The Tories have outmanoeuvred Labour on the NHS
BY SHABNAM NASIMI
The NHS is arguably the nation’s most beloved institution. For more than 70 years, it has been there for all of us, through the highs and lows, from cradle to grave – we all have a personal connection in some way.
It was a Conservative, Henry Willink, who proposed a National Health Service. Boris Johnson has called the health service our “amazing national institution.” Hancock called it our “beloved NHS” and “our country’s most revered institution.” The Conservatives have been in power for 44 of the 71 years the health service has existed. If, as Labour routinely claim, there really was a secret Tory plan to privatise or abolish the NHS, they have been doing a terrible job of it.
The Conservatives have become as dogmatic as any other party about the health service sticking to its current structure and model of provision. Already, the new Government has given a boost for the NHS: £1.8 billion over and above the pledge of an extra £20.5 billion by 2023/24 promised last year. There is every indication that this forward-thinking Government will continue to invest in and improve the health service: we have had pledges to address the pension problem for NHS staff and GP waiting times. The most recent is the commitment of £2.7 billion to build six new hospitals in the next five years. This Government is showing clear commitments which will make this one of the most impactful governments not only for Brexit but also for the NHS and social care.
But Labour have been trying to restore their health poll lead by raising the volume on the NHS “being sold off to Donald Trump”. Donald Trump said again last week that the United States was not interested in the NHS as part of negotiations for a free trade agreement with the UK. The Labour attempt to link the Health Service with a Trump trade deal is simply another way of saying ‘the evil Tories will sell of the NHS’, which they never have – creating a new bogey man.
Corbyn is, in essence, lying about the NHS. So why aren’t his claims being scrutinised in the same way?
His conspiracy theories are also widely believed, especially among the gullible, public-sector Left-liberals who now make up the core Labour Party vote. And that is perhaps the answer to it. These are the same people, after all, who dominate the media and the commentariat and they are determined to see the worst in both Boris and the Conservatives.
Labour’s position has become cynical. Its ‘no privatisation’ pledge preys on middle class cautiousness and metropolitan anti-capitalism. Its empty vow to ‘protect’ the health service may have a soothing, maternal ring. But, accompanied by no concrete policies, Labour is starting to look increasingly ridiculous.
The Conservatives under Boris Johnson have positioned the health service as a working example of the vision for global Britain, demonstrating that not only is the world already coming to Britain for the latest health innovation, but this will only become easier once the UK is freed from the EU’s regulatory shackles.
The existence and evolution of the NHS has taken place under Conservative governments. It is Conservative values, not uncosted and unfounded Socialist scaremongering, that are key to keeping the NHS sustainable for another 70 years.
Shabnam Nasimi is a Conservative commentator the Director of the Conservative Friends of Afghanistan. Follow her on twitter: @NasimiShabnam