England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Could Starmer’s Labour be outflanked by the Tories again… this time on social care?

Tens-of-thousands have perished in Britain’s care homes, and rumours are now beginning to circulate that the Tories are putting in place far-reaching measures to “protect” social care, ahead of what could be another very deadly winter.

According to a Guardian report published, the government is taking steps toward bringing flailing social care services under the umbrella of the NHS – drafting in David Cameron’s former policy chief Camilla Cavendish to help write the proposals.

The government has since denied this, but as ever with the Tories, you cannot trust them as far as you can throw them. We have already seen the Tories being forced to nationalise Northern Rail, due to capitalist mismanagement.

But the real question is why Labour is not using the crisis in social care to talk about its National Care Service policy, democratically agreed at last year’s annual conference and which appeared in Labour’s General Election manifesto in 2019.

The manifesto stated that:“Labour’s National Care Service will form part of our universal public services, funded through general taxation, removing the burden of cost from individuals.”

“As we move towards greater public provision and the establishment of the National Care Service, we will ensure that care providers work for people, not for profit.”

“By introducing free personal care, Labour will apply the principles of the NHS to social care – providing services free at the point of use to those who need them. Providing free personal care to older people will ensure they will be able to live in their own home.”

Although not a full-blooded socialist set of proposals, these policies would mark a serious step forward for the chaotic and crisis ridden care services and would provide the beginnings of a way out from this crisis.
But it is not just that Labour is not talking about these policies – they are actively distancing themselves from them!

When asked by Andrew Marr on July 5 about possible plans for a nationalised care system, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodd replied:

“I would say, right now, the idea is just to protect that sector… I’m not going to say to you that Labour is going to be advocating some massive grand scheme right at this moment when social care is in crisis. We need a new approach for social care into the future.”

But Dodds has this entirely the wrong way round. Nationalisation is a solution to the care crisis, not a cause. For those who remember the early years of Corbyn’s leadership, this argument will be very familiar. Back in 2016, Labour’s then Shadow Health Secretary opposed renationalising the NHS because it would be too “disruptive”, before resigning as part of the chicken coup.

Labour’s leadership, despite Starmer claiming to be the unity candidate, has been retaking by the hard-right faction of the party and they see it as their job to show that Labour is a safe second 11 for the capitalist class.

The “constructive opposition” approach employed by the Blairite faction – which saw its most vulgar recent expression back in April when Starmer’s described the Tories handling of the pandemic as an “amazing piece of work” even while the virus was running amok in our care homes – is a proven failure.

But the pace of events has exposed this even more deeply with Labour now hopelessly reactive, frequently putting forward solutions that are to the right of the Tories.

We say:

  • The immediate transfer of home and residential care back to the public sector
  • Proper public funding to end the scandal of the vulnerable and sick being ripped of by the private sector
  • A decent living wage for all carers and for workers to be control of planning
  • Free care for all those assessed of being in need at the point of delivery

  • Read more on Labour here.

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