First, let’s clear something up. People say we want to destroy the NHS. But when my wife was in labour with our ‘daughter’ she spent 36 hours in agony. She lost a lot of blood. And without the kindness, the expertise, and the wisdom of the people in the NHS she would have died.
And I would be a free man.
People say “Shirley Williams is a tool of the party leadership”. I wouldn’t go that far. I would stop at “Shirley Williams is a tool”.
Some have said that the £21,000 Andrew Lansley received from John Nash (head of private medical organisation Care UK) just before the election was a bribe. Nothing could be further from truth.
A bribe is a significant amount of money paid to someone to change their behaviour. And when seen against the opening of half of all beds in all hospitals to private patients, £21,000 is not a significant amount of money.
Andrew Lansley is not a shill for private medical companies. That is his wife’s job.
For those of you hoping that Labour will repeal the bill, think on this. Labour Secretary of State Alan Milburn, architect of the 2002 reforms that made all of this possible, stood down in 2003 to head up Bridgepoint Capital. Which has as its clients Alliance Medical, Match Group, and Medica.
The Labour Secretary of State for Health who devised the 2006 reforms, which gave even more involvement to the private sector, was later one of those ex-ministers who described themselves as “available for hire like a black cab”.
Good luck with the Labour Party.
And Andy Burnham knows that, even if the Act is repealed, one thing cannot be revoked. Those areas opened to competition under EU competition law cannot be closed to it again. That’s irrevocable. That’s from today. Rejoice!
But don’t blame yourselves. There were two parties, both of whom committed themselves to ‘protecting the NHS’ and ‘no more top-down re-organisations’. And neither of them even won.
So then there was an outcry. And we had a listening exercise. Which we ignored.
And some of you protested. Blocked bridges, and the like. And we ignored that.
And we said we’d be the most open government ever, with epetitions that got more than 100,000 signatures being debated in Parliament. And you got 170,000 signatures. And we ignored that.
And then there were more petitions, and more protests, and letter-writing, and risk registers. And we ignored all of that.
This is, after all, the cradle of democracy. So go ahead. Protest. March. Petition.
If you don’t like it you can always vote for someone else. Not yet. Or in the foreseeable future, because we’ve shelved our plans for recalling MPs. And the someone else you could vote for agrees with us “that reform is needed in principle”.
And carry on exercising your democratic rights until you’ve got the £21,000 you need to effect real change. Not small change.