Hinchingbrooke failure means end of public tolerance for health privateers


Campaigning group 38 Degrees’ response to the announcement that Circle Holdings is withdrawing from its contract to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

The failure of Circle Holdings’ management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital has one serious consequence for all political parties – but particularly Labour – and it is this: The British public will no longer tolerate any suggestion that private firms should participate in the National Health Service.

The reason Labour is singled out for special attention in this regard is that Labour has made the repeal of the Conservative Party’s Health and Social Care Act a key campaigning pledge (yes, it was passed in Coalition with the Liberal Democrats, but Andrew Lansley – Conservative – was the MP who spent around seven years working on the legislation in secret while his party leader promised all and sundry, with his ‘sincere’ face on, that the NHS was safe in Tory hands).

Unfortunately for Ed Miliband’s party, such promises are being met with scepticism by the people who should be Labour’s core voters. Only a couple of days ago, Vox Political posted this image to its Facebook page:


Here are some of the responses:

“Labour are just another neoliberal party serving the financial elite,” wrote Max Anstey. “The economic ideology ‘neoliberalism’ involves the privatisation of things. As Labour are neoliberal, they will not renationalise the NHS. A claim to ‘restore’ the NHS is not good enough from a neoliberal party. We need our public services back in our hands.”

Here’s another, by Gareth Jones: “I would love to see an honest resurgence of socialist ideals in this country. I’d love Labour to be Labour again. However, I just don’t see Ed Miliband being the one to bring it about. Ed is no Tony Benn.”

And Janet Kaiser added: “Labour (if it can still be called that) are going to do bugger-all. You can hope as much as you want, but the fact is the party has been taken over by venture capitalists and shouting the contrary is not going to change anything.”

That is the attitude Labour has to overcome. What’s sad is that it is an attitude that, in many ways, Labour has created. Only today, this blog posted a link to an article by Labour MP Michael Meacher in which he criticised his own front bench’s failure to attack the Conservatives over the economy – and much of what he said there can be applied to the NHS as well.

“Why doesn’t Labour hit out against the Tories where it could so easily secure some significant breakthroughs?” he asked. Why indeed.

The voters didn’t want private companies interfering in the NHS when they went to the polls in 2010. Now that they’ve experienced what it means – and don’t forget the Tory NHS crisis that is most clearly being seen in Accident & Emergency departments is also a symptom of this – they are vehemently against it.

Hinchingbrooke is a perfect opportunity for Labour to lay its cards on the table and promise that all of the expensive, bureaucratic and utterly pointless measures imposed by the Tories, to ensure that private firms get preferential treatment in the awarding of NHS contracts, will be removed – and to vow that the NHS will be restored as a state service providing the best care along with the best value for money.

And Labour stays quiet.

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2 thoughts on “Hinchingbrooke failure means end of public tolerance for health privateers

  1. Andy

    The labour party/movement needs dissent from real people – the ‘grassroots’ so to speak. Change can only come from the bottom up. The whole of the NEC should be sacked. Union leaders have been totaly ineffective, more interested in protecting their 6-figure salaries and their own pensions. How is another one-day strike going to be any more effective than the last one? People need to reclaim their power against these incompetent leaders. Perhaps there should be a law that if parties diverged from their elected mandates they should be dismissed. Labours’ heart might be in the right place but it’s being powered by a dodgy pacemaker!

  2. Pete B

    I have always voted Labour,and will do so this time.But I must say,I am not very inspired.In FPTP elections,it will be a choice between Labour and the Tories,barring coalitions.And looking at how Clegg has operated in this coalition,he and his party may as well have not been there.

    I am uncertain were Labour stands on welfare.I would like them to reverse all of the Tories reforms,but that is unlikely.In fact,even Labour members are quoting the “Hard Working” tosh.

    But in my heart,I know if the Tories get in by default,its going to get a lot grimmer. Imagine Iain Duncan Smith with a mandate.He has lied and used propaganda to get done what he has so far.Thousands have died through Evil Duncan Smith.And if returned many thousands more will die.His useless UC will continue.His attack on the poor and sick will get even nastier.Is he holding back now an election is coming.Of course not,he carries on “believing he is right.”

    The only way to get rid of this unholy ConDem alliance is to vote Labour.I have watched for many years as those on the Left have said they would not vote for Labour because it has swung too far to the Right.And they commit a self-fulfilling prophecy.Because each time they opt out,Labour has to appeal more to those on the Right to get elected.So yes,it becomes more rightward-looking because the Left will not vote,or some on the Left.

    I,over the years,have become more left-winged in thought,this Right-Winged coalition has made me more Left-Winged,because they are making me hate the Right.But I still have enough common sense to realise that the only way to get rid of this shower is to vote Labour.

    Anyone who is Left-leaning and looking to Ukip for answers,needs their eyes testing.Farage belongs to the right.The LibDems have become Tory Cheerleaders.The Greens,well-meaning but will never get enough seats to get much done in my lifetime.And yes,I am getting on a bit.

    We have to get the Tories out first,then deal with Labour on its own merits.It would be far more productive protesting against a Labour Government,if need be,than the present ConDems who stick their fingers in their ears going,LaLaLa.While the press ignores us.If this is class war,then the first battle is getting the Tories out,then take each other battle as it comes.

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