The arrogance of this Con-Dem government in pushing through unpopular and unjustifiable changes to our health service is matched only by its brazen willingness to justify its behaviour through blatant lies.
David Cameron’s wild claim that any delay of what he calls “essential reform” will cause huge sums to be lost to the NHS is unjustifiable.
The principal cause of financial loss to the NHS is government policy and the most prominent manifestation of this is the Con-Dem coalition demand that the health service bring in £20 billion of savings – cuts in other words.
Once again, the government is using the financial crisis triggered by banking sector adventurism to implement the kind of assault on the public sector that the Tories have always dreamed of carrying out but have known that voters would have refused to back.
And that is precisely the case now. Neither Cameron nor his new best friend Nick Clegg gave any indication of a looming crisis at the NHS before the general election.
Indeed, Cameron did a remarkable impersonation of his hero Margaret Thatcher, who lied before the 1979 general election that the NHS would be “safe in our hands,” promising that there would be no major reorganisation of the health service.
This reorganisation is not about efficiency.
It is about dismantling a structure that works and substituting a vast bureaucracy that the Tory-led government touts as a means of putting health professionals, especially GPs, in the driving seat, but which in reality will provide a bonanza for private health-care companies.
The Tories were opposed to the establishment of the NHS and have never been reconciled to its existence.
As with education they have always believed that wealth should be the deciding factor in the quality of service provided. But public hostility to private medicine has always prevented them from making this policy preference a central part of their manifesto.
However, a combination of hysteria over the government’s budget deficit and the disgusting willingness of Clegg’s Liberal Democrats to sell their principles for the chance to warm their backsides on the government benches have presented the Tories with a prime opportunity.
As usual when there is some dirty deal afoot, Cameron has been able to cite the record of new Labour to suggest that there is nothing unremarkable or extremist taking place.
He claims that Blair discovered that delaying public-service “reform” leads to “institutional inertia” against change.
What united NHS staff and teachers in state schools against the so-called reforms driven through by Blair and Gordon Brown was not institutional inertia but the well-grounded awareness of professionals dedicated to their public service that the reforms were a backward step.
Brown was a single-minded advocate of private finance initiatives to fund new hospitals, schools, prisons and other public institutions, even though they were expensive, inefficient and undermined public ownership.
But Brown’s ulterior motive was that PFI schemes did not show up on the balance sheet as public borrowing, as the more cost-effective and accountable Treasury loans would have done.
Public-service workers were told that there just wasn’t the money available for Treasury loans or for rail renationalisation and then Brown set aside £1.3 trillion to bail out the banks.
The Tories are taking this process one step further, using Brown’s borrowing as the false justification for privatisation of our public services.
They must be stopped.