Banbury activist calls out 'dirty tricks brigade' on NHS debate over renationalisation
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They say a vote this Sunday, on which debates are chosen for next week’s Labour Party Conference, is being rigged by splitting NHS topics into one debate that the leadership finds unattractive and problematic and a second that would endorse the options that are known to be favoured by the front bench.
These topics have been titled ‘Health Services and Funding’ and ‘NHS Fit for the Future’ respectively.
"It’s pretty clear that delegates are being directed to support the ‘NHS Fit for the Future’ option, whereas the real Labour concern should be with the future of the NHS as a national public service, without more creeping privatisation taking profit out of our publicly-funded health service. The splitting up of NHS debate and the names given to the choices is deliberate, to ensure the renationalisation option is not even mentioned,” said the activist.
"It is a blatant attempt at gerrymandering.”
The Banbury Guardian has asked the Labour Party to respond to the accusation and had no response.
The reversal of outsourcing, or privatisation, of NHS services to companies to make a profit was put forward for discussion by several Labour constituency groups including Oxford East.
“The Labour Party initially rejected the Oxford East motion on the questionable grounds that a section about Labour not accepting corporate donations from the private health sector was an ‘organisational matter’,” the activist said.
"But after this was successfully appealed, they created another obstacle to prevent it being debated: they arbitrarily divided all the NHS motions into two separate groups which they entitled An NHS Fit for the Future, and Health Services and Funding (which includes the Oxford East motion).
"It's clear that delegates are being encouraged to vote for the first of these groups in an attempt to prevent the challenging issues in the (Oxford East) motion being discussed on the conference floor.”
The activist said it was understood that some delegates were actually being asked to vote for the first option.
The motions in the Health Services and Funding group aim to commit the Labour Party to bring all outsourced health services – such as diagnostic scans, many hip replacements, audiology - back into public ownership and to repeal the Tory government's Health and Care Act which activists describe as ‘disastrous Americanisation of the NHS’.
The activist said: “It would be unheard of for more than one NHS group of motions to be selected in the priorities ballot. They are manipulating the conference to shut down any discussion about the popular option of bringing the NHS back into full public ownership. It's dirty tricks.”
The Labour Party website's NHS section is called An NHS Fit for the Future and its manifesto missions ‘require government departments working together. Business working with unions. The private sector working with the public sector’.
Chair of Labour’s health affiliate, the Socialist Health Association (SHA), Mark Ladbrooke, from Oxford, said: “Every penny diverted to private healthcare companies is less for urgently-needed healthcare to reduce waiting lists. We need a properly-paid and equipped NHS workforce."