- Conservative election poster 2010
A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat(Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.
- National No Smoking Day today.
- Bids to abolish the Health and Social Care / Destroy the NHS Bill with the support of a handful of Lib-Dem MPs fails.
- Dr Kailash Chand OBE – who started the epetition – suggests that the BMA should ballot on strike action to oppose the Destroy the NHS Bill
Government survives two votes of no confidence in health and social care bill but faces at least two further major challenges
Two votes of no confidence in the government’s NHS reforms have been comfortably defeated but other developments mean that ministers face at least two further major challenges to the legislation in the final week before the bill is due to be passed.
MPs voted twice on Tuesday on motions to drop the health and social care bill after Labour held a three-hour opposition day debate inspired by a public e-petition signed by more than 174,000 people calling for the government to abandon the legislation.
The first vote was on a Liberal Democrat motion calling for the bill to be dropped in its current form and urging health professionals and critics to work with the coalition government on further reform of the NHS. Despite earlier hopes of a bigger cross-party uprising, the motion was defeated by 260 votes to 314 in support of the government – a majority of 54, compared with the government’s overall majority of 84. A second vote on a simpler motion by Labour to simply drop the bill was defeated by 258 to 314.
Ministers are reported to want the bill passed into law on 20 March, a day before the budget. Some critics of the bill have vowed to keep fighting until then.
The BMA is picking the wrong fight [registration needed to view article]
As the health bill gains more and more momentum in Parliament, we need to put our energy into the big issue rather than letting political pressure divide us. In any event, the question of ‘pensions or politics’ is not an either/or problem – we can still go back to the table to renegotiate pensions without losing credibility on the bigger picture of health reform.
I intend to stand for BMA Council again this year so I can contribute to this debate. I don’t want the medical profession to become fragmented under pressure, and we need to protect ourselves from those on the outside with a vested interest.
But I can’t do it by myself. The union needs the support of all its members during the hard times ahead.
Why would the BMA not ballot its members for industrial action to save the NHS? If the union knows we would disrupt our work to protect our finances, it must also show the public that we would be willing to do the same to save the NHS.
What Britain now has is a blue-orange coalition, with the little-knownOrange Book forming the core of current Lib Dem political thinking. To understand how this disreputable arrangement has come about, we need to examine the philosophy laid out in The Orange Book: Reclaiming Liberalism, edited by David Laws (now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Paul Marshall. Particularly interesting are the contributions of the Lib Dems’ present leadership.
Published in 2004, the Orange Book marked the start of the slow decline of progressive values in the Lib Dems and the gradual abandonment of social market values. It also provided the ideological standpoint around which the party’s right wing was able to coalesce and begin their march to power in the Lib Dems. What is remarkable is the failure of former SDP and Labour elements to sound warning bells about the direction the party was taking. Former Labour ministers such as Shirley Williams and Tom McNally should be ashamed of their inaction.
Clegg and his Lib Dem supporters have much in common with David Cameron and his allies in their philosophical approach and with their social liberal solutions to society’s perceived ills. The Orange Book is predicated on an abiding belief in the free market’s ability to address issues such as public healthcare, pensions, environment, globalisation, social and agricultural policy, local government and prisons.
The Lib Dem leadership seems to sit very easily in the Tory-led coalition. This is an arranged marriage between partners of a similar background and belief. Even the Tory-Whig coalition of early 1780s, although its members were from the same class, at least had fundamental political differences. Now we see a Government made up of a single elite that has previously manifested itself as two separate political parties and which is divided more by subtle shades of opinion than any profound ideological difference.