Labour councillors in Croydon joined a union-organised march calling for Mayday Hospital’s ancillary jobs – porters, cleaners and food staff – to be brought back in-house and taken out of the hands of private outsourcing giant G4S, just as Keir Starmer’s Labour Party was vowing a war against what they called “hostile” health unions after calling for even more outsourcing in the NHS.
Wes Streeting, Starmer’s front-bench health spokesperson, was quoted extensively on the front page of yesterday’s Sunday Torygraph, after having briefed the Spectator, the favourite magazine of Tory fogeys, old and young alike, that the private sector is needed in a reform of the NHS.
That move by Starmer’s Labour – or “Tory Party 2.0” as it is rapidly becoming – put Croydon’s opposition councillors, including their Town Hall leader Stuart King and his deputy, Callton Young, seriously out of step as they joined the GMB’s “End Outsourcing” march through the town centre on Saturday.
Either that, or they were just there to showboat, having spent their years in office at Croydon Town Hall trying to outsource any council service that they were able…
Helen O’Connor, a trade union organiser after working for 26 years as an NHS nurse, addressed the marchers by saying that her GMB union “wants the outsourced companies out of the NHS”.
Standing in front of the protesters as they gathered outside Mayday’s London Road entrance, O’Connor said that outsourced services are “very, very bad for patients” and “drive down pay and conditions”.
Pro-outsourcing local Labour politicians then pushed themselves to the front of the march and later used social media to demonstrate their new-found opposition to using public money to boost private firms’ profits through outsourcing public services.
King tweeted that he was “Pleased to join the rally and to have opportunity to deliver a message of solidarity from Croydon Labour Group.” Which is nice.
It was the same Councillor King who, as recently as April this year, when he was a mere deputy leader of the council responsible for its wrecked finances, opted to sack 20 low-paid public safety Neighbourhood Support Officers, choosing to replace them with bounty-hunting patrol wardens from Kingdom Services, who dole out fines for dropped fag ends and lazy littering, all while on a juicy commission from the council.
King dawdled around the back of the march, but out at the front and bawling “In-house – now!” was Young. This is the same Callton Young OBE, no less, who when he had the power to do so chose not to bring in-house housing repairs when Axis, despite the outsourced maintenance firm being at the centre of the damp and mould-ridden living hell that Labour inflicted on council tenants living in Regina Road.
Eye witnesses at the march suggest that when one socialist ex-Labour member tried to get a chant of “What do we want?! Hypocrisy! When do we want it? Now!”, they were quietly nudged aside from the front rank by another councillor, the reformed former Corbynite “Thirsty” Chris Clark.
Prominent, too, at Saturday’s march, with clenched fist, was new-ish Lambeth Labour councillor Olga Fitzroy. Labour-controlled Lambeth has hired “hostile environment” Wools Yard Serco for its waste collection services. That and notoriously working with private developers to drive council tenants out of their homes with the disastrous Homes for Lambeth housing firm.
Sarah Jones, Croydon Central’s Labour MP, demonstrated her higher calibre of political skill on Saturday morning. While sending a message of solidarity with her GMB comrades, she was careful not to mention anything about “no outsourcing”, just in case Starmer and Streeting have some of their mates at Labour HQ carefully monitoring Jones’s social media for anything deemed to be even marginally off-Blairite message.
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