It’s getting harder and harder to envisage just how low the Tories will sink next. From their disastrous handling of the pandemic to the Dickensian free school meal parcels handed out by their mates – each passing day brings a new horror story.
The latest disgrace came as MPs voted on amendments to the Trade Bill passed by the House of Lords. One by one, Tory MPs obediently lined up on the instruction of their whips to vote down an amendment which sought to ensure that our NHS is explicitly excluded from future trade deals.
Parliamentary votes can often seem removed from our day-to-day lives. They can even seem innocuous and irrelevant. But the potential impact of this vote cannot be overstated: by refusing to write into law protections for our NHS, our precious health service is now under severe threat.
Without that protection, the health service could be opened up to allow private healthcare companies—from the USA, or other countries—increased access to bid to run NHS services. Those private companies could be empowered to sue the government if it seeks to limit their ability to profit from our healthcare. And the NHS could be forced to pay more for vital, life-saving drugs as the pharmaceutical industry flexes its muscles in trade negotiations and seeks to strengthen patents.
We’ve seen throughout the pandemic how the Tories have consistently prioritised private profit over public health. They handed the contact tracing system to Serco, a company synonymous with disaster. They gave out multi-million pound contracts to companies with no experience in the service they were supposed to deliver, simply because they had a friend in the government. Yesterday’s vote in Parliament was more of the same.
The Tories treat our NHS with contempt. They’ve been slowly privatising the health service bit by bit for decades, but now we stand on the precipice of rampant access for the private healthcare industry all across the globe. They’re opening up Pandora’s box.
Boris Johnson and his cabinet colleagues clapped outside the front door of Number 10, performatively pretending to care for the NHS, its staff, and all the people who have relied upon it this year. Less than a year later, they sat on those clapping hands when they had the chance to protect the NHS and prevent it being dismantled in the years to come.
The Tories have betrayed the public – plain and simple. Three quarters of us wanted to see protections for the health service written into law.
The public must remember all of this. We must remember who sat idle when they could have stopped our NHS being privatised even further. We must remember who betrayed our doctors and our nurses at a time when we’re more reliant on them than ever before. We must never forgive, and we must never forget.