Alternative parties pledge to defend NHS across Britain

By staff writers
January 23, 2015

The National Health Action Party has welcomed a statement by the SNP that it would be ready to vote on English health laws and repeal privatisation policies at Westminster.

Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs do not currently vote in the UK parliament on English issues which do not directly affect Scotland.

But party leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has declared that this could change after the 2015 general election – in which her party hopes to be in a position to influence a non-Conservative government.

She said on 21 January 2015: "The current Westminster agenda of austerity, privatisation and patient charging in the NHS in England threatens to harm Scotland's budget, on which our NHS depends.

"Therefore, SNP MPs elected in May are prepared to vote for a bill which would restore the national health service in England to the accountable public service it was always meant to be."

The move was welcomed by NHA Party co-leader Dr Clive Peedell.

He declared: “We welcome the announcement from Nicola Sturgeon that the SNP is ready to vote on English health laws and that she would vote ‘to repeal the privatisation of the health service that has been seen in England.’

“The SNP’s health policy is broadly in line with that of the National Health Action Party – keeping the NHS as publicly-funded, publicly-provided and publicly accountable health service, in accordance with its founding principles.

“In Scotland the SNP are the party to be most trusted with the NHS.”

The SNP, which at present has just six MPs but could have more than 30 in May according to many opinion polls, is forming an informal alliance with Plaid Cymru (the Party of Wales) and the Green Party of England and Wales who both hope for increased representation.

The three parties are all lead by women (Ms Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett, respectively) and have put opposition to austerity, nuclear weapons and centralised government at the heart of their plans to hold Labour to account through a 'confidence and supply' arrangement in the event of a minority non-Conservative government.

If it succeeds in increasing its representation at Westminster in the election, the SNP could find itself holding part of the balance of power in a hung parliament. It has ruled out a coalition with the Conservatives, but a deal with Labour "is a possibility", it says.

The Greens are hoping to retain Caroline Lucas' Brighton seat and gain a couple more. Plaid Cymru has three MPs at the moment. Both resolutely oppose NHS privatisation.

The National Health Action Party was launched in 2012 because its founders, former independent MP Dr Richard Taylor, and Dr Clive Peedell, co-leaders, believed that a new political party was needed to defend the NHS and its values.

They declared: "The NHS is more than just a structure for the delivery of healthcare. It is also a social institution that reflects national solidarity, expresses the values of equity and universalism, and institutionalises the duty of government to care for all in society. The NHS marks out a space in society where the dictates of commerce and the market should be held in check. We are fighting now to ensure that it is patients not profits that are the driving force behind our NHS."

The NHS is now the greatest concern by far for UK voters, according to the results of a Guardian/ICM poll published on 20 January 2015. Some 31 per cent of those surveyed said that it was the single most important issue.

* As hospitals struggle, NHS tops voter concerns, by Savitri Hensman: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21345

* More on the 2015 General Election from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/generalelection2015
Views expressed in news briefs and by commentators on GE15 are not necessarily those of Ekklesia.

* NHA Party: http://nhap.org/

* SNP: http://www.snp.org

* Plaid Cymru: http://www.plaidcymru.org

* Green Party of England and Wales: http://www.greenparty.org.uk

[Ekk/3]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.