The shock troops of the Murdoch press on occasion rely on a very basic assumption: that their readers are too stupid to stop and think before accepting the premise of whatever Sun hacks put before them. Today has brought a superb example, with an article titled “Polish mums having Polish babies in a Polish hospital ... and YOU PAY”. I do? Let’s have a look at some facts.
Moving right along past the usual Sun habit of using CAPITALS to make sure the READERS know exactly why they should get very ANNOYED at the EUROCRATS, we arrive at the supposed shock horror news that someone working in the UK is getting his wife treated in another EU member state. Another EU member state where pay levels are comparatively lower than the UK.
Moreover, that member state is having to treat members of families who are not resident there. So that member state bills another member state – the one where the family is resident and paying taxes – for the treatment. Er, hello? Can someone tell me why this is such A Bad Thing? Oh, hang on, look who’s involved – there’s the chief non-job holder of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance.
Matthew Sinclair (for it is he), who gives every appearance of having had his sense of humour surgically and irreversibly removed, is telling Rupe’s downmarket troops “It’s vital if this scheme is to be fair on taxpayers that it is a two-way street”. A word in your shell-like, Mr S: if UK residents are getting their healthcare needs satisfied in a country that charges less than the UK, of course it’s bloody fair on taxpayers.
In any case, if there are any EU member states who should be kicking off about foreigners getting treated in their countries, then it should be the ones that have to put up with an elderly and therefore more needy expat British population, most of whom can’t be arsed learning the local language and therefore imposing an additional burden on local health services.
Which countries might I be hinting at here? Oh, I dunno, how about Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece, for starters? There are over 1.5 million Brits living elsewhere in the EU, with around three quarters of a million in Spain alone. And most don’t come back to the UK for their healthcare. They dump on the locals. So where is the Sun in asking for fairness there?
The answer is that the Sun will have very soon moved on to the next pretend EU horror story, because it doesn’t give a stuff. For much of the Fourth Estate, it’s fine when we benefit from the EU, and the full why-oh-why treatment if it looks like Johnny Foreigner is getting some sort of advantage. UK citizens do very well out of our EU membership, and we should not lose sight of that.
What you will not read in the Sun, or many other papers. No change there, then.