A roundup of news on the left…

1.Tory-Linked Think Tank Appoints ‘Brazen’ Climate Denier as Director-DeSmog

A think-tank with close links to Tory politicians, has appointed as director a businessman with a history of climate change denial.

Michael John Cole, chairman of a Newcastle-based health foods distributor, joined the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s (GWPF) board of trustees on December 30.

Cole claims environmentalism is part of a “totalitarian” plan to control the public, and says there is “no causal link” between human-made carbon emissions and global warming, DeSmog reports.

The site writes: “Cole is the author of two books, both published in 2021 – one called Debunking the Myth of Human Made Climate Change, and another, A Virus in Society, which promotes conspiracy theories.”

2. Revealed: Taskforce to tackle NHS backlog is stuffed with private health CEOs-openDemocracy

The Prime Minister has held a meeting with seven bosses from the UK’s biggest private health companies to discuss how to tackle the NHS backlog, openDemocracy reveals.

An FOI submitted by openDemocracy to find out more about the guest list which attended meetings of the government’s Elective Recovery Taskforce, which is focused on ‘turbocharging NHS recovery from the pandemic’, found that half a dozen CEOs from private health firms were in attendance.

Guests included the chief execs of the UK’s two largest private hospital operators: Paolo Pieri, the chief exec of Circle Health Group, and Justin Ash, who heads up Spire Healthcare. Also present was Jim Easton, the chief executive of Practice Plus Group, the NHS’s top private healthcare provider.

‘Campaigners have raised concerns that the close involvement of private healthcare corporations in the government’s response to the NHS crisis will benefit shareholders at the expense of public investment.’

3. Nadhim Zahawi’s Tory Leadership Bid Funded by Offshore-Linked Investor-Byline Times

Tory chair Nadhim Zahawi has hit the headlines in recent days over his tax affairs and the fact that he had to pay a penalty, believed to be in the region of £4.8 million, to resolve a dispute with HMRC over unpaid taxes. He settled his tax dispute while he was chancellor.

Now Byline Times also reports that Zahawi’s 2022 Conservative leadership campaign was backed by an investment manager linked to the offshore tax haven of Bermuda.

The paper reports: “Zahawi received £62,500 from Khaled Saïd – representing the full amount that appears to have been received by Zahawi’s campaign, launched after Boris Johnson announced his resignation as prime minister in July 2022.

“Saïd is the managing partner of Capital Generation Partners – a firm which, in its own words, “look[s] after large pools of capital for families, endowments and individuals”. This includes helping families to “preserve and grow” their wealth, assisting families with their real estate portfolios and their investment decisions.”

The Paradise Papers link Saïd to 18 companies based in the tax haven of Bermuda, listing him as a shareholder of three, a director of 12 and a signatory for three – though not all are still trading in the country.

4. ‘Ambulance Workers Are Absolutely on Their Knees’-Tribune

Tribune features an interview with a GMB union organiser in the ambulance service, highlighting how ambulance workers are struggling to make ends meet and why they have voted to take strike action.

Deanne Ferguson highlights how over the last decade, ambulance workers have lost over 20% in pay by not keeping up with average inflation rates year-on-year. Deanne also highlights how stretched the ambulance service is: “When a colleague leaves, they’re not being replaced. And that happens almost every time. There’s a huge shortage of staff. There’s around about 130,000 vacancies across the NHS, which is putting additional pressure on those who remain.”

“So, as well as the ‘lost decade’ of pay, which has pushed so many to leave, those who now work in the service are absolutely on their knees.” An important read for anyone wanting to know about the appalling conditions facing our NHS workers.

5. The Amazon strikes: even when business is booming, workers are under attack-Morning Star

The Morning Star features an editorial piece after the first ever Amazon strike today, after workers walked out in Coventry, the delivery giant’s first ever strike on British soil.

While many of us have seen strikes affecting the public sector, the Morning Star highlights how strikes affecting the private sector are no less significant and the outstanding work carried out by trade unions such as the GMB and Unite in organising workers at private employers like Amazon.

The piece points out how the private sector makes up three-quarters of the British workforce but is poorly unionised.

“The Amazon strike — taking place at one of Britain’s highest-profile businesses — is a reminder that the pay fight is one which unites public and private-sector workers, foiling Tory attempts to divide and rule.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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