If anybody had any doubts about the need to refund, reinstate, protect and develop the UK Health Service the process taking place across the Atlantic is providing us with all the reasons.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren explains after reading the Trumpcare Bill: ‘This Is Blood Money’. “Senator has read Republican’s bill and says it makes very clear who it aims to serve. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has now read the Republican bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and says that it contains “one flashing neon light after another” that signals who this piece of legislation is designed to serve: the very rich and the very powerful. “This is blood money,” the senator said both on the floor of the Senate on Thursday and in a video posted to social media. “They’re paying for tax cuts with American lives.” (Common Dreams) … “With massive cuts to Medicaid, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the end of vital protections for those with pre-existing conditions—Warren said there is no question about who will be harmed and who will be helped if the Republicans’ proposals are not stopped.”
Does it sound familiar? Is the Brexit hoo-ha being used also as a smokescreen to distract us from this major issue? The “there is no money for the British Health Service” lie clashes with the reality of spending on projects that only serve the interests of Tory voting and funding contractors. The National Audit Office has just published a report on Hinkley Point C, the nuclear power plant in Somerset to be built by EDF, estimated in 2016 to cost £37bn and rising, which the consumers will be locked to pay for over 35 years. “The NAO suggests so: “Alternative approaches could have reduced the total project cost,” it says. “The scandalous part is that sums were never done. Thus we are locked into paying £92.50 per megawatt hour, index-linked to 2012 prices, when the market price is half that level. The second failing is worse. When the deal was finally signed by Theresa May’s administration last September, the energy landscape had been transformed. The economic case for Hinkley was “marginal”, says the NAO, and “less favourable, but reasonable, assumptions about energy prices and renewables would have meant the deal was not value for money even on the business department’s own model”. (The Guardian)
So, a £37bn white elephant.
In Nov 2016 the British Medical Journal reported: “The NHS needs around a 4% rise in its overall budget every year to meet growing and anticipated demand over the next 15 years, health service leaders have told peers. Chief executives at three large acute trusts gave a blunt message about their perceived underfunding of the health service during a three hour evidence session of the House of Lords NHS sustainability committee on 15 November.” According to Jeremy Corbyn “he would pay for additional funding by reorganising the NHS in England to end its “internal market”, arguing the government was “subsidising many private health companies” and spending money on “internal trade arrangements within the NHS”….”The British Medical Association said: “The NHS is already the most efficient health care system in the world. The notion that the funding crisis can be solved with further efficiency savings is a myth, and these are not savings, they are year-on-year cuts that have driven almost every acute trust in England into deficit, led to a crisis in general practice and a community and social care system on the brink of collapse.” (BBC)
Another expensive, useless and dangerous white elephant is Trident, the British Nuclear Deterrent whose renewal will cost around £205bn. The reality is that the dangers faced by Britain have nothing to do with nuclear missiles. A dirty bomb? Perhaps, cyber assaults on our infrastructure? Already happening. Suicide bombers, vehicles running over people, attacks with knives or meat cleavers? All in the news. The only role of Trident is to reduce the funding needed for the police and the emergency services included the NHS to prevent and respond to such risks.
In 2014 Unite published “Cameron’s ‘American dream’ for NHS Tories in £1.5bn sell-off scandal: A shocking investigation by Unite has revealed that a scandalous £1.5bn has left our NHS and gone straight in to the pockets of 15 private companies linked to 23 Tory MPs and Peers. Many of these MPs and Peers have personally benefited from the combination of their links to private healthcare and the sell-off. Since the health and social care act was passed in 2012, 70 per cent of NHS contracts have been gradually sold-off.”
Senator Warren’s “They’re paying for tax cuts with American lives.” could easily read “They’re paying for tax cuts with British lives.” The reduction of Corporate Tax and dropping the rate for highest earners from 50 to 45% on this side of the Atlantic paint the same picture.
Hope in a cruel world
“The social atmosphere is so poisoned by cruelty that day by day our personal relations become more cruel, and day by day we treat ourselves with greater cruelty.
“It is the human beings’ great fears that stop them from giving life the direction and meaning longed for. Fear of poverty, of loneliness, of illness, and of death combine and become stronger in society, in human groups, and in individuals.
“But in spite of everything…in spite of everything…in spite of these unfortunate constraints, something soft as a far off sound, something light as a dawn breeze, something that begins gently is opening its way in the interior of the human being…
“So, why this hope, my soul? Why this hope, that from the darkest hours of my misfortune luminously opens its way?” (Silo, 2005)
The wonderful solidarity shown by ordinary people to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire shows the spark of the human spirit still there, and ready to act. It is the time to organise around the proposals that can change the direction of society, and thanks to the Corbyn et al. manifesto nobody can deny they exist!
(1) See http://drblayney.com/Asclepius.html