In the Sentinel (17 Nov 2014) Tristrum Hunt, presumably taking a well earned break from the intensity of the battlefield tells us, “We’re on the front line of NHS battle”. He is referring of course to the fight to stop the government’s attempt to hand over Staffordshire’s cancer care and end of life treatment to private companies.
He says, “Back in July, when details first emerged of the £1.2 billion contract to provide cancer care across Staffordshire …. ” the Clinical Commissioning Groups “dismissed trade union claims of backdoor privatisation” (our emphasis)
The reality of course was somewhat different. The defensive trenches against this NHS robbery were dug not in July but three months earlier at the beginning of March and not by Tristrum Hunt or the Labour Party but by Stoke Socialist Party and local Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) supporters. See here …
Within a few weeks of this announcement over 1000 local people had signed a petition jointly organised by Stoke Socialist Party and TUSC. As part of this campaign to build opposition to cancer care privatisation two public meetings were organised, over 50 campaign stalls have been held all over the city and Newcastle and tens of thousands of leaflets given out.
TUSC campaign stall in Newcastle on 16 March
TUSC stood four candidates in last May’s local elections in Newcastle, not to opportunistically gain votes, but to use the election to build the campaign among a wider layer of local people. As a result, thousands more leaflets went out to homes in Knutton, Silverdale, Kidsgrove, Wolstanton and elsewhere calling for a fight back against the government’s plans.
TUSC played a key role at the beginning of June along with trade union Unite in forming the Cancer Not for Profit Coalition which helped take the campaign to a higher level. Only at this point did Tristrum Hunt and other Labour MP’s begin to smell an opportunity to use the campaign to aid Labour’s policy of covering up their own record of NHS cuts and privatisation during their 13 years in office and to opportunistically position themselves as defenders of the NHS to win votes at the general election.
This battle to defend our cancer care services and other NHS services from Richard Branson and other private vultures circling overhead will continue whoever wins the next general election. Part of this campaign will include TUSC candidates standing next May in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle, Staffordshire Moorlands, Stafford and elsewhere.
The establishment parties including Ukip are committed to maintaining the NHS ‘free at the point of use’ but that is not enough. Money off a loan shark is ‘free at the point of use’ but that doesn’t stop a massive bill and a massive profit for somebody else later on.
This is why all TUSC candidates are committed to;
Stop all privatisation, including the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). Bring privatised public services and utilities back into public ownership under democratic control.
For a high-quality, free National Health Service under democratic public ownership and control.
Use all the legal powers available to councils to oppose both the cuts and government policies which centrally impose the transfer of public services to private bodies. This includes using councils’ powers to refer local NHS decisions, initiate referenda and organise public commissions and consultations in campaigns to defend public services.