Having ignored requests for help over many months, local Stafford Labour MP David Kidney is being rebuffed by local campaigners. Meanwhile, Ben Bradshaw (left) gave a rationale against a public inquiry in 2009 that looks looks even more risible today than it did then.

As the scale of dereliction and cover-up surrounding Stafford Hospital begins to surface, New Labour workers are trying to jump off the tumbril and onto the reform bandwagon. But victims of Staffordshire’s dysfunctional care system have rebuffed the attempt.

At a Democracy Club meeting in the area last night, Labour activist Diane Smith was accused off ‘fudging’ the issue of a public inquiry. Today she conceded to The Slog that her close friend local Labour MP David Kidney “is more pro a public inquiry than I am”. Accused of having called local CureTheNHS activist Julie Bailey ‘a placard-waving exhibitionist’, she denied this but observed that Bailey’s approach is “over-simplistic and over-angry. Nowhere near 1200 people were killed by the hospital as the Daily Mail claimed. This question is not just about deaths”.

Setting aside this perhaps apologist appraisal of the worst-performing hospital in NHS history, Julie Bailey was quick with her riposte: “The deaths are awful” she said, “but irreversible. Our main anger is at the cynical cover-up, the lack of accountability, and the promotion of those who were at the centre of the disaster”. This was taken to be a reference to bureaucrat David Nicholson, who left as Strategic Authority Head of Stafford to become CEO of the whole NHS.

New Labour has a lot of ground to make up. Bailey had told The Slog earlier today:

“David Kidney thinks he can change sides, but he is not welcome in CureThe NHS. And Diane Smith is trying to muscle in and rubbish the truth about a cover-up. I haven’t heard from David Kidney for over ten months and I wouldn’t trust what he said if I did”.

The Slog spoke to Mr Kidney today, who confirmed that Diane Smith is an active member of Stafford Labour Party. He too felt that the measurements used to raise the alarm at Stafford were unreliable. But his website does quite clearly say:

‘The arguments in favour of an inquiry are strong and those of us who support the call for an inquiry will keep pressing for one. It is right that an inquiry will be costly and will take a long time to report but the unanswered questions about what went wrong raise issues of justice and fairness…’

Tactical use of ‘will take a long time’ there – especially after Ben Bradshaw’s obvious delaying tactics of June 2009…and Burnham’s continued resistance to a public inquiry. But as we know Andy’s record on Stafford Hospital, this is not entirely surprising.

Local resident and abuse victim Barbara Richards was nevertheless furious this morning about Smith’s behaviour at the meeting. She writes via email:

‘Diane Smith told us that she does not work for Kidney, that she is purely at a volunteer level. Well, she seems to have a pretty big influence…’

There is here, the Slogger thinks, once again every appearance of a secretive Establishment fighting for its life against local people denied either truth or democracy. Whatever MPs and Ministers and management say in their own defence, activists demanding the truth and nothing but the truth will not rest until they get it.