Sunday 11 May 2014

Does UKIP want to privatise the NHS?

A number of UKIP propagandists have shown up on Another Angry Voice threads in order to spread the narratives that UKIP doesn't want to privatise the NHS, but that they just want to "cut red tape" (whatever that means) and that UKIP couldn't possibly want to privatise the NHS because it doesn't say so in their manifesto.

The UKIP "Manifesto"

The first thing to note is that the 2014 UKIP manifesto is an absolute joke. I realise that they had to cobble something together pretty quickly after Nigel Farage dismissed their entire previous manifesto as "drivel" back in January, but they've had some three months to come up with a replacement, and all they managed to do was produce a 12 page document mainly filled out with pictures, unsubstantiated bullet points and some ridiculous "I defected to UKIP because ..." quotes. The single largest section in the whole "manifesto" is the detachable "I'm Voting UKIP" window poster, which takes up two whole pages!

If anyone has read through that unsubstantiated rubbish and managed to conclude that it is a political manifesto worth taking seriously, they must never have seen another political manifesto in their lives.

UKIP is a Thatcherite party

The fact that UKIP is an extreme-right Thatcherite party is something that the majority of UKIP supporters absolutely refuse to recognise or take seriously.

Over 70% of UKIP supporters believe in the explicitly socialist ideas of renationalising the rail network and the energy companies, but there isn't a snowball's chance in hell of a party that is bankrolled by former Tory party donors, and led by a former Tory party activist suddenly adopting the socialist principles held by the majority of their voters.

UKIP adheres to exactly the same neoliberal ideology as the three Westminster establishment parties have been imposing on the country since 1979, the only difference being that the UKIP leadership is even more fanatical about the neoliberal orthodoxy (privatisation, tax cuts for corporations and the rich, regressive taxation for the poor and ordinary,
financial sector deregulation, attacks on labour rights & the right to dissent, etc) than the Lib-Lab-Cons.

Being a person who believes in centre-left political ideas (running the NHS, rail network & energy companies as not-for-profit public services) but heading off to vote for the "Thatcherism on steroids party" would be an appalling display of political illiteracy.

Knowing that the party you're voting for has an extreme-right crony capitalist economic ideology that you strongly dislike, but excusing what you're doing as a "protest vote" is clearly playing with political fire, and is probably even worse than just being hopelessly ill-informed.

The majority of UKIP supporters (the 70%+ who believe in renationalisation of vital state infrastructure) would be well advised to consider voting Green instead. Not only do the Greens favour a referendum on the EU, they are also committed to renationalisation of the rail network and energy companies.

UKIP and the TTIP

One of the strongest indicators that UKIP is an extreme-right Thatcherite party is their refusal to state their opposition to the TTIP "trade deal".

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a proposed agreement between the United States and the current members of the European Union designed to give corporations special powers to sue nation states if the democratically elected government does anything to prevent them from doing whatever the hell they like.

If TTIP goes ahead, corporate interests (such as private health corporations) will be able to sue the UK government (for economic crimes such as running a not-for-profit National Health Service) using highly secretive tribunals called National Sovereignty and Investor State Dispute Settlements.

The UKIP leadership have carefully avoided mentioning TTIP in the hope that nobody notices and nobody starts asking them questions about it.

Not only is UKIP's refusal to oppose TTIP a clear indicator that they don't care about this grave threat to the continued existence of the NHS, it also suggests that they are just a bunch of opportunists, using the language of sovereign independence to win votes, whilst doing absolutely nothing to oppose an undeniably huge threat to our national sovereignty.

Paul Nuttall

Paul Nuttall is the deputy leader of UKIP and here's some of the stuff he's said about the NHS on his website:

" I would argue that the very existence of the NHS stifles competition" [source]
" the NHS ... is not fit for purpose in the 21st Century" [source]
"I would like to congratulate the coalition government for bringing a whiff of privatisation into the beleaguered National Health Service" [source]
Nuttall also talks up a report written by a private health provider which suggests that the NHS should be carved open for even more privatisation (no conflicts of interest there then!) as "a sensible starting point for change".

If the deputy leader of UKIP is prepared to publicly congratulate the current government for having passed their NHS privatisation-by-stealth bill, it hardly seems likely that he would suddenly change his tune and defend the NHS from further privatisations should UKIP ever get a taste of actual political power.

The 2012 Health and Social Care Act

What a lot of people don't seem to realise is that the Tory led coalition have already introduced legislation to carve the NHS into bits and privatise the pieces, in fact a small group of Tory party donors has already been handed over £1.5 billion in contracts to run what were once NHS services.

The vast majority of the UK public want the NHS to remain a not-for-profit public service, yet Paul Nuttall of UKIP publicly sings the praises of the the coalition government for having carved the NHS open for privatisation (despite David Cameron's pre-election promises that he would do no such thing).

One of the most appalling things about the highly controversial NHS reforms carried out by the Tory and Lib-Dem coalition is that these proposals were not even mentioned in the 2010 election manifestos of either party.

The former Tory party leadership candidate Michael Portillo admitted that the plan to carve up the NHS for privatisation was not included in the Tory party manifesto because "they did not believe they could win an election if they told you what they were going to do because people are so wedded to the NHS".
The fact that the Tories have set about privatising the NHS and selling off the pieces to their donors, even though they didn't mention it at all in their 2010 manifesto, makes an absolute mockery of the UKIP narrative that they couldn't possibly want to privatise the NHS because they haven't said so in their manifesto.


I doubt many Ukippers will have managed to read this far, given the fact that the majority of the ones that show up on the Another Angry Voice Facebook page are so riddled with confirmation bias that they simply refuse to read anything they deem a threat to their fragile worldviews. Most of the Ukippers who have seen links to this article won't have even clicked it, let alone managed to read it to the end.

It is absolutely clear that UKIP have as much antipathy towards the NHS as the Tory party do, if not more so. High ranking Ukippers have praised the Tories for carving the NHS up for privatisation, the UKIP leadership refuses to oppose the threat to the NHS that is TTIP, and they are Thatcherite believers in the idiotic neoliberal mantra of "private good, public bad".

The nightmare scenario for anyone who cares about the NHS is the possibility of an ideologically driven assault on the NHS carried out by a UKIP-Tory coalition after 2015.

The Tory failure to win a majority, even when the previous Labour government were lead by a catastrophically unpopular man and had been rocked by the biggest global financial crisis in generations, so it is absolutely clear that they no longer have the tribal support to form a majority government by themselves. This means they'll almost certainly be reliant upon forming a coalition if they want to get back into power in 2015. If enough people who believe in not-for-profit public services are ill-informed/wantonly reckless enough to vote UKIP, they could be handing the Tories the ideal partners they need to help them complete the job they've been dreaming of since 1948; the complete eradication of the NHS.

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