Yes Scotland’s NHS scares and lies strategy

The Yes campaign has borrowed one of New Labour’s best tricks, and not in a good way.

The Yes campaign has borrowed one of New Labour’s best tricks, and not in a good way

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the latest turn of the independence referendum shows it to be true, as the Yes campaign has borrowed one of New Labour’s best tricks.

Those of us with long memories will recall various by-election campaigns in Tony Blair’s spell as leader of the opposition when Peter Mandelson would run a last-week leaflet bearing the headline ‘One Week To Save Our NHS/Hospitals’ etc.

This would appeal to the natural concerns of the local public who would then turn out to defeat the hapless Tory candidate who would be left shaking their head in bewilderment.

The Yes Campaign is now playing the same game, but with an important difference: where the New Labour case was based on genuine concerns, the Nationalists are spreading a pack of lies.

A further difference is that Labour was genuinely concerned about the future of the NHS, and later acted by doubling and tripling spending on the NHS and building a new generation of modern hi-tech hospitals.

In contrast, the interest of the Yes campaign in the Scottish NHS is solely to use it as part of its programme of attempting frighten people into voting for independence.

At the heart of the Yes Scotland NHS Scares And Lies Strategy are two assertions which are bare-faced lies of the highest order.

Big NHS Lie No. 1 is that the Scottish NHS is vulnerable to health policy decisions made in England.

The Truth is of course that for decades, the Scottish NHS has been run from Scotland by Scots, first through the Home & Health Department and now as a fully devolved service under the direct control and responsibility of the Scottish Government. The Truth is therefore that no decision made in Westminster can impact on the Scottish NHS.

Big NHS Lie No. 2 is that structural reforms of the NHS in the rest of UK can reduce the block grant available in Scotland, e.g., if parts of the NHS in England and Wales are privatised, the cash available (calculated by the Barnett Formula) would go down.

The Truth of this story is that even in the highly unlikely event of most or all of NHS treatment in England and Wales being privatised, it would still be paid for by the taxpayer. The Truth is that the bill for the NHS would not go down and so neither would the proportion allocated to Scotland.

There are two calculations behind the Yes Scotland NHS Scares and Lies Strategy.

The first is the knowledge that the usual drift of opinion in referendum campaigns is towards the status quo, and only exceptions are when the voters are convinced that only the change proposal can protect those things which they value. (The best examples are those of countries like Sweden and Austria joining the European Union in the belief that membership would protect their economies and social fabric better than isolation.)

So Yes needs to put fear into the voters to have any chance at all of winning in September. Hence the lies about threats to the Scottish NHS.

The second calculation is that they recall the way in which in 2011 Holyrood election the SNP took protest votes (overwhelmingly from Liberal Democrats) in the final weeks of the campaign. This time the party in the firing line is Scottish Labour, as the founders and saviours of the NHS – Scotland’s true party of the NHS.

So Yes needs to support its NHS Scotland Scares And Lies Strategy with a parallel onslaught of lies about the Labour Party’s record in office since 1997.

This of course ignores The Truth of Labour’s achievements of 10 years continuous growth, The Truth of highest-ever levels of employment, The Truth of rising living standards across all social and economic groups, The Truth of radical reductions in child and pensioner poverty, The Truth of big improvements in education and childcare, the UK’s largest ever programme of schools building, The Truth of improved maternity rights and statutory paternity rights, The Truth of the first ever Minimum Wage, The Truth of full employment rights for part-time workers, and The Truth of civil partnerships.

And, of course, in health matters it ignores The Truth that the NHS under Labour enjoyed its lowest waiting times and highest level of satisfaction ever, and embarked on the largest ever programme of hospital building, and The Truth that the Labour Scottish government took such bold steps as the early introduction of the smoking ban and the nationalisation of the Royal Jubilee Hospital.

It also neglects The Truth that Labour wrote off Glasgow’s housing debt, making possible the massive investment which has transformed the city’s social housing stock and made history of the old health hazards of damp and avoidable fuel poverty.

And it dismisses The Truth that devolutionto Scotland, delivered by Labour according to the wishes of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, absolutely guarantees that the NHS in Scotland remains a matter for the people of Scotland.

Pretty soon, Yes Scotland will put out the Mandelsonian message ‘x weeks/days to Save Scotland’s NHS’. However, voters are being asked to vote Yes on the basis of the Yes Scotland NHS Scares And Lies Strategy.

This is a proposition which is much more serious than a mere carelessness with the truth, or a little bit of tweaking it for a bye-election. It is an invitation to start a new state on a prospectus of lies.

There can be no doubt that Scots should all choose the rational truth instead, and vote No.

Peter Russell blogs at Planet Pedro!

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

173 Responses to “Yes Scotland’s NHS scares and lies strategy”

  1. Guest

    Yea, gotta get rid of those not pure of blood, after all. You are rejecting Britain in all senses, and you would definitely lose access to UK NHS services without an entirely new treaty.

    That’s the law.

  2. Guest

    But we’re talking about Scotland. Not England. And you’re saying you’re anti-English. Make your mind up!

  3. Guest

    Keep making it up, as you push for right-wing home rule.

  4. Guest

    They’re keeping the budget of the NHS high and reducing the patient care budget only. Do bother looking at the facts, arse.

    Your wish to privatise the Scottish NHS is plain yours.

  5. Guest

    I’m sure you think you’d control the UK and dictate to us from your amazing Scottish conquering heros!

    And you don’t want any of those, yea – all things you don’t want or not.

  6. Guest

    Wah, it’s democracy. So sorry.

    You do have the power, it’s called voting. You have an independence vote, and it’s never enough. You agree with Arthur on slashing college places, keeping the bedroom tax, etc…no surprise!

  7. Ken Bell

    Eh, your comment makes no sense. Where did I write that I am anti-English? Go on, point it out.

  8. Ken Bell

    Well, the body responsible for arranging donor organs disagrees with you, but I accept that deciding whether they or some anonymous bloke on the web is the more credible is difficult.

  9. Hearthammer

    Oh, be quiet, troll!

  10. Arthur

    Why have you put quotation marks around something I didn’t say? When you said “I kill puppies for fun” did you really mean it?

  11. Arthur

    Are you following me?

    Proportional representation: that’s how the Holyrood parliament works now. If we get rid of Westminster, we only vote for Holyrood M(S)Ps – that means we only use proportional representation for our parliament. No promises needed, it’s a consequence.

    No House of Lords: if we become independent the House of Lords no longer has any say in our government. It doesn’t affect us any more. No promises needed, it’s a consequence.

    No Nuclear weapons: nuclear non proliferation treaties don’t allow signatories to store their weapons in another country. If Scotland becomes independent, the rUK can’t store it’s weapons here. If they decide to leave them here (as if), then we could approach the international community for help in decommissioning them. I’m sure the Russians would be quite interested in seeing US nuclear technology up close. I’m sure the US would be quite happy to take the whole job out of our hands to ensure that didn’t happen, and would happily remove everything for us. No promises needed, it’s a consequence.

  12. Arthur

    You are following me! Brilliant! I’ve got a stalker!

  13. Arthur

    Stirling is definitely Scotlands, and only Scotland’s. Under no circumstances will Scotland allow Stirling to be kept by the English!

  14. getdownshep

    There are two ways to privatise services in the NHS in England.

    1. Push out services to private companies, but pay for those services directly via the NHS budget
    2. Introduce fees for some NHS services which are paid directly by the patient and therefore outside the NHS budget (e.g. A&E access, attending doctor’s surgery etc)

    So obviously point 1 doesn’t necessarily impact the size of the NHS budget, however point 2 clearly does, as more services are paid for directly by the patient, thus allowing direct state funding to be shaved.

    There is a open discussion within the Conservative Party just now about abolishing the right to free healthcare at the point of use and introducing ‘small’ charges for some services. This discussion even extends to labour peers such as Lord Robert Winston.

    Who know where the NHS in England will be 10 years, but you can be absolutely sure that the drive will be towards these more ‘imaginative’ forms of NHS funding rather than away from it. This will impact the proportional NHS budget in Scotland – there’s no getting away from it.

    We are now in this ludicrous position where parts of the Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish Left are defending the Tory party’s current and future NHS spending plans. As a long term labour voter, I despair.

  15. ravi

    So the Depute Chair of BMA Dr Kailash Chand is also pushing a Yes agenda of “NHS scares and lies strategy, his article from 2008 when we had Labour government and another from yesterday’s Guardian. No wonder Scottish Labour supported are going towards YES. The biggest lies has been Labour’s 13 years of government & do nothing for Scottish working class.

  16. Casper10666

    You should go on to you tube and look for Ivan McKee, his presentations will tell you everything you need to know.
    If England cut our barnet money we will have to cut what we can spend on NHS in Scotland, if SNP raise taxes, its removed off our barent chunk pound per pound. Mark Carney was all ready up speaking with AS on how they were going to set it up. Businesses down south as well as up here would have put so much pressure on the Gov they would have crumbled. Common sense. Go on to you tube and watch the presentations from Ivan McKee who has multiple businesses across the world and has 1200 companies who supported independence. At least for the next time you will have the information you need.

  17. Casper10666

    Labour will be crushed come GE, people have saw through the lies and they chose to support tories instead of the people who put them in place. They lied and misinformed their own people…last ugov poll dropped their seats to 11..SNP to 48

  18. Casper10666

    Its even worse the TTIP has a clause in it which will allow US through EU to bring in NHS privatisation. Cameron could ring fence this to stop it happening….he hasn’t.

  19. Casper10666

    The cuts imposed by the Tories will stop people from spending money which will hit the companies even worst. This me myself and I is a cancer driving through this country, that’s why Scotland wants out, they can do it better…..

  20. Casper10666

    Conservatives do not help the people they fund for themselves and their friends. Your deluded if you believe they are doing anything for the people. UNLESS your in the billionaires clue that is…
    Scotland will be independent and I cant wait to be free of these greedy money sucking vampires.

  21. Casper10666

    Your right, conservatives do not work for the people, they fill their pockets and their friends bank accounts and smile at you while they do. They believe you are all thick and cant work out what they are doing and how………..Scotland woke up…

  22. Casper10666

    If Scotland is such a pain to West/m why do you think they are trying so hard to hold on to Scotlland.why would that be………money

  23. Casper10666

    UGOV POLL SEATS – cON – 4 LABOUR 11 -SNP – 48.
    Tories and RED Tores do nothing for Scotland that was clear.

Leave a Reply