Activists protesting against health cuts in 2014, Trafalgar Square. Photo: Flickr/Garry Knight Activists protesting against health cuts in 2014, Trafalgar Square. Photo: Flickr/Garry Knight

Labour’s promises on the NHS will be popular, writes Lindsey German

Anyone who has any use of the health service or is close to people who are being cared for – and I’ve had a bit of both over the past few months – will know that it is being held together on a wing and a prayer. While we all rightly praise the staff, there must be such strain that as with any other human beings mistakes will be made.

Privatisation is much more widespread than it might first appear, with private companies involved in a range of provisions from GP appointments to non-emergency ambulances.

So, good that Labour will pledge to stop this. Good too that it will look at wages and conditions and restore the nurses’ bursary – the abolition of which was a vicious Tory grab from the poor.

But already the egregious Jeremy Hunt has been arguing that decisions about the NHS can only be made in the context of successful Brexit. In other words, give Theresa May a free hand to do what she wants and then you will get a properly funded health service.

What a load of rubbish this is. The state of the NHS is worsening but was already in decline long before the EU referendum was a twinkle in David Cameron’s eye. Jeremy Corbyn is the first Labour leader to decisively break from the consensus of cuts and privatisation.

May wants a big majority not so she can save the NHS but precisely the opposite. If she is re-elected you can kiss goodbye to more funding, decent treatment of staff, and care for patients being paramount. The Tories want Brexit to be a get out of jail free card which prevents them having to address all the other issues facing us today.

In the meantime, Labour shouldn’t be fazed by this. It was welcome to hear Keir Starmer say yesterday morning that he would on day one of a Labour government ensure the rights of EU citizens. May could have done the same last year but prefers to use them as bargaining chips.

Much less welcome was his refusal to support free movement and to ‘manage’ immigration. Immigration is of course ‘managed’ for those outside the EU already. It has never stopped immigration – nor should it, since immigration has bought vast benefits to this country. What it does is discriminate often in the cruellest way and stoke up a racist agenda which only helps the right.

So Labour shouldn’t play this game. Immigration may be a difficult issue in the election – but it will only get more difficult if the arguments in its favour are not put. Labour would do us all a big favour by rejecting the myths and lies which so dominate the media and their mouthpieces.

Where’s Theresa? Part 2

Theresa May went to Wales yesterday, supposedly because the Welsh are now going to vote for her party in greater numbers than at any time since the 1850s. What I don’t understand, is if she’s so popular why doesn’t she appear anywhere in public rather than speaking to a tiny band of loyal acolytes.

During the speech, she claimed that her government would ‘prevent tourism’. The loyalists didn’t even register any problem. If Jeremy Corbyn made a gaffe like that it would be headline news on the BBC, complete with sneering commentary. But here, radio silence. 

Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.