Graham’s whole approach to government and democracy is about hearing your voice and being straight with you about the facts. That’s why he petitioned the council on executive pay. That’s why he won’t back plans to pay for local library services in richer areas by slashing benefits for the poorest. (Bristol Liberal Democrats want to keep all the city’s libraries open, as a public trust or cooperative, in a way that doesn’t divide communities like Conservative or Labour plans could.)
And that desire for honesty is why Graham backs significant changes to how we fund the NHS. He believes – like Clare Campion-Smith – that dishonesty from politicians has misled people as to how we can get the good-quality services we all want. Desperation for a ‘cheap and easy’ NHS has led to failures in organisation, failures in planning and investment, and resulted in the worst possible combination: waste and inefficiency, yet too-harsh austerity cuts at the same time!
But if we could get neutral, reliable estimates of NHS costs, most people in the UK would be happy to pay more a little more in tax. But that tax needs to be fairly arranged so that money is guaranteed to go direct to the services that need it.
That’s why Graham and the Liberal Democrats are backing Vince Cable’s proposals for a special ring-fenced tax (replacing national insurance) solely for health and social care, set by an independent office.
Graham isn’t afraid of change – if it’s the right change for you, and not about playing the system for short-term political advantage.