ONLY those with short memories, or strong stomachs, did not have to stop themselves vomiting when hearing Tory leader David Cameron talk about his support for the National Health Service at the weekend.
The Conservative Party leader parachuted himself onto the platform at Saturday’s rally of 12,000 junior doctors demonstrating in London against the Labour government’s new appointment scheme for training places, the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS).
This was followed by Cameron’s keynote speech to the Tory party’s Spring conference in Nottingham, on public services, yesterday.
The junior doctors were protesting on Saturday at the fact that 33,000 of them are applying for 18,000 training places online through an unfair selection process that is in chaos. At least 15,000 will be left without training posts and face surviving as staff-grade doctors on short-term contracts, and thousands will be jobless.
A smooth operator in opportunist populism, Cameron told the junior doctors what they wanted to hear – that MTAS was an ‘utter shambles’, that it should be scrapped if the government could not address their concerns and there should be a specialist post for ‘every junior doctor in England’.
He did not say that, in the disastrous event that there is a Conservative administration in the future, he will do any of these things and, of course, did not mention the issue of NHS funding or privatisation.
The Tory leader was relying on his listeners having an attention span only as long as his last sound bite.
He hoped that they had forgotten that for 18 years (1979-1997) successive Tory governments starved the NHS of funds, closed hospitals, brought private contractors into the NHS and with them the super-bug infections cause by dirty hospitals, set up the business model of hospital NHS trusts and brought in the market system of the purchaser-provider divide.
Under the Tories, thousands of junior doctors worked in hospitals for years, putting in very long hours (up to 106 hours a week) before they got a training post. Many gave up in despair.
The organisers of Saturday’s doctors’ protest invited speakers from all the major parliamentary parties to address their rally.
But the Labour leadership refused to turn up to speak to the angry doctors, allowing Liberal Democrat spokesman Tom Brake, MP, and Cameron to be the only speakers from political parties at the rally.
There was also no sign of the trade union leaders, who formed NHSTogether last year, through the Trades Union Congress, to link up with the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and other NHS staff organisations.
Even the BMA leaders, like Chairman James Johnson, had nothing to say to the junior doctors, because they are working with the government to impose a revamped MTAS and do not support scrapping it.
The fact that Labour and trade union leaders had nothing to say to junior doctors, who are in the front line of the NHS crisis, allowed Cameron to monopolise the platform at the rally.
So you have the situation where, on Wednesday, Blair, Brown and company united with the Tories in a de facto coalition to spend billions on British imperialism’s war machine, by rebuilding the Trident nuclear missile system.
Then, on Saturday, Cameron found that the government’s attacks on the NHS have given him everything he needs for a fake NHS campaign and a platform for his blatant electioneering.
When Blair goes, Cameron is getting ready to demand a general election, using every populist trick in the book.
So it is urgent that the working class take action now to defend the NHS, by organising pickets, strikes and occupations, to stop the decimation of local hospitals.
Trade unionists must immediately demand that their leaders call all-out national strike action to stop the destruction of the NHS and bring down the Blair government.
Leaders who refuse to fight in this situation must be replaced in this struggle for a workers’ government that will restore the NHS.
This is the way to put an end to the unofficial Blair-Cameron coalition and halt the Tories’ election campaigning in its tracks, ensuring that there will never be a Conservative government, or a coalition national government.