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Save our NHS candidate contesting South Yorkshire mayor election
Alistair Tice, Yorkshire Socialist Party secretary
Pointless. The election of a South Yorkshire metro mayor in May, at the cost of £1 million, is set to be one of the most pointless polls ever. The Tory government has insisted on it going ahead as part of ex-chancellor George Osborne's so-called Northern Powerhouse devolution deal, but Labour council leaders have been fighting like rats in a sack about it.
The Sheffield City region originally incorporated nine local authorities, but five in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire opted out and then Barnsley and Doncaster voted against inclusion favouring an all-Yorkshire deal instead. In 2012 Sheffield voted by 65% against a directly elected mayor.
And because no deal has been agreed yet, the mayor to be elected on 3 May will have no powers and no funding! Even if a deal is struck later, it will only bring £30 million a year to the whole region over the next 30 years, when Sheffield council alone has been cutting £50 million a year since 2010.
To make matters worse, it's almost certain that the new mayor will be Dan Jarvis, the Barnsley Labour MP who is a Blairite opponent of Jeremy Corbyn.
Jarvis won the Labour nomination with 2,584 votes in a poll of South Yorkshire members against Ben Curran, a Sheffield council cabinet member who got 1,903 votes. Jarvis' selection was backed by the old right-wing Labour machine in South Yorkshire.
Curran was backed by the left, trade unions and Momentum in the absence of their own nomination. But as a member of a council cabinet that has passed on over £400 million of Tory cuts in Sheffield, he was hardly an inspiring opponent to Jarvis, reflected in only 37% of party members voting.
However, the inclusion on the mayoral ballot paper of Naveen Judah as candidate for the newly registered 'South Yorkshire Save Our NHS' finally gives a point to this election. NHS campaigners have achieved wonders in raising the £5,000 deposit plus the £3,000 necessary for inclusion in the mayoral booklet. Apart from a £3,000 donation from the National Health Action Party, of which Naveen is a national officer, all the rest has been raised through small donations in a Crowdfunding appeal.
Naveen is standing to "fightback against the rationing, privatisation and service closures being rolled out across South Yorkshire", which includes £571 million cuts in NHS funding. He is campaigning against the 'shadow accountable care system', which will lead to more NHS privatisation, that hasn't been opposed by any of the four South Yorkshire Labour councils so far.
He says: "I will work with campaigning groups and organisations to stop and reverse cuts and privatisation" and as such Socialist Party members are recommending a vote for Naveen.
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