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Calls for Maria Miller to resign have dominated the news this week, but there is one other person who should be ejected, if only from the political party they claim to represent.
That person is the closet Conservative, Lord Warner.
He is a man who has united with the right-wing thinktank, Reform, to demand that members of the public should pay £10 a month for NHS services, calling it a “suggested” “membership fee”.
It should come as no surprise that this odious old git has his claws very firmly into private healthcare and is only interested in lining his own pockets. That’s a Conservative attitude – not Labour.
Jacky Davis, co-editor of NHS SOS, writing in The Guardian, explains why Warner’s attitude is wrong: “Charges of this sort deter the poor and the elderly – the very people who need the NHS most – and as a result they present later with more advanced illness. To Warner and the pundits at Reform £120 a year may not look much, but it will feel like the last straw to those already struggling with the consequences of austerity. The public understand this and, as a recent survey shows, are overwhelmingly against upfront payments.
“The most efficient and the fairest way of funding it is through progressive central taxation.
“No politician with any sense would publicly endorse these proposals for charges, but nevertheless they have served their purpose: they have reinforced the myth that the NHS is “outdated and unaffordable”, and re-animated the zombie policy that it could be saved by upfront individual payments.”
To understand Lord Warner’s role, we need only look to former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott’s column in the Mirror: “The professed Labour supporter’s call, in his pamphlet and a newspaper article, is in direct opposition to the principle of treatment based on need, not the ability to pay.
“He rules out further taxation to fund the £30 billion gap in funds for the NHS. Perhaps he could consider, for a similar amount of our money, scrapping future spending on the Trident nuclear deterrent.
“Lord Warner, a career civil servant, was actively involved in advising private healthcare firms who have lucrative contracts in the NHS.
“Last year he was the only Labour peer to vote with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on proposed NHS regulations to allow companies to bid for almost all health services.
“When he was called before a parliamentary select committee to discuss his lobbying as a peer for private healthcare, he said: ‘The point I’m trying to make is that we do not have constituents. There is not a group of people who have voted for us… We are not elected to represent a particular geographical area and we are not paid a salary.’
“But he was nominated by Labour to be one of its peers.
“Warner admitted he does not represent the people. Instead he speaks up for the private healthcare industry through his private consultancy firm Sage Advice Ltd.
“Labour created the NHS – against ardent opposition from the Tories – to make healthcare free at the point of delivery to anyone who needs it, not just those who can afford it.
“I fear the constant dismantling of the NHS by the ConDem coalition.
“But I also worry about people like Warner who use the Labour Red Flag as a flag of convenience to peddle the right’s privatisation agenda.
“I will fight tooth and nail with every last breath in my body to make sure his heartless and repugnant views are never made policy.”
Lord Prescott also made clear something that Tories like Warner tend to forget: The NHS already does charge people – “it’s called National Insurance and general taxation.”
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