I mention this merely because Mr Smith, who has tried to claim support for re-nationalising the NHS by saying he wants it fully publicly-funded “as much as possible” (which isn’t the same thing. It is fully publicly-funded now and the privateers are all over it) has stuffed his team with private health employees and lobbyists.
Not only that; he based his phone bank campaign at the headquarters of polling company Survation (101 Commercial Rd, London E1 1RD), “Survation” was apparently the password for his campaign’s secure phone bank server (not quite so secure after he posted it online), and I understand the company recruited the audience members for the Labour leadership hustings broadcast by Sky News.Perhaps this is why Survation’s polling results have been so positive towards Mr Smith?
Finally there is the fascinating fact that BBC deputy political editor John Pienaar’s daughter is a member of the Smith team. Has that influenced the BBC’s coverage in any way? I don’t know – but it should raise concern.The list of private health lobbyists who are also Smith team members was revealed on the openDemocracy website, along with a fascinating insight into the behaviour of his campaign manager – Heidi Alexander – while she was Shadow Health Secretary.
You may recall that Ms Alexander raised a hue and cry about interference in her brief by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. Here’s a different take on it:
Campaigners were disappointed to find little sign of a break with the past by Heidi Alexander. “I never saw Alexander show any evidence of enthusiasm for engaging with campaigners once she became shadow health spokesperson”, comments Dr John Lister, founding member of Keep Our NHS Public and umbrella group Health Campaigns Together.
Faced by Labour health team silence – with the honourable exception of Justin Madders – on both privatisation and the fantasising behind the planned cuts NHS campaigners organised amongst themselves to bring these plans to public attention. They approached Corbyn and McDonnell, and found them willing to engage with those outside the usual ‘business as usual’ interests.
But for Alexander, that was somehow evidence that the new Labour leadership was “inept” – as was Corbyn and McDonnell visiting junior doctors’ picket lines and supporting the NHS Bill designed by experts and campaigners to end the NHS market and restore comprehensive healthcare.
All of these actions were cited by Alexander as the supposed final straw that prompted her to become the first person to resign from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in the post-Brexit ‘coup’. She has since become Smith’s campaign manager – joining pharma and private healthcare lobbyist John Lehal who was appointed operational head of Smith’s campaign, and former lobbyist for pharma firm AstraZeneca at Finsbury, Will Tanner, who was appointed Smith’s head of communications.
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