Watching the Liberal Democrats tie themselves in knots and Nick Clegg sacrificing his party for the sake of a sniff of power and a big shiny ministerial car would have been amusing if the consequences were not so grave.Wheeling Shirley Williams out to appease the grassroots was a ploy that smacked of desperation; what we are saying may be absolute crap, but here’s a wonderful spunky old lady to say it. Minority parties in coalitions always suffer in the following election and a yawning abyss awaits the Lib Dems while the Tories snigger on the sidelines.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, the NHS is not a good system of healthcare, except when you compare it with all the rest. The undermining of the NHS will be a climactic event; the epoch of unselfishness will be over. It will be a sign that patients are no longer patients, but have become economic units, to be harvested as profitably as possible. The concept of caring for patients regardless of the economic consequences will become a dinosaur.
Historians will one day look back at the NHS and observe that, for a brief period during the 20th century, people actually gave a f*** about each other; unfortunately this proved to be unprofitable. Rather uniquely, all the reputable bodies are lined up on the same side. They have opposed the Bill, except for, rumour has it, the Royal College of Homeopaths, which is prepared to support the Bill (but only if it is massively diluted).
For the government, changing course and admitting its plans are destructive is not an option; to it, that would be a sign of weakness, when really it would be a sign of maturity and self-confidence.
When I start carrying out an unpleasant medical procedure, if halfway through, I find it to be either unnecessary or dangerous, I’ll stop. I don’t keep going, because, hey, I started, and it would be a sign of weakness to stop shoving that implement into what is by now a rather tender orifice..
So the future is bleak; if you see a light at the end of the tunnel it means you are having a colonoscopy, and you’re awake.
Footnote; I wrote this column in 2012. Five years later and with Trump/Brexit the situation is even more dire.