When has public opinion ever mattered?

According to the government, their recent embarrassing defeats in the House of Lords over the Welfare Reform Bill flew in the face of public opinion. They claimed that most of the British population agree that people should get their benefits capped and less spent on the welfare state. This may or may not be true, but when did the government ever take peoples opinion into consideration on big blockbuster policy? I know they’re supposed to. “We’re in a democracy, blah blah blah…”, but when it came to the Iraq War, a million people on the streets of London did diddly-squat to ‘pause’ the illegal crusade (yes, I realise this was a different government).

So, Cameron, Clegg and Co will listen now? They didn’t listen when it came to the tuitions fees rises. Will they consider the opinions of the half a million members of the public who have signed the 38 Degrees petition against the Health and Social Care Bill? Or the huge numbers of healthcare professionals who have come out in opposition to the £4 billion NHS re-disorganisation? Ah, but of course, the ‘listening exercise’. They paused, they listened, and I’m sure they even slept on it, BUT THEY STILL DIDN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!

Remember this? Mr David Nunn, orthopaedic surgeon unleashing his wrath on Clegg/Cameron's entourage who did not roll their sleeves up no doubt. Perhaps more medical mirth to come? Don't let matron see you up to no good Lansley.

The government are adamant that they will continue to hide the full facts about the reforms and push them through the House of Lords. Is this because the government know something about what the public want? The public want to see the health service gradually eroded by more private providers who will push the NHS out of business? The public want to see £4 billion wasted on these reforms that do not have the support of NHS workers and healthcare professionals? The public want to see legislation that will allow patients to be charged for their healthcare? And for the government to no longer have responsibility for providing a comprehensive health service?

Cameron ought to wash his hands of Lansley's Health and Social Care Bill and save the prospects of Tory success at the next election.

Perhaps we could see similar defeats for the Health and Social Care Bill when it is debated and voted on in the House of Lords in February. But we must keep up the pressure on the peers and our MPs. By-eck, we should be even be learning from UK Uncut and co. and stepping up the pressure with a campaign of civil disobedience! The pressure is working, and it’s making Tory MPs quake in the back benches more than on the back seats of a high speed train rumbling through the Home Counties.

We must defeat this bill, or face a headlong rush towards a  health service that could charge us for medical care, that will see less efficient management through more private providers wanting a share of the pie, the postcode lottery 2.0, and we would certainly not have an integrated health and social care system (despite the name of the bill). Hello to US-style healthcare.

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About James Chan

I am the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for The Green Party in the St Helens South and Whiston constituency. I grew up locally, before moving to Leeds in 2004 to study, and now work as an A&E doctor. I currently live in Eccleston, St Helens.
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