If you do something horrible in your life, the Daily Mail has a solution for you. It’s not your fault. Just blame your employer. That’s what the Mail does today when giving its usual news distortion about the surgeon Ian Paterson who carried out unnecessary breast surgery on a number of women. Paterson, it turns out, wasn’t in any way responsible: it was entirely the fault of the NHS.
The sickly surgeon faces time away at her majesty’s pleasure and I hope he hates every single second of it. He has ruined countless lives but the Mail has another agenda. Of course it does. The Mail hates the NHS and it sees an opportunity to give it a swift political kicking.
It is undeniable that there will have been failures in management and governance that enabled Paterson to get away with his crimes for so long and on the face of it that appears to be what the Mail is saying but in reality Paul Dacre’s odious organ says one thing and means another.
When they say the NHS, not Paterson, is to blame, they mean the entire NHS itself. The very idea of the NHS is an anathema to the Mail which, rightly, sees it as the greatest victory of socialism in our history. Everyone is equal, services are free at the point of delivery, the rich person does not get better treatment. It exists not to make money, but to make people better. This flies in the face of everything the Mail believes in.
And the Mail sees a golden opportunity to get rid of what they see as the NHS money pit once and for all. Theresa May’s increasingly strident government, already driven by hard right illiberalism, and not just with its attitude to Brexit, is likely to be returned with a significant three figure majority in a few weeks time. What better opportunity to scrap the NHS in one fell swoop right after the election?
The ground has already been prepared by various ministers and promoted by their media allies by saying that the very existence of the NHS can only be maintained if we have a strong economy, with the unsaid proviso that if we don’t have a strong economy we can’t have an NHS. With the economy about to take a sustained hit as we leave the EU, something else the right wing red tops have long campaigned for, this is a golden opportunity to those who see the American model as our preferred health option. May and chancellor Hammond have also laid the groundwork for turning Britain into a tax haven once we leave Europe. You can’t have low taxes and decent public services. It’s one or the other.
I see the Daily Mail story as being yet another dig at the NHS. By continually blaming the NHS in general for everything that goes wrong, sometimes major things like this, sometimes small things, they want to create an impression that it’s reaching the end of it useful life.
There will be things that could have been done better, but the truth is the Mail’s attack is an attack on every doctor, nurse, porter and paramedic in the land. This is how politics works today and we’d better grasp that fact before it’s too late.