As the EU referendum campaign gets more heated, and the Outers sense they may have polls running in their favour, the whoppers get worse and more blatant. And no whopper is more blatant - and bad with it - than the conceit pitched by nominally UKIP MP Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell earlier today on the BBC’s Daily Politics.
Carswell clearly wants to allay concerns about what might happen if Britain left the EU, and one of those concerns is that the NHS might not survive in the same form for long. And even politicians on the libertarian right know that to advocate messing with the NHS risks electoral disaster. And so it came to pass that he dropped his whopper.
As the man otherwise known as Joe Public has told via Twitter, “@DouglasCarswell on @daily_politics says he's always supported NHS and he, Michael Gove, @DanHannanMEP will fund it”. That’s a most creative claim by Carswell, not least because the past form of himself, Gove, and Hannan has been to rubbish the NHS at every opportunity, even if it means flat out lying in the process.
Recently, the Observer noted that “Tory MPs - who include [David] Cameron's close ally Michael Gove - are listed alongside controversial MEP Daniel Hannan as co-authors of a book, Direct Democracy, which says the NHS ‘fails to meet public expectations’ and is ‘no longer relevant in the 21st century’”. And what of Carswell?
The same article also tells “Gove is also one of a group of more than 20 Tory MPs and MEPs who are cited as supporters of Hannan's views in another book, The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain, published in December last year, in which Hannan and Tory MP Douglas Carswell describe the NHS as ‘the national sickness service’”.
It gets worse: Hannan famously embarrassed Cameron back in 2009 when he went on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) to assert that the NHS “makes us iller”. So how does the NHS stand up to comparison with other European health services, and that in the USA? But that is where Hannan comes unstuck.
The Commonwealth Fund of Washington DC, in its 2014 report, as the Guardian told, concluded “The NHS has been declared the best healthcare system by an international panel of experts who rated its care superior to countries which spend far more on health”. And there was bad news for Hannan, Carswell and Gove.
“The same study also castigated healthcare provision in the US as the worst of the 11 countries it looked at. Despite putting the most money into health, America denies care to many patients in need because they do not have health insurance and is also the poorest at saving the lives of people who fall ill, it found” the study claimed.
The NHS is not a thing of perfection. But it has been found time and again to give us a good service, which stands favourable comparison with the best in the world. Douglas Carswell, Michael Gove and Daniel Hannan have devoted their political careers to demonising it. For any of them to claim they would suddenly do otherwise is fraudulent.
Douglas Carswell needs the fire extinguisher sharpish. No change there, then.