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

A roundup of progressive news

Voices on the Left

1. Cabinet minister’s office played a role in the expedited deals awarded to a financial supporter of Gove and the Conservative Party –Byline Times

Byline Times reports that Michael Gove’s office referred a firm to the expedited ‘VIP’ COVID contracts programme, owned by a man who has personally donated to Gove, and who agreed to assist his 2016 Conservative leadership campaign.

Following a campaign from the Good Law Project the government has released the 47 companies that won COVID-related contracts via the VIP fast-track system. The process sped up the procurement process for personal protective equipment (PPE) during the early stages of the pandemic, by inviting ministers, officials and MPs to refer potential suppliers.

Byline Times reports on records which show that Meller Designs was referred to the programme by the office of the Government Chief Commercial Officer, and by the office of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – a position held by Gove from July 2019 to September 2021.

The co-owner of Meller Designs – David Meller – has donated nearly £60,000 to Conservative politicians and the central party since 2009, including £3,250 to Gove’s unsuccessful leadership campaign in 2016.

2. The Wage Theft Epidemic- Tribune Magazine

In 2019, wage theft in Britain amounted to an estimated £35 billion. But unlike other forms of theft, it’s hardly ever prosecuted – because it’s a crime committed by bosses against workers. Matthew Cole writes for Tribune Magazine about how wage theft continues to be a pervasive problem in Britain today.

Cole writes about how formal wage theft can occur through a variety of methods, from the violation of minimum wages to unpaid rest-breaks and deductions for costs of equipment. In 2019, over five million workers put in a total of two billion unpaid hours, which amounts to £32.7 billion of free labour annually. When non-payment of holiday entitlements and non-compliance with the minimum wage are added, the amount owed to workers increases to £35.3 billion.

3. Three-quarters of UK public worried more NHS privatisation will damage care –openDemocracy

OpenDemocracy reports that three-quarters of the UK public are worried more NHS privatisation will damage care. An exclusive poll commissioned by openDemocracy found that three-quarters of those polled specifically fear that an increase in the use of private companies by the NHS would result in corners being cut (76%), the use of less-skilled staff (74%), and healthcare systems becoming more disjointed or fragmented (77%).

It comes as the government tries to pass its new Health and Care bill, which has been dubbed an NHS Corporate takeover bill. The bill opens the door for private corporations to sit on the 42 local health boards—the so-called integrated care boards—which make critical decisions about NHS budgets and services.

4. Government failing to make green transition affordable, Miliband says –LabourList

Ed Miliband has accused the government of failing to make a green transition “affordable for families hit by a cost of living crisis” in response to Boris Johnson’s speech to the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference.

Commenting after the Prime Minister’s rather shambolic and bizarre address to the CBI this morning, Labour’s Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary warned that the government is “failing Britain’s automotive companies and workers”.

He said: “Rather than step up to support the car industry in the global race for green technologies, ministers have stepped back and left manufacturers, workers and the public on their own, failing to take the action necessary to make the switch affordable for families hit by a cost of living crisis.”

5. Britain’s Inhumane Benefits System Is Giving People PTSD –Novara Media

Jay Watts writes for Novara Media about how cuts to Britain’s welfare system have had a devastating impact on the mental health of some of the most vulnerable people in society and how psychological precarity and social precarity are linked.

Watts cites Lynne Friedli and Robert Stearn who have shown in a landmark paper, that the DWP now demands an upbeat, go-getting mentality where any psychological traits that are deemed market-unsuitable, such as despair, are to be excised; the cost of not doing this is punishment via sanctions.

As a result, ‘many claimants have welfare-induced PTSD as a consequence; fluctuating between anxious self-states trying to meet the requirements of government, hypervigilance at being judged as deficient or fraudulent, and depressive collapses as the moral accusation that the system implies starts to be felt personally.’

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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