1990s >> 1994 >> no-1078-june-1994

Sting in the Tail

Tory caring

Sir Louis Blom-Cooper and Professor Elaine Murphy have been sacked.

They used to work for the government-funded Mental Health Act Commission. This is a body set up to protect the rights of patients compulsorily detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act.

Louis and Elaine were experts in the field of Mental Health. They were chairman and vice-chairman of the committee. They worked their socks off in their endeavours to protect the mentally disabled.

They were sacked because they warned the government that inner-city mental services were “in crisis”. They claimed that seriously disturbed patients were being discharged too early to make way for even more disturbed people. They said:

    “Psychiatric wards were so overcrowded that patients had to share beds and sleep in corridors.” (Observer, 24 April)

In order to protect the “care in the community” policy of the Tory market-mad ministers they had to be given their cards. They will be replaced by someone more amenable to market forces. ‘Nuff said.

Having a good war

This was Lord Marshall, chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board during the miners’ strike of 1984-5, reflecting on the strike in The Men Who Kept The Lights On (BBC2, 23 April):

    “It was absolutely thrilling. A wonderful, wonderful year. I mean it’s like being in a war. War, of course, is bad because people get killed, but if you’re in a just war, a proper war, I mean war in inverted commas, it was just very, very exciting. Much more exciting than normal, everyday life, and after it was over there was a terrible sense of loss because there was nothing exciting for us to talk about any more.”

What a pity that the miners and their families couldn’t have borne their hardships for just a while longer and so delayed this noble Lord’s “terrible sense of loss”?

A horror story

Ever since the end of World War Two there has been a stream of “Now it can be told” stories. They always deal with episodes from that conflict which had hitherto been suppressed.

Another such story surfaced in an American TV programme about the Holocaust and was reported in the Jewish Chronicle on 15 April:

    “Countless thousands of Jews died in the Holocaust because of a conspiracy between the US State Department and the British government not to rescue them . . . “

The US and British governments sabotaged a plan whereby American Jews would “put up the funds necessary to ‘buy’ 70,000 Romanian Jews” because both feared that the Germans might actually agree to it! A British Foreign Office document complained about “the difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued from enemy-occupied territory”.

So the Jews were left to their fate. Were all those politicians and officials inhuman monsters? The thing to remember here is that anyone who is involved in the administration of capitalism’s affairs may find themselves having to make such gruesome decisions “in the national interest”.

Labour and the CIA

The notion that international capitalism fears a Labour government in Britain has always been one of the favourite illusions of what is called the Left.

Under the “freedom of information” legislation in the United States documents have been released that show how silly that idea is:

    “Ironically, a CIA report sent to President Truman in February 1950, headed The British General Election and US Security, concluded that ‘US interests might be slightly better served by the return of Labour.'”

The CIA observed that advantages of a Labour victory included “greater domestic stability in Britain, especially of the standard of living falls”, and “greater loyalty of British workers to the policies of the British government.” (Guardian, 11 April).

Far from fearing a Labour government, certain sections of the capitalist class welcome it.

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