Labour right look to kick out SHA over criticism of Streeting and crushing defeat in exec elections

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Original article republished from the Skwawkbox for non-commercial use

Right-wingers hammered in Socialist Health Association elections said to be aiming to disaffiliate SHA on pretext after organisation condemned Starmer and sidekick Streeting for appalling health policy

The Labour right is angling to kick the Socialist Health Association (SHA) out of the party after the faction was crushed in the SHA’s internal elections – and in revenge for the SHA’s resounding condemnation of Labour’s privatisation-friendly health policy.

The right-wing slate had tried to boycott the elections claiming, presumably after seeing how poor their chances were, that the election was set up against them – but left it too late and the vote went ahead, with the right losing by a ratio of roughly six to one. As one wag put it, it must have been quite some fix to achieve that kind of ratio.

The previous SHA exec last month issued a scathing condemnation of Keir Starmer and his health spokesman Wes Streeting’s plan to extend the use of private healthcare in the NHS, the contempt the pair have shown for the health policy unanimously voted for by Labour members at last year’s party conference and the pair’s readiness to accept large donations from donors with private health interests – a position now resoundingly re-endorsed by SHA members:

At the 2022 Labour Party Conference, the Health Composite Motion moved by the Socialist Health Association (“SHA”) stated that Labour would adopt “a position of outright opposition to and commit to vote against any and all forms of privatisation of the NHS” and “commit to returning all privatised portions of the NHS to public control upon forming a Government”. It also banned Labour MPs from accepting donations from private companies interested in outsourcing NHS functions. See Conference Arrangements Committee Report 4, page 12.

The SHA’s motion was endorsed by a compositing process involving rank and file members, local constituency parties, trade unions, and the shadow frontbench. The Labour Conference passed it unanimously.

The NHS is at breaking point after 12 years of Tory privatisation and outsourcing. It is therefore beyond disappointing that Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting has come out in favour of using private providers to bring down NHS waiting lists.

That is not the position democratically agreed at Labour Conference. And it is simply wrong, for the following reasons.

  1. It is simply wrong to say that the private sector has greater capacity to clear NHS backlogs. The people working in the private healthcare sector are, by and large, the same doctors and nurses who work in the NHS, and with the exception of the overseas health workers, the vast majority of them were trained in the NHS. Every hour of staff time devoted to private healthcare is an hour of staff time taken away from public healthcare for those who need it most.
  2. It is simply wrong to say that the private sector is more “efficient”. One example of this is that the Institute for Public Policy Research has found that Tony Blair’s Private Finance Initiatives cost the NHS almost £80 billion for only £13 billion of investment. The only party which benefits ‘efficiently’ from private finance is big finance – not patients.
  3. It is shameful that the Shadow Cabinet has failed to stand shoulder to shoulder with health unions in demanding fair pay and conditions for their members. The BMA has calculated that junior doctors have suffered a real pay cut of 26.1% since 2008 – meaning an exodus of qualified doctors driven out of the public sector just when patients need them most. Staff working conditions are patient treatment conditions.

The impetus for Labour’s ban on accepting donations from private companies interested in outsourcing NHS functions was a report that, in  2022, Wes Streeting accepted a £15,000 donation from hedge fund manager John Armitage. Mr Armitage’s fund owns shares worth more than half a billion dollars in UnitedHealth. UnitedHealth is America’s largest health insurer. It has spent millions of dollars lobbying US politicians against healthcare reform through seven different lobbying forms. This includes lobbying against the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which would guarantee supplies to insulin to diabetics who depend on it to survive. It is one of the largest profiteers from NHS outsourcing and one of the biggest potential beneficiaries of future privatisation.

It is therefore also beyond disappointing to see that Wes Streeting has accepted a further £60,000 from MPM Connect. Wes Streeting and the other recipients funds from MPM Connect (including Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and Mayor Dan Jarvis) should urgently confirm just what MPM Connect does; the terms under which they accepted a total of £340,000 from MPM Connect; just what MPM Connect expects in return; and whether its “investments in the employment sector” include further NHS outsourcing.

Accepting donations from private companies interested in NHS outsourcing creates an apparent conflict of interest, and undermines public confidence in Labour’s commitment to rebuilding a publicly owned and provided NHS.

We call on Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting to commit to the policy democratically agreed by the Labour Party – preventing further privatisation and immediately returning all privatised parts of the NHS to public ownership and control.

Mark Ladbrooke
SHA Chair

Harry Stratton

SHA Secretary

Esther Giles
SHA Treasurer

In apparent revenge, Skwawkbox understands that the Labour right – which now dominates the party’s national executive, is planning to table a move to expel or disaffiliate the SHA from the party, on the pretext that the result was somehow rigged despite the massive majority for the left slate, along with the membership status of one or more of the SHA’s elected officers.

The gross hypocrisy of this excuse cannot be overstated. The right-wing ‘Jewish Labour movement’ – of which many of the SHA right-wingers are strong supporters – was not disaffiliated by the party even though it retained members and officers who were actively, openly and officially campaigning against Labour and for the CUK ‘funny tinge’ party in UK elections, an act that is supposed to result in automatic expulsion and lengthy ineligibility to rejoin.

But it seems the right is so desperate to eradicate any left strongholds in the party – and to cover up the betrayal of the NHS by what passes for Labour’s ‘leadership’ – that it will resort to even the most grotesque and shameless lengths to achieve it.

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Original article republished from the Skwawkbox for non-commercial use

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