Monday, 18 August 2014

St Helier & Single Issue campaigns; worthwhile?

This is a personal view from Steve Appleton. If you have comments, please post them.

In Sutton, during the May local election, there was a good campaign waged in defence of St Helier Hospital, whose future remains uncertain. Several individuals stood as “Save Our St Helier” candidates; many windows had posters. 

I’m not sure, though, that single issue campaigns and candidates is the right way forward. Is a single issue campaign, even one as important as this, the best way to achieve results? 

The issues affecting St Helier are no different from those affecting all hospitals - things like privatisation, tick box “performance measurement”, outsourcing, low wages, etc. 

Some people told us they wanted to keep the campaign non-political. They said that politics will put people off.

But it is politics - mainstream, pro-business politics - that’s the main cause of the problem! The policy of all main parties (including UKIP) is aimed at “Americanising” the NHS and selling whole parts of it to profit-seeking corporations - allowing them to exploit the NHS for profit. 

During 2013, more than £5 billion NHS contracts were put out to tender, and around 70% went to the private sector. 

The ultimate aim is getting clearer by the day. Private care for the richest (already in place), insurance-based health care for those who can afford the monthly fees, and a free but inevitably poorest quality service for the rest of us. And even that may become means-tested!

Can any campaign to save St Helier really ignore these wider issues? Can it treat St Helier in splendid isolation, as though it wasn’t part of the government’s pro-rich, anti-public sector agenda? 

Single issue campaigns can help raise awareness. But they can also let politicians off the hook - the very politicians whose parties are wrecking the NHS! All the main parties in Sutton “support” the St Helier campaign. They are hypocrites, and we shouldn’t hide that from the people of Sutton! They are part of the problem, not the solution!

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