Labour MP Sam Tarry accuses the shadow health secretary of 'waging war' on NHS staff

12 December 2022, 13:05

Sam Tarry MP accused the shadow health secretary of 'declaring war' on trade unions
Sam Tarry MP accused the shadow health secretary of 'declaring war' on trade unions. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Hannah Holland

Sam Tarry, the Labour MP for Ilford South, told Ben Kentish he was "dismayed" by Wes Streeting's criticism of the BMA and the NHS.

Mr. Tarry, the MP who was sacked from the front bench after giving an TV interview on the RMT picket line, shared that he was “dismayed” by Wes Streeting’s comments, claiming it was “completely the wrong approach” when the NHS is in “severe crisis” and “staff morale is at an all time low”.

The shadow health secretary accused the British Medical Association of being "hostile" and holding “defensive attitudes” while he insisted the NHS should be seen as a "service not a shrine".

The BMA has responded to the statements made by the MP for Ilford North, calling his criticism "incredibly disappointing".

In backlash to Mr Streeting claiming he would stand up to “vested interests”, Mr. Tarry defended the solutions put forward by the trade union as “sensible steps forward for reforming and improving the NHS”.

He added: “It’s not exactly a radical, left-wing union - this is the union of GPs and other doctors.”

Mr Tarry, who was deselected as the MP for Ilford South continued to condemn the shadow health secretary’s comments, claiming that as an “incoming Labour government”, it is not their job to “declare war on trade unions before we’re even in government”.

He said: “When you attack health unions, you’re attacking nurses, you’re attacking not just doctors but also people who work as auxiliaries and support staff in this hospitals, managers there are well.

“These are the people that we went out for months and months to clap as heroes of our country for saving many of our friends and family’s lives so to declare war on them, it think is really the completely wrong attitude to take.”

After Ben asked him about the consequences of Mr. Streeting’s comments, Mr. Tarry shared he was “really fearful” of figures like Wes Streeting, who are “receiving donations of say £15,000 from John Armitage.”

He added: “That to me would seem like a vested interest rather than the doctors that work every day to try and save lives at the BMA.”

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Mr Tarry then called out the “wrong-headed assumption” that the way to get into government is to “attack workers and attack trade unions”, claiming the tactic wouldn’t win the party “any favours” following public support for the worker's strikes.

He said: “Clearly if we want to solve the health care crisis, we are going to have to have increase in wages and we’re going to have to have some reforms and some serious investment into the NHS.”

Mr Tarry, who formerly stood as the shadow minister for transport, called for a “more adult conversation in the Labour Party that isn’t posturing by waging war on workers who are are going on strike who are low-paid workers who are frustrated".

Ben interjected: “Is that what you think is going on? It’s posturing, it’s politicking by your party leadership and the shadow cabinet?”

Mr Tarry responded by claiming he doesn’t think Keir Starmer “would support” the statements made by Wes Streeting, sharing that the Labour leader would not want to “wage war” given his “strong links” and “respect” for the trade unions.

After Ben repeatedly questioned if Wes Streeting should resign, Mr Tarry replied that whilst it’s not his “place to say”, he didn’t believe the statements were a “backwards step towards winning the next election”.

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