The SHA’s ‘crime’? Opposing Streeting & Starmer’s support for the Privatisation of the NHS

The Socialist Health Association, formerly known as the Socialist Medical Association, has been affiliated to the Labour Party since 1931. The SHA was formed to campaign for a National Health Service. Not surprisingly they are strongly opposed to the plans of Starmer and Streeting to turn the NHS into a British version of American Medicare & Medicaid, dominated as it is by insurance companies and private companies who make rich pickings at the expense of patients.

We know that Starmer, Streeting and the other cuckoos in Labour’s nest are ‘business friendly’, but the NHS must be off limits to the hedge fund owners, venture capitalists, US health care companies and other capitalist vultures.

It is some measure of how right-wing Starmer and his supporters are that they would even think of disaffiliating an organisation which was one of the original campaigners for a national health service, free at the point of delivery. The SHA has been affiliated to the Labour Party for nearly 92 years.

People may remember that when Starmer was elected leader of the Labour Party he pledged that

Public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water; end outsourcing in our NHS, local government and justice system.

Starmer meant none of this. He lied, lied and lied again in order to get elected and once Leader he junked every single one of his promises.

On 11th January 2023 the SHA issued a strong statement in response to a statement by West Streeting, Shadow Health Secretary, supporting greater involvement by private companies in the NHS. SHA response to use of private health companies’. Its subtitle was blunt and to the point: Statement on Wes Streeting’s NHS proposals and acceptance of donations from John Armitage and MPM Connect.

Gurinder Singh Josan

The response by Starmer’s supporters in the form of Gurinder Singh Josan CBE has been to allege irregularities in the recent SHA elections of its Officers and Executive.

In a tweet of 29 January 2023 Josan alleged

·        constitutional breaches

·        attempts to manipulate result 🥀

·        breaches of GDPR

All the things that Starmer and his cronies have turned into a fine art. For supporters of Starmer to allege breaches of the GDPR and the SHA’s constitution after all the attempts by them to rig elections and their loss of members’ data demonstrates that satire has lost all meaning for them. As for attempts to manipulate the result, we only need recall their attempts to fiddle the result of the trigger ballots of Ian Byrne MP and Apsama Begum MP.

In a statement issued by the pro-privatisation candidates, including Jewish Labour Movement clone Neil Nerva, they withdrew from the elections and called on the Returning Officer and the SHA Officers to resign and then called on the Labour Party

Statement from right-wing slate (p.1)

‘to give consideration to the undemocratic nature of one of its affiliated Socialist Societies and to take appropriate action to review the affiliation’.

They also called on the SHA Officers to self-refer themselves to the Information Commissioner’s Office!

Statement from right-wing slate (p.2)

The right-wingers complained that the National Secretary of the SHA, Harry Stratton, had lobbied SHA  members in support of the socialist slate of candidates, having done precisely that themselves!

Knowing full well that they would lose, the Privatisation Slate then withdrew from the elections.  Unfortunately they left it too late.

The four successful socialists who were elected as Vice Chair (the Chair, Secretary and Treasurer being elected unopposed) gained an average of 707 votes. The unsuccessful privatisation candidates gained an average of 122.5 votes! In other words the socialist candidates secure 5.77 votes for every vote that the right-wing candidates obtained!

Clearly the vast majority of SHA members prefer to keep the NHS public and not turn it into an auction for the highest bidder.

The three victorious officers, Chair Mark Ladbrooke, Secretary Harry Stratton and Treasurer Esther Giles issued a joint statement celebrating their victory. It read,

“SHA members recognise that accelerating moves to integrate private providers into the health service will drain funding from the NHS and turn it into a mere brand for a mess of private corporations- all extracting shareholder returns and cutting services in order to do so.

“Big corporations have captured top NHS bodies with the intention of funnelling NHS resources into their pockets. They train few- if any- staff and maintain a parasitic role in the sector. Members of Labour’s front bench are deeply mistaken if they believe these businesses will resolve the catastrophic problems caused by decades of neoliberal austerity and service cuts.”

Two years ago Gurinder Singh, who is close to Tom Watson and the far-right Labour MP John Spellar, was subject to complaints of bullying a blind fellow Muslim UNITE member alongside Spellar. Singh is also close to local Sandwell Tories.

Unsurprisingly the reaction of property dealer Gurinder Singh (owner of Josan Estates Ltd.) and his friends is to try and disaffiliate the SHA and then set up a new organisation from which socialists will be barred.

All of this takes place in the context of the refusal of Starmer and Streeting to support the nurses and ambulance workers in their fight to decent pay and conditions and their attacks on the health unions over their proposals for reform.

What You Can Do

On Labour’s National Executive Committee there are 11 trade union representatives. They are:

Div. I – Trade Unions: Mark Ferguson (Unison)
Div. I – Trade Unions: Nicola Jukes (TSSA)
Div. I – Trade Unions: Isabelle Gutierrez (Musicians’ Union)
Div. I – Trade Unions: Michael Wheeler (USDAW)
Div. I – Trade Unions: Wendy Nichols (Unison)
Div. I – Trade Unions: Andy Kerr (CWU)
Div. I – Trade Unions: Gavin Sibthorpe (GMB)
Div. I – Trade Unions: Jayne Taylor (UNITE)
Div. I – Trade Unions: Kathy Abu-Bakir (GMB)
Div. I – Trade Unions: Ian Murray (FBU)
Div. I – Trade Unions: Mick Whelan (ASLEF)
Div. I – Trade Unions: Joanne McGuinness (USDAW)
Div. I – Trade Unions: Tony Woodhouse (UNITE)

Most of them have supported Starmer’s purge of the left and socialists in the Labour Party. Union members must demand that they oppose any attempt to disaffiliate the SHA. For any trade union member to support the attempts of Gurinder Singh, Starmer and Johanna Baxter to disaffiliate the SHA would be the equivalent of supporting the privatisation of the NHS.

My own union UNITE has two representatives. I shall be moving at my branch that they are instructed to oppose any attempt by Starmer and Streeting to disaffiliate the SHA and thus further the privatisation agenda of the Right. I urge you to do the same.

If there is any Socialist Society that should be disaffiliated it is the apartheid supporting, racist Jewish Labour Movement.

Tony Greenstein