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NHS “credibility gap”

The Conservatives have overtaken Labour for the first time since March 2012 in the latest YouGov/The Sun poll.


David Cameron has an inherent advantage in the public perception’s of his leadership qualities, in that he is doing the job every day and being seen to do so on the news. Credibility is an important currency. And Labour has already stated ‘the market went too far’ in the NHS. It is not a secret that many parts of the media try to present Ed Miliband in a negative light. Labour is trusted on the NHS, and the Tories are trusted on the economy; so a rationale strategy for the Tories is to make the link between the country’s economy and the NHS. However, real-terms NHS funding has effectively flatlined for a number of years now, not keeping up with the inflation in the system, and debt under this Government has got out of control.

For example, you’re more likely to get a discussion of the ‘bacon butty’ incident than a discussion of how NHS contracts have been aggressively been promoted to the private sector, or how the Health and Social Care Act (2012) locks in the market.

bacon butty

The Prime Minister often blames this lack of coverage on the era of the rolling news, but conversations in the social media have been very productive in exposing events which the BBC would rather not cover. David Cameron’s segment on the NHS was certainly passionate. Cameron must have been distraught at the closure of the Cheyne Centre which he had once fought to keep alive.

But actions speak louder than words.  When Cameron claims he will protect the NHS he doesn’t say from whom or what he needs to protect it.   He no longer talks about the importance of competition in the NHS and many of the initiatives associated with Andrew Lansley seem to have been quietly forgotten.

If David Cameron had wanted to win the trust of the medical profession, he would not have ambushed them out of nowhere with a ‘top down reorganisation’ which he promised would never happen. The £2.4 bn reorganisation is widely considered to be a tragic waste, when money could have, and should have, been invested in frontline services. The chunk of the speech on the NHS was little consolation to hardworking nurses who’ve witnessed yet another pay freeze, despite the economy’s performance recovering. Nurses, part of the lifeblood of the service, are not immune from the ‘cost of living crisis’, particularly if they are living in London and working in one of the powerhouse teaching hospitals.

A&E targets have been consistently missed during the duration of this period of office by the Conservative Party (and the Liberal Democrat Party).

The current Government need to address what to do about the ‘private finance initiative’. New contracts have been awarded during the lifetime of this Government, and, whilst they were undoubtedly popular under New Labour, their origin is clearly found in the John Major Conservative administration of 1992-1997.

David Cameron, in his conference speech, simply behaved so passionately about the NHS as if the Lewisham debacle had never happened. The current Government even spent money trying to win the case in the Court of Appeal.

GP waiting times have been an unmitigated disaster under this GovernmentThere has been a marked rise in the number of NHS trusts in deficit. Jeremy Hunt is stuck in a time warp. He mentions Mid Staffs at every opportunity. Hunt, completely disingenuously, does not let the failures in culture, quality or management, identified at the CQC, soil his lips. The “Keogh Trusts” were dealt with due to failings which had occurred in the lifetime of and due to this government.

Like the referendum on Europe, promising ‘to protect’ the NHS could be ‘jam tomorrow‘, if the Conservative Party fail to get re-elected. It is either a sign of confidence, or sheer arrogance, that David Cameron and colleagues can hang these uncoated promises in thin air.

The position in an editorial of the Financial Times is clear – and damning:

“But in the bid both to draw a clear dividing line with Labour and reassure the wavering right, they have staked out a fiscal position that is neither sober nor realistic.”

And, hard though it might be to swallow, the Coalition appears to have an ‘edge’ on some key policy areas.

policy edge

Labour would never have been able to get away with such dodgy promises, with their plans for government being watched like a hawk. With the help of the BBC and other supine media outlets, rather, there will be an inadequate scrutiny of these Conservative plans, which hopefully will be better articulated before the time of the election. As such, it does not matter what Labour promises its voters on the abolition of the purchaser-provider split, whole person care, the private finance initiative, reconfiguration of hospitals, GP waiting times, patient safety, and so on, if voters wish to vote for ‘jam tomorrow’.

The hope is that a Secretary of State for a Labour government would be able to untangle the UK government out of TTIP and CETA trade agreements further giving propulsion to neoliberal forces attacking the NHS. There is a hope that health and care finances will be properly funded in the next Government. All parties have arguably failed to have this conversation with the general public thus far.

Some policies of the current Conservative-led administration are incredibly unpopular with Labour voters: e.g. welfare benefits, NHS privatisation, repeal of the Human Rights Act. The feeling of many, currently, is that, while they do not particularly like this Government, they do not wish to vote for Labour which appears to be offering a diluted form of what the Conservative Party is offering. This is not in any way a indictment of the sterling efforts of the Labour Party Shadow Health Team.

But, before Labour attempts to plug the ‘funding gap’, it will need to resolve any ‘credibility gap’ first.



David Cameron is neither tough, nor intelligent: this permashambles government died years ago

Cameron may have written some good essays for his Honour School of Philosophy, Politics and Economics finals for the University of Oxford, in 1987, but nobody can say with a straight face that he has ever come close to a serious intelligent philosophy behind his government. He is instead a prisoner of a party which failed to win an election in 2010, despite being given overwhelming support from the majority of the mainstream media.

His government makes “The Thick of It” child’s play.  The operational running of his government is a pathetic shambles, ranging from screw-ups over announcements of energy policy, to the sacking of Andrew Mitchell. His flagship philosophy, Big Society, has had so many relaunches, that to relaunch it again would be cruel. And he has unleashed a ticking time-bomb in the form of the privatisation of the NHS. As a piece of legislation designed to please his corporate donors, it will unravel systematically to its eventual implosion. Challenges on the basis of illegality are already being brought in the High Court, and certain private healthcare providers have already been massively criticised. Labour is currently about 30 points ahead on the NHS, and the fragmentation of the NHS into a piecemeal conglomerate of corporate profiteers will see the death of this current Conservative government.

The Liberal Democrats have allowed themselves to be killed off without trace by the Conservatives, and of course they remain hopeful that they might be able to go into coalition with Labour from 2015 onwards. This would be to betray every single piece of legislation that the Liberal Democrats have enabled for the Conservatives, and many Labour voters, if not the majority, would find any strategic alliance with them sickening. All of this, in combination, means that any good news of the economy in recovery will not matter at all for the majority of voters, especially this is most likely to represent clever accounting of ‘the Olympic bounce’. Despite the fact Labour has been mistrusted over the public finances, the accusation that David Cameron actually systematically lies about what Labour is beginning to stick, for example demonstrated this brazen tweet of falsehood:

causing Laurie Penny to produce an excellent (and true) response:

The key thing is that it is not because he is “a toff”, nor particularly that George Osborne assumed his seat in First Class, without paying the correct fare to begin with. It is the simple fact that he has never been liked by the wider electorate, let alone his party, and his government has no coherent story to it. There’s no point claiming to be a party on behalf of strivers, when you wish to abolish employment rights in an unfair swop for shares in a possibly failing start-up, demonstrating a wish to treat workers for contempt. Cameron is doing exactly what caused the downfall of Thatcher: systematically picking on various sectors of the society, who have no intention of voting for him, whether this includes medical physicians who opposed the new NHS legislation, social aid lawyers who opposed the legal aid legislation, teachers who opposed the employment support legislation, or disabled citizens who opposed the welfare legislation.

It is precisely because the government is this incompetent that Ed Miliband will, I am certain, defy all odds to win the General Election after only one term in opposition. This is a government which is impossible to like with even the best will in a world, with a chairman of allegations of breaches of copyright and fraud in the media, and a Home Secretary who has been found guilty of contempt of court. It is a weird situation, with the government having to claim that there are millions in employment as a victory, when they have next to no employment rights. It is more than contemptible that there are now hospitals who are the recipients of ‘surpluses’ not profits (Ali Persa, the head of Circle, insists on using mutual terminology despite AIM overall having been floated succcessfully on the stock exchange AIM) with a highly acrimonious relationship with UNISON at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

So the launch of this new ‘tough love’ policy in law and order, of being “tough and intelligence” are yet more hollow words of David Cameron. Cameron’s training in PR has been ill-suited to formulating any comprehensible policy, unpopular with yet another class of people Cameron has attacked: intellectuals. Cameron may feel that he can get away with this as he has no need to win over intellectuals, but he has never showed any sign of sealing the deal with anyone other than corporate backers. His policy is just a cut-and-paste job of polling results from Andrew Cooper, with his Populus polling training, and provides no compelling vision about the direction of the UK. It is deeply divisive, insulting to many, and delivered in an arrogant and patronising style.

Unless David Cameron’s fortunes change dramatically, his party, especially with lack of boundary changes (unless they secure a deal with the Liberal Democrats regarding party funding), the Conservatives will be thrown out, amazingly having failed to win a majority in 2010. The tragedy will be that the Liberal Democrats will be virtually non-existent in Labour, but every acerbic nasty attack they produce can now be easily rebutted. ‘What about the illegal war in Iraq?’ can be quickly reversed by, ‘How long do you intend to stay in Afghanistan?’ That the Liberal Democrats are a group of pathetic opportunistists, with an Orange Booker component showing no sign of insight or remorse, is not news. Their demolition, with Cameron’s Conservatives in 2015, will be. The sleeping partner in this relationship, the BBC, will be forced to rethink their matrimonial vows at this time too.


Privatising the blood bank and NHS, G4s and A4e fiascos.. ENOUGH!

This has got to be the most putrid, sick, incompetent Government. Thanks also to the LibDems for selling the NHS down the river, at the expense of Lords reform which they never got.

bwah bwah bwah

Do you remember the final leadership debate?

DAVID DIMBLEBY: Right, we have to bring this part of the debate to an end there, with that question. Thank you very much, all three of you. We end with final statements from each of the three party leaders, David Cameron to start.

DAVID CAMERON: Thank you. I’m standing here for a very simple reason, that I love this country, and I think we can do even better in the years ahead. We can go on, solve our problems and do great things. But we need a government with the right values. We need a government that backs families and understands that the family is the most important thing in our society. We need a government that backs work, and people who try to do the right thing. We need a government that always understands that keeping us safe and secure is the most important thing of all. But there’s something else you need to know about me. I believe the test of a good and strong society is how we look after the most vulnerable, the most frail and the poorest. That’s true in good times, but it’s even more true in difficult times. And there will be difficult decisions, but I want to lead us through those to better times ahead. I think I’ve got a great team behind me. I think we can do great things in this country. If you vote Labour, you’ll get more of the same. If you vote Liberal, as we’ve seen tonight, it’s just uncertainty. If you vote Conservative on Thursday, you can have a new, fresh government, making a clean break, and taking our country in a new direction, and bringing the change we need.

DAVID DIMBLEBY: Thank you. For the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg.

NICK CLEGG: Everything I’ve said during these three television debates is driven by my simple belief that if we do things differently, we can build a better, fairer Britain. As you decide how to cast your vote, of course you’ll be told by these two that real change is dangerous, that it can’t be done. But don’t let anyone scare you from following your instincts. Together, next week, we can change Britain for good. Just think how many times you’ve been given lots of promises from these old parties, and when they get back into government, you find that nothing really changes at all. We can do so much better than that this time. Of course, I can’t guarantee that all the problems you face will be solved overnight, but I can guarantee you that I will work tirelessly to deliver fairness for you. Fair taxes so that you pay less, but people at the top pay their fair share. A fair start, smaller class sizes for your children, a different approach to the economy and decent open politics that you can trust once again. I believe all this can happen. This is your election. This is your country. When you go to vote next week, choose the future you really want. If you believe, like I do, that we can do things differently this time, then together we really will change Britain. Don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t happen. It can. This time, you can make the difference.

DAVID DIMBLEBY: Thank you, Mr Clegg. Now for Labour, Gordon Brown.

GORDON BROWN: These debates are the answer to people who say that politics doesn’t matter. I want to thank everybody who’s been involved in these debates over the last few weeks. They show that there are big causes we can fight for. They also show that big differences exist between the parties. I know that if things stay where they are, perhaps in eight days’ time, David Cameron, perhaps supported by Nick Clegg, would be in office. But I’ve had the duty of telling you this evening that while we have policies for the future, the Conservatives would put the recovery immediately at risk with an emergency budget. I’ve asked David and Nick questions all evening. David has not been able to confirm, but it is the case that inheritance tax cuts will go to the richest people in the country. I believe he’s planning to cut the Schools Budget, and he hasn’t denied it. I believe also that child tax credits would be cut by both parties if they came into a coalition. I believe too that policing would be at risk from a Conservative government, because they have not said they would match us on policing either. And the health service guarantees that we have that gives every cancer patient the right to see a specialist within two weeks would be scrapped by the Conservative Government if they came into power. I don’t like having to do this, but I have to tell you that things are too important to be left to risky policies under these two people. They are not ready for government, because they have not thought through their policies. We are desperate to get this country through the recession and into the recovery, and that is what I intend to continue to do. But it’s up to the people to decide, and it’s your decision.

DAVID DIMBLEBY: Mr Brown, thank you. And thank you to all three party leaders who’ve taken part in this debate, and to our audience here.

Ed Miliband's (non-personal) letter to me: Time for change!

Dear Shibley,

I am writing to you for the final time before the end of this campaign to ask for your help to win the next general election — because only change can win.

I believe we have won the argument for change in this election. Every day of this campaign we have been winning support from people who recognise that Labour must turn the page on the past if we are to reach out to those we lost and win again. But we can take nothing for granted. In these last few days, your help could make all the difference. I hope you’ll do everything you can in these next 48 hours.

** By phoning 30 members in your area it could make a real difference to the result. Please reply to this email and tell us where you are in the country — then we will send you a list of undecided voters in your region for you to speak to. **

I am more convinced than ever of the scale of change we need. And I believe more strongly than ever that I am the best person to reconnect with the millions of voters we lost and take us back to power.

I have said throughout this campaign that we cannot win again without first understanding why we lost.

We heard on the doorsteps that many felt we no longer spoke to the challenges of people’s lives and their hopes and aspirations for the future. People are struggling to make ends meet and fearful for their jobs. They are working harder for longer for less. They worry about the future facing their children — the debts they will take on just to get an education and whether they’ll ever afford a place of their own.

After the 1992 election and our fourth general election defeat, Tony Blair said the problem was not that we had changed but that we hadn’t changed enough. I don’t want to wake up after the next general election and have to debate why we didn’t change enough to win.

I believe I am the best person to build a new winning majority for Labour — to reconnect with our lost voters, and to reach out to the millions of Lib Dem voters in the centre of British politics that Nick Clegg has deserted by his lurch to the right.

This country cannot afford even one term of this Coalition. As leader I will work every hour of every day to remove this government so that we can once again provide the leadership this country needs.

** Please reply to this email now and we’ll be in touch with a list of 30 members in your area to call. You could make all the difference. **

This election is not yet decided. By supporting me you are choosing change. By choosing change, you are choosing for Labour to win again.

Thank you,

Ed Miliband

PS — If you haven’t already, please vote online by clicking here, using your unique security code on your ballot paper. Ballots close on Wednesday at 5pm, so please vote for me as your first preference now!

On Ed Balls.

How’s the coalition doing these days? Well, considering. Cameron seems confident, and ‘on top of his game’ at the moment. He has a clear idea of how he can lead the country as well as his Party, which is no mean feat. Meanwhile, Labour seems to go on with its neverending shambles which is the leadership election, with Ed Balls revealing today that he disagreed with Gordon Brown and how he could now work with the Liberal Democrats.”

Here is Ed’s latest account of where things went wrong with him at the helm: Indy article

Gordon Brown fudged Labour message, says Ed Balls

“I could have chosen to have broken away in an emphatic and decisive way from Gordon in the last few years, and I didn’t,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.”

Why not? Of course, the traditional arguments are ‘collective responsibility’ and ‘loyalty’, but this admission goes to the heart of how exactly decisions were made in Gordon Brown’s government. The impression that, “If Gordon didn’t like it, tough”, seems to be getting stronger and stronger everyday, with the publication of a new set of political memoirs (e.g. “The Third Man”, or “The Journey”).

“I disagreed strongly with Gordon on the 10p tax rate cut, I thought we should have gone for the election in 2007, I felt that he trimmed and fudged his message to try to keep the Daily Mail happy in a way which meant that people didn’t know where we stood. I said that to him many times.”

Well, there’s disagreement and there’s disagreement isn’t there? As a junior member of the Fabians, I believe strongly that Labour government under both Blair and Brown screwed up on poverty. Poverty and inequality aren’t even mentioned in Blair’s index. Whatever your views on capital gains tax and corporation tax, the issue about the 10p tax (and the top rate of tax) still raises more questions than answers.

So, whilst Kerry is right to emphasise our achievements, we still have a lot of soul-searching to do. For what it’s worth, I don’t feel Ed Balls MP is the right man at the right time. He wasn’t then, and he isn’t now.

Meanwhile, Guido Fawkes has revealed interesting information about Ed Ball’s leadership chances from his research.

39% of Guido’s Readers Want Ed Balls to Lead Labour Party

Here are Guido’s findings.

“Ed Balls liked to tell the hustings that he was the one the Tories feared most, hence the attacks on him from the right-wing media. Guido takes the opposite view, he is the one that opponents of the Labour Party most badly want to win the Labour leadership because he would be as disastrous as his mentor was for Labour. Today”

I will vote for David Miliband if we move on from New Labour

I know that the title sounds incredibly petty, but many including the Mirror wish him to become leader, and the Tories apparently terrified for him. I’m seeing Ed at Haverstock Hill School on Sunday in one of his last hustings, but if this is true I will take it seriously.

Dear Shibley,

I respect both Tony and Gordon deeply. But their time has passed. Their names do not appear on the leadership ballots. And now we need to stop their achievements being sidelined and their failings holding us back.

I’m sick and tired of the caricature that this leadership election is a choice between rejecting or retaining New Labour. It does a disservice to all of the candidates and, even worse, a disservice to the thousands of members who’ve been participating in this contest over the last few months and working hard for years.

To those trying to trash our past and those trying to recreate it, I say enough is enough, it is time to move on.

I joined the Labour Party back in 1983 because I believed then, as I do now, that we are stronger when we stand together. And that has never been truer than when applied to our Party.

I believe that this election is about pulling together all the talents of our Party. It’s about teamwork, mutual respect – and a rejection of the tired old Westminster games of closed door briefings, posturing, attack and rebuttal. I want to change the way we do politics.

Because I want to lead a government not a gang, a movement not a machine, where honest debate can be a source of strength, not a sign of weakness.

And we do this for a simple goal – because we want Labour to be the Party that enables hard working people to achieve their aspirations.

That means building a new economy – to drive down unemployment right across Britain. It means ensuring work pays with a living wage. It requires tackling the too wide gap in life chances.

In politics, moments matter. So as your ballot papers land on your doorstep in the next few days, I humbly ask for your vote for Leader of our Party.

If you’re planning to vote for me as your first preference or second preference please let me know by clicking here

Or if you’re still undecided please click here and a member of my team will be in touch

Together we can cast the old play book aside – we can once again reflect the lives, the communities and the best hopes of the British people.

The first 100 days of the Coalition Government has shown their creed – and made our task all the more urgent. There are millions of people who need Labour to win again to deliver them a fair chance in life. And I will not let them down.

I am ready to lead. But at this crucial moment I need your support to make the Labour Party the change Britain needs.

Please vote for me as your first preference.

Thank you,

David Miliband

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