254 Lords betray the people of England

A few minutes ago, 254 peers betrayed the people of England, as they defeated 146 other peers in a crucial NHS vote on a Labour motion in the House of Lords to kill ‘secondary legislation’ that the government is trying to implement under last year’s Health and Social Care Act.

Why was it such a betrayal? Earlier today, one quisling Labour peer, Norman  Warner, gave the game away when he went on the record in the Guardian to explain

Why I, a Labour peer, am supporting a regulated market for NHS competition

An unforgivable treason when the amended secondary legislation the government is trying to implement (having failed to sneak it through unnoticed) is even worse than the original version and will mire commissioners of NHS services in England in such confusion and fear of legal action that will force them to play safe by including private health companies in every contract bid.

But Warner was at least a ‘useful idiot’ to a degree. In ‘coming out of the closet’ as an enemy of a truly public NHS, his statement served to make absolutely clear what the government has consistently – and ludicrously – tried to deny: that this legislation is intended to force the piecemeal but progressive privatisation of the NHS.

Describing his reasons for his decision to mark himself indelibly as a turncoat, Warner said,

It is a fantasy to believe that we can solve the NHS’s problems without the help of many new providers with fresh ideas and better management techniques. Other countries facing the same problems are doing just this. To allow new entrants from the private, voluntary and social enterprise sectors to enter the NHS market a set of fair procurement rules are required and that is what the new regulations do.

The weasel words and outright lies are clear:

  • that the NHS is unaffordable – it isn’t, it’s simply a matter of choice – if we value it, we’ll pay for it and be glad to do so. That this government doesn’t want to fund the NHS properly simply demonstrates how hollow their ‘safe in our hands’ promise always was.
  • that private companies automatically have ‘fresh ideas and better management techniques’. G4S, anyone?

Warner wasn’t finished yet. He went on,

Patient (sic) best interests are served by the new clinical commissioning groups replacing repeatedly underperforming NHS service providers

Thomas Murphy, Chairman of General Motors, infamously said,

General Motors is not in the business of making cars. It is in the business of making money.

Private health companies don’t care about patients’ interests. They exist to make money, and healthcare is just the way they intend to do it. Patients’ interests might be protected to a degree because companies fear loss of profits – but in the end no profit-making company can ever provide the same level and extent of services it could provide if it did not make profit, because profits taken mean money not spent on patients.

Warner’s words make clear that section 75 is designed to lever open the NHS for the entry of private companies – a betrayal of everything the NHS stands for and of all those who rely on it.

But Warner was not alone in his calumny. The media, which almost without exception (and including the now-lamentable BBC) has been almost silent on this vital, vital issue – allowing the government to do as it wished without fear of the public backlash its actions have merited.

And those peers, those 254 peers – no matter which party they belong to – betrayed the British people unforgivably tonight.

They may feel they were doing the right thing. They were wrong – and ordinary British people will suffer for it in their moments of greatest need and vulnerability.

They may feel they were obliged to vote to defeat the ‘fatal motion’ that Labour had laid to try to kill these regulations. They were wrong. No party loyalty can excuse such reckless disregard for the National Health Service that is so vital – disregard for that principle of ‘free to all at the point of need’ that has saved the lives of millions who could never have afforded to pay for healthcare.

They may feel that ‘it’ll all turn out alright in the end’. They are wrong – the only way things will turn out right is if people realise what is being stolen from them and unite to fight bitterly to prevent it.

It doesn’t matter what their reasons were for voting to protect this deceitful, venal government measure. They were wrong, because nothing justifies any threat to something so vital to the national wellbeing – especially not the profits of shareholders that will probably be banked offshore in some tax haven.

Whatever their reasons, what happened tonight was unforgivable. It’s essential that we fight, and that we don’t forgive, or forget – neither at the impending local elections nor at the next general election.

If this measure passes, one of the only resorts left to those who love the NHS will be to do exactly what the government is trying to make Clinical Commissioning Groups afraid of – tie them up in legal action by demanding our rights under the NHS Constitution if they fail to offer contracts exclusively to true NHS providers.

CCGWatch has been set up to enable local communities and activists to do exactly that. If you’re able, please visit this site and use the PayPal link to make a one-off or repeat donation. Thank you.

Edit: the list of names of those voting either way can be viewed here. The LibDems, whose treachery was especially vile, are as follows:

Addington, Lord Not Content
Alderdice, Lord Not Content
Allan of Hallam, Lord Not Content
Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, Lord Not Content
Avebury, Lord Not Content
Barker, Baroness Not Content
Benjamin, Baroness Not Content
Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, Baroness Not Content
Brinton, Baroness Not Content
Burnett, Lord Not Content
Chidgey, Lord Not Content
Clement-Jones, Lord Not Content
Cotter, Lord Not Content
Dholakia, Lord Not Content
Doocey, Baroness Not Content
Dykes, Lord Not Content
Falkner of Margravine, Baroness Not Content
Garden of Frognal, Baroness Not Content
German, Lord Not Content
Hamwee, Baroness Not Content
Harris of Richmond, Baroness Not Content
Hussain, Lord Not Content
Hussein-Ece, Baroness Not Content
Jolly, Baroness Not Content
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, Lord Not Content
Kramer, Baroness Not Content
Lee of Trafford, Lord Not Content
Linklater of Butterstone, Baroness Not Content
Loomba, Lord Not Content
Maclennan of Rogart, Lord Not Content
Maddock, Baroness Not Content
Mar and Kellie, Earl Not Content
Marks of Henley-on-Thames, Lord Not Content
McNally, Lord Not Content
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, Baroness Not Content
Newby, Lord Not Content
Northover, Baroness Not Content
Parminter, Baroness Not Content
Phillips of Sudbury, Lord Not Content
Randerson, Baroness Not Content
Razzall, Lord Not Content
Roberts of Llandudno, Lord Not Content
Roper, Lord Not Content
Scott of Needham Market, Baroness Not Content
Sharkey, Lord Not Content
Sharp of Guildford, Baroness Not Content
Shipley, Lord Not Content
Shutt of Greetland, Lord Not Content
Stephen, Lord Not Content
Stoneham of Droxford, Lord Not Content
Storey, Lord Not Content
Taverne, Lord Not Content
Teverson, Lord Not Content
Thomas of Gresford, Lord Not Content
Thomas of Winchester, Baroness Not Content
Tope, Lord Not Content
Tyler, Lord Not Content
Wallace of Saltaire, Lord Not Content
Wallace of Tankerness, Lord Not Content
Walmsley, Baroness Not Content
Watson of Richmond, Lord Not Content
Williams of Crosby, Baroness Not Content
Willis of Knaresborough, Lord Not Content

Shame and disgrace on them. The Tories who voted to protect the regulations are bad enough, but for the LibDems to collude with the enemies of the NHS is the most craven spinelessness imaginable.


    1. 🙁 But they’d already started on those – GPs are not referring people for them in a number of areas of the country, instead telling patients they’ll have to go private if they want knee/hip replacements.

  1. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    My fellow blogger Steve Walker got to this one before me – I planned to cover the Lords’ NHS debate but was distracted by an ignorant letter in the local press, written by the Conservative Parliamentary candidate. I might try to find another angle on this tomorrow but in the meantime I urge you to read this Skwawkbox article and lament the fact that Labour cannot deselect its lords.

  2. Now, more than ever, do we need to inform the public on it’s right to choose their health care provider (as per the NHS Constitution) and educate people to choose the NHS for all treatments. It will be one of the few ways the people have to make a difference in this abomination…

    1. Yes, Facebook is doing this to a number of socialist bloggers at the moment. I haven’t heard that the same is happening to any right-wingers – but then maybe I wouldn’t!

  3. Breathtaking craziness. I suppose the kindest (but undeserved) response would be the bible quote “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (ie they’ve switched their brains off).

    NEWS from Stafford. The local council (Tory led) have instructed the chief executive to complain to the police that Mr Yates/Mrs Brisby misled them by saying in the health liaison committee (or something like that) that the high mortality figures were probably down to coding problems. Since these have never been mentioned in any official document and are increasingly discredited (yet widely quoted on an ongoing basis) one has to wonder what pressure these folks are under to pursue this (since it won’t help their local people to have a distraction from the fight to keep local acute care).

    1. I’d heard. I suspect that some people on the scrutiny committee are trying to restore their own reputations by letting the blame fall on someone else. It’s insane for these two people to face prosecution, but if nothing else it should bring a spotlight onto the mortality stats.

      I’ve contacted someone close to the events to offer my information, even testimony, if required.

  4. I posted on my page that this vote will most likely affect all tax based systems throughout the EU. I added later that this, should it occur, will be due to the internationally operating backers of these Lords and of those out to destroy social programmes in the EU, via privatisation. I’m no Brit, but have American and Dutch citisenship while living as a pensioner in Sweden.

  5. A Brit in Sweden here – link to this posted on my facebook profile – after being required to do a captcha… I have a nasty suspicion that, in the end, none of this is going to end up being solved peacefully. The UK government seems to be among the worst, but it’s not alone. Even Sweden isn’t immune. As for the corrupt monolithic monstrous edifice that is the EU…

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