COLUMN: Defend the NHS - it's all we have left, by Roy Bainton

Over the past year, the political world as we knew it has been blown apart.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 24th March 2017, 2:00 pm
Updated Saturday, 25th March 2017, 11:49 am

Brexit, Trump, the sinister growth of ‘fake news’, deliberate high-profile lying, and a green light for internet trolls to utter the unthinkable.

Racism, sexism and bigotry, at one time supressed by our innate decency and commonsense, appear to be finally out of the closet, and anyone daring to present this dystopian overview of the ‘New Order’ faces a hateful response.

So are there any decent social and political causes in the UK which our warring factions can call a truce on for one last burst of unity? Of course there is. First, consider these words;

“Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in fact DENATIONALISING the provision of healthcare in Britain.”

You’ll find this and similar utterances by Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and UKIP’s Douglas Carswell on page 78 of their 2005 book, Direct Democracy.

Our NHS is in trouble, and there are plenty of critics hell bent on privatisation who, in my opinion, are secretly enjoying the bonfire.

Some media delight in banner headlines about people dying on trolleys, ambulances arriving too late and cancelled operations.

In February BBC News gave the NHS a good kicking for five nights in a row.

Did we, the taxpayers, or the nurses who earn less in a year than most corporate CEOs earn in an hour, cause these problems?

No. They are the planned result of underfunding.

In my view the big global insurance companies are waiting in the wings, hoping the government’s dismantling by stealth tactic will eventually pay them dividends.

So we can have £50 billion set aside for the HS2 fast rail line, enabling the better off to get to London 20 minutes earlier.

A potential £167 billion to replace the mutually assured destruction of Trident.

A figure of £7 billion to refurbish Westminster, over-priced, foreign owned nuclear power stations, cuts in corporation tax for the rich, even £370 million to smarten up Buckingham Palace.

Yet, somehow, even though it is funded by taxation, £120 billion per year for health provision is too much.

You may think the term ‘crusade’ is too dramatic, yet 200,000 people marched through London on March 4 to defend the NHS.

It’s the only great public utility the electorate still owns.

So speak up, write, demonstrate.

One thing’s sure - we’ll miss it when it’s gone.