Saturday, August 15, 2009

Does our Prime Minister have nothing else to do?

On Wednesday evening I received a message about the BBC and the NHS (both using taxpayers’ money) joining in a Twitter campaign to promote the joys of the NHS in the United States where the battle about Obamacare healthcare reform health insurance reform is raging.

Would I join the battle and Twitter anti-NHS messages? My reply was that I don’t do Twitter as it is a waste of time and see no point in joining the battle that way but I shall alert a few American bloggers. This I duly did and they duly ignored me. In fact, as far as I can make out nobody apart from the British media is at all excited about that campaign.

As I wrote on EUReferendum, in connection with the ill-fated attempt on the part of the Guardian and its readers to tell Americans how to vote, this sort of behaviour is not well regarded in other countries, especially as feelings are already running high.

By now probably everybody knows about the idiotic Twitter campaign on which various people, led by the PM and his fragrant wife, told those boorish Yanks that they love the NHS. Also everybody knows that the whole debate here has degenerated into another discussion about Daniel Hannan MEP, who has clearly abandoned all hope of making himself a career in domestic British politics and is spending a great deal of his time taking part in American talk shows and participating in American debates.

In response he has been called unpatriotic and an opponent of the Conservative Party, both ideas completely idiotic. Why on earth is it unpatriotic to criticize the NHS, a failed model of healthcare, if ever there was one? (It is not, in fact, being proposed in the United States, in so far as we know what is being proposed.)

So we have a situation in which the Americans are discussing the future of healthcare in their country, with occasional reference to the NHS though that rather silly nonsense about Stephen Hawking was not used by American conservatives, despite James Delingpole’s winsome little posting. The story appeared briefly on one outlet and was taken off as soon as the mistakes in it were pointed out.

Would that stupid and ignorant comments about American healthcare made by all sorts of people in Britain could be taken off as soon as mistakes were pointed out. But no, we are superior and we know best even when we do not bother to find out what is going on.

I had one debate with one of these superior personalities who was making sniffy comments about whacky death panel arguments. I suggested that he stopped using words like whacky and tried to find out what has been said about those panels including some serious analysis of Obama’s comments about his grandmother’s hip replacement operation. In return I was told that this particular idiot was not going to get involved in Palinesque wackiness. End of discussion with one rather stupid and ignorant person chuckling at his own wit and intelligence and no understanding that actually Palin won the debate.

The best summary of all the misunderstandings and stupidities spouted on both sides of the Pond was made by Dizzy on his blog, which I rarely read as I am not particularly interested in the topics he chooses. Perhaps I shall do so hereafter.
Sadly, unlike what’s going on in USA right now, the structure and delivery of healthcare services is not even a matter for discussion in the UK anymore. Instead, the snobbish and arrogant British superiority complex rears its head, and stupidly deems that the structure we have is the best possible. Bland, meaningless and nonsense statements about it being the "envy of the world" are rolled out, and the debate is simplified down to "spending more money is good, spending less is bad".

Essentially we have an infantile level of debate on the subject in the UK, and hilariously we have the balls to start trying to preach to a country on the other side of the Atlantic about how wonderful our system is and how terribly evil theirs’ is? Frankly, it's pathetic. On one side we have a system being caricatured and used as a political football, whilst on the other we have panty wetting screaming and shouting about how terribly unfair the caricature is, and equally silly caricatures thrown back. It makes everyone look like complete and total morons.
One cannot help thinking that all this insane and vociferous support for the NHS is another display of our favourite sport – America-bashing, particularly right-wing America-bashing. Hey, some Americans on the right have made rude comments about our beloved NHS. How dare they? How bloody dare they? We know that they spend their whole time killing off poor people and their healthcare is the worst in the world with people dying in the streets because there is no NHS to save them.

What do you mean they have Medicaid and their survival rate of every serious disease is considerably higher than ours? What has that to do with anything?

People are complaining about the NHS and ever more Brits are taking out private health insurance? What has that to do anything? We are out to prove to those uppity Yanks that we are the best in the world and that our … sob …. our very own NHS as created by Nye Bevan, using the Soviet model is the envy of the world. What do you mean nobody in the world has imitated it? What has that to do with anything?

Three questions present themselves immediately. One is about our Prime Minister. Has he really nothing else to do but to get involved in what is, after all, an internal debate in the United States of an extent that he would not dare to start in this country?

The second one is a little more complicated. Just exactly when did the NHS and the BBC become the epitome of what this country is about? People who are ready to surrender our parliamentary and judicial system, which really have been the envy or the world for centuries, scream blue murder if anyone as much as criticizes these two recent and failed institutions.

Thirdly, I should like to ask when are we, in Britain, going to have a serious discussion about healthcare that will involve radical reforms to the NHS. The twelfth of never, the way we are going.


  1. WitteringsfromWitneyAugust 15, 2009 at 11:26 PM

    Eloquently put, if I may say so, Helen.

    May I suggest the word 'puerile' is inserted between the words 'internal' and 'debate'?

  2. Not sure I agree. I don't think the debate in the US is puerile. It is deadly serious.

  3. Many arguments are plausible if one ignores evidence. Here in the States our superior types think that the BBC does great work, that Britain was made peaceful by gun bans, and so forth.

  4. An Associated Press item by Gregory Katz just got sent out which drools all over the NHS and sniffs about how nobody in Britain ever heard of this Hannan fellow. Britons may criticize the NHS but you really, really love it.
    This is typical of current US journalism.

  5. In a democratic republic like the US, it is actually a civic duty to look over the shoulder of public servants and point out where things could be improved. When they do not pay attention, the criticism can get quite loud. After a certain point things can get quite out of hand. To avoid repeats of past unpleasantness, politicians do actually listen and change their positions. The process is unfolding in the healthcare reform debate.

    I know that the UK system is a bit different (being a parliamentary system, the monarchy, etc) but isn't there something similar over there? Otherwise why do the people even have a vote?

  6. "Just exactly when did the NHS and the BBC become the epitome of what this country is about?"

    About 12 years ago.

    The NHS represents much of the worst of our over bloated, unmanageable form of Government consisting of quangos, Agencies, false Charities etc etc.

    The BBC represents the mind set that musn't be challenged, in the media, Academia, and the cognoscenti because only it has the intellectual high ground.

  7. TMLutas,
    Your question is entirely apposite. As we watch true democratic processes (no thanks to politicians or the media) at work across the Pond we do have to ask ourselves what is the point of voting. Then again, given who legislates for us, that question has become very important, indeed.

    I suspect it is more than 12 years. I do not think there was such a watershed in mentality, particularly the political kind, in 1997.