The Great Deception: Labour’s Victory is an NHS Crisis

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labour nhs
Labour’s Win and the NHS's Peril

The Great Deception: Labour’s Hollow Victory and the NHS’s Perilous Future

In the wake of last Thursday’s general election, we find ourselves in a curious predicament. The nation celebrates the ousting of a 14-year Tory kleptocracy, yet fails to recognise the Pyrrhic nature of this supposed victory. Labour, under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership, has slipped into power with a staggering supermajority of 412 seats – a feat that future historians will undoubtedly scrutinise with bewilderment.

As Noam Chomsky astutely observed, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” This election epitomised that principle, with Labour’s victory representing not a genuine shift in ideology, but merely a reshuffling within the narrow confines of neoliberal consensus.

For those who follow politics beyond the headlines, the reality is stark. Less than 20% of the electorate have ushered in a government that 80% of us didn’t actively choose. This is not a mandate; it’s a default. Labour’s coronation is not the result of a grand design or compelling manifesto, but rather the blowback from a nation utterly disillusioned with the mainstream parties.

However, the bitter pill for many Labour voters to swallow is that they’ve effectively voted in another Tory government. “The king is dead, long live the king”. Those who lent their vote to Labour on a promise of ‘change’ may find themselves sorely disappointed. As Emma Goldman once said, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” The working class, fighting daily battles against the cost of living crisis and feeling abandoned in an uncaring 21st century, may soon realise the hollowness of Labour’s promises.

Take, for instance, the NHS. Labour’s plans, spearheaded by the appointment of Blairite Alan Milburn as a key advisor, signal a troubling direction. The emphasis on ‘reform’, ‘consumer choice’, and an expanded role for the private sector echoes the very policies that have eroded the NHS’s foundations over the past decades. As Wes Streeting, the new Health Secretary, boldly declares the NHS “broken”, we must ask: broken for whom, and to whose benefit?

The NHS is Broken!

Labour’s new mantra echoes through the halls of Westminster, a haunting refrain repeated ad nauseam by Wes Streeting and Sir Keir Starmer: “The NHS is broken!” One can almost hear the gleeful rubbing of hands in private healthcare boardrooms across the land. It’s as if they’re reading from a script penned by the very architects of our public service’s demise.

The irony is palpable. Labour, once the party of the working class and the NHS’s staunchest defender, now seems poised to accelerate its privatisation under the guise of ‘pragmatism’. After just reading Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine”, I can’t help but relate as she warned in her book “This is how the shock doctrine works: the original disaster… puts the entire population into a state of collective shock. The falling buildings are the literal manifestation of an entire world coming apart.”

For us, it’s the continued chorus of “24 hours to save the NHS” that serves as our falling buildings. This manufactured crisis, this deliberate destabilisation, is nothing more than a cynical ploy to soften us up for the bitter pill of privatisation. Labour, it seems, has learned well from its Tory predecessors, employing the shock doctrine with all the finesse of a surgeon wielding a sledgehammer. They decry the state of our beloved health service while conveniently forgetting their own role in its current predicament.

And to save the NHS this new Labour government will be introducing more privatisation -Streeting’s defence of using private sector capacity to cut waiting lists ignores a crucial fact: the private health industry doesn’t employ its own workforce of doctors and nurses. It relies heavily on NHS staff working additional hours. This ‘solution’ merely transfers public money into private hands while potentially exacerbating NHS staffing issues.

Moreover, Streeting’s touted examples of Singapore’s healthcare system conveniently overlook its fundamentally different structure, built on free-market capitalism and mandatory insurance schemes – a far cry from the NHS’s founding principles. As Dr Julian Tudor Hart, a pioneer of the NHS, warned, “The inverse care law operates more completely where medical care is most exposed to market forces, and less so where such exposure is reduced.”

As we stand at this crossroads, we must remember that true change requires more than a shuffling of political deck chairs. It demands a fundamental reassessment of our priorities as a society. Will we allow the slow dismantling of one of our greatest social achievements under the guise of ‘reform’, or will we fight to preserve and truly improve a system that has served as a beacon of equality and compassion?

There are alternatives, and with a government majority of 412 why wouldn’t Labour take them?

The PFI Albatross: Labour’s Legacy of Debt

banker

In that let’s turn our attention to that most pernicious of financial instruments, the Private Finance Initiative. This Tory-conceived, New Labour-embraced monstrosity hangs around the neck of our public services like an albatross fashioned from gold bullion and taxpayers’ tears.

The figures are enough to make even the most hardened economist weep. Our nation owes a staggering £240 billion to banks and businesses thanks to these “buy now, pay later” schemes. It’s as if the entire country has been hoodwinked into signing up for a payday loan with interest rates that would make Shylock blush.

Let’s be clear: PFIs are nothing more than a mortgage taken out on behalf of the public, but with terms that would make any self-respecting homeowner run for the hills. We’re set to shell out more than £10 billion annually over the next decade just to service these financial folies de grandeur. And like any good loan shark’s offer, the cost keeps creeping up.

The National Audit Office, in a moment of bureaucratic understatement, notes that this financial chicanery might reduce public spending figures in the short term. But in the long run? It’s the public who’ll be picking up the tab, with interest.

As David Graeber, the anthropologist and activist, noted in his book “Debt: The First 5000 Years”, “The history of debt is also a history of morality and, above all, a history of power.” The PFI saga exemplifies this, representing a massive transfer of wealth from the public purse to private hands, all under the guise of fiscal responsibility.

nhs not for sale

This is the real waste in our NHS, the severed artery through which our national treasure bleeds out. If we truly want to stop the bleeding, we must address the PFI issue head-on. As journalist George Monbiot succinctly put it, “PFI is a scam, a con, a racket… that allows private companies to grow fat on public money.”

The challenge for any government serious about preserving the NHS is clear: confront the PFI debacle, renegotiate these contracts, and redirect funds from banker’s profits to patient care. Without addressing this fundamental issue, all other reforms risk being mere window dressing on a crumbling edifice.

So as we scrutinise Labour’s plans for the NHS, we must not lose sight of this elephant in the room. The PFI legacy represents not just a financial burden, but a moral one – a betrayal of the principles of public service and fiscal responsibility that both major parties claim to uphold.

If Labour truly wanted to save our NHS, if they genuinely wish to stem the tide of privatisation they once claimed to oppose, then they would address the PFI scandal. Stop the bleeding, and cease this feeding frenzy for the bankers.

But will they? Given their track record and current trajectory, I wouldn’t hold my breath. It seems the spirit of New Labour lives on, all too willing to sacrifice the principles of public service on the altar of private profit. For the people the fight, it seems, is far from over.

In the words of Harry Leslie Smith, who lived through the creation of the NHS, “As someone who saw a Britain without a NHS, I know that it is the most civilised thing in this country. We must retain it in public hands and away from the marketplace.” As Labour voters wake up to the reality of what they’ve ushered in, heeding these words may be more crucial than ever.

For those who voted for change when they voted Labour, I’m afraid you’ve got it, just not quite the change you were hoping for…

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