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Posts Tagged ‘Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital’

It’s been a few weeks since I posted on Stanmore Politics so here is a brief update of local news:

 Bye Bye Briggs

Professor Tim Briggs, the surgeon in charge at Stanmore’s Orthopaedic Hospital will not be challenging Labour MP Tony McNulty in the upcoming election. The scientist had suggested he might run back in January, angry that he had not secured funding for a much needed upgrade to the facilities.

However now that the Department of Health have found a way to come up with the £60 million required, there will be no such challenge. Just shows the merit of a good publicity stunt.

Criticising what he saw as a ‘pork-barrel’ plan, Jeremy Warner in the Telegraph notes the funding has dealt ‘a possibly fatal blow’ to Conservative candidate Bob Blackman, who has been vociferously promising the money if he were elected.

Hot Cross Travellers

As an extra Easter present the good people at TfL have ensured that both the Jubilee and Met lines will be down for the Bank Holiday Weekend, driving more Harrow people back into their cars. The whole of the Jubilee line is down until Monday and the Met line is partially stopped.

Angry Pensioners

Pensioners have been expressing their anger at Harrow East MP Tony McNulty for letting them down in a key vote on for fair compensation for those who lost out with the collapse of Equitable Life. Campaigners demanded an apology but McNulty said he remains ‘fully committed to secure justice for Equitable Life victims’ and his vote was about not giving into a Lib Dem publicity stunt on the issue.

Problems in Pinner

The Evening Standard is reporting the chaos in Pinner after a feud at a GPs surgery led to it closing its doors, and forcing some 7,000 people to find an alternative.

Rachel Writes

On her blog would-be Harrow West MP Rachel Joyce has been voicing her upset over Labour smears regarding Tory cuts to cancer services. She rightly challenges the allegation, saying: ‘Scaring elderly ladies suffering from cancer is about as low as politics can get’, thoughwith respect, her indignation is somewhat weakened by the post below, which features a scaremongering Conservative campaign poster.

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Tony McNulty never contemplated stepping down after last year’s expenses scandal.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Stanmore Politics, the Harrow East MP said that despite resigning from his ministerial position after he was found claiming second-home expenses for a house his parents lived in, he never considered not contesting the seat in 2010.

 Mr McNulty, who was elected when New Labour entered power in 1997, said:

“I didn’t ever consider standing down. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way.”

 He said he wanted to let the people of Harrow decide based on his record as MP, adding that he resigned as employment minister because it was unfair to continue in the post whilst the parliamentary investigation was underway.

 The MP, who has a majority of 4,730, said he had no complaint with the media about the coverage of the expenses scandal. He said

“It was perfectly reasonable for there to be such scrutiny”.

 Discussing the events while in his Westminster office, the walls decorated with posters of past American presidential campaigns, he said the overall political system was rotten.

 “There was a degree of groupthink, collectively from MPs about the nature of the system. If I have any complaint about the coverage of expenses, it’s that the starting premise is that every MP is wrong until they prove otherwise.

 “We may have brought that on to ourselves. I can understand that too.”

 He said he accepted responsibility for his role in the scandal, and said that MPs should have been more transparent about the information.

 “We should have dealt with the whole issue much, much earlier.”

 Mr McNulty said the toughest time over nearly thirteen years in office had been the decision to go to war with Iraq. But the MP, who supported the war, said he stood by his decision and believes the fighting in Afghanistan is justified.

“I weighed up the pros and cons either way, first and foremost as an individual not as a government minister. If I’d arrived at the opposite decision then I’d have done the decent thing and stepped down.

“Given all the information at the time it was the right decision. History is replete with people looking back with 20/20 hindsight. Afghanistan is a place that we should be and good work is being done there.”

The former immigration minister denied that Labour policies in this area had boosted the BNP. He said:

 “BNP members clearly dislike black or brown faces full stop, they’re not saying you’re a third generation Asian so you’re OK, they’re against black and brown people.

 “There has been a failing over the last ten or twenty years, not just under Labour, that takes away the legitimate identity, particularly from white working class.”

Following the official opening of the Hindu Krishna-Avanti Primary School in Harrow, Mr McNulty said faith schools were a good thing and he did not accept they were divisive. Although Labour has long been criticised for its attitude towards faith schools, the MP said this was a debate within all parties.

 He said he felt he had lived up to his commitment in his maiden speech to improve education in Harrow, adding that he was committed to securing funding for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

 Last month its medical director made headlines by announcing he might contest the next election if the money was not allocated. But Mr McNulty said he understood Professor Tim Briggs’s frustration.

 “Tim is a passionate man, absolutely committed to the hospital. I’ve said to Tim that if he stands against me that’s entirely a matter for him.

 “I will see through successfully the funding of the hospital because it’s the right thing to do, not because Tim wants to stand against me. That’s entirely a matter for him.

 The MP would not even entertain the prospect of losing a fourth term in office. But he said if the council elections coincide with the general election by falling on May 6th – “I have to put the caveat there, but I assume it is” – the results would be interesting.

 “On a 60 or 70 per cent turnout there might be some strange ward based results throughout Harrow. I’m predicting that Stanmore Park and Canons are to go Labour.”

 He said it was ‘a real possibility’ that Harrow council would swing to Labour, but admitted that not having a working website, as Stanmore Politics reported here last week, was not helpful.

 “I do take the point,” he said. “I will look into it.”

 Having just joined Twitter, although not yet active on the site, Mr McNulty was positive about the role of blogging in political campaign. But he reserved no praise for fellow Harrow politician, (Conservative PPC for Harrow West) Rachel Joyce’s efforts.

 “It’s quite a tedious blog though isn’t it.”

Read the full interview here

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The Conservatives have promised that Professor Tim Briggs’s will get the funding he needs for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore.

Both Andrew Lansley, shadow health secretary, and Tory parliamentary candidate for Harrow East Bob Blackman have spoken this week about how they would guarantee the £60m needed to make much-needed improvements to the hospital.

Speaking to the Harrow Times, Blackman slammed Labour for ‘constantly’ prevaricating about providing the money. He said:

“Clearly they do not regard it as a priority.””

And last Wednesday on a visit to the hospital, Andrew Lansley said the party were ‘determined’ the rebuilding would go ahead, adding that:

“This should happen in the fastest available time scale, given the cost and risk of maintaining services in the woefully inadequate accommodation, with millions spent each year on repair and maintenance work.”

But while they promise that they will commit to it if elected, Blackman may have to deal with Professor Briggs as his opponent in the general election.

Earlier this month Briggs made headlines by saying he was considering standing as an independent challenger to Labour MP Tony McNulty. The Department of Health promised to find the money, but Briggs has not entirely ruled out a campaign. 

One wonders if this will be enough to discourage him.

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It looks like Professor Tim Briggs won’t be contesting Harrow East as an independent after all.

The surgeon and medical director of Stanmore’s  Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital had hinted at an election bid to unseat Labour MP Tony McNulty earlier in the week. He threatened to run if the Department of Health didn’t find the £60m funding to make much-needed improvements.

Briggs has been campaigning for the hospital, Harrow East’s biggest employer, for some 15 years. It seems he is now a step closer, following a promise by Health Secretary Andy Burnham to find the money.

He hasn’t totally ruled out a 2010 bid though, and nothing has been said to absolutely guarantee the funding. Speaking to the Evening Standard he said:

“I’ve had a meeting with the Secretary of State and I’m going to sit tight until March. He realises this is an urgent matter for the NHS. He says he’s positive about the outcome.”

Whether or not Briggs does mount a challenge to McNulty, the election race is already heating up, with Conservative challenger Bob Blackman already very vocal in public.

Will Briggs add some fuel to the Harrow East political fire? Watch this space.

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