Tag Archives: Sheffield Hallam

Support the National Health Action Party in its bid to unseat Hunt and Cameron

Fighting for the NHS: Dr Louise Irvine will challenge Jeremy Hunt for his seat in Parliament.

Fighting for the NHS: Dr Louise Irvine will challenge Jeremy Hunt for his seat in Parliament.

Why is the fight against creeping NHS privatisation no longer gaining national headlines in the mass media? Do editors think it is no longer fashionable, or do they think the job’s done and they don’t have to bother any more?

Thank goodness for the Daily Mirror and its report that Dr Louise Irvine is to stand against Conservative Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt at the 2015 election, as the National Health Action Party candidate for South West Surrey.

She joins Dr Clive Peedell, who will challenge David Cameron for his Witney seat.

Both candidatures were announced at the NHAP’s national conference, which took place over the weekend. You probably didn’t even know it was happening, thanks to the priorities of the mainstream media.

The doctors have a hard challenge ahead of them – Hunt’s majority at the 2010 election was more than 16,000 votes. That’s 16,000+ more than his closest rival. Cameron’s was even higher – nearly 23,000 votes ahead of the pack.

But Dr Irvine told the Mirror she was ready for the fight: “I’ve faced Jeremy Hunt in the courts and beaten him twice. Now I’ll face him at the ballot box.

“He needs to be held to account for what he’s doing to our NHS and the way in which he has bulldozed democracy, changing the law to push through hospital closures when he was beaten in court.”

Of course, Dr Irvine’s pledge to stand against Hunt is a deep embarrassment for the Health Secretary – not only did she lead the successful Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, which won a High Court ruling that Hunt acted outside his powers when he decided to cut the hospital’s emergency and maternity units, but she is also a council member of the British Medical Association, which represents 150,000 doctors.

It is a sign that the medical profession at large is entirely opposed to his money-grubbing, postcode-lottery, health-for-profit policies.

Vox Political calls on voters in South West Surrey and Witney to support their NHAP candidates.

In Conservative stronghold seats like these, it seems realistic to expect voters to respond more to respected medical professionals like Drs Irvine and Peedell; there is also considerable distrust in Labour’s will to reverse NHS privatisation – but this may be alleviated if NHAP candidates are in the House of Commons, holding Labour to account.

The Mirror has been running a poll, asking readers whether they would vote for Dr Irvine against Mr Hunt. At the time of writing, 99 per cent of readers would, while less than one per cent support Hunt.

Other candidates announced at the conference include disability rights campaigner Naveen Judah, who challenges Liberal Democrat leader and Tory enabler Nick Clegg for Sheffield Hallam.

Ex-GP Dr Paul Hobday will take on Tory Sports Minister Helen Grant for her shaky majority in Maidstone.

In Truro, Rik Evans will try to topple Tory Sarah Newton, who has a majority of around 400.

Karen Howell, a popular member of the Support Stafford Hospital campaign, will stand for Stafford.

And Dave Ash, of the Keep of St Helier Hospital campaign, will take on Liberal Democrat former health minister Paul Burstow in Sutton and Cheam.

Kent GP Dr Bob Gill will be against Immigration Minister James Brokenshire in Old Bexley and Sidcup; Brighton University mental health expert Dr Carl Walker is standing in East Worthing and Shoreham and Oxford health journalist Roseanne Edwards will stand in Banbury where Tony Baldry has just announced he will not be seeking re-election.

NHA Party co-leader Dr Richard Taylor is hoping to regain his old seat of Wyre Forest, which he won as an independent in 2001 and held in 2005.

Notably no NHA Party candidate is standing for South Cambridgeshire, the seat Andrew Lansley holds with a majority of nearly 8,000. Perhaps this shows that they consider him a spent force who simply doesn’t matter any more.

This blog considers that it would be a valuable victory to unseat the man who spent seven years working in secret on what became the Health and Social Care Act – the legislation that allowed privatisation of the health service on an unprecedented, and entirely unwanted, scale.

Nobody should forget that the Conservative Party won its 300+ Parliamentary seats with a lie – the pledge, carried on posters of an airbrushed David Cameron, that the NHS would be safe under a Tory government.

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MPs’ shocking behaviour is par for the course in Cameron’s government

Feeling a bit peaky, David? But the revelations about your Tory friends and Liberal Democrat partners should hardly come as a surprise!

Feeling a bit peaky, David? But the revelations about your Tory friends and Liberal Democrat partners should hardly come as a surprise!

It must have been very difficult for David Cameron, returning from his spectacularly ill-timed holiday in the sun to find that his colleagues had been having a much better time than he has – at home.

It seems that he returned to “crisis talks” at Downing Street, where aides told him of a “sensational love affair” which has potentially significant political implications for him. Apologies for the hyperbolic language involved, but this information comes from the Daily Mail.

The newspaper said it could not disclose the identities of the people involved in these shenanigans, or any details of the relationship, for legal reasons, so the speculation machine has probably gone into overdrive and by the time this reaches your screen, The Sun has probably already disclosed the names of the co-respondents.

For those of us who aren’t that clued-up, it’s great fun to speculate. The paper said they are middle-aged figures, the affair has now concluded, and it does not involve anyone serving in the Cabinet.

Who could it be? Longtime readers of this blog will know that Vox Political has long harboured hopes of a Michael Gove legover crisis – or indeed a Michael leGOVEr crisis (see what we did there?) – but in all honesty this seems unlikely until medical evidence can prove that he is compatible with a human female.

So who, then? Nadine Dorries and Nigel Farage? Peter Bone and a human being? Doubtful. Boris and… Boris and-

Hmm.

It’s probably best not to pursue that line of inquiry. Far more interesting to sit back and wait for the ‘poshed-up’ version of the Jeremy Kyle show, in which all will be revealed.

With the curtains closed, of course – not as the badge of a serial skiver, but simply to avoid the shame of having to admit watching an episode of Kyle.

The worse news is, this wasn’t the only story breaking about government misdeeds. It seems that Cameron’s Liberal Democrat Coalition partners have been playing “pork barrel” politics (yes, it’s the Daily Mail again) by diverting taxpayers’ money into key Liberal Democrat-held constituencies.

We now know that a £2 billion scheme to refurbish roads, pavements and bridges in Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam constituency has been reversed, in a deal with private business that took the project off the government balance sheet. A private finance initiative? We all know that PFI projects don’t turn out well for anyone involved other than the companies, so Clegg may have given himself a shot in the foot, rather than a shot in the arm.

The Mail also reports dodgy dealings by Danny Alexander. Apparently Beaker insisted on extra funds for mountain rescue teams, a VAT cut for ski lifts and the retention of the state subsidy for the Cairngorm Mountain Railway – all in his Highlands constituency.

And Lib Dem Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael (who?) apparently forced the abandonment of plans to cut the coastguard service, affecting his Orkney and Shetland constituency, claiming it was “a Coalition matter”.

So it must have been very difficult indeed for the comedy Prime Minister to return from holiday and learn of such appalling behaviour.

Difficult, but not a surprise.

Let’s face it – it’s little different from the way they behave when he’s at work.

Hillsborough: Where sorry simply isn’t good enough

A mocked-up front page of The Sun, created to show how it should look on September 13, 2012: David Duckenfield was Chief Superintendent in charge of policing at Hillsborough; Margaret Thatcher refused to release information about the Hillsborough disaster that made the police look bad; Kelvin McKenzie’s “The Truth” headline in The Sun was a pack of lies that led to the wholesale boycotting of the tabloid by people in Liverpool.

It has become one of the defining moments in recent history – one of those moments that you find enshrined in a question:

Where were you when Elvis died?

Where were you when the Wall* came down?

Where were you when you heard about Hillsborough?

I was on the sofa in my parents’ house in Bristol, reading a magazine (it was probably Interzone or Starburst – my 19-year-old self was heavily into escapist fiction at the time) when the words of the news report on TV started filtering through my perceptions. Dozens killed in football stadium tragedy. Hundreds more injured. There were images quite clearly showing fans being crushed against each other; trying to escape; being lifted to safety by other fans; but I also have a recollection of fans trying to climb fencing but being forced back by police. Is my memory cheating?

April 15, 1989. The deadliest football disaster in British history. It killed 94 people on the day and a further two died in hospital, bringing the total death toll to 96. The number of injured totalled 766.

The match was a semi-final FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, being played at the neutral Hillsborough ground in Sheffield and overseen by South Yorkshire Police. This force chose to place Liverpool fans – the largest group – in the smaller end of the stadium. It became visibly overcrowded before kick-off, so police ordered a large exit gate to be opened, allowing supporters to enter straight down a tunnel leading to two pens. This caused crushing. Moments after kick-off, a crush barrier forced fans to fall on top of each other. (This information courtesy of Wikipedia)

Who got the blame? The fans.

Four days after the disaster, The Sun newspaper headlined a story about Hillsborough “THE TRUTH”, following it with three sub-headlines: “Some fans picked pockets of victims”, “Some fans urinated on the brave cops” and “Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life”. The story, using words attributed to unnamed police officers and Irvine Patnick, then-MP for Sheffield Hallam, made allegations which contradicted the reported behaviour of the Liverpool fans, who in fact helped security personnel stretcher away victims and also gave on-site first aid. It was described in Peter Chippendale and Chris Horrie’s history of The Sun as “a classic smear”.

The story seriously backfired against the newspaper. My understanding is that Liverpool has, as though it were a single entity, boycotted the newspaper ever since.

It took a further 23 years for the real truth to come out, and we had it from the Hillsborough Independent Panel today:

  • Serious mistakes in the policing of the match.
  • Falsehoods in the post-mortem reports.
  • An attempt to blame Liverpool fans for the disaster.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, apologised to relatives of the deceased for what he described as a double injustice: The “failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth”; and the efforts to denigrate the deceased and suggest that they were “somehow at fault for their own deaths”.

South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton also offered “profound apologies”. He added: “When police lost control, lies were told about how that happened.”

Kelvin McKenzie, the editor who ran the piece in The Sun, stated that he regretted doing so in 1993 but later retracted the statement and has remained unrepentant since. The Sun apologised “without reservation” for its smear piece in July 2004, more than 15 years after the original article.

Are these apologies enough? No. I agree with the fans who are still angry because of one simple fact:

Nobody has been brought to justice.

The football website Transfer Tavern put it this way: “The apology [from Mr Cameron] is undoubtedly sincere but what is as important [is] that those who were involved directly and indirectly in the process of corrupting this tragedy are brought to justice.

“Not just those who lost relatives, but society in general needs to search out those who not only falsified evidence but deliberately ignored it in order to suffocate the truth. The excuses will undoubtedly be wheeled out by those soon hopefully to be cornered, but a crime is a crime.

The Sun newspaper in particular is worth a mention here… In light of the announcement today… it is surely time now for The Sun to go… The choice must be removed.

The Sun passed off untruths to a huge readership and they need to answer for the damage they did.”

The truth – the real truth – has finally been revealed, but for the families of the Hillsborough victims, the wait for justice must continue.

*The Berlin Wall.