Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Get Healthcare Done!

Boris Johnson's Tories, like every other Tory government, are again destroying the NHS.  We need a Labour government to Get Healthcare Done.  We need to kick out the Tories.

When Labour created the NHS, the Tories opposed it.  In the 1970's, they cut NHS spending, along with Thatcher cutting free school milk, when she was Education Secretary.  In the 1980's, the Tories again cut spending on the NHS, they massively increased prescription charges, and charges for other types of medical treatment.

By the time they left government in 1997, public satisfaction with the NHS had fallen from 55% in 1983, to just 34%.  As with other public services, the Tories had failed to fix the roof while the sun was shining, quite literally.  After 18 years of Tory chaos and misrule, whilst they allowed the countries infrastructure to rot, and whilst they sold off anything valuable to their rich friends, it was, as usual, left to a Labour government to come in, and clear up the mess the Tories had left behind.  The Tories, under Boris Johnson are created another mess that labour will have to clear up.

In 1997, Labour came in and began to spend the money required to repair the damage to the NHS that the Tories had left behind.  Satisfaction with the NHS then rose to 64%, an all time high, under Labour in 2009. Of course, for the Tories, spending this money is seen as a waste, as extravagance and so on.  For the Tories, its only the £2 trillion spent to bail out the bankers that is money well spent.  The Tories have tried to claim that it wasn't this money bailing out the bankers that left the country in massive debt, but the money spent by the Labour government to repair the damage that the Tories had done to the NHS and other services.

But like everything else that come out of the mouths of Tories, its a lie.  Despite the fact that Thatcher and major cut spending on things like the NHS, Education, Social Services, and so on, the government deficit as a proportion of GDP was much higher under them, than under either the previous Labour government, or under the 1997-2010 Labour government.  In fact, the deficit to GDP ratio under that Labour government was only half what it was for the 18 years of rule by Thatcher and Major.

Moreover, Labour managed to have budget surpluses for four years, whereas the Tories had only managed that in two years, out of 18 years in government.  The big rise in spending came after 2008, and it was entirely due to having to bail out the banks following their reckless speculation in property and financial markets, as part of the global financial crash.  That crash itself was a direct result of the encouragement of speculation and debt that Thatcher and Reagan had set in place in the 1980's.

A look at the situation as far as debt is concerned, again shows that it is the Tories that have created the massive levels of debt both for households and for the state.  Under Osborne, UK debt doubled.  And the main reason that debt doubled is the same reason that the deficit to GDP under the Tories was twice what it was under Labour.  The Tories do not invest in public services that are vital to the health of the country and of the economy.  They drain money out of them to give away in tax cuts to their rich friends, and by selling off pubic assets on the cheap.  Then labour has to clear up the mess the Tories have created.

UK Household Debt as % of Income
They have done the same thing with private debt.  For decades under Thatcher and Major they kept down wages, and instead encouraged families to make up the difference with massive amounts of borrowing, which weighs them down for decades to come, whether it it is student debt, mortgage debt, credit card debt, store card debt or debts to pay day lenders.

This transfer of government responsibilities on to others has been a feature of the way the Tories operate.  They have transferred what would have been government debt on to households, by making household pay for things that they have already paid taxes and National Insurance to the state to cover.  The example of the WASPI women is a case in point.  They have done it at the same time as holding down wages, and in the case of public sector workers they have done that directly as the employer.  They have done the same thing in relation to the devolved governments in Wales and Scotland, whose budgets they have cut, and then have the nerve to blame those devolved governments for failing to provide adequate services.  They did the same with Local government.  After 2010, they heaped the vast bulk of the austerity measures on to local councils, which have then had to slash their provision of services.  In fact, its because Councils have had to slash provision of Social Care that a lot of that burden has then fallen on to the NHS.

But, they have also done the same thing with the NHS.  As the Guardian has reported, the NHS is in a critical condition as a result of the Tories austerity programme and failure to maintain it.  NHS Trusts have racked up huge debts and deficits, despite services being cut.  We have the longest A&E waits in history, thousands of patients are dying waiting for hospital beds.  The example of the young boy with pneumonia left on a pile of coats on a hospital floor is not an isolated example.  That and Boris Johnson's attitude towards it shows that the Tories just do not care about the plight of ordinary people.

Johnson and the Tories are too obsessed with Brexit to be bothered about ensuring that the NHS is properly funded and maintained.  Yet again, the reason for that is that the Tories want to push through Brexit in the interests of their friends.  They want to ensure that workers rights are undermined, including the right to decent healthcare they have paid for in their taxes, just as they have wanted to deprive people of the pensions they have paid for over a lifetime.  They want to do a deal with Trump to allow big US pharmaceutical companies to charge more money for the drugs the NHS buys, and as they allow the NHS to rot, so too they know that people will begin to resort to taking out private healthcare insurance in order to get treatment, and their friends will make money out of that too.  The NHS will be reduced to a rump service, provided at a minimal level just for those who cannot afford to pay for something decent.

As I reported some months ago.  I had some direct experience of that.  And, like nearly everyone else, I have had the experience of the almost complete impossibility of getting a GP appointment.  And, that will get much worse if Johnson pushes through Brexit, because we will see even more of our current NHS workers go back home to the EU.  Already, the number of health workers from the EU coming to Britain has almost stopped for fear of Brexit.  My former dentist has gone back to Ireland.  Of course, the Tories want to replace those workers with others from India, who they see as being cheaper, and more able to be sent home at a moment's notice.  In fact, after Brexit, India, whose economy is now larger than that of Britain, will be in a position to drive a hard trade bargain covering the immigration of much larger numbers of Indian workers and students.  Its almost certainly not the outcome that all of the racists and bigots who voted for Brexit to stop immigration had in mind.

Brexit will mean that even more austerity is required, because it will provide something like a £50-70 billion hit to the economy, so that less money is available to be spent on vital services.  Yet, Johnson's Tories are obsessed with Brexit for their own narrow ideological reasons, and for reasons of lining the pockets of themselves and their friends.  For them, that is all that matters, and no matter how much it damages the lives of ordinary people by a destruction of the NHS and other vital public services, they will push forward with that at the expense of all else.

On Thursday, we must vote to kick the Tories Out.  At the same time, we must vote to stop their reactionary and destructive Brexit proposals.  In every constituency as John McDonell has said we should vote for whichever candidate has the best chance of beating the Tories.  I would recommend everyone go to one of the tactical voting sites to see how their vote can best be cast to defeat the Tories on Thursday.  That will mean Green, Liberal and Plaid voters holding their noses, in many seats, and voting Labour despite the inadequate Brexit stance of Labour, because, in reality only Labour has a chance of forming a government, and in the majority of seats, its only labour that can beat the Tory candidate.  Likewise, in other seats, where Labour has no chance of winning, it means Labour voters holding their noses and voting for Liberals, Greens, Plaid and SNP, to ensure that the Tories are defeated.

To save the NHS and the other Public Services, to prevent the Tories inflicting further chaos and destruction, we must vote Johnson and his Tory vandals out of office.  We must stop Brexit at the earliest opportunity, and focus all attention on rebuilding our society that the Tories once again have broken.

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