On the day of the 2nd strike over the Junior Doctors Contract, not once was it mentioned at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons. David Cameron was subjected to half an hour of questions on the day of the strike but neither he, nor Jeremy Corbyn, nor any backbencher from any party raised the subject.
The closest any politician came to implicitly mentioning the medics’ stoppage was Corbyn wearing a pro-trade union badge on his label reading “heart unions”. The badge was however a nod towards the campaign to stop the Government’s proposed anti-trade union laws, rather than direct reference to the strike.
There are no urgent questions or statements about the strike scheduled for later today, meaning the main platform for discussing it in Parliament has been missed.
Labour’s lack of will to capitalise on the strike in the Commons comes despite a very high proportion of the public blaming the Government for it. An Ipsos MORI poll for the Health Service Journal found 64 per cent of people believe the Government is to blame for the strike, while 13 per cent say junior doctors are. Whilst according to a poll by Sky News, 74% of people back today’s walkout by junior doctors.
A Department of Health spokesperson said this morning: “This strike is completely unnecessary. It is very disappointing that tens of thousands of patients and NHS staff have been inconvenienced by the BMA.”
Other significant issues that were missed out during PMQs was questions regarding the EU referendum. The topic was ignored by MPs, despite it dominating much of the discussion in Westminster ahead of next week’s crunch EU summit. A subject which in recent weeks’ has dominated news’ headlines was not questioned even once.
David Cameron was not asked about his mother, Mary. Earlier this week it was revealed she had put her name to a campaign against plans by Conservative run Oxfordshire County Council to close a number of children’s centres as a result of government cuts. Cuts introduced by her son. However, again the issue was ignored.
Furthermore, recently published figures have revealed cases where children have been admitted to A&E and were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders – and had also intentionally harmed themselves – has more than doubled since 2011. The statistics show that self-harm among those with mental health problems under the age of 18 rose from 1,098 in 2010/11 to 2,313 in 2014/15. The figures also come as the number of children diagnosed with mental illnesses has more than doubled in five years, and cases of intentional self-harm have also surged. However the topic was not raised by MPs at today’s prime minister’s questions.
David Cameron must think PMQs nowadays are just a stroll in the park. Jeremy Corbyn ought to step it up, if he really wants to see David Cameron begin to wobble.