THE DIARY OF A GEEK IN OXFORDSHIRE


Solving the World's problems with common sense and a flamethrower.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

NHS? DFS

2015 Labour NHS poster



After an astonishing, unprecedented Election night and an equally unprecedented Friday morning, there's now a great deal of navel-gazing and outraged squeaking from those of a leftish persuasion about how and why the Election was lost, how they were robbed by Murdoch, victims of a stupid/evil Electorate*, denied by an unfair voting system**, let down by Ed Miliband, weren't left-wing enough.... choose your reason.


The bulk of the outraged squeaks in the echo chambers of social media are, of course, about the 'death of the NHS'. From the wailing and gnashing of sandals, you would fully expect to see all hospitals turned into luxury hotels by next Tuesday, with top-hatted doormen herding the sick into giant plague pits to decompose, at which point they can be used to mulch the country estates of the 1%.

Hmmm. Maybe reports of the NHS's death are perhaps exaggerated? Let's have a quick look behind the screaming and the soundbites.

1948 NHS poster

Every single Labour Election Manifesto from every single General Election, from 1959 to 2015, has claimed - that the NHS and its principle is under threat from the Conservatives. Every single one.


1966: The review we have undertaken of the much publicisedConservative Hospital Plan has confirmed our worst suspicions.The money they allocated was utterly inadequate to carry out thePlan, and to provide the new and modernised hospitals we so urgentlyneed.

1970: The greatest single achievement of the post-war Labour Governmentwas its creation of the best universal social security systemand the first comprehensive health service in the world. The greatestsingle condemnation of Tory rule was the appalling neglect ofthis social programme.

1974: Labour created the National Health Service and is determined to defend it. Immense damage has been done to it by Tory cuts in public expenditure, by the Tory Government's policy or rigid pay control and by the upheaval of Tory reorganisation on undemocratic lines. 

1979: We reject Tory plans to create two health services: one for the rich, financed by private insurance with a second-class service for the rest of us.

 1983: The creation of the National Health Service ...now faces a double threat from the Tories: a lack of resources for decent health care; and the active encouragement of private practice. Labour will act to defend the basic principles of the service. We will ensure that it is free at the point of use and funded out of taxation, and that priority depends on medical need not ability to pay. 



1987: Labour's proudest achievement is the creation of the NationalHealth Service. The Conservatives voted against it then. All who use and value the service know only too well how it has been neglectedand downgraded by today's Tories.

1992: Labour will stop the privatisation of the NHS and return opted-outhospitals and other services to the local NHS. We will halt thecommercial market which is creating a two-tier health service.  




1997: Labour created the NHS 50 years ago. It is under threat from theConservatives. We want to save and modernise the NHS.But if theConservatives are elected again there may well not be an NHS infive years' time - neither national nor comprehensive.

2001: In social policy their renewed commitment to cuts and privatisation and to withdrawing the support helping to heal social division, is just a throwback to the 1980s.

2005: Today’s Conservatives want to do what not even Margaret Thatcher would countenance – introducing charges for hospital operations so that those who can afford to pay thousands ofpounds can push ahead of those who cannot.

2010: The Tories will not introduce the necessary reforms, would fail to guarantee access to services, usher in a care postcode lottery, and put the interests of patients second. 



2015: Our NHS, care services, schools, colleges and other public services make up the essential fabric of our society. People need them to be able to live secure and fulfilling lives. Britain needs them if we are to succeed as a country. But under the Conservatives they are under threat.


Under Lady Thatcher, the Conservatives had sufficient of a majority to push for full NHS privatisation at a time when it would have been popular to do so during a surge of privatisation and share ownership. They chose not to do so.

The principle of a Health Service free at the point of use has never actually been threatened. The means and costs of that Health Service have been questioned as well as its quality of service, and rightly so (but that's a discussion for another post).

It's understandable that Labour have wanted to keep the NHS front of mind - when first created it was an amazing thing - but they seem trapped in a cycle of using the same message, whether accurate or not, and people who look past the soundbite start to notice. And they remember that you said the same thing 5 years ago, and 5 years before that, and 5 years before that. And they start to realise that you just might be crying wolf.

For over 60 years, Labour have warned that the Tories will dismantle the NHS, and for 60 years they haven't. The constant cries that the NHS is under threat of privatisation or destruction have become as meaningful as the strident announcements of the latest sale from DFS.



*Yes, the Grauniad did actually say that.

**Conveniently ignoring that Blair won the '05 General Election on a lower vote share of a lower turnout - in fact, the lowest popular vote share in history.

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