Socialist Worker

Don't fall for 'Trust me, I'm a doctor'

| Doctors | Metronet | Crime | Who says? |

Issue No. 1891

FULL-PAGE ads appeared in the press last week from the 'Doctors for Reform' group. The group called for moves towards people being made to get compulsory private medical insurance to pay for NHS treatment. Doctors for Reform claims to be 'an independent, non-party group'. Really? It shares the same London address as the Reform think-tank.

Reform's guiding principles are 'free enterprise, limited government and individual responsibility'. Take a glance at the board of Reform. Director Nick Herbert is a former Tory and was a key figure in the Business For Sterling anti-euro bosses' group. The chair of the Reform board is Sir Christopher Gent.

The former chief of Vodafone made personal donations last year of at least £12,000 to the Tories. Other Reform board members include Adrian Bull. He is the managing director of Carillion Healthcare, a private contractor which has taken over cleaning and other NHS work. Carillion was at the centre of a strike last year which saw workers in Scunthorpe and Grimsby battle poverty pay.

Also on Reform's board is Professor Patrick Minford. This economist was a key adviser to Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s and helped shape the Thatcherite programme she implemented from 1979. And that's 'independent' and 'non-party'!


In this week - 30 years ago - 1974

TORY prime minister Edward Heath left 10 Downing Street after losing a general election in the middle of a miners' strike. Heath called the election, asking, 'Who runs the country?' as the miners' action bit and won wide solidarity. 'Not you,' millions answered Heath, as Labour won a narrow majority.


You couldn't make it up

GEORGE BUSH'S razor sharp mind has been a long time in the making. His mother reminisced at a Washington party recently about his schooldays. 'I'll never forget the paper he wrote in fourth grade', said Barbara Bush, 'where he explained that in 1519 Ferdinand Magellan set out to circumcise the world.'


Breaking news on Metronet

METRONET IS one of the consortiums making billions from the privatisation of the London Underground. It now controls two thirds of the tube's infrastructure. So it must have important things to tell us, right? Its last three press releases show just how much bang we're getting for our buck:

(1) Some old computer equipment has been given to charity; (2) A garden was spruced up after Metronet battered it while shoring up a wall; and (3) 13 old station clocks have been replaced with digital ones.

Metronet's press officers didn't have time to put out a press release explaining how contractors had damaged ten trains and shut down three lines for an hour because they installed the wrong size brackets on the side of a tunnel.

Thanks to Tony Collins


Crime-together we'll crack it?

A 12 year old deaf girl suffered a black eye and bruised ribs after being roughed up by police. Gemma Sharp was so traumatised that she was off school for four years. A jury in Sheffield agreed last week that she was unlawfully arrested and awarded her £3,500 in damages.

Gemma was arrested after telling two officers to stop arguing with her mum, who was trying to report an arson attack. The Police Complaints Authority has already ruled that officers used 'unreasonable force' against Gemma.


Lifting the lid on Israel

DOCUMENTS FROM Israeli archives have proved something that supporters of Israel have always sought to deny-that the state of Israel was founded on the deliberate expulsion of the Palestinians. It meant an Israeli historian came up with the sickest conclusion in an interview in the 9 January issue with Israeli paper Ha'aretz.

Benny Morris said the archives show in 1947 key Zionist leaders like David Ben Gurion concluded that Israel would not be viable with only the territory assigned to it by the United Nations. It heralded 'the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians', says Morris. This resulted, Morris says, in 'far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought' including 'many cases of rape [that] ended in murder'.

Morris goes on to say, 'Ben Gurion was right. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians a Jewish state would not have arisen here.' His only criticism is that Ben Gurion 'faltered' and did not go far enough. He believes it is only a matter of time before Israel completes the job by 'cleansing' the entire West Bank of Palestinians too.


Happy for handouts

NEW LABOUR'S trade secretary had the time of her life last summer, and it didn't cost her a penny. Patricia Hewitt and family's social whirl is revealed in the latest register of MPs' interests. The bills were picked up by some of the biggest names in the business world.

These are some of the same companies whose activities Hewitt 'oversees' in her role as trade secretary. Hewitt, her son and two friends attended the FA Cup final on 14 May, courtesy of the giant phone company O2.

The next day Hewitt's son and daughter were at the West End premiere of Matrix Reloaded, guests of AOL Time Warner. On 19 May Hewitt and husband were at the Chelsea Flower Show, courtesy of City consultants KPMG.

June was a bit quieter. Just a visit to the opera at Glyndebourne for Hewitt and husband, thanks to BP. On 5 July Hewitt and her daughter managed the Ladies' Finals day at Wimbledon, guests of US plane maker Boeing. And on 20 July Hewitt took her son and one of his friends to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, paid for by car firm Jaguar.


Figure it out 1,000

The number of women forced to take legal action each year after being sacked for being pregnant. This is after laws banning discrimination against women were introduced 30 years ago, says the Equal Opportunities Commission.


Who says?

'What does it say about us as a people, as the foremost military power in the world, when our women soldiers sometimes have more to fear from their fellow soldiers than from the enemy?'
SUSAN COLLINS, Republican senator on reports that 100 US women have been sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan

'If there's one thing that actors know, other than there weren't any WMDs, it's that there is no such thing as best.'
SEAN PENN anti-war actor sneaks a reference to the war into his Oscar acceptance speech

'He's more often to be seen in the directors' box, swallowing prawn sandwich after prawn sandwich at the expense of the ordinary fan.'
THEO PAPHITIS chairman of Millwall football club on Alistair Darling, who he accuses of using his close ties to Blair to enjoy freebies at the club

'Would it be better to be a former pornographer rather than a pornographer? I'm probably being more honest by keeping them.'
RICHARD DESMOND Daily Express owner commenting last year on why he refused to sell his porn magazines

'It's a nice thing for the staff. They have been working for a company that was not interested in the magazines.'
RICHARD DESMOND after selling his porn magazines in a bid to get the Daily Telegraph


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 6 Mar 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1891
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