Before the last General Election, David Cameron invested a great deal of effort to explain his love of the NHS and pledged not to cut its budget. After a year in power the Conservatives are being criticised for curbing NHS spending. However, it is the Coalition that should take the blame, not the Tories, writes Nicola Bradshaw.
The Conservative Manifesto of April 2010 was filled with hopes of a prosperous NHS and spoke with an authoritative tone toward the increase in spending provisions towards the organisation. However, today Labour accused the Coalition government of trying to conceal the telling figures (lost within a Treasury document) which illuminate that NHS spending was curbed by over £1.5 billion to just £101 bn. Whilst achieving their initial aim of combating the deficit, it must be noted that the Conservatives have turned almost 180 degrees on their Election pledge of increasing health expenditure each year they are in power.
Despite much criticism being pinned upon Cameron and his Conservative Party, one must not forget the prominent role of the Liberal Democrats within the Government and therefore they must also hold responsibility for the Tory-led government cutting spending on the NHS in its very first year. The Liberal Democrat election campaign was focused upon the ‘broken promises’ of not only the Labour government, but those of the Conservative party in the years previous. Shadow health secretary, John Healey, accused Cameron of breaking his ‘NHS pledge’, and that apparently the reorganisation proves that you ‘can’t trust the Tories with the NHS’; however he, also, is forgetting that it is a Coalition government not solely Conservative.
Granted, the Tories’ NHS section to their 2010 manifesto read ‘We will back the NHS. We will increase health spending every year’. However, George Osborne suggested that it is a ‘massive own goal from Labour’ as his spending plans for the financial year 2010-2011 were simply continuing the 2007 Labour spending review, as he came into office one month into the financial year. The chancellor reminded the nation that NHS spending fell under the Labour government and that ‘under this government’s spending plans it is projected to rise – people can draw their own conclusions about who they trust on the NHS’.
Regardless of the NHS spending, this is another example of the Coalition government acting and the Conservative Party getting the brunt of the criticism. Nick Clegg also went against his election pledges to put an end to ‘broken promises’, yet the deputy Prime Minister seems to be acquiring a fairly hefty list of his own broken promises.