Tory Privatisation vs. Labour’s Pharma Controversy: East Midlands Mayor Election Showdown

Brendan Clarke-Smith, Clare ward, ben Bradly
East Midlands Mayoral elections

From Blood Plasma to Private Pharma: East Midlands Race For Mayor

As polling predicts a Labour victory in Thursday’s historic East Midlands mayoral election, serious questions are emerging over the party’s candidate’s cosy ties to private pharmaceutical giants. But are Tory pot-shots over Claire Ward’s corporate advisory roles mere deflection from their own party’s sordid record of enabling healthcare profiteering?

Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Tory MP for Bassetlaw, is flagging Labour candidate Claire Ward’s undeclared relationship with global pharmaceutical giant Alliance Healthcare.

Mr Clarke-Smith, writing to NHS England’s chief executive Amanda Pritchard, said: “It seems via LinkedIn that Ms Ward assumed this role in February 2023 at the latest but there is no record of it having been declared on the trust’s 2022/23 register of interests. This is despite a huge amount of business being conducted between the trust and Alliance Healthcare at that time.

“Would you please advise me as to what steps can be taken to remedy this situation, and to ensure Ms Ward discloses the exact nature of her relationship… Clarify exactly when her relationship with the organisation began and confirm whether she has used her role in the NHS to benefit the organisation by ensuring that it receives lucrative contracts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds?”

Labour says Ms Ward has “declared more than she needed to” and a spokesperson added: “The Tory candidate in the East Midlands mayoral election is paid by the taxpayer to do three jobs. He’s failing in all three. He can’t fight for a fourth on his record because he’s failed. He can’t fight on the Conservative Party’s record because they crashed the economy.

east midlands mayor
Mayor candidates East Midlands

On the surface, his demands for transparency seem reasonable. But Clarke-Smith’s faux outrage reeks of delicious hypocrisy when you consider his own party’s enthusiastic sell-off of core NHS assets to private equity vultures just a decade ago.

However here comes the kicker, it was none other than the newly-minted ex-Tory health minister now Labour MP Dan Poulter who in 2013, orchestrated the £200 million fire sale of Britain’s vital blood plasma supplier to the American corporate raiders at Bain Capital. So much for safeguarding public interests over profiteering.

Within three short years, the private equity leeches had engorged their stake through austerity and grift, flipping it to Chinese buyers for a cool £820 million profit. Much for ministers’ assurances about ensuring supply under private hands.

Then, in another rich twist of fate, the very watchdogs meant to scrutinise such disastrous privatisations started sounding alarms over potential biowarfare threats from China’s newly acquired blood holdings. An utterly avoidable crisis created by incompetent – or actively complicit – Tory ideologues hellbent on gutting public services at the altar of their austere dogma.

No wonder Wes Streeting and Sir Keir Starmer prised the ex-Tory minister in his jumping ship, exalting his NHS credentials, it seems they’re all birds of a feather when it comes to privatisation…

Speaking of Streeting, let’s not forget his grand plan to reduce NHS waiting lists by funnelling billions into…private healthcare to have NHS doctors “moonlighting” in the private sector to clear the backlogs. Because that’s definitely not setting up a vicious circle of underfunding public health to justify privatisation.

But then, after Streeting’s campaign coffers overflowed with cash from private medical lobbyists last year, is it any surprise Labour now touts greater NHS privatisation as an ideological goal rather than fringe Thatcherite heresy?

wes streeting, Privatisation Agenda for the NHS
The True Betrayal: Streeting’s Privatisation Agenda for the NHS


As for the Tory candidate Ben Bradley, he seems to be hedging his bets by straddling the fence. Bradlys a black belt in BenCanDo – Taking a page from the Labour playbook, he’s following in the footsteps of Dan Jarvis – the Barnsley MP who parlayed his safe Labour seat into the lucrative Sheffield mayoral grift.

Why settle for spoiling one public trough when you can have greedy fingers dipped into multiple pies, right? If Bradley can’t effectively juggle his existing roles as MP and council leader, adding an utterly superfluous mayoral title is the perfect way to fail upwards into taxpayer-subsidised oblivion.

Bradgate’s cynical grift highlights the rotten confluence of self-interest polluting both parties. While Labour shills for pharmaceutical profiteers, selling off the family silver to corporate vultures, the Tories simply cut out the middleman by hoovering up as many publicly funded sinecures as possible. It’s grifters versus privatisers in a race to the ethical nadir.

241124 TEM AT Ben BradleyJPG

As for the downtrodden voters, they’re left wading through the deluge of gaslighting charades from candidates who don’t even attempt to conceal their contempt for the public good. Where Labour rehearses transparent fictions about defending the NHS while cashing cheques from its corporate undertakers, the Tories are too jaded to bother with pretence – revelling in their brazenness as they auction off critical infrastructure to their kleptocratic donor base.

Amid the fog of hypocritical accusations, one thing is clear – whether by advisory roles or outright privatisation, the UK’s public health has been laid barren and plundered by the very political bodies meant to safeguard it for the public good. Until corporate money is finally expunged from the process and that political revolving door from boardroom to benches is permanently bricked up expect the carnage to continue unabated regardless of which soiled party manages the deckchairs on this ship.

So go ahead, berate Ward or Bradley over their individual improprieties. But don’t be fooled into thinking either these Red or Blue Tories represent any substantial departure from the disastrous neoliberal looting of public services that has become a proud, entrenched tradition. On the NHS, they’re merely two soiled wings of the same buzzard devouring its feeble, dying prey, Great Britain PLC…

It makes you wonder what we have done to deserve this…

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