The junior doctors’ first bout of strike action ended at 8am today, after medics walked out across England for the first time in 40 years, withdrawing all but emergency care. They definitely made a mark, with NHS trusts reporting that 39% of junior doctors reported for duty as normal – prompting praise from Jeremy Hunt. If you’re wondering why the others walked out, it’s worth watching our video – in which we spoke to striking junior doctors on the streets outside Homerton Hospital. The NHS will take a while to recover from the strike action, with 20,000 operations and appointments cancelled yesterday, leaving health officials with a backlog that will take months to clear.
Labour weighed in behind the junior doctors, with Jeremy Corbyn calling on ministers to “apologise and negotiate a fair deal” with them. The Labour leader will be sorely tempted to press the government more on this when he faces David Cameron across the despatch box at PMQs today. John McDonnell, who has previously said Labour “automatically” support strikes, joined picket lines at St Thomas’ hospital. Labour was certainly less mealy-mouthed in its support for strikes yesterday than it was in 2011, when Ed Miliband gave TV cameras his “These strikes are wrong” mantra. Dan Hodges thinks this “Corbyn Contagion” will plague moderate frontbenchers. “Today it is Labour’s health team,” he writes. “They will all have to utter the same line. And as they do, they will all feel the same sudden chill, the dryness at the back of the throat, the slight feeling of nausea.”
The junior doctors have finished the first part of their industrial action, but are still set to walk out for 48 hours in a fortnight, and then go on a full strike next month. Ministers hope to get the doctors’ union back around the negotiating table to avoid this, with Jeremy Hunt describing the walkout as “totally unnecessary”. Striking junior medics have made their mark in their stand-off with NHS chiefs over the proposed contracts by scuppering operations, as some might say was their original aim. Voters may be broadly supportive of junior doctors, but how will they feel when the prospect of a full walkout nears? The conciliation service Acas hopes to restart formal talks by the end of the week, so what will the BMA do? James Kirkup points out that the advent of technology like FitBits will weaken the power of doctors, writing: “This will be the story of medicine and technology in the 21st Century: bad for doctors, good for the rest of us. The junior doctors should enjoy their position of strength for it will not last. A medical revolution is coming, and it will be wearable.”
“In the end [junior doctors] do want to the right thing for patients and I salute them for it.” Jeremy Hunt
The Fight Against Isil
A member of the Islamic State (Isil) is believed to be behind yesterday’s suicide bombing in the heart of Istanbul, which killed nine German tourists and brought terror to the streets of Turkey’s historic city. “Mr Erdogan should realise… that if he wants to prevent further terror attacks, then his best course of action is to support the international campaign to destroy Isil,” Con Coughlin writes in today’s paper. This comes as David Cameron admitted that “there aren’t enough” moderate Syrian fighters to defeat Isil, and promised a shake up of police bail after a counter terrorism chief said it was “weak and “toothless” and allowed jihadists to act with impunity. Meanwhile, the government estimates that the group – which has issued an advice booklet for its followers – amasses between £1.7 and £3.1 million a day.
Obama’s Last SOTU
President Barack Obama on Tuesday used his final State of the Union address to confront the climate of fear that has come to dominate American politics, and make a plea for optimism in America’s future. He said that Isil did not pose an existential threat to the US as he warned against talking up its strength. And with veiled references to Donald Trump and others competing to succeed him as president, he looked beyond his last year in office to the future of America and the “extraordinary change” that will come along with it.
Iran Captures US Ships
Iranian military forces captured and detained two United States Navy patrol ships and their crew on Tuesday evening as they conducted a training mission in the Persian Gulf. Ten American sailors – nine men and one woman – were arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps after their boat reportedly strayed into the country’s territorial waters. You can follow our liveblog for more updates.
Hague’s Reshuffle Guide
Jeremy Corbyn has stepped down as the chairman of the Parliament’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) group amid a battle in the Labour Party over his continued opposition to the renewal of Trident. William Hague has offered some advice to the Labour leader on how to do a good reshuffle, musing in today’s paper that “in the trench warfare over Labour’s defence policy, he moved forward by a whole trench”. “A leader without the capacity to surprise is without the powerof tactical initiative,” he adds.
MPs To Get EU Veto
MPs will be given a veto over the date of the EU referendum, Philip Hammond has revealed. This comes as Nigel Lawson spoke out on why Britain must leave the EU. “Rarely, even in the field of Euroscepticism, have I heard someone speak with such cloudless certitude,” reports our sketchwriter Michael Deacon.
MPs To Vote On English Anthem
MPs are set to to vote later on whether England should have its own official national anthem. God Save the Queen, the UK’s anthem, is currently used for England, but Labour MP Toby Perkins believes it needs its own song.
An EVEL First
Scottish MPs have reacted with fury at new rules preventing them from voting on English matters which were used in Parliament for the first time. Members from north of the border were barred from voting on English elements of the housing bill during a legislative grand committee, the first time the new measures have been used in the Commons. This comes as a decision by the oil giant BP to cut 600 jobs in the North Sea was claimed to be further proof that Scotland would be in a “financial mess” if it had voted for independence.
Ring HMRC? Don’t Bother
Taxpayers are better off writing to HM Revenue and Customs if they want a decent answer to a query, accountants say today. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales found HMRC’s service was so poor that it was better to enquire in a letter than make a phone call. Meanwhile, a committee of MPs have said that millions of households are paying too much for their water supply because of poor oversight by Ofwat.
Cameron Chides The NUT
Teachers unions are “dismissing the life chances” of Britain’s children by saying they can look up the answers to their times tables on mobile phones, David Cameron has said. The Prime Minister attacked Christine Blower, the National Union of Teachers’ general secretary, who had criticised the use of rote learning. James Kirkup thinks Cameron’s speech on life chances “might just be the best speech he has given as PM”.