Whitehaven News column – 18th September 2014

Tomorrow, Britain Changes Forever

You will have watched the Scottish independence campaign with a variety of emotions over recent weeks. Perhaps sympathy for both points of view, perhaps anxiety about the outcome, perhaps anger at the peculiar nature of much of the debate. Perhaps, most of all, frustration at the fact that your country and your identity may be about to be fundamentally changed and nobody has seen fit to ask your opinion.

One way or the other, Britain will awake to fundamental, permanent change on Friday morning. Let me be absolutely clear; whether Scotland votes to secede from arguably the most effective, important and successful national union the world has ever known or not, these islands will never be the same again.

Scotland’s contest hasn’t inspired English devolution – we should be clear about this. MPs like myself have long called for more powers for England. Not just as a way to empower communities like Cumbria to a greater extent, but because it’s necessary for us to grow strong, resilient local economies. That said, Scotland’s decision – whichever way the Scots exercise their sovereign right to choose – will herald unprecedented change in how Britain is governed and more importantly, who Britain is governed for.  The referendum campaign hasn’t created a new English appetite for change, but it has accelerated a long-overdue process of change.

I wrote in my first column that “…it’s the ability of communities like ours to understand the nature of the changes we are facing and to then shape those changes that will determine whether or not we are successful in the future.”

This Friday, a process of change begins – the like of which we have never seen before. We must make this work for us and for everyone else in these islands.

Act as one to safeguard WCH services

But effective changes of a long-lasting nature  can only take place if the changes in question are understood and carry popular support. This is the basis of the anxiety and anger surrounding the future services provided by the West Cumberland Hospital. Too many agendas are in play at the same time (deliberately) and there has been no meaningful attempt to provide any clarity by the local hospitals trust regarding the future of services. That this is going on all over England provides no respite for us at all. This week’s response from the North Cumbria Trust to my recent letter doesn’t answer any significant questions and a series of freedom of information requests have been summarily disregarded.

Prior to the public meeting on 29th September to discuss our health services, I need your help. I’ve spoken to whistleblowers, medical professionals and patients, but I need you to send me the questions you want the clinical commissioners to answer. Send your questions to me at jamie.reed.mp@parliament.ukand I’ll ensure that local health commissioners and hospital trust bosses give you the courtesy of a reply.

You can also find a history of some of the effort to force honesty from service providers at jamiereed.net

And if you haven’t yet signed the petition to safeguard services, please do so before I submit it to Parliament.

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