Presentation on theme: "Mick McKeown & Dave Mercer. Discuss the contribution that nurses and other health workers can make to resisting the neo- fascist manifesto of the British."— Presentation transcript:
Mick McKeown & Dave Mercer
Discuss the contribution that nurses and other health workers can make to resisting the neo- fascist manifesto of the British National Party (BNP) and other groups such as the EDL & SDL Discuss institutionalised racism and healthcare in the context of politically divisive and discriminatory political ideologies Explore the persecution of the mentally ill, learning disabled and other vulnerable groups in Nazi Germany Think about professional ethics and political struggle in a broader critical engagement with human suffering, power relations and community organising
Increasing visibility and electoral ambitions of right-wing nationalist parties across Europe The racist extremism of the 1980s National Front reinvented and re- packaged as the British National Party and more recently the violence of groups such as EDL & SDL Exploitation of depressed economic circumstances and targeting of disaffected white working class areas
On race “We affirm that non-whites have no place here at all and will not rest until every last one has left our land” (Nick Griffin, BNP Leader) On disability “[mourners] unhealthily dominated by an excess of sentimentality towards the weak and unproductive...there is actually not a great deal of point in keeping these sorts of people alive after all” (Jeff Marshall, BNP Organiser) On rape “Rape is simply sex. Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal. To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting that force feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence. A woman would be more inconvenienced by having her handbag snatched” (Nick Erikson, BNP Organiser).
BNP membership list leaked Public sector workers exposed as members Clear relevance for nursing Raises questions over compatibility with professional ethics and practice Unison policy to exclude from registration
The Nursing and Midwifery Code of Conduct (2008) A professional requirement to ‘treat people as individuals’ Equivocal advice suggests that personal and political views can be balanced with a commitment to equality and diversity Equality issues are reinforced in the new standards for pre- registration education “You must not discriminate in any way against those in your care” (NMC 2008) “The NMC does not forbid anyone on the register from being a member of any lawful party or organisation. However, your fitness to practice could be called into question if you allow your political views or personal beliefs to contribute to behaviour that was contrary to your Code” (NMC 2009).
The value of the nursing code (NMC 2008) is that it enshrines the core values of the profession. It places nursing in the vanguard of actively: Promoting social justice Safeguarding human rights Upholding patient dignity Resisting discrimination and persecution
Over-representation in diagnosis More coercive introduction via police, courts and mental health legislation Less psychotherapy and talking treatments More physical treatments such as medication and ECT More and longer seclusion More physical restraint More deaths in custody Concentration at hard end of psychiatry, secure units Direct racism, institutional racism, and staff support for far right groups
Real higher incidence of mental disorder for black men ◦ Biological or genetic accounts ◦ Effects of social disadvantage and racism Ethnocentric bias in the system ◦ Mis-diagnosis due to lack of cultural sensitivity Social construction of race and mental disorder ◦ Power of language and representation ◦ Big Black & Dangerous ◦ Black otherness
Physicians and academics were early supporters of National Socialism, and psychiatry was most involved (Seeman 2005). Racial legislation and eugenics laws introduced from the early 1930s, led to sterilisation, euthanasia and genocide (Friedlander 1997). Killing centres established at psychiatric hospitals. The physician selected patients for death, but nurses and caregivers undertook the killing (Benedict & Kuhla 2007). The nurse was the ‘political soldier’ of the health service (Steppe 1992)
“Official notions of difference, which would later find their most diabolical expression in the murder of the Jews, were first expressed in state-sanctioned killings of children and adults with a wide range of physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities” (Mostert 2002: 157).
“Some of the nurses put their moral duty to obey proper orders ahead of their moral duty not to kill. Others believed that what they did was not killing but merely the outcome of obeying a morally licit command” (Benedict & Kuhla 2007: 791). “The narratives that emerge from this clearly documented evidence of active involvement of professional nurses in mass murder, torture, and unethical experimentation are uniformly chilling and extremely significant for consideration for contemporary nursing” (Georges 2006: 161).
Annie Altschul survived anti-Semitism in Austria and escaped Nazi persecution Witnessed discriminatory treatment while training as a nurse in Britain Lifelong commitment to socialist and humanist politics as a philosophical basis for caring
“It behoves nurses to listen, to understand, to restore dignity and to place personhood at the very centre of their practice now and in the future” (McKie 2004: 147) “The narratives that emerge from this clearly documented evidence of active involvement of professional nurses in mass murder, torture, and unethical experimentation are uniformly chilling and extremely significant for consideration for contemporary nursing” (Georges 2006: 161).
Why do you keep dragging up history? Survivor stories could be from Guantanamo, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Former Yugoslavia, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq...
History of health care workers active in resistance to fascism In trade unions Community activism Anti-fascist groups and alliances Making links at the level of occupation and activism
10 things your union can do 1 Invite a HOPE not hate speaker to your National Executive Committee, regional committees and branch meetings – we want to maximise the involvement of union members in our campaign, especially among those groups targeted by the BNP and who are least likely to be currently involved. 2 Recruit branch volunteers to take part in campaigning activity. 3 Set up anti-fascist pages on your union’s website, including a link to the HOPE not hate website. Keep it updated and add your own information, including union events and activities, and briefings for union members about why your union opposes the far right. 4 Work with us to produce specific briefings for your members in different employment sectors and equality groups. We already have material for black members, women members and LGBT members. 5 Encourage branches to affiliate to the HOPE not hate campaign. We can supply model motions. 6 Get your NEC to donate to the HOPE not hate campaign. 7 Set up training events for your members on how they can help to combat the far right in their workplaces and communities. 8 Link up with local community activists and other trade unions to campaign against the far right. Encourage involvement in trades councils. 9 Promote the HOPE not hate campaign to union learning reps; organise learning-at-work days. 10 Run a “register to vote” campaign in your workplaces, produce branch briefings about the HOPE not hate campaign and encourage all your members to get involved.
The BNP would kick out all those people who were not born in Britain. What if every other country in the world kicked out the Brits? A staggering 5.5 million people would be sent back here – far more than would leave our shores. This includes 800,000 from Spain, most of whom are pensioners. If non-white people were ordered out of Britain then the NHS would collapse overnight. 16% of nurses are from minority ethnic communities, as are 40% of new dentists and 58% of new doctors! The BNP would introduce apartheid into Britain. The BNP call for whites to be given first preference in housing, education and jobs. This is no different from apartheid South Africa, a racist regime which the BNP supported. Mixed-race relationships would be outlawed. The BNP constitution opposes any racial integration. Articles in BNP journals condemn mixed-race relationships as “mongrelising the white race”. The BNP’s answer to violent crime is to allow every household to have a gun. We kid you not. This barmy idea was in the BNP’s 2005 general election manifesto.