The NHS, Dan Hannan and Labour lies

I am invited by so called journalists to attack the NHS and side with Republican criticisms of it. I have this simple message for journalists now wanting me to appear on this topic – try reading what I wrote about the BBC and Obama’s health plans. This is just more lies and more pathetic attempts to smear. Don’t waste my time by asking. Check your facts first.

The handling of this issue just shows how desperate Labour are and how they still have power with the media. Labour wants to make lies about Conservative attitudes to the NHS central to the election and is trying to create the stories around this theme.

They are pulling out all the stops against Dan Hannan. Their websites condemn, and they are using welovethenhs to build the story. Shouldn’t grown men who are meant to be governing the country have something better to do than to whip up a storm about one MEP’s remarks? What matters is what Ministers do . It would be good if they tried a bit harder at the day job and spent a bit more time explaining what they are up to and defending it.


  1. oldrightie
    August 13, 2009

    The desperation of Labour and their media whores grows ever more visible. Well done, Sir.

    1. Alistair Clark
      August 13, 2009

      OldRightie, what a strange comment! So nasty (“whores”) then so nice (“Sir”). Try being less nasty – you get taken more seriously by those you need to reach. From leftieEconomistReader

      1. oldrightie
        August 13, 2009

        I thank you for your consideration. I am always saddened by the lack off appreciation of our beautiful language bastardised by modern idiom. My words are as for the third definition below. I suspect that Mr Redwood understood that and therefore accepted the post. If I thought it necessary, I would retract. Please respond.

        whore (hôr, hr)
        1. A prostitute.
        2. A person considered sexually promiscuous.
        3. A person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain.

        1. Alistair Clark
          August 14, 2009

          oldRightie, thanks for your response. I have no problems with John Redwood accepting your perfectly legitimate post – it was just the tone that jarred, and so put me off, thus undermining your possibility of reaching a wider audience beyond the Right? Others (see below) have made courteous and stimulating replies to my entries yesterday. I recognised definition 1 in your dictionary entry for whore, but not 3, although I see it does come from

      2. Adrian Peirson
        August 13, 2009

        I bit of ‘Fire’ is well received by the public, they want to see someone fighting for them.

  2. james
    August 13, 2009


    John – as a fan, I must let you into a little secret.

    On TV, you are worst when you are angry.

    You are best – by a mile – when you are calm.

    And please SMILE more!


    1. Alistair Clark
      August 13, 2009

      I am not a fan, but James is right. Anger can be good, but is often ugly and counter-productive. Cordial analysis is better and more effective. From leftieEconomistReader

      1. Mike Stallard
        August 14, 2009

        If you really are from the left, I want to say – although I have no right to say it! – welcome!
        I often comment, under my own name, on Labour List. I must say the anger there is pretty obvious. I refer, at the moment, to the blogs about Dan Hannan and the NHS interview in the USA. Vitriol!
        When I tried to write a couple of articles, there was little attempt to discuss my points, just personal abuse based on the fact that I also read and comment on this blog!

    2. APL
      August 15, 2009

      James: “And please SMILE more!”

      Ah! The spin doctors have identified Redwood as a persona fit for a makeover.

      Mr Redwood, I hope you will ignore the makeover advice, just continue to be John Redwood, and tell the public the things they often don’t wish to hear.

    3. John Coles
      August 16, 2009

      What fatuous advice – are you suggesting (governing-ed) like Brown?

  3. Stuart Fairney
    August 13, 2009

    Wow, BBC misrepresentation, who’d have thought it?

    The diagnosis is now unarguable, they are clearly bias and state funded.

    As for the treatment, I honestly don’t think the issue of bias can be addressed, so…

    1. Alistair Clark
      August 13, 2009

      Is the diagnosis now unarguable, Stuart? I prefer the variety of opinion present on the BBC rather than Fox News which I wish really was “fair and objective”, as they trumpet.

      1. Emil
        August 13, 2009

        None of us are forced by law to pay for Fox News, unlike the BBC government propaganda machine which is anything but fair and objective.

        1. APL
          August 15, 2009

          Emil: “unlike the BBC government propaganda machine ..”

          Hmm, it was the opposition propaganda machine up until 1997. I wonder what changed?

      2. Stuart Fairney
        August 14, 2009

        Good for you. You should absolutely be free to choose. But I wouldn’t get too carried away with the ‘variety of opinion on the Beeb’ idea. I must have missed the last time they seriously covered NHS privatisation or a voucher system for schools, or serious tax cuts and a reduction in the state and as for the new religion global warming, modern-day heretics get no more fair a hearing than they did under the inquisition.

        But I agree, Fox is no more objective or balanced than the Beeb(despite the token Democrat they have on now and again) and one or two of the contributors are ‘comic-book’ funny. But Fox’s lack of objectivity (And outlandish views on one or two things) bothers me not one iota.

        The reason is so obvious it hardly bears repeating but ‘one more time’ you choose to pay for Fox and thus O’Reilly, Beck, Hannity et al or not. Where is my choice to pay or not for the Beeb?

        Not that I see Cameron having the courage to tackle this absurdity. It would make sense both from a standpoint of narrow electoral advantage and from a wider sense of choice and freedom.

      3. APL
        August 14, 2009

        Alistair Clark: “I prefer the variety of opinion present on the BBC rather than Fox News.”

        Very good. Now we need to establish the correct price you should pay for the BBC given that many people are compelled to pay for the BBC when they might be perfectly happy watching Fox.

        The best way to do that is abolish the compulsory license fee and replace it with voluntary subscription.

        1. Alistair Clark
          August 30, 2009

          After News Corp CEO James Murdoch’s speech attacking the BBC, I am even more strongly of the opinion that the BBC, with some accountability and variety of viewpoints, is much more preferable than Fox News self-interested bias.

          How do we ensure that publically-funded news covers a variety of viewpoints and is not subservient to goverment or a particular bias? The information that TV viewers receive is key to the functioning of democracy. It’s good for TV to receive public funds if excersised in the democratic public interest. Unfortunately, New Corp is undemocratic in the way it exercise its great power. They try to hide this by their refrain “Fair and Balanced”. Fox News? More like Fog News, ………

          Each time anyone buys a product or service from a Sky/Fox TV advertiser, we are individually (minutely) subsidising Sky/Fox. It is just less visible and less democratic than the license-fee. Countries must be democratic. By their nature, companies are rarely are (but there’s a challenge).

        2. APL
          August 30, 2009

          Alistair Clark: “James Murdoch’s speech attacking the BBC, ”

          Ho hum.

          Alistair Clarke: “I am even more strongly of the opinion that the BBC, with some accountability and variety of viewpoints .. ”

          The BBC has no accountability nor variety of viewpoints, it is pro governing party so long as that party is, in terms of the conventionally accepted political spectrum, ‘left of centre’.

          Alistair Clarke: “How do we ensure that publically-funded news covers a variety of viewpoints and is not subservient to goverment or a particular bias?”

          Well, we wouldn’t start from here. I disagree that there should be such a thing as ‘publically funded’ news. Nor does the BBC cover a variety of viewpoints, other than within an already defined spectrum of acceptable opinion, neither is the BBC independent of government or free of a certain bias.

          But anyway, what you are asking for when you cite the fantastic merits of public sector broadcasting, is the privilege of getting your viewing preferences catered to below the market cost that you might otherwise have to pay.

          Alistair Clarke: “Each time anyone buys a product or service from a Sky/Fox TV advertiser, we are individually (minutely) subsidising Sky/Fox.”

          Yes. But you don’t have to buy either SKY nor the product that advertises on SKY. Why don’t you take out a subscription to SKY for a month, or pop round to a friend who already has SKY and find out which products are advertised and then boycott them.

          Alistair Clarke: “It is just less visible and less democratic than the license-fee.”

          Democratic? What could be more democratic that the free operation of the market? EVERYONE in the market gets to make a choice.

          Democratic? When, should you choose to pay and view SKY, the BBC will enlist an army of state bureaucrats to run you through the courts because you have the audacity to be watching SKY on a Television.

          That is more like the State and the State run media in some sort of diabolical cartel. It certanly isn’t democratic!

          Alistair Clarke: “New Corp is undemocratic in the way it exercise its great power.”

          So is the BBC in the way it enlists the STATE to protect its monopoly.

          Alistair Clarke: “Countries must be democratic.”

          Nonsense! Just look around to see the falsity of that assertion.

          Alistair Clarke: “By their nature, companies are rarely are ”

          Show me a company that succeeds in a free market by not giving a customer what he or she wants. You won’t find one or if you do, it won’t be a viable company.

  4. the man from UNCLE
    August 13, 2009

    You want impartiality and truth from the BBC and Neu Labor? You want Father Christmas to come down the chimney on Christmas Eve as well right?

    1. James R Philips
      August 13, 2009

      Christmas Day would be better.

      1. the manf from UNCLE
        August 14, 2009

        Silly boy, Father Christmas comes down the chimney late on Christmas Eve, how else do the presents get under the tree in time for Christmas morning!

        I believe everything Gordon Brown and (Lord) Mandelson say, I also believe in the tooth fairy, hobgoblins, and that fact the Elvis faked his death and is still rocking on in a hidden hideaway in the Bolvian jungle, with Marilyn Monroe.

  5. Citizen Responsible
    August 13, 2009

    It’s a shame you have to be on your guard all the time about the motives of the people who ask you to appear in the media. Never the less, one only has to look at Alan Duncan’s current faux pas to see an example of letting your guard down.

  6. Mike Stallard
    August 13, 2009

    People have been saying for ages that this was going to be a dirty election…….

  7. david
    August 13, 2009

    Errr I’ve read it. You say absolutely nothing about the NHS or if you support Cameron’s ringfencing or not.

    Would you ever refer to the NHS as, ‘Our NHS’ as Cameron does.

  8. Brian E.
    August 13, 2009

    No UK politician should get involved in the internal matters of the United States.
    I, and I’m sure most voters, would take strong objection to US politicians coming over here and lecturing us on the advantages or disadvantages of our various political parties and their ideas on getting us out of the recession.
    The only time such interference can possibly be justified is if the actions of another country might be to our disadvantage in Britain, when it might be considered appropriate to draw their attention to the matter, something that I believe would normally be done through diplomatic channels.

    1. DennisA
      August 14, 2009

      Al Gore has been here on many occasions, speaking to the main parties about his global warming agenda and promoting carbon trading, with which he is personally involved. He tends not to appear on TV, he prefers to work behind the scenes and successfully got his promotional video, An Inconvenient Truth, incorporated into the National Curriculum.

  9. […] unless David Cameron now throws Hannan out of the Conservative Party for speaking his mind (Oh, and a very irate John Redwood while he’s at it, and Graeme Archer for not lending his full backing to the pointless twitter […]

  10. Stuart Fairney
    August 14, 2009

    I greatly regret Mr Cameron’s remarks

    It maybe he feels he has to say this palpable nonsense so as not to be smeared, but precisely what is to be grateful for when your money is taken by force and spend how bureaucrats see fit giving you clunky, unresponsive, dirty, delayed, no-choice monopoly, one-size-fits-all “care”

    Would anyone now say that if we had a system of private hospitals they should be instantly nationalised? Clearly not, so why accept this woeful status quo?

    A sad indictement of the political process in the UK that some manifest truths are unsayable. (a cryptic comment removed as difficult to understand-ed)

    Reply: David Cameron speaks for many when he says his personal experience of care in the NHS was good. Conservatives wish to protect and develop what is best in the NHS and do not accept your characterisation of it.

    1. Stuart Fairney
      August 14, 2009

      Could it be that the leader of the opposition and future Prime Minister would receive good, attentive treatment from the NHS which would be better than an average person would receive?

      I suggest that DC’s personal experience is at variance from the grim day-to-day reality as Hannan rightly says.

      I recently had to ‘frogmarch’ a doctor to my wife’s bedside after four hours of no treatment or attention despite serious pain and great worry. If I was paying the guy directly he would respond to my needs or go bust. As it is I get to write a letter saying how terrible it was and a bland empty PR response straight off the default replies tray. Thus the hospital staggers on with no driver for change providing a service just as described above.

  11. Javelin
    August 14, 2009

    The BBC is in anti Tory over drive this morning with all channels offering negative-positive stories about the Tories on expenses, NHS and deselection, and positive-negative stories on Obama, Brown, the economy and other left wing agenda stories.

    It’s a sign of things to come that whilst the news editors are on holiday that the juniors show their left wing bias. The BBC needs breaking up, starting with New Labours propaganda arm.

  12. no one
    August 14, 2009

    much of what Hannan says about the NHS is true, it is a very bad system, much of what the BBC has been saying about the medical system in the USA is total nonsense – the British public are being heavily manipulated into believing the USA system is much worse than it actually is

    nether the NHS or the current US system are particularly good, I wouldnt copy from either

    and we do need a debate, as status quo cannot continue, sadly the way the debate is being conducted on the media is just designed to manipulate the public, not at all a fair open chat about the issues

    I am less sure about the replacement system anyone is proposing at the moment, for me real choice for the patient which forces medical providers to bend to the will of the patients is needed rather than centralist control a la nhs

    the conservatives need to tread carefully with the media, but they do need to figure out how to fix the health system quickly

  13. Adam Collyer
    August 14, 2009

    I am interested that the PM in his Twitter remarks used the phrase “thanks for always being there”. Even if we support the NHS, I can’t really see why we should be GRATEFUL for it. It is not free after all, just free at the point of delivery. We all pay for it through taxation. It is NOT a free gift from a generous State.

    We really need a grown-up debate about how to organise healthcare best, which obviously means building on what we already have. Silly childish remarks like those of the Prime Minister just show he is not serious about addressing the problems of the NHS.

    1. Brigham
      August 14, 2009

      I am suprised that you are suprised that the PM thinks we should be grateful. It is obvious from all his undemocratic activities, since being handed his position from the other slippery PM Blair, that he thinks everything in this land is his. He then dispenses his largesse to all his crackpot schemes, as well as saving the world, and expects everyone to be grateful. We should all be worshipping at the Church of Brown.

  14. alan jutson
    August 14, 2009

    Dan was silly to get drawn into this.

    It is for the Americans to decide what they want to do.

    Of course the NHS is not perfect.
    Of course it employes too many administrative people.
    Of course there is huge waste and inefficientcy.
    Of course there is room for improvement.
    Of course it is expensive to run.

    But it does treat millions of people each year, and helps keep in general terms, the health of the Country at a reasonable level.

    In an accident and emergency situation, there are few other systems in the World to compare with its quality of response and treatment.

    1. Stuart Fairney
      August 14, 2009

      Which systems in the world have you compared it to and how did you make the comparison?

      1. no one
        August 14, 2009

        yes exactly such comparisons are often blindly made by people who have little idea, other than the heavily biased media they see

        me I’ve see the care first hand in the UK, in the USA, in Italy, in Belgium, in New Zealand, in Malaysia for rich, middling AND poor people and my own considered view is that the NHS is worst of all

        Ann Widdecombe on LBC radio today made most sense when she said most British politicians are cowards when it comes to the NHS, I think she is right on that one, and David C and friends just look like they are (praising -ed)the sacred cow the glowing praise they have given to the NHS the last few days, lets be realistic the NHS is (poor-ed) – go ask anyone with an appointment at 9.00 am still waiting at 5.30 pm, or ask anyone with no choice of GP, or ask anyone subject to the lies from their local PCT

        if I’m entiled to treatment I want it written down and I want to be able to sue when its not provided, the vague half promises where all the power is with the faceless wonders of the NHS cannot continue

        lots of nonsense on the BBC on this issue

        1. alan jutson
          August 15, 2009

          No One.

          Comparisons not blindly made.
          I can only speak from experience.
          One of our Daughters needed expensive medical treatment for 8 years of her life. Cost 25 years ago £10,000 per year.
          Funded in full by the NHS.
          Yes we had to persist, yes it took time to get, yes it was successful, and she is now grown up without any health problems, and contributing with her taxes as anyone else.
          Another relative being looked after by the NHS under Continuing Care (close to her demise) in a local Nursing Home.
          Yes the system was against us, but we battled through the system to win by shear determination and strength of argument with the medical facts.

          Others have not fared so well, with another relative catching MRSA in a NHS Hospital, it only being picked up when entering a Hospice.

          Friends who have gone private for operations, only to find themselves being transfered to the NHS when needing intensive care, this not being available at their private Hospital.

          Private Hospitals where no Doctor is on Duty on site at night.

          There are many more experiences I could write about.

          As said in my original Blog, the HNS is far from perfect, yes of course it needs to improve, but do not run away with the idea that Private care is wonderful and faultless, IT AINT.

          Let us have a sensible debate, and see how we can improve the service for all, at a sensible cost.

      2. alan jutson
        August 14, 2009

        Our Family have experienced a number of major events with the NHS, most of which is good, one poor.

        Close Friends and extended family have also had a number of varying experiences, from on the whole good, to a few poor.

        Experience abroad with Austria and the USA health care systems.

        Austria was excellent, although family member was in a crowded ward (fitted in an extra bed for his stay).

        USA treatment good, but only once they knew you could pay, and had the feeling that many of the tests completed were perhaps not required.

        A very well travelled close friend (so far 76 countries World wide) has more experience than me and in the developed World treatment is usually reasonable/good, but elsewhere poor (having to pack and take your own syringes to confirm clean and unused)

        Clearly how much you pay will depend upon the treatment you are likely to recieve, the fact that our National Insurance covers a number of services (Pensions, General tax) means that a cost comparision is difficult, as I am not aware of the exact percentage of the total NI contribution which goes to the NHS for healthcare

        I am aware that as a family we cannot afford comprehensive private health cover in this Country, having had a number of quotations for such.

        The cost of private cover rises with age, as does the number of exclusions.

        Many private schemes will not cover past problems or associated problems, the NHS does to the best of my knowledge.

        1. Stuart Fairney
          August 15, 2009

          Perhaps if you were taxed less you would be able to afford the cover?

          The comparison I sometimes make is with the mobility scheme. Roughly this is a scheme whereby the government will pay for a car for a disabled person (apologies if I am over-simplfying the scheme but you get the point). They order one from Ford or Vauxhall etc They do not try and run the car plants themselves because that is a disaster when ever a government tries it, yet this is EXACTLY the system we have with the NHS. If you want government to fund care, that’s one thing, but why on earth should they run the hospitals when we know how bad the state is at doing more or less everything it tries.

          Better choice and competition than state monopoly

  15. Stuart Fairney
    August 14, 2009

    Health Care, too important to be left to the private sector ~ right ?

    Even more important, food, no one can live without food, so shouldn’t food also be nationalised.

    Imagine a politician proclaiming that from this day on, that national food service (NFS) was founded all one had to do was go into a restaurant or supermarket (now taken over by government), and apply for a meal without charge.

    Would you expect increased queuing at food outlets and them sometimes running out of food? Would it be likely that people would order lobsters, fine wine or other expensive meals? Would you expect to wait 16 weeks for a table sometimes?

    Would it be reasonable to expect the government to limit what one could order, and place a limit on what it would pay the food outlet per meal or would it be total open season, with no cost limits?

    Given that there would be no end of customers, and no way to increase prices, would services suffer? Would there be queues and shortages, would the place become dirty with MRSA and C-Diff?

    Would the waiters and chefs care if you liked the food or not, after all, you have to pay for it anyway, would they be attentive or would you have to constantly pester them to attend to you? Would you expect a restaurant to be crowded with drunken people on a Friday night (knowing the food was free), would you expect to wait hours to be seen and have to suffer abuse from other patrons regardless of how hungry you were?

    Would you expect left-wing politicians to say how marvellous it was that everyone ate? That the NFS was the crowning glory of the socialist state, that without the NFS people would starve and the NFS was safe in only their hands.

    When food production was state run in the USSR there were food shortages (remember the bread queues in the snow), and indeed every service provided by government had shortages, so how come there are no shortages of shirts or bicycles or umbrellas or toothpaste etc. which are not “provided” by government?

    So, considering that we have no food shortages now and absolute choice and convenience are you willing to hand control of food to the NFS?

    If not, why tolerate the NHS?

    1. alan jutson
      August 15, 2009


      Certainly agree with you that the Government have never run anything efficiently to my knowledge, usually due to political interference (changing the goalposts) on policy.
      So I would have no problem with private and commercial interests running Hospitals in theory, providing they were set sensible medical standards, and those standards were enforced, but this again is the problem.
      When have the Government been any good at enforcing standards (FSA a good example) Ofgas, Ofcom, etc are others.
      I do not believe that you can just let Private medicine and Private Hospitals run such establishments as they feel fit, as the cost would be prohibitive, this would not be competition, it would be an open cheque book.

      If you have a Private Health Care Insurance Policy, I suggest you look at the small print very closely to see what it does not cover. It can be very extensive, it usually excludes any precondition, it can in some cases also exclude any form of cancer treatment, it can exclude certain types of Hospital and certain types of treatment, it usually requires some form of initial payment, and can in certain circumstances limit the amount of value of treatment you get, leaving you to fund the balance.

      I am not in any way connected with the NHS, I am simply a user like many millions of others, and so am not a blind supporter of this organisation to the exclusion of all others, indeed I have paid to have private consultations on occassion, when the time delay with the NHS has been too long to wait.

      I agree the HNS needs modification especially in certain areas, but do not chuck the baby out with the bathwater without a good deal of thought and discussion.

      The low paid, and many pensioners simply cannot afford Private health cover as it stands at the moment.

  16. Derek W. Buxton
    August 14, 2009

    What is the death rate from hospital aquired infection? How does cancer care compare to that in other civiliised countries?

    For the cost it seems that we do not compare very well from various reports around. I also get the idea that many hospitals are now built in rather inaccesible places so that a car is needed to get there and then comes the problem of parking. I recall some months ago seeing figures for the amount of money collected by some hospitals just for parking.

    On the up side, where I live it seems that appointments are made more quickly and are kept.


    1. Brigham
      August 15, 2009

      You ask what is the death rate from hospital acquired infection. Just google “iatrogenic disease”

  17. AndyC
    August 14, 2009

    It’s depressing that an intelligent debate on the subject of health doesn’t appear possible in this country. I wouldn’t expect one from Labour, but Mr Cameron’s response to Dan Hannan is extremely depressing. The NHS is not the best healthcare system in the world, full stop. Forget the USA, very few developed countries have adopted the NHS model, and most do rather better than we do. Hannan is actually advocating something similar to the Singapore model of personalised health accounts. This is something the Conservatives should at least be interested in looking into, not dismissing out of hand. Oddly, I dimly recall Tony Blair looking at the Singapore model briefly after 1997, only to discount any change as too radical.

    For the record, the US system has evolved into a complex hybrid beast which no-one in their right mind would copy. Mind you, the US debate on healthcare reform may be grubby and ill-informed, but at least they are having one!

  18. Bazman
    August 14, 2009

    The Duncan (word left out) story more than balanced out any bias by the media towards the Conservatives. (personal abuse left out) Lots more of him please. The funniest part is that he is the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons and very much part of the expenses row talking a good game in public, but quite different in private, and if we are serious about as funny as a burning orphanage.

  19. pipesmoker
    August 15, 2009

    In 1946 my family paid our doctor three pence a week for his services and he personally gave a twenty four hour a day access.

    In 1947 I sat in his surgery and he was absolutely against the introduction of the NHS, he despaired at what would happen to medicine. BTW he was a socialist.

    He knew me, he knew my family and he looked after us as individuals. He was Indian, qualified in India but not allowed to practice until he requalified in this country.

    He saved my life at birth and again in 1943 when I had dysentery, no antibiotics then!

    They have built an empire whci has been to the detriment of health care. The same has happened in the police where bigger has not meant better.

  20. […] party spin and misinformation story that is some weeks old in any case and has been resurrected and some believe conducted by Mandelson to combat the Tories lead in the polls. Labour wants to make lies about […]

Comments are closed.