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If a referendum works in Scotland, why not a referendum on a fully public NHS?

Whoever wins on 18 September, the old order of the Tory-dominated Westminster establishment is finished. If the Yes vote wins, it will have enormous negative repercussions for the London-based power structure and will spark huge and largely irresistible demands for real devolution of power for Wales and Northern Ireland as well as the metropolitan city regions in England. If the No vote wins, the constitutional package now being offered to the Scottish people goes a long way to promoting a federal structure. Gordon Brown on behalf of Coming Together is already advocating in his 12-point plan something akin to Home Rule.

Would any of this have happened if the No vote were not on the edge of a cataclysmic defeat, losing one-third of the UK land-mass in revolt at the Thatcher and post-Thatcher Tory governments encamped in London? The No vote has not been handled well partly because memories have not forgiven the devastating de-industrialisation wreaked on Scotland in the 1980s, partly because it has been remorselessly focused on the politics of fear rather than the aspirations of hope, but mainly because the Westminster establishment decided that the choice between independence and no change at all was a dead-set winner for the former, so devo-max never appeared on the voting paper. Now when it is offered as a last resort, it looks like a panic measure.

But there is usually a silver lining in any political impasse. Here it is that fundamental progressive change is now possible, even likely, which the last three decades of representative Parliamentary democracy never got near to offering. This is the most significant factor which must now be top agenda in carrying through at Westminster. Another breakthrough must be the realisation that a referendum can connect with the voters like nothing else can. Everyone agrees that the Westminster bubble has become completely disconnected from the electorate, with little to choose between the three main parties defending the same toxic ideology. The referendum has got people talking about it at work, in the pubs and leisure centres, at restaurants, and at home. Instead of the mish-mash compromising at Westminster, we should consider the use of referenda on a more regular basis, not just to resolve a political impasse. What about starting with Labour giving a pledge now and in its manifesto that a Labour Government will push forward a referendum early in its term asking for the electorate’s ratification that the NHS should be returned fully into public hands? Even better, should we not set down the criteria by which the electorate themselves, under strict and clear criteria, could demand referenda for themselves?

2 Comments

  1. jeffrey davies says:

    to much damage to much greed by all partys have brought the once proud britain to its knees yet you all babble on about whot to do the electrate have lost interest in polticians and their measly words of promises scotland leaving its getting a devorce from its abuser yet you all cannot see that tory and little tory party are two the same policys and untill the blairites are shown the door forget ruling britain it be that you all rule london has no one else wants your policys of private markets playing with tax payers monies jeff3

  2. Robert says:

    No argument from me, the fact is with internet and computers having referendums should be cheaper and much easier now.

    The problem we vote to take the NHS back both labour and the Tories would still say the private sector have a roll to play other wise we’d upset the EU and the yanks who all want to get a part of it.

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