Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Coalition priorities

I was recently asked a question on my priorities in coalition government ...

In the event of a coalition agreement involving your party which one policy would you personally fight hardest to include and which one policy would you refuse to accept?

The one policy that I would fight hardest to include is a bill to reverse privatization of the NHS and support reinvestment in a publicly funded and publicly accountable NHS. Ten years ago Oliver Letwin told what he thought was a private audience that within five years of a Tory government, the NHS would be privatized. In a televised interview in 2013, Michael Portillo revealed that if the Tories before the last election had told the British people what they intended to do with the NHS, people would not have voted for them. Forced privatization has made the NHS less efficient, taken resources away from frontline care and lead to worse health outcomes. It must be reversed.

The one policy that I would refuse to accept is continued austerity – further cuts to public services, punishing the sick, the old, the young, the disabled, the most vulnerable in our society for the mistakes of the bankers. While those on benefits are stigmatized and shamed, those who caused the economic crisis the casino capitalists who gambled with our money, and when it all went wrong, were bailed out with our money, continue to cash in. Under this government their wealth has doubled. It is time they started to pay their way, and to close the gap between rich and poor, so we can move forward as one nation, with secure jobs, affordable homes, a publicly funded NHS and a transport system run for passengers not profit.

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