As the two political philosophies polarise our society, the moderate voice of reason remains unheard, but still trying to occupy the middle ground. We did not like Mrs Thatcher but a majority voted for her, and the same could be true for Jo Swinson. The reason for the election is being forgotten by the left, and Jo is naive in thinking to “stick to the knitting” of Brexit. The shame for me, as a member of the Liberal party, is that they have not got policies that attract majorities. So many active members are so keen to represent minorities that they fail to address the votes that really matter. At least we will address the longer term, which might help issues such as cancer survival. But honesty and transparency, in all parties, does not extend to challenging the fundamentals on which Aneurin Bevan’s original NHS was founded.
The Bribery implicit is the competitive inflationary promises on health and social care will lead to perverse outcomes, and then to corruption. The more that is promised short term, the longer it will take to make the decision to ensure that health systems in the UK are founded in reality, rather than pretence, denial, and covert rationing. We have a media led society and its the media’s duty to expose this.
…why has the Shrewsbury and Telford report escaped all discussion in the electoral debate? Perhaps because both Labour and Conservative, though light years apart on almost every other matter, are united in declaring that they “love our NHS”, which is — all together now — “the envy of the world”. These fallacies — the Conservatives for sure don’t “love” it and medical outcomes within the NHS are definitely not the envy of the world — compound the difficulties facing those failed by it. They are dealt with as so many Catholics were when complaining about abusive clerics: since the NHS has been described as “the nearest thing the British have to a religion”, it follows that the local hospital is the cathedral, its staff are the priests it is deemed a disgrace to question, and whistleblowers are heretics. The brilliant best of the NHS is despite and not because of its godlike status.
Doctors in private practice are no less reluctant to admit error, but their patients are more prepared to make a fuss when things go badly wrong. This is partly because the well-to-do are more confident than the poor in challenging authority, but also when something is seen as “free”, people are thankful for what they get, even if treated badly. Obviously, the NHS is not free: we are charged for it in our taxes (even those who don’t pay income tax are financing it every time they buy a good on which VAT or excise is charged). But it feels free; so it would be ungrateful to complain. And since the NHS is a monopoly provider for the uninsured, there’s no competitor available for dissatisfied users.
Yet this is the model the Labour Party plans to impose on as much economic activity as it can, even in industries that are not natural monopolies. Thus it pledges to make internet broadband a “free” service, nationalising not just BT Openreach, but also (at a price to be determined by a future Labour government) the businesses of rivals such as Virgin and TalkTalk. This proposal has been criticised chiefly on the grounds that Labour has grotesquely understated the cost to the taxpayer in funding such a “free” service. But the more significant point is that it is only through competition that the best outcomes are provided to the consumer (imagine the futility of complaining about your broadband service to its only legally recognised provider).
That most essential of all human needs — food — provides the clearest example. In the 1970s Jeremy Corbyn’s mentor Tony Benn had a nationalisation agenda that threatened to put supermarkets into public ownership. Yet it is ferocious competition among such firms that has, in the past half-century, helped bring the percentage of income spent by the average British family on food down from about 30% to little more than 10%. I treasure the unintended irony of the solitary entry for 13 November, 2007, in Benn’s last volume of diaries: “Went to Tesco’s and spent £31, but I did get a mass of food for it — it’s very cheap.” Cheap food for the workers! What brought that about? The market economy — exactly what Benn’s would-be imitators at the helm of the Labour Party of 2019 regard as the enemy of the poor.
When Corbyn was asked last year by the BBC’s Andrew Marr to acknowledge that it was only since the Chinese government allowed private enterprise to flourish that billions of its people for the first time experienced prosperity, the Labour leader countered that this overlooked the great benefits of Mao Tse-tung’s Great Leap Forward. That was the period in which its agriculture was forcibly collectivised, resulting in the starvation of up to 45m Chinese. This chilling observation tells us all we need to know about the philosophy of Corbyn and his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell — the latter has actually boasted of his intellectual debt to Mao’s Little Red Book.
There is nothing in our history to compare to the suffering of the Chinese people. But I have been re-reading the historian Dominic Sandbrook’s book on the 1970s to remind myself of the period before Margaret Thatcher buried British socialism — or so she thought — partly by making “secondary picketing” illegal (on the BBC Today programme McDonnell refused to rule out reversing this reform)……
Apart from all the other giveaways, here are those on the English Health System.
● £33.9bn boost to the NHS by 2023-24. The party is also pledging £3bn extra to 40 NHS trusts, which would result in six new hospitals and dozens of refurbishments
● End hospital car parking charges for NHS staff on night shifts, as well as disabled and terminally ill patients
● 50m extra GP appointments to be made available.
and ● Three-point plan for adult social care — including £5bn in additional short-term funding
● Build a cross-party consensus on social care to come up with long-term proposals to address the issue
● Guarantee that no social care user would have to sell their home to meet their costs.