2017 will mark some notable historic anniversaries. We can all celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Second Reform Act which doubled the number of people who could vote and brought working class voters into the polling booths for the first time. I am pleased to say it was introduced into the House of Commons by a Conservative – Benjamin Disraeli - who went on to become, arguably, Britain’s first Jewish Prime Minister. Sadly, women were not given the vote in that Act and had to wait another 60 years for full equality. The Second Reform Act was, however, a huge step forward in creating a modern democratic system.
We should commemorate the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution which snuffed out a nascent democratic movement in Russia and marked the beginning of various Communist governments throughout the world. Everyone is rightly aware of the cold-blooded murder of six million Jews, and many others, by the Nazis. But there is less awareness of the millions who were murdered in the name of advancing Communist revolutions, particularly in Russia and China. By some estimates, Mao Zedong alone (founder of the People’s Republic of China), was responsible for the death of 65 million people – around the entire population of the UK. The deaths continue: Marxist North Korea has one of the worst human rights record in the world and anyone speaking out can expect to be executed or put into a concentration camp.
With the NHS in the news last week, I am reminded of another anniversary. It is 30 years since the launch of the 1987 Labour manifesto when we first heard the fallacy that a Conservative Government was about to “privatise the NHS”. This ludicrous piece of scaremongering has continued to appear in every manifesto and is routinely taken up by pressure groups. Well, since 1987 we have had 12 years of Conservative and five years of Conservative-led coalition government. Not once has there ever been the slightest attempt to privatise the NHS. In fact, in nearly 18 years as an AM and MP, I have never once heard the idea even mooted - not even in the most hypothetical way. For the record, I think it would be completely bonkers. Three decades of scaremongering is enough. The NHS in Wales and England is not perfect but Conservative MPs are completely committed to it.
May I wish Argus readers a very happy New Year.
*Published in the South Wales Argus on 16 January 2017*