It's easy, as a Labour supporter to lose sight of what really matters in politics. It's so easy to just react, to judge, to dismiss without really thinking about what is good for the country, rather than what is good for my Party.
Last year, I embarked on a little journey. I started to post on a politics site that insists on non-partisan views. I wanted to see just what made my opponents tick and to try, with as much balance as I could muster, to see the vision of the UK that a Conservative government might offer.
Had they really changed? Was it possible to be a "Compassionate Conservative"? Would they look after people like me, protect the most vulnerable in society and hold dear the things British people value and rely on the most?
If you know me outside of cyber-space (or even in it) you will be speechless to learn that I managed 9 months of reasoned and reasonable debate. Well, mainly ;)
Did I learn anything? Well, it's a ludicrously clever site, crammed with intelligent expert posters. (I think they took to me because I was funny, because intelligence wise, I often felt like an amoeba.) I learnt about everything, free from Murdoch bias - the Economy, Higher Education, Northern Ireland, Scottish Nationalism, Syzygys (?) String theory - but I can truly say that the Blues did nothing but confirm my long held convictions.
If anything won David Cameron the election, (or rather, didn't lose him the election) it was his promise to protect the NHS. The "Nasty Party" needed a big commitment from Dave, and even then, then didn't fully dare put the NHS in his hands. Despite the weakest opposition for decades, an unrivalled economic crisis and the terrible black cloud of zealous wars hanging over the Labour Party, Dave and Gideon failed to win a mandate for the kind of changes they now want to make. Whatever else we forget over the next 4 and a half years we must never forget that.
Since May 11th, though the NHS is "ringfenced" the coalition have demanded £25 Billion in "efficiency savings". Nurses have already lost their jobs, A&Es and Maternity units have already closed, Cancer targets have been scrapped, Minimum wait guarantees have been scrapped, hostel support has been cut and on and on and on. If anyone tries to tell you these "efficiency savings" have not led to front-line cuts, quite simply, they are lying.
The above article explains WHY the "re-organisation" of the NHS is an absolute betrayal of the promises made by both the Conservatives and the LibDems before the election. Not only was it not in either manifesto, but it totally challenges the concept of an NHS that is run as a public service. The "re-organisation" alone will cost an estimated 3 Billion, at a time when we are endlessly told we need every penny we can get.
This is not a proposal to be careful about, to tiptoe around, to support parts of to look constructive. It is dishonest, ill thought out and shows a total lack of understanding about the role the NHS plays in millions of vulnerable lives.
My GP is quite kind, fairly distant and totally ineffective. He knows little about my condition and less about the symptoms and treatments. That's why I have a Consultant. I wonder just how he's going to feel when he hears my various treatments will cost his surgery well over £100,000 a year and some years, very much more. I wonder how long it will be before he starts to weigh the cost of my care against the care of 1,000 other, healthier patients? Before he tries to find cheaper alternatives to my care or tries to persuade me that I don't need to go to a specialist centre? Before surgeries decide they can only take a quota of people like me? Or that they can't take me as a patient at all? What if I need surgery just before the start of a new financial year? Will I have to wait?
Please, read the above article, and really try to understand what these proposals mean (if you don't already). Then, if you are as appalled as I am, the BMA, GPs, Patient groups and Nurses are - all around the country - then tell your friends and explain it to them.
I'm way too "Red" to be seen as non-partisan on this, but other non-geeks who don't spend every waking moment poring over White Papers and analysing economic data, can make this an issue they stand up over. Not a political issue, because the NHS transcends politics - or ought to. It is our health service, our greatest achievement and Cameron underestimates the people of this country if he thinks he can sneak reform like this under the radar and we won't realise he is cheating.
Don't let him cheat - show him the NHS is something we simply won't give up.