The Labour Uncut site tells that it is “Inside Labour politics”. Exactly what this means is exemplified by a supremely wrong-headed rant from editor Atul Hatwal, complaining bitterly at the prospect of Andy Burnham becoming party leader. Now, Zelo Street has previously concluded that the MP for Leigh would be on the receiving end of anything pertaining to the Stafford Hospital saga. But not from his own side.
Nothing like being trashed without facts
One has to wonder if Hatwal has bothered with fact-checking his piece, as readers are treated to gems like “Burnham in particular was the health secretary when the travesty of Mid Staffs occurred. Once again, other candidates’ teams will ensure his vulnerability to Tory attack as the man on whose watch Mid Staffs happened, will be front and centre, in media coverage of the campaign”. Shall we subject that to a real world analysis?
It is agreed that the instances of inadequate care, at two wards in Stafford Hospital, occurred between 2003 and 2008. Andy Burnham was appointed Health Secretary in June 2009. Unless he had access to some kind of time travelling device, the Stafford Hospital failings did not, repeat did not, repeat DID NOT happen on his watch. Yet Hatwal repeats himself later: “Andy Burnham, secretary of state for health at the time of Mid Staffs”.
Labour Uncut’s editor fares no better with Burnham’s time as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, a tenure that lasted just seven months. “Do party members think that Andy Burnham, chief secretary to the Treasury in the Labour government on the eve of the crash, is best placed to overcome the Conservative onslaught and convince voters that Labour can now be trusted on the economy?” demands Hatwal.
Quite how Burnham is supposed to have averted something that had its origins outside the UK is an interesting proposition. Moreover, Hatwal manages to miss the inconvenient fact that the Tories - that would be Young Dave and his jolly good chaps - pledged to match Labour spending plans at the time. The idea that Burnham being in post for seven months bestowed the ability to make a significant difference is ridiculous.
Likewise with the failings at Stafford Hospital: indeed, Burnham had been in post only a month when he set up the Francis Inquiry, which has recently reported. And, when it reported, Young Dave said of it in the Commons “Let us … be clear about what it does not say … Francis does not blame any specific policy … He does not blame the last Secretary of State for Health … And he says we should not seek scapegoats”.
Atul Hatwal appears not to have taken these wise words on board, and so is busily scapegoating. Now, it’s true that the right-leaning press will try and pull a similar stunt, and it is with that background that some Labour MPs and party members may register a choice for leader other than Burnham. But that does not excuse someone who purports to talk “inside Labour politics” from coming up with this shoddily researched and argued tosh.
And, worst of all, Hatwal fails to nominate a candidate of which he would approve. That’s not good enough.
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