Sometimes Tory backbenchers are like those who see a vehicle which could do with a good clean and feel compelled my some mysterious and inexplicable force to draw a penis on it. It has happened twice this week. The lederhosen wing have launched on another crusade to promote tax cuts as a cure for everything from sluggish economic growth to haemorrhoids, to be cheered on by that colossal Brexit bore, Lord Dyson, whose voice could cut armoured glass. What is the matter with this ghastly, entitled man? First he threatened to leave Britain if we didn’t join the Euro, then to bugger off if we didn’t leave the EU. Now he drawls, shattering Pilkington’s finest, that in Number 10 growth is a ‘dirty word’. Not just wrong but bordering on the bonkers.
But the latest phallic scrawl comes from the normally sane Saj. Evidently the only way we can save the NHS is through radical and bold reform. Who’d have thunk it. All politicians have said this from time immemorial. They start off by saying we must cut waste and bureaucracy. Then they get a think tank to come up with proposals that only three people understand, two of whom have been sectioned and the other a member of the Institute For Economic Affairs, which amounts to pretty much the same thing. Vast sums of money are then spent. There is massive upheaval and disruption. And the result? More waste and bureaucracy.
But his most politically dangerous proposal is to charge patients to see the GP and when they attend accident and emergency. This goes against the core principles of the NHS; the service must be free at the point of use. It would be costly to administer and a distraction. Worse, it would be a deterrent to those who are struggling financially but not eligible for benefits. Look at the number of do it yourself dental kits on sale at pharmacists. Why are they there? Because many people can’t afford to go to the dentist. And the chaos in GP surgeries, COVID, coupled with overwhelmed emergency departments has led to patients not seeking treatment, getting more unwell and costing the taxpayer more. I would dub it the Death Charge. Lee Anderson and Jonathan Gullis would love it.
Thatcher was keen to introduce charging but abandoned it when she realised it would never pass into law. So she did the next best thing; the Health and Medicines Act. This was a disastrous plan to save £30 million by abolishing the free sight and dental check ups. I lead the rebellion on these wicked proposals reducing the government’s majority to four. Wicked, because diseases of the eye are silent. Optometrists can spot cancers, HIV (which was a massive killer in the eighties) and cancers. It was the same with dental check ups. God know how many people went blind or died. Oh and I remember every name of those shitweasel MPs who spouted the whips line that the check up was only the cost of a takeaway. Mercifully, Blair reversed this. But before Labour gets too sanctimonious about the money they ploughed into the NHS let us not forget that most of it was absorbed by pay increases.
There are only two ways that the health service can be reformed. Firstly, take the politics out of it and set up a Royal Commission so that people can see the options and potential costs. In the meantime spend real money in getting people out of hospital beds who shouldn’t be there. Labour won’t allow the former and no one has the guts to deal with the latter. Absolutely none of these problems are new. I remember them in the eighties.
And now for a brief word about Zahawi. In his favour he is one of those rare beasts, a competent minister who gets things done. Secondly, nobody really gives a toss who the chairman of the Conservative Party is. Remember Jake Berry? Of course not.So far I can’t see a reason for him to go at the moment. But Sunak is not exactly a supporter of him and would rather have a great campaigner like Robert Halfon in the job. One of the tests of leadership is how you deal with a ministerial scandal. Act too quickly, as Truss (oh, how I don’t miss her) did with a totally stitched up Connor Burns, and it looks like panic. Let it drag on, as Bozo used to and it looks like protecting your mates, which he was. If Zahawi is shown to have lied about his tax affairs then he is gone. Let’s wait and see if this story lasts a week. If he does then he’s deader than Rees Mogg’s eyes.
Finally, seat belt Sunak. Oh for fuck’s sake everyone get a life.
Where is Prince Harry when you need him?