Those of you who read The Shuttle will have noticed this week that the Tories had an elaborately produced and no doubt expensive newspaper wraparound extolling why you should vote Tory. The Tories always throw huge amounts of money at elections including last time in 2015, with £10,000 donated to Mark Garnier's campaign by a rich Russian Oligarch.
Labour has no such 'advantages' and our local general election campaign is mainly funded by local donations from party members and the public.
Apart from the usual Tory rhetoric lacking in any examples of aspirational policies (because they have none and only offer more of the same on austerity), and the expected nonsense critical of Labour policies and our Leader, there were a couple of other things that jumped out:
- Mark Garnier's claims that local schools (does he mean Worcestershire?) will benefit from an extra £9million of funding
- The local Acute NHS benefitting from £1million extra A&E revenue and him arguing for £29million capital (buildings that will have no staff as vacancy levels are 9% as they have no revenue money) funding (arguing for is not the same as 'getting')
Let's take no.1 first, because no one but Mark seems to know about this because schools have seen real time cuts in funding meaning they are creaking at the seams, laying off staff, increasing class sizes, narrowing the curriculum, and dropping cultural subjects like music from tuition due to lack of money. Indeed, under the proposed so called 'fairer schools funding formula' which Mark has campaigned for, it actually means Wyre Forest schools will LOSE £4.3million and 114 teachers.
Labour will correct this catastrophe by investing in education so the country can face the challenges ahead including BREXIT because as a nation we need to upskill to compete globally.
As for no.2, the Acute NHS Trust is already £36million in the red, and under the latest Tory NHS STP proposals will face another £250million in cuts dressed up as 'improvements'. Frankly, the Tories cannot be trusted to tell you the truth about the NHS.
They have lied about the so called £10billion they will put into the NHS because the Parliamentary select committe including sitting Tories said it's more like £4.5billion - a sum equivalent to the overall cut in social care budgets which has resulted in the massive burden being put on A&E at hospitals which £1million will not resolve.
They have already enacted the Health and Social Care Act allowing CCG's to privatise chunks of the NHS and ration treatment to local people based on budgets not clinical need.
If we take what's happening in mental health care as a blueprint for the upcoming Tory plans, it is closing wards like Harvington at Kidderminster Hospital, centralising facilities, and offering online 'self-help' schemes meaning GP's are basically stopping referrals to mental health services because there is no 'service'.
So when Garnier talks about a 21st century NHS, what he means is at 3rd world levels because that is the summit of their ambition when we already have the lowest number of beds and worst cancer survival rates in Europe. Labour will correct this catastrophe by investing in our NHS so you can get the services you need when you need them.
We will stop hospital closures and do our own review based on local need. Hospital parking charges will be scrapped.