9) Backbench Business: Atos Work Capability Assessment debate: 17th Jan 2013
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130117/debtext/130117-0002.htm
(10) British people are committing suicide to escape poverty. Is this what the State wants?
http://poultonblog.dailymail.co.uk/2012/03/people-are-choosing-suicide-to-escape-poverty-is-this-the-states- final-solution.html
(11) Lord Freud’s welfare ‘lifestyle’ comments show ‘nasty party is back’, say Labour:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9698985/Lord-Freuds-welfare-lifestyle-comments-show-nasty-party-is-back-say-Labour.html
(12) Government use might of American insurance giant to destroy UK welfare safety net – update 27th Oct : http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveteransreport20121027.html
(13) An academic responds to statement by Prof Aylward:
http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/09/18/dwpatosunum-scandal-an-academic-responds-with-disbelief-to-professor-aylwardsstatement- to-black-triangle-and-dpac-outside-the-ifdm2012-conference-on-11th-september-2012/
(14) A Tale of Two Models: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/disability-studies/archiveuk/jolly/A%20Tale%20of%20two%20Models%20Leeds1.pdf
(15) Panorama: Disabled or Faking It?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01lldrc/Panorama_Disabled_or_Faking_It/
(16) Peter Dewis: Steppin’ Sideways from Government to Unum:
http://downwithallthat.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/peter-dewis-steppin-sideways-from-government-to-unum/
(17) GPs call for work capability assessment to be scrapped:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/23/gps-work-capability-assessment-scrapped
(18) Former DWP medical boss makes WCA pledge to protesters:
http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2012/09/former-dwp-medical-boss-makes-wca-pledge-to-protesters/
(19) Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference, NEC Birmingham: http://www.healthatwork2013.co.uk/
(20) “The denial on the part of Unum in the Mondolo case appears to mirror denials of other Unum disability claims historically, going back several years. To that end, the Court noted Unum’s history of biased claims administration.” (MARCH 2013)
http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/first_unum/unum-lawsuit-insurance-disability-claims-12-18506.html?utm_expid=3607522-
0&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lawyersandsettlements.com%2Flegal-news-articles%2Fcase%2Ffirst_unum%2F
(21) CBS News 60 minutes: DID INSURER CHEAT DISABLED CLIENTS:
(see below)
(22) Permanent Health Insurance debate, Westminster Hall, 21st December 2009
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmhansrd/vo991221/halltext/91221h01.htm#91221h01_head0
(23) BBC Ten ‘o Clock News report: 6th Nov 2007 http://www.meactionuk.org.uk/UNUM_on_BBC_News_061107.wmv (BBC NEWS report – video)
(24) Unum bragged about ‘driving government thinking’ on incapacity benefit reform:
http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2013/02/unum-bragged-about-driving-government-thinking-on-incapacity-benefit-reform/
(25) MPs’ links are so unhealthy: http://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/378233/MPs-links-are-so- unhealthy
(26) High Court rules Work Capability Assessment arguably unlawful:
http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2012/07/victory-in-first-stage-of-fitness-for-work-court-case/
(27) NHS reform leaves Tory backers with links to private healthcare firms set for bonanza:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nhs-reform-leaves-tory-backers-105302

images (1) Now watch the US video below (referenced above) and compare what is being described with what people are experiencing here in Britain at the hands of the DWP and its sidekick ATOS…chilling?

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The Cameron Whisperers: How Crosby Can Bend The PM’s Ear By Proxy

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I’ve lost count of the number of times David Cameron has been asked by journalists if his decisions about cigarette packaging and alcohol pricing were influenced by his election campaign guru, Lynton Crosby aka The Lizard of Oz. I’m probably more sick of hearing him deny it than he is of making these repeated denials.

There’s no denying that its an amazing coincidence that these particular policies have now been dropped when you consider how much they were banging on about them not that long ago. So what exactly is the Prime Minister saying when he denies that he’s been lobbied by the Lizard? Have you considered he might be telling the truth? The literal truth.

David-Cameron-Lynton-Crosby-460x288 Think about it. He said quite categorically that “Lynton Crosby has not lobbied me on anything”. So surely our next question should be “Then who else has been whispering your ear, Dave?” Lets not forget that the Lizard’s lobbying company has a London branch that goes by the name of Crosby Textor Fullbrook (CTF) and it was this outfit that was responsible for running Boris Johnson’s election campaign for London Mayor. And its now stuffed full of eager young Tories, most of whom worked within the government in some capacity or other until just before the Lizard was hired by Cameron. Now they work at CTF.

mark fullbrook But first of all lets meet Mark Fullbrook, co-founder and MD of the Lizard’s London office, Crosby Textor Fullbrook

Mark spent 10 years working for the British Conservative Party from 1983, where he began as a Party Agent, rising to become Head of Campaigning for the Party following the 1992 General Election. He was co-director of the Conservative Campaign for London Mayor in 2000 and has worked through all levels of the Conservative Party’s political roles.

His wife is Tory MP for South Ribble, Lorraine Fullbrook.

ctf  The lucky recipient of the football tickets referred to in this shot was Tory MP Helen Grant, according to online journal Political Scrapbook and clearly CTF were working for the donor, the infamous Michael Hintze, who bankrolled Liam Fox’s dubious mate Adam Werrity and once paid for a private jet for Fox to visit the States. Mark Fullbrook was the bearer of the gift on behalf of his client. I’m sure none of us are naive enough to think that Mr Hintze was paying to hire CTF Partners and dole out his bribes without expecting some return on his money. The real point here, though, is that Lynton Crosby himself was not personally involved in the lobbying process, just as Cameron says he wasn’t involved in lobbying him.  When Cameron says things like this he’s relying on our ignorance of the complexity of the lobbying process and our lack of understanding of the extent of the network of cronies that links Westminster to big business.

Mark Fullbrook is number one contender for the role of Cameron Whisperer.

Lets take a look at the recent additions to the staff of Crosby Textor Fullbrook.

canzini Here’s David Canzini who joined CFT in 2012.

David spent 20 years working for the Conservative Party starting out as a constituency agent. After a number of constituency and regional roles he became Head of Campaigns and Operations for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party where he led the devolution referendum campaign and the first set of Scottish Parliamentary elections. David moved to Conservative Central Office (latterly CCHQ) as Deputy Director of Field Operations (Target Seats) for the 2001 General Election. After two years in this role, he become Director of Party Campaigning, leading national campaigns, parliamentary by-elections and oversaw the target seat campaign for the 2005 General Election.

Not difficult to imagine that he might know David Cameron quite well, is it? So he’s Whisperer number two.

lomas Now meet Theo Lomas who’s worked at CFT since 2011. His background is interesting in the light of the concerns that have been raised about the Lizard’s involvement in the fracking business. Theo worked in Parliament as the senior adviser to the Parliamentary Private Secretary for the UK’s Energy Minister.  His responsibilities included: providing research and briefings, coordinating with senior figures in the Conservative Party and the Department of Energy and Climate Change, overseeing the Westminster Office, coordinating with the media and overseeing Parliamentary activities. Wonder if he swapped jobs with Guy Robinson who worked for CFT before moving across to Westminster to work for Owen Patterson?

Theo is definitely a strong contender for Cameron Whisperer.

horrell  Up next is Sophie Horrell who moved over from Westminster to CTF in 2011. Prior to this, she worked in communications at Parliamentary Liaison Services Ltd, the UK’s premier Conservative campaigns and communications consultancy providing communications services to a number of clients. This included working on a number of constituency based reports and grass roots campaigns for MP’s and Prospective Party Candidates.  Maybe Sophie doesn’t have enough status yet to whisper directly into the PM’s ear but she may well know a few people who do, so I reckon she’s a potential Cameron Whisperer, a kind of whisperer in waiting.

There are a couple of other candidates who joined CFT within the last two years from Boris Johnson’s mayoral campaign office.

lyon Sam Lyon joined in 2012 as a senior director. He joined from City Hall where he was Director of Communications and official spokesman to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. He managed all the Mayor’s external affairs during the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Previous to this he was Media Director, spokesman and senior advisor to Boris Johnson during his successful 2012 Mayoral campaign. As a senior advisor he was certainly a Johnson Whisperer so he’s well versed in the techniques and has all the right connections.

knight And here we have Robin Knight who also joined CTF in 2012 ,just a month before Cameron announced he’d taken on the Lizard, having previously worked on Boris Johnson’s winning London Mayoral campaign.  His work focuses on research and consulting, developing detailed reports to inform and reinforce key arguments in line with campaign objectives. Like Sophie he’s a bit of a tyro as yet but none the less he’ll have useful connections within the Tory party so has a potential for whispering in all the right ears.

cartoon  As the next election looms closer the Lizard’s team of young hopefuls are going to be doing a lot of whispering and we’re going to see a lot more examples of his dog whistle politics and slick slogans. When a lobbying firm that champions the causes of powerful businesses is putting words into the mouths of ‘elected’ politicians and when Westminster has become one big revolving door between government and the board rooms of profit seekers surely its time for a complete radical change of how this country does government? As Cameron himself is fond of saying, “We can’t go on like this”.

DODGY DAVE AND THE LIZARD OF OZ: A LITTLE ALCOHOL PROBLEM?

min-pricing  It looks like Dodgy Dave is going to keep on sidestepping questions over the influence of Lizard of Oz Crosby on his decisions not to bring in plain packaging of cigarettes or up the price of cheap alcohol. He insists Lynton didn’t ‘lobby’ him on anything. Nonetheless, it looks highly suspicious that Cameron has dropped not one but TWO policies that would have hurt the wallets of Crosby’s clients.

When you add in the sudden enthusiasm for fracking and the Chancellor’s generosity towards more of those clients it begins to look like the PM is bang to rights guilty. You can’t help wondering if there’s been some promise of future funding from some of these big name Crosby clients. After all its not that long ago that the Tories enjoyed significant gifts from the likes of Imperial Tobacco and others – until Liam Fox pissed them off as shadow health minister in 2004 and they took off in a huff. And these big Tobacco guys have very recently been giving money to right wing think tanks such as the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute for Economic Affairs – as near as you can get to the Tories without actually putting the party name on the cheque.

booze-cameron_2507780b Before he changed his mind about alcohol pricing – or had it changed for him – Cameron was pushing the policy in the usual Tory way by complaining that middle class families like his (!!!??) ‘who drank responsibly’ were having to pay more for food from supermarkets who increased food prices to pay for discounts on alcohol. Tut tut. But now it seems he’s happy to pay more for his food and just as happy to do nothing at all about binge drinking – not that I’m convinced the minimum pricing plan would have had much effect anyway. What does bother me is the amazing hypocrisy of the man who can just as easily go on TV one minute and moralise about the poor drinking and smoking themselves into oblivion (wonder why they do that, Dave?) using evidence from all over the place to justify the policy and the next minute apparently say there needs to be more research. How does he expect us to believe anything he says again? Not that many of us did anyway…..

Cameron - beer  Here’s Dave downing a pint in a ‘responsible’ middle class way. But is he the responsible drinker he says he is? He’s quick to pontificate about the great unwashed masses getting slaughtered every Friday night and staggering around our high streets but here’s a few reasons to wonder about his relationship with the demon drink. Remember, he was a member of that elite drinking and rioting outfit, the Bullingdon Club who traditionally get slaughtered and stagger about the street and smash up restaurants and what have you….

6a00d8341c565553ef0162fbe8f8ce970d-800wi    0212379655085 Pg-26-cameron-gettyimages (25)article-0-080201E0000005DC-864_468x286007 david cameron drinkingcameron-black-tie-doneDavid Cameron enjoying a pint during a Test match in August 2011SponsersAnd2_1760444acameron-drinking-wine-student-cuts-expensivedavid-cameron-holds-a-pint-of-guinness-pic-getty-525905179 david-cameron-pic-dm-image-1-633460621images (21)david-cameron-uk-beerULSTER Conservatives 095362david-cameron-tigertigerdownload (6)images (23) ross-cameron_1202005c

 Maybe all Crosby had to do to ‘nudge’ Dave in the desired direction was buy him a pint….or three !

The Tale of Sir Gerald Howarth, QuickQuid and other Loan Shark Tory Donors.

Baroness Thatcher death

Those of you who followed the debates in Parliament about the Same Sex Couples Marriage Bill will have fond memories of watching ex Defence Minister, Sir Gerald Howarth make a complete arse of himself by claiming that decent, upright ‘straight’ people like him who opposed gay marriage were in constant danger of assault by raging homosexuals. I wasn’t sure what I found most incredible about this performance – the fact that he could argue his case in the face of overwhelming evidence that the very opposite of what he was claiming was in fact the truth, or the amount of ‘Honourable Friends’ he gave way to during his speech in order for them to agree with him.

images It comes as no surprise then to discover that this homophobic Tory has very recently accepted a paid job as a part time advisor to CNU Holdings Ltd who own the pay day loan shark company, QuickQuid. He explained to the House of Commons that his role with the company would be “advising on the effects of legislative changes and other matters” though he didn’t elaborate on what those ‘other matters’ might be. For this he will be paid £20,000. Clearly the people at QuickQuid are unaware of his woeful grasp of the truth or they wouldn’t be wasting their money.

images (2) CNU Holdings Ltd aka CashNetUSA are an American outfit who’ve set up QuickQuid over here to take advantage of the huge growth in the loan shark market. They’ve made a killing so far, seeing their UK revenues sky-rocket from £58m in 2010 to £196m in 2012. Recently Daniel Fehan, CEO of CNU Holdings has been heard to express concern over the calls to amend the Financial Services Bill to allow caps on interest rates on pay day loans. He’s been warning that their profits were under threat from possible UK legislation. Oh dear, we can’t have now that, can we? I wonder if the profit- friendly Cameron has sent Sir Gerald along to reassure them that his government are ‘all about growth’ and so will do nothing to stop QuickQuid exploiting the poor in the UK. Maybe those ‘other matters’ Sir Gerald is pocketing his £20K for are to do with explaining to his temporary US employers how much the Tories are doing to improve their market with their policies of impoverishment.

article_6e1ac20819072878_1337630402_9j-4aaqsk  After all Cameron wouldn’t want to upset some of his more generous Conservative Party donors by introducing legislation that hit the pockets that financed him, now would he? Pictured here is the infamous banker Adrian Beecroft, who not so long ago was advocating legislation that allowed the sacking of  ‘unproductive’ workers with no nasty Tribunals getting in the way to slap employers’ wrists.

images (3)        This charming character owns Dawn Capital Investments which is a major shareholder in another pay day loan company, Wonga, the one that endears itself to the unsuspecting public by advertising its racket with cute, cuddly old lady and men puppets who wouldn’t harm a fly. This guy not long ago generously added £800,000 to Tory coffers. And by doing nothing at all about the 4000+% interest rates that Wonga typically charge the Tories have played their part in tripling Wonga’s turnover since 2010.  (What was that you said, Dave, about Labour being in the pocket of the unions? Notice any union members’ wages tripling recently, have you?).

SHOCKING_COPY_Fuck_Me_Wonga   The Tories came up with another nice little earner at their Party Conference in Bournemouth last year. They hired a ballroom and set up a kind of ‘speed dating’ event. Representatives from Wonga were among other corporate lizards who paid £1500 a head to woo such Tories as Michael Fallon, the enterprise minister, David Gauke, the Treasury’s exchequer secretary, and Sajid Javid, its economic secretary, Of course, when questioned about this example of Tory prostitution the Party refused to confirm anyone from Wonga was there, claiming it was a ‘private event’. Couldn’t be they were being tight lipped because Wonga’s practices were under major investigation at the time by the OFT, could it? Of course, nothing really came of that investigation….I wonder why?

hcl2_zpsfa78c3d7 Next up we have another banker, Henry Angest, CEO of Arbuthnot Banking Group which owns Everyday Loans. Henry is a good friend of the Camerons and a major donor to the Tories having given them £7 million. Very recently he’s been very nice to them again by offering them a £5 million loan at a very, very nice interest rate of just 3.5%. Not exactly a pay day loan, eh? This is obviously a chap who enjoys his country suppers.

images (4)  This advert for Henry’s loan racket certainly gives me, as an average kind of punter, the strong impression its one of the pay day loan variety. However, despite saying EveryDay Loans is designed for the kind of customer who is ‘under served by high street banks’ Henry flatly denies its one of the pay day loan kind because his loans only have an interest rate of 74.8%. Only? For how long?  I suspect Henry is being a tad disingenuous here because he only acquired EveryDay Loans very recently under the guise of Secure Trust Bank – part of his Arbuthnot Banking Group – he bought it for the consideration of £1 from Alchemy when, ironically, it was struggling with debt, mainly as a result of the mis-selling of PPI. It has a loan book of almost £64 million and its operating profit for 2011 was a mere £4.6 million. Henry, being the thrusting capitalist that he is, will want to see it grow but he’s not going to compete in the loan shark market if he keeps his interest rates at 74.8%. And he’ll be hoping, like busy Beecroft that the generosity he’s extended to the Tories will stop any nasty laws being introduced to get in the way of his profits. I think we need to keep an eye on EveryDay Loans…

mitchell  So what’s happening with the legislation, then?  Last year when the Financial Services Bill came up for a reading in the House of Lords, Labour peer, Lord Mitchell proposed an amendment that pay day loans have the interest rates capped. Sounds like a good idea to me. They’ve done it in Canada where its capped at 60% and in Australia where its even lower at 48%. In the United States some states have caps on interest and restrict the number of loans that can be taken out at any one time. Even more interesting is that in 13 states they’ve banned pay day loans altogether and consider it a felony and racketeering to sell one. If proved guilty you can get up to 25 years in jail. This is the major reason why US companies like CNU Holdings are coming over here and hiring idiots like Sir Gerald Howarth. And its a major reason why they want to keep politicians sweet.

article-2259877-16D71900000005DC-993_638x416  Which brings us to Lord Sassoon, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury until very recently, when he left to work for Jardine Matheson aka Jardines, a long established trading company infamous for importing opium to China – in other words a one time drug dealer. Banker Lord Sassoon is a mate of banker Lord Freud. They  both worked at Swiss bank UBS. When working there back in the 1990’s he was known as Mr Privatisation because he advised the government of the day in selling off state owned assets. He’s immensely rich and has shares in countless banks and, interestingly enough, in Experian.

sassoon_1450249c       Obviously a (self) important man, then. When Lord Mitchell bravely put forward his amendment  last year, no doubt sticking up for the poor on whose backs the pay day loan sharks are making a killing, Lord Sassoon persuaded him to drop it with a silver-tongued promise to urge the Treasury ‘to bring in some measure’. The noble Mitchell promptly did as he was told and no doubt the likes of Adrian and Henry and the US chancers heaved a sigh of relief.

jo-swinson-300x169                                                                               You may remember a much more recent raising of hopes that the government were about to step in and ‘do the right thing’ by the 99% of us who rely on them for social justice in this country. Yes, the intrepid champion of the customer Jo Swinson, Consumer Affairs Minister. As recently as a few days ago she rode bravely into the breech to give  Wonga and co a hard time and tell them what for. Surely this tough cookie who stood up, no less, against the air brushing of womens’ images on glossy magazines would once and for all put these loan sharks in their place? Sadly, not.

cameron_rothschild400-372x300  No, Ms Swinson was no match for corporate influence, it seems. Her conclusion beggars belief. She said there would be no cap on interest rates because it might drive people to resort to even worse lenders! So it looks like David and Samantha are going to be doing a lot more entertaining in the coming months and the Conservative Party coffers are no doubt going to overflow with the largesse of pay day loan sharks from far and wide. This, my friends, is what being in the ‘global race’ is all about. Its about making us poor enough to accept sweatshop wages and desperate enough to take loans at interest rates that make the Tories friends rich beyond any of our wildest dreams which we may as well not bother dreaming any more.

David Simonds cartoon on Cameron's anti-business speech     So the next time you see David Cameron stand up at the Despatch Box in the House of Commons and point in self-righteous anger at the Labour benches and suggest there’s something criminal and corrupt about their funding from unions remember all the businessmen and bankers who prop up his party of privilege. If he can defend the bankrolling of his profit-friendly policies is it fair to complain when working class folk want to club together to help out a party that stands for their interests?

Cameron: The ‘Caring’ Scrounging Conservative.

images Before his disabled son, Ivan, died David Cameron claimed DLA for him. While we don’t know the full extent of the amount of this universal state benefit he received we do know he got the higher rate mobility component, just over £50 a week, because he was able to lease a car under the Motability scheme. And according to Mumsnet he was also claiming for four free NHS nappies a day.

Rumour has it that after Ivan’s death our Eton educated super rich Prime Minister wasn’t in too much of a hurry to give back the Motability car so someone else in need could benefit from it but had to be chased repeatedly before finally handing it over to its rightful owner.

Conservative Social Justice Policy Group report This is a man we’re supposed to look up to, who holds the most responsible job in the land and who constantly preaches the sermon of social responsibility from his Tory pulpit. It can be argued that Mr Cameron was only exercising his rights when he claimed for DLA, after all he was entitled to that benefit since its not means tested. But there’s no argument whatsoever that he needed the money – in fact compared to his £135k plus salary and his millions in the bank its a total pittance. And from a social responsibility point of view and coming from a man who’s constantly harping on about the absolute necessity of austerity and spending public money wisely, you have to ask why would such a man bother to fill in the form and take money he didn’t need leaving less for the hundreds of thousands who need it desperately?

download  MPs have now just been offered an 11% pay rise and leaders from all parties have assured us they wouldn’t dream of taking it. Cameron himself made a public display of saying it would be wrong for MPs to get this rise when the rest of us were ‘having to make sacrifices’ . Even as I  write this he’s on the news using that puke-making phrase ‘we’re all in this together’.  Does he seriously think we believe him?

Lets not forget the coldly calculating and determined propaganda campaign this Tory led government have fought in the media against benefit claimants labelling the sick and disabled as scroungers too lazy to be arsed to get out of bed, or driving around in luxury Motability cars living it up on tax payers’ money. And lets not forget the inevitable results of this – the rise of unspeakable hate crime against people who were targeted because of this evil ideological attack. How many of you now think that the ex-PR man who orchestrated this propaganda was entitled to  his share of the benefit he’s now about to take away from thousands of people who can never hope to see a million pounds in their bank unless they get lucky in the Lottery?

images (1)   On Wednesday in Parliament Labour used its Opposition Day debate to try to force the government to do a simple thing – to undertake a cumulative impact assessment of the effects of the various cuts in welfare benefits on disabled people. There are hundreds of thousands of very sick and seriously disabled people in the UK who now face up to SIX separate cuts to the various benefits they receive , not to mention facing the prospect of Work Capability Assessments and assessments for the PIP by Atos. You’d think the government would already have done this, wouldn’t you, given the enormous impact these cuts are bound to have. You’d think any sensible, decent government would agree to listen to the many campaigning groups like Spartacus and DPAC who’ve been trying to talk to ministers about this impact. Apparently not. And even when forced to confront the issue on Wednesday by Labour MPs on behalf of these groups, they still weren’t listening. In fact , judging by the sickening responses the few Tories and the odd LibDem gave, they were aggressively opposing the idea that they should give a flying fuck about the demolition job they were inflicting on people’s lives.

+Paul+Maynard  Probably the most disgusting example of Tory attitudes to people with disabilities came from an MP with a disability himself, Paul Maynard. If this guy is a friend of the disabled then who needs enemies? He spoke with cleverly simulated passion that made me suspect Cameron had paid for him to have lessons in Method Acting just for the occasion. Whoever had written his speech managed to turn all the hard work put in by those campaigning disability groups who’d gathered evidence of genuine hardship caused by the cuts into something called ‘negative messages about disabled people’ which apparently would act as a disincentive to young disabled people to be what the Tories want us all to be ‘strivers who work hard and do the right thing’. Waving his expensively suited arms about  Maynard added insult to injury by labelling these disability groups who have a  perfectly legitimate agenda as ‘extremists’!!! You couldn’t make it up!

alan-h2       What Maynard wanted was ‘positive’ messages for young disabled people, Paralympic superheroes and ‘inspirational’ role models and the like. Those who win out despite all the odds. He painted a very narrow picture of disability and turned the debate into an emotional farce. What he didn’t acknowledge was that the debate wasn’t about this at all but about ordinary people’s basic means of survival being taking away from them and with it their dignity as human beings. He didn’t address the humiliation of having to rely on charity and the condescending pity of others. He didn’t see, from his privileged position, that he was betraying people who had a right to expect him to stand up for their right to an independent existence just like his.

prejudice-and-persecution          And so, unsurprisingly, the government won the day and got out of having to do what they should already have done – a proper impact assessment of the cumulative cuts on the income of disabled people. Their feeble excuse that it was too hard just isn’t credible. But then how can we have faith in the credibility of the Tories, or any politician, when they change their tune depending on the circumstances?

Back in 1999 it was the New Labour government who wanted to make changes to disability benefits by scrapping the severe disablement allowance.  Here are a few gems from the Tory opposition , words we should now ram down their privileged throats:-

Quentin Davis:-

 ‘I am proud that we stand today on our previous record, which is that the disabled, far from being a soft target and an easy touch for a Government, are a group of vulnerable people who should be the last people to be disadvantaged when changes are made to our welfare and benefits system.’

Julie Kirkbride:-

‘Many other ladies and gentlemen will retire in the same condition as my constituent, who is obliged to sell her house because she can no longer afford to live there on her reduced income after being forced to retire on incapacity benefit. Others in her condition will find the Government’s policies deeply offensive.’

Nigel Evans:-

‘The Labour party fought the last election on the slogan, “Things can only get better”. Does my hon. Friend agree that many disabled people, whose benefits will be removed, will be aghast at what is happening this evening? At the next election, disabled people, who have been so badly let down, will give Labour Members short shrift. Things can only get better unless one happens to be disabled’.

Angela Browning:-

‘The organisations that went to the Department included Action for Blind People, Disability Alliance, Mencap, RADAR and the RNIB. Those organisations went to the Department believing that they were part of a consultation, only to find that the decision had already been made and their views were not required, but that they could have an input into some sort of management. To cap it all, the Lord Chancellor’s Department is considering proposals to abolish legal aid for personal injury claims—another move by the Government which will clearly have an effect on people with disabilities and will cause them a great deal of distress.’

Teddy Taylor:-

‘Will he take seriously the real concern, alarm and anger felt by disabled people whose benefits are being cancelled on review? During my weekly surgery on Saturday, I was visited by a woman and her child, who has only one small finger on each hand and one small toe on each foot. The woman had been told that there was no need for any disability living allowance-related provision of any sort.’

pg-18-norman-watt     The final irony of all this is that if Ivan was still alive the two-faced David Cameron would still be getting DLA and there may well be other millionaires out there who are dipping into the disability benefit pot that Esther Mcvey is fond of telling us is growing too big. She’s fond of the word ‘fairness’ but where’s the fairness in that?

 

The All New Privatisation-Friendly CQC Board Members

download (4)    While all the furore has been going on concerning the report by Grant Thornton into events at Furness General Hospital and the alleged cover-up of a CQC report I wonder if anyone’s noticed that the CQC Board of Directors has been quietly evolving into a more privatisation-friendly animal.

Following the tide of resignations of red-faced Jo Williams, Cynthia Bower, Jill Finney and Anna Jefferson, all women who left proclaiming their innocence, comes a much more blue coloured tide of new appointees courtesy of Jeremy Hunt who, as Secretary of State for Health,  is responsible for such appointments.

CQC-David-Prior   David Prior,  one-time Chairman of the Conservative Party, is the new CEO.  Although he doesn’t include it in his Declaration of Interests, he was once non-executive chairman of the private healthcare company Chancellor Care which owned Cawston Park, a private mental hospital, and was arrested, along with other board members, on allegations of defrauding the NHS out of £2.3 million. He was later cleared of the charge and Chancellor Care was bought out by the Jeesal Group who provide private mental health care.

Camilla_Cavendish___160605a   Another key addition to the Board is Camilla Cavendish, who was at Oxford with David Cameron where, like him, she graduated in PPE. She once worked for McKinsey and Co. who in 2009 produced a  government commissioned report entitled ‘Achieving World Class Productivity in the NHS’ which recommended the adoption of a US style private insurance based health system.

0          But perhaps her biggest claim to fame is as Deputy Editor of the Sunday Times, the Murdoch owned newspaper, in which she’s written many pro business articles and more importantly has written extensively about the NHS in a way that chimes remarkably with Jeremy Hunt’s outpourings. One her headlines, “The GP’s cushy deal means we’re all left to suffer in casualty” kind of says it all.

   cav         During the Leveson enquiry it was revealed that she was one of the many influential  News International journalists who had been granted the ear of David Cameron.  

jeremy-hunt       Before it was announced that Ms Cavendish was to join the CQC, the Department of Health announced that she had been asked by Jeremy Hunt to conduct an ‘important’ study of healthcare assistants to ensure they have the necessary training standards. Commenting on this the SoS said,

“Camilla Cavendish has a long-standing and strong interest in the quality of care and compassion in health and social care. She will provide a fresh perspective on the key issues of valuing and supporting the staff who provide that care.”

Given her journalistic track record on health issues I think the subtext of that comment is “she’ll provide a Conservative perspective” as she no doubt will on the CQC Board.

jennifer-summit-2010-cutout-resized      Jennifer Dixon  is CEO of Nuffield Trust which is an independent charity specialising in research and policy advice in health and social care.The Nuffield Trust was established as the Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust in 1940 by Viscount Nuffield (William Morris), the founder of Morris Motors. Dr Dixon was the project leader responsible for a series of reports commissioned by the government looking at a number of aspects of the Health and Social Care Act. Most recently she has been asked by Jeremy Hunt to look into the viability of an Ofsted-type ratings system for health services.The project she led also looked at competition issues and a statement on the Nuffield Trust website gives an indication of their approach,

“Competition is one of the most controversial tools with which successive governments have tried to boost efficiency and quality in the NHS. Our research examines how well market mechanisms in the NHS are working and whether their application could be made more effective.”

hospital_price-promise_300x150_module     The Nuffield group has many arms, one of which is Nuffield Health, a charity which runs 31 private hospitals in the UK. On their website they boast that they are,

“offering a wider range of health services than anyone else in the UK”

and claim that

“In May 2013, Nuffield Health launched a retail bond to support investment in health care services in the UK.”

download (7)     Another right leaning/business friendly CQC Board member is Michael Mire who is currently a Director at McKinsey and Company. Mr Mire is also an Oxford graduate and has experience in retail, finance and something referred to as ‘transformation’.

images (5)    On the new Healthwatch and Public Involvement website they make the following comment about the newly appointed Board members,

“These appointments reflect CQC’s commitment to strengthening its board, widening the skills and experience available to help govern and lead the organisation and to make it more independent”.

More independent? From what? The NHS maybe… but certainly not the private sector.

0_0_393_http-__offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk_News_PG_89708F60-BFC9-851D-3EF48E898E5E2E69        Don’t forget that the Health and Social Care Act has changed the role of the Secretary of State radically with its “hands-off clause”  that will severely curtail his ability to influence the delivery of NHS care in the future. That is now the job of the unelected national quango, Monitor. In a previous post here http://wp.me/p3mYc5-5J I showed how Monitor’s CEO, David Bennett was found to be sympathetic towards the interests of private healthcare providers. A major part of Monitor’s role is to oversee competition issues in the health service and rout out ‘anti-competitive’ practices through its system of licensing and policing compliance with the terms of those licenses.

If the CQC were to join forces with Monitor, as has been mooted, what kind of beast will then be the guardian of our NHS? 

The myth of the “Independent Report” or how the Tories are weaving threads of private interest into the very fabric of our country.

images (1)We’ve heard this week of yet another scandal in the NHS with the release of the Grant Thornton Report into the Maternity Unit at Furness General Hospital and the failings of the Care Quality Commission. I first heard the news of this in the early morning of yesterday on the BBC 24 hour news channel. I was struck by the repeated emphasis the BBC put on the independence of the report. They didn’t mention who had produced the report at that time but simply dubbed it, in large letters on the screen, INDEPENDENT REPORT. So striking was this emphasis that it immediately aroused my suspicions and a quick check on the Guardian website revealed just who had carried out the investigation – the UK arm of an international company called Grant Thornton LLP. So I decided to investigate just who these people were.

images (6)  On their website ( http://www.grant-thornton.co.uk/ ) they describe themselves as ‘one of the leading organisations of independent assurance, tax and advisory firms’ and strive to help businesses to discover ‘how to do things better, smarter, faster to achieve business growth and maximise wealth’. They ‘have partnered with the Daily Telegraph on an editorial & event series that examines how the most dynamic companies are achieving growth today; how are they capitalising on opportunities, and knocking through the barriers.’ In their latest Transparency Report pubished on their website they say that ‘at 30 June 2012, the firm employed 3,934 people (2011: 3,692), and currently provides client services from 23 locations throughout the United Kingdom. In addition, they have branch offices in the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands. My interest was definitely piqued by now, so I kept looking…

images (3)It didn’t take me long to discover that back in August 2010 Grant Thornton offered the Conservative Party the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and non-cash donations such as staff secondments and consultancy services. 

Not long after taking office the Coalition decided to abolish the Audit Commission and The Observer reported:-

“The government’s decision to close down the Audit Commission, the public spending quango, is likely to benefit a number of companies that have donated large amounts to the Conservative party. Accountancy giants such as KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and Grant Thornton have offered the party the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and non-cash donations such as staff secondments and consultancy services. A government spokesman said it was “incorrect and malicious” to suggest that the major auditors will benefit from the closure of the quango – saying ministers hoped that “100 different” companies will win contracts. But critics point out all the companies have large public-sector audit departments and would be likely to put forward extremely strong bids. They also make up four out of five companies named on the Audit Commission’s website as already carrying out 30% of its public-sector audits.”

So it looks like the Coalition government dissolved a public body who audited public sector organisations very soon after the election providing more potential business for the big private auditors mentioned above and these guys hand over a significant financial reward  – but only to one party in the Coalition. I’m not suggesting they should have shared their largesse equally between the two coalition parties by saying that but pointing out that on top of the significance of rewarding a political party at this time, this also strongly suggests they have some friends in the Conservative party they want to keep onside.

Now we’ve all seen Margaret Hodge recently denouncing publicly and loudly about how KPMG have been allowed to be involved in government policy making on tax avoidance issues when they could soon be advising their wealthy clients how to get round the new regulations. The government obviously didn’t see any conflict of interest here or they wouldn’t have invited KPMG to consult on these matters. But then from a Conservative viewpoint, at least, their interests are definitely not conflicted by this.

I decided this needed further investigation so I did a bit of digging into the main players at Grant Thornton…and what I found was very interesting indeed.

images (7)Here we see Scott Barnes CEO of Grant Thornton being interviewed on CNBC TV about the economic opportunities afforded by the London Olympics. He also regularly blogs on a government website called ‘Great Business’

http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/2013/06/14/ten-tips-for-small-businesses-and-entrepreneurs-to-get-ahead/

download (1)He also writes regularly in the Torygraph and has set up a Grant Thornton ‘microsite’ under the banner of ‘unlocking the growth agenda’. He boasts on the company’s main website that:-

“We have partnered with the Daily Telegraph on an editorial & event series that examines how the most dynamic companies are achieving growth today; how are they capitalising on opportunities, and knocking through the barriers.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/business/grant-thornton/

I showed in a previous post how the Telegraph has gone out of its way to allow its editorial agenda to be commandeered by private healthcare vested interests –

http://wp.me/p3mYc5-42

download (1)Next up is Ed Warner OBE perhaps better known as the head honcho at UK Athletics and thus heavily involved in last year’s London Olympics. Ed is on Grant Thornton’s board but even more interesting is the fact that he’s Chair of Panmure Gordon, the investment bankers where David Cameron’s father made his fortune.

download One of the recent clients of Panmure Gordon is the pharmaceutical company based in Oxford,e-Therapeutics, who are currently working on a new cancer drug and a new drug for depression – both potential money spinners.

DavidCameron_eTherapeutics They recently invested in a new drug discovery centre in Oxford which was officially opened by none other than David Cameron.

Warner is also  Chairman of the IPC Athletics Sport Technical Committee  and was recently appointed as head of the Organising Committee for the 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations Championships (IAAF) World Championships in London by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) when it was still the remit of Jeremy Hunt, and the Mayor of London’s office. Boris Johnson personally vouched for him.

Obviously Ed is well connected with some top Conservatives.

download (3) The claim that Grant Thornton are an ‘independent’ disinterested outfit is even more discredited when you take into account that they have a large portfolio of clients in the private healthcare sector. Their website says it all:-

“In the private sector, our clients range from providers of primary and secondary care to private equity houses, care home providers and pharmaceutical and equipment suppliers. We focus on solutions. Our team is made up of highly experienced professionals who have a thorough understanding of the dynamics of the healthcare sector and who recognise that our clients require our service to be delivered on time and on budget. We pride ourselves on listening to our clients, working in an open and flexible manner and developing innovative, bespoke solutions. We were announced ‘Health Investor Accountant of the Year’ in 2009 and 2010 in recognition of our seamless range of services for a variety of high profile assignments across all parts of the healthcare sector. Our commitment to the sector is demonstrated by the pro bono work that our professionals undertake, serving on the boards of Foundation Trusts, Department of Health working parties and mentoring projects for civil servants. In addition, we regularly speak at leading healthcare conferences and contribute to industry journals.”

In 2011 they produced a different kind of report entitled ‘Healthcare: The Finance Flow: Is it moving?’ in which they describe a survey of “200 CEOs and CFOs of UK businesses with turnovers in the £25-250 million range” in order to discover how confident they felt about their business opportunities in the UK health sector. They asked the question,

“Are you planning to undertake a significant transaction in the coming 12 months?”

73% of the 200 big companies surveyed said “yes”.

This is what our government claim is an ‘independent’ organisation. They seem to be rewriting the dictionary.

download (4)Now we need to turn our attention to the CQC and in particular to its newly appointed CEO, David Prior because this is where the plot thickens. Prior was appointed as CEO on 28th January this year after the resignation of Jo Williams and in the midst of the current scandal. He earns £63K for 2 to 3 days work a week.

CQC-David-PriorDavid Prior is a former Conservative MP (Norwich) who was also the Chief Executive of the Conservative Party. He was the government’s ‘preferred candidate’ for the job, a fact that the Guardian said, last December, was ’cause for concern’.Peter Beresford, a professor of social policy at Brunel University wrote in the Guardian:-

“Unfortunately, whatever helpful skills and experience Prior has, for example, in his role as chair of Norfolk and Norwich University hospitals foundation trust, these are likely to be undermined by his close history with the leading party in the coalition. More thought and independence of mind must be shown in making this decision than were evident in the earlier decisions regarding top appointments to the commission.”

What Professor Beresford doesn’t say is that back in 2007, when Prior was also the non-executive chairman of the private healthcare company Chancellor Care which owned Cawston Park, a private mental hospital, he was arrested, along with other board members, on allegations of defrauded the NHS of £2.3 million. He was later cleared of the charge and Chancellor Care was bought out by the Jeesal Group who provide private mental health care.

images (8)From the moment he stepped into the job at the CQC Prior has been calling for hospital closures and criticising the state of A&E’s – in other words this head of a so-called politically independent watchdog has been publicly peddling the Tory agenda of privatisation.

According to The Slog blog, an excellent source for a comprehensive timeline of NHS privatisation :-

“Mr Prior is calling for large-scale closures of hospital beds, and a massive diversion of investment monies into community care. Unfortunately, the Lansley-Hunt axis of madness privatised most of the Primary Care sector, which they have handed over to a combo of Dave’s mate Sir Richard Branson and go-getting GP entrepreneurs on £250,000 a year and no after-hours working, thank you very much.”

http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/tag/cqc-david-prior/

newslogo_nhePrior spoke at a conference hosted by health think tank the King’s Fund this May which was reported on the NHE website. He said too many patients were arriving in hospital as emergencies, when they could have been helped earlier:-

“If we don’t start closing acute beds, the system is going to fall over. Emergency admissions through Accident & Emergency (A&E) are out of control in large parts of the country … That is totally unsustainable”

He claimed that the CQC has identified 45 hospitals with sustained problems over the past five years, which have been set as a priority for inspection. A further 20% of hospitals are “coasting along”,

And he continues to sound even more like the SoS for Health when he says:-

“I think primary care is in bad shape. I think GPs ought to be responsible 24/7 – they should never have opted out from out of hours care.”

0_0_393_http-__offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk_News_PG_89708F60-BFC9-851D-3EF48E898E5E2E69Robert Francis QC  who was responsible for the report of the inquiry into the Mid Staffs NHS Foundation Trust has implied that in the future the CQC ought to merge with Monitor, who are the economic regulator set up to promote effective and efficient providers of health and care, to promote competition, regulate prices and safeguard the continuity of services. Whilst Monitor is a public body serious questions have been raised by Social Investigations about its CEO, David Bennett.

1261266_bennett-davidSocial Investigations found an internal memo written by NHSPN director, David Worskett which reveals both he and Monitor chief, David Bennett met during the Health bill ‘pause’ under the auspices of free market think tank, Reform. NHSPN is a consortium of private healthcare providers. The document was an update informing the groups members on the lobbying that had taken place during the so-called ‘listening exercise’. Mr Worksett informs his members how: ‘I had a second lengthy meeting…under the auspices of “Reform”, with only a handful of other (all like-minded) people present, including David Bennett, the chair of Monitor. He has also consistently taken the same line as us throughout.’

David Bennett’s bias was also brought into question previously when a FOI revealed an email from an unnamed McKinsey executive from May 2010, suggesting it was planning to exploit its privileged access to government. It stated: “We have been gathering our thinking on the implications of the new Government programme for the NHS (and) have started to share this with clients. Would you like to meet to discuss it?” The recipient of the email was David Bennett.

David Bennett was a former senior partner at McKinsey & Co, the architects of the £20bn savings that are being justified to sell off large chunks of the NHS.

nhs-plcIf the government were so eager to close down the Audit Commission almost as soon as they took over in 2010,paving the way for private auditors to make profit from public money, then its not inconceivable that they would merge the CQC with Monitor. Since both David Prior of the CQC and David Bennett of Monitor seem ‘on message’ with the privatisation agenda, whatever watchdog emerged would be likely to embrace a culture of private healthcare. A culture that put profit before patients.

It seems to me that the Conservative Party is effectively operating as a PR Department for big business simply there to sell their projects to us; and as such the democratic process is dead. These are people who WE employ to represent us, who are paid at least three times the average wage for that privilege.

On the BBC’s ‘advert’ for the Parliament channel David Cameron can be heard shouting self-righteously:-

“I know where I stand, I know where this Party stands, and that’s in the national interest!”

No you don’t David. You and your Party exist entirely to cater to the multinational interest.