We cannot afford a government that sneers at public services

December 30, 2009 1:52 pm

Author:

Share this Article

Osborne CameronBy Tom Harris MP / @TomHarrisMP

There’s a lie that the Tories love to repeat over and over again. The aim, presumably, is to repeat it often enough so that the general populace start to believe it.

Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, was at it again today, telling the BBC News Channel that the government, in the last 12 years, “has spent money like there’s no tomorrow to very little effect.”

We didn’t fix the roof while the sun was shining, according to Dave’s Big Book of Rubbish Soundbites.

No, we didn’t fix the roof – we bought a brand new one, much better than the old one.

Let’s be clear about what the Tories mean when they sneer about the money Labour has spent: the new schools and hospitals, the cuts in NHS waiting lists, the improvements in exam performance, the record high number of young people going on to further and higher education.

These are all wonderful and significant achievements. And they mean a great deal to the families who have benefited from all that investment – the children who would otherwise have attended schools in dilapidated, drafty Victorian school buildings, the concerned relatives of patients who, under the Tories, would have continued to be treated in an under-resourced NHS, the communities who, without Labour, would have had to rely on a police force deliberately prevented from recruiting to full strength.

And all of this cost money. Lots of it.

The Tories would prefer not to have spent it. The new schools, the new hospitals, the new nurses, the new doctors, the new police officers, the new teachers, the new classroom assistants, the new SureStart centres. Every single one of these achievements is regarded by the Conservative Party as of “no avail”.

Just think about that.

To be fair, the Tories have been consistent about this sort of thing. They have made no secret about their preference for tax cuts over public services. They have nothing but contempt for any government that “squanders” public money on wasteful enterprises such as the winter heating allowance, pension credits and tax credits to encourage people off benefits and into work.

As for the NHS, consider this: every single Tory MP elected at the 2005 general election won his or her seat on a manifesto commitment to transfer billions of pounds of NHS funding directly into the private health service. Yet those same Tory MPs who campaigned for such a horrific idea now claim they have changed their minds about the wisdom of the so-called “Patient’s Passport”. All of them. They all changed their minds.

Do you believe them?

This is the same party who lionizes one Daniel Hannan MEP, a man who holds the NHS itself in contempt, who described it as “a 60-year mistake“. Yeah, the usual suspects in the Shadow Cabinet were ordered to walk outside to tell the press that Hannan did not represent the views of his party. But we all know that Hannan’s words far more accurately reflected the views of the majority of Tory MPs and of the overwhelming majority of Tory Party members.

That’s the choice Britain will face in 2010: between a Labour Party which has done everything in its power both to save and grow our public services and to protect ordinary families from the ravages of an unprecedented world recession; and a Tory Party, unchanged in its political culture from its 1980s incarnation, which despises investment in public services – and despises some of those public services themselves – and has opposed every single measure proposed by the government to mitigate the effects of the recession.

Labour will have an uphill struggle to make the case for its re-election in 2010. Four consecutive victories don’t come along very often. But the alternative to a re-elected Labour government is bleak indeed.

Britain cannot afford to have sitting round the Cabinet table men and women who regard new and improved schools and hospitals as nothing more than expensive and disposable luxuries.

This post was also published on Tom’s Blog.




Comments are closed

Latest

  • News Major Labour donor John Mills dismisses Mail story as “pure mischief making”

    Major Labour donor John Mills dismisses Mail story as “pure mischief making”

    The Mail on Sunday run with attacks on Ed Miliband today, including quotes from major Labour backer John Mills where he appears sceptical of a Mansion Tax and seems to side with Alan Milburn’s comments on the NHS this week. Mills, who has donated £1.5million to the Labour Party, has dismissed the story as “pure mischief making” and said they had used “highly selective and misleading quotes” for the story. The business leader admits he would prefer the widening of […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Election chief Alexander sets out campaign priorities in email to supporters

    Election chief Alexander sets out campaign priorities in email to supporters

    Labour’s election co-ordinator Douglas Alexander has set out the three priorities for the party’s national campaign over the next three weeks. He says Labour won’t run a personality-led campaign (pledging not to feature Cameron on any of their posters), that Labour are willing to take part in TV debates, and that the aim to have four million conversations with voters will be at the heart of the campaign. This kind of “memo” to supporters is not completely new (the last […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Candidate selected to replace Alistair Darling in Edinburgh South West

    Candidate selected to replace Alistair Darling in Edinburgh South West

    Ricky Henderson has been selected as the to fight the Edinburgh South West seat as the Labour candidate for this year’s election. The seat is being vacated by retiring former Chancellor and Better Together chair Alistair Darling, who has been an MP since 1987. Ricky Henderson, 53, has been a councillor in Edinburgh for 16 years. Speaking after the selection tonight, he said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been chosen to succeed Alistair Darling as Labour’s candidate. He will […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Video SNP surge “is real” – Lord Ashcroft speaks ahead of Scottish polling announcement

    SNP surge “is real” – Lord Ashcroft speaks ahead of Scottish polling announcement

    Labour activists, MPs and strategists will be paying close attention to Lord Ashcroft’s polling of Scottish seats (which should be out in the next few days), but for a taster on that – and the impact of UKIP, watch this interview of Ashcroft from Sky News’s Joey Jones:

    Read more →
  • News Roy Hattersley defends Miliband over NHS election focus

    Roy Hattersley defends Miliband over NHS election focus

    Former Labour deputy leader Roy Hattersley has leapt to Ed Miliband’s defence, after the current leader received criticism from former ministers this week for relying on the NHS too much as an election issue. Alan Milburn and John Hutton made public their scepticism about Labour’s plans for the NHS, with former Health Secretary Milburn saying “major reform” was needed in the health service. Following Neil Kinnock’s call for an end to “sniping from behind”, Hattersley has also come forward to attack […]

    Read more →