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.Starmer sets out NHS reform plan with focus on “prevention as much as cure” – LabourList

LabourList provides a summary of Keir Starmer’s plans to reform the NHS to focus on prevention as much as cure, with an emphasis also on ‘treating mental health as seriously as physical health’.

The Labour leader set out his plans during the Fabian society’s new year’s conference on the weekend, pledging to recruit 8,500 new mental health professionals to support a million more people every year.

Every school will also have specialist support, with an open access mental health hub for young people in every community. Starmer told the conference: “The NHS cannot look after us if we do not look after it. This is a political crusade for us.”

2. It’s Time to Get Fossil Fuel Off Campus – Tribune

Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, the NUS Vice President for Higher Education and J Clarke who is People & Planet’s Co-Director for Climate Justice, have written a piece for Tribune Magazine on why there’s a long way to go on fossil fuel divestment in the higher education sector.

They claim that ‘despite the growing move toward fossil fuel divestment, many universities still act as a key pillar propping up the extractive industries most responsible for the climate and ecological crisis’.

The piece highlights how thousands of students will be exposed to polluting companies in the coming days at the job fairs and careers workshops taking place for 2022 Re-Freshers Week.

3. Partygate investigator helped shield No.10 from scrutiny over Grenfell –openDemocracy

OpenDemocracy write about how the top civil servant investigating parties at Downing Street has been implicated in withholding information from public scrutiny, relating to the Grenfell Tower fire.

The site reports that uncovered documents show that Sue Gray, who is investigating alleged Covid rule breaking in Downing Street, show that Gray was consulted over blocking a journalist’s request for emails to and from Number 10 adviser Elizabeth Sanderson.

Campaigners have warned that Gray is not a person that believes in “open and full disclosure”.

In documents obtained by openDemocracy, Gray was seen urging officers not to respond to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request about the infected blood scandal too.

4. Ikea Isn’t Cutting Unvaccinated Staff’s Sick Pay to Protect Customers – It’s Doing It to Cut Costs –Novara Media

James Meadway writes for Novara Media on why companies like Ikea are cutting unvaccinated staff’s sick pay not out of any genuine concern for the wellbeing of customers but because of profit margins and wanting to cut costs.

Meadway highlights how Ikea first announced cuts to sick pay for its staff back in October 2020, long before vaccines were available. After the latest developments, he writes: “Instead of cutting everyone’s sick pay, the company has found a mechanism to divide its workforce and cut costs:  pay the vaccinated, but not the unvaccinated who will receive the miserly Statutory Sick Pay entitlement.”

5.More than 250,000 workers self-isolated last month without decent sick pay, finds TUC

The Morning Star reports that more than 250,000 workers were self-isolating last month without decent sick pay or any income at all.

New analysis for the TUC has found that 267,800 workers in private firms were self-isolating without decent sick pay or any sick pay at all in mid-December, with almost 210,000 workers having to rely on statutory sick pay and 57,900 got no sick pay at all.

The TUC also says that official data estimates that 2.7 per cent of the private-sector workforce — about 723,900 workers — were off work with Covid-19 in the two weeks up to Boxing Day.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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