It started with a leak, led to blind panic in the BBC news studio and now interest in “DevoManc” is hitting new levels as folk discover that the nationally cherished NHS is no longer national.
The shock announcement, leaked on Tuesday 24th February in the Manchester Evening News, was that the £6 billion NHS budget for Greater Manchester is to be handed over by George Osborne to the new, as yet unnamed, “interim” Mayor, perhaps in the form of a huge charidee-style plastic cheque or banknotes stuffed inside a nice card?
This deal has more than a soupcon of dodginess about it so, the question is why are Greater Manchesters’ Labour Council leaders cosying up to Gideon, having “all in it together” photos in what any intelligent observer might see as lining up to be Westminster fall guys and, metaphorically, punching themselves in the face, especially when Labours’ NHS Tzar, Andy Burnham appears to be completely opposed to this dodgy deal?
On Wednesday 25th February when the BBC finally caught up with the story there was a hurried accoutrement of establishment propaganda served up, complete with a guest cheer-leading appearance from, none other than, you guessed it? The un-elected, unrepresentative, Respublica gobshyte who has no authority to speak on behalf of the people of Greater Manchester and who no Mancunian has ever heard of, Phil Blond.
All of this took place on the same day that £45 million of cuts were voted through by “DevoManc” signatory, highly unpopular Salford Mayor, Ian Stewart, and Salford Labour Council, who, paradoxically, sat under a sign that read “salus populi suprema lex” – the welfare of the people is the highest law!
The announcement about the NHS budget drew swift responses with Twitter lighting up with bemused and angry NHS advocates, the most prescient comment coming from a Greater Manchester Consultant Surgeon…
After the initial post leak chaos it was no great shock that the main stream media inevitably swung in behind the deal as the entire “Devo Manc” package has been subject to the usual full court press of positive media propaganda. It was therefore not surprising, but no less disturbing, that writers such as Simon Jenkins of The Guardian completely ignored the appalling lack of democracy in the situation?! Indeed, even academics such as Manchester University’s Iain Deas paid scant regard to the fact that major decisions regarding the lives of over 2.5 million Greater Manchester residents have been subject to zero public consultation.
Salford Lad, a local, commented “when Andy Burnham started going on with himself about Swiss cheese, I thought it was the top tax dodging bank account offered at HSBC! Us Salfordians are fed up with smoke and mirrors, cuts and dodgy deals, what we need in Greater Manchester is a real deal for the people”
With “DevoManc” looking more and more like a leaky rudderless ship with the hapless Captain Gideon causing chaos at every tack it will be fascinating to see if the Good Ship Mancunian Freedom overtakes it with a true people led devolution..watch this space…
Author: Karl Sparks
Follow on Twitter @MancunianSpring
Petition demanding that the people of Greater Manchester have a say on “Devo Manc”
Statement from National Health Action Party co-leader Dr Clive Peedell on NHS Devolution in Manchester
Campaign For The North blog, “Trust Osborne At Your Peril”