Support the NHS Reinstatement Bill

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This Friday (11th March) Caroline Lucas will take the NHS Reinstatement Bill back to the House of Commons.

The private members bill has received cross-party support and has among its signatories Jeremy Corbyn, who signed up before becoming Labour Party leader.

The bill would reinstate the secretary of state’s responsibility for the health of UK citizens, something the Health and Social Care Act removed. It would fully restore the NHS as an accountable public service by reversing 25 years of marketization in the NHS.

Many MPs return to their constituencies on Thursday nights but thousands of people have signed a petition urging their representatives to vote in favour on the NHS Reinstatement Bill this Friday.

Caroline Lucas MP said:

“I hope that MPs stick around next Friday to have a say on the future of our health service.

This mobilisation of grass roots campaigners and NHS staff is hugely inspiring. Across the country we’re seeing people making a stand against the ongoing marketization of our health service. The NHS is saddled with a wasteful internal market, and increasingly widespread outsourcing of services. When you add this privatisation to the near-constant Government attacks on the NHS workforce you can see why so many people are supporting the NHS Bill.

“The NHS bill would put the public back at the heart of the health service. MPs now have a chance to put their commitment to a public NHS into action by backing this bill on 11 March.”

If we work together we can save our crisis ridden health service for future generations.

If you can please sign this petitions:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/…/support-the-nhs-reinstatemen…

and write to your MP by following this link:

https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/685

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Natalie Bennett to visit Barnsley

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Exciting news! Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party has agreed to visit us in Barnsley on Friday 11 March 2016.

We are currently finalising the details of a venue for Natalie to deliver a speech to a public meeting and hope that as many Barnsley Green Party members as possible will attend.

More details soon.

Officer claims Met police improperly destroyed files on Green party peer

This story by Rob Jones originally appeared in The Guardian.

Whistleblower David Williams alleges his unit got rid of records to prevent Jenny Jones from discovering extent of its monitoring of her political activities

Green party peer Jenny Jones. Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

Green party peer Jenny Jones. Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

A police officer working for a secretive Scotland Yard intelligence unit that monitors thousands of political campaigners has alleged that police improperly destroyed files they had compiled on a Green party peer in a “highly irregular” cover-up.

Whistleblower Sgt David Williams said the unit got rid of the records to prevent Jenny Jones from discovering the extent of the police’s monitoring of her political activities. Lady Jones is also deputy chair of the committee that supervises the Metropolitan police.

In a personal letter to Jones, which Williams said he had written as a last resort, the officer said: “I didn’t become a police officer to monitor politicians or political parties, nor to pay casual disregard to policy and procedure.”

He said he believed that the police had failed to investigate his allegation properly.
“This letter to you may not be in my best interests but not sending it would be unconscionable for me. I fear it may initiate a series of escalating actions against me designed to discredit me or lead to my suspension from duty or my dismissal,” Williams added.

The Met said the records on Jones were destroyed as a part of a legitimate programme to improve its record-keeping. The force added that it did not happen “inappropriately”.

In the four-page letter, Williams also described his concerns about a series of other incidents that he alleged appeared to show a pattern of misconduct within the unit.

He alleged that this misconduct included the abrupt removal of an officer who had complained about racism, drunken behaviour, faking time records and apparent fraud.

The Met dismissed these claims as either false, lacking in detail or because it said Williams had never raised them with his colleagues. The Met also disputed his claim that he had been victimised for speaking out.

Williams has worked for five years in the Met’s clandestine “domestic extremism” unit, which monitors protesters. The Met maintains that the unit is only concerned with keeping track of campaigners who commit crime to promote their political cause.

But police have been criticised for keeping files on protesters who, like Jones, have no criminal record, and recording trivial information, for example the sale of political literature and merchandise by an activist at the Glastonbury music festival.

Two years ago Jones used the Data Protection Act to obtain records showing how the police had kept a log of her political movements between 2001 and 2012. During the entire period she had been a member of the official committee scrutinising the Metropolitan police as a London councillor, and in 2012 she stood to be the capital’s mayor.

The records she obtained consisted of 17 reports recording, for example, how she had spoken at public meetings about issues such as police violence and public spending cuts.

For some time afterwards, she complained to the Met and demanded to know who had authorised the monitoring, the justification for doing so, and whether it continued.

In June 2014 Jones had an official meeting with the unit as she continued to press for answers. According to Jones, officers from the unit said they were unable to say whether the file on her remained on the domestic extremism database.

In his letter to her, Williams described how that month he “saw three officers engaged in physically destroying a number of police records by shredding. I believe all of these records related to you. There were in excess of 30 reports.

“One of these officers then began to electronically delete a number of police records from a police database. Again, I believe these records related to you.”

But the officer could not delete the records, according to Williams, as two other officers were also trying to delete them at the same time.

Williams said that, also in a “highly irregular manner”, the records were deleted immediately without being retained on the unit’s back-up database. “This process would thwart any freedom of information request within a 28-day period from the initial deletion,” Williams wrote.

“Understandably the behaviour of these five officers caused me great concern as I believed this was a cover-up to ensure you could not get any access to police records relating to you through a freedom of information request.”

Williams said he reported his concern to the Met’s directorate of professional standards (DPS), the internal department responsible for investigating misconduct. Eight months later, the DPS told him it had been unable to find any evidence to corroborate his allegation and was going to close the matter.

But Williams said he persuaded the DPS to initiate a second investigation. According to the whistleblower, he detailed all his concerns about misconduct in the unit, but only his allegation about the destruction of Jones’s records appeared to have been investigated – a claim disputed by the Met.

He said senior officers held a meeting with one of the officers alleged to have been involved in destroying Jones’s records to discuss the issue. “This seemed highly irregular and seems to be similar to tipping off a suspect for a crime,” Williams wrote.

He said that in July last year he was told by the DPS that the second investigation had found that the destruction of the peer’s records had happened.

However, according to Williams, the DPS sent a report to Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met commissioner, concluding that there had been no wrongdoing, although there had been “an issue of poor communication”. Another of Williams’s colleagues had reported the same incident, he added.

Williams told Jones that as he still had “serious reservations” about all his concerns, he had decided to write to her as he had exhausted all the Met’s internal procedures for raising alleged wrongdoing.

The Met said there was no evidence that there “had been any inappropriate destruction of documents” or that records had been destroyed in order to prevent them being released under freedom of information rules.

It added: “In fact the lead detective in the case, who spoke to all potential witnesses as part of their investigation, found that the unit was responding positively to demands to improve its document retention procedures by destroying information that it had no need to retain and that therefore should not be retained.”

Jones paid tribute to Williams, who she said “has tried to point out apparent wrongdoing within the intelligence unit where he works and is now facing dire personal consequences as a result.” She said it was worrying that the police could destroy files to “hide what they were keeping on me”.

Molly Scott Cato MEP: Banking’s central structural flaw has not been adequately addressed

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REACTING to the news that the Financial Conduct Authority is to shelve its investigation in to the culture, behaviour and pay of staff in banking (1), Molly Scott Cato MEP, the Green Party’s finance spokesperson, said:

“Following the banking collapse of 2008 we were told that both the structure and the culture of banking were at fault. The central structural flaw, the fact that the public was required to guarantee the casino economy, has not been adequately addressed. Instead of the essential separation of retail from commercial banking only a much weaker ring-fence is proposed but yet to be implemented.

“With the removal of FCA boss Martin Wheatley earlier this year we now see that the Financial Conduct Authority is to drop its investigation of banking culture, which was so widely blamed for the banking collapse. So neither structure nor culture is to be radically changed following the worst financial crisis in the history of capitalism.

“In an economy where money is created in the private sector based on debt, a banking licence represents an extraordinary power granted to a small number of corporations by the state. Strict regulation of their activities, particularly when their risks are guaranteed by the public, is therefore essential. An insistence on the need to reform both the structure and the culture of banking is nothing to do with ‘banker bashing’ but rather a necessary defence of the public interest against the destructive behaviour of the greedy few.”

1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35204010

Caroline responds to the winter floods

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Green Party to challenge BBC broadcast blackout

The Green Party has pledged to challenge the BBC after it failed to award the party a single party political broadcast for 2016, despite giving three to UKIP (1).

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The party’s leader Natalie Bennett said she was “astonished” that the Greens were being denied “vital broadcast coverage” but was hopeful that a popular campaign could once again convince the BBC to change its mind.

Her statement came after the corporation announced that it will be increasing UKIP’s number of broadcasts from zero to three, equal with Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats but continuing to leave the Greens with none. That is despite the fact that the party quadrupled its vote in the recent 2015 general election and currently has the same number of MPs as UKIP.

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said:

“After all that happened last year I am astonished that the BBC has chosen to deny us vital broadcast coverage. We have the same number of MPs as UKIP who have been granted three broadcasts. We quadrupled our vote share in the last election. We’ve grown as a party by more than three times in the last 12 months. I’m starting to wonder what exactly it is that we need to do to convince the BBC to grant us fair representation.

Shahrar Ali, Deputy Leader of the Green Party, added:

“The BBC is sometimes criticised for being too fond of repeats and I am certainly getting a strong sense of déjà vu. Only this time last year we were denied a place in the leaders’ debates. Then, a quarter of a million people were moved to sign a petition calling on broadcasters to change their minds and give us a spot. We’re certain that by challenging this decision and demonstrating the strength of our support we can do the same once again.”

The Green Party has stated that it will be writing to the BBC to request an urgent meeting to discuss their decision. In the meantime the party is urging anyone, no matter which party they support, who believes that the Greens should be given a broadcast slot to sign the petition on the 38 Degrees website (2).

Notes:

1.       The BBC’s announcement is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/our_work/editorial_standards/ppb_2015

2.       Petition is available here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/don-t-exclude-the-greens-1?bucket&source=facebook-share-button&time=1450766738