The National Health Service has become part of the fabric of our society since 1948. We’ve become accustomed to the principle of good healthcare available to all, regardless of wealth. Perhaps we all take the health service for granted at times. I can admit to having a medicine cabinet full of underused prescriptions that probably cost a small fortune.
At other points, however, your appreciation of and reliance on the NHS swells. Our experiences in hospitals and clinics become bound up with our life stories. Looking at the first glimpse of your child on the ultrasound and meeting a team of midwives and doctors when you’re excited but petrified in equal measure.
It could be when you receive the devastating news that a parent is suffering from cancer or dementia, and you’re suddenly and totally reliant on the care and expertise of strangers.
It happens when your child has a fall or accident and you’re suddenly handing this small person over to a paramedic, an individual totally committed to ensuring that they are in no immediate danger.
Our NHS is not perfect. The pressures on the service are well documented and not assisted by the local political impasse. The same applies to our other public services such as our schools and our police service.
This election presents an opportunity to protect and enhance our public services. The discourse surrounding the election has provided an opportunity to scrutinise how our public services are funded and how our tax system operates. That’s exactly why Theresa May has swerved accountability during this election. The Prime Minster doesn’t welcome public scrutiny.
The cold fact is that the Conservative government has continually underinvested in our public services. They have prioritised tax breaks for the wealthiest in our society over adequate investment in public services for all.
The false narrative that our public services are threatened by immigration was repeatedly peddled during the EU referendum debate.
The Conservative government scapegoats so called “benefit scroungers” while turning a blind eye to the fact that benefit fraud is totally dwarfed by the scale and scope of tax dodging.
The Green Party is proposing a progressive tax system. A means by which to enable the wealthiest in society to make a fair contribution towards the public services from which we all benefit.
We would, for example, introduce a wealth tax of 2% on the richest 1% in our society. This would raise approximately £28billion that we would invest in services such as health, education and housing.
This measure would provide more teachers in our schools and decrease class sizes, it would allow us to cut waiting lists for vital operations and provide health and social care for older family members and neighbours.
So, when you consider how to vote, please imagine a world where the stealth attack on our public services finally brings about the end of our National Health Service. Consider that the birth of your child may be accompanied by a hospital bill, or that cancer medication could come with a cost.
Consider also that Alliance use the language of progressivism but have in the past supported welfare cuts and stand candidates that campaigned for austerity. While the SDLP claim to be progressive yet deny women the right to choose. Sinn Fein in not taking their seats tell you that voting does not matter, so why waste your vote on them?
Then consider that the Green Party is the only party putting you firstly. By voting Green you are signalling that public services matter to you and that you will accept Tory austerity no longer.