Thursday, January 03, 2008 

Scum-watch: Gormless idiocy over Network Rail.

Startlingly fact free garbage in today's Scum says:

Brutish Rail

WHEN John Prescott renationalised the railways, he promised a superb new integrated transport service. We assumed he meant clean, affordable, punctual trains.

What on earth is the Sun talking about? The railways have most certainly not been "renationalised"; only Railtrack, which owned the lines and the stations, not the trains, was taken back "in house" with the creation of Network Rail. Secondly, it was also nothing to do with John Prescott: it was the work of Stephen Byers, then transport secretary.

Billions of pounds later, passengers travel in shabby squalor, plagued by delays and cancellations or are left high and dry as networks close down for days at a stretch.

And to add insult to injury, we are paying through the nose for the privilege in ever higher fares.

The former of which is the work of the private franchisees, not Network Rail. The government only has control over how much the saver tickets can be raised by, not the peak-time singles.

Thanks again, John.

Thanks again to the Tories and the insanity of privatising the railways in the first place. If I was conspiratorially minded, I wonder if the Scum is blaming John Prescott rather than Byers because of its sympathy towards his Blairite politics. I'm more inclined to believe however that whichever idiot wrote this leader column simply doesn't have a clue.

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Monday, November 19, 2007 

Scum-watch: We know better than the workers.

Today's Scum is highly annoyed about Brown and Alan Johnson daring to decide not to hand over yet more vast sums to private health companies who were getting paid for operations and treatments regardless of whether or not they actually were used or not:

GORDON Brown was slammed last night for blowing £100million of taxpayers’ cash scrapping Tony Blair’s NHS reforms.

The PM could have built two children’s hospitals, or hired 4,000 nurses with the cash.

Instead, he has used it to compensate private health firms after axing their NHS contracts.

Instead of leveling the blame with Blair and Johnson's predecessors for drawing up contracts which paid a lump sum to the private sector firms rather than on the actual amount of work they did, Brown gets in the neck. £100million is a disgraceful amount of compensation to pay to firms which must be laughing all the way to bank with the way the NHS works; they build hospitals with fewer beds than the ones they're replacing, and then have years' of payments still to look forward to under the hugely wasteful private finance initiative, and when they get their contracts canceled because they're not treating enough patients they still get paid! The blame however lies with Blair and his ideological fervour for marketised solutions which has imposed such madness on the NHS.

The Scum's leader knows who's really to blame though, and would you believe it, it's the unions:

AXEING private contracts for the NHS is foolish.

Gordon Brown should think again.

The NHS needs competition to drive up standards. It needs private firms to perform the ops and services so waiting lists can be cut.

This is nonsense. Almost all of the centres being scrapped were not seeing the volume of work they expected to; patients were voting with their feet through the choice system to go with the state rather than the private sector, even if it meant a slightly longer wait. As Alan Johnson set out, one of the services in the West Midlands had a take-up of 5%. Continuing to pay for 100% take-up when it was only doing 5% is economically insane.

Spending £100million to compensate companies for tearing up their contracts is shocking.

True, but so is continuing to pay private health firms in full when their centres were sitting idle, especially when their introduction in the first place was completely unnecessary.

And it’s a disgusting price to pay for appeasing the unions, who only care about protecting jobs.

Christ, unions caring about protecting jobs? What's next? The police only caring about catching criminals? Rupert Murdoch only caring about his own self-interest? In any case, the unions don't just care about protecting jobs; they also care about how the NHS is little by little being broken up, being readied for inevitable full-scale privatisation whenever the government decides that a free at the point of use service is no longer "economically sustainable", as the treatment of Karen Reissmann demonstrates.

Mr Brown should ignore their selfish bleating.

And put patients’ lives first.

Quite right. The Sun and the CBI know better than the workers on the front line what's best for the NHS, and yet more private snouts in the public trough is the only way forward.

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