Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/462/1701
Health minister's 'scary' performance
AT 6.30am on 1 November, with people from our hospital, we set off to Westminster to lobby our MPs regarding the systematic cuts taking place in our health service.
Jon Smith, GMB branch secretary, Sheffield Children's Hospital
How would our local MPs answer questions like: "How is our children's hospital going to save £10 million over the next two years? What are you doing to safeguard our children's future? How is our local teaching hospital going to save £100 million over the next two years? What's your response to all the job losses and ward closures around the country?"
After seeing our local MPs, who just 'noted' our concerns, we accepted an offer to see a junior health minister and an MP who was chairing a meeting on the NHS in Yorkshire. This is when it turned really scary!
After ten minutes of hearing the junior minister reading from the usual New Labour script, we were asked if we would like to ask any questions. We did. The response was enlightening...
It started with the usual answers of... waiting lists are down... More nurses than ever... PFI is not to blame... Then, maybe because we were asking questions they could not answer, the meeting turned very aggressive.
Our questions were answered with "Look who do you think the NHS is safer with, Brown or Cameron?" then we had "Don't think you can come down here waving your 'stop the privatisation' placards then think you can vote for us. So tell your members to vote for us!" Amazing! When we smiled at them we even got "and you WILL smile!" backed up with a jabbing little finger being pointed at us.
Perhaps the scariest part was when their secretary shot out of the room to bring in a union regional officer to back up their argument!
We made it out of there in one piece, soon to be back on our coach and up the M1. I suppose the only response I can give to the MP's statement of 'don't think you can vote for us' is: "Thanks for the advice, we won't!"
In The Socialist 9 November 2006:
War and terrorism
International socialist news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history