Opinion Piece by Sam Gordon Webb

According to Jeremy Corbyn, the NHS is for sale. Boris Johnson calls  his claim “pure Bermuda triangles”. But who’s right? 

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser”

These are not my words, but the words of Socrates. It would seem that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reverted to exactly that on Friday evening during the final BBC debate before polling day after being challenged by the BBC’s Nick Robinson over claims he made that the Conservatives plan on privatising the NHS. Mr Corbyn told the watching millions that “Donald Trump has told us many times that people pay too little for US medicines. That’s the kind of agenda the PM wants to get involved with”. 

But hang on a minute. Really? President Trump told reporters at Tuesday’s Nato summit the US did not want the NHS even  “if it was handed on a silver plate”. Although some have suggested that the President is a “pathological liar” who cannot be taken at his word.  

Trump has weighed in with his opinion of the NHS in the past.

The problem is that Trump speaks what is on his mind, and this tends to be the flowery truth. Take for example, withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran Nuclear Deal, and the renegotiation of NAFTA; all promises he made during his election campaign, all well and truly kept.

Regardless of the merits of such decisions, Trump – at least over matters concerning politics – normally acts how he preaches. Certainly he has never implied his desire to use the NHS as a means of increasing US drug prices. 

More so President Trump’s top legislative priority currently is to lower domestic drug prices. He is urging a monthly cap on the out-of-pocket prices, paid by seniors, for drugs through Medicare’s pharmacy benefit which is to be added to a bipartisan drug pricing bill in the Senate. Surely if he really did want the NHS, then he would have asked for it already? 

Mr Corbyn’s claim is built on no reasonable evidence, and it would be naive not to consider believing that his NHS claims have, in fact, been manufactured as a means of securing the votes of leave voters in the North, of champagne socialists in the South, and to anyone else willing to buy it. 

Politicians, after all, want to win elections and indeed many would argue they need to in order to reshape politics in this country. Thus any major party will do absolutely anything in order to appeal to the greatest number of voters, almost always at the expense of some certain degree of morality. 

For example, when Keir Starmer appeared on GMB, the Conservatives created a video that appeared to show Mr Starmer unable to answer basic questions over his party’s Brexit policy. However the video was later deemed to be “doctored” because Mr Starmer did actually reply to the question. The fundamental point is that electoral politics is an art of persuasion, and rightly or wrongly, all major political parties will look to slightly tilt the truth in order to appeal to the most voters. 

But the problem is not necessarily over the deed itself, but over how many people choose to believe it. Given how much is at stake, each new lie told by our politicians begins to take its toll on our democractic process. It is now widely assumed that Jeremy Cobyn’s NHS documents were actually leaked by the Kremlin. The Kremlin no less! Not only is Corbyn lying to the people of Britain to divert attention away from a shambolic Brexit policy, we now know that his desperation for political power seems to know no bounds. 

Contrary to Labour’s accusations, the Conservative Party have pledged to protect the NHS from the claws of privatisation, saying “Conservatives…fundamentally believe it’s there for everyone in the country to rely on free at the point of use”. 

The party also promised to invest an extra £33.9bn and to recruit 50,000 more nurses by the year 2025, with 6,000 more doctors and 6,000 more primary care professionals, like pharmacists and physiotherapists. And whilst investment falls short of Labour’s pledge by £6bn, that does not take into account the pledge made by the Treasury to pay doctor’s tax bills to help meet the rising cost of NHS pensions; if they keep to their promise, the gap could narrow to about £3.5bn. 

The Conservatives have made several pledges regarding the NHS.

Young people up and down the land must base their decision on Brexit. Do you like it, or hate it? If you hate it, vote Lib Dem. If you want a people’s vote on the final deal, then vote Labour. And if you like it, and want it before February, then vote Tory. A crucial question is over whether we choose to believe Jeremy Corbyn when he tells us that the NHS is for sale. 
Alternatively, do we assume the worst of Mr Corbyn- that he is in fact doing what all politicians love to do, especially during election campaigns? Is he exploiting our fears and concerns, regurgitating falsehoods in order to tame the doubters, and lying to the masses for political advantage? That’s your judgment to make by Thursday.

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Last Update: January 30, 2020