After it was revealed that Red Cross Ambulances had been helping out hard-pressed NHS services this winter, and their head had some forthright words to say about the state of the health service, there was clear disquiet, even among those on the right: the NHS, despite attempts to denigrate it by right-leaning papers and their hangers-on, still cares for more than 90% of the population, most of whom regard it highly.
But for those of a left-leaning disposition, there was not mere disquiet, but severely adverse comment on the Tories’ stewardship of the NHS, and none was more forthright in this regard than Paul Mason. “Yes, sure, people dying on trolleys; Red Cross land rovers deployed... that's just normality under Theresa May's Tories” he asserted. But the MP to whom he had responded happened to be (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries.
And The Fragrant Nadine was not going to let this insolent behaviour from one of those rotten lefties stand unanswered. So in she waded, ranting “It was normal under Labour in 90s + inevitable now with massive surge levels of uncontrolled immigration”. Let’s take this nice and slowly, shall we? Most of the 90s was spent under a Tory Government. Then Labour came to power in 1997 and committed to following Tory spending plans for two years. So it was normal under Tory spending plans, thanks.
No matter, she wasn’t finished with the upstart Mason: “It's a reason why so many in northern Labour seats voted for #Brexit to stop spiralling levels of immigration and reduce pressure on #NHS”. That’s because 20-something eastern Europeans are far less likely to need the NHS than older Brits, isn’t it? Doesn’t make sense. And there’s more.
After Mason declined to give any quarter to Ms Dorries - brave man - and shot back “I was waiting for some fascist or UKIP wacko to pin the crisis on migrants but a Tory beat them to it”, she lost it. “If you want to deny that a surge increase in population over a short period of time wouldn't have an effect then look in the mirror, whacko”. Mason is a pundit. Ms Dorries is supposed to be an MP. But she was still up for some afters.
“Even those pro uncontrolled immigration wouldn't in their maddest moments suggest that our health infrastructure can just keep coping”. To deploy one mental health smear might be considered unfortunate; to deploy another one in its wake looks like carelessness. And after Alastair Campbell opined “Not true that NHS has an annual winter crisis. It did when we had a Tory govt. They stopped under Labour. Now back” she made it three.
“You must have amnesia. You were spinning like mad when press were saying 'end of Blair and Labour after NHS winter from hell’”. Two things here. One, I would refer the Hon Member for Mid Bedfordshire to the reply I gave earlier - Labour stuck with Tory spending plans for two years at the end of the 90s - and two, let’s look at the data.
And the A&E performance data since 2004-5 suggests that Big Al is broadly right, and Nadine Dorries is broadly not. The A&E figures began to deteriorate almost as soon as Young Dave got his feet under the 10 Downing Street table. What was normal in those last Labour winters is now not being managed even at the height of summer. And what happens in winter is really not good at all.
Still, being Nadine Dorries means you can blame someone else. No change there, then.