One conversation I once had with Jos Bell (twitter here), an incredibly productive campaigner and chair for the independent Socialist Health Association London division, had much more of a profound impact than I thought at the time.
I simply remarked that the Conservative-led government had been ‘disastrous’.
Jos disagreed. She pointed out that the term of office had gone extremely successfully for the few who’ve made shedloads of money through private equity and hedge funds.
A massive assumption we’re all prone to make, some more than others, is that the political class largely represent us and our interests.
The number of ‘lost votes’ is the reminder to all of us of how disconnected parliamentary politics have become with our needs and concerns.
There are, of course, some truly outstanding MPs, however.
Another realisation for many, almost a right of passage, is the “lightbulb moment” that some leading ‘independent’ health and care think tanks have not been offering useful reliable impartial advice after all.
The performance of some on the issue of competition, a shoo-horn for neoliberal markets, against the wishes of many professionals, is a testament to them.
Dodgy advice was used to prop up the business case for the Health and Social Care Act (2012), and it is going to take a long time to unwind from this.
I know of the misery that the ‘welfare reforms’ have had on the morbidity and mortality of disabled citizens. This does not prevent ATOS from fulfilling a lucrative contract, which was made under the last Government (Labour).
There are accusations and counter-accusations of the effects of injection of private capital, the private finance initiative, which many hope will be addressed properly by the incoming government next year. City financiers and law firms continue to benefit from this sustained policy which has reaped havoc on various ‘local economies’ of the NHS.
The sale of Royal Mail, and various other projects, into the private sector at an undervalue (it is alleged) clearly has not been to the best benefit of the taxpayer. But again many in the City, some alleged to be close to the current Government, have benefited personally (it is alleged).
Through the prism of me and my friends, this Conservative-led Government has been ‘disastrous’. But they’ve actually achieved a lot for themselves in the last few years in the tenuous argument of ‘austerity’.
The buzzword for George Osborne was ‘choice’, and you could hear a pin drop literally at George Osborne’s reassurance in his speech yesterday, “We’re all in it together”.
I simply can’t agree with political commentators who wish to pollute the discussion with their meme that ‘Labour do not wish like a party who wish to govern.”
Many grassroots activists in Labour are desperate to sort out the mess the country finds itself in.
They certainly detest the idea of a Tory-UKIP coalition.
The repeal of the Health and Social Care Act (2012) will be in the first Queen’s Speech of an incoming Labour government.
This Act of parliament turbo-boosted the aggressive pimping of NHS contracts into private sector providers. Correct – another set of beneficiaries from this government, led by the Conservatives but the lifeblood of which is currently provided by the Liberal Democrats.
In many ways, the next period of office is a ‘poisoned chalice’ once again, with debt in the last four years 4 x as much as the debt amassed by Labour in 13 years.
But, to repeat David Cameron, “we can’t go on like this”.
And the goalposts keep on moving.
An identifiable threat still remains having a means-tested social care service bolted onto the ‘universal’ health system, like a badly soldered “lemon car”.
A threat, less visible on the event horizon, is the corporatisation of general practice in the English jurisdiction.
I suspect that, despite the noise produced by UKIP and LibDems, the NHA Party will fail to make inroads in seats in the actual election. This will be of great sadness to me, despite the fact I wish all Labour candidates very well, as they are clearly campaigning on many relevant issues.
I feel that Labour will win the next general election. But I am terrified that, like the aftermath of 1997, it will be another missed opportunity for us.