I am proud, English and defiant

John Mann is celebrating 10 years as an MP (w110610-3c)
John Mann is celebrating 10 years as an MP (w110610-3c)

There is an identity crisis for many MPs. When asked by overseas politicians where they come from, there is often a fear of saying they come from England.

Instead, Britain, Great Britain and the United Kingdom are regularly trotted out. I share no such embarrassment. I am English, proud and defiant .

It is one of the gradual changes of recent years that we English have started to reclaim our identity from the oddball cocktail of extremists who have tried to claim the identity of Englishness for their own political ends.

We, the English, regarded as an incredibly tolerant people, a welcome and open nation, a generous and neighbourly community. England is not just country mansions and bowler hats. It is mining communities looking out for one another; manufacturing industry getting its hands dirty, it is seaside towns, local authority-run parks and gardens and adventurous young people. We are the most inventive nation of them all; the most successful at modern popular culture; the most sporting.

We come together with our shared identity more than any other nation whether on our strolls around Clumber, our deckchairs at Skegness, at work or at leisure.

Yet we fail to properly celebrate our national identity. St George’s Day should be a Bank Holiday. I was the first of the current crop of MPS to call for this and I continue to do so.

A modern country should have the confidence to reach out and celebrate its own identity, not with some fogeyish throw back to a country that never really existed, but as a modern, vibrant democracy, confident in itself, proud of its identity, unapologetic about its Englishness.

MPs and the Government have decided to start attacking the quality of nursing in our hospitals. One Welsh MP sadly lost her husband and since then has constantly criticised the care given by nurses. Now Government has jumped on the bandwagon, claiming nurses are uncaring. I beg to differ.

The biggest problem facing the NHS is privatisation, because no private company bids for NHS contracts if there are no profits to be made - profit that should be spent within the NHS. What on earth are Arriva trains doing running ambulances? It is morally wrong and economically inefficient. The Army; the Royal Family; the BBC; dementia care; prisons; the NHS; schools and many more: in my view the public sector does it better than the private sector. When we look at manufacturing, retail and innovation we find that the private sector does it better.

I have had problems in the past with hospitals and I have robustly taken up complaints from constituents. I still do. Sometimes mistakes are made, sometimes care can be better. But my experience of the NHS and Bassetlaw hospital, where I was in as a patient last month, is that the main problem is not enough staff. How can you expect a nurse to always have time for a word and a cup of tea when they are rushed off their feet. Employ enough nurses and in my view there will be very few complaints.

Unlike some of our MPs, my family use our local hospital. All my children have used it and my wife and I both use it. What is good enough for my constituents has to be good enough for me.

If you have complaints, as a patient, relative or staff member, then I need to know, but I am not going to attack our overworked NHS staff. My policy for the NHS is very simple - let the doctors and the nurses get on and run it and it will be an even finer service. Keep up the good work, I say to our nurses.