This week saw MPs debating the new legislative programme announced in last week’s Queen’s Speech.
On the third day of debates, I spoke on defending our public services, where I highlighted the fate of two of our most precious institutions which this Government is hell-bent on dismantling: the NHS and the BBC.
Both institutions are important services that we all access, almost on a daily basis, and are central to our national way of our life. That is why it is paramount we must do everything possible to protect them.
Since 2010, the Tories have continually mismanaged the NHS which has led to 3.7 million people currently on waiting lists, along with a chronic understaffing of our hospitals and other services patients access.
This Queen’s Speech should have been about reaffirming the founding principles of the NHS from 1948 to: “provide you with all medical, dental and nursing care. Everyone – rich or poor, man, woman or child – can use any part of it”
We didn’t get this from this Queen’s Speech.
This is to be expected when the Conservatives are pulling the levers of power for one of our country’s most vital services.
For the BBC, this Government, especially the Culture Secretary, have used tactics which can be best described as bullying and intimidation, to make the BBC accept a new Charter which is in nobody’s interest. These actions are deeply concerning from the man who is in charge of nurturing and championing our country’s culture.
The BBC acts as a cornerstone of our cultural life and as a beacon of British talent across the world, by giving a much needed break to up-and-coming artists on radio or showcasing the great and good of our nation, through programmes such as the Great British Bake Off or Strictly Come Dancing, and all for 40p a day.
Sadly, the Culture Secretary wants to diminish this with his White Paper and Charter renewal, going as far as to think the disappearance of the BBC would be a ‘tempting prospect’. It is our BBC. We must ensure the BBC benefits us all and not the BBC’s commercial rivals who have the ear of the Culture Secretary.
Both the NHS and BBC are synonymous with British identity and we should be immensely proud of them. That is why we must ensure they are invested in and championed so they can continue to be accessible to all and thrive in the 21st century.