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Wednesday 7 January 2015

NHS Crisis - Let’s Blame Labour

The tabloids, both red top and mid market, are agreed on the subject of the moment today, and that is the NHS. From the Sun declaring “Third World A&E”, and the Mirror proclaiming “Our NHS Is Dying”, through the Express chipping in with “Hospitals Just Can’t Cope” to the Mail thundering “A&E Crisis Worst For 10 Years”, there is a rare degree of unanimity. But then everything changes as the blame game starts.
The Coalition has been in power for more than four and a half years. So one might think that they would cop for any media criticism. But that thought would be misplaced: there is a General Election coming up in four months’ time, most of the print media are shilling for the Tories, and so whatever straws can be found must be appropriately clutched in order to pretend that The Big Labour Boy Did It And Ran Away.
You think I jest? This is exactly what Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have decided to do. They have been followed over the top by the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Mail, who have examined the available facts, and concluded that Labour caused the crisis by something that happened in 2004. As Littlejohn might have said, you couldn’t make it up.
So while the Mail manages the headlineDumped on a trolley in a hospital corridor after waiting 11 hours for an ambulance: Pensioner, 81, is just one casualty of the worst A&E crisis in a decade”, which is at least not politically partisan, Dacre has ordered Ian Birrell over the top to rant and froth thatYes the NHS is creaking but Labour's cynical hypocrisy is truly sickening”. Full use is made of the approved Mail hyperbole phrasebook.
You’ll love this: “the root causes go back to Labour’s cack-handed contract deal with general practitioners in 2004 … Labour’s response to this is risible … Labour is desperate to exploit voters’ fears on health in order to deflect attention from its inadequacy on economic matters and its unloved leader … Labour’s stance as self-appointed saviour of the NHS is contemptible”. And, as the man said, there’s more.
Andy Burnham, a politician who once showed promise and now serves as the party’s health spokesman, is perhaps the biggest hypocrite … he rants about the evils of privatisation — even though Labour extended the use of private providers … having lurched to the Left, he appears to be pandering to the unions … puerile point-scoring from Labour”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.

There is one problem with Birrell’s own rant, and that is that even Daily Mail readers are not so stupid that they are going to be brow-beaten into accepting the plainly ridiculous notion that the Coalition have been in power for four and a half years, yet have been powerless to do anything about the NHS, which, in case Mail hacks and pundits missed it, has been subject to another reorganisation during that period.

All that the bluster from the Murdoch and Rothermere press is doing is to show that this issue is going to hurt their chosen political party, that they can do no more than sit and froth in defiance, and that they have stuff all clue about how the NHS can improve matters, given most of the hacks and pundits doing the frothing don’t give a flying foxtrot about it in the first place - they all go private. Yes, they are the real hypocrites. No change there.

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