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Election campaigns :: General election
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The Tories have finally woken up to the fact that there's an emergency in the NHS.
But they're not concerned about the 78,981 people who have had their operations cancelled in the last year, an increase of 4,811. Nor are they bothered that waiting lists are at record levels, with over 660,000 having to wait more than 18 weeks.
All they are worried about is that an "unprecedented" winter crisis (in the words of the BMA) will happen in the middle of the election campaign and expose their hypocrisy on the NHS.
The real emergency is that the under the Tories the NHS has suffered its longest ever period of austerity. Now Johnson is trying to pose as a friend of the NHS.
But people are not stupid. They can see through his lies. Especially when he has refused to rule out handing more of the health service to the private profiteers.
Opinion polls show that the NHS is the most important issue facing the country, not Brexit. Corbyn has pledged to increase spending on the NHS and end privatisation.
Alongside promises to end austerity in public services, immediately increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour, scrap tuition fees and the other policies in favour of working-class people this can be a winning programme for the general election.
The cost, availability and quality of childcare will be important issues in this election.
Almost one in five parents quit their jobs because childcare is too expensive. 20% are unable to work for the same reason.
60% work fewer hours than they would like because they can't afford to pay for someone to look after their kids. And, of course, most of those will be women.
Parents earning up to £100,000 a month are currently entitled to 30 hours of free childcare for 3-4 year olds. But most of that provision is in the private sector, and 500 childcare providers are closing their doors every week.
Only 50% of local authorities have enough childcare available for full-time parents. Half of families are forced to pay extra.
Labour has pledged to invest £4.8 billion in childcare and radically expand universal, free, high quality provision. 30 hours free childcare would be extended to all two year olds, with additional free hours for those on the lowest income.
It has also promised £500 million for Sure Start children's centres, over 1,200 of which have closed down.
This would make a huge difference to thousands of struggling working-class families. But clearly, relying on the private sector to meet childcare needs is not working.
Provision should be fully funded through the public sector, guaranteeing quality care for children and decent wages and conditions for childcare workers.
Tory election candidate Francesca O'Brien has declared that people on benefits should be "put down". The comments of an extremist? Far from it! More than 17,000 sick and disabled people have died while waiting for the welfare benefits they desperately needed.
This is the fatal consequence of the Tories hostile and punitive benefits system which Jeremy Corbyn has promised to end. He has said that Labour will suspend the sanctions regime, lift the benefit cap and two child limit and scrap Universal Credit.
These are welcome reforms. But as we have previously explained (see 'What if you're not able to work?' at socialistparty.org.uk), anyone who is unable to work needs benefits set at levels that genuinely lift people out of poverty.
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Article dated 6 November 2019
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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