Category Archives: Politics

Sheffield Hallam University hosts Richard O’Dwyer discussion

Julia O'Dwyer (middle) listens to a question at the discussion

Sheffield Hallam University hosted a discussion on the Richard O’Dwyer case yesterday evening. The event was organised by the civil rights pressure group Liberty and was chaired by its Director, Shami Chakrabarti.

Amongst those speaking at the event were Richard’s mother Julia O’Dwyer and Liberty’s Directer of Policy Isabella Sankey.

There was also an unexpected appearance from sympathetic conservative MP David Davis.

‘Destructive’

Mrs. O’Dwyer began comically: “who’d have thought that a student in his bedroom would end up in so much bloomin’ trouble?”

But her pain became obvious as she fought back tears explaining the difficulty of the past few months.

She told the audience that she has had to become a “mini-lawyer” to assist her son.

She described the stress of the situation as “destructive,” saying that it has put a lot of pressure on her relationships and work life.

“The prospect of Richard being in America is terrifying,” she said.

“We’re fighting our own government and it feels like a futile fight.”

‘Grotesque injustice’

Liberty’s Director of Policy Isabella Sankey highlighted that extradition “has its place” for cases such as international terrorism.

But she said that extradition is “a trauma in and of itself” and in order to avoid situations like O’Dwyer’s “there need to be some basic safeguards.”

There was an unexpected appearance from Conservative MP David Davis, who described the current extradition law as “draconian.”

He said that the law between the UK and USA is “completely asymmetric” and called for the public to voice their indignation.

“It’s a grotesque injustice,” he said.

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Founder of ‘drop the bill’ petition speaks in Sheffield

Dr. Kailash Chand speaking at Sharrow Community Forum yesterday

Dr. Kailash Chand OBE spoke at a Labour CLP meeting at Sharrow Community Forum yesterday evening. Dr. Chand founded the online petition ‘Drop the Health Bill’, which currently has 177,590 signatures. 

At the meeting he said that the NHS bill is “friendless” and told his audience that they had “lost the battle, but not the argument.”

Trust undermined

Dr. Chand said that the bill could have a destructive effect on the patient-doctor relationship.

He argued that the rationing of NHS resources for commercial gain rather than for clinical reasons could undermine the trust between doctors and their patients.

“There is no evidence that competition works in healthcare,” he said.

He was particularly critical of the Conservatives, saying that their official line on the bill is “nothing more than a smoke screen.”

“The Tories really are good as far as PR is concerned,” he said.

‘Democracy was failing’

After the meeting, Dr. Chand spoke with TGS News about his recent campaigning.

“I started because democracy was failing,” he said. “The government was not listening to the BMA, was not listening to royal colleges, was not listening to GPs and even patient groups.

“They were not even listening to their own party.”

He said that he wouldn’t mind the changes if he thought that privatisation would lead to better public health, but there is no evidence to support this.

“It’s totally ideological,” he said.

‘We will repeal the bill’

Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, attended the talk.

He said that Dr. Chand “both outlined the challenges that we face as a result of this bill going through, but also motivated people by pointing out that there is still an opportunity to save the NHS from its worst impact.

“Even if we don’t force the Tories to, when Labour is reelected in 2015 we will repeal the bill,” he said.

Drop the Health Bill Petition

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Candlelit vigil for NHS outside Nick Clegg’s Sheffield office

Protesters outside Nick Clegg's Sheffield Office

A candlelit vigil was held outside Nick Clegg’s Sheffield office this evening in protest against the NHS Bill, which has just cleared it’s final reading in the House of Lords.

The bill will now return to the House of Commons where MP’s will consider any suggested amendments to the legislation.

The vigil lasted 45 minutes from 8:00 pm to 8:45 pm and was attended by approximately 65 people, including NHS workers.

Clegg ‘a disgrace’

At 7:55 pm, there were 16 protesters gathered outside Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam office. They included a lady holding a sign which read ‘Nick Clegg, you are a disgrace to our city. Shame on you for defying the people of Sheffield’.

“Now we have to debate whether he’s the worst MP in Sheffield’s history,” she suggested.

Also present was the Sheffield Central Constituency Labour Party’s Secretary Jim Smith. On the bill, he commented that the coalition “have no mandate.

“They didn’t talk about [the bill] in their manifesto,” he said.

Bill ‘a disaster’

By 8:25 pm there were approximately 65 people present. A few words were said by some of the more outspoken protesters including a Sheffield doctor who said that she is “deeply deeply worried” about the bill.

She went on to say that the bill is “a disaster in terms of the fragmentation of patient care.”

After one minute of silence the crowd disbanded at 8:45 pm. Faith Salih, one of the organisers of the vigil, said the protest showed that “people from all backgrounds care.”

The vigil is one of many which are taking place across Britain tonight. They have been orchestrated by political blogger Dr. Éoin Clarke.

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Paul Blomfield MP protests against NHS bill in Broomhill

Paul Blomfield MP in Broomhill today

Labour MP for Sheffield Central Paul Blomfield set up stall outside Broomhill’s shops today to protest against the government’s proposed NHS bill.

In an interview with TGS News, he said that the bill is “going to cause enormous damage to healthcare in this country.

“It will lead to the privitisation of the NHS as we know it.”

Bill ‘deeply ideological’

Blomfield contends that the bill is largely ideologically motivated. “I think it’s joined up with a number of other aspects of government policy,” he said.

“It’s part of a vision which sees a smaller public realm, a smaller state, and the private sector being the key operator.

“It’s deeply ideological.”

He pointed to the state of healthcare in the United States to illustrate the potential drawbacks of private sector involvement in the NHS: “The wealthy in the states get the highest standards of care – but those people who lose their job and therefore lose their occupational health insurance will find themselves not provided for by the state.”

Thatcher’s dream

Also present was Broomhill Labour councillor Stuart Wattam. He said that the coalition are doing “what Thatcher only dreamt of doing in the 1970’s.”

Wattam also argued that the bill has been poorly thought out. “It’s just appalling really,” he said.

“They’re going to spend more than they’re actually going to save.”

Member of the Broomhill Labour party Val Binney was at the stall, speaking with the public about the bill. She spent 25 years working as a clinical psychologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

She said she was confused by the coalition’s proposal to abolish primary care trusts as they have been functioning well.

On the bill, she concluded: “it’s become a matter of pride to push it through no matter what.”

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Sheffield students march on City Hall in tuition fees protest

Sheffield students begin march from Devonshire Green

Sheffield students have marched on the City Hall to protest against increased tuition fees as part of the National Union of Students’ ‘Come Clean’ day of action. The protest was attended by approximately fifty people.

Thirty-five of the protesters were students who had gathered on Devonshire Green at around 11:15 this morning. They were largely from socialist societies at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.

There were also some students present from The Sheffield College.

‘Tory haters’

The students began marching down Division Street at 11:40 this morning, chanting: “No ifs! No buts! No Education cuts!’, ‘Education for the masses! Not just for the ruling classes!’, and ‘We hate Tories and we are the Tory haters!”

There were six police officers in the area, and the march was flanked by two officers on bicycles. The students marched to the bottom of Fargate and back, reaching the City Hall at around 12:00.

One of the protesters was University of Sheffield PhD student Mark Seddon. He commented: “I think the cuts increase the privatisation of education.

“We want people from all backgrounds to have access to education.”

‘Occupy universities’

Amongst the speakers at the City Hall was the further education vice-president of the National Union of Students, Toni Pearce. On the increased tuition fees she said: “This is the first generation ever to be worse off than their parents.”

She added: “£9000 is extortionate.”

Also speaking was the vice-president of the Young Socialist Students Society, Paul Lepper. He called for students nationwide to occupy their universities in protest of increased student fees:

“We should occupy universities and refuse to pay any fees at all,” he said.

“If the NUS won’t do it, we’ll do it.”

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