By Jennie Formby, Unite political director
In the last dying days of this coalition government the Tories lived up to their reputation. First we had senior Tories boasting that they had set a trap for Ed Miliband on VAT. Second we learnt from the respected independent think tank, The Kings Fund, that our National Health Service has deteriorated to a low point not seen since the early 1990’s.
Let’s start with the political games. Every Tory government have said that they would not put up VAT and then once in government that is exactly what they have done.
So when Ed Miliband asked during Prime Minister’s Questions if the Prime Minister would rule out putting up VAT – David Cameron said a straight question deserved a straight answer and the answer is yes. To much glee on the Tory benches it looked like Ed had been wrong footed.
Only the day before, George Osborne the Chancellor had appeared before the Treasury Select Committee.
Select Committees are not the place to play political games. They are an important Parliamentary check and balance on the government of the day.
Following last week’s budget, Osborne was asked five times by the Labour MP, John Mann, if he ruled out putting up VAT. Five times he refused to give a straight answer.
On Newsnight last night a government minister let the cat out of the bag, admitting that he knew earlier in the week that Cameron was going to rule out putting up VAT. The Tories really had been playing political games. Osborne had made fools of the Select Committee just to ‘trap’ Ed Miliband at the last Prime Ministers Questions.
Remember that first emergency budget in June 2010 when this government strangled the last Labour Government’s recovery following the economic crash? The Tory-led coalition embarked on a disastrous austerity programme, choking off growth and reducing tax receipts by pursuing an economic policy based on low skills and low wages.
It was that budget that put VAT up to 20 per cent, funding tax cuts for the wealthiest while hitting working people the hardest.
These political games show yet again why the Tories can’t be trusted on VAT. If people vote for the Tories VAT will go up. It always has done and it always will do.
While setting juvenile traps on such a massively important tax measure is what we can expect from Tories, so too we know that the NHS is not safe in Tory hands.
The respected independent think tank The Kings Fund reported today that our health service has deteriorated in a way not seen the early 1990’s. It took a Labour government to invest in the NHS.
The Kings Fund said waiting times for A & E, cancer care and routine operations had all starting getting worse, while deficits were growing.
Professor John Appleby, chief economist at The King's Fund, warned: "The next government will inherit a health service that has run out of money and is operating at the very edge of its limits.
"There is now a real risk that patient care will deteriorate as services and financial pressures become overwhelming.”
Only a Labour government will stop the sale of our National Health Service to private companies seeking to make profit out of people’s suffering. The message is simple only Labour can be trusted with the NHS.