Public Inquiries, what are they good for?
Today, June 25, spokespeople for the Covid bereaved relatives’ campaign once again called for the immediate start of a public inquiry into the COVID pandemic. They were backed by Sir Robert Owen who chaired the public inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko and was counsel to the inquiry into the Ladbroke Grove rail disaster. He has urged Downing Street to move quickly to appoint a chair who can start establishing a panel and organise the disclosure of documents. Johnson has only offered vague promises that an inquiry will start in Spring 2022. Pundits in the press have already suggested Johnson does not want an inquiry concluded before the Tories call the next general election.
Simon Jenkins, who is no leftie, wrote an article on June 18 showing how public inquiries very rarely bring justice to the victims by ruling who is responsible. Just think of the Liverpool fans with the Hillsborough inquiry. In the end, the police officers in charge that day have not had to take any responsibility or punishment. At the same time, inquiries cost huge amounts of money and last far too long. The main benefactors he says are the legal profession. Jenkins even suggests it might be more just to calculate how much an inquiry will cost and then divvy up the money for the victims or the community affected.
Does that mean the left should not support calls for public inquiries? No, after all, it does allow some scrutiny of public and political governance. Sometimes an inquiry actually does make some difference. The Macpherson inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence murder did result in pinning institutional racism onto the Metropolitan police. We should campaign with the Covid bereaved for the earliest possible inquiry. Moreover, we need a hard battle on the terms of reference – for example, who can be called, and for all relevant documents to be made available.
Unfortunately, Labour under Starmer with his constructive engagement line was slower than other forces like the Liberal Democrats to call for a full public inquiry. Now Labour should be at the head of the campaign for full exposure.
Scandal of private companies making huge profits in children’s care
Recently A*CR covered the extended strike organised by workers at Leaways school in Hackney against the private company who was not running the special school very well despite receiving up to £50,000 per pupil per year. Every day it seems more and more of the welfare state and education is being run by for-profit companies or charities who often employ people at far worse rates than in the public sector.
This article gives chapter and verse on the scandal:
The children’s residential care home sector is “broken” and dominated by private companies that rack up excessive profits despite delivering consistently poor outcomes for young people, a government adviser is to say.
Josh MacAlister, the head of the government’s independent review of children’s social care, will warn children’s home bosses they must cut “indefensible” profits and improve the experience of young people in care or run the risk of intervention.
Rising levels of wealth are being made off the back of soaring children’s home fees and people are rightly concerned that the top 20 private providers are making over £250m a year in profits from the care of vulnerable children
Tories fail our kids but blame the school ‘support industry’ and ‘white privilege’
A few days ago A*CR ran a detailed article demolishing the unscientific and totally ideological arguments of the education committee’s tory majority report that examined the differences in performance between different ethnic groups of pupils. We won’t repeat the arguments here again but Michael Rosen, ex children’s laureate and a great man of the left managed to explain it all beautifully in his Facebook post:
1. Blame lefty teachers.
2. Blame families.
3. Blame kids.
4. Pretend the system is fair.
5. Never admit that one third fail because you have designed the system that way as if one third of the world are failures.
6. Chop up the ‘failures’ into categories that you invent (like ‘white working class’) so that the ‘failures’ can argue amongst themselves and leave the system intact.
7. Rely on the media to not question any of this
Amazon destroys hundreds of thousands of usable goods
If you needed evidence that the capitalist system always produces stuff for profit, not for human need or any concern about the environment then this story reveals it! An ITV investigation exposed how Amazon regularly has a destroy list of goods it thinks cost more to store than to sell. Of course, actually giving the items away does not really fit with how the market system works so that is not an option. The goods included laptops at a time when many poorer children are finding it more difficult to do well at school if they do not have access to one.
Probably if the mass media really chased stories that exposed how the system actually works we would have thousands and thousands of more examples of wastage and damage caused unnecessarily to the environment. These goods are taken to landfills and recycling but energy has been expended on making them and then nobody uses them.
A detailed article is here.
Brexit is done and dusted? Not affecting working people? We don’t think so
People could well be suffering from food shortages in the shops this summer. New immigration rules and the end of free movement inside the EU have not just meant a cut in work opportunities for European workers. It has also resulted in a lack of heavy goods drivers and food industry workers who are critical to the movement of food supplies to our supermarkets. It means a farmer who specialises in growing blueberries cannot get the daily pick up of his crop to go to the supermarket. Blueberries, like much of the soft summer fruit we consume, can only be held in storage for a few days before they spoil. Just like the Amazon story, it means producers are going to be chucking away tons of good fruit that could be helping people keep healthy.
The much-vaunted Australian trade deal is most likely going to have a negative effect on some farmers here but in reality, is only going to add 0.02 to GDP over the next ten years. The minister then had the cheek to say young people will have the opportunity to go live, work and study in Australia for 3 years. So you end the right of young people to go on Erasmus programmes, to which you can live, work and study in 27 countries on your doorstep, but you will always have Australia which will be unaffordable to many students. With the greatest respect to Australian culture, it does not really replace the opportunities in Europe.
More detail in the article here.
Peter Thiel – how the rich always game the system
Finally, here is yet another example of the super-rich manipulating the system for personal gain. Both here and in the states the media is quick to pounce on some poor person who claims benefits and maybe does a little paid work on the side to make ends meet. Multi-billionaire Peter Thiel, who is very much against any form of higher taxation, used an American tax-free savings account, like the ISAs we have here and designed for middle-income Americans, to net himself a $5 billion tax-free nest egg. More detail here.
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