Following the resignation of Labour MP Tristram Hunt in Stoke-on-Trent, UKIP announced yesterday (21st January) that new party leader, Paul Nuttall MEP, will be our candidate in the subsequent byelection.
The seat is historically a Labour stronghold but their majority was down to 5000 at the 2015 General Election and, significantly, it registered one of the highest Leave votes at last year’s referendum.
The poor turnout at the General Election (Just 49%) shows how disillusioned local voters are with the party that has represented them in the past.
If Labour lose this seat (Plus the other byelection in Copeland, another former stronghold with an even slimmer majority) then Labour could be consigned to a spot in a museum similar to the one that Mr Hunt has left his constituency to take up a post with.
With this in mind, it was no surprise to see Labour Shadow Chancellor and my old sparring partner, John McDonnell, go on the offensive during this morning’s Marr Show on the BBC. However, both his body language and his line of attack show why the Labour High Command are terrified of the UKIP challenge in the seat and must be contemplating the possibility of an embarrassing defeat.
Spin, smear and downright lies
Once again, McDonnell trotted out the standard lie about UKIP wanting to privatise the NHS – this has never been a part of any UKIP manifesto.
Paul Nuttall spoke a number of years ago about making the procurement arm of the NHS more competitive – common sense when we see some trusts paying £25 for a lightbulb and issuing costly prescriptions for painkillers that you can buy for as little as 30p at the pharmacy. Yet in Labour’s eyes, this is ‘privatisation’.
So, let us look at the reality.
Labour in government between 1997 and 2010 saddled the NHS with £80bn of debt via PFI projects – projects that carry the kind of interest rates that are enriching the private firms involved at levels a loan shark would be embarrassed with. Some sources claim that the total cost to the taxpayer over the next 35 years could be as much as £350bn.
Labour also brought privatisation in to the NHS, with 5% of it being outsourced during the Blair/Brown years. Our own hospital in Hillingdon saw the cleaning services outsourced to Pall Mall services and the wages of the staff reduced by such an extent they came out on strike, an action that was debated at Westminster in May 1999 and is on record in Hansard. Mr McDonnell makes a big thing of workers rights and wages yet his party in power degraded the services to such an extent that workers pay and the hygiene of the wards suffered. (The hospital has had outbreaks of both MRSA and Norovirus)
It was Labour who introduced the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and gave the contract to French firm ATOS medical. This act has led to the persecution of thousands of genuinely disabled people and withdrawal of their benefits by staff who are not clinically trained. In some cases they passed terminally ill cancer patients fit for work – challenges to their verdicts overturned almost half of all decisions and led to the current government finally taking the contract away from the company but not before many were hounded to their graves.
Labour also introduced the GP Surgery contracts that have tied up those centres in additional paperwork, taking GP’s off of the front line to fill in forms and contributing to the extra pressures seen at A&E for non urgent cases. The only beneficiaries of this legislation have been those senior GP’s who own the practices – GP’s such as Labour GLA Assembly member and NHS spokesman on the assembly, Dr Onkar Sahota. He owns a company called Healthcare 360 that operates surgeries in Southall and Greenford that billed the NHS £1.368mn in financial year 2013-2014 despite claiming to want to fight for the NHS on all his literature (Although if you were making over £1mn per year from the service, you would probably want to fight for it as well!).
He also refused to open a new surgery in Heathrow Villages for residents who currently have to travel to Hayes because he stated it was ‘not viable’ – showing that Labour’s legislation now means that profitability is put before patient care, even by their elected representatives.
Mr McDonnell may bleat that this was all done under Blair but he took up his seat as Hayes & Harlington MP on the same day that Blair became Prime Minister – he was a part of the ruling party at Westminster for 13 years when this was going on and is currently in the Shadow Cabinet that has allowed candidates such as Dr Sahota to carry on his business practices on their watch.
Insulting the electorate
John McDonnell was interviewed by Sophy Ridge of Sky News on January 15th. (Below)
Part of the interview was regarding the Leave vote in the EU Referendum – Hillingdon as a whole voted 57% to Leave but his Hayes & Harlington constituency registered the highest opposition to staying in the EU, nearly 60%.
Responding to Ms Ridge, McDonnell stated that the vote was a register of dissatisfaction with people’s current conditions but, more tellingly when pressed on immigration, said that people look for others to blame when things aren’t going well – effectively, that the vote was in part down to a ‘scapegoating’ of migrants.
My team was out on the streets every week from January 2016 discussing the referendum with residents, including very busy street stalls in Hayes Town. We have a very diverse community in the area but it was made clear by the BME Britons and migrants we spoke with that there were a range of reasons for them voting to leave – indeed, one South African gentleman who I spoke with had fought against Apartheid in that state and said he couldn’t understand anybody giving up their right to sack those in power at the ballot box, a right he had fought hard to gain, which we would be doing should Remain be victorious.
It is also interesting to note that McDonnell, through his position as the Parliamentary spokesman for the RMT Union, backed a series of demonstrations that they ran under the late Bob Crow highlighting ‘social dumping’ – the undercutting of their members by cheaper migrant workers. So it is OK for Mr McDonnell to ‘scapegoat’ migrant workers but those in his constituency who voted leave because they had seen their wages and conditions degraded were wrong to look at their circumstances and come to the same conclusion? Indeed, the RMT themselves backed a ‘Leave’ vote and were part of the Trade Union Against the EU (TUAEU) group who campaigned alongside us – are they ‘scapegoating’ migrants John?
Uncontrolled migration has put massive pressures on infrastructure and is acknowledged by a number of organisations, including the Bank of England, to have compressed wages for those at the lower end of the pay scale. This is not a form of bigotry, it is about numbers and the economics of supply and demand. McDonnell talks of the pressures on affordable housing in Hayes but refuses to face up to the fact that we can’t build fast enough to keep up with a population increase of 330k per year through open door migration, or a new city the size of Hull every 12 months.
This affects not just current UK citizens but those coming to the country as well in higher rents, poorer services and lower pay – something that UKIP would address through an ethical points based migration system that treats everybody equally, not the uncontrolled model that Labour continue to promote and ironically only helps the big corporations in cheaper wages and unscrupulous landlords who hike prices way above inflation.
It is a mark of how out of touch Labour are when left wing firebrands such as John McDonnell are on the same side as the big investment banks and corporations and UKIP are the party championing the cause of the working classes, small businesses, exploited migrant workers and the squeezed middle.
That is why Labour and their fellow travellers on the ‘regressive left’ have had to resort to smears and lies in the Stoke byelection – it is also why a forward looking, optimistic and proudly patriotic UKIP will win.
UKIP’s Real Policies on the NHS and Social Care (Taken from the 2015 manifesto)
UKIP is fully committed to keeping the NHS free at the point of delivery and at time of need for UK citizens.
We will spend a total of £12bn more on the NHS in England by 2020 to make sure it stays that way.
We Will –
Fund 20,000 more nurses, 8000 more GP’s and 3000 more midwives
Invest an extra £1.5bn in to mental health and dementia services over the next 5 years
Scrap hospital parking charges
End ‘Health Tourism’ by making sure those ineligible for free NHS care pay for treatment
Replace Monitor and the CQC with powerful new county health boards to drive up standards
Care for the Elderly
There is a national crisis in elderly care. According to Age UK, 900,000 older people between the ages of 65 and 89 have social care needs that are not met.
Residential care, nursing care, home care and day care have had their budgets cut, meaning one million hospital bed days are now lost every year because patients cannot be discharged.
We will –
Integrate health and social care and bring both under the control of the NHS
Increase Social Care funding in total by £5.2bn between 2015 and 2020
Promise to invest any tax profits from ‘fracking’ in to setting up a sovereign wealth fund to pay for elderly care.
Protect services such as day care centres, home care and Meals on Wheels.
Abolish the practice of arranging home care visits in 15 minute windows
Keep the current free bus pass, winter fuel allowance, free TV license and free prescriptions and eye test schemes for all pensioners, without means testing.
It is also worth noting that only UKIP have had their manifesto independently audited and found to add up so we can afford to make these changes