My regular newspaper column: Your MP Writes

We all know the story of the NHS don't we? Slightly over seven decades ago it was launched by the Health Minister of one political party (the good guys - hooray) in the face of furious opposition from members of another political party (the bad guys - boo).

So well done Henry Willink, Conservative MP and Health Minister in the 1940s coalition government, for issuing the NHS White Paper and boos all round for senior Labour politicians like Lord Latham and Herbert Morrison who vigorously opposed the model which was put forward.

Of course it would be completely wrong and unfair to suggest that just because it was the Conservatives who prepared the ground for a health service, and just because there were arguments by some Labour politicians about how to do it, that the Conservatives can claim all the credit for setting up the NHS. It would be downright irresponsible to go further and suggest that nothing Labour says on the NHS is to be trusted and that they have some secret plan to abolish it just because 70 years ago a few of their senior members disapproved of the way it was established.

The real truth is that Liberals, Conservatives and Labour politicians agreed during the war on the need for a national system of healthcare. It is also true that there was disagreement in both the Conservative and Labour parties to the model put forward by Nye Bevan - but not on the principle of having an NHS.

All parties have supported the NHS ever since its birth. Sadly the names of Henry Willink MP, and of the Liberal MP William Beverage who played a big role in laying the foundations of the NHS, are not as recognised and celebrated as that of Nye Bevan. They should be. The NHS is not the property of one political party. It belongs to us all.

Sometimes in a democracy you have to accept that people think differently from you. At the last general election in 2017, around 85 per cent of the population voted for parties which stood on a manifesto committing themselves to Brexit. Assuming the MPs elected on these commitments intend to stick to their word then some form of Brexit is inevitable. Whether it will be a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’, left-wing or right-wing Brexit remains to be seen. But Brexit must happen, not least because it has been supported twice in the ballot box. 

*Published in the South Wales Argus on 9 July 2018*