When Margaret Thatcher spoke on the steps of Downing Street, about to escalate eleven years of unforgettable government, a New Jerusalem was pictured of a country at ease with itself. Not reliant on any sense of collectiveness, but a group of individuals who could seek and achieve success.
And indeed her star pupil, Tony Blair, was the best product from this era for Thatcher. Ed Miliband later proudly admitted that he ‘believed in’ the sense of aspiration to be inherited from the late Baroness.
Except this nirvana was anything but heavenly. Far from liberalising people, the Hayekian market enslaved working people who did grew further apart from the fruits of their productivity.
Inequality ‘never had it so good’ in governments during Thatcher and beyond. Ed Miliband in his recent speeches for the Labour Party conference has had to refer to ‘responsible capitalism’, citing specifically how consumers’ bills have rocketed due to energy suppliers almost acting like a cartel.
The fact that Rupert Murdoch was backing the ‘No’ campaign was therefore bound to cause disquiet, as was the backing by BP. It seems that all the multinational corporates know which side their bread is buttered on, having been given a strong lead from Barack Obama.
So therefore the idea that Scottish citizens were rejecting the privatisation of the English NHS was a profound embarrassment for the Westminster parties. All parties, especially the current Coalition parties, have vehemently denied that there has been any privatisation in recent years.
The current Government adamantly state that the percentage of private provision in the NHS has gone up from 5% to 6%. Critics of section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act (2012), argued to turbo-boost the outsourcing of NHS contracts through competitive tendering, are continually told about New Labour’s drive towards the growth of independent sector treatment centres.
Tony Benn left people thinking that it did not as such matter which party you now voted for, as they all effectively have become frontmen for globalised multinational corporations. That nobody actually votes for the World Bank or the European Commission legislators led Benn to do a pilgrimage to Strasbourg which he proudly hated.
For Benn, it was more important that a citizen could achieve influence through a single vote in democratic socialism, than to buy influence as part of a lobbying organisation. And of course we see a profound failure of democracy in the springing of the Lansley Act and the “hospital clause” from nowhere.
The spectacle of Miliband, Cameron and Clegg marching up from Westminster to Glasgow made many of my Scottish friends to vote “Yes”. But for them their solidarity has been a reaction to a different ethos being inflicted from above.
Whatever the appearance of economic integrity there might be in the United Kingdom, even with the use of the Pound Sterling in Scotland, or Eurozone avoiding a currency crisis, the victory appears somewhat Pyrrhic if there has been in fact been decades of social and political disintegration.
If Scotland votes to be independent, Labour could end up losing MPs who instead become ‘foreign nationals’. Ed Miliband has a relatively united party behind him, but it is likely that many in the Conservative Party will want to get rid of him.
This is especially likely if Cameron’s party enters the farcical situation of wanting to opt out of Europe having lost Scotland. David ‘Little England’ Cameron would then, even beyond the Labour Party, would become the worst Conservative Prime Minister to have ever existed.
But, if Scotland votes no, then it is possible that the UK general election will occur ‘on time’, i.e. early May 2015. The truth is that, even if Scotland votes yes, it possibly is too much hassle to shift the date of the election pursuant to the Fixed Term Parliament Act.
Then it might become business as usual, where the UK Labour Party promise to halt the privatisation of the NHS. The Conservatives have adopted the position where they wish to deny absolutely any existence of privatisation of the NHS, completely unlike their position on the utilities or Royal Mail. So, presumably, if the Conservatives win the election, the ‘non-privatisation’ of the NHS will continue.
But, in addition to the goal of economic integration, an incoming Labour government does have a hope of political integration with an albeit devolved Scotland. The greatest challenge will, nonetheless, be an England at ease with itself, which does not have different groups of people pitted against each other.
There is much work to be done in English health policy, including review of PFI, the purchaser-provider split, abolition of the Health and Social Care Act (2012), exemption from TTIP, a properly funded health and social care system, and fair pay for NHS staff, as well as implementation of “whole person care”.
If, on the other hand, Whitehall organises a painful ‘conscious uncoupling’ of Scotland and England, that could take up a lot of effort which might be better used up elsewhere.