Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Universal Public Healthcare: Myriad Conservative Opportunities

This piece by me appears on Post-Right:

Once it comes, universal public healthcare will be very popular indeed. It always is. In every country where it has been introduced, that is what has happened. A conservative defeat? Only if you want it to be. Only if your let yourselves treat it as such.

That popularity will make it very difficult indeed to spend on pre-emptive wars, or on maintaining a global network of military bases, money that could have been spent on healthcare instead. Yes, you’ll still have the public healthcare. But you won’t have the pre-emptive wars or the global network of military bases. And at the end of the day, treating the sick really is better than waging such wars or maintaining such bases, if that is the choice on the table.

This rapidly much-loved service will not be able to work without some concept of how many people there are in America, nor without a national language that, even if they don’t necessarily speak it at home, everyone can nevertheless speak. Joe Wilson’s argument against coverage for illegal immigrants is not an argument against universal public healthcare. It is an argument against illegal immigration. Making it an argument against what is now his own party’s economic ideology, against his own Presidential candidate last year, against his own Senate candidate last year, in favor of that candidate’s sadly defeated opponent, and in favor of that opponent’s election to the House next year. In place of Joe Wilson.

Ah, I hear you cry, but you have universal public healthcare in Britain, and you still have these wars, and an immigration problem, and a language problem. Yes, we do. And no argument is stronger here than the arguments that I have just set out. Wars? “That money could have gone on the NHS” is the argument-stopping complaint the length and breadth of the land. Immigration? “The NHS can’t cope” has the same effect, and is increasingly used by the remaining handful of authentically working-class Labour MPs. They have, of course, been thinking it for years. Now, like their voters, they are saying it out loud. Not before time. So learn the lesson. Don’t wait. Be saying it from the start.

One could go on. Make the most of it. There’s going to be a lot of most to make.

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