I have signed up to Evan's petition. I know I live in Scotland where we are as likely as snow in July to adopt the sort of reforms being proposed by the Tory bit of the Westminster coalition, but I care about my friends and relatives who live in England and the effects these reforms, unamended, might have on them. Anyway, what follows are Evan's words because a) he's a doctor and therefore knows what he's talking about and b) he's better at explaining these things than I am.
I think that what's clear is that this is not some great rebellion - the rationale is to increase our influence within the coalition.
Please also note Evan's plea to circulate this among your local party members. Mine have enough on their plate at the moment with our election, but I'll be on their case soon.
Anyway, over to Evan.....
Following the overwhelming vote at the Lib Dem Spring Party Conference for significant amendments to Andrew Lansley's NHS reforms, the future of the NHS Bill is under discussion at the top of Government.
We have said very clearly as a party, that we will not accept the marketisation of the NHS and that we want proper local democratic accountability and scrutiny of NHS commissioning . Nick and his colleagues must understand the absolute political imperative to get these changes. It will be a real boost for us to demonstrate that we do act as a restraint on the excessive market-based ideology of the Conservatives and that where a policy is not in the Coalition Agreement and is one which we as a party cannot support, then we will not accept having a whip imposed on our MPs to vote it through.
It is important to make absolutely clear to the Conservatives and to the media that we as a party will not be ignored on this issue. So - following careful consultation with external independent health policy and NHS experts and in close consultation with Shirley Williams and other key players - the movers of the amendment at Party Conference have published a list of the specific changes that are needed to comply with the Coalition Agreement and the conference motion as amended. The Party's Federal Policy Committee last week broadly endorsed its contents and it has been welcomed by John Pugh MP, the Chair of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party Health Committee.
We are hoping that as many Lib Dem members as possible will sign up to the statement of support set out below. The Social Liberal Forum is hosting the statement and you can sign up athttp://socialliberal.net/sign-the-statement/. You do not need to be a member of the Social Liberal forum to sign up. The full list of the required changes to the bill can be seen there also.
The more signatures we have, the more we can make clear that the Lib Dems will not accept the NHS Bill in its current form and the more we will strengthen the position of Nick and our MPs in the discussions.
Please sign up today and please circulate this email to other party members and ask your Local Party Chair or Secretary to send it to all members.
Sent on behalf of:
Dr Evan Harris, Vice-Chair Federal Pollcy Committee Dr Charles West, Proposer of Health Motion amendment at the Party Conference Dr Graham Winyard, former medical director of the NHS