No More Money for Wars and Bank Bailouts – Give Nurses 15%

The Tory Health and Social care Minister for England Helen Whately has defended the utterly shameful Tory party decision to offer nurses in England a pay cut for their incredible efforts and dedication during the worst health pandemic in our lifetimes.

Relying on the essential Tory traits of dishonesty and brass necks which could withstand a blowtorch she brazenly defended cutting the wages of already hard-pressed nurses.

​On International Women’s Day of all days this Tory apologist for further austerity and cuts to the NHS fawned sincerity as she metaphorically slapped the faces of the predominantly female nursing workforce in the NHS that her and her Tory chums so gleefully clapped for last year whenever a camera was nearby to capture their sickening phoney concern and support. The very workers who saved Boris Johnson’s life and cared for him are now rewarded with a real term pay cut. It is disgusting and disgraceful.

​First marble mouthed Whately criticised opposition MPs for describing the Tory recommendation to the independent pay review body as a pay cut when it was, she said, a pay rise. She is either a liar or economically illiterate. I believe she is both.

According to the Tory Government’s own economic body, the Office for Budget Responsibility, inflation in 2021 will rise to 1.5% and then higher again to 1.8% in 2022. I admit I have the benefit of a degree in economics but surely even a Tory with little grasp on the realities of life which face ordinary people must know that a 1% wage increase when inflation is predicted to rise by 1.5% is a WAGE CUT. It is as clear as the dishonesty and hypocrisy that oozes daily from every pore of Tory MPs and Ministers.

So, when Jeremy Corbyn spoke today and condemned the Tories for cutting the wages of nurses in England he was absolutely spot on:

“Nurses have seen us through this crisis. They have saved many lives. Yet they are offered a pay cut as a result of it, some are already having to resort to food banks to survive and a third are thinking of leaving the profession unless they get a decent pay rise. If £37 billion could be found to pay SERCO for a failed track and trace system surely the money must be available to pay NHS staff properly. You can’t clap for them then cut their pay at the same time”.

​£37 Billion For Privatise Test, Track and Trace but Not for Nurses

Jeremy Corbyn spoke up for the NHS as usual and he also managed to highlight a figure which has been hardly publicised but deserves wall to wall exposure. It was bad enough when £22 billion was allocated to the bunch of Tory cronies at SERCO who couldn’t organise a proper test, track and trace system but hidden away in the small print of Rishi Sunak’s budget last week was the revelation that a further £15 billion has been allocated to it. Not enough money for a decent nurses’ pay rise but £37 billion for a privatised scheme that has been an embarrassment. That is Tory priorities for you.

Whately also waffled about record Tory investment in the NHS of £34 billion when the actual real terms increase according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies is only £20.5 billion and significantly below former Labour governments and even below the percentage increase in NHS budgets under the likes of Mrs Thatcher, and we know how much she despised socialised health care.

​Another of Whately’s lies related to the much trailed but wholly dishonest “50,000 extra nurses” yarn spun to great effect by Johnson in 2019. Yet even according to him in a momentary lapse of honesty on the Sophie Ridge Sky News show he admitted that there never was going to be 50,000 extra nurses but only 31,000 at most. Ms Whately clearly hadn’t been watching that interview or surely, she wouldn’t have lied to Parliament today.

Whately Insulted Student Nurses Last Year – Now She is Insulting All Nurses

Helen Whately like so many of her Ministerial colleagues and Tory MPs are wired to the moon. They are space cadets divorced from reality. This is the woman who last year insulted student nurses by suggesting over 2,000 hours of work is not worthy of recognition or reward. She dismissed their contributions to the health service during training and caused outrage amongst the student nursing population who have already had their bursaries for training withdrawn and face literally tens of thousands in debt after qualification.

The truth is Whately was a stand-in as her boss Hapless Matt Hancock the Health Secretary was otherwise detained. He couldn’t make it along to answer emergency questions on the nurses pay insult as he was being fitted for a new black suit to wear when he eventually faces standing in a dock to answer criminal charges in relation to his illegal awarding of billions of pounds worth of Covid19 contracts to Tory friends and donors without a shred of accountability, transparency or proper paperwork.

Another of the useless Tory Ministers who struggle to be taken seriously in their own homes let alone on national television is shambolic Education Minister Gavin Williamson who was defending the derisory nurses pay cut yesterday with a lie about increasing their pay over the last ten years. What a thoroughly duplicitous dumpling he is.

Over the last decade of Tory austerity, the wages of nurses in England have been cut by an average of 20% in real terms:

“Over the past decade, the situation is worse with the average Band 5 NHS nurse being £6144 per year worse off due to wages failing to keep up with the rate of inflation (RPI) – a real-terms pay cut of around 20%”.

Under the Tories the NHS has been butchered and will continue to bleed as thousands depart in search of a job that is less demanding and stressful. Failure to fund proper wages and reward NHS and care workers will accelerate a to race to the bottom in wages and facilitate further healthcare privatisation. Saving the NHS is fast becoming a primary driving force for Scottish independence.

Money Is Always Available When Needed

When some question me on social media about where the money will come from to pay nurses the 15% increase in wages, or £3,000 a year more, they deserve. I dampen my temper and suggest we raid the same money garden that provided over a trillion pounds to bail out the greedy and irresponsible bankers in 2008.

We cancel the £205 billion earmarked for Trident nuclear weapons renewal and upkeep over the next thirty years and invest in caring for people, not more efficiently killing people.

We close the existing tax loopholes and offshore accounts in the British overseas territories and crown dependencies like the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands which are ranked as the top three facilitators of tax fraud and evasion in the world costing the UK public purse up to £120 billion a year.

We tickle the filthy rich with an inconsequential one-off wealth tax of 1% levied on millionaire couples within the UK over the next five years that would be efficient, fair and difficult to avoid but would raise an additional £260 billion of revenues for public spending according to the expert group of economists and accountants who comprise the Wealth Commission and have worked out a detailed report that is ready to be implemented.

Or we simply print the required money necessary to properly fund our health service and pay NHS and care workers the wages they deserve and reject the childish stupidity and economic absurdity that the economy of a country is akin to a household budget and therefore we must be wary of debt burdens lest the sheriff officers or bailiffs move in to bankrupt us. A national economy is nothing like a household budget.

To those who bleat incessantly about the urgency of ‘paying back the debt’ I ask, ‘to who’? Who are we paying the debt back to? The General Government Deficit (or net borrowing) was £62.3 billion at the end of 2020 but who did we borrow it from? Ninety-two percent of that net borrowing is from the Bank of England.

​They are not likely to send in the debt collectors. The Bank of England is in effect another government body. There is no urgency or necessity to pay back this borrowing through public service cuts, it is a political choice not an economic requirement. Nurses, care workers and other NHS employees should be given the 15% increase in wages because they deserve it and we can afford it. Money can always be found for wars and to bail out bankers. It can certainly be found for nurses and other NHS staff.

This article holds the views of the author and not neccessarily the views of Solidarity as a party
Posted in Articles, Tommy Sheridan's Columns.

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