As I write this article, I am angry, furious and upset.
I vote Conservative. This will not be news to anyone on my Twitter feed. I vote Conservative, am thinking of joining the party, and will always be proud of that, for as long as I continue to vote Conservative.
Today, I have been told by Owen Smith that that means I do not love the NHS.
Let me tell Owen Smith something. I have been treated by the NHS all my life. I don't just mean the average broken bones and childhood illnesses that most kids will experience at some time or another.
I have suffered from OCD and generalised anxiety disorder since I was eight years old. From the age of thirteen, I received counselling on the NHS- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in order to help combat these illnesses. There were times we rang counsellors in crisis. There were times where I honestly don't know where we would have gone, if those counsellors had not been there to help.
That is just one story from my family of how the NHS has changed our lives. It is not an exaggeration to say the NHS saved my life. I do not know where I would be today without the treatment I received from our National Health Service.
Owen Smith said at his rally that the Tories, and I quote, "hate the NHS."
This is one of the most disgusting, hypocritical, insulting comments I have heard made in politics.
Let's leave aside Owen Smiths' Pfizer connections for a moment. Let's leave aside the fact he said the party was going in the right direction under Jeremy Corbyn, despite the fact he has mounted a leadership challenge, implying that he would be similar or perhaps worse than Labour's current leader, though it is admittedly difficult to see how that would be possible.
This comment is an absolutely disgusting attempt to smear not just all Conservative MPs and members, but all those who vote Conservative. It is a nasty, twisted comment designed for Labour to be able to pat themselves on the back and reassure themselves that they are the party of morality. They are the party of good intentions-the nice, well-meaning, kind party.
They are not. If this is their average line of attack, they are not. Owen Smith has lowered himself disgustingly with this comment. It is an attack not just on the Tories his party moralistically claims to be "fighting." It is an attack on the voters they should be trying to win over.
Labour are dying. They may have a lot more dying to do, as Theo Bertram succinctly put it. But they are dying, ripping themselves apart in a leadership contest that, no matter what the outcome, is likely to result in a permanent split in the party. If this is the average opinion expressed by Labour, I personally will find it hard to mourn them.
If Labour were to have ever had any hope of winning a General Election again, it relied on them winning over the voters that had swung away from them-including those who voted Conservative last time. Comments like this just show that Smith, like Corbyn, actually has very little interest in accomplishing this task. He, like a lot of Labour, it seems to me, is far more interested in moralising and patting themselves on the back than actually trying to appeal to voters, or at least that is how it appears to me, one of the people they should have been trying to appeal to.
I shouldn't have to point out that informing us that we "hate the NHS" is not the way to do it.
We need the NHS. My family and I need the NHS. And we vote Conservative. The two are not mutually exclusive, and for Owen Smith to try and suggest they are is nothing less than disgusting. It is along the same lines as the absolutely repulsive desire Ed Miliband expressed at the last election to "weaponise the NHS"-and reinforces my suspicion that the NHS can be used as little more than a cheap political weapon for Labour.
I am a Tory. I need the NHS. To have it suggested that I or anyone else hate the NHS based on political allegiance is nothing less than beneath contempt and if Owen Smith had any decency he would apologise for these remarks. I have little hope he will.
Tories do not hate the NHS. And after this comment from Owen Smith, I severely doubt Labour's ability to take care of a service they see as little more than a cheap weapon.
Another thing I doubt is my own probability of ever voting Labour. Before, I would have said it was low. Now, I would say it is non-existent.