Full Fact rides to LibDems’ rescue over NHS cowardice wielding a straw-man – but details speak for themselves

Fact-checking organisation Full Fact has ridden to the rescue of Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats after they abstained to help defeat a Labour motion calling for the reversal of the NHS privatisation triggered by the Tories’ 2012 Health and Social Care Act (HSCA) – which the LibDems, then in coalition, helped to impose on the NHS.

All nineteen LibDem MPs abstained – and were promptly and virally attacked for “refus[ing] to support a motion to stop privatisation of the NHS”.

Full Fact examined the motion and concluded that “[t]he most important thing to note” is that it would not actually have stopped NHS privatisation – and that therefore the MPs known to the left as ‘yellow Tories’ were off the hook.

But the attacks didn’t claim the motion would have stopped NHS privatisation – and the wording of the motion is clear enough that it is a motion for the reversal of NHS privatisation and to protect it from further predations. The amendment moved stated that the House of Commons:

respectfully regrets that the Gracious Speech does not repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to restore a publicly provided and administered National Health Service and protect it from future trade agreements that would allow private companies competing for services who put profit before public health and that could restrict policy decisions taken in the public interest.

The motion would have made it the official position of Parliament that privatisation of the NHS is an undesirable, unwelcome and damaging thing – and that the Tory/LibDem HSCA needs to be undone.

And given the opportunity to support it, every single LibDem MP didn’t even have the spine to stand up and own their commitment to NHS privatisation.

Instead they cravenly hid – and no straw man can hide that.


The social media attacks were based on the LibDems cowardice and unwillingness to stand up for the NHS and its protection against further damage by the Tories’ incessant commitment to breaking it up and selling off the pieces. They were not based on the idea that a successful vote for the motion would have instantly stopped NHS privatisation.

It’s astonishing that a supposedly independent fact-checking charity should set up a ‘straw man’ for it to knock down to rescue the LibDems from their self-inflicted disgrace.

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  1. Obviously, Full Fact is NOT an independent charity then. (On examination of this betrayal)

  2. The I think first Full Fact org. WAS denied charitable status by CC, tHIS NEW version got it, CA allowed control of charities by public benefit test so few now independent- this proves it.

  3. But, but, but…

    There’s at least three ‘candidates’ on here believe that abstentions count as votes against, too.


  4. In no way does this excuse the Lib Dem: they DID NOT know when they abstained that the bill will not have a majority support. THEY ABSTAINED TO DEFEAT THE BILL.

  5. The LibDems votes wouldn’t have changed the result so I think they made the cynical political calculation that there was nothing to be gained by upsetting their future ‘coalition’ partners for no actual gain.

  6. It’s laughable anyway cos the EU rules would ensure that privatisation would continue. So LibDems happy that privatisation continued through EU
    Tories would continue it outside the EU
    Labour pretending they don’t know about the EU rules!
    The whole lot are pathetic!

  7. Libdems vote wouldnt have changed the result and Steve H is correct.But what a society do we live in that the majority of mps knowingly would like to see the destruction of the best Health sytem in the western world and yet still move to dismantle the NHS with the knowledge that like the USA and many others the people will die for the crime of not being wealthy enough to afford basic healthcare…How long do we meekly suffer?

    1. As long as a substantial proportion of the poor and disadvantaged continue to vote Tory against their own self interest or can’t be bothered to vote.

  8. Bear in mind that the following Indy article by Youssef El Gingihy, author of How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 Easy Steps, is from March 2016:

    The NHS has actually been abolished.

    Now you may think that this is untrue. After all, you still go and see your GP or may be admitted to hospital and receive care free at the point of delivery. However, the Health & Social Care Act 2012 has abolished the NHS in legislative terms. It has achieved this through several mechanisms.

    It has axed the government’s responsibility for the NHS. It has devolved responsibility to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). The CCGs have no legal obligation to provide you with anything beyond emergency care – this may not be the case at present but it means that there is no legal guarantee that they will continue to do so.

    It has opened up the NHS to unlimited privatisation. The government continues to deny that privatisation is taking place – of course they do. A simple rebuffal comes from the World Health Organisation definition of healthcare privatisation, which describes it as the increasing financing and/or provision of healthcare by non-governmental actors. And the NHS Support Federation has shown that £30 billion of NHS contracts have been tendered since the Act came into effect. £16 billion have been awarded with 34 per cent going to the private sector.


      1. And also THIS article on BMA website posted yesterday:

        Stress undermining retention, says GMC

        A survey of nearly 4,000 doctors into job satisfaction and career intentions conducted between June and July was used to inform the report. It found that 68 per cent of respondents said that they had worked beyond their rostered hours on a weekly basis over the previous year.

        The report adds that working outside of normal hours was so commonplace that only 4 per cent of those surveyed said that they had not had to do so.

        28 per cent said they had felt unable to cope with their workload at least once a week over the previous 12 months, with 12 per cent having had to take time off in this period owing to stress.

        Noting the effect of workplace pressures, the report highlights that 33 per cent of doctors refused to take on extra work with 21 per cent reducing their clinical hours – with this figure rising to 36 per cent among GPs.

  9. Even when the a self-appointed adjudicator claims to be ‘impartial’ and checks facts for accuracy, pro-Establishment players like ‘fact check’ always shield and defend the enablers of the status-quo – especially when it coincides with their own political and economic interest. Visit and see for yourself – The Daily Telegraph would be proud of itself if it could present facts as lop-sidedly as these people.

  10. “Full Fact is an independent fact-checking organisation. We make it easier to see the facts and context behind the claims made by the key players in British political debate and press those who make misleading claims to correct the record” – so says, under the bold headline of “Promoting Accuracy in the public debate”.
    DIG a little deeper, and this interesting little non-profit company, headed by Tory Party donor and Anne Freud Centre Chairman Michael Samuel, becomes very interesting indeed. Particularly to those who are concerned about proper investigative journalism, and truth,.

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