A video from 2007 is circulating online showing David Cameron speaking to a crowd of protesting junior doctors, promising them that the Conservatives will trust NHS staff to run the health service and would not impose top-down political priorities.
At the time, protesters were opposing then Labour health secretary Patricia Hewitt’s imposition of the unpopular and widely-criticised Medical Training Application Service (MTAS) that reformed and centralised the application process for specialist positions in the health service.
The video shows Cameron taking the stage in support of the protest, and mid-way through his speech stating that he’s “not [t]here to make a political speech” before immediately going on to attack Hewitt, calling her “the worst health secretary in the history of the NHS”. This vague, generic dig at Hewitt, who, after clashing with junior doctors over MTAS, soon shelved the system, criticised it herself and apologised publicly – twice – was thinly veiled with the preface ‘some people say’. This tactic is often used by journalists when they want to hide ideological attacks under a supposed reference to external sources.
In contrast, this recent poll indicates that Jeremy Hunt is currently the most disliked frontline politician of any party, due to his mishandling of the role given to him by the Prime Minister.
Three of Cameron’s claims during the speech stand out as being thrown into stark relief against his and Jeremy Hunt’s latest attack on the health service, this time also on junior doctors:
No more top-down targets that put political priorities ahead of clinical priorities.
Politicians have got to […] start trusting our professionals that we’ve trained in our health service to run our health service.
Trusting the professionals, trusting people – those are the values that inspire me, that inspire [then shadow health secretary] Andrew Lansley – they’re the ones we’ll fight for in opposition, and they’re the ones we’ll fight for all the way…
Cameron’s hypocrisy and empty political promises to working people could not be clearer than in this speech. The Tories seem determined to destroy the safety net for the most vulnerable in Britain. Their attack on junior doctors has shown their commitment to continuing their willful ignorance of those suffering by increasing inequality, job dissatisfaction, and insecurity – putting both doctors and patients at risk.
It couldn’t be more embarrassing for the Prime Minister if he’d claimed this on a massive billboard.
Sign the petition for Jeremy Hunt to explain his actions to parliament.
Get involved with the Keep Our NHS Public campaign.
Support The Canary so we can keep you informed on what your government is doing.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?