An overwhelming majority of voters (68 per cent) in 13 battleground constituencies across the country want to see the NHS safeguarded from a new trade deal which threatens to make privatisation permanent.
If the UK fails to achieve a guaranteed exemption for the NHS, a clear majority of voters want Cameron to use his veto to block the treaty to ensure the NHS is protected.
The deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), is being negotiated behind the closed doors of the European Commission, between EU bureaucrats and delegates from the United States. It is the largest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated and threatens to make privatisation irreversible by giving the profits of corporations precedence over national lawmakers. Secret courts would grant American multinationals, or any firm with American investors, the power to sue the government if it ever attempted to take privatised health services back into public ownership.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The Tories’ Health & Social Care Act of 2012 opened our NHS up to profit-making US private firms and a new trade deal threatens to make the sell-off permanent. It’s clear from this poll that the NHS is going to be a major issue at next year’s election.
“The results prove that people firmly oppose the inclusion of the NHS as part of the trade deal. A majority of people even think that Cameron should use Britain’s veto.
“We don’t believe the empty promises coming from the bureaucrats in Brussels but Cameron could act today and protect our health service. David Cameron’s silence is deafening. He is refusing to answer a very simple question. Are we going to exempt health from the EU US trade agreement? Unless he acts the NHS will be at the mercy of US companies and Wall Street investors who will be able to sue the government in secret courts if it tries to reverse privatisation.”
The poll, carried out by Survation, questioned over 2,600 voters across 13 marginal Conservative-held seats. Respondents were asked if the National Health Service should be excluded from the deal and if David Cameron should use Britain’s veto.
Across all constituencies 68 per cent said they opposed the inclusion of the NHS as part of the deal. Opposition was highest from those planning on voting for Labour or Ukip, 78 per cent and 77 per cent respectively, and just 23 per cent of Conservative voters supported inclusion.’
64 per cent said David Cameron should seek to exclude the NHS from the trade agreement altogether, while 54 per cent want the prime minister to veto the agreement if necessary in order to safeguard the NHS.
The poll showed a 9 point swing to Labour from the Conservatives across the range of key marginal seats - something that will be worrying news for Tory MPs such as George Eustice, who holds onto Camborne & Redruth by just 66 votes, Dan Byles who has a majority in North Warwickshire of 54, and Jackie Doyle-Price, who holds Thurrock by a mere 92 votes.
Damian Lyons Lowe, chief executive of Survation, said: “When the potential implications of this trade deal are put to voters, they are clear that protecting the NHS is of paramount importance, notwithstanding the benefits of a trading partnership. As this poll shows, healthcare is an issue that cuts across political divides and so may prove critical to MPs in marginal constituencies sitting on very small majorities. Should public awareness become widespread, this could, based on our polling, become an electoral liability for David Cameron if he does not heed public concerns.”
For Unite contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
For Survation contact Damian Lyons Lowe on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 3142 7640
Notes to editors :
About The Poll: 2,644 adults were interviewed by telephone in a selection of 13 marginal Conservative-held seats, between 21 and 30th July, 10 of which are Labour targets and three of which are Lib Dem targets. A minimum of 200 interviews were conducted in each constituency. Results have been weighted by age and sex to be representative of all adults living in the group of 13 seats.
The constituencies are: Amber Valley, North Warwickshire, Broxtowe, Lancaster & Fleetwood, Brighton Kemptown, Lincoln, Morecambe & Lunesdale, Sherwood, Thurrock, Cannock Chase, West Dorset, Camborne & Redruth, and Truro & Falmouth.
Survation is a leading independent political and social research research organisation. Survation is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.