The Sale of The NHS – The Typical Tory Template of Privatisation

Round up, round up, round up!
The NHS is for sale!
Come on, we’ve got a bargain!
Bargain prices and mega gains!

Britain is for sale
On an unprecedented scale
So bring your billions and your private jet
And push our country further into debt
And in the process jeopardise our lives
All in the honour of yet more Tory lies

When it comes to the privatisation of important assets Tory governments are experts. They have a very simple formula that has been honed since Thatcher. First, they start making statements about the difficulty the service is under (whilst simultaneously causing it) and instruct their friends in the media to run some scare stories about the poor service being offered,  and how it’s costing the taxpayer’s (usually along with the words ‘hard earned’) money.

They build up a sense of crisis. A sense of something’s broken. In the meantime the Tories work behind the scenes to make it even more difficult for that service. They introduce cuts (The Tories are always making cuts to public services whilst giving tax breaks to the super wealthy), putting more pressure on the perceived-to-be pressured public service. GP, Youssef El Gingihy, lays out a brief summary of the ten steps the Tories have taken to break up the NHS.

Whilst this is happening the capitalist, parasitic vultures (a special breed) are waiting ready for their feeding frenzy. They role out their usual figureheads (Richard Branson being a favourite) who say that the service would be better under private care. Only the ‘free’ market can save it. They preach about the government being stretched and how they could do it much better. If you’re watching this on the news they usually cut to some photos of some ‘perfect’ looking service in another country. They have it better than us, is the not-so-subtle message, and they have it private. Oh please, rich city boys, come and save us.

Now they’ve successfully hijacked the public consciousness. Perhaps only a growing minority agree with the privatisation but the snowballing has started. The usual right wing rags come out with sensational headlines. Public opinion is starting to sway. And yet not once, are we really exposed to the facts. Only a stylised version of the Tory’s portrayal.

This change in public mood has an effect on the price however. The perceived value of that public entity is driven down. Making it even cheaper for the capitalistic, parasitic vultures. The neoliberals’ mouths are drooling. Not only can they gain access to a huge new market, but they can get it cheap.

Then the sell off commences. They may have had to introduce a new law or two to help get the process started. Perhaps by this point they’ve already sold off a small portion. This may take a year or two or perhaps longer for larger organisations like the NHS. They will gradually sell off more shares or contracts, whilst keeping the public unawares. A selling off by stealth.

And of course you get the pattern by now, in the background the Tory government will drive the asset in question further into crisis by making more and more cuts, all the while blaming the ineffectiveness of public services, continuing to espouse their neoliberal lies. Of course they omit to tell us that the private companies now partly controlling the asset start taking their cut of the profits, thus putting even more pressure on the service.They have to do the same job, with less available money (they have to pay extortion fees to the private pedlars.)

Yes extortion that rings a bell. Isn’t that when you have to pay rough gangsters ‘protection’ money? From a threat that they probably instigated in the first place. Parallels abound.

Before you know it they’ve driven the public asset into the ground and the sell off has started. Now the sharks are circling waiting for the final kill.

This isn’t the first privatisation the Tory government has overseen. A famous sell-off in the late 80s was the sale of the nation’s energy supply into an oligopoly, which despite rising costs, they tout as a success. With tens of thousands of elderly people dying because they can’t afford to turn the heating on, can we really consider that a success? Meanwhile the corporate elite who run the company use their profits to jet off to one of their islands to get some Winter sun. It’s a disgrace that we allow this to continue.

During the same era (Thatcher of course) we also sold off British Airways, British Petroleum, British Steel and our water supply amongst others. Companies that the British Taxpayer could’ve been profiting from, instead of subsidising. And who could forget the privatisation of our rail? Are you happy with the extortionate prices that we all pay? Oh and the billions we give Branson in taxpayer subsidies, just for the privilege of handing him more of our profits? (The same man who’s buying up more and more of our NHS.)

To quote The Guardian on the largest privatisation deal of the NHS so far “Not only is this the first billion-pound NHS privatisation, it is the first time that it has been deemed acceptable to put care designed to meet the needs of our most vulnerable patients on sale…Uniquely for a privatisation on anything of this scale, there has been no public consultation.”

Oh, I forgot to mention, that along the way their best friends, cronies and donors pocket their ‘fair share’ of the deals (including the MPs themselves). For example, with the sale of the Royal Mail, Osborne’s Best Man, pocketed millions for himself. But I’m sure that didn’t persuade Osborne at all…

The NHS is the biggest opportunity in the worldwide health ‘market’. It’s the world fifth largest employer, to give you some idea of the scale of the organisation.

But we live in a democracy I hear you say?

If that was true how can they sell off our most-prized possession? The one British citizens hold most dear. Without any real public consultation. All done behind closed doors, hush, hush.

Why is it when we sold off The Royal Mail, we did so at such a cheap price? We’re being told that the sale of the Royal Mail is to help pay for the debt we’re in. But how can it make sense to sell off your profit-making assets to pay off debts that far exceed the sale?

The final sell off of the Royal Mail raised an extra £3 billion pounds – supposedly to help cut the deficit/debt. But the Government’s debt alone stands at a little over a trillion pounds. You’d have to sell the Royal Mail 100 times over to come close. You can’t mine a country of its profit-making assets to bail it out of a debt crisis! (The fact that we will never see economic growth again – particularly when you factor in resource depletion and climate change, something the neoliberalists frequently overlook – will be the subject of another blog.) Concerns are already mounting about the bubble growing due to the ‘investment’ in the NHS. Yet another bubble for a heavily inflated economy that has run out of room to grow any longer. As with our entire economy, we’re prepared to sell ourselves into yet more debt. A debt time-bomb that is waiting to explode.

We did it with RBS too – where the government sold off the remaining shares for a £1 billion loss. George Osborne’s hedge fund friends will be happy enough though. Wherever you look there are plenty of examples of how Tory government’s sell off the vital public services of this country.

If you haven’t even heard of TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – an Orwellian use of double-speak if ever there was.) you’re forgiven because it’s been kept fairly quiet. The name alone is enough to put you off. Just sounds like some boring trade agreement, of which we have many. And that’s where their cunning lies. By making it sound so obtuse and perhaps so benign, they can push it through without worrying the electorate.

Thankfully, campaigns by groups such as 38 Degrees are helping to raise awareness of the disastrous consequences of this ‘agreement.’ One of the scariest parts of TTIP is the power it gives corporations to sue Governments if it finds the Government’s laws impede their ability to make more profit. Oh, and we’ll foot the bill for that privilege. Worried about fracking? (You should be! It provides very little oil, costs a fortune and poses huge environmental risks) Well TTIP could allow oil companies to sue our government if we block drilling. Never mind the environmental damage and costs we will all incur (but neoliberal economists have a handy term for this – it’s called an ‘externality’ – basically the damage we cause isn’t our problem to clean up, it’s yours.).

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TTIP undermines our government’s ability to govern. Yet our government is pushing it through. Baffling.

But back to the NHS.

The dying of the NHS.

I can’t do justice to the privatisation of the NHS in this article. What I wanted to lay out was the rough template the Tories use. To show the overall pattern of their privatisation plans. They’ve done it repeatedly every single time we vote them into power. To read further into it, go on the National Health Action Party’s website. They have covered the privatisation of the NHS comprehensively.

I usually like to end my articles with some positive actions we can all take because I believe strongly in the power of the individual to make change. On this occasion I’m stuck. The National Health Action Party and 38 Degrees may be able to help you. They’re the ones campaigning against it. But the first step is that we all need to become aware of the situation. And not just about the NHS, but about the privatisation of the country. And don’t just sign a petition. It’s next to pointless. We all have to get involved in real campaigning and taking real action. Just like our ancestors before us always have.

There is a pattern here. A story that gets repeated across society. If nothing else, we must learn to spot it sooner, so that we can take action sooner. Public pressure may be enough to stop TTIP and the privatisation of the NHS, but even if it isn’t we must try. We can’t just stand aside and let them take it without a battle, and you never know, if enough of us do it, we might just win.

In the words of Aneurin Bevan, the founding father of the NHS:

“The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with faith to fight for it.”

So let’s bloody fight for it.

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