Standing for the NHS

Jane Kelly from Socialist Resistance interviewed Rebecca Fox, the National Health Action Party’s candidate in Camberwell and Peckham in South London.

How did the NHA party decide where to stand candidates?

In my case I wanted to stand in the constituency where I live. We are also standing against MPs who are particularly responsible for the accelerated privatisation of the NHS, for example Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron.

You are standing against Harriet Harman in Camberwell & Peckham, what made you decide to stand against a Labour MP?
Labour are simply not good enough on the NHS – they are not against privatisation, preferring just to limit private company profits to 5%, and of course they introduced the PFI loans that are crippling our hospitals. So I felt it was important to stand against them to show that it’s not just Coalition parties that are on the hook for privatising and destabilising our NHS.
Also, I live in Camberwell and Peckham, know the area, and felt I could rely on some local friends to help out, and they’ve been great.

What do you hope to achieve during the campaign?

I want the opportunity to tell people what politicians have done to our NHS, to explain a complex issue that affects all of us.
Through political challenge I want to give people the ability to send a strong protest message to the next government. The only way to send that clear message is by voting National Health Action Party.

Can you describe the response you have had campaigning on the streets?

Very positive response. The NHS is close to most people’s hearts. A few negative aspects: hearing people blame foreigners for NHS problems, when health tourism accounts for less than 0.1% of NHS budget (govt figures), and hearing the line that private companies are more efficient than the public sector. I have also met people who believe we’ll split the Labour vote and let in a Conservative – but when I explain it’s an incredibly safe seat, they like the idea of a vote on behalf of the NHS.

Like much of Inner London, the area of the constituency has been changing over the past few years, a kind of ‘gentrification’. Has this had any effect on the responses you’ve had?

I haven’t campaigned or canvassed here before so it’s hard to assess the change. What did interest me was how many people are intending to vote UKIP. I suspect these people, before the Coalition, would have voted Conservative, but are rightly fed up with a government that disdains the majority of working people. I also heard from many people – from all walks of life – who are unhappy with the social cleansing of estates like the Heygate and Aylesbury and the dire housing situation in our area. That’s not the kind of ‘gentrification’ that anyone in this area wants, and I commend TUSC/ Left Unity’s Nick Wrack for drawing our attention to the Council-erected fence around the Aylesbury Estate and its remaining residents.

How do you think the NHA party should continue campaigning after the election?

I believe that continuing to challenge to the main parties politicially is the best way to support the NHS. Signing petitions is simply not enough any more. The main parties, especially Labour, need to see their majorities slipping to a party that defends the NHS. We will continue to stand at all elections: local, Euro and national. Of course, by the next election our party may be obsolete as the NHS Reinstatement Bill may have been passed. That is my fervent hope. But I suspect the fight will continue.

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