Tag Archives: general election 2015

Is Jeremy Hunt Breaking The Rules With His Latest Panic Pledge?

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.

Dear Andy: Labour Need To Sort Themselves Out

Dear Andy Burnham,

We know you probably haven’t heard of NHSpace. That’s fine; everyone has to start somewhere. What matters is we believe in something, and we’re willing to stand up for what we believe.

We thought you were too, Andy. We saw you give a talk to NHS staff last year, and we took notes. You said:

  • “I prefer the NHS model over a more marketised system. A more marketised system means more costs.”
  • “The NHS model avoids the inflationary pressures, rising costs and fragmented care that affects a market-based system.”
  • “We will repeal the H&SC Act, and we will include that in the first Queen’s Speech of the next Labour government.”

So why, Andy, are you now supporting the marketisation of the NHS? You would reverse the H&SC Act only to replace it with a different flavour of privatisation in which the NHS and charities are ‘preferred providers‘. Such a system will still welcome private firms, be governed by European competition law, and waste billions on contracts and tenders.

You’re a nice guy, Andy, and you give good speeches. But what you’ve got lined up for our NHS just isn’t good enough.

Labour have strayed too far to the right and are now helping the Tories sell off the welfare state that Aneurin Bevan helped create. The Labour Party isn’t the same party that you joined at age 14 to fight the Tories, and it’s certainly not a party that  Bevan would recognise. You of all people should be able to see that Labour need to sort themselves out.

Yours sincerely,

NHSpace 

Open Letter To Harriet Harman

Jessica Ormerod and Deborah Harrington have some advice for the Labour deputy leader.

Have we really not moved on since 1953? Take one look at Harriet Harman and her pink campaign bus and you’d be forgiven for thinking we haven’t. The idea that Labour are going to sweep up the mummy vote with a pink bus and a patronising wink from Harriet as she talks woman to woman would be laughable if it weren’t so vomit-inducing.

Since the coalition stumbled into power we have all been the losers, but women and children have been hit the hardest. Labour are neither saying nor doing anything to stop the horrific effects of austerity on the most vulnerable in our society.

I can tell you, Harriet, just what keeps us women folk up at night. Like you, I live in South East London. Unlike you, my children go to the local comprehensive school and over the last few years I have seen families made homeless by the wicked austerity agenda. An agenda that your party defends. To use the patronising parlance of government, these are ‘hard-working families’ who have been turfed out of their houses because the landlord has decided to ride the property market and sell the flat, leaving families with no recourse but to pack their bags and go to the housing office. Because there is no housing stock left in Lewisham, these families are re-housed in the appalling conditions of so-called ’emergency accommodation’, often far from their jobs and their children’s schools. Mummy lies awake listening to the drug addicts and alcoholics shouting at each other in the room next door, worries about the three buses they will need to get to school the next morning, worries if she’ll even be able to get on the bus because if there’s one pushchair on there already the driver shoos you away. And anyway, everyone will have to be up at 5am in order to make the journey of 5 miles because buses are late, buses get stuck in traffic and there’s always a walk at the end with three miserable, tired children who might not have eaten because, and here’s another worry, Harriet, there’s not enough money for everyone to eat breakfast.

Women bear the brunt of plummeting household finances, they go hungry to keep their children fed, they take their children to hospital, they work zero hour contract jobs, they get beaten up by their partners and have nowhere to go…

So, Harriet, let’s talk about what women want:

Housing

Women, and especially women with children, are most affected by the unaffordability of decent homes. They are more likely to have inadequate incomes and suffer from draconian reductions in benefit. Don’t just talk about building more homes, talk about what kind of homes. Council homes at council rents sounds good. Don’t use that awful term ‘affordable’ which mostly is only marginally less affordable than current market prices. How about decent jobs in areas where homes are standing empty so people can live happy lives there?

Childcare

Don’t offer more ‘free’ hours and vouchers, these have led over the last 20 years to the cost of nursery places in England being the highest in Europe – put more money into any given area of the private sector and the prices go up (but not always the standards). Build on local council provision instead, or provide more kindergartens attached to primary schools.

Social care

Do something urgently about the drastic reductions in local authority social care budgets which hit women harder than anyone. Women already provide a lot of the care for the generations below and above them, and what support and relief they were getting has been torn away by this government.

Health

Women bear the children and also tend to look after their household’s health. If they suffer inadequate housing, low wages, failure of local provision of service, their health suffers – and then who looks after the children?

Domestic violence

Where can we take our children to be safe from abuse now that the refuges have been savagely cut?

Education

I want to send my child to a normal state comprehensive but I am faced with an array of foundation schools, academies and free schools that I don’t trust and I don’t like.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I say, get out of your bus and get real about what is actually happening to women: to their children and their partners; to their everyday lives. Don’t tell us what we worry about – ask us and we’ll tell you.

We want a new politics. We want a healthy NHS. We want a better Britain.

5 NHS Strategies That Make UKIP Unelectable

1 – Constantly Threaten NHS Privatisation

Having already covered UKIP’s love affair with privatisation, NHSpace promises not to go over old ground. There’s no need to, as we have brand new evidence!

UKIP are just waiting for public opinion to change so they can safely reveal their privatising agenda. But if that’s the plan, why has the UKIP general secretary just gone on record saying that the NHS is the “Reichstag bunker of socialism” and needs privatising? Maybe he just couldn’t wait.

2 – Promote Politicians Who Know Nothing About Health

The UKIP spokesperson for health is an MEP who knows absolutely nothing about healthcare. Nothing. This is the person that UKIP would make Health Secretary.

3 – Play The Immigration Card

Despite the fact that the UK has a net gain of £2bn per year from migrants, and despite that fact that migrant health professionals make up 35% of NHS staff, UKIP still think that their NHS policies should involve bashing migrants as much as possible.

Whether it’s the spread of infectious disease or just traffic on the M4, you can be sure that Farage will find some way of blaming immigration. But hey, who needs real policies when you can blame ethic minorities?

4 –  Go On A Crusade Against Breastfeeding

As if anyone could ever forget, the UKIP leader is anti-breastfeeding and would prefer breastfeeding mothers to cover up and hide in a corner.

5 – Don’t Bother Having Any Real Policies

With weeks left to go, UKIP actually don’t know what their election policies on the NHS will be. Apparently it’s down to their “National Executive Committee”, although NHSpace suspects they’re just waiting for Farage so smoke a few more packets so that they’ve got somewhere to scribble down their latest ‘policies’.

We need democratic reform – urgently

Deborah Harrington gives us her view on the current two party system.

If there are only two parties which can achieve power in the current system then, even if Labour is successful in 2015, we will inevitably revert to a Tory government at a future date. And this need not even be a Tory majority – by forming a coalition with a smaller party, the Tories are willing to lever themselves into power from a minority position. Whenever they do return, they will wreak havoc on the NHS and the Welfare State. The civil service is smaller now than at any time since 1948 and the Tories have sold off 20% of all our public land and assets in the last 4 years. We are running out of things to save.

If the predictions of another market crash in the next couple of years are true and Labour is in government then, as far as the public and the Tory spin machine are concerned, Labour will be held responsible for two successive crashes. That leads to the real possibility of a Tory government being returned in 2020.

The main thrust of much of Labour’s politics at the moment appears to be ‘we’re not the Tories’. That seems to me to be an absolute argument for political reform. Give us a parliament with more Independents, more Greens, SNP and Plaid, to represent the major environmental concerns and devolution/local agenda issues. Let’s have some political presence to really represent the NHS, and Left Unity and TUSC to stand up for the working classes, the unemployed and the disabled. Let’s have a politics where voters feel they can choose the party they agree with, not just the party that ‘isn’t the Tories’.

I would like to vote for a party that has solid core principles. At the moment the Labour Party has substituted ‘compassion’ for social justice. Not the same thing at all. Until – or unless – it regains its senses I hope all left wing voters will opt for getting together behind whichever candidate genuinely best represents their views, regardless of party (although I assume Tory and UKIP are not in the running for those votes in any circumstance whatsoever!).

I shall be thinking of the future when I cast my vote this year, not just about the short term. I hope you do too.

Farage: Immigrants Made Me Late For A Meeting

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has gone as far as to blame immigration for his missing a meeting in Wales after heavy traffic on the M4. UKIP’s desperation to blame immigrants for everything gives away their only real election tactic – to create a climate of fear and capitalise on this by promising an authoritarian clamp-down on immigration and civil liberties. One can only wonder how much of UKIP’s transport policy depends solely upon reducing the migrant population.

UKIP are also doing this with the NHS:

Losses due to so-called health tourism are a fraction of one per cent of the NHS budget – a drop in the ocean of underfunding. But it’s a useful lie for UKIP – who want your vote but not to tell you about its own plans to privatise the NHS – and for the government as a smokescreen for its own failings.

The actual cost of people coming to Britain specifically for free healthcare (as opposed to falling ill or having an accident while here on holiday) is estimated to be around £70 million – which is a lot of money, but just 0.06% of the total NHS budget. So even if it the practice was wiped out completely, the NHS underfunding problems would remain. That is the truth.

If you’re waiting for your GP and a person of a different colour goes in before you its easy to think “If they weren’t here, I’d be seen sooner.” If you go to A&E and the people sitting next to you are conversing in a language you don’t understand, it’s easy to feel they must be interlopers. You’re sick, you’re stressed, you’re not thinking straight. But the politicians are thinking straight. They have the facts, they have the figures, but they’d rather play on your fears and anxieties to gain political advantage than own up to where the blame really lies.

So now the government is planning to spend more money checking up on foreign patients than it can ever hope to recover in savings. It costs the NHS, it put more pressure on practitioners, but it’s useful PR in their desperate electoral fight against UKIP. Meanwhile UKIP are rubbing their hands that focusing on immigrants stops voters noticing their preference for privatising the NHS.