Mike Forster, West Yorkshire Socialist Alternative
Despite the coordinated efforts of the capitalist media and religious leaders to divert attention back onto their preferred topic of Corbyn’s alleged anti-Semitism, his release of unredacted documents exposing British government talks with the US over the NHS has put Johnson back on the defensive.
These documents reveal what we had already expected, that the government is at an advanced stage of negotiations with giant US drug companies around open market access to our NHS. Currently there are price ceilings on the costs of drugs beyond which the NHS will not go. This allows the NHS to have some say over when and for what price it buys drugs. Big US Pharma feel this is an unfair advantage and have demanded that, as part of any US Trade Deal with the UK, these controls be lifted.
They are demanding ‘full market access’ for US drugs and for future prices to be driven by the ‘market’. As the recent Dispatches programme revealed, this will lead to a tripling of drug prices for patients which will begin the process of opening up the entire NHS to the US private sector.
Johnson knows that the price of any trade deal will be in the interests of US multi nationals and at the expense of our public services, as well as wages, jobs and security. Trump has fumed that the public sector gives the UK an unfair advantage and is demanding all so-called ‘protection’ is removed as a precondition for any future trade talks. Johnson can deny this reality as much as he wants but the US will be in the driving seat since they hold all the cards.
These recent documents must be the springboard for Corbyn to continue and intensify his attack on the privatising agenda of Johnson’s Tories. Every day we continue to hear of NHS horror stories. We are entering into what will be the worst winter crisis yet for the NHS. As one doctor tweeted yesterday, “I have been a doctor for nine years. Almost every doctor I know has an exit plan. So many have already gone without hope that things are going to change. I don’t know how many more NHS winters I’ve got left in me”.
On the NHS, it is now urgent that Labour adds to its demands the nationalisation of the big drug companies; an urgent injection of funds to resolve the critical staffing levels; the renationalisation of the NHS expelling the private sector from ALL health provision; the immediate cancellation of all PFI projects; the restoration of free social and residential care; and a living wage for all NHS staff.
The polls are narrowing and with a bold socialist appeal, Corbyn can and must seize the initiative maintaining all fire power on restoring cuts, ending privatisation and austerity. The NHS crisis is the tip of the iceberg but is an institution which the working class will fight for. Let’s turn this anger into a mass movement which can be mobilised for a Corbyn victory around fighting socialist policies.