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

  • Comment We can be hugely proud of our record on LGBT rights – we’ve got more to do

    We can be hugely proud of our record on LGBT rights – we’ve got more to do

    The National Policy Forum have got a full plate today as they begin their final weekend of deliberations before signing off Labour’s policy documents ahead of the manifesto being agreed at national conference. Headline issues like rail renationalisation have dominated the coverage going into this weekend, but there are other less flashy areas where we have some important work to do to finish the job we started in Government. We can be hugely proud of our record on LGBT rights, for me […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Labour’s big weekend – and re-orientation of what it means to be Labour

    Labour’s big weekend – and re-orientation of what it means to be Labour

    Ed Miliband’s speech to the National Policy Forum this morning was the media centrepiece of this weekend’s activity in Milton Keynes. That of course belies the fact that amendment meetings taking place across this sprawling conference centre are hammering out some of the policy detail and direction that will shape the party’s campaign – and the agenda for a potential Labour government. It was a strong speech. Unashamedly Labour, passionate about the need to tackle exploitation and deliver an offer to […]

    Read more →
  • News Full Text: Ed Miliband’s NPF Speech – A new settlement for a new era

    Full Text: Ed Miliband’s NPF Speech – A new settlement for a new era

    This weekend sees the final meeting of Labour’s National Policy Forum. Here’s the full text of Ed Miliband’s speech: As we meet here at the National Policy Forum, many of our thoughts will also be rightly focussed on two crises overseas.And I want to start by saying something about each of them.The tragic and horrifying end of flight MH17 has shocked people across the world. We mourn the 10 British victims and all those who were lost.These were innocent British people, […]

    Read more →
  • News Moving on from New Labour, not going back to old Labour – Miliband sets out programme for power at NPF

    Moving on from New Labour, not going back to old Labour – Miliband sets out programme for power at NPF

    Ed Miliband will make a speech to Labour’s National Policy Forum (NPF) in Milton Keynes today, setting out a “programme of Government” that would leave New Labour behind without going back to old Labour. He will say that his plan for power is “more radical and more ambitious”, by dealing with the specific challenges of the modern era. He will say: “We have moved on from New Labour. And we are not going back to old Labour. Instead, our programme for Government is more […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Charging migrants to use the NHS is unethical – Labour should say so

    Charging migrants to use the NHS is unethical – Labour should say so

    It’s been a busy news week in Westminster – with the furore over David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle, the extremely worrying and invasive Data Retention and Investigative Powers Act (DRIP) passing through Parliament, today’s debate in the House of Lords over the Assisted Dying Bill debate and the tragic Malaysian Airlines crash. But, whenever there’s this much going on in UK politics, we should take a moment to think about what we’ve missed. One of the pieces of news that’s received […]

    Read more →