Finally a long Parliamentary session came to an end and we officially entered the Summer recess period on Friday 26th July, a week later than usual. But what a week it was. Boris Johnson, the new Prime Minister was announced following a 2:1 win across Conservative Party members. The sheer brutality of our political system as one PM leaves and another enters Downing Street across the course of just an hour following audiences with the Queen must be unique in any western democracy. Contrast this with the US where transition spreads across many months from any election to inauguration.
Under any measure, PM Johnson has made a blistering start. A barnstorming performance at the despatch box of the House of Commons, and a multitude of welcome domestic measures including a commitment to recruit 20,000 new police officers, an additional £1.8Bn of capital funding for the NHS on top of the £33.9Bn annual increase already earmarked under the NHS Long Term Plan. Proof if any further were needed that a Conservative government is always committed to NHS improvements and funding to match. And yet, the shrill cry of the Labour Party remains – that we want to ‘privatise’ and ‘slash’ the NHS. The facts are wholly different. The only cuts ever made to the NHS budget were by Labour during troubled economic times that they seem, uniquely to create, in the 1950s and 1960s; the fastest private sector expansion within the NHS came under Tony Blair. Given that the Conservatives have been in power for 44 of the 71 years since the foundation of the NHS, we’ve had the levers of power to do all these awful things to dismantle the NHS, but haven’t, and won’t. This is not to say that the NHS is perfect. It is far from it, with a bureaucratic management system absorbing too much time, effort and money that would be better spent on the front line; a system ill-equipped to cope with population change and the pressures of an ageing demographic. It has not kept up with technological change that we see universally in everything else we do. We are, as taxpayers, the direct funders of the NHS but often don’t always feel as well served as we do as consumers of any other service that we choose to pay for more directly when it should be the same. Money helps, but we should not just throw funds at a system with a hope that some might stick - that has been tried before and failed. We need a new renaissance of ideas to explain to ourselves what the NHS is for, what it is not for, and to plan accordingly.
As a committed Brexiteer, the No 10’s commitment to leave the EU no ifs, no buts by 31st October, deal or no deal is particularly welcomed. The EU Commission may finally have cause to blink and re-open the failed Withdrawal Agreement and to re-write it to one that will allow a deal to pass our Parliament and be properly perceived as a real Brexit to the 17.4 million who voted to leave. The atmosphere in Westminster has become buoyant once more with a ‘can do’ attitude lifting the clouds after three years of constitutional drift.
Summer fetes, carnivals and fayres are in full swing across the constituency. A warm welcome to all visitors and tourists is always given, but a small plea – please treat our towns with respect and not leave piles of rubbish across our beaches and thoroughfares. Your footprints and memories are treasured – your carelessly abandoned waste is not.