Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Back you or Sack You? Oh Dave, we will.

So today, the seller of snake oils, wee Davie-boy Cameron will swoop in and save the NHS.

This is fantastically good news for lefties whichever way you look at it.

"David Cameron will today invite the public to vote against him at the next general election if he fails to keep his promises to protect the National Health Service." (sorry, but snigger - who told him to say that?)

He will offer five personal guarantees: "that the Government will not endanger universal coverage; will not break up or hinder efficient and integrated care; will keep waiting times low; will increase spending on the NHS; and will not "sell-off" the NHS to create a US-style private system, but will ensure competition benefits patients."

The elusive Mr Healey, like a rabbit out of a trap, points out that Mr Cameron is already breaking all five of his "guarantees"

Study after study shows that it's very unlikely that spending will in fact increase in real terms, though he may just manage that one by a whisker. Waiting times are as likely to "stay low" now that targets have been scrapped as I am to find a miracle cure - possible, but history proves unlikely. 

Of course, they are all very woolly. He doesn't really say anything at all. Kind of "The NHS will be safe with us" in full sentences. 

Come 2015, he'll hope the spinners can drag the pledges to fit reality. But, as I've pointed out over and over,this is not like any other issue. He can't stand up today, full of pledgery and hope the public give him leeway when an election lumbers into view.

So that's why it's such good news for lefties - especially as with his usual strategy blind spot he tells us to vote him out if he fails. 

Either he does what he says, keeps waiting lists low, doesn't privatise, keeps funding up etc and we're all delighted. The most important policy area will be safeguarded and Cameron will find no amount of fudgery will get him off the hook. 

OR he fails miserably and the public take him at his word, kick him out and never trust the Tories with the NHS again. 

Either way, it's an extraordinary gamble to take. 

For instance, "The government will not endanger universal coverage". Whatever he means by this, I think the public will take this to mean no postcode lottery. He may find it difficult to remind them that it meant "a national services free at the point of use" 

When he says he will "not "sell-off" the NHS to create a US-style private system, but will ensure competition benefits patients." Just how much "competition" will the public allow him? They still hear privatisation instead of the word competition. As they should.

So I'm sorry if I seem to write about this as a kind of amused bystander, sorry if I'm a little flippant, but after all the policies I think so disgusting, all the economic horror stories, all the damage his government is about to inflict, it's the NHS - the one thing he should never have gone near - that looks as though it will finish him off. 

Now it all comes down to pledgery V fudgery and Cameron's record on the second is rather better than the first. 



  1. But....if Cameron and his regime are thrown out who will replace them? Blue Labour or Purple Labour or whatever Labour are calling themselves now.

    It's already clear that "Red Ed" pretending to be left leaning was just a cynical tactic to differentiate himself from his brother and get union support.

    Ed is New Labour to the bone, as proved by his enthusiastic support for Cameron's persecution of the sick and disabled and plans to leave us destitute.

    New Labour paved the way for Lansley's privisation programme:

    "Labours gift was to set up the NHS ready for Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill by preparing an internal market, payment by results, the purchaser-provider split and foundation trusts.

    It did this (amongst other ways) by establishing a commercial directorate at the department of health, staffed almost entirely by representatives of the private health sector."


  2. In their book The Plot Against the NHS, Colin Leys and Stewart Player show that Cameron's health and social care bill consolidates a plan that has been fermenting for many years.

    You could date the programme to John Major's creation of an internal market in the 1990s. But Leys and Player reckon the crucial moment was July 2000 – when the Independent Healthcare Association, negotiating a concordat with Blair's government, spelled out what it wanted: "The NHS would simply be a kitemark attached to the institutions and activities of a system of purely private providers." The government, Leys and Player show, set out to make this happen.

    Its reforms crept in: buried in the NHS plan in 2000, in the concordat of the same year, in the NHS improvement plan of 2004. Here is how New Labour began the process of turning the NHS into little more than a logo.

    In 2002 the health secretary, Alan Milburn, announced the creation of NHS foundation trusts. They would be supervised by a new body, Monitor, that now plays a crucial role in Cameron's bill. They could borrow on the money markets, start joint ventures with private companies and, most importantly, go bust.

    This meant that they had to put financial viability first, patients' needs second: they behave like private companies or they sink. Though there was no competition on price, the foundation trusts are the fissures into which Cameron now inserts his crowbar.

    In 2003 Milburn's successor, John Reid, launched his independent sector treatment centres. These would be run by private companies but would use the NHS kitemark.

    They would perform routine operations: cataract surgery, hip and knee replacements. Doctors told Reid what would happen: the private companies would cherry-pick the easy cases, leaving the difficult, expensive ones with the NHS, which would also have to pick up the pieces if they botched an operation.

    This would drain crucial resources from hospitals, threatening some of them with bankruptcy.

    Reid forced it through, and the centres did just as the doctors had warned. Over five years, £5.6bn was transferred from the NHS to private companies. Yet the crucial data on their costs and performance remain hidden.

    In 2004 the government launched a new kind of contract for general practitioners: alternative provider medical services. This allowed primary care trusts to commission services from private companies: the wrecking ball that Cameron now swings.

    Julian Le Grand, Blair's former health adviser, maintains that the coalition's plans are "a logical, sensible extension of those put in place by Tony Blair".


    When people get fed up with the overt "bad cop" they trundle to the polls and vote in the "good cop" who continue the same right-wing programme in a slightly more moderate fashion.

    Then when the people's anger has subsided enough and they forget just how bad the bad cop was and after years of propaganda by the ruling elite's media, the ruling elite use their media to programme the people to vote for the bad cop again, who then continues with their unrelenting redistribution from the poor to the rich.

    Politics is just a charade to distract the people, contain and direct their anger into squabbling among "parties" who both work together for the same people, and con them into thinking they have a say in my opinion.

  3. Wow. That's depressing. Depressing depressing. Bloody politicians. If they want to stand it probably ought to preclude them altogether.

  4. It's inevitable that the NHS will cost more as time goes on. Totally inevitable. New drugs, new technologies, and the "demographic timebomb" mean that everything it's simply going to cost more just to stay still. Even in good economic times, the NHS is a black hole fiscally.

    Cameron's going to have some hard decisions with this one. He's either going to have to increase NHS spending, thereby cutting spending elsewhere even more, or cut NHS spending, thereby breaking one of his pledges.

    *sits back with popcorn*

  5. nanobot that is a very good analysis. I have always through that all the politicians are in the same bed together and having known many in my time none can be trusted on any subject and it's doubtful that will ever change

  6. Thanks fourbanks.

    Funky Mango I disagree that about 8% of gdp is a black hole for the nation's health, in a country that can afford to give bonuses to bankers, enable tax evasion for multi-millionaires, and drop bombs on oil rich countries.

  7. Keep fit Dave calls in £250-an-hour physio to keep tummy trim
    He's in the right job thou if you can get it
    I think he's getting tired and on his way out


  8. The main other thing to remember at this time is that David Cameron is now taking control of the overhaul of the NHS and may also have to take control of education as David wilitts policy's were given a thumbs down today at Oxford university
    Which just leaves us having to do battle with the government it's not looking good :o

  9. Why is everyone so sure there'll actually be another election in 2015? It's entirely credible to think the Tories will extend the Coalition to include the two Eds and that'll be that. No need for anything so trite as an election.

    1. If there were a broad coalition that covered the 650 MPs, that would be a bigger gamble again. What if it failed us? Who would oppose it?

      There is a clear groundswell you see currently led by campaigners such as Sue and many others that is reviving a campaigning spirit in this country - the opposition is no longer in government. People will be forced to turn to it because they have nowhere else to turn - the pretence and oft vaunted opinion that "the next lot will be better" will be shown as untrue. Parliament does not work.

      A rainbow coalition would be a bigger gamble than the hollow promise Cameron made at the head of this article. The worrying thing about the claim at the top is it is clearly designed to be said and forgotten four years before the event. Well done for keeping it bubbling!