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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