LABOUR yesterday sought to deflect attention from the damaging snobbery row engulfing the party by calling for bank fines to be given to the NHS.
The Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said the billions of pounds worth of fines imposed against the banks for manipulating exchange rates should go to hospitals.
Balls’s proposal came as his party was reeling from the resignation of Emily Thornberry as shadow attorney general. Thornberry resigned after tweeting a picture of a white van outside a house decked in St George’s flags.
Labour leader Ed Miliband was “furious” about the tweet, which was posted during the Rochester by-election and was captioned “Images from #Rochester”.
Miliband said her tweet conveyed a “sense of disrespect”.
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As the party attempted to move on from the row to the scandal engulfing financial institutions, Balls made his suggestion during a speech to Labour’s regional East of England conference in Ipswich.
Balls said: “This latest banking scandal shows why we still need big reform and cultural change in our banks. But the fines levied on banks for foreign exchange manipulation should now be used for a wider good.
“And I believe an immediate boost to our National Health Service, which is going backwards under the Tories, must be a priority.
“Because under David Cameron it’s getting harder to see a GP, A&E is in crisis and waiting lists are going up again.
‘‘Three billion pounds has been wasted on a top-down re-organisation while nurses and frontline staff have been lost. And cancer treatment targets have now been missed for three quarters in a row.
“So in next month’s Autumn Statement George Osborne should use £1 billion of the fines from the banks for an immediate boost to our health service.”
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