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LETTERS – I’m proud to be attacked by Daily Mail for defending NHS

This article is over 4 years, 11 months old
Issue 2661
Protesting against racist health checks in London
Protesting against racist health checks in London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The Daily Mail was outraged to see a motion passed at the recent British Medical Association conference that defended healthcare for all.

That reinforces my belief that we did the right thing.

I was proud to propose a motion calling for “the policy of charging migrants for NHS care to be abandoned and for the NHS to be free for all at the point of delivery”.

The Mail responded with an attack on the front page, an inside page and an editorial.

There are attempts to blame migrants for problems in the NHS.

But the cost of treating migrants and overseas visitors is a drop in the ocean compared to the overall health budget.

Aspiring prime minister Boris Johnson says that we can afford £10 billion in tax cuts for the rich. Instead that money should go towards protecting an NHS for all.

Hunting for people who can be charged has led to racial profiling and an intensification of the Tories’ hostile environment.

People who are perceived to be possible migrants or visitors are subjected to increasingly intrusive checks.

This creates an atmosphere where some people are terrified to access care, risking themselves and the wider community.

Aneurin Bevan, one of the pioneers of the NHS, wrote in 1952 that “it would be unwise as well as mean to withhold the free service from the visitor to Britain. How do we distinguish a visitor from anybody else?

“Are British citizens to carry means of identification everywhere to prove that they are not visitors? For if the sheep are to be separated from the goats, both must be classified.

“The whole agitation has a nasty taste. Instead of rejoicing at the opportunity to practice a civilised principle, Conservatives have tried to exploit the most disreputable emotions to discredit socialised medicine.”

Migrants built and staff the NHS. Stop all these racist measures.

Jackie Applebee, East London

Labour is wrong on Chris Williamson MP

I was delighted to see that Chris Williamson had been reinstated as a Labour MP.

And then dismayed he was suspended again.

The reasons given for his reinstatement were unsatisfactory. The national executive committee antisemitism panel seems to have been swayed by the potential for a snap general election.

But Williamson should never have been suspended in the first place. He was right to say that Labour has “backed off far too much” over allegations of antisemitism.

By retreating on the IHRA definition of antisemitism—that can be used to criminalise Palestinian voices—it has conceded to the Israeli state.

We have to fight antisemitism, but not give in to allegations that Labour is institutionally antisemitic.

Alice Willis, West London

May has a record of increasing suffering

The claim made by outgoing prime minister Theresa May to have given a huge cash boost to mental health services is an insult to service users and everyone who works and volunteers in the sector.

As a volunteer for a local mental health charity, I have seen at first hand the impact of a decade of austerity policies on vulnerable members of the community.

Access to services has been cut to the bone. People who are seriously unwell—sometimes even suicidal—have to wait months to see a professional, never mind receive treatment.

There is a chronic shortage of mental health nurses, with little likelihood of enough qualifying any time soon as bursaries have been scrapped.

The charity sector, which has been forced to try and bridge the gaps in services has seen its funding squeezed.

By far the biggest cause of harm though is the introduction of Universal Credit. People who cannot work because of a serious illness have been trapped in an endless loop of claims, sanctions and appeals.

Thousands more people have been forced into levels of poverty that will have a devastating impact on their physical health and mental wellbeing.

May is seeking a legacy for herself after three years of failure. In the process she is providing a textbook example of her own, and her party’s cynicism.

Adam Colclough, Stoke-on-Trent

SNP benefit move deserves two cheers

The Scottish government has announced a plan to boost the incomes of the country’s poorest families by offering them £10 a week for every child in addition to child benefit payments.

It’s such a big difference from the way that the Tories behave in their disgusting assault on people who are struggling to get by on benefits.

And it gives a foretaste of what an independent Scotland could do.

But there are limits. It will take years to come into operation—rolled out for children under six years old from early 2021 and not expanded to all under-16s until the end of 2022.

And it will only go to families who qualify for means tested benefits such as Universal Credit and tax credits.

Parents will need to apply for the payment—and the Scottish government expects that almost one in five won’t.

Means testing is always dangerous. Nevertheless this is the first time for years that many of these families will have cheered news about benefits rather than felt more gloom.

Yvonne Hill, Glasgow

Bombs, oil and pollution

One more reason to hate US imperialism.

The US military is one of the largest polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more climate-changing gases than most medium-sized countries.

If the US military were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, sitting between Peru and Portugal.

Hilary Sellers, North London

West no help in Hong Kong

It was Hong Kong people themselves who won the suspension of the extradition bill.

None of the governments that met at the G20 summit in Japan played any part in this victory. It is a mistake to look to them to deliver solidarity and further victory.

There is much to do in Hong Kong to build on this victory.

The division between two union federations, one with 400,000 members and another with 200,000 members, needs to be resolved.

Lawrence Wong, South London

Don’t betray over Remain

Jeremy Corbyn is being abandoned by some of his closest allies over Brexit.

Both John McDonnell and Diane Abbott are undermining him by voicing support for Remain. I fear this will mean electoral defeat at the next general election.

Everyone should get behind Corbyn.

Michael Barnes, On Facebook

It’s ‘72 dead, nothing said’

Just after the Grenfell Tower fire, some of the media tried to blame a resident whose fridge had caught fire.

It reminded me of the New Cross fire in 1981.

In that example a whole number of lies were spread to distract from the cause. A huge march had the slogan “13 Dead, Nothing Said”.

The papers’ strategy is the same today.

Will Counsell, Peterborough

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