Posts Tagged ‘Robin Cook’

Jeremy Corbyn on the Chilcot Report in Counterpart

July 7, 2016

Counterpunch, the American radical Left magazine, has published a transcript of Jeremy Corbyn’s remarks to parliament on the Chilcot report yesterday. Mr Corbyn duly pays tribute to the hundreds of British servicemen and women, who have been killed in Iraq, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. He states the war was not, as Chilcot has concluded a last resort, and it has vindicated the 1.5 million people across the whole spectrum of British society and politics, who marched against the war. He mentions specifically in this the late Labour politician, Robin Cook. He describes the way the war destroyed Iraq, and the lethal sectarianism that it has provoked. He also reminds parliament that those who marched against the war knew how terrible Saddam Hussein’s regime was, and had protested against it, when Thatcher’s government had been supporting it. They protested against the war because they knew that Hussein’s Iraq was not a threat and the pretexts offered in the report were ‘flimsy’. He states that the principle cause of the war was the desire to follow the Americans into a conflict that was both unprovoked and colonial, and cites the general Major General Michael Laurie, who said that the army knew at the time that the dossier was to make the case for war, rather to produce unbiased evidence. Corbyn also makes several recommendations to prevent such a situation occurring again. This include great supervision of the security and intelligence services, strengthening the position of the cabinet, and giving parliament the ultimate power over the decision to go to war. He also wants greater legal controls and supervision over drone strikes.

Corbyn in his statement before the House mentioned that he had been meeting the families of some of the British servicemen and women killed during the War, as well as Iraqis, and was going on afterwards to meet more of them. He also announced his intention to consult the British public and Iraqis about the decision to send this country to war.

The article is at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/07/06/the-iraq-war-was-an-act-of-military-aggression-launched-on-a-false-pretext-on-the-chilcot-inquiry-report/ It deserves to be read.

Corbyn is, of course, entirely right, though his remarks are likely to provoke opposition. Lobster, the parapolitics magazine, has argued from its very beginning that the intelligence services, including British, are out of control. In the case of Britain, they are at best incompetent, at worst, murderous, as shown by their collusion in a ‘dirty war’ of assassination and extra-judicial execution of Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland.

As for strengthening parliament and the cabinet, the Tories themselves complained at the way Tony Blair was intent on reducing the powers of both, to create a powerful, centralised ‘presidential’ post of Prime Minister. Nevertheless, they will oppose his demands to make parliament, not the prime minister, responsible for the decision to go to war. I’ve already found a book written by a Tory MP against such a proposition in Waterstones. I can’t remember the title, nor the author, but its argument was that taking the decision away from the Prime Minister would weaken the country’s ability to defend itself. I can see the logic behind it, but I think it comes from that part of the Tory party that still hankers after imperial glory, when Britain’s armies conquered one sixth of the world’s land area. I also think that while it might slow down decisions to go to war, it would make such decisions much more democratic and, more importantly, correct, both morally and for reasons of national security. After all, Blair’s invasion of Iraq demonstrates the powerful reasons for this. It was undemocratic, and not justified either morally or for reasons of national security. Hussein was a thug, but he was not a threat. Other Middle Eastern nations regarded his regime as a joke. The decision to go to war was made purely on cynical, economic and political grounds, in which plundering the country of its oil and profitable state industries figured largely.

A stronger parliament and cabinet may not prevent such unjust wars happening again, but they will be another constitutional check in the British system of constitutional checks, to make such arbitrary and bloody decisions less likely.

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Owen Jones on the Chilcot Report, the Iraq War and Tony Blair

July 6, 2016

The news today has been dominated by the Chilcot report, and its findings about the launch of the Iraq War by Tony Blair. In this video from Owen Jones, the author of Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, gives his view on the moral and possible legal culpable of Blair for starting a war that has killed hundreds of thousands, destroyed an entire nation, and caused the entire Middle East to descend further into chaos and carnage.

He states that the report’s publication and its conclusions gives him no satisfaction, but it does vindicate what opponents of the war had said. He quotes a Labour MP, Simpson, who used to be his boss, who stated that Blair was desperate to join Bush in a war regardless of the cause; that the country was being pushed to war. He notes that Chilcot has also confirmed that the intelligence reports, which formed the basis for Blair’s decision to go to war, were ‘flawed’. He quotes Christian Aid, a charity, not a political organisation, who also opposed the war because they believed it would lead to further internal violence in Iraq, and that Iran would seek its own advantages. Jones notes that at the time the anti-War protesters were attacked and vilified by a press determined to promote the war. He also urges his viewers not to be taken in by Blair, when the man the Italians dubbed ‘The Scrounger’ (but in Italian, obviously) says that it’s all obvious in hindsight, but couldn’t be known at the time. Jones makes it very clear from all the above that it was very clearly understood by the war’s opponents at the time how dreadful it would be and the terrible consequences.

Jones states that the report doesn’t conclude whether there is a legal base for prosecuting Blair. He hopes that is the case, and that there will now be moves to see if such a trial is possible. But even if he isn’t legally liable, he is morally culpable. He, and the media that enabled and promoted the war, have to live with that. And the consequences of this conflict will be with us for decades to come.

Jones is correct, and his video is cut with shots of anti-war protests and demonstrators. It’s refreshing to see on this video quotations from the Labour and Left-wing protesters against the war, like Jones’ old boss, Simpson, and the late Robin Cook. Cook resigned because of the war, and was arguable the man, who should have led the Labour party. I can remember seeing Simon Hoggart, the journalist and compere of the News Quiz on Radio 4, Giles Brandreth, a former Tory cabinet minister, before he became one of the faces on The One Show, and Brandreth’s Labour opposite number, talking about political diaries at the Cheltenham Literary Festival one year. Brandreth said that Cook was the man the Tories were dreading would lead Labour, because of his incisive, forensic intelligence. At the time, here in my part of the West Country, most of the voices raised in protest were Tories. On the local news this evening the Bridgwater MP, Tom King, and two other Tories have appeared commenting on the Report and how they were against the war at the time. This is true. Peter Hitchens, the former Marxist, now right-wing journo, has always made it very clear that he despises Blair for starting wars that have sent good men and women to deaths for absolutely no good reason. And while I don’t like Hitchen’s views on the return of the death penalty, or his tough stance on law ‘n’ order, I respect him for his views on Blair. I am much more suspicious about other members of the Tory party, because of the way they threw their weight behind Maggie’s and Major’s wars – the Falklands and then Gulf War I. I wondered at the time how much of their opposition was due principle, and how much was simply because Blair had stolen their mantle as the ‘war party’, just like he stole so much of Conservatism. Their opposition to the war did have some effect. One of my friends, who’s actually very left-wing, started reading the Spectator for a time, because it ran articles by a leading Tory – possibly Matthew Parris, but I couldn’t swear to it – attacking the war. It’s good to be reminded that there were those on the Left as well, who marched and protested against it. And not just the supporters of George Galloway.

As for the intelligence that Blair used to take us to war, Chilcot is too kind, or perhaps just understandably cautious, when he refers to it as ‘flawed’. It wasn’t. It was deliberately doctored. And from what I understand from Lobster – which is a vociferous opponent of British intelligence services – the pressure to inflate and distort the evidence came, not from the intelligence services, but from Blair and his cabinet.

Jeremy Corbyn has made it very clear that he wishes to prosecute Bliar for war crimes. I don’t know if that will ever happen, as I can imagine the political and media class closing ranks very quickly to shut down that possibility. But the Chilcot report does show that Bliar is morally, if not legally culpable, as Jones points out. The rhyme was right:

Blair lied:
People died.

And the tragedy and injustice is that people have gone on and will go on dying, long after Blair has receded from public life.

The Week Demands Part-Privatisation of NHS

April 18, 2015

Amongst the other snippets taken from the press the I published yesterday in its ‘The Opinion Matrix’ column, was this piece from the Week’s editorial arguing for the part privatisation of the NHS.

It is clear that the next government will inherit a health service under huge financial pressure – so could a form of privatisation help fix the “financial hole”? This is not a new phenomenon.

Indeed it is not. It was suggested back in the 1980s by a group set up by Maggie Thatcher to examine the ways of increasing the role of private enterprise in the NHS. The Private Finance Initiative set up by Peter Lilley was, according to Private Eye, part of this. As has been Nigel Farage’s suggestion that the NHS should be financed through insurance contributions.

In fact the NHS is far more efficient than the privately run, insurance-funded American system. This has seen a massive increase in bills for patients from the private medical providers and the insurance companies. Forty per cent of bankruptcies in America are due to inability to pay medical bills. Much of the increased costs in the health service is actually due to the internal market and repayments to the private companies administering the hospitals due the PFI. And the use of insurance to top up state financing of the NHS was discussed and firmly rejected by Robin Cook in his pamphlet on the NHS published back in 1987.

You could make the NHS more efficient and save money by simply ending PFI and the internal market.

This would, however, horrify the parasites in the private medical companies now trying to worm their way into the NHS by sponsoring parties, as well as their puppets and cheerleaders in the Conservatives, Lib Dems and the Tory Press.

One element of which is the Week. I gave up reading it a few years ago because of its Tory bias. That little snippet in the I has not encouraged me to return to it.

Ed Miliband, on the other hand, has stated that he will end the privatisation of the NHS, which Clegg and Cameron have not. And for that reason, as well as many others, I feel he should be supported on May 7th.

Mirror: Farage Wants to Wealthy to Abandon NHS

March 18, 2015

Yesterday’s Daily Mirror carried the story UKIP leader Nigel Farage wants wealthy to abandon NHS and advocates two-tier health system reporting that the Fuhrage had urged those who could afford to do so to opt for private healthcare. The Mirror also reported that on Pienaar’s Politics’ on Radio 5 Live, the Purple Duce claimed that private healthcare offered a better service than the NHS. He also supported foreign private healthcare firms entering the country, on the grounds that they brought a lot of money into the economy. The article states that this is just the latest attack on the NHS by Farage, and cited the video of Farage’s speech way back in 2012 in which he stated he’d rather see people pick up private health insurance than have £100 million in tax annually spent on the NHS.

The article also notes that Farage wasn’t the only one to attack the NHS. Bill Etheridge, one of Farage’s Euro MPs, had stated that certain elective operations should not be performed by the NHS. This would cover non-essential and cosmetic surgery and fertility treatment.

He also claimed that only 20 per cent of the country’s top youngster should go to University. These kids would then have their education totally financed by the state.

The Labour MP John Spellar attacked his recommendation, saying that it would mean that higher education was reserved solely for the elite from private schools. It would also wipe out some of the new university towns such as Wolverhampton and Birmingham City.

And he also made the point that if Etheridge and Fuhrage had their way, non-essential but nevertheless important operations like hip replacements would be very difficult to get.

The article began:

Mr Farage said: “If people can afford it, should people go private? Yes… private medicine brings a lot of money into this country and is no bad thing”

Wealthy Nigel Farage today called on people to abandon the NHS and use private health firms instead.

The UKIP leader said anyone who can afford private healthcare should pay for it.

Furious critics said it proved he supports a two-tier health system.

“If people can afford it, should people go private? Yes,” Mr Farage said.

Grahame Morris, a member of the Commons health select committee, said: “Nigel Farage has let the cat out of the bag.

“UKIP are proposing a break with the fundamental principles of the National Health Service.”

The article’s at http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/amazon-review-nigel-farage-book-5352039

I blogged earlier in the week about the profound disadvantages of private medical insurance. Rather than being more efficient than the NHS, it is more expensive, more bureaucratic and specifically excludes certain, expensive conditions that are difficult or impossible to treat, such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy. Or at least it did when Robin Cook published his own pamphlet attacking the marketization of the NHS nearly thirty years ago. I really don’t think much has changed since. The people, who really benefit from private medical insurance are the wealthy and the well, the two sections of the population, who really don’t need it.

Lies and Secrecy in the Tory Privatisation of the NHS

March 16, 2015

NHS-privatisation

Yesterday I put up an extract from Robin Cook’s Fabian Society pamphlet, Life Begins at 40: In Defence of the NHS, refuting health insurance as an acceptable source of funding for the NHS. Cook had been prompted to write the pamphlet in response to a review of the NHS by Maggie Thatcher. He was concerned at the way the review seemed less interested in improving the performance of the NHS as a state institution, than in opening it up to the market. Cook’s fears have been born out in the decades since. The Tories introduced the internal market under John Major. The role of the private sector in the NHS was then taken up and expanded further by Tony Blair. Now, nearly three decades after Cook wrote his pamphlet, the Tories are once again privatising the NHS.

This is being done piecemeal, and is shrouded in secrecy and denials. There are 92 Tory and Lib Dem MPs who stand to gain financially and commercially through their business contacts with private healthcare firms. Andrew Lansley himself has advocated the dismantlement of the NHS and its replacement with a private, insurance based healthcare system. So has Nick Clegg in the Lib Dems. Yet when one Tory official candidly stated that ‘in five years the NHS as we know it will not exist’, Tory Central Office immediately started issuing denials and spurious clarifications. The original statement made it clear that they expected the NHS to be sold off, and what remained of its bureaucracy would merely be concerned with processing the private insurance claims.

Not so, according to the ‘clarification’ issued by the Tory apparatchiks. What he meant, they claimed, was that the Tories would cut simply cut bureaucracy and improve efficiency. He never said anything about privatisation. ‘Onest, Guv.

It’s a lie. And the Tories have a long record on lying. To go back to the beginning of Cameron’s government, the plastic-faced android Toff promised that NHS spending would be ring-fenced and protected from cuts. This has most definitely not been carried out, and indeed the Tories have tried to purge the records of that promise ever having been made from their own internet site.

This is just part of the Tories’ long term strategy of secrecy and denial when it came to NHS privatisation. Thatcher also claimed that she would not privatise the NHS. Even so, documents released a year or so ago under the 30 year rule show that the review she commissioned argued for its privatisation. One of the authors of the report was Wassermann, who is now one of Cameron’s assistants on health policy.

Cook in his pamphlet also remarks on the secrecy surrounding the compilation of the review, and the way Labour researchers were denied information on it. Cook wrote:

This is not Review by independent inquiry but Review by Cabinet sub-committee. Entertainingly in the first week after the Review was appointed the Table Office of the House of Commons declined to accept parliamentary questions about it, as internal Government committees officially do not exist.

Not that we have learnt much more since questions have been accepted. Ministers have refused to publish any of the evidence submitted to the Review as some of it may have been confidential. They have refused to name the organisations who submitted evidence on the imaginative grounds that “it would be impracticable to try to distinguish between those communications which see themselves as specifically ‘submitting evidence’ and those which do not, but which may, nevertheless, be relevant to the continuing review process”.

Even our attempts to obtain the official remit of the Review have been baffled by the formula that the Review is “wide-ranging and fundamental”.

Tory policy on the privatisation of the NHS has not changed in the decades since then. It is still one of secret privatisation masked by public denial.

Tory Secrecy and Lies about Workfare

The privatisation of the NHS is not the only area of Tory policy, about which the government remains secret in order to prevent any criticism. Johnny Void has repeatedly blogged about how the identity of the firms involved in the Tories’ workfare scheme have also not been released. In this case the Tories have admitted that they are afraid that the scheme is unpopular, and fear that if the names of the participating companies were made known, they would be placed under massive pressure to withdraw. As a result, the scheme would be unworkable.

Lies and Secrecy about Sanctions Deaths

And Mike over at Vox Political and other bloggers about disabled issues have also met with refusals for their inquiries into the numbers, who have died after being assessed as fit and well under the Work Capability Assessment. Mike has estimated the number to be about 55,000 a year. Yet we cannot know the real figures, because the government says they are collating them for release later as part of government policy. They’ve been doing this for two or three years now. And if you try to ask for this information, you will see your request turned down as ‘frivolous’.

Secrecy about Honours Candidates

And yesterday it was reported that the Tories weren’t going to announce their honours list until after the election, because there were fears that too many of the MPs named would have been caught up in corruption scandals, like Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind.

So much for Cameron’s vow that this would be the most open and transparent government.

The Tories are privatising the NHS, and literally killing people with the sanctions system. This is being covered-up through lies and denials. Just as the party has always lied and covered up the truth.

Robin Cook’s Attack on Private Health Insurance for the NHS

March 15, 2015

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I’ve blogged several times about the threat to the NHS from the Tories and the Lib Dems. There are 92 Conservative and Lib Dem ministers, who advocate the privatisation of the Health Service, and who stand personally to gain from it. They include Iain Duncan Smith, the current minister for culling the poor, the sick and the old. Andrew Lansley, the current health minister, has openly stated he is in favour of privatising it. So has Nigel Farage, and the Unterkippergruppenfuhrer, Paul Nuttall.

I blogged earlier today about the Fuhrage’s forked tongue about the NHS, and how he follows the Tory policy going all the way back to Thatcher of promising to defend it while secretly plotting how to sell it off. In the 1980s, Thatcher set up a review into the NHS and its funding. This so alarmed Labour’s Robin Cook, that he wrote a Fabian pamphlet, Life Begins at 40: In Defence of the NHS, attacking possible proposals to privatise the Health Service.

Previous reviews had given the NHS a clean bill of health. The extremely high quality of the NHS and its doctors was recognised by the heads of American healthcare firms: Dr Marvin Goldberg, chief executive of the AMI health group, told a parliamentary select committee that the Health Service provides ‘outstanding health care and British NHS hospitals are at least as good as those in America while British doctors are better.’

The then Conservative MP for Newbury, Michael McNair-Wilson, also testified to the effectiveness of the NHS. He had suffered kidney failure. He had private health insurance, but it did not cover operations such as the one he needed because of the expense. He said ‘I have cost the NHS tens of thousands of pounds – much more than I could have afforded privately … Had my treatment depended on my ability to pay, I would not be alive today.’

Pre-NHS Britain: Some Areas Completely Without Hospitals

Cook’s pamphlet also graphically described the patchwork state of healthcare in Britain before the NHS. In London, where there were plenty of paying customers, there could be hospitals in neighbouring streets. Out in the poorer British provinces, there were hardly any, and many operations were carried out not by surgeons but by GPs. He cites Julian Tudor Hart’s book, A New Kind of Doctor, to show how bad this could be. Hart described how he joined one of those practices in Kettering. One patient was left under anaesthetic as the London specialist operating on him was called away to continue a stomach operation on a London patient, which the operating GP had been unable to complete.

Cook was deeply concerned that the Tories’ review would not be at all interested in improving quality, only in opening up the NHS to the market and privatisation.

Cook on Private Health Insurance

One of the issues he tackled in the pamphlet was the possibility of the introduction of private health insurance. This covers two pages and a column and a bit in the original pamphlet. This is what he wrote, though emphases and paragraph titles are mine.

The mechanism proposed to square the incompatibility of health care with the market is insurance. All market approaches to the NHS submitted to the Review stress the case for much wider private insurance and almost as frequently propose subsidies to boost it.

Insurance-Based Systems Encourage Expensive Treatment

The first thing to be said is that private insurance does not offer to health care the alleged benefits of the discipline of the market place. At the point when the individual requires treatment he or she has already paid the premiums and has no incentive not to consume as expensive a treatment as can be reconciled with the policy. The position of the doctor is even more prejudiced in that he or she has every incentive to obtain as much as possible from the insurance company by recommending the most expensive treatment. Both patient and the doctor are in a conspiracy to make the consultation as costly as possible, which is a perverse outcome for a proposal frequently floated by those who claim to be concerned about cost control.

Insurance-Based Systems Encourage Unnecessary Surgery

The compulsion in an insurance-based system to maximise the rate of return is the simple explanation why intervention surgery is so much more often recommended in the United States. For example, the incidence of hysterectomy there is four times the British rate. This is unlikely to reflect higher morbidity rates but much more likely to reflect the greater willingness of doctors on a piece-work basis to recommend it, despite the operative risks and in the case of this particular operation the documented psychological trauma. I can guarantee that an expansion of private insurance will certainly meet the objective on increasing expenditure on health care, but it is not equally clear that the money will be spent effectively.

Insurance-Based Systems Require Expensive bureaucracy to Check Costs

One direct diversion of resources imposed by any insurance-based scheme is the necessity for accountants and clerks and lawyers to assess costs and process claims. The NHS is routinely accused of excessive bureaucracy, frequently I regret to say by the very people who work within it and are in a position to know it is not true. Expenditure in the NHS is lower as a proportion of budget than the health system of any other nation, lower as a proportion of turnover than the private health sector within Britain, and come to that, lower than the management costs of just about nay other major enterprise inside or outside the public sector. I am not myself sure that this is a feature of which we should be proud. ON the contrary it is evidence of a persistent undermanaging of the NHS, which is largely responsible for its failure to exploit new developments in communication, cost control and personnel relations. Nevertheless, there is no more pointless expansion of administrative costs than the dead-weight of those required to police and process and insurance-based system. These costs would be considerable.

Forty per cent of personal bankruptcies in the US are attributable to debts for medical care

Part of this additional cost burden is incurred in the task of hunting down bad debts, which does not contribute in any way to the provision of health care. Forty per cent of personal bankruptcies in the US are attributable to debts for medical care, a salutary reminder of the limitations set to insurance cover. These limitations have three dimensions.

Insurance Cover Excludes Chronic and Long-Term Sick, and the Elderly

First, insurance cover generally excludes those conditions which are chronic and therefore expensive or complicated and therefore expensive. Standard exclusions in British insurance policies are arthritis, renal dialysis, multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy. Most people do not require substantial medical care until after retirement. Most insurance cover excludes the very conditions for which they are then most likely to require treatment. Short of retirement, the most expensive health care required by the majority of the population is maternity care, which is also excluded by the majority of insurance policies.

Private Healthcare Limits Amount of Care due to Cost, not Need

Secondly, insurance cover is generally restricted by upper limits which are arbitrary in every sense other than financial. I recently met a psychiatric consultant to a private clinic, who was prepared to discuss candidly the ethical dilemmas of treating patients whose financial cover is fixed at five weeks of residential care, but whose response to treatment may indicate that a longer period of hospitalisation is desirable.

Private Health Care Geared to Selling to Healthy not Sick

Thirdly, insurance cover is further limited by exclusion of those most likely to claim on it. I am often struck at the sheer healthiness of the patients who illustrate the promotional literature of BUPA and PPP who appear in such pink of good cheer and fitness that it is difficult to figure out why they are in a hospital bed. These models are though in a sense most suitable for the purpose as the objective of insurance companies is to attract the healthy. They therefore claim the right to screen for the unhealthy and reject them from cover. This discriminatory approach was defended earlier this month by the managing director of WPA, Britain’s third biggest health insurer, on the principled grounds that it meant ‘essentially healthy people are not penalised by unhealthy people.’ This statement has the advantage of originality in that it perceives healthy people as the vulnerable group and proposes a market remedy that protects them from the inconvenient costs of the unhealthy.

Given this limited character of health insurance in Britain, the private sector is patently not in a position to substitute for the NHS and to be fair most directors of BUPA or PPP would be horrified at the notion of accepting the comprehensive, open-ended liabilities of the NHS. It is therefore perplexing that so much effort in and around the Review appears to be addressed to the issue of how the private sector may be expanded rather than how the public sector may be improved. Two major devices are being canvassed to boost private cover-tax relief on private cover or opt-out from public cover, or for all I know both of them together. Both would be a major mistake.

Tax Relief on Private Healthcare

Tax relief is open to the obvious objection that it targets help most on those who need it least – the healthy who are most likely to be accepted for private cover and the wealthy whose higher tax rates make relief most vulnerable. These are curious priorities for additional health expenditure.

Tax Relief Does Not Create Higher Spending on Health Care

Moreover, even in its own terms of stimulating higher spending on health, tax relief is likely to prove an ineffective mechanism. If for example the average premium is £200 pa the cost of tax relief for 6 million insured persons will be £300 million. The numbers under insurance need to increase by a third before the increased spending on premiums matches the cost of the subsidy and provides any net increase in health spending. Up to that point it will always produce a larger rise in health spending to increase the budget of the NHS by a sum equivalent to the cost of tax relief.

It is apparently being mooted that these objections could be circumvented by limiting the tax relief to the elderly. At this point the proposal moves from the perverse to the eccentric. This restriction targets help for private insurance on the very group for whom private cover is most inappropriate as their most likely health needs are the ones most likely to be excluded from cover. Only a moment’s reflection is required on the multiple ways in which we need to expand our health provision for the elderly to expose the hopeless irrelevance of tax relief as the solution for them.

Opt-Out Penalises those who Remain in the System

Opt-out is even more objectionable. The basic problem with opt-out is that it requires the payment towards the NHS of every individual to be expressed in a manner that gives him or her something to opt-out from. The principal attraction to Leon Brittan of his proposal for an NHS insurance contribution appeared to be precisely that it paved the way for opting out ( A New Deal for Health Care, Conservative Political Centre,, 1988). Nor is this inconvenience confined to the need for a whole new element in the tax system. If one in ten of the population chose to opt out, it would be remaining nine out of ten who would have to prove they were not opted-out when they went along to seek treatment. With the new contributions comes a requirement to maintain a record of payment of them, and presumably a mechanism for credits to those not in work but who do not wish to be counted has having opted out of the NHS.

Private Healthcare Undermine NHS as Universal System

The more fundamental objection both these proposals is they explicitly threaten the NHS as universal health service catering for everyone. Moreover, they threaten its universality in the worst possible way, by encouraging those with higher incomes and lower health needs to get out, leaving behind the less affluent and the less fit. In this respect such an approach to the NHS would be a piece with the Government’s strategy of erosion towards the rest of the social services-housing, pensions, and now education, where the Government has encouraged those who could afford it to opt-out of public provision, leaving behind the poor who could be expected to put6 up with a poor service.

This is the reality of the private healthcare system which Cameron, Clegg, Farage and the rest of the Right wish to introduce. It is expensive, bureaucratic, does not stimulating further spending, and excludes those with the most acute and expensive medical need, especially the elderly.

And the Tories and their counterparts in UKIP and the Lib Dems know it. Why else would the Tories spend their time trying to deny what they’re doing? Why does Farage appear to be advocating retaining the NHS, while arguing for an insurance based system, like America? It’s because they know that private medicine does not provide the solutions they claim. It is only source of further enrichment to them and their corporate donors.

And since Cook wrote that pamphlet, more than 20 per cent of all Americans can no longer afford their healthcare. It’s why the firms are trying to get their feet under the table over here.

Don’t let them. Miliband has promised to reverse the privatisation of the NHS. Support him in the coming election.