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Friday, 14 August 2009

More good work on the NHS

Some great lefty work here, including this:
"@ Arthur Bough

Whether or not the NHS has problems - and it has many, as you rightly outline - the alternatives, which could potentially be given free reign should even a slight crack open up in the avalanche of defensive postures adopted by many over the NHS when right-wing Tories mention it, would be worse.

The NHS may not provide the service we want - but to say it does not provide a good service to the working class is ludicrous. Sure, there are very few NHS dentists, and an ever-increasing list of drugs the NHS can't afford, and the quality isn't as good as private healthcare. But it still keeps people alive.

What you'll notice about the defensive ramblings of people on Twitter, on blogs and elsewhere, is that it brings out the personal connections which people have to the NHS. You should conclude from this that defending the NHS is a perfectly valid way to build up class consciousness - and be under no illusion, Hannan's attack, even on a state-capitalist organisation, is the siren-call of the capitalist class for unrestricted markets.

Moving from defence to attack is not difficult either. Daniel Hannan has a very cushy healthcare plan, I'd be willing to bet, and yet he and his party are willing to sack health workers and reduce pensions and wages. A defence of the NHS is easily connected with these things - and if encouraging workers to be more proactive, and to seize organisational responsibility from the state bureaucracy is what you're after, then the first step is in building the confidence of workers in their own defence."

my contribution:

I'd throw in Julian Le Grand and New Labour on this, believe it or not.
Le Grand wrote about how the middle-classes benefitted significantly more from public services than the working class (can't remember how he defined them, sadly).
So the left has a point when criticising the NHS for working for the middle and upper classes more than the working class, but you're spot on when discussing the alternative being the free market.
I'm a huge fan of Bevan for realising that the NHS as he saw it was very much a compromise, based on the workers co-operatives he saw in Wales amoung the miners' unions.
I believe that the NHS serves it purpose well because it delivers health care based on need, not ability to pay

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