Thanks to Dr Louise Irvine, Jeremy Hunt has already been feeling the pressure in his seat of South West Surrey. But now it would seem that a second candidate is getting to him. Today, Hunt made an unscheduled visit to Stafford, another Conservative seat, to ‘set the record straight’ by pledging not to completely close the county town’s local A&E.
Stafford candidate Karen Howell has long been campaigning against the Tory plans to close her local A&E. Here’s what she thinks of Jeremy Hunt’s visit:
This is an outrageous attempt by Jeremy Hunt to try and bribe the people of Stafford into voting Tory. His government moved the A&E services away from Stafford. Now he is claiming they will be restored 24/7. The people of Stafford have been through enough. It’s disgusting that the Health Secretary is playing politics with them like this.
That much is clear. But is this just a case of dirty Tory politics, or has Hunt actually broken the rules? Purdah, which began on 30th March 2015, is a pre-election period in which government officials are not allowed to announce new initiatives, at a national or local level, that could be advantageous to a given party or candidate in the election. While it is unlikely that any punishment would be applied to Hunt for today’s actions, it is rather suspicious that the last government’s Health Secretary made a 30 minute visit to a town 3 hours away from his South West Surrey seat in order to make a health-related announcement.