An organisation called the People’s NHS has been lobbying me and other Conservative MPs to stop an EU treaty called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. It believes TTIP will lead to the privatisation of the NHS. Some think the People’s NHS is a front organisation for the Labour Party, peddling the myth that “the Tories want to sell our NHS services”. They certainly seem unaware that MPs have little say over the workings of the EU, which is why David Cameron has promised to claw back powers from Brussels and deliver an in-out referendum on Britain's future membership.
The EU denies wanting to privatise European healthcare. Given that it is a body stuffed full of socialists I tend, for once, to believe them. If the People’s NHS truly believes the EU wants to privatise the NHS, then it should fully support the Conservative EU referendum and commit to calling for Britain’s withdrawal if we are not given back powers.
I recently met the wife of Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman, who has been been jailed for life after shooting an injured Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan. Sgt Blackman and his colleagues spent weeks being shot at, watching comrades killed and their body parts cut up and displayed as sick “trophies” by the Taliban. Clearly he should not have done what he did but to sentence him to life for a momentary loss of control while under severe stress seems to be completely unjust. Sgt Blackman’s wife spoke of his decency as a husband and father. I very much hope he is reunited with his family as soon as possible.
While I enjoyed the speeches, the highlight for me at last week’s Conservative Party Conference was the HGV simulator on the Road Haulage Association stand. Delegates were challenged to complete a circuit in a virtual lorry of a town complete with pedestrians, cyclists and bad drivers. The purpose was to highlight the chronic shortage of lorry drivers.
As the holder of a valid HGV licence and with many years’ experience of transporting goods for Lucas Girlings before politics called, I was happy to visit and support the campaign. Perhaps it is time to send a few less people off to university on a three-year degree course, which may or may not lead to a job, and a few more onto a three-week HGV course, which would almost certainly lead to work.
*Published in the South Wales Argus on 12 October 2015*