A few weeks back at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, something very, very strange happened. Well actually, I’m sure many very, very strange things happened, but I’m thinking of one incident in particular.
The Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly appeared to claim that it was the Conservative Party that founded the NHS. This was very unusual because the NHS was founded in 1948 under the Labour Government led by Clement Attlee. What’s more, the Conservatives voted repeatedly against its creation!
So why tell this bizarre lie? Well, the Conservatives realise that we in Britain cherish our precious National Health Service, which provides top quality healthcare free at the point of delivery. It is something that we in Britain (and particularly those of us in the Labour Party) are rightly incredibly proud of.
Given how strongly we all feel about the NHS, the Tories are keen to use this, with Boris Johnson laughably claiming that they are the “party of the NHS”. Strange, you may be thinking, given that if the Tories had had their way in the 1940s, there would be no NHS.
Johnson’s most senior and trusted advisor let the truth slip when he told a public meeting, “I know a lot of Tory MPs… Tory MPs largely do not care about these poorer people. They don’t care about the NHS”.
You only have to look at what the most senior Conservative ministers were saying before they were elected to Parliament. Take the Prime Minister himself – who wrote in support of privatisation of NHS services, saying “if people have to pay for them, they will value them more”. You’d be shocked how many cabinet members have written or spoken in favour of privatising our NHS but now claim in public that they would never do such a thing.
This is very important, in part because Boris Johnson is keen to get a quick and dirty trade deal with the United States, where people pay thousands of dollars every year in medical insurance and can be turned away from hospital because they can’t afford treatment.
President Trump made it clear earlier this year that our NHS would be “on the table” in UK-US trade negotiations – that would mean opening up our NHS to more privatisation at the hands of greedy US pharmaceutical and healthcare corporations. Given their track record on the NHS, I for one don’t trust this Tory Government to protect our NHS in these circumstances.
We need to make it clear to the Tories, we love our NHS and it is not for sale!