Could this party be the mouse that roars?
Posted on 15 November 2012 by Zoe Greaves
The National Health Action Party, or NHA, is a new political party born from the chaos that surrounds the NHS reforms. Its sole but very substantial aim is to bring down a government, democratically of course.
The party plans to put forward respected doctors against Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs in marginal seats. One assumes the thinking is that the margin by which the seat was taken will prove smaller than the margin of Con-Dem voters disgruntled by the reforms.
Now, we’ve been here before. Take the Health Concern party as an example, or rather the Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern party, to give it its rather dilated title. Interestingly it is the very same doctor, Richard Taylor, who achieved election success with Health Concern who now co-founds the NHA party.
There have been numerous occasions when individuals have stood independently on single issues, not always health, and occasionally they have been elected. However, I can’t recall an example of a single-issue MP succeeding in making the change they were elected for.
Six months ago, when I first heard about NHA, I dismissed it as a phantom — an idea that would amount to nothing and fade as the bill was passed and those driving the party accepted the ‘inevitable’ changes to our service.
But I kept an ear to the ground — after all one of their co-founders works at my trust — and I was intrigued by the idea of Teesside as a political hub. I have not been disappointed in my interest.
Six months later, not only are they still here, but they would seem to be gaining momentum. The party has a shiny new website and is recruiting members, but this is not what makes it interesting. You see, what at first glance would seem to be a party of two consultants with an axe to grind, or a chip on their shoulders, is attracting an awful lot of attention.
In the past few weeks I’ve read pieces on this seemingly small non-entity in The Guardian and Independent, not just tabloid rags, but serious papers. More interesting still, a piece by the Labour List last week went so far as to consider them a threat to the Labour Party. A lion scared of a mouse?
I start to wonder whether there is more to this party than at first meets the eye. After all, Dr Taylor has already shown that he can win an election, not once but twice, on a single issue. Not only this, but by a landslide and on a fraction of the budget required by one of our major political parties to do the same.
Add to this the fact that the NHA has sought to broaden its appeal to the wider determinants of health and consider issues such as housing and social care and I start to wonder.
Could this be a phoenix rising from the ashes of a bright idea lost in the parochial mouthful that was the Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern party? After all, let’s not forget that the NHS is the fourth largest employer on the planet: if it could be successfully harnessed as a demographic, the NHA could perhaps be the mouse that roars.
Zoe Greaves is a South Tees foundation year 2
Reconfiguration and integration