07 January 2006
Cameron makes a mistake

According to the papers and what I’ve read, David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party wants to keep the NHS.  This has led to some pretty negative comment from, amongst others, Stephen Pollard, David Green, Melanie Phillips and Samizdata.  Their view (with which I agree) is that healthcare will never get any better so long as the state runs the show.

In other words, it’s poor economics.  But, I believe it also makes poor politics.

Why?  Because, I think the penny is beginning to drop with the British public about the NHS.  For the whole period of the Thatcher/Major government they were prepared to accept that the NHS’s failings were all down to something called “underfunding” which in turn was down to something called “those bastard Tories”.  However, for the last nine years we have had a government that is not only committed to the NHS but has had oodles of money to spend on it.  If there was ever a time when the NHS’s problems were going to be solved it was now.  But, they haven’t been solved and everyone knows it.  I get the sense from the people I talk to - and, yes, it is pretty unscientific - that the public are beginning to give up on the NHS.  Not its principles - people still like the idea of free-at-the-point-of-use and everyone being equal.  But they are beginning to despair of those ideas ever being combined with something remotely resembing quality.

I believe by the time of the next general election, the public will be prepared to listen to a politician who is prepared to tell them the truth about the NHS: it is bad, it is bad because it is run by the state and the only way it is ever going to get any better is if the state gets out of the picture.  So, by making his remarks now, Cameron has effectively boarded a political Titanic.  Oh, it’ll look and feel good for a while but eventually it’s going to take him to the bottom.

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