Jeremy Hunt just betrayed the REAL reason he’s going after junior doctors

Support us and go ad-free

On Monday 25 April, Jeremy Hunt spoke in parliament about the junior doctors’ strike. His speech was loaded with facts and figures designed to flummox supporters of the medical workers’ action. But a key admission in Hunt’s discourse exposed the real source of his ire: it’s not the doctors at all, it’s those charged to protect their rights.

Hunt was addressing parliament following his rejection of a cross-party plan to avert the strike action. The proposal, which Hunt branded “opportunism“, called for the new junior doctors contract to be tested in a pilot scheme before being rolled out across the country. It also urged that an independent audit of the impact of the contract be carried out before implementation.

Hunt defended his dismissal of the cross-party solution, and his government’s combative role in the junior doctors’ dispute, saying:

No trade union has the right to veto a manifesto promise voted for by the British people.

This is typically skewed wording by Hunt. So, let’s break it down. The “British people” Hunt refers to is the less than 30% who voted for the Conservative party in the 2015 general election. And those people may have supported the Tories’ “manifesto promise” on the NHS, but at that point they had no idea it would conclude with enforcing unworkable contracts on all junior doctors.

And, most importantly, Hunt doesn’t even mention doctors in this provocative statement. He mentions the real source of Tory nightmares, the unions. That is what this contract imposition battle is all about, as Hunt reiterated later in the parliamentary discussion.

During the session Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander questioned Hunt’s power to carry out his imposition threat, and his judgement in his handling of the dispute thus far. Hunt responded, saying:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

I’ll tell her a judgement issue, it’s whether or not you back a union that’s withdrawing life-saving care from your own constituents.

Of course, Hunt failed to acknowledge he had just rejected the cross-party solution that would have ensured that life-saving care was not withdrawn. Instead, he attempted to blame the unions for placing communities in life-threatening situations. And as veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner noted, he smirked as he did so.

In reality, the unions, on behalf of doctors, are fighting the government on these contracts to protect patients and the NHS in the long-term. This is not what Hunt is really in the business of protecting.

As the Morning Star reported, the government has also allegedly accused the doctors’ union, the British Medical Association (BMA), of using this dispute to destroy the Tory government. The BMA have said the claims are “ridiculous”, and Unite’s national officer for health Barrie Brown has noted:

These are the same sordid tactics that Margaret Thatcher employed against the miners in the 1980s and should be strongly deplored.

Seemingly, the government are now honing in on what they see as the crux of this conflict: the unions. And this should come as no surprise. The Labour party was born from the union movement, so unions are traditionally allied with the Tories’ political opposition.

But the unions pose a much bigger threat on another level: they have the might to fight for workers rights. In the Tories’ brazen new world of zero hours contracts, workfare, and mass privatisation a strong union presence is an anathema. However, for the junior doctors, teachers, paramedics, steel workers, and our public services as a whole, they are a godsend and a necessity.

There is a tremendous imbalance of power between those that give the orders and those that take them. Unions help level that playing field. That’s why the Conservatives hate them so much, and why they deserve our backing.

Get involved!

Follow developments on Twitter at #JuniorDoctorsStrike

Support the BMA.

Write to Jeremy Hunt to let him know your views on the junior doctors contract.

Image via YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed