Monday, 29 April 2013

UKIP's Godfrey Bloom attacks the National Health Service

The UK Independence Party is currently the midst of a shambolic turmoil relating to the rather unpalatable remarks and views of its unvetted local election candidates, including attachments to the fascist British National Party and English Defence League, eugenicist ableism, misogyny, homophobia, racism, and antisemitic conspiracy theories. UKIP have keenly insisted, however, that they repudiate the views of these candidates, and have suspended some of their standings.

The various male chauvinist remarks of UKIP's economic spokesman, MEP Godfrey Bloom, have particularly exemplified reactionary views within the echelons of the party.

Some other remarks by Bloom however, regarding the UK's National Health Service, have gone under the radar to the same extent as UKIP's unvetted absurd and extremist local election candidates.

Bloom made these remarks on the NHS when being interviewed the radio show of American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in December 2009 (before anyone asks me why I was listening to Jones's radio show, my answer is part research and part morbid curiosity):

                                             Starting at around seven minutes

"What you're doing now we did in 1946-1947. We got rid of a perfectly good health system which was based on individuals and individuals' relationships with their own doctors and their own local hospitals, which were based on some part-charitable status part-fee paying status, and they brought in this terrible monolith called the National Health system. And the National Health system...we have bred a monster you wouldn't believe. It's the biggest employer in Europe. It costs literally billions and billions and billions of pounds [Bloom is obviously ignorant to how vastly more cost effective the NHS is when compared to the profit-driven U.S. healthcare system] a year. We've just wasted £8 billion, over $10 billion on a failed IT system. Nothing in the National Health system works. It's a sacred cow over here

Bloom continues and decry the "socialist" healthcare reforms of President Barack Obama, and pleads voters to not adopt the same "disaster" he implies Aneurin Bevan's National Health Service to be. This cannot be construed a mere critique of the particular healthcare policies of the Labour government of the time. This is an all-out attack by Bloom on the very concept and existence of the National Health Service.

Though advocating elements of marketisation in the NHS, UKIP's official health policy asserts that a UKIP government would protect and defend the fundamental principle of a universal, free at the point of need, or what Godfrey Bloom would call "socialist", National Health Service: "The NHS is valued by the people of this country, admired and envied by others. The principle of treatment free at the point of delivery is non-negotiable."

This is definitely pandering overwhelming cross-party public support for and satisfaction with the NHS "sacred cow". It is astonishing that senior figure within a political party would be openly and entirely at odds with one of its fundamental manifesto tenants.

The NHS is a sacred cow for a reason. It is not flawless, but is a world better than the frequently atrociously inhumane profit-driven American healthcare system. I would certainly opt to preserve this "monolith" than live in the callous, social Darwinist society Bloom and his UKIP ilk would prefer.


I have emailed Godfrey Bloom regarding his views on the NHS: 

Dear Mr. Bloom, 

I am emailing you regarding some comments you made about Britain's National Health Service on Alex Jones' radio show in December 2009. The particular remarks, you made which I have transcribed from a YouTube video of the interview: 

[above transcription]

I understand that, in context, you may have been making critical remarks regarding the health policy of the Labour government of the time. But it seems to me that you are attacking the very concept of the National Health Service itself. Your description of it as a monstrous "socialist" monolith certainly seems to conflict with UKIP's own health policy; the website page for which describes the NHS as an "envy of the world". It seems peculiar to me that the views one of UKIP's most senior figures seems to conflict with his own party's policy position, which does advocate elements of marketisation, but nevertheless commits to protecting a free at the point of delivery single-payer healthcare system in the UK.

Have I interpreted your remarks wrongly? Please contact me, if you are able, so I can set the record straight publicly. 

Might I get a response?

UPDATE - 7 May 2013

I have received this response from Godfrey Bloom:

"Dear Mr Richardson

I think the fact that we have a system employing 1.3 million people, over half of whom have no medical qualifications of any sort, the waste on the IT programme, horrific reports from Staffordshire and other hospitals. Significant numbers of people in the system earning over £100,000 per annum, yet highly trained theatre nurses earn no more than the average wage shows how drastically the system needs reform.

Let me say my wife worked as a physiotherapist in the NHS for many years, a significant number of friends still do they all tell me without drastic reform the system will collapse. We may look at the French model of national health which seems based on a much better foundation.

All political parties now have accepted reform is essential, the real question is what sort of reform, clearly as I said the socialist/monolith system of 1948 is now completely out of date.

Our NHS policy is under review, it is not within my remit nor do I claim my views represent UKIP on this issue.

Kind regards

Godfrey Bloom"

He does make decent points regarding longstanding problems within the NHS, though I would primarily attribute them to marketisation policy enacted under the New Labour government rather than 'monolithic socialism'.

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