The Government has initiated 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) for the NHS in England. Under this innocuous-sounding title lies a major threat the continued existence of the NHS... The effects will be equally devastating, with the closure of beds, of key units including paediatric, maternity and cardiovascular and of whole A&E departments which are now bearing the brunt of the cuts elsewhere in the NHS. Entire hospitals will close in The Black Country and in Leicestershire, while many others including Cheshire and Merseyside will have 'fewer beds'. The plans are based on wilful self-delusion.
The Democratic National Convention made history last night. It was the first time that the partner of the presidential nominee got to do anything other than look up adoringly at their beloved. Instead this partner got to speak for a whole hour eulogising their mate. But this partner was President Bill Clinton and the presidential nominee was his wife of over forty years Hilary Rodham Clinton.
The health of children should be a priority for any Government as a moral duty, but also for the very practical reason that the savings made by cutting their care will be eclipsed by the multiplied costs of caring for them in adulthood. In the face of this crisis, the government as part of its wider budget reductions, has made its biggest cuts to local public health, which includes local health visitors, child obesity programmes and school nurses. This is not only wrong-headed, but a scandalous false economy.
Yet for the last six years the Conservative Party had sold the myth of austerity, promising that that cutting public services would "save money", rather than simply put our poorest citizens through unnecessary misery - or worse -and chock off a sustainable economic recovery. The NHS has been biggest casualty of his this ideologically-driven slash and burn of the public sphere.
If this government were to use its power to ban such unjust practices and address inequality at its core, it would boost developing nations' public finances, which could be spent by their governments on their own sustainable development. But until that day, the Labour Party stands solidly behind maintaining 0.7%.
At the last High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS in 2011, the coalition government sent a delegation led by Minister Stephan O'Brien. But sadly, this time round, no minister from the UK Government will attend. In addition, the Department for International Development (DFID), the lead department for this UN meeting, is not planning to send a senior member of staff either. In the context of a meeting that is expected to be well attended by ministers and even presidents from some countries, this sends a bad message about the importance the UK places on a successful High Level Meeting.
Today, on the International Day for Street Children, we in Europe must acknowledge that we have a problem - a known unknown - of a rising number of young and vulnerable people who need protection. The vast majority of Europeans see street children as a faraway problem that they hear about on the news or witness for themselves on holidays to nations in the developing world. The EU's political impotence in the face of the migration emergency means that this is no longer the case: thousands of street children are now sleeping rough on doorsteps from Athens to Paris.
Britain's refusal to shut its tax havens also makes possible tax avoidance by global corporations and global leaders. This is a stitch up. Meaningful reform of the tax system in the interest of the public is being prevented due to the interests of the world's rich and powerful, who are making a killing. Those literally being killed from this cosy deal are the world's poor. An estimated 1,000 children die each day across the developing world because illicit and untaxed income is spirited away from developed countries into tax havens.
The camp is a fragile and desperate place. There are thousands of people, including babies and very young children, living in freezing conditions with no education, limited food and healthcare. The efforts of the volunteers and agencies responding to the crisis are remarkable, but it is quite clear that much more needs to be done.
I agree with Mark Goldring of Oxfam GB that a crackdown on global tax havens is a necessary step towards ending this rampant global inequality. Indeed, it is also a necessary step towards international development more broadly... A Labour Government will genuinely tackle tax avoidance and work for ambitious global agreements on international development that seek to tackle inequality and its drivers.
Prime Minister Questions last week saw Conservative MP Philip Davies argue (sadly echoing the comments of an MP from our own benches over the Christmas break) that money should be taken from the international development budget to pay for the much needed extra resources to deal with the consequences of the recent flooding. This is a false choice - however, it is not the only threat to Britain's international development budget.
When Charles Kennedy passed away last year, he was universally and rightly praised for devoting his life to politics. The phrase "career politician" never came up. Is it so reprehensible to make sure a minister hits all his marks compared to being an MP in your 20s? Or a councillor, or any political job?
My constituents and Britain as a whole needs a Labour Party that together takes the opposition to the Tories and deliver a Labour government the country so desperately needs; an equal and fair society with housing for all, a world class national health system, plus well-paid and high-skilled jobs. Let's make it happen.