One of our objectives at West Country Bylines is to alert people to their local MPs’ contributions (or otherwise) in the House of Commons and their voting record. Since, to our amazement and dismay, a pandemic and the threat of a catastrophic No Deal Brexit have been deemed insufficient reasons to extend the last session, we have rounded up recent activity for the MPs in each of our counties. We’ll be publishing them over the next few days. A couple are good and there are glimmers of hope in some others. Most are not great.
It shouldn’t be a roll call of shame but, sadly, it is. Whether it is tribalism, careerism, laziness, malevolence or just the sheer absence of integrity, votes have been cast that should make decent people outraged. The ruling party’s majority means they are able to do what the hell they like and, in doing so, exhibit an astonishing level of hypocrisy.
Let’s highlight one such vote. A Labour amendment to the Trade Bill which read:
‘This amendment would aim to protect the NHS and publicly funded health and care services in other parts of the UK from any form of control from outside the UK.’
It would have barred any trade deal which “undermines or restricts” a comprehensive public-funded health service, free at the point of delivery.
The amendment would also have banned any deal that undermined the ability “to maintain the quality and safety of health or care services”.
It would have legally guaranteed the UK’s ability to control the “pricing and reimbursement” of medicines.
And it would have committed to maintaining the current level of protection for patient data. (Data is a hot, hot topic. Look out for upcoming articles on the worrying developments in the centralisation of data in Number 10.)
Now, this government has repeatedly claimed that the NHS is not for sale and never will be. So why was it so difficult to send a message reconfirming that promise to every citizen of this country by voting for this amendment? Swallow the fact that Labour had suggested it. Just do the right thing. Easy, huh?
You’d have thought so, but he following West Country MPs either did not care or did not feel able to reaffirm that commitment, so here they are.
The roll call of shame, in alphabetical order:
Conor Burns (Conservative – Bournemouth West)
Geoffrey Cox (Conservative – Torridge and West Devon)
Richard Drax (Conservative – South Dorset)
Tobias Ellwood (Conservative – Bournemouth East)
George Eustice (Conservative – Camborne and Redruth)
Kevin Foster (Conservative – Torbay)
Marcus Fysh (Conservative – Yeovil)
James Heappey (Conservative – Wells)
Simon Hoare (Conservative – North Dorset)
Simon Jupp (Conservative – East Devon)
Ian Liddell-Grainger (Conservative – Bridgwater and West Somerset)
Chris Loder (Conservative – West Dorset)
Cherilyn Mackrory (Conservative – Truro and Falmouth)
Anthony Mangnall (Conservative – Totnes)
Scott Mann (Conservative – North Cornwall)
Johnny Mercer (Conservative – Plymouth, Moor View)
Anne Marie Morris (Conservative – Newton Abbot)
Sheryll Murray (Conservative – South East Cornwall)
Neil Parish (Conservative – Tiverton and Honiton)
John Penrose (Conservative – Weston-super-Mare)
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative – North East Somerset)
Selaine Saxby (Conservative – North Devon)
Gary Streeter (Conservative – South West Devon)
Derek Thomas (Conservative – St Ives)
David Warburton (Conservative – Somerton and Frome)
No vote recorded: Christopher Chope, Mel Stride, Liam Fox, Rebecca Pow
You might care to write to them and ask them just how they square their vote with clapping away merrily in ‘thanks’ to our NHS and careworkers. You can get hold of them quickly and easily at HeyMP! The beauty of this contact mechanism is that it comes from your email address, so won’t get chucked out as spam. Give it a go. You can send a message about the trade deal, too, if you wish. We want the one that doesn’t involve flogging off health and drug provision.
No doubt many of you will receive a boilerplate email saying that, of course, the NHS is not for sale. I don’t doubt that they have no intention of selling off the NHS brand or rebranding to some ‘catchy’ US-style name, but that’s not the point. The persistent outsourcing of NHS services to private firms is the point. The US insistence on healthcare being on the table is the point.
We’ll write more about this in due course. Meanwhile, look out for the end of term reports. Each county editor has adopted a slightly different style, but there is a common message and it’s that devastating, masterly understatement:
“Could do better.“
Give them a prod. You’ve seen. You know.