Summary: Theresa May in this photograph, taken yesterday, has the expression of a mediaeval saint about to be horribly martyred. She is responsible for the extraordinary nastiness of the hostile environments policy she developed as Home Secretary. We are now seeing it exposed with the Windrush scandal and so many other parts of what is happening with the UK immigration policies. She has consistently worked to make Conservative policy nastier and nastier whenever it comes to foreigners from outside the EU. Yet she neglected totally what she could have done easily within the current EU regulations to manage immigration from within Europe.
It is difficult to exaggerate the awfulness of Theresa May’s time both in the Home Office and as PM when we think about her effect on immigration. In 2013 the Home Office (Theresa May was Home Secretary then) establish her “hostile environments policy” which was designed to put every possible impediment in the way of immigration from outside the EU.
For many years apparently minor changes to Home Office rules have been made to tighten the screws on almost anyone who wants to come to work in the UK even if they have a firm job offer. Bringing in your partner or your children is made almost impossible if you are a lower earner. If you don’t have the right documentation you will be thrown out summarily.
The inhumanity of one tiny aspect of that policy has been exposed by the Windrush scandal. Jamaicans who arrived in the UK at the invitation of the British government were given no papers on arrival. They worked for decades, paying their taxes and national insurance only to find themselves being summarily deprived of their jobs, medical and social care treatment and any access to benefits. In one case a man who had been in the UK for over 40 years was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was asked for £54,000 upfront for treatment. Others have already been deported.
But that is only one part of what has been so awful. In order for a non-EU citizen to come to the UK and work they need a Certificate of Sponsorship. These are issued provided the applicant has been offered a job that is well paid, at least £30,000 and for some jobs much more than that. The number of CoS’s available and granted has dropped by 60% over the last 12 months. We now have a situation where highly qualified consultants from outside the EU are being offered posts that the NHS desperately needs filled to have their CoS denied. Others critical to our economy are being turned away.
And then what happens if you have a job (and many immigrants have relatively low paid jobs) and you want to be joined in the UK by your partner and children? Well, in many cases, that’s just too bad. You would have to earn nearly £25,000 per annum to bring your wife and two children. And an extra £200 per year for healthcare. And the Visa only lasts for 33 months though it can be reapplied for. After five years you can apply for permanent residency (a cost of over £1000).
You also have to provide an enormous amount of documentary evidence such as having lived together, having children together (can you prove they are your children?) or having a shared bank account or savings together. Often not the case for people on low income. If you get divorced everyone is out. And don’t for a moment think that any of this will be resolved quickly. Often summary deportation documents will be issued and you can be arrested and within 72 hours put on the next plane out. Massive inefficiencies in the Home Office procedures can mean detention for years. The system is harsh and has no concept of humanity. It redefines the concept of being nasty and unthinking and uncaring.
While all this was going on, Theresa May as Home Secretary did absolutely nothing to implement the standard widely agreed EU regulations covering the movement of people into the UK from within the EU. There are many limitations and restrictions that could be imposed. These regulations require a level of income, and many other restrictions that stop people living here on benefits. You can read more about that here: http://outsidethebubble.net/2018/02/26/labour-can-substantially-restrict-freedom-of-movement-under-current-arrangements/ .
Brexit was a great success for the Leave campaigns who have admitted using Nazi era propaganda methods of disinformation and exaggeration. One of the key concerns of the UK electorate has been for many years in word immigration. The way these are counted to include people such as students who almost always return to their home country yet are assumed to stay on is typical of what has happened.
The Brexit campaign used these concerns quite unashamedly. The notorious picture of Nigel Farage in front of poster showing a line of refugees taken far from British or indeed European borders. Using the techniques outlined by Cambridge Analytica they fed the most outrageous lies through social media to pervert a referendum in a totally undemocratic way.
Their total opposition of Brexiteers to a second referendum shows everyone that they know they have been found out and they dare not allow another vote that they realise they could well lose. Gradually people are realising that the country simply cannot function without immigration no matter how much the right-wing media keep focusing on it.
What happens to the 3 million EU citizens currently living in the UK after Brexit? This of course is another part of the negotiations that have not yet been finalised. It is likely that each will have to pay a fee in excess of £1000 for this application. This will only apply to anybody from the EU who are still left in the UK after Brexit!
Summary: Jeremy Corbyn has clearly stated on a number of occasions that he agrees with Leave campaigners that the unlimited free movement of EU citizens to the UK must be curtailed. It is not widely known that the rules that define the permitted extent of Freedom of Movement within the European Union allow very much more control than the UK currently exercises. Working EU citizens are allowed in but non-economically active EU citizens can only stay longer than three months if they have sufficient finance and take out a comprehensive sickness insurance policy. Benefit/welfare tourism is illegal and EU citizens who have not been working have no rights to benefits. Theresa May was Home Secretary from 2010 yet she did nothing even though it was in her power simply to implement the rules as drawn up when the UK joined the European Union. This is an extraordinary example of massive and shameful negligence by Theresa May and provided much of the momentum leading to the success of the Leave campaign.
There is no reason why the Labour Party should not simply accept the full potential restrictions there are on EU migration. By doing so many of the soundbite objections to free movement used by the right-wing media and many of the Leave supporters could be re-spun as Labour Party policy. Such an approach would show Labour in a positive light about immigration as well as being entirely compatible with the existing memberships that the UK has of the EU.
One of the key promises of David Cameron’s government was to reduce immigration to a level of tens of thousands. The implementation of immigration policy was the responsibility of Theresa May, the Home Secretary from 2010 until she became Prime Minister in the middle of 2016. Around half the net migration into the UK was from countries outside the EU and therefore potentially controllable by the Home Office. The other half comes from the EU and politicians of all shades in the UK have accepted that the unrestricted freedom of movement (FoM) of people from the EU at any time was part of being a member of the European Union. There is presently no attempt to track people coming into the UK with an EU passport or indeed to track them when they leave the UK. Estimates of EU migration are indeed estimates as accurate figures do not exist. In a comment by Colin Gordon in a piece on the leftfootforward.org website by Ian Dunt it is pointed out that, incredibly, the above understanding of EU citizens rights under the FoM provisions are being seriously misrepresented by politicians from all sides and in particular from those of the Leave campaign. This is detailed in: http://tinyurl.com/jjysrx9. A more detailed piece by Prof.Brad K. Blitz may be found at: http://bit.ly/1DG3I4I. For those who really have a lot of time on your hands, the regulations covering free movement of workers within the European Union can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/zl5rw4s (the website of the European Parliament).
What are these rules in reality? Freedom for a citizen of another EU member state to move to the UK applies to (taken from http://tinyurl.com/jjysrx9):
- Economically active EU-citizens (i.e. working)
- Plus their families if EU-citizens
- Non-economically active EU-citizens for up to 3-months
- In addition, non-economically active (not working) EU-citizens can stay longer than 3-months provided:
- They can show they have sufficient finance
- They take out a comprehensive sickness insurance policy
Freedom of Movement does not apply to:
• Non-economically active EU-citizens without funds
• Non-economically active EU-citizens without sickness insurance
• EU-citizens who have no realistic chance of working
• Family members of an EU citizen who is not an EU Citizen may reside in the UK but does not have an automatic right to work
• EU-citizens working in the UK acquire rights to benefits after working for a period
• EU-citizens not working do not have rights to Benefits.
In addition, the UK has the right to restrict FoM through:
• Suspension of the FoM for up to 7 years from when a new member country joins by preventing/prohibiting movement or the UK can insist upon work permits for each migrant
• Benefit/Welfare “tourism” is illegal
No-one has been prosecuted to-date under these regulations as the UK is not tracking movement of EU citizens in and out of the UK.
The piece on: http://tinyurl.com/jjysrx9 also summarises research showing the current levels of benefit tourism (essentially undetectable) and also points out that research clearly demonstrates that migrants do not appear to reduce wages and do not appear to take jobs from the UK natives. Because migrants from the EU are young and healthy and keen to work, the HMRC said that in the year 2013/2014 recently arrived EEA nationals paid £3.1 billion in income tax and took out £0.56 billion in HMRC benefits.
The fact that the British government has completely failed to implement the controls outlined above which already exist and do not require any changes in European Union legislation is utterly shameful. This negligence has contributed very substantially to the pressure that led to the success of the Leave campaign. The fact that Labour and the other political parties have also been unaware of these facts and, if they were, certainly not been prepared to talk about them is further evidence that the political system in the UK is so much poorer than the British public must have.
Summary: South Africa has been plagued by corruption for about the same time that the UK has been plagued by austerity imposed on the poor by our right-wing governments. We don’t need to look for corruption as they find it in South Africa. Our system makes it very easy to transfer large sums of money from the public sector into private hands because of the way that our company laws are structured. Shareholders and Directors are able to walk away with large sums of money leaving pension deficits for the state to cope with. Combined with the widespread use of tax havens, many under British jurisdiction, the net effect is that the UK is effectively a highly corrupt country.
The resignation of Jacob Zuma as President of the Republic of South Africa promises a much better economic and social future for that country. Emerging economies in Africa are achieving growth rates in excess of 4% yet the RSA has been running at about one third of that level. In South Africa there growth is only slightly ahead of Zimbabwe, a widely acknowledged economic basket-case. Unemployment stands at an amazing 27%. As a country, it has considerable natural resources, including gold and diamonds as well as a large area with good agricultural potential. Yet the poor have been suffering dreadfully.
The remarkably poor economic performance of the RSA in lifting the poor, largely black population out of poverty has been very poor indeed. Much of this is attributed to a deep, embedded corruption masterminded by Jacob Zuma and probably involving the extremely wealthy Gupta family. Within South Africa it is believed that such interests have essentially captured the state economy for their own benefit.
At about the same time that Jacob Zuma became President of the RSA the Conservative/LibDem coalition came to power. That government and the subsequent Tory government instituted one of the harshest programs of austerity in the world. Since then the British economy has grown significantly less rapidly than the rest of the European Union. Indeed the growth rates most recently experienced by the EU are the highest for a decade at 2.8%. The effect of austerity has been to keep the UK growth rate substantially lower. Some hard-core Brexiteers claim this is a consequence of the UK being held back by the constraints of being part of the EU. They ignore that it doesn’t seem to have done any harm at all other EU member countries.
After the Brexit vote, the value of sterling collapse by about 15%. That had been predicted to provide a significant boost for growth in the UK. This has not materialised and it continues to be very much lower than the rest of the EU at about 1.4%.
This much poorer performance in the UK cannot be blamed on corruption of the same sort we clearly have in South Africa. In the UK it is generally accepted that large sums of money are not passed overtly between the government and major commercial organisations. In the UK there is no need to use illegal methods of becoming much richer. This is because the systems in the UK are already well designed to enable already wealthy and powerful people substantially richer.
To understand this we only need to look at the fiasco with Carillion. This company has just declared bankruptcy because of unrealistic estimates for major construction contracts. Very large debts have been left behind and the Pension Funds are underfunded by in excess of £1 billion. Only one fund out of the dozens that there are is in surplus. Unsurprisingly it is the fund that provides the pensions of Directors.
Very substantial sums of money were passed to shareholders and to the directors in the form of vast bonuses. The default of the company means that the state Pension Protection Fund will have to make up the very substantial difference. The net effect is that very large sums of money are being transferred to the private sector in the form of shareholders and company directors. Suppliers to these companies have virtually no chance of receiving any payments.
This is how corruption works in the UK. It effectively keeps down any growth and encourages austerity. Money which could have been invested in the growth of the UK has been diverted. Corruption in the UK is further compounded by the widespread use of tax havens to launder profits and keep ownership secret. The government have undertaken to sort this out and largely eliminate tax havens, many of which are directly under British control. The right-wing Tory government of course have very little interest on that and so surprise, surprise nothing has happened. The corruption that the use of these tax havens essentially is permitting continues unabated.
Summary: the NHS and our social care services are under extraordinary pressure. The government continues to claim that the NHS is “safe in their hands”. It is not at all. They claim the NHS is the best in the world yet a report suggests that amongst the top 12 economies, the NHS is the second poorest in terms of preventing, detecting and treating illness. So many wrong decisions have been made about so many aspects of doing the right thing for the NHS it is difficult to know where Labour might start if they get into power. So many of government claims are simply being “economical with the truth”. They must be resisted at every turn.
The NHS is the best health service in the world. True. Or at least it was when Labour handed responsibility for it first to the coalition and then to the Tories. We were all greatly reassured by David Cameron many years ago claiming “the NHS is safe in our hands”. He repeated that in his first major speech after 2015 election and said “a 7-day NHS, safe in our hands, for every generation to come”. Theresa May has continued to parrot that phrase, oblivious to the reality faced by anyone who goes near an NHS hospital in 2018.
So how come we see television pieces and read in the news media daily about one disaster after another? Ambulances queueing to pass individuals in need of urgent treatment. Stressed nurses working in overloaded A&E departments around the country. Patients waiting on chairs or trolleys in corridors, unable to be admitted because of other patients stuck in A&E. Patients stuck in A&E because other patients capable of being discharged from wards have nowhere to go since the social care system has been damaged even more than the NHS by real cuts.
We have an ageing population, a growing population and a rapidly growing increase in demand. A system that is as grossly overloaded as it is simply cannot cope with any additional pressure from winter flu or any kind of disaster. It takes so long now to get treatment in A&E that many patients are left much worse because they have not been treated in time.
Staff are under an intolerable pressure. Shortage of nurses (currently around 40,000) and doctors (about 9000) add to the strain. Application for a nursing position in the NHS requires passing a complex English language test intended for academics that includes a significant essay question. This causes many who speak perfectly adequate functional English to fail. Applications from nurses from the EU have dropped enormously, by a factor of more than 20, because of the risks around the insanity of Brexit that the nurses may simply be arbitrarily repatriated. Doctors appointed to NHS hospitals from overseas currently cannot get visas because the quota has been exceeded.
Nurse training now requires fees and accommodation to be paid for by the trainee nurse and not by the NHS who used to provide bursaries and subsidised accommodation. The idea that any young person might wish to become a nurse given the current TV coverage of the awful stress they will experience seems quite unlikely. 4/5 NHS nursing directors say their hospitals rely on the goodwill of staff to keep things running. There is more here: http://outsidethebubble.net/2017/02/02/government-driving-up-non-eu-immigration-intentionally/ .
What is causing this chaos? Surprise, surprise it’s all about money and the Tory obsession with austerity! It all started when Thatcher introduced the internal market, splitting the purchaser (health authorities) and the provider (hospitals) that were contracted to provide services. Labour opposed this strongly until they got into power then embraced it with enthusiasm. Tony Blair went much further, making the structure much more complex as well as getting into Private Finance Initiatives which to this day continue to drain money from the NHS. At least during the Labour years money continued to grow for the NHS. Not now, under the Tories.
When the Tories got their hands on the whole business the decided to trim every aspect of the health and social services in the UK (efficiency savings, of course), and further cuts are planned (yes, seriously). The Bank of England managed to print nearly £500 billion of new money in recent years to keep the banks afloat. When it came to health and social services, cuts were the order of the day. Income tax on the wealthy, increased to 50% in 2010, was reduced to 45% a couple of years later.
Over the last 10 years funding for the NHS and in particular the social services has lagged well behind inflation. The increase in demand and the size and age of the population continue to be simply ignored. The Tories insisted that the extra demand was simply because of large scale immigration from the EU. The right-wing media seized on that and the effect on demand of the (almost non-existent, in reality) scroungers.
Public funding for healthcare is forecast to fall from 7.6% of the GDP in 2009/10 to 6.8% by 2019/20. The rates in France are just under 9%, and Germany just over 9% of GDP. Increases in the NHS will average only 1.1% per annum through that period, very far from keeping up with the increasing demand or the increase in the cost from improved treatment procedures.
The recent announcement of a very small increase in the NHS budget in the 2017 budget is tiny and will have very little effect on the current multiplicity of crises. Estimates from The King’s Fund suggest that funding is currently running at least £4 billion lower in real terms than required.
Less than a year ago Theresa May again claimed the NHS was the best in the world, and absolutely safe in Tory hands. In fact the NHS was rated the second poorest out of 11 rich countries in healthcare outcomes assessed on the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses. The pay cap on many including nurses in the NHS has been lifted yet no new money provided to fund increases.
Yet there is worse still. Social care funding has dropped over the last eight years in real terms of over 8%. As a consequence the availability of places for convalescence, essential to help unblock the bed occupancy in hospitals is even poorer than it ever was. Only by providing such space is it possible to unblock the appalling logjam that is a typical NHS hospital today.
Only today the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, reports that the provision for children’s health in England is much poorer than in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales. In Scotland they have just passed an ambitious act to reduce child poverty and develop a new mental health strategy. The Tory government seems to see children as a burden on society. Austerity means we now have 72,000 children in care. The Tories made this worse by introducing a two child limit for family credit. This shows just how much they value children and how happy they must be to make the lives of poor families even more difficult.
Child obesity now runs at about 20% in year 6 (ages 10-11), and up to 26% in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. An obese child has an 80% chance of becoming an obese adult, with a life expectancy shortened by between 10 and 20 years. The Tories claim to have a world-leading plan to deal with child obesity. It is probably as complete as their Brexit Impact assessments (i.e. doesn’t exist). Legal action is again being taken against the government for their failure to deal with the High Court judgement against their inadequate plans to improve the quality of the very toxic air in our cities.
Where will the money come from? Assuming that the government are not prepared to get the Bank of England to print perhaps 1% of the money they printed for the banks over recent years, the idea of increasing tax on the very wealthy is totally dismissed by the Tories. Today we also have the news from the Tax Justice network that the Treasury have instructed HMRC not to worry about Amazon’s non-payment of tax. Another source of money that would make such a difference to the NHS but instead going to multi-billionaires overseas.
It is clear that the NHS really is NOT safe in their hands. Those hands are pretty lethal in reality. Labour will have to work so hard to unscramble this mess that is so bad that even 70% of Tory supporters are very concerned about the NHS, and fewer than 40% think Jeremy, the Health Secretary, should keep his job.