was persuaded to go to a meeting of a group called Save Our Local Hospitals
yesterday, somewhat reluctantly because I think the mess that the South London Heathcare
Trust is in, administration, is a little beyond the boundaries of my self imposed remit.
The meeting was held in Sidcup Labour Party’s premises. The last time I ventured anywhere
like that was in 1959 and I was thrown out for disrupting the flow of propaganda.
I expected to hear a succession of people lambasting the hospital managers and telling us what they planned to do about it but it turned out to be an early planning meeting for any future protests. They were having considerable difficulty agreeing what their focus and strategy might be. Cancelling the Private Finance Initiative without compensation did not seem to be wholly realistic.
Bexley in 2012 is not Wyre Valley in 2001. Kidderminster A&E was saved because the voters elected Dr. Richard Taylor as their MP. Here the man who stood for Parliament in 2010 on a save Sidcup Hospital ticket, John Hemming Clark, was ignored in favour of a glamour boy parachuted in by Conservative Central Office after the incumbent Conservative MP had been disgraced (†). There seems to be a tradition of Conservatives disgracing themselves in Bexley. James Brokenshire paid lip service to saving the hospital and was elected on a 15,857 majority. Five times that of his predecessor.
As a junior minister James has proved virtually powerless to resist the financial pressures. From what I hear he is a decent constituency MP but if Bexley wanted to avoid being the only London borough without a hospital it should have voted for that result. My guess is that no one really cares and Bexley would vote for an elephant if it had a blue rosette pinned to it. Some might say it has done that more than once.
The group I saw last night is planning a demo in Woolwich, 1 p.m. General Gordon Square, on 15th September, but they will have to get a lot more organised than they were last night if that is to get anywhere.
† Derek Conway who ‘employed’ his family on Parliamentary non-jobs in 2007/8. Brought down by Mick Barnbrook of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group.