Thursday 21 December 2023

Junior Schooled

25 years at the Bar, and Victoria Atkins is still a junior barrister. That is perfectly normal. Of course she knows what a junior doctor is.

It was American private companies that sold contaminated blood products to the National Health Service. By striking for a rate of pay that retained the most committed and engaged staff, the junior doctors are striking against any more of that sort of thing.

You do not have to be poor to be right. If your pay has not kept pace with your private employer's profits, then you have a legitimate claim. Or if, like the NHS doctors, your pay from the currency-issuing State has not kept pace with inflation, then you have a legitimate claim.

There are things that are too big to fail, and then there is the NHS. 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 this stage.

Strikes are supposed to be disruptive, and arranging them to cause the most disruption is fundamental to them. Strikes in the NHS do not, in themselves, pose 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. The NHS flourished in the glory days of British trade unionism. Strikes have always been planned for. There is no threat to patient care, and any Health Minister or informed commentator knows that in detail.

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 thinktank 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.

But 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 Keir 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. What do you think of the Telegraph going after Starmer over his former clients?

  2. Atkins expected an outpouring of public hostility to a doctors' strike at Christmas but it hasn't come.

    1. MPs who are only MPs because they are old MPs' daughters never do understand these things. "You'll enjoy a fight with the consultants," one of them once told us. We did not.