Let's talk: British democracy. The UK government at the moment has two mandates. It has a mandate for Brexit and it has a mandate for Austerity. Now here at Healthier IN, because we're really concerned about the NHS, we campaign about both those things. Video transcript continues below link to video
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So, we will commonly, raise the fact that, while the government is pursuing its mandate for Austerity it is putting the biggest squeeze on NHS finances that the NHS has ever seen. And this is damaging the NHS beyond repair.
When we say things like that, when we campaign on that, when we petition about that, when we march about that, there's widespread acceptance that this is part of the British democratic process. That between votes where you give the government a mandate for something, you can petition and tell them that the way they're pursuing that mandate isn't to your liking. And in many cases, the government will make a u-turn. I mean, Theresa May is the queen of u-turns!
But let's say, an example, is in 2010, the Conservative government or the coalition government as it was, had a mandate for Austerity, for reducing the size of government and for cutting public spending. And they said, we're going to try doing that by selling off all of our forests. And the British public said, woah woah woah, we voted for Austerity but we did not vote for that. And so there were petitions and campaigns and the Conservative government or coalition government with the Conservative agenda, they reacted to it.
They said, OK, that's part of the democratic process, we've heard what you've said and we're changing our plans on that. We're still going to pursue Austerity but, we're not going to do it by selling off our forests. And that was accepted British democratic process.
In fact, the same thing happened in the early 90's when John Major was trying to sell off our forests.
So, for a long time, this has been accepted, that between votes, when you give someone a mandate, at each vote, between the votes, you can say, I don't like the way you're going about that mandate.
Now, a weird thing has happened since the referendum on leaving the EU. And that is that since that vote, anyone that discusses the mandate for Brexit, anyone that says I'm not so keen on how the government is going about that mandate for Brexit, they're quite often labelled as undemocratic.
Demanding scrutiny on how the government is chasing after its mandate seems to be no longer accepted as part of the democratic process.
To petition the government to say, you know, that Brexit thing, I understand you've got a mandate for it, but I don't like how it's impacting the NHS... apparently that is no longer the way British democracy works. And this is a travesty for British democracy. It's very un-British for us to be curtailing our democracy, restricting our democracy in this way.
Regardless of whether you voted for Leave or Remain, most people voted for a better NHS. Leave voters wanted more money, more staff, more resources for the NHS, in most cases. And Remain voters wanted exactly the same thing. They felt that the EU was a great way to have access to more resources whereas Leave voters felt that leaving the EU was a way to have access to more money. We should both be able to agree that the NHS is being negatively affected by Brexit in the same way that it's being negatively affected by Austerity. And we should be able to come together and petition the government and say, continue with your Brexit mandate but, work on fixing the problems that it's causing for the NHS.
That is the most British democratic thing that we could do and it is part of the process that we're working on here at Healthier IN and it's part of the process that we would hope everyone in Britain could come in together and work together on.
And I mean, in fact, having differences over Brexit and then coming together and working on something like the NHS and how Brexit impacts the NHS would be a tremendous show of the British spirit and how we can pull together to defend the things that we love.
So, this is really just a call-out to all those people that would say, shut up and get over it.
Why not join us for the things that are being threatened by Brexit, even if you want Brexit to go ahead, even if you think that Brexit is still the best thing for this country and that in the long term it might be the best thing for the NHS or, whatever aspect of British life that it is that you want to protect: let's come together and say when it's not achieving those ends.
Let's come together and hold the government to account.
Let's come together and be democratic about Brexit.
Dr Rob Davidson is co-founder of Healthier IN the EU, Scientists for EU and Trade Deal Watch. You can find him on Twitter at @bobbledavidson