Set aside for one moment that Gordon Brown is dealing with England’s health service, and his own constitutents are not affected because health is a devolved matter, the preserve of the Scottish parliament, because the NHS has been carved into four parts under devolution….
Forget for as long as possible Cameron’s NHS bandwagon-jumping, the latest example being on superbug fines…
What is the point of the NHS? Is it a health service, designed to prevent and treat illness, or is it a cash cow for the ruling class, a source of profits for multinational corporations?
Rather than being to protect the NHS so that it can exist for another 60 years, Brown’s planned constitution would enshrine the policies which are destroying its basis as a publicly provided service, free at the point of delivery.
The Observer reports of Brown’s New Year statement:
Aides described the message as strongly New Labour. He makes clear that Labour traditionalists will receive no comfort as he presses ahead with the reform of public services to better tailor them to the individual. ‘Illness is not a nine-to-five condition – and the NHS cannot be just a nine-to-five service,’ he writes. This will be welcomed by supporters of Tony Blair who signal today that they are suing for peace with Brown as they declare that their hero is ‘history’ as a political figure in Britain.
A written NHS constitution would be in advance of any written constitution for the state…
As George Monbiot noted the other day:
Real constitutional reform requires much more than the timid proposals in the green paper on the governance of Britain, which are likely to appear in a new bill in a few weeks’ time. Yes, parliament should be allowed to vote on whether to go to war, yes the Royal Prerogative should be rolled back. But the prime minister, his diplomats, civil servants and generals would still decide which wars parliament needs to know about, which crimes could be secretly committed in our name. Real constitutional reform means not only handing power to parliament; it also means confronting the power of the cold, unaccountable people who act as if it is their birthright.
Despite assertions that there will be no two-tier NHS, the fact remains that the NHS in England has been easier to marketise and will be easier to privatise because England does not have a devolved parliament.
Anthony Barnett has picked up on Brown’s use of the threat of terrorist attacks to scaremonger against granting devolution to England and against the growing movement for Scottish independence.
In his New Year message Brown writes:
And in 2008, with firm conviction and resolve, we will make the case for the United Kingdom – standing up for the cause of the Union and against secession, showing people in all parts of the country that for so many of the challenges our country faces – from climate change to terrorism – there are no Wales-only, Scotland-only or England-only solutions.
Barnett responds thusly:
Hold on, the Union is now resting on an anti-terrorist programme. Does it follow that those who want an English parliament, which is defined by Brown as threatening the Union, will be seen as aiding and comforting the terrorist threat?