Austerity, rail privatisation, the Grayling reforms, now the Lansley reforms: it’s remarkable to watch a Conservative government that has held uninterrupted power for over a decade today disown and promise to reverse the policies opposed by the left at the time. The government is releasing a health and social care white paper (that leaked early) setting out plans to reorganise the NHS in England with the aim of making the system more integrated. Instead of simply replying ‘told you so’, as some may be tempted to do, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth has demanded an explanation for why a reorganisation is Boris Johnson’s “pressing priority” in the middle of a pandemic and pointed out that simply legislating for integration won’t do the trick.
GMB, one of the trade unions representing health and social care workers, has highlighted the glaring omission from the white paper: a plan to fix social care. Or not even a plan, just any kind of detail. Instead, the paper simply says reforms will be unveiled “this year”. Campaign group Keep Our NHS Public, meanwhile, has argued that this is only a part U-turn on the Lansley reforms, as this is “another massive top-down reorganisation” that “retains the fragmentation and chaos of outsourcing” of the 2012 Act. The activists say the government’s first priorities could be more funding to expand services, more capital to refurbish hospitals, and more pay to attract and retain staff.
On LabourList today, we have an interview with Anas Sarwar, the frontrunner in the Scottish Labour leadership election. I spoke to him about being a Brownite, tax policies, the “branch office” accusation, upcoming Holyrood elections, Nicola Sturgeon pursuing indyref2 to “keep her party together” and Labour “playing The Hunger Games”. (I will be speaking to rival Monica Lennon this week, too.) We also revealed yesterday that Labour’s Andy McDonald has launched a taskforce with all 12 party-affiliated trade unions contributing to the development of a new agenda on workplace rights and a new deal for workers after Covid. Read our exclusive for more details including their founding statement. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.