Labour’s newly-announced pledge to remove the NHS pay cap and reinstate the bursary for nursing students is that rarest of things – a promise from a party leader who can be trusted and that’s exactly in line with his principles.
It’s also a desperately needed lifeline for hard-pressed health staff who have spent the last seven years desperately trying to prevent the NHS collapsing while the Tories hacked the ground from beneath their feet and thanked them by reducing their real-terms pay-packets with a derisory 1% pay rise if they were lucky.
Of course, Tories and their predictable media glove puppets are immediately pouring water on the promise and asking how it’s going to be paid for – taking us all for fools.
There’s always cash for corporate tax cuts.
There’s always cash for nukes.
There’s always cash for inheritance-tax cuts and high-speed rail lines that will cut a magnificent 15 minutes off a train-ride.
There’s always cash for more bombs to drop on innocents in other countries to make politicians feel big.
The same people who ‘write cheques’ for these things without a second thought want us to believe we can’t afford a decent wage for people we all rely on in the NHS and elsewhere. That we can’t afford to be a decent society that looks after its vulnerable, provides facilities for its children – or fix our roads, for that matter.
Jeremy Hunt wants us to believe that ending the bursary for nursing students is because of the Tories’ commitment to bringing us more nurses – when in fact they’ve cut nursing numbers massively.
And the Tories want to tell us that the NHS is safe in their hands, even though waiting lists and missed A&E waiting time targets have risen terrifyingly on their watch.
Over 1.5 million people work in the NHS (the fact it’s down from the 1.7 million the Tories inherited speaks volumes). Almost all of us have been treated ourselves, had our loved ones’ lives saved, bodies healed or seen them cared for with compassion and dignity in their final days by people paid a fraction of what they’re worth.
Add in their immediate and wider families and there are at least 20 million people who either work in the NHS or have one or more loved ones who do. Add to those the tens of millions of people who have received emergency treatment and planned operations – almost 23 million attendances at A&E alone in 2015/16 – and their loved ones..
If all of those people woke up and realise what the Tories are doing – and always will – to the NHS, the Tories would never again get a sniff of power.
We need to wake up – and it’s up to us to wake everyone else up, too, even if it means screaming in their Establishment-numbed ears.
Jeremy Corbyn has done right by doctors, nurses, health-carers, porters and all the other amazing people who have kept our NHS running against a rising tide of Tory predation – and by the vast majority of the people of this country, who rely on the NHS for healthcare that won’t bankrupt us.
Will we do right by him – and them?
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