Sunday, 22 May 2011

Liberal Democrat MP feels the heat on NHS plans

On Friday around 40 people joined a march from West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance to the surgery office of local Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George. There campaigners lobbied him on the Health and Social Care bill which proposes to re-organise the National Health Service to allow private companies to make a profit out of healthcare.

Andrew George, who sits on the Health Select Committee, was asked if he would vote against the bill. He replied he would, if it remained unchanged. He said “unless the Government widens responsibility for the local management and commissioning of the NHS to a broader group of clinicians and community representatives rather than merely GPs and that they withdraw proposals for the wholesale marketisation of the NHS then the Health Bill will be dead in the water”.

He was also asked if he would resign from the Liberal Democrats if the bill was passed. He replied it was not a ‘party political issue’ and not relevant to the lobby of the NHS. But many of those present disagreed.

Before the last general election the Liberal Democrats positioned themselves as a progressive party who believed in closing tax loopholes, not renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system, access for all to higher education and a fairer, more equal society.

Privatising and cutting the NHS, making the less well off pay for the economic crisis with the loss of their public services whilst the rich still evade billions of pounds of tax is not progressive. It is a Tory policy which will lead us back to a Dickensian nightmare where those who cannot afford healthcare will either have to rely on charity or not get any care.

At the last general election the majority of people voted for parties to the left of the Conservatives (as the Lib Dems posed themselves as being) but because the Lib Dems have entered into a coalition with the Tories our society will become less fair, less inclusive and will be run for the benefit of the rich and big business.

If the Lib Dems fail to see that we do not wish to live in a Tory nightmare (and that is the reason the Lib Dems did so disastrously at the recent local elections and in the referendum) MPs like Andrew George will lose their seats. It is time for them to stand up to the Conservatives and speak out for the people who voted for them. Otherwise they will not vote for them again.

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