A leading member of the Labour movement has switched his backing from No to Yes in the independence campaign – because he believes it is the only way to fully protect Scotland’s National Health Service.
Councillor Stephen Dornan, who represents Glasgow’s Govan district, is certain that without independence, the Scottish NHS will suffer from Westminster spending cuts, including the damaging financial impact of privatisation already running rampant through the health service in England.
He said: “Our health service is a brilliant institution. It doesn’t matter if you’re penniless or a millionaire – health will take priority, not your income” he said. “But it can only be protected if Scotland votes Yes next month.”
“With a No vote, I fear we will suffer the consequences of the market-driven NHS England model and here in Scotland, we will be paying for our own healthcare within just a matter of years.”
The reason, he explained, is that under the Barnett Formula, which determines Scotland’s funding provision from the Treasury at Westminster, the Scottish Government gets a fixed proportion of the UK’s public spending.
But as England puts more and more of its own NHS into private hands, so this UK public funding falls – which means that Scotland’s share falls too.
Stephen, who has been a member of the Labour and trade union movement all his life, resigned from the party three years ago. He was re-elected under the Glasgow First banner and now aims to put Scotland first by voting Yes. He is immensely popular in his Govan ward and has a reputation for getting things done.
A former activist for the No campaign – he went on the campaign trail with Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and Margaret Curran – but changed his mind after he felt the party was failing to fight for Scotland’s interests.
He added: “By 2020, a third of the NHS down south will be privatised, and it’ll be fully sold off soon after that. Labour have no plans to fix that. As surely as night follows day, they’ll just try and better what David Cameron does.
“It’s painful for me to watch. As far as I’m concerned, the NHS is very much part of the Labour movement. Our mothers and fathers created it and now it’s being stolen off us by the private sector.
“It is dear to each and every one of us, but with a No vote, it is going to be destroyed.’
Mr Dornan says he has lost faith in the Labour party. “Their MPs at Westminster failed to show up to vote against the Bedroom Tax, but they were happy to turn up to vote for a cap on benefits, hitting the poorest in society.
“It really does beggar belief that they should act like this. The Labour party has no interest now in the wider Labour movement. It’s become a brand, and is no longer prepared to take that fight forwards.”
He also believes that only independence can save the Govan shipyard from the axe. “With a Yes, it will be able to diversify and do other things. Buf if Scotland votes No, the yard will be dead by 2019, when the present orders finish.”
Stephen continued: “I strongly believe in Yes because I firmly believe it will allow us to build a fairer and more prosperous society which looks after its people. Put simply, Scotland’s future looks much better with Yes.”
Welcoming Mr Dornan’s decision to back Yes, Yes Scotland Chief Executive Blair Jenkins said: “We are delighted that Stephen Dornan has declared his support for Yes. He is a hugely respected Glasgow councillor with a well deserved reputation for working hard for those he represents.
“His warnings about the grim future the Scottish NHS faces under a No vote have been echoed by a wide variety of people. They include leading figures within the health service such as breast surgeon Dr Philippa Whitford and the country’s former Chief Medical Officer, Sir Harry Burns.
“With the new Southern General Hospital nearby and with its strong shipbuilding tradition, Govan has a lot to gain from a Yes vote. Stephen is joining with others in advancing an obvious truth – that working people have a huge amount to gain from independence.’
Welcoming Councillor Dornan to Yes Scotland, former Labour Lord Provost of Glasgow, Alex Mosson described his old council colleague as a man of “independent mind” and an “asset” to Yes Scotland.
Mr Mosson said: “I’m delighted that Stephen has made the move to the Yes campaign. He’s a man of independent mind who will have thought long and hard about how to vote in September and considering he always has the best wishes for the people of Scotland at heart, it’s no surprise he’s backing Yes.
“He has served the people of Govan well over the years and his knowledge of politics will be an asset to the campaign. I’m looking forward to working with him again during these next six weeks.”