East Ham Conservative defects to Labour over junior doctors dispute
PUBLISHED: 16:09 04 March 2016 | UPDATED: 16:14 04 March 2016
The deputy chairman of a Conservative association has today announced his defection to Labour over the government’s handling of the junior doctors’ strike.
Dad-of-two Adam Nowacki, whose wife is a junior doctor, said health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s imposition of a new contract on the doctors following recent strike action by members of the British Medical Association (BMA) was the “final straw”.
Doctors formed picket lines earlier this year as part of an ongoing battle over pay and working conditions. Despite industiral action, Mr Hunt chose to impose a new contract, bitterly disputed by union members, on junior NHS doctors.
At a welcoming ceremony led by Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales and East Ham MP Stephen Timms, the former East Ham Conservatives member also said he was worried his old party was failing to represent hardworking people.
“This is about principles for me,” the Polish-born 29-year-old said. “My wife is a junior doctor and so are many of my friends. They are being hurt by the government, so I can’t support the party anymore.
“The Tories are supposed to be the party for working people, but they are attacking some of the most hardworking people in the country.”
Mr Nowacki, who considers himself “socially conservative”, said the decision was not an easy one but that he had to do as his parents had done and challenge unfairness.
“Poland used to be a communist country,” he said. “It took lots of courage to fight and become a free country. What Mr Hunt has done is a move like a dictatorship, it’s like what my parents had to fight in the ‘50s and ‘60s.”
Sir Robin and Mr Timms said they were both “very pleased” to receive a new member and took the opportunity to attack the government’s health policy.
“I think it’s terrific [Mr Nowacki has joined Labour],” said Sir Robin. “It shows we’re doing something very right. It’s a principled stand about the NHS – I’m surprised there aren’t more Tories coming over to us.”
Mr Timms, like Mr Nowacki, said he too had a family insight into the dispute with junior doctors.
“My own niece is a junior doctor and she tells me many people want to leave and are looking at jobs in other countries,” he said. “A lot of people are dismayed by the government’s handling of this, which has been very bad indeed.
“I welcome Adam’s decision and I look forward to working with him.”
Junior doctors represent around a third of the NHS’s medical staff. The BMA is set to launch a judicial review into the government’s decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors and is planning further strike action.