Everyone is angry at the state of the National Health Service. And rightly so. What we have is not simply a muddle, but a deliberate demolition job. This Westminster government, continuing from its Tory predecessors, would like nothing more than to see the NHS dismantled, broken into profit-making private parts. The American model, where the rich get every luxury treatment, the middle classes pay more than they can afford for insurance which may well not cover their needs, and the devil (or the mortuary) take the poorest, is what they are working towards for us. And the parties which made up the Northern Ireland Executive, not just in the past dysfunctional months, but over years of squabbling and inaction, while they may not share Westminster’s ideology, have done nothing to challenge it.
While we can be kept busy and distracted, shouting about the state of our own local hospital, our own GP surgeries,our own diminishing services, those in power are happy enough. With luck they can persuade us to blame our neighbours, or to believe that a particular politician’s voice, if it’s loud enough, will change the system in our corner of the country. What they don’t want is for us to pause for a moment and to look at the causes of this mess.
This election is one that no one wanted and that has come at the worst possible time for us, exactly when we most need a voice in the destructive fiasco that is Theresa May’s ‘clean break from Europe’. It is a testament to the failure of individuals and parties to put the common good and the interests of ordinary people before their own arrogance and intransigence. Our only hope is that some people will use this election to take that pause, and to think about what they actually want for the future. What real vision does each political party offer? What do they really stand for – and who?
As long as ‘economic growth’, by which they now mean helping the rich to get richer, is the primary aim of governments, all else will inevitably suffer. Health, education, transport, the natural and built environment, the arts – all are expendable. The basic pattern, that less and less is shared with the public, and more and more is given to the private, is common to every sector and every department. Begin at the top, and nothing will trickle down far enough to ease our human pain.
But what if we turned the model upside-down? What if we began with the needs of ordinary people – our need for good health, to learn, to breathe clean air, to live in decent homes and to offer a future to our children? We have the resources, the skills and the knowledge to do all this and more, but only if we want to. The Green Party is about doing just that, and we have the principles, the transparency, the commitment and the shared experience to make it work. Join with us now, to begin at the right end.