Labour’s NHS scaremongering is based on shameless lies
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BY TOM HARWOOD
The Labour Party has been more shameless than usual with their healthscare lies this election. Far beyond any figure exaggeration or dodgy bar chart, their scaremongering is a new level of political dishonesty – one that lacks even a scintilla of truth behind it.
After spending the last year telling everyone how supposedly desperate Boris Johnson was for a No Deal Brexit and how dreadful it was that he would be willing to walk away from the talks if a satisfactory deal could not be reached, Labour are now pushing the ludicrous line that Boris would take the Theresa May ‘any deal is better than No Deal’ strategy to talks with the United States.
The lunacy is twofold. First, we are expected to believe that somehow the United Kingdom would sign up to a trade deal that makes goods more expensive (the opposite of what free trade deals are designed to do), and second take another enormous reach to suggest that supposedly increased prices for certain goods would mean that suddenly people would end up having to pay for healthcare.
Both leaps of logic are ludicrous.
The Conservatives have run the NHS for 44 years of its 71 year existence. Despite Labour’s measly 27 years of management, the party still claims that somehow there is a secret Tory plot to remove a fundamental lynchpin of western liberal consensus – universal access to healthcare. Labour’s conspiracies are particularly odd considering they don’t run to other accepted fundamentals of a civilized society like taxpayer funded education, police, and fire services.
The exception for healthcare rests on a total invention about the inception of the NHS – that the Conservatives supposedly opposed introducing a national health service in the first place. This is an ahistorical lie.
All parties stood in the 1945 election promising to deliver a system of universal access to healthcare. Churchill’s Tory Health Minister, Sir Henry Willink, in 1944 first proposed the NHS with his white paper entitled “A National Health Service”, half a decade before the service finally came into being.
From being suggested by the Liberal Beveridge, plans drawn up by the Conservative Willink, and initial implementation delivered by Labour’s Bevan – every party had a hand in the NHS’ founding.
The idea that universal healthcare is Labour’s alone is one of the most pernicious lies of modern politics.
Corbyn’s party will often erroneously claim that the Conservatives opposed and voted against universal healthcare when in opposition to Attlee’s postwar government, but this is simply untrue. The Conservatives voted for universal system of healthcare, disagreeing only on where control should rest. The Tories favoured local control and ownership of hospitals, whereas Labour wanted to centralise.
In truth, today’s NHS arguably looks more like Willink’s then Bevan’s, with a plurality of NHS trusts running the service rather than centralised Government in Whitehall.
Because there is such wide political consensus for universal healthcare, socialist parties have engaged in Orwellian manipulation of language – suggesting that the NHS purchasing services to then provide free at the point of use to patients is somehow “privatization”. This disingenuous rebranding of outsourcing is designed to mislead.
By Labour’s definition of ‘privatisation’, for absolutely none to exist the NHS would have to seal itself off from the economy, producing everything in house. NHS lumberjacks would source wood from NHS forests for NHS construction. NHS textile factories would weave NHS medical scrubs, and NHS quarries would dig for materials to make NHS machinery.
The redefinition of ‘privatisation’ leads to vulnerable people genuinely believing that there is somehow a secret plan for the Tories to abolish a service that they themselves helped create. It is politics at its lowest.
The Tories are right to fight this election as the champions of the NHS. Their message shows the fundamental truth behind all public services – that they can only be funded if the country has a dynamic, free market economy creating the wealth in the first place. Free markets and universal healthcare go hand in hand – without the former, the latter would be set on a path to collapse.
Tom Harwood is an award-winning journalist and commentator. Follow him on twitter: @tomhfh