Just got an e-mail from the NHS Alert campaign saying that this week “Andy Burnham intensified the fight against Cameron’s Health Bill by launching the Drop the Bill petition.”
This petition launch is presumably a follow up to Andy’s opening ‘salvo’ speech as Shadow Health Secretary in which he said we had just “72 hours to Save the NHS”.
Pardon me for saying, but haven’t we already got several petitions on the go to this effect, including the 38 Degrees one which has 492,923 signatories already? Haven’t some of us also been trying to alert people to the threat of Lansley’s Bill for a number of months now, including in Andy’s own constituency, and not just three days prior to the Bill’s third reading in the House of Lords? A bit late in the day if you ask me, but I suppose it’s something of an improvement on what Labour was doing in Parliament previously. Who was Labour’s previous Shadow Health Secretary again?
It is interesting to note that the only difference between his and Wigan & Leigh Save Our NHS/Keep Our NHS Public’s local petition, is that his doesn’t also say ‘drop the cuts’. No slip of the pen I suggest there! If Labour was in power they would no doubt be making some other package of cuts, and are already responsible for many PFI and other privatisation measures which the Coalition Government are wanting to build on.
Yes, its great to have Labour actually doing something nationally at long last. Instead of a launching another petition though, why don’t they call a national demonstration against Lansley’s Bill and let us all work together to get millions on it? Might we also suggest to Andy that this perhaps should take precedence over his presently more high profile campaign to include Leigh Town Hall & Leigh Parish Church in the proposed new Leigh Parliamentary Constituency. Hasn’t anyone in Leigh worked out yet that this means Leigh will have two MPs under the proposed changes as Atherton currently does, and that’s potentially better than one from the town’s point of view?
You can sign Andy’s Petition at: http://www.dropthebill.com
In the meantime, local campaigners from Wigan & Leigh Save Our NHS/Keep Our NHS Public are calling on local people to join them on 30th November in Wigan town centre to show their support for NHS and other public sector workers striking against the Government’s attacks on their pensions. As the NHS campaigners are against all the Government’s cuts in NHS funding ‘that no one voted for’ this would necessarily include the proposed cuts in the Government’s contribution to the NHS Pension scheme.
There are of course other reasons for doing so, not least the fact that the cuts in public sector pensions, in the wider NHS budget, and on central Government funding to local authorities, even the recent increase in VAT, are all motivated by one and the same thing, the desire of the current Coalition Government to make the mass of ordinary folk, rather than than their own generally more wealthy backers and supporters, foot the bill for the worsening financial and economic mess the country is in, something which has been brought to a head by the 2008 Bank bail-outs, and nothing at all to do with the vast majority of ordinary folk. If the Unions lose their fight on the issue of pensions, this can only be detrimental to the wider successful defence of the NHS, and the ‘Welfare State’. An injury to them would be an injury to us all. We also need to be there to raise the issues of the privatisation and cuts to the NHS budget which will effect everyone.
Instead of making the mass of ordinary folk foot the Bill, a system of progressive taxation combined with a clampdown on tax avoidance, evasion and non-payment could more than plug the Government’s current deficit and provide the funds to invest in new Green projects which would create jobs and might lead to a sustainable future with employment and decent living standards for all. That’s also without our examining how we got into all the debt we’re in as a country in the first place via a thorough debt audit. How is it we’re paying 4% in interest on it when the Bank of England’s MLR is 0.5%, and of course without all of us addressing the issue of whether we should have to pay this debt back anyway, since none of us actually agreed to sign up to it in the first place. Hope to see you there on the 30th November!
See Forthcoming Events for details of the campaign’s next meeting. Also details of the Wigan TUC organised demonstration and rally in Wigan town centre on the 30th November at which a representative of Wigan & Leigh Save Our NHS/Keep Our NHS Public will hopefully be speaking.