God Weeps

In my quieter moments in my safe place (home) or my mother’s magnificent garden, I can reflect on the evil and towering rage that consumes my mind – aggrieved, hurt and unable to connect with the divine. Perhaps this is how the relatives of the families, including children, lost in an unnecessary inferno at Grenfell Tower, feel. Bereft, beyond grief, blind, white rage that, if allowed to take root, will destroy them from the inside like a cancer.

And then added to the people, eighty known to the authorities, who lost their lives in Grenfell Tower, there is the multitude at silent prayer in Finsbury Park in the very early morning. ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD’ (Isaiah 55:8).

These are the words God speaks as he watches the Moslems praying by the side of the man mown down outside a mosque in London. God sits on his hands and weeps.

A man filled with hatred saw another man in difficulty and mounted the pavement in a cowardly copycat attack. This attack underlines the fact that terrorists are not Muslim, any more than they are Christian or atheists. Their mantra is to destroy and they know nothing of a God who invites us to wonder at the splendour of his universe which embodies his glory.

God speaks through the splendour of nature but also through the peaceful co-existence of many races living humble yet devout lives in Grenfell Tower and many other high-rise blocks across the land. People content to live in Britain silently accepting the drop in status, wages and class that migration from the developing world normally entails.

God’s glory shines a light into darkness and he chooses to spend his time with the poor and the oppressed, not with government or politicians. Perhaps we should do likewise. After all, we are his hands and feet.

And it’s the ordinary acts of kindness that touched the hearts of the bereaved, momentary solace in the abyss for many but also, I hope, the courage to carry on.

Secret NHS cost-cutting plans revealed and Brighton’s hospital trust could lose up to 436 EU staff because of Brexit

Brighton’s hospital trust is under threat according to the Health Service Journal. Senior NHS officials have been told by the Conservatives to cut spending by closing wards and services, extending waiting times and stopping some medical treatments.

A controversial “capped expenditure process” is being discussed privately between top officials from NHS England and NHS Improvement and health managers in 14 areas of the country with the highest levels of overspending.

Surrey and Sussex is one of the NHS areas accused of overspending and told to think the “unthinkable.”

According to the Health Service Journal (HSJ) on Monday 05 June: “The principle of the process, introduced this year, is to ‘cap’ NHS spending in the targeted areas so that they meet ‘control total’ budgets in 2017-18.”

“The programme comes amid the longest ever sustained squeeze on the NHS budget, and with lower spending growth in 2017-18 than last year. These areas (14 including Surrey and Sussex) report gaps between plans and targets running into hundreds of millions of pounds, but NHSE and NHSI have not made public the total national gap.”

For this reason, Surrey and Sussex’s Brighton hospital campus could face even more ward closures, operations’ caps, longer waiting times, reductions in medical treatments, downgrading services like maternity and A&E, selling land and stopping prescriptions because of budget cuts.

Brighton and Sussex Universities Hospital Trust was placed in special measures when it declared a financial deficit of £60 million last October and is expected to end the year with a deficit of £60 to £70 billion. On 25 April this year, 42 inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the healthcare watchdog, returned to the trust for three days.

Earlier in April Marianne Griffiths took over running the trust along with a team from Western Sussex Hospitals. She was appointed because the challenges that she had overcome merging St Richard’s, in Chichester, with Worthing and Southlands to form Western and dealing with a £21 million deficit meant that she had relevant experience. Western Sussex Hospitals is one of only five acute hospital trusts to be rated outstanding by CQC.

Mrs Griffiths said that she had agreed a breathing space with regulators and one monthly monitoring meeting to assess progress.

If you sign up as a guest member to the Health Service Journal, you can read the full article here.

Added to their financial problems, the Lib Dems warn the NHS in Brighton could lose up to 436 staff from the EU because of Theresa May’s extreme version of Brexit including 61 doctors and 171 nurses.  Over half of all doctors and 42% of nurses from the EU are considering leaving because of Brexit, according to recent research published on Dispatches in March this year.

Channel Four reported that Conservative plans would create a £4.5m bill to re-hire local doctors and nurses and other support workers in the NHS from the EU after 2019. Theresa May plans to double the ‘immigration skills charge’ to £2000 per year for each doctor, nurse and health worker brought into the NHS or any other company from abroad by 2022.

Full figures on the number of EU nationals by local NHS trust and estimates of those considering leaving the UK because of Brexit can be found in the Channel 4 Survey for Dispatches in March this year.

Projected cost of £4.36 million to pay immigration skills charge for 5 years when 40% of EU nationals (436) may leave based on Channel 4 dispatches survey (13 March 2017)

In their manifesto, Lib Dems will immediately guarantee the rights of all EU nationals working in the NHS and social care and commit to add a penny on income tax for the basic, higher and additional rates of income tax. They want to raise enough money to protect the NHS. You can read about the Lib Dem plans for the NHS and social care workforce here.Liberal Democrats have called for an immediate guarantee that all EU nationals in the UK, including those working in the NHS and social care, can stay after Brexit.

Emily Tester, Lib Dem candidate for Brighton Kemptown said: “Hospitals in our city depend on doctors, nurses and other support staff from the EU. But many are now planning to leave because of the uncertainty caused by Brexit.

“We must guarantee their rights to stay here immediately to prevent a damaging exodus of these skilled and hard-working people. Our NHS, and the care we all rely on, would suffer without them.”


Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Kemptown Emily Tester


Labour will raise £30 billion for the NHS nationally by increasing income tax for the highest 5% of taxpayers earning £80,000 or more per year. (Media presenters have expressed concern about likely tax evasion by high earners and questions whether Labour will manage to raise £30 billion.)

Like the Lib Dems, the Green Party will introduce an “NHS Tax”, earmarked to increase direct funding of the NHS as part of general income and other taxation.

Conservatives have only committed to a ‘real terms’ increase of only £8 billion in their manifesto in the next Parliament until 2022 which was the minimum expenditure recommended by the King’s Fund at the last 2015 election. (See page 66 of the Conservative manifesto.)

Brighton Labour supporters turn out in force in support of the many not the few

A long queue of Labour supporters assembled yesterday to hear Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, live-streamed from Birmingham with Brighton Parliamentary candidates centre stage at the Synergy Centre at 6pm yesterday.

First speaker to take the to the podium was Brighton Pavilion candidate, Solomon Curtis, who said people have empowered politics and argued that it was the Labour Party who would form a strong and stable government with less austerity, more teachers, more nurses and a future for young people.

He said: “Come home, come back to Labour. It has always been the people in the Labour Party that make it great… If you want to live next to a black person, vote Labour.” Mr Curtis said he was feeling the spirit of 1945 and rallied the crowds with the words: “Brighton, solidarity!”

Brighton Pavilion Candidate Solomon Curtis

Brighton Kemptown candidate, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, took to the stage next and predicted a Labour victory in Kemptown. He said Labour must save the NHS in Brighton which is in special measures. He said healthcare must be free at the point of delivery and private companies should be kicked out.

He criticised cuts to school budgets which affected special needs children and a predominantly female workforce. Mr Russell-Moyle said 10% of Brighton and Hove’s population are on a housing waiting list and this city has the second highest homeless population in Britain. Labour has promised they will build one million council houses for Britain.

He said there was a simple choice: a Britain spiralling into despair or a Britain with an economy that grows not just for the very rich, but for everyone. He urged supporters to spend today and tomorrow (polling day) with their Labour family.

First-time voter Farah Alice Black spoke and explained that she became interested in politics after her youth centre came under threat of closure.

She said: “We will not let Theresa May be the Mrs Thatcher of my generation.”

She said she would be voting for Jeremy Corbyn and encouraged supporters to take heart that they have, in Mr Corbyn, a politician for the people even if the TV and media hate him.

Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Barry Gardiner said in response to recent terror attacks: “We are united in solidarity, love, love for life and nowhere expresses that better than Brighton. Brighton knows about solidarity, coming together of people of all genders, races, colours, religions, gay, transsexual and straight people.” He criticised Mrs May for pitting the young against the old and for promoting tax giveaways for the richest.

Mr Corbyn urged voters to vote Labour because the party will fight for an NHS free at the point of use which is a fundamental human right, address unrequited ambition in young people by empowering them and reduce the great gap between rich and poor.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn live from Birmingham

Music was provided by Brighton’s DJ Enzo Siffredi, long-time Labour supporter and singer-songwriter Robb Johnson and folk singer Sam Lee at the Brighton event last night.

A retired head teacher from Comart in Whitehawk is now the founder of the “teach a friend to read” campaign. She said: “Like all my friends and anybody I am close to, like anyone who cares about society and future of the planet, we’re all passionate about Jeremy Corbyn and his team.

“He is gaining power to make the world a better place. If the Tories win the election, it doesn’t matter because young people will just take over, having all the brainpower, IT and heart at their disposal. Either way, now is our time and our moment. The good guys are going to win.”

Jess Reilly wanted to show solidarity with Labour and planned to put a bet on Mr Corbyn winning, she was not a Labour Party member until Mr Corbyn became leader.

While the rally was mainly Labour Party members, some people were voting tactically.

Bethan Hudson, aged 23, supports the progressive alliance. She is training as a counsellor and working full-time. She said Mr Corbyn had a very different outlook and his approach with a costed manifesto compared well to the Conservative one which, she said, just supported the wealthy.

She said: “Prime Minister Theresa May going back on the dementia tax and social care shows how her government is not strong or stable.”

David Hudson who is a videographer said he would be voting for the Green Party because he lived in Brighton Pavilion. He said: “That is not to say I don’t wholeheartedly support Jeremy, I support the Labour Party and specific politicians. The Greens have fantastic policies, if there is a hung parliament, the Green Party have much in line with Labour and their manifesto.”

Bethan and David Hudson, Jess Reilly and Sophie White

Sophie White from Hove said she will vote for Labour’s Peter Kyle. She said, in Hove, Labour have the best chance of being re-elected. She said: “I like the Green Party and their values but I also support Labour so they have got my vote.”

If you are a voter who does not feel represented in your constituency, you can vote tactically against Brexit here to support Gina Miller’s cross-party campaign.

Alternatively, you can swap your vote  with a voter in a different constituency where your party is stronger and more likely to win so that your vote makes more of a difference.

You must arrange swapping your vote before 10pm today and use social media to verify your identity. You need to confirm that you are a real person and give the person you swap with an idea of your political preferences and convictions. Effectively, you should then be able to help two parties you like win, rather than just one which may be a minority party where you live.

However, be warned, you can’t necessarily choose the constituency of the person you swap with at this election, only the party. The tool may become more sophisticated in future elections.

Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Barry Gardiner