“That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital” Noam Chomsky.

We are living in pretty desperate times. More and more people thankfully seem to be awakening to the fact that this Conservative Party of Neoliberal asset-strippers is as bad as most of us had warned.

When the Conservatives forced through the Health and Social Care Bill in 2012 (two years after initially presenting it), and then legally blocked the potentially explosive risk register from being made public, the writing was on the wall for anyone even moderately politically aware. The further disclosure of Andrew Lansley’s financial backing from a private healthcare giant just lit a neon sign around their obvious long-term agenda.

I’ve seen people roll out counter-arguments along the lines of:

1. “The Labour Party have claimed every election since 1950 that a Tory government would end the NHS and yet it’s still here. It’s just scaremongering.”
2. “Any party that privatises the NHS would never see government again.”
3. “If they tried it, they’d be voted out at the first opportunity and the NHS would be reinstated.”
4. “ What’s wrong with a mixed public-private model? Works well in most of Europe.”
5. “It’s getting too expensive now we’re all living longer, we need to look at new ways of funding it.”
6. “The country’s got no money. The government’s doing the best it can under the circumstances.”

So, to tackle them in turn:

1. Of course, opposition parties, particularly when they have introduced something universally popular and successful, will electioneer. But it is ridiculous to claim today’s Conservatives are even remotely similar to the ‘One Nation’ types that ruled in the 50s and 60s under a mixed economy social democracy. Today’s Tories are simply economic extremist Neoliberals. Much like America, UK political parties, rather than engines of change, have simply become enablers for the corporate elites (witness the relentless character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn to understand how defensive they become at any challenge to their corporate agenda). David Cameron is not a man of principle; he is a P.R. face for the corporate takeover. In everything the current government do, from forcing illegal debt onto former students by privatising the old student loan book, to making the taxpayer subsidise fossil fuel giants and underwriting mortgages people can’t actually afford, there is a singular agenda: everything must be sold to private enterprise, deregulated and made as irreversible as possible should any opposition party actually grow a backbone and try to reset some sense of democracy.
2. This is why Thatcher never dared to simply sell off the NHS like she did with British Gas, British Telecom and so many other British industries. Instead, she played the long game; introducing “internal markets” into the NHS to begin to alter the management focus from medicine to money. Privatising cleaning and other ancillary functions began the fragmentation of the service, ensuring “cooperation” became a dirty word, replaced by “competition”. John Major’s government took this a stage further by introducing the disastrous PFI schemes: building hospitals with expensive private loans rather than public borrowing. New Labour continued and expanded this treachery gleefully. With the Health and Social Care Act in force, private vultures have been hovering up lucrative ‘contracts’ within the service, sometimes dropping them when they decide they’re not making enough lucre: http://www.gponline.com/practice-dropped-nhs-trust-500000-losses-re-procured/article/1308060 Of course, the ultimate aim is to then reduce funding to the point of collapse, until the media stories convince the majority that “something needs to be done”. The junior doctors’ contracts and ending nurses’ bursary schemes is another step in making the service more ‘affordable’ for any private companies post-NHS, though of course the convenient cover-story is about “making a 7-day NHS”.
3. Hence why the current incumbents seem hell-bent on reducing constituency numbers, reducing Union income for the opposition, taking voters off the electoral roll, gagging opposition, criminalising protest and forcing 5 year fixed terms. If they can make it through the next election with the NHS in ruins, they will have slain the Neoliberal project’s biggest, and previously impervious foe. If they can’t, the damage will be immense, with debts, less nurses, less doctors and unsafe hospitals to turn around, with corporate vultures all still demanding their slice. If the intolerable trade deal TTIP is ratified, we can forget about the privatisation being able to be reversed anyway.
4. Well, the NHS is pretty consistently rated top of Western healthcare systems, particularly cost-efficiency: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/17/nhs-health, so one might ask why a change is even required, particularly as it wasn’t in the Conservative manifesto in 2010. If a change is required, then the swarm of US healthcare providers bidding for contracts and donating to the Conservatives seems to point to a different agenda: the American private insurance model. http://www.nhsforsale.info/database/impact-database/conflict-of-interest/GOVERNMENT-POLITICIANS.html
5. Well we’re certainly getting older, but I don’t see how exchanging a hugely cost-effective service for a demonstrably more expensive model would alleviate this, particularly as government can source everything more cheaply, by virtue of its ‘monopsony’ status, and of course, we issue our own currency. There is always, God forbid, the option of increasing National Insurance contributions a little for everyone, or the dreaded taxing of the super-rich. Of course, the super-rich are exactly the kind of people who are both donors to the Conservatives, and biggest potential beneficiaries of a private health market, so that won’t happen.
6. You’ve fallen for the bullshit. Sovereign currency issuers can never ‘run out’ of money, and hyper-inflation is a very remote threat (or, in the Neoliberals’ own terms: “scaremongering”). There is plenty of money, there is just no desire among the elite for any kind of redistribution (for pretty obvious reasons).

I am genuinely terrified of what comes after this Junior Doctor strike. If Jeremy Hunt wins, then we will all lose in the long run. The NHS is irreplaceable, but is currently being fattened up for slaughter. Without hyperbolising, our children are at risk. Can you afford a grand a month on top of bills for private insurance? We have become a nation built almost entirely on rentierism and usury. We’re already being figuratively bled dry. Now the Establishment want to do it literally.

I don’t want to return to a time when the working classes could not afford to be sick. We all need to realise the clear and present danger and fight it, before the worst case scenario becomes a dystopian reality, as we hear our friends and family justify it through specious newspaper narratives.


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