Andy Burnham, the British Minister for English Health, has written an open letter to David Camoron calling on him to withdraw the whip from Dan Hannan and any other Tory that criticises the NHS.
What a prize prick.
He rubbishes claims the Tories are the party of the NHS as Camoron claims because Dan Hannan has criticised the NHS. Apparently “every single MP, MEP and member of the Labour Party endorses the NHS” which is a bold claim to make bearing in mind the fact that he cannot possibly have canvassed the opinions of all MPs, MEPs and Liebour Party members.
He asks if Camoron will ban members of Atlantic Bridge – a transatlantic group of conservatives – from attending the Tory conference because they have criticised the NHS.
He calls on Camoron to demand Tory shadow ministers resign from the Cornerstone Group – a traditionalist, eurosceptic, anti-devolution group in the Conswervative Party – because they described the NHS as stalinist and called for it to be replaced.
I have a few points to make about Burnham’s letter.
Firstly, there is no “the NHS”. There are four National Health Services in the UK and only the English NHS is under the control of the British.
Secondly, it is perfectly possible for a party to be in favour of something whilst some, or even most, of its members have a different view. The Tories are a eurofederalist party, for instance, whilst the majority of its MPs and members are eurosceptics.
Thirdly, withdrawing the whip or otherwise punishing an MP or MEP for voicing an opinion that doesn’t concur with the official view of the party is a ridiculous suggestion. What sort of fascist, anti-democratic autoritarian political party would spouse those sorts of views? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.
Fourthly, the suggestion that members of Atlantic Bridge should be banned from the Tory conference for criticising the NHS is pathetic and has nothing to do with their views on the NHS and everything to do with the fact that Atlantic Bridge is a conservative organisation. If they were socialists, like the Liebour Party used to be, Burnham wouldn’t have mentioned them.
Fifthly, setting aside the fact that it would be morally wrong to insist shadow ministers resign from the anti-socialist Cornerstone Group because they think the NHS is stalinist and needs replacing, wanting to replace the National Health Services doesn’t mean they oppose them, it means they want to replace them. The clue is in the word “replace”, which doesn’t mean “abolish”.
Sixthly – and finally – if you’re going to criticise the Tories then at least do it for genuine reasons, of which there are plenty. Criticise them for being anti-English or eurofederalists. Criticise them for being socialists in blue ties or for being vague and evasive on policy. It will mean being hypocritical but that shouldn’t be a problem for a Liebour minister.