With the UK economy in shambles, everyone expected the Labour Party, headed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, to be defeated soundly in the next elections there. However, US Republican Party attacks on the British National Health Service as part of their campaign to discredit US health care reform are receiving wide coverage there and are causing a backlash. The NHS is so popular in the UK that virtually all politicians, including conservatives, support it, but British Conservative Party links to the US Republican party are causing it to lose popularity quickly.
First, Investor’s Business Daily ran an anti-reform editorial claiming that “scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.” They were forced to retract that when it was pointed out to them that Stephen Hawking is, indeed, British and lives in the UK. Hawking even wrote an editorial (electronically) singing the praises of the NHS.
Then a Conservative Member of the European Parliament, appeared on US TV warning Americans against an NHS-style health care system. UK conservatives tried to distance themselves from his comments, but the damage was already done. Two UK newspapers, including one considered a conservative newspaper, ran articles revealing UK Conservative Party links to Republican NHS bashers.
The latest scandal comes from two British women who claim they were duped into appearing in anti-health reform ads broadcast in the US, and that their words were twisted to make it appear that they were against the NHS. The two women were told that they were participating in a documentary about health care, and their statements were about proposed reforms to the NHS, which both women support. Neither woman was told that their words would be used in an US ads.
The ads were sponsored by the Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, which is run by Rick Scott. Scott was forced to resign as the head of heath provider Columbia/HCA because of massive fraud at the company.
It is interesting that Britain’s health care system, which goes far beyond anything proposed by Obama, is so popular in Britain that even the slightest hint that a party wants to dismantle it will cost them an election.