How Committed Have the Lib-Dems Ever Been to the NHS?

Looking at the way the Lib-Dems have given their full support to Conservative attempts to dismantle the Health Service, I wonder how committed they have ever been to it. I raise that question because I can remember the statement made about it by the Two Davids in their campaign during the 1987 elections. at the time the Conservatives were considering its privatisation. Lord North wanted the welfare state to be dismantled, and the NHS sold off. Messers Steel and Owen, marching about the country in their woolly sweaters, declared that it shouldn’t matter whether the Health Service was public or private. What should matter was that treatment was free. Looking back at it, it seems their support for the NHS in the face of demands for its privatisation by New Right was tepid.

I also wonder how far Clegg is influenced by other European health services. A Swiss friend once told me that in Switzerland, health care is partly paid for through insurance contributions. The Swiss government will pay for the health care of the very poor. The rich pay for their medical treatment through insurance, as in America. Most people pay for their treatment through a mixture of private and government insurance cover. Clegg’s wife is Spanish, and I wonder if that’s the case in Spain. It’s also the case in some high-spending American states. This might make it attractive to that part of the British establishment that wishes to import the American system, without going as far as the more extreme states that have attempted to leave it as much as possible to private insurance.

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5 Responses to “How Committed Have the Lib-Dems Ever Been to the NHS?”

  1. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political.

  2. Brian Dove Says:

    I don’t know about Spain, but in France most people (with the exception of the unemployed or those on a very low wage) pay through a mixture of private and government insurance.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks for that, Brian. I got the impression that the mixture of private and government insurance schemes is common across most of Europe. Which raises the question of whether there’s also pressure from the EU for the British system to be replaced with the Continental model.

  3. rainbowwarriorlizzie Says:


  4. Brian Dove Says:

    The health system in France is in crisis. It is vastly expensive (3 times more expensive than the NHS) waiting lists are becoming longer and longer and staffing levels at the hospitals (which are all privately owned) are appallingly low. All my French friends are (were?) envious of the British NHS.

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