THE government is announcing that it intends to break up the national bargaining arrangements for nurses and, no doubt, other NHS staff.
This will have the divide-and-conquer effect that is vital for the government to remove the ‘N’ from the NHS.
As impressive as it might sound, Labour’s Andy Burnham, with a rattling sabre in each hand, is crying out that if the government wants a battle over this, then the opposition was ready, having dusted themselves down from the health-reform battle.
Yes, valiant attempts were made by the NHS staff taking to the streets, along with other public-service workers. But the kind of support they didn’t get was from our MPs, with cries of: yes, we agree but don’t, whatever you do, down tools.
We know that Thatcher’s employment legislation made striking in this country technically illegal. But it would seem that Labour is too quick to distance itself from warming its hands on the picket-line fires.
As with the health reforms, this will eventually be defeated in the House Of Lords. It is all a time-wasting procedure when you have an unelected government who will implement change anyway.
There are probably two ways it could go. The Lib Dems are now behind UKIP in the polls, so they could develop some fortitude and stop the reform in its tracks, probably gathering some support back at the same time. Or the nurses and all affected in the NHS should take the government on.
I am sure that, because of everything else that’s happening in the NHS (the mountain of cancelled operations to name but one), the public would be behind them all the way.
If these changes are allowed in, without constructive opposition, they, like the employment legislation, won’t be repealed in the future.