Whatever your thoughts are on whether Britain should vote to leave or remain in the EU, they are never helped by cheap propaganda lies. A pity then that both sides have employed fear tactics in the run up to the 23rd of June.
Today’s helping from the Leave camp comes in the form of a highly spurious political broadcast employing the lowest of low tactics: portraying the NHS as spiralling into a third-world service if the UK chooses to remain in the EU. That’s right. It’s not the lack of money due to corporate (and not so corporate) tax dodging or the running down of the service through marketisation policies and the drive to entirely privatise the NHS. None of these are to blame for the pressure on the NHS, it is merely the fact that the UK is still a member of the EU. Sure it is.
Cue a pathetic split screen presentation: one half – in the EU – with under-staffing and tired clinicians, long queues, full waiting rooms and terrified patients; the other screen – out of the EU – with full staffing, happy clinicians and patients and well-lit, sparsely occupied, relaxed waiting rooms.
This argument was always going to be presented by the Leave campaign, but it is fairly surprising that so many people seem willing to buy it. Even in the ‘good’ years of the late 1990s and early 2000s the Blair governments preferred to waste existing money elsewhere rather than put it into the NHS. They encouraged and never pursued massive tax avoidance and evasion and preferred to use private companies to build hospitals, piling a debt upon the taxpayer in the process. The coalition government had no special love for the NHS either and the Tory government is hammering in its wedge for preparing full privatisation.
Keep this in mind: even if the UK pulled out of the EU and saved several trillion pounds in the process (not a proven argument), don’t ever expect this to go into a social housing building plan or to the NHS or to anything that qualifies as social provision. The governments, and the individuals and organisations driving their policy, are not favourably inclined toward tax-funded social provision, or in fact any social provision that isn’t run by private companies. There are two simple ways to predict how such money would be employed: the first is to look at how existing funds are spent; the second is to look at existing policy and the ideological position that sustains it. No-one can make a convincing argument that pulling out of the EU with a view to saving money to fund the NHS (or any other social organisation) worth taking seriously, since these governments have routinely shown that they are determined to destroy them in this form.
Look at the people who are prominent in the ‘leave’ campaign and ask yourself if they really are shouting themselves hoarse because they believe in democracy, public services and social regeneration, or if they have other reasons.