In a blow to citizens and campaigners, Britain's House of Lords passed the hugely controversial health and social care bill last night.
But the fight is not over, nor has it been futile. Thanks to a massive public outcry in defence of Britain's cherished public health service, the Lords moved or accepted 375 amendments to the government bill, watering down or removing some of its most controversial elements. And today, the opposition Labour party will challenge the government once again in the House of Commons, in a bid to reveal just how damaging its plans are.
Doctors, patients, citizens fight back
After promising not to mess with Britain's universal, state-funded, free-at-the-point-of-access National Health Service, David Cameron's Tory-led government set about doing precisely that, shortly after the May 2010 election. But they hadn't counted on fierce resistance from doctors, patients, citizens and campaigners.
Nearly 120,000 Avaaz members signed the petition to Save the NHS, as part of a year-long campaign by countless organisations to block the controversial plans. Another 176,000 signed the e-petition on the government's own website.
The final bid to block the bill's passage in the House the Lords, parliament's upper chamber, was defeated by 269 to 174 last night – a government majority of 95. Shamefully, only one member of the Liberal Democrats, the Tories' coalition partner, voted against the government.
But all is not lost: today, the Speaker of the House of Commons has granted Labour an emergency debate over the government's refusal to publish the NHS risk register, an internal survey of the bill's effects. The government has been desperate to stop this report becoming public: its contents are said to be highly embarrassing. The UK's information commissioner has already ruled that the government must release it.