Wednesday 12 April 2023

Surgical Spirit

There are things that are too big to fail, and then there is the National Health Service. Since the situation has been 15 years in the making, then all three parties that have been in government during that period need to explain how things have reached the stage where the junior doctors could put in a perfectly just claim for a 35 per cent pay rise and then have to go on strike for 96 hours in pursuit of it.

Strikes are supposed to be disruptive, and arranging them to cause the most disruption is fundamental to them. The parties are bewildered at the popularity of the increasingly successful strikes, to the point of denying it, and of outright lying that strikes in the NHS posed a threat to life, as if Aneurin Bevan, of all people, had never thought to put the necessary safeguards in place. I'll give you a clue. He did, so they are. 

Labour is firmly committed to the Blair Government's signature domestic policy of the privatisation of the NHS in England. That idea existed only on the fringes of the think tank circuit until Tony Blair, Alan Milburn and Paul Corrigan took office in 1997. Since then, it has been the policy of all three parties except under Jeremy Corbyn, and of most Labour MPs and all Labour Party staffers continuously.

Other than Blair, Milburn and Corrigan, no one has done more than Jeremy Hunt to privatise the English NHS, but to the glee of the liberal-capitalist commentariat, Wes Streeting has openly sold the pass. NHS privatisation would now face no Official Opposition of even the most notional kind. Keir Starmer has endorsed Streeting's views, effectively naming Streeting as his successor in the course of the next Parliament, at the end of which Starmer will be 67 to Streeting's 46.

But the knives are out for Starmer around his own Shadow Cabinet table. And when I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.


  1. Streeting's majority is only 5,198.