On 10th May 2014 Nicola from Leeds KONP and Mick from York DoNHS were invited to a meeting of Labour Party Supporters in Beeston, Leeds with Hilary Benn and Ed Milliband, courtesy of the PPC for Leeds NW Alex Sobel, for which we thank Alex. It was basically a Q&A session for 75 minutes where Ed, assisted occasionally by Hilary, answered questions from a very mixed audience of around a hundred people whilst being filmed.
Some of the points dealt with were:
After being asked by a former nurse about the nursing profession he stated that the Labour Party is announcing its policies for the NHS in the week commencing 12 May 2014. The would include ‘reversing’ the Health & Social Care Bill (sic). Ed stated that he was against privatisation and the split between general health, mental health and social care wasn’t sustainable. He was also against charges for visiting one’s GP. He agreed with the NICE recommendations regarding increasing nurse numbers.
Care workers needed to have better training and greater status – this would also come with English language speaking ability.
Mick stated that he’d provided a sneak preview of their NHS plans but what about TTIP, and did he echo Andy Burnham’s demand for health, particularly the NHS, to be excluded. He seemed to lack a thorough understanding of the complete agenda that we know the TTIP is about but perhaps he can get briefed on that now? He did say Labour would exclude the NHS from TTIP and he supported Andy Burnham’s position on TTIP.
There were questions about Universal Credit, benefits, ATOS (he said they’d be out and proper medical assessments will be re-introduced), status of social workers, looked-after children, social housing, local involvement in development, taxing bankers, taxing multinationals, teachers and other professionals, Free schools (he wants abolishing), bringing local decision making in about just about everything. He supported the Tobin Tax (on currency exchange profiteering).
He welcomed debate about immigration but this was not the same as racism etc – he was strongly against any scapegoating of any minority
A number of questions about mental health and the discrimination and lack of support and he hoped to resolve this when empowered. This was particularly evident when questioned by a retired social worker about mental patients being treated hundreds of miles from home, and also by a young person and he stated that earlier treatment of mental health issues could save money by not resulting in inpatient treatment.
When questioned about using increased borrowing at a time of low interest rates, he reminded the questioner that the Coalition had borrowed a great deal with little infrastructure to show for it. A question about the environment resulted in a response espousing the employment of green technology as in the ‘Greenhouse’ sited opposite, which was the greenest building in Leeds.
There were a number of questions regarding the lack of trust in politicians who didn’t keep their promises when in power – Ed made a remark about Nick Clegg – but said it was historically correct but he would do what he could to defeat that view.