Voices on the Left: 5 blogs from the left you need to read this week

A roundup of progressive news

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1.UK newspapers accepted money to publish positive environmental stories about Saudi Arabia around COP26 –Byline Times

Byline Times reports that the Independent and Evening Standard have been accused of greenwashing after accepting an undisclosed sum of money from Saudi Arabia to publish dozens of positive environmental stories about the country before, during, and after the COP26 UN climate change summit in Glasgow.

An investigation by the paper reveals that in the days preceding the summit and during its initial days, the Independent published at least 50 stories and videos under a commercial deal with Saudi Arabia.

The bulk of the stories published as part of the deal highlighted positive environmental actions related to the country and failed to mention negative contextual details. 80% of the stories either presented Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry or an environmental scheme in the country in a positive light.

2. Portugal’s home working laws are a model for the post-pandemic world – Tribune Magazine

In Portugal, new legislation is offering workers additional rights in the ‘work from home’ world – banning out-of-hours contact, outlawing surveillance and forcing employers to pick up the tab for expenses, reports Tribune Magazine.

With the pandemic resulting in a change in working practices for many workers, with millions working from home and home working likely to increase in the future, issues such as corporate spying in people’s homes and a broken work-life balance have grown in prominence.

Tribune explores how the government has passed new labour laws which it hopes will be a ‘game changer’ for the way remote working operates, including banning employers from monitoring workers from homes.

3. Website for booking NHS appointments offers mostly private healthcare-openDemocracy

An exclusive story from openDemocracy looks at how people waiting to book appointments with their GPs are being ‘plunged into a ‘baffling’ system of paid-for tests and ‘backdoor privatisation’.

Patients are being redirected to the website of a group called ‘Patient Access’, one of the biggest providers of patient-facing GP services. Patient Access is a product of the Leeds-based health IT giant EMIS, one of the three biggest firms providing digital back-office services to GPs.

At the start of the pandemic, EMIS was one of 11 firms selected to supply remote GP access including video and online patient assessment services, after a tender process that lasted just 48 hours. In 2020 its profits increased sharply to £36m.

4. Labour plans to complete MP trigger ballots by June 2022 – LabourList

LabourList reports that the Labour Party plans to hold trigger ballots for MPs starting next week and concluding in June 2022. The site reports that the decision is being made on the assumption that the Tories will want to hold a general election in spring 2023, before the new parliamentary constituency boundaries kick in.

Under new rules on trigger ballots, local parties can force a full selection process in a Labour-held seat only if a majority of local party and affiliate branches vote to ‘trigger’ such a contest.

NEC members are expected to agree a paper that sets a timeframe for trigger ballots, which will see them begin in November 2021 and conclude by June 2022. Sitting MPs will be asked whether they intend to re-stand or retire. The local parties of those seeking to stand again will choose whether to automatically reselect their MP or trigger a full process.

5. Goldsmiths staff are striking for the future of our universities – Novara Media

Goldsmiths UCU Finance Working Group write about why they have started one of the biggest strikes in recent university history. They say they are fighting the top-down destruction of higher education as universities have become cash-engines for consultants, senior managers, and landlords, with students and staff feeling the impact.

The three weeks of continuous industrial action comes in response to a proposed restructuring that would see 52 academic and professional services jobs lost, and the university’s administration further centralised.

After an unprecedented turnout of 70.2% in the ballot, 93.3% voted for action short of strike and 85.8% for strike action. Workers in Goldsmiths UCU, which has a membership of close to 1000, started strike action on Tuesday last week.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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