I've always been true to my principles

PUBLISHED: 08:53 17 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:36 24 May 2010

LAST week John Penrose MP accused me of having a 'political agenda', and invited me to set it aside and work with him for the good of the local NHS

LAST week John Penrose MP accused me of having a 'political agenda', and invited me to set it aside and work with him for the good of the local NHS. I wish I could John but you see I happen to believe in a publicly funded, publicly delivered NHS - that plans the delivery of health care according to the needs of local communities, and that is true to the values and vision that brought the NHS into being in the first place. I may not have you, Tony Blair, or Patricia Hewitt on my side but, frankly, I won't be losing much sleep over that.If my fight to keep our NHS public is politically motivated then so be it, but I am proud to stand alongside the majority of your electorate, thousands of nurses, doctors and other health service workers, unions like UNISON, and organisations like the British Medical Association - all of whom oppose turning the NHS from a public service that strives to provide care for all, into a chaotic, dog-eat-dog, market place where the care of the sick and the dying becomes nothing more than a business.I've always been true to my principles. I criticise this Government when its policies damage our local health services and undermine our local NHS staff, just as I spoke out for so many years against chronic neglect and under-funding by the last Tory Government. It's not me who has distanced himself from practically everything he's previously stood for within a few months of a general election. It's not me trying so hard to be all things to all men.I'm struck by the large numbers of people who follow the issues discussed in the letters pages of The Mercury, and I know that they are more than capable of weighing up arguments and forming their own opinions. So let's leave it to them to decide which of us has a political agenda, and which of us is driven by a genuine conviction simply to stand up for what they believe is right and best for the local NHS, irrespective of party politics and political advantage. One of your former leaders once famously said, "There is no such thing as society". She obviously hadn't been to Weston.KELVIN FRASER - Montpelier, Weston

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