“‘There is no magic money tree,’ Theresa May said during the election campaign when confronted by a nurse complaining about low pay. Yet now that the Conservatives need the support of the DUP to give them a working majority, suddenly the magic money tree appears: £1 billion of additional spending has been promised to Northern Ireland. Can austerity survive such hypocrisy?”
“Do you think it’s fair that the nurses get just a 1% increase year-in year-out regardless of inflation – so they get poorer, so some of them we’re told go to foodbanks? Is that fair? Do you sleep happy at that?”
David Dimbleby questions PM Theresa May, 2 Jun 2017
Conservative or Labour? In our first-past-the-post system this was the binary choice on offer to the British people on 8 June. Theresa May spelt it out for us on the day she called the election.
“It is a choice between me and Jeremy Corbyn. Britain simply will not get the right Brexit deal if we have the drift and division of a hung parliament.”
Theresa May, 18 Apr 2017
No one was expecting the “drift and division of a hung parliament.” The Conservatives, 20 points ahead in the polls, were looking for a thumping majority to do Brexit their way. The local election results on 4 May reinforced Conservative dominance. With talk of Labour being decimated, their first priority was survival. A one-party state was more likely than a hung parliament.
Yet here we are today, in a hung parliament, embarking on Brexit talks to negotiate our departure from the EU. So, what happened?
“I don’t know why she’s [Theresa May] running for prime minister, I don’t know what her vision is for the country, I don’t know what her agenda is, whereas I do know what Corbyn’s agenda is. It’s a more equal society.”
Last Monday, two middle-aged English women arrived at Abingdon market in Oxfordshire. One woman was there by chance. The other had carefully thought through the decision to go there, weighing the costs, benefits, and risks. This woman was one of the most powerful in the country. The other was one of the most vulnerable.
“Strong and stable leadership” has been the mantra of Theresa May and the Conservatives since the election was called on 18 April, with minimal discussion of policies so far, including health. However, the importance and popularity of the NHS means that it is nearly always a key election issue, as we saw in the 2016 EU referendum.
Increasingly the service is referred to as “our” NHS, reflecting its standing as a universal public service that we all contribute to and benefit from. A key concern in recent years is that the NHS is being privatised by the Conservatives, risking a shift from services driven by medical need to services focussed on company profits.