With the NHS such a key Election issue its campaign groups have been a focus of Labour Party ‘messaging’. It needs to have them ‘on message’ in support of the Party’s NHS policies, and visibly so. Which is why it wants to be visually associated with People’s Marches and other campaign actions. These offer ‘photo-ops’ (photo opportunities) to display support for their policies in the media.

Good, staunch Labour activists like the People’s Vote leadership provide a messenger service for the Party. Their group’s pledges to ‘Repeal the Health & Social Care Act. Halt and roll back the privatisation of the NHS. No to TTIP’ mirror the Party’s current election messages.

‘No to TTIP’ chimes with an increasingly effective international Stop-TTIP campaign, led in the UK by 38 Degrees, against the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty being negotiated between the EU and the US. But in the small print of the People’s Vote website their actual full pledge confines itself to Labour’s keep-the-NHS-out-of-TTIP pledge. So it’s ‘on message’.

The problem is that Labour’s commitment to part-privatisation doesn’t just compromise its ability to obtain exemption from EU competition rules. It now seems that this commitment has, under GATT and World Trade Organisation agreements, also put the NHS into TTIP’s orbit from which it can’t be exempted.

However the NHS (Reinstatement) Bill appears to contain far-reaching policies for properly de-marketising the NHS. And which make meaningful provision for the protection it needs from both existing EU and other international trade rules and agreements and future ones like TTIP.

The question remains – what’s restraining the Labour Party and the People’s Vote For The NHS from backing the NHS (Reinstatement) Bill and its range of policies which could secure the NHS in a way that Labour’s present policies do not?

A couple of days ago a Guardian writer used the professional magicians’ sleight of hand technique of ‘misdirection‘ to describe the diverting of attention away from the real intentions of a party’s policies by its spinmeisters.

Labour’s ‘misdirection’ in its keep-the-NHS-out-of-TTIP policy is to divert attention from a vital question. Confining TTIP exemption to the NHS implies an acceptance that TTIP will be ratified. And, once ratified, an acceptance that all other publicly-owned assets and services like education and housing be exposed to TTIP and their depredation by privateers that the treaty will open up.

Are supporters of keep-the-NHS-out-of-TTIP campaign groups like the People’s Vote and those who take part in their actions – such as the recent People’s March and the forthcoming ‘die-in’ – content with being associated with organisations whose pledges and policies effectively leave education, housing and other public services exposed to the privateers?

Again – why don’t these campaign groups just oppose TTIP in its entirety before it’s ratified? In so doing they’ll be acting to save all our publicly-owned services and assets, as well as the NHS.

They’ll also be acting to forestall all the damage that the treaty’s deregulation drive will do to labour rights, food safety, environmental and toxic chemical regulations; to government’s ability to enact laws that protect its citizens; and to the renationalisation of once publicly-owned assets and services, which will be impossible under TTIP.

999 Call for the NHS are now focussing on the post-Election battle, with whoever comes to power, that will involve the NHS (Reinstatement) Bill as its spearhead, but also the Stop-TTIP campaign.

Joanna and the Crazy Gang are at the centre of a small but growing band of NHS campaigners, both former and still loyal Labour supporters, who are now grappling with securing the legislation really needed to save the NHS and our other public services.

In so doing they are taking on the might of the ‘Old’ political party machinery.

This is Groundswell’s next chapter.

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