Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Has my Labour opponent dumped the Labour manifesto?

Labour has made a tremendous fuss on social media in Blaydon about delivering their leaflet over the past few days. Dave Anderson, my Labour opponent, praises the "volunteers" who have been helping to deliver his literature. It's always good to thank people for volunteering their time. Perhaps Mr Anderson may wish to thank the staff of the delivery company which he forgot to mention who have been delivering his leaflet in the Whickham area of the constituency. As I was returning from feeding the goats and poultry yesterday morning, I watched a deliverer from a local delivery company, push the Labour leaflet, along with those for pizzas and gardening services, through my letter box. I understand from colleagues that the leaflet was still being delivered across the Whickham wards yesterday, though some did arrive in letter boxes at the end of last week. It seems however that a Twitter comment by Labour council candidate Chris McHugh last week was a bit premature. He announced that there had been "V positive feedback" from residents of the area to the leaflet, a comment made before it had arrived in the letter boxes of so many residents!

Anyway, I've read through the leaflet. It's stuffed full of the usual Lib-Dems-eat-your-babies-for-breakfast style allegations. But the lead story announces Dave Anderson is "delighted to wholeheartedly support the 38 Degrees campaign to repeal the Coalition's ... NHS reforms and to reinforce Labour's unwavering commitment." Commitment to what is not explained. Labour certainly aren't committed to a full repeal. Their policy is to cap the profits companies can make on NHS contracts, where the contract itself is valued at over £500,000. This is of course a gesture rather than a significant change. A company could easily pile up all sorts of overheads on the cost of a contract.

38 Degrees is demanding something different. They want an end to all private contracts. No NHS organisation would be able to buy in from the public sector. Quite how they will deal with contracts to buy drugs is left unanswered. Quite how the NHS will be able to provide dental services without buying them in from the thousands of private dental practices is an issue ignored by 38 Degrees. Who will build new hospital facilities without putting out contracts to private sector building companies is unexplained. Whatever the answers to these issues is, Labour do not support the end of NHS contracts going to the private sector. Mr Anderson is clearly at odds with his own party. Is he the Labour candidate in this election, or the 38 Degrees candidate?

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