London

#GE2019: Jeremy Corbyn reveals unredacted documents about secret US-UK trade talks

BREAKING NEWS

The following article has been taken from the official Labour Party website, and shows why it is so important that we #VoteLabour on December 12th.

#VoteLabour #JC4PM2019 #HANDSOFFOURNHS #NOTFORSALE

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Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, today revealed unredacted documents about secret US-UK trade talks putting the NHS on the table in any trade negotiations. Speaking at the press conference, he said:

If you watched the first TV debate between me and Boris Johnson, you’ll have seen me hold up these censored, blacked-out reports of secret US-UK talks about breaking open our NHS to US corporations and driving up the cost of medicines.

You’ll have seen Boris Johnson lose his cool, very angrily react saying it was “an absolute invention” and “completely untrue.”

He told the country there were “no circumstances whatsoever in which his government or any Conservative government” would put the NHS on the table in any trade negotiations.

What I have here is something I can reveal to you 451 pages of unredacted documents and information. All of it here.

His government released this [holds up redacted version]. We have since obtained this [holds up unredacted version]. Which is a very different version of events.

Perhaps he’d like to explain why these documents confirm the US is demanding the NHS is on the table in the trade talks?

These uncensored documents leave Boris Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters.

Voters need to ask themselves some very serious questions: is the NHS safe in Boris Johnson’s hands?

We’ve now got evidence that under Boris Johnson the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale. He tried to cover it up in a secret agenda but today it’s been exposed.

Now we know the truth, when Johnson says, ‘get Brexit done’, it’s a fraud on the British people. This is the reality. Years of bogged down negotiations and our NHS is up for sale.

This election is now a fight for the survival of our National Health Service. As a public service free for all at the point of need.

So for the want of any doubt, let me give this reassurance: Labour will never ever treat our NHS as a bargaining chip in trade talks with anybody. We will never let Donald Trump get his hands on our NHS. Because our NHS is not for sale.

These reports cover six rounds of talks running from July 2017 until just a few months ago. The meetings took place in both Washington DC and London.

The six rounds should be taken as one ongoing negotiation.

We are talking here about secret talks for a deal with Donald Trump after Brexit. A deal that will shape our country’s future.

These reports pull back the curtain on the secrecy that’s being plotted for us all, behind closed doors, by the Conservative government. This is what they didn’t want you to know.

So let me take you through some key points.

Let me begin with medicine pricing. Remember, Labour and experts said big US corporations want to force up the price our NHS pays for drugs as part of the toxic deal being negotiated with Trump.

The Conservatives said this was nonsense. The documents show that we were right.

In fact, negotiations have advanced even further than we feared they had. The US and UK have already finished initial discussion on lengthening patents for medicines.

Longer patents mean only one thing – more expensive drugs. Lives will be put at risk as a result of this.

Many out-of-patent medicines available cheaply here are vastly more expensive under patent law in the US.

The drug Humira for Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis costs our NHS £1,409 a packet. In the US, the same packet costs £8,115. Get the difference – £1,409 in our NHS, £8,115 in the USA.

One of the reasons for US drug prices being on average 250% of those here is a patent regime rigged for the big pharmaceutical companies.

Dr Andrew Hill has warned the NHS could have to hand over £500 million a week more for medicines following a toxic Trump deal.

If you look at the readout of the second meeting, on page 51, UK officials report that “patent issues” around “NHS access to generic drugs will be a key consideration” in talks.

US officials have “pushed hard,” the reports says, for longer patents for US drug companies.

You can also see on page 132 of the report of the fourth meeting, where drug patents are being discussed, that officials are ready to “exchange text” which is trade-negotiator-speak for it being at a very advanced stage. And they say they are ready to, I quote, “really take significant further steps.”

Let’s be frank, the US is not going to negotiate to sell its own medicines for less.

President Trump himself never tires of complaining about what he calls the “unreasonably low prices” other countries pay for medicines. The White House even has a webpage attacking so-called “foreign freeloading” – that’s what they’re accusing our NHS of.

Big pharma has ripped off and imperilled the health of the American people for years. Now these secret reports show they’re looking to do the same to us – if the Conservatives are elected on December 12th.

Labour has been warning that NHS services will also be on the table in trade talks for a sell-out deal with Trump. After all, that’s exactly what Trump said when he visited this country in June.

He said and I quote: “When you’re dealing in trade, everything is on the table NHS or anything else.”

The Tories have denied it, but the documents show that on this occasion, Trump was right and so were we.

The new breed of trade deals are not only – or even mainly – about tariffs on goods at the border.

They are also about services – including our health service.

And these documents make clear that for the US, to quote page 41 of the third meeting report, “everything is included unless something is specifically excluded.”

They want, I quote: “Total market access” as the “baseline assumption of the trade negotiations.”

“Total market access.”

But surely you can’t believe that British officials would demand the NHS be excluded? Apparently not.

In fact, on behalf of the Conservative government, officials reassured their counterparts that “the US should expect the UK to be a liberalising influence” and that together they could “fly the good flag for services liberalisation.”

That’s a green light for breaking open Britain’s public services so corporations can profit from.

So now we know, direct from the secret reports that they never wanted you to see.

The US is demanding that our NHS is on the table in negotiations for a toxic deal – it’s already being talked about in secret. That could lead to runaway privatisation of our health service.

Mega-corporations see Johnson’s alliance with Trump as a chance to make billions from the illness and sickness of people in this country.

And if the Conservatives have their way and this deal goes forward, the changes I’ve revealed will be almost irreversible.

Officials have discussed a system to give corporations the power to sue our country. This is not only a plot against our NHS. It is a plot against the whole country.

These sell-out negotiations with Trump cover everything from food safety, to gender discrimination rules, to workers’ rights.

I’ll leave it to you journalists as experts to comb through these secret reports and expose the biggest threats. But let me give you a few pointers.

How about chlorine-washed chicken on our dinner tables?

Have a look at the second meeting, on page 42 and 43, where the US even agrees to share its “public lines” to help our government with its “media narratives.”

You might want to look at how Trump’s America absolutely refuses, absolutely refuses, to even mention climate change in the deal – see the second meeting, page 17.

On page one of meeting six for the US advocating a No Deal Brexit saying that would mean there’d be “all to play for” in a deal with Trump.

What’s at stake in a deal with Trump could not be more important for our country.

In this election the Conservatives want you to vote blind, keeping millions of us in the dark about their plans.

But these reports, first obtained in censored form by campaigners in this room, shine a light on this plot.

So it seems to me that it’s now on Boris Johnson to explain how all of this is an “absolute invention.” you heard his words on the video we just showed. To explain why he denied the very things we can now read in black and white. He must now come clean about the Conservatives’ sell-out plans are for our NHS.

Labour will not let this rest because, unlike the Conservatives, we’re not on the side of the billionaires and the bankers. We’re on the side of the nurse, the doctor, the patient and the people and we will never sell out our National Health Service. I’ll now ask our colleagues, friends from the National Health Service are here today to help us and they will pass around some copies of these documents and then Barry and I will take questions from you.

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BBC News Report: Wrexham FC in row with disabled supporters’ group

The following article appears on BBC News website. 

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A row has broken out between a football club and its disabled supporters’ group.

Wrexham FC said the club’s Disabled Supporters Association (DSA) went “on strike” after it had a ticket and an on-pitch presentation request refused.

The DSA usually assigns the spaces for wheelchair users but the club said it had to do this itself at a recent match and is now running it itself.

The DSA said the issue was about the presentation.

Wrexham Supporters Trust, which runs the club, spoke out following a “growing social media storm”.

The row centres around the club refusing a request for complimentary match tickets and a pitch presentation for to the DSA after being recognised for an award at a fans’ diversity ceremony in London.

The DSA is part of Allies in Access group and it wanted a similar Midlands-based association to visit for the Ebbsfleet match on 12 October and have the presentation on the pitch.

The club said it was unable to help due to “competition rules” but an offer remained open for a pitch-side photo call on a non-match day as a compromise.

However, following the disagreement and “strike”, the club’s statement said the DSA’s “presence will not be required on the platform… for the remainder of the season”.

“Our disabled supporters rely on the provision of services and we have to ensure they continue to receive a high-quality service without the potential for any possible disruption as it really makes a difference to their match day experience,” the statement said.

“This has been a difficult decision to take by Wrexham AFC but we must ensure the services for some of our most vulnerable supporters are never placed in jeopardy and taking these services in house is the most sensible solution at this time.”

The DSA said the “sour point” was the club’s response to refusing the presentation.

The DSA claimed it had been told that was because it was not a club-related matter.

A statement added: “Rightly or wrongly, this was taken very negatively by members of the Wrexham DSA committee who took it in the context of ‘despite the hours we give to the club on a match day, we are not club related’.”

It said that left some committee members frustrated and said they would not be on duty for the game against Ebbsfleet.

Disability News Service: Failure to extend ILF transition funding would be ‘another nail in coffin’ #SaveWILG

Following the positive news from the Welsh Government in providing an independent reassessment for WILG recipients should they be unhappy with the reassessment from local authorities, comes more uncertainty.

I had been looking forward to spending the rest of my life without having to worry about the ability to live my life independently. However, the following article by John Pring of Disability News Service, underlines the uncertainty that disabled people with high support needs face, due to fears that the buffoons in Westminster will fail to provide the vital grant that former ILF recipients need. 

I would like to ask those who have worked hard to protect recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant, if we will still be protected if the grant from Westminster fails to be continued?

Just when I thought I could relax…

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The government has failed to ease fears that it plans to scrap a vital grant that has been supporting former users of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) for more than three years.

The four-year Former ILF Recipient Grant was agreed in February 2016, with the government agreeing to provide £675 million over four years to local authorities in England.

The announcement of the grant was a significant victory for disabled activists, whose direct action protests had ensured that the plight of former ILF recipients remained a high-profile issue after the fund’s closure on 30 June 2015.

The recipient grant was not ring-fenced, so councils were not forced to spend it supporting former ILF-users, but it has allowed thousands of disabled people with high support needs to continue to live independently since ILF’s closure.

But disabled activists have now pointed out that the four years of funding is due to end next April, and there has been no mention by ministers of any extension to the grant.

And when Disability News Service contacted the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government this week, it refused to say if an extension of the funding was being considered.

Instead, a spokesperson said: “The upcoming [cross-government] spending review will be our opportunity to look at funding for local authorities in the round and work is well underway to secure the resources and flexibilities councils need to deliver services for communities across the country.”

John Kelly, a former ILF-recipient and prominent campaigner, who lives in south-west London, said that any decision to end the grant would be “another nail in the coffin”.

He said: “I don’t want to be alarmist, but things are so awful at the moment that we could be saying goodbye to our rights to independent living, where the limited options on offer could be going back to living in care homes.

“Our predictions when ILF closed have all come true. We said it would be a postcode lottery. It is.

“We predicted the closure would be a drip, drip erosion of our ability and rights to an independent full life.

“We said that people’s packages may be cut. Some disabled people’s packages have been cut.

“We said local authorities wouldn’t be able to cope with applying the principles of independent living to our lives, because all they would be worried about was very basic care needs, because their budgets have been cut. That’s happening.

“We’re in a crisis. That’s not our words, that’s the directors of social services saying it.

“We knew local authorities wouldn’t be able to cope with the freedoms that ILF did give. Those freedoms are being threatened more and more.

“And we knew that ILF was working and those freedoms should have been given to more disabled people, not less.”

He added: “In the spending review, they must ensure that that money continues, but critically our rights to independent living must also be reconsidered, protected and actually furthered.

“My life is more than a one-hour call to make sure I am fed and watered.”

Ellen Clifford, a member of the national steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts, said the government had been “shamed” into providing the transition grant through the efforts of disabled activists.

One example was DPAC launching a direct action protest in the lobby of the House of Commons, days before ILF was due to close, with activists nearly succeeding in breaking into the main Commons chamber during prime minister’s questions.

But she said the transition funding provided by the government, including the four-year extension agreed in 2016, was never ring-fenced.

Clifford said: “Even before the ILF closed some local authorities started making dramatic cuts.

“It has been a complete postcode lottery from area to area.

“If the grant is ending, it will be a terrible blow to former ILF recipients whose local authorities have been protecting their support packages.

“We would be likely to see an even greater level of re-institutionalisation, neglect, denial of opportunity and dehumanisation of people with high support needs living in the community and a greater pressure to go into segregated institutions against their wishes.”

She called on disabled people and allies to support the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance’s Independent Living for the Future campaign, which calls for a new national independent living service that would eliminate the postcode lottery in support, and finally make the right to independent living a reality.

ILF was originally funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, and when it closed on 30 June 2015 it was helping nearly 17,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently.

But ministers decided it should be scrapped, promising instead that nine months’ worth of non-ring-fenced funding would be transferred to councils in England and to devolved governments in Wales and Scotland, to cover the period until April 2016.

It then agreed to extend that funding to English councils for another four years.

There were separate arrangements in Scotland and Wales.

Scotland set up its own Scottish Independent Living Fund on 1 July 2015, after the closure of the UK-wide ILF.

In Wales, a temporary replacement for ILF, the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) scheme, ran from July 2015 but was due to close this spring and be replaced by a system of council-funded support.

But the closure was paused, after campaigning by disabled activists and allies, to allow all WILG recipients to request an independent reassessment of their new council support packages, with the Welsh government promising to fund the reassessments and any extra support they might need as a result.

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Meeting in Parliament #SaveWILG

I am enjoying this politics lark and on October 25th I shall be attending a crucial meeting in The Houses of Parliament as we continue to fight for the rights of disabled people across the UK.

Working together to implementing the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
Committee Room 4, Houses of Parliament
3.30 – 5pm Thursday 25th October 2018
Hosted by Lord Colin Low
 
 Speakers to include representatives from the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, Disability Wales, Inclusion Scotland, Disability Action (Northern Ireland), Marsha de Cordova (Shadow Minister for Disabled People) and Stephen Lloyd (Liberal Democrat Spokesperson Work and Pensions) and others to be announced.
 
 In July 2018 the UK government co-hosted a global disability summit in London with the aim of securing international commitments to upholding the rights of Disabled people under the UNCRPD.  Meanwhile Deaf and Disabled people and our organisations remain concerned about retrogression under the UNCRPD within the UK.
 
Twelve months on from the Concluding Observations in the routine public examination of the UK under the UNCRPD, Government, equality commissions and civil society have been required to report back to the UN disability committee. This meeting will launch the alternative reports by UK Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations and be an opportunity to discuss how government, Parliamentary allies, and civil society can work together to implement the UNCRPD within the UK.
 
BSL interpretation and a palantypist will be provided. For more information or to book a place please contact ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.org.uk.
 
 

Trip to the Capital #SaveWILG

It was a scorching hot day in London and my comrades Delyth Lloyd-Williams and Greg Ogden reckon I was on fire too as we continue our fight to #SaveWILG.

I would love to write more but time is at a premium and I must keep on campaigning. I  just have time to say that we spoke with Chris Ruane MP and John McDonnell MP as we aim to #SaveWILG.

Evidence From England #SaveWILG

The following article was published in September 2016 by our friends at Inclusion London and  seeks to evidence the impact of the Independent Living Fund closure with a focus on the situation in London.

This is clearly a VERY IMPORTANT REPORT FOR ALL ASSEMBLY MEMBERS TO READ IN FULL as the Welsh Government intend to close the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) despite clear evidence of flaws during the transition period that the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care constantly tries to hide behind.

WHAT USE IS A TRANSITION PERIOD IF OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE AND A DEMOCRATIC VOTE IS NOT ENOUGH FOR A GOVERNMENTAL RE-THINK?

Beneath the Inclusion London article, I have added a link to a PDF report written by the DWP reporting on the effects of the closure of the ILF. This is also essential reading for all Assembly Members.

As our elected Assembly Members you have the opportunity to make a telling intervention in the lives  of disabled people with high care and support needs. You cannot let this opportunity slip through your fingers as the potential of this group of people deserves to be tapped into as we can all make a difference to the communities in which we live.

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One year on: Evaluating the impact of the closure of the Independent Living Fund

This report seeks to evidence the impact of the closure with a focus on the situation in London.

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was shut permanently on 30 June 2015. One week before, wheelchair users tried to storm the House of Commons chamber during Prime Minister’s Question time in a last ditch attempt to prevent closure. Disabled people receiving support through the ILF who are all too familiar with the day to day realities of the mainstream care and support system, were concerned that closing the ILF would mean a removal of essential support.

This report seeks to evidence the impact of the closure with a focus on the situation in London. It brings together statistical analysis from Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests sent to all 33 London boroughs with findings from a survey sent out to London Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) as well as qualitative evidence provided by former ILF recipients concerning their experiences of transfer to Local Authority (LA) support.

Comparison of evidence gathered through comparison of the Freedom Of Information (FOI) responses, Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPO) survey, and examples of lived experience submitted by former ILF recipients has led to a number of themes emerging:

  • Post-code lottery for former ILF recipients across Local Authorities.
  • The detrimental impacts of the ILF closure on former ILF recipients, ranging from distress and anxiety to removal of essential daily support.
  • The lack of consistent practice across different Local Authorities regarding referrals for CHC funding.
  • Limitations of the mainstream care and support system and failings in the implementation of the Care Act.
  • The value of the model of support provided by the Independent Living Fund.
  • The importance of Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations for making Deaf and Disabled people aware of and supported to exercise their rights.

There is an urgent need for a radical rethink of how Disabled people are supported to live independently. Disabled people who use independent living support must be at the forefront of developing ideas and with adequate resources for meaningful engagement.

This also needs to happen quickly, before the memories of what effective independent living support looks like and how much Disabled people can contribute when our support needs are met fade into the distance.

Download the full report below including the Executive Summary and Easy Read version 

Watch the video of the meeting. 

Watch the video at: http://bambuser.com/v/6445226?v=m 

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More essential reading from the DWP:

Report by the DWP: independent-living-fund-post-closure-review

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: First Minister quizzed over loss of independent living grant for disabled #SaveWILG

TAKEN FROM PLAID WRECSAM BLOG

The case for disabled people wanting to maintain their independent living was raised in the Senedd today with questions to First Minister Carwyn Jones.

The Welsh Independent Living Grant is due to come to an end next year and responsibility for ensuring disabled people can live independently will be transferred to local councils.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, asked: “Disabled people have told me that they appreciate their independence more than the money provided by the current Welsh Independent Living Grant. What assurances can you give them that this independence will continue when the WILG comes to an end?”

Mr Jones responded by saying that his government would monitor the actions of local government and individuals would be assessed to provide assurances.

Mr Gruffydd said he was disappointed that the First Minister did not appreciate the importance of disabled people having choice and control over their own lives, something that the WILG helped ensure: “I’m afraid I have little faith that the transition to councils that are already stretched to the limit in so many ways will work smoothly. The First Minister said time and again that his government would monitor the transition, but evidence from London shows that a similar transition has been disastrous and they should heed that evidence. In Scotland and Northern Ireland they’ve maintained the fund and the independence that it allows, which has been a success. I question why this Labour Govenrment is putting people in Wales through that uncertainty and pain when we have a model we could emulate in Scotland?” 

A determined campaign has been run to save the WILG by author and journalist Nathan Lee Davies, of Wrexham. He said: “I would like to thank Llyr Gruffydd AM for raising the issue of the Welsh Independent Living Grant at the Senedd. Without WILG my independence would be severely curtailed and I would be totally reliant on my penny-pinching local authority, which has already threatened a severe reduction of my care and support should the grant close. 

“It is important that disabled people are able to live their lives independently so that they can continue to contribute to their local communities.”