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There is a certain kind of person who takes great delight in commenting on political blogs with a variant of the following:
“It’s no use voting! They’re all the same! It doesn’t matter what you vote for – a politician always gets in!”
No doubt you’ll be familiar with their work.
They are extremely annoying. Their insistence that all politicians are the same breed of pond scum does a huge disservice to those in public service who genuinely want to improve the lives of their fellow human beings; the fanaticism with which they disseminate their opinions may be seen as an attempt to stop ‘casual’ voters from bothering, thereby condemning the country to the current status quo.
Also, most annoyingly of all, they may have a point.
Take the three men pictured above. The one on the right is Michael Andrew, chairman of accounting firm KPMG. This is one of the ‘Big Four’ accountancies who are, among other things, involved in rewriting UK tax law for George Osborne at the Treasury, partly to suit their own desires as architects of the largest tax avoidance schemes currently available to corporations and wealthy individuals resident in the UK.
Today, thanks to an illuminating blog article by Tom Pride over at Pride’s Purge, we learn that KPMG has taken over the running of no less than a quarter of all the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) that Andrew Lansley swore blind would be run by doctors when the Conservative-led Coalition government pushed through the NHS Privatisation Act of 2012 (otherwise known as the Health and Social Care Act).
The pretext for creating these organisations was that doctors were in the best position to commission health services in any part of England, as they had the detailed knowledge required to determine what was needed.
In fact it was well known that GPs would not be able to carry out this important work – it would be too much for them to take on in addition to their ‘day job’, and they simply did not have the necessary skills. Lansley knew this, and therefore knew that his law would open the door for private firms to take over.
This is borne out by an article in GP online which is now almost a year old; so readers should bear in mind that the current situation may be much further advanced. It stated that KPMG had confirmed the firm was working with “just over 50” of the 211 CCGs in England, along with 11 commissioning support units (CSUs).
The article indirectly quoted Tim Rideout, who said CCGs did not have the capacity to commission in an effective way.
This is an interesting revelation from the former chief executive of the NHS in Leicester City who was then seconded to the Department of Health as the senior responsible officer for the development of – guess what? – NHS commissioning boards. If the new commissioning groups don’t have the capacity to work properly, why didn’t he do something about it at the appropriate time?
Oh, wait. Here’s the answer: In March 2012, Mr Rideout was hired by KPMG as an associate director responsible for – who would have thought it? – commissioning.
In the same article, national clinical commissioning lead for England, Dr James Kingsland, said clinicians and GPs should not be involved in complex procurement, and added: “We are seeing a lot of misunderstandings, disillusionment and despondency.”
Mark Britnell, KPMG’s head of healthcare since 2009 – and another former NHS chief executive, was quoted by The Observer in 2011 as stating: “In future, The NHS will be a state insurance provider not a state deliverer”, and that “The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.”
The following day, KPMG released a statement in which he said the quotes did “not properly reflect” what he had said.
So we have a firm moving to take over CCGs, helped by the fact that its roster now includes the man responsible for setting them up in the first place. Going back to Tom Pride’s piece, he states that the situation chillingly reflects the way the Dutch health service was privatised in 2006. Provision of health services is being handed over to private companies, control of the health budget was handed over to private consortia made of doctors and consultants, but now those consortia are being taken over by private companies.
When private firms like KPMG run all CCGs, the Conservative plan to privatise the NHS will be complete. And the NHS, it seems, will be run by Michael Andrew, head of KPMG, from his base in Hong Kong.
But the rot doesn’t stop there.
Tom Pride correctly adds that the consulting arm of KPMG has been owned, since 2002, by another company – called Atos.
That’s right – Atos. The French firm run by Thierry Breton (pictured, centre).
The firm that Ed Miliband wants to fire from running work capability assessments for the DWP will still be involved in government work – at the Department of Health.
You see how this works? Let a private company inveigle its way into the plans of politicians and there’s no getting rid of it. Like the giant squid, it extends its pseudopods into every government department it can possibly contaminate, planting a sucker onto everything it thinks it can take for itself.
Over at the DWP, as everyone should know by now, Atos have been carrying out work capability assessments on claimants of Employment and Support Allowance. These were dreamed up by an insurance company called Unum, that has been working with the UK government – Conservative, Labour and Coalition – since Peter Lilley invited then-boss John LoCascio in, back in the early 1990s.
Unum is now run by Thomas Ratjen (pictured, left), who is based in Tennessee, USA. Its long-term aim seems to be the ruin of the British social security system, rendering it pointless for anyone to claim benefits. Instead, the plan appears to be to encourage working people to buy Unum insurance policies – which are themselves useless, as lawsuits in several US states have proved, while also giving the company a criminal record.
This blog recently revealed that it seemed Unum was trying to influence the policies of all three main UK political parties. The thinktank Reform, that has been part-funded by Unum, is running a fringe event at all three party conferences, entitled ‘New thinking on the welfare state’. This event was sponsored by the Association of British Insurers, which has Unum among its members.
Labour’s version of this event took place on Monday (September 23), hosted by Anne McGuire, shadow minister for disabled people.
She defended her role in an email today, as follows:
“I don’t know why you have been led to believe that I was hosting an event by Unum. For the record, I was speaking at a round table discussion with organisations which included the European Commission, voluntary organisations, insurance companies amongst others. As it was such a conversation, it was by invitation only as was the event I attended this morning organised though the Shaw Trust and Mencap. It is not unusual to have such events at party conference.
“I also spoke at an open meeting last night on the future of welfare reform and disabled people with many disabled people in attendance and participating.
“I am aware of the strong feelings on Unum and Atos. However I trust that you will appreciate that having discussions with a range of organisations should not be seen as anything other than that and in no way implies an endorsement of any particular company or organisation.”
It simply doesn’t ring true.
Let’s look at the context: This event was organised by a right-wing thinktank (they’re ideologically opposed to state-run social security systems) that has been sponsored by Unum; was about “new” thinking on the welfare state; was itself sponsored by the Association of British Insurers, of which Unum is a member; and representatives of insurance companies – and we’re willing to bet Unum was among them – took part in the behind-closed-doors discussion.
It seems clear that this event was intended to influence Labour Party policy away from providing a well-run and reasonable state benefit system, as was the case in the UK until Peter Lilley in the early 1990s, and towards dismantling that system to make way for a system based on privately-run insurance policies, such as those produced by Unum.
The fact that it is being mirrored at the other two party conferences clearly suggests that the firms involved want to influence all major British political parties in the same way. If successful, this would mean that it won’t matter who gets into office after the 2015 election; Unum will still be in power at the Department for Work and Pensions.
Just as KPMG will still be in power at the Treasury, and at the Department of Health, alongside its owner Atos.
And the three gentlemen pictured at the top of this article will be the unelected kings of the UK because, no matter which way you vote, they will be in charge.
That would be a good place to end this article, but then, dear reader, you might be left thinking there is nothing you can do. There is something you can do.
You can write to your MP, to local newspapers, to the party leaders and the ministers running these government departments and you can bitch like hell about it!
The people of this country deserve elected representatives who are going to run this country by their own decisions, in the best interests of the citizens who voted for them – not employees of a dubious gang of unelected corporations, running this country in their own best interests and treating the citizens like dirt.
You can make a difference.
But you need to start now.
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I’m so so so so glad you’ve run with this !!!! the problem is that the relationship with KPMG is ubiquitous throughout the political world both here in the UK and around the globe…. I’ve just seen this post on the Huffington Post about Ed Milliband and Socialism being brought back to England – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/21/ed-miliband-labour-socialism_n_3967287.html … one huge glaring problem though…. quote from the article – “Miliband revealed he has appointed Alan Buckle, deputy chairman at accountants KPMG, to investigate how the role and powers of the Low Pay Commission could be extended to strengthen the minimum wage.”
KPMG is a freaking arm of ATOS!!!
If Labour manages to disentangle itself from these guys i would vote 100% Labour but as it stands I seriously am on the fence while Unum-Atos-Kpmg has the ear of Ed
also re: Mark Britnell –
from wikipedia – Mark Britnell (born 1966) has been a partner and Head of Healthcare, Europe & UK for advisory firm KPMG since 2009. He was previously Director-General for Commissioning and System Management for the National Health Service (NHS) of England (July 2007–September 2009).
This is the brochure from the APAX conferance back in 2010 in New York… the conference was a grouping together of private insurance and business to conflab about global policy with respect to health care and health provision. This is where it’s on record that Mark Britnell says
“In future, The NHS will be a state insurance provider not a state deliverer.” In future ‘any willing provider’ from the private sector will be able to sell goods and services to the system. Britnell comments: “The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.” – http://www.powerbase.info/images/f/fe/Apax_Healthcare_conference_2010.pdf
the above info comes from this article by Tamasin Cave from Spinwatch-
Mike Sivier said:
I wondered why you were telling us this, since the quotes are in my article. Then I realised you were providing the sources. Cheers.
🙂 you’re welcome, i should’ve been clearer.. plus you get to see just what was taking place at the time he said those comments and what others are saying as well for other countries….it’s also that the APAX brochure shows just how global the whole thing is…. it’s a conspiracy theorists dream.. the only problem is this aint any make-believe .. it’s there and its recorded with dates time and place
I also wanted to point out via the wikipedia article that before he entered the job that he’s now doing he was Director-General for Commissioning and System Management for the National Health Service (NHS) of England (July 2007–September 2009) under Labour.. this isn’t a judgement about Labour but it is a judgement about Mr Britnell which i suggest shows an element of the revolving door.. also just what was his working relationship with KPMG while he was working for the NHS so to get such a good position with them later on? But that’s speculation on my behalf
Mike Sivier said:
Yes, that’s what I was implying about him in the article.
Adam Clifford said:
It is vile stuff.Leading politicians either extremely uninformed or totally contemptuous of the electorate.Commercial capture of the political system writ large,and these arrogant incompetents,either corrupt or being corrupted,dont give a toss.The conflict of interest…Well there is no conflict of interest.The plan is working.
Into the valley of shame went the 645,KPMG,ATOS,UNUM,Mckinsey and Company to the right of them,KPMG,ATOS,UNUM,Mckinsey and Company to the left of them of them,KPMG,ATOS,UNUM,Mckinsey and Company in front of them
Some one had blunder’d,everybody knows now
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and and keep their jobs,enjoy the perks,bleed publically and laugh privately.
Mo Stewart said:
Utterly brilliant Mike!
Mike Sivier said:
I am, however, awaiting the bullet through the window, swiftly followed by the investigation that ‘finds’ porno on my computer and the vilification as a “filthy pervert”, or somesuch, that would follow. I said on Facebook, that seems to be the usual way!
Mo Stewart said:
I’ve been waiting for the guys in the white coat to turn up to lock me away in the funny farm, but I’m still waiting…..
I used to have a home, then the Tories came back. Thanks, Cleggy. said:
No, no bullet through the window, you’re quite safe. Any state-sponsored assassination would be a vindication of your position; so they’ll just pretend you’re a lone internet weirdo, thereby rendering your opinions “crazy” and invalid. But hey, no bullet through the window – result!
Mike Sivier said:
Great! I can stop disguising myself as an elderly woman and give the wig back to the granny three doors down the road.
Malcolm Burt said:
What a superb & brilliantly sourced article this is.Many thanks for the startling revelations through it`s content.It is the contention of many that our N.H.S.is being stolen from under our very noses,& for my part i have had difficulties in finding a link between private companies & C.C.Gs.This article provides that link with clarity & i wanted to seek your consent in the use of some points made,for an article that i would like to do in relation to our own hospital.
Mike Sivier said:
Go right ahead but please credit me where my work is mentioned (and the others whose work I quoted). Cheers.
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Deborah Harrington said:
You won’t be alone, Mike. Andy posts on KONP about Britnell and Co and I’ve ranted on about their deep and devious connections over many months, as have a few others. My partner told me I’d better be prepared for a knock on the door one of these days… I commented to Andy yesterday that the Transparency of Lobbying Bill is trumpeted as dealing with undue influence, but the undue influence isn’t coming from a lobby group it is actually right there in the very heart of government. I’ve always known our democracy was a flawed thing, but does anyone know of a time in our recent history when it was so corrupt?
Reblogged this on kickingthecat.
Guy Ropes said:
Go on then – name the politicians (at Westminster) who aren’t “in it” for themselves. How come you appear to be the person who reveals these alarming facts? Why hasn’t an MP? The dots are not too far apart to be joined up. Maybe they’re too engrossed in their Party Conferences. Doing nothing is – for them, as far as I’m concerned – not an option. Is there really no switched-on parliamentarian who has researchers who can dig this out and reveal/repeat it on the floor of the House? With your media contacts (and this is not disrespectful) contact any MP you wish to disclose it or any MSM title. I wait in anticipation and will congratulate you wholeheartedly if these facts are brought to the attention of the British public without them having to rely on well-intention blogs. Why so cynical? Because I’ve been there.
Mike Sivier said:
Then you’ll be aware that the mass media seems to be under orders never to mention the connection between Unum and the government.
Individual MPs acknowledge public feeling about the corporate influence of Unum and its buddies but getting them to say anything in public is another matter.
If you have been there, then you will know this to be true.
What else is there but word of mouth and “well intention blogs”?
More tea Vicar said:
illuminating, thank you.
Roy Watson said:
Yes, you can make a difference. But not with a pen or a keyboard. With a flaming brand, a big stick with a nail in the end and WITH EACH OTHER.
Mike Sivier said:
I very much want to disagree. It would be good to be able to say the time of violent response and revolution is over.
However, that has yet to be proved. Verbal protest in this country has produced only cosmetic change at best, and we may yet see violence on our streets if the current government takes its ideologically-based repression to extremes.
Peter A Bell said:
This is scary stuff. Having read it, I would make a few observations from a Scottish perspective.
I share the author’s annoyance at the intellectual indolence of asserting of politicians that “they’re all the same”. It is a dangerous attitude for a number of reasons. Not least that it discourages political engagement and when the masses abandon the democratic process it is inevitably taken over by extremists and exploiters.
From what the article tells us, we might actually be better off with the extremists. At least they would, by their overt extremism, be likely to provoke a reaction which might restore some democratic balance. The exploiters are more insidious and likely to be able to have their way without the general public even being aware.
The point about these exploiters getting their tentacles into every aspect of government until they are all but impossible to remove is well made. Perhaps the most troubling thing about the way they operate is that eventually they leave governments with no alternatives. People should keep this in mind when they demand that the Scottish Government disengage from firms like Atos. It may not be so simple. Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep pressuring them. Only that we should be realistic about possible limits to what might be done by a devolved administration within the British state.
There is obviously a lesson here for people voting in the referendum on Scottish independence. This article gives a clear and deeply troubling picture of the way the British sate is going. People really need to think very seriously about whether they want to continue to be part of that state. because, as part of the UK, there is no way Scotland can possibly avoid being affected by the machinations of these companies and their agents in the British political parties.
It may be difficult for Scotland to stand against the power of these global corporations even as an independent nation. But at least we’d have a chance. Notwithstanding the rather naive hopes of the article’s author (born, I’m sure of desperation rather than blindness to the realities), there seems little hope that writing to politicians and newspapers or “bitching like hell” will stem the tide. The British state has made its accommodation with these forces. To break that accommodation we must first break the British state.
Or break away from it. Which may amount to the same thing. In Scotland we have an option that is distinctly ours. We can vote to take our government out of the hands of the British state. We can vote to bring our government home. We can vote for the hope of something better than the dire fate described in Mike Sivier’s blog post.
We can affirm the sovereignty of the people of Scotland so that they might be empowered to stand as a bastion against the predations of the exploiters.
We can take back the democracy that is being stolen from us.
We can vote to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.
We can go to the polls on Thursday 18 September 2014 and we can vote Yes.
Mike Sivier said:
Naïve, am I?
Not quite as naïve as any Scottish readers coming to your comment without realising that it is an attempt to divert the narrative into an argument for Scottish independence.
You do a disservice to the power of the pen, sir – while trying to use it to persuade others to effect real change. If people vote for – and get – Scottish independence, even partly as a result of what you have written, how is that any different from people demanding – and getting – change because of my article?
I thinks Peter’s comment is very relevant as the issues affect Scottish people. The Scots have an opportunity to break with the right-wing policies of the British state, and make decisions for themselves, which the rest of us, don’t as yet have. They will then have a much better chance of addressing these disturbing trends.
History has taught us that protest rarely if ever has anything but a marginal effect on what is decided at Westminster and Whitehall. That power has to be broken or removed f government is to become the servant, not the master of the people.
Mike Sivier said:
The way popular feeling – as evidenced by the written word – influences votes may change massively in the near future, thanks to the power of the Internet (in my opinion). As people become more aware of what their votes can achieve, it seems likely that their use of the vote will become more fluid.
Also, it seems likely that far more people will become involved in politics as a result of the current interest in the damage being wrought by the Coalition. They’ll join the parties of their choice and carry out activities that will, in turn, galvanise more of the people into taking a more active interest in their political life.
It won’t happen tomorrow, but it will happen. Picking up a pen or going to a typewriter is where it starts.
And it’s a lot better than violence!
Peter A Bell said:
I see now that my comment may have given offence and for this I apologise unreservedly. It was not my intention to imply that you were naive in the sense of being blind to the difficulties of addressing the issues that you have so eloquently described. My impression was, rather, that you felt you had no choice but to resort to a letter-writing campaign due to the lack of any political avenue by which to take effective action. I meant the naivety of desperation, not the naivety of innocence.
I do not, however, see my comments as irrelevant to your article or as an attempt to “divert the narrative” but, rather as an attempt to expand that narrative.It might have been better if you yourself had pointed out the ways in which Scotland differs from the rest of the UK, both in the effects of the corporate activities you allude to and in the way these issues are being handled. This is particularly true of health services where, as you must surely be aware, NHS Scotland is and always has been a totally distinct entity entirely separate from the NHS in England. NHS Scotland is not being privatised in the way that you describe as happening in England. At the very least this stands as evidence that there is another way.
And if we are talking about methods of combating the insidious influence of global corporations it is surely appropriate to at least mention an option that is available to the people of Scotland. The fact that the Scottish Government, even as a devolved administration, is dealing with these issues in ways that differ significantly from the approach of successive UK Governments surely suggests that improving on its ability to take a different path is at least as valid a way of seeking to stem the erosion of public services as writing to newspapers.
Mike Sivier said:
So is the Welsh government – and without the threat of secession from the union. The Welsh NHS is also separate from the English model.
No offence taken; you’re far more polite than some who have commented here.
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This is THE UNACCEPTABLE FACE OF CAPITALISM,it was pointed out back in the early 70,s by a Tory Prime Minister the much maligned Ted Heath.
Nick Jardine said:
This is utterly horrific. I had no idea the extent in which these corporations were involved.
I’ve said many times over the last year, as I’m sure many others have across the nation , ‘ How can GP’s run the administrative aspects of a regional medical provisions when they spend all day working as doctors ?’
It’s a simple question, an obvious question even, yet not once have I ever heard this question being put forward by a ‘national’ journalist (tv news) nor by another politician.
I agree with you on the power of the internet, it’s power is obviously a worry for government as they try to invent new way of monitoring and spying on us and have them legislated.
I think that Peter’s point about Scotland voting for independence could prove to be a very positive factor. Scotland does have the same unwelcome influences – we have Reform Scotland, the same Tory think tank that constantly puts out reports that call for more private sector involvement in health provision, particularly in building new clinics and local practices and one of the main donators to this think tank is The Buccleuch Group, who happen to build health based infrastructure.
However, the Scottish administration has different laws regarding political lobbying, we are having a discussion about a written constitution which would enshrine what we regard as ‘national assets’ in public ownership – most importantly Scottish Water. The Icelandic people have just done exactly that (this being the country that actually managed to jail a couple of bankers for their crimes.)
There’s absolutely no reason why we could not add the Scottish NHS to that list, or as was announced last week by Alex Salmond, the desire to keep the Royal Mail in public hands north of the border.
Hell we could do anything with a written constitution – we could ban business lobbying, we could enshrine in law that all political parties are publicly subsidised and receive say, £10m quid a year from the public purse. Madness you may say, but think on this,
Do you really think David Cameron and the tories will regulate the banks satisfactorily when £47m of the £100m worth of donations to the party have come directly from the city ?
These ideas of fair play are a key to the debate that’s currently happening up here, and i think that a new independent Scotland that started taking action against overbearing business control could soon be influencing discussion south of the border. And that would be no bad thing.
Mike Sivier said:
Trouble is, without Scotland, discussion south of the border might also become very limited, unless there is an extremely strong swing against the Conservatives. England is a mainly-Conservative country and the loss of Scottish votes may consolidate the Tories in power.
Peter A Bell said:
There is also an argument, and a fairly powerful one, that constitutional reform in Scotland could spark a transformation of politics in England. The “beacon of progressive reform” of which Alex Salmond speaks may be the stuff of political rhetoric. But it might also be that there is something in the idea of leading by example. If nothing else, an independent Scotland with distinctive policies that are shown to be viable could provide ammunition for the forces of progressive reform elsewhere. Indeed, there is much truth in the claim that this is what worries the British establishment most about Scotland’s move towards independence.
Mike Sivier said:
Leadership by example is the best form of leadership there is – and the example set by David Cameron is one of the best arguments for getting rid of him.
There is indeed an argument that the example of an independent Scotland could spark change in the rump-UK that remained, but the problem with that is that Britons are extremely resistant to outside influence. I think change, if it’s coming, will have to come from inside.
Nick Jardine said:
I understand where your coming from Mike and completely agree, leadership by example is the ultimate form of leadership. It’s just a shame that there doesn’t seem to be a mainstream political alternative.
At least for us north of the border we have an option, it by no means is a perfect option, but it’s there.
In the meantime, your suggestions for writing to MP’s and spreading the word is vital and armed with questions based on good information like this is enlightening, so thank you for the article.
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Mike, thankyou for your informative article and the contributions made by others. The link to your blog and this article in particular was posted earlier today on the Wings over Scotland website and has now been read by many of the contributors to that forum. I think it would be fair to say your article has raised many an eyebrow. I for one was shocked at your revelations regarding UnUm and others pulling the strings behind the scenes.
I do think that Peter and Nick hit the nail on the head when they both suggested there is a ‘different way’ and believe it or not we are all ‘Britons’ albeit Scottish Britons. On that note, I am sure you did not infer that ‘outside influence’ was coming from Scotland, Wales or N.Ireland. Surely these countries are inside the Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. As you said ‘Change, if it’s coming will have to come from the inside’ It is Mike, it is.
Thanks again for your article.
Mike Sivier said:
I think I’m right in saying that Britons resist change from outside – whether we’re Scots who don’t want to be told what to do by England, or Great British who don’t want to have Europe or America dictating to us.
Thanks for the endorsement!
I think that perhaps the resistance to change is commonly called happiness with the ‘status quo’ I would suggest to you that the ‘status quo’ has been totally been blown out of the water nationally and internationally.
These are not my own words but I can see the meaning behind them : It is a natural & default state when people of like minded ideas and ideals come together, that eventually they will aim to shake off their vassal bonds and fight for an independent togetherness.
I am paraphrasing there.
I am having a chuckle at the Pandora’s box you neatly covered in a few lines. I am resisting the temptation to open it, but thanks for the offer.
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