Whitehaven News column – 10th July 2014

We have not yet begun to fight
One year after his abortive attempt to set fire to Whitehaven harbor, John Paul Jones, Captain of the Bonhomme Richard, sought conflict with the British Navy off the Yorkshire coast. After a minor skirmish, outgunned and outnumbered, the British commanded Jones to surrender. History tells us that it was here Jones uttered his immortal words “I have not yet begun to fight…”
The hundreds who marched for the West Cumberland Hospital this Sunday can be forgiven for feeling a bit like John Paul Jones. When it comes to ensuring that our hospital continues to provide us with the services we need and deserve, trying to take on the government, the Department of Health and the local hospital trust can leave health service camapigners feeling more than a little outgunned.
In 1948, Labour’s Nye Bevan, the founder of the NHS, famously said that the “The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it…”
He was right of course. Across the country, over these past few years, Bevan’s theory has been put to the test and wherever you might care to look, local health service camapaigners are fighting for their local health services.
What makes us different is that the West Cumberland Hospital was the first new hospital ever built in the NHS, following its creation. To my mind, that makes it a special, totemic institution – it’s not just another hospital, it’s a symbol of who we are.
That’s why our local hospitals trust, the Department of Health and No.10 Downing Street will hear our voices. When it comes to the West Cumberland Hospital, we have not yet begun to fight.
Farewell Sir Tony…
You can’t fail to have noticed that the MP for Workington Sir Tony Cunningham has announced his intention to stand down from Parliament at the General Election next year.
Tony will be missed. He’s been a hard worker for Workington and West Cumbria and by working together, we’ve managed to achieve more for our area than we ever would have been able to alone. Tony has always been a steadfast friend, not only to me, but to our community during his time as our representative in the European Parlament. But blame, as well as credit, must follow wherever it is due. Tony gave me my first opportunity in politics – working as a researcher in his Brussels office after I left university. Without that…life may have been very different indeed.
Failing to understand?
The horrific revelations about political connivance and ‘cover-ups’ in relation to child abuse are truly sickening. Incredibly, shamefully, almost inexplicably, they are no longer surprising. Hillsborough, phone-hacking, paedophilia…the reputations of our media and our national public institutions are crumbling before the eyes of an angry, tired and increasingly sickened public.
So I was surprised this week to hear a major national journalist calling Parliament’s announcement of an inquiry into these accusations an ‘over reaction’…

Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that whether the British establishment likes it or not, from the banks, to the Church, to Parliament; the ground is churning beneath its feet.

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