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GOP attacks are hurting conservatives in the UK

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.



  1. Eva wrote:

    Instead of making a big scene, why doesn’t congress quietly open the government health care program to people and go by their income? They are already doing that with Medicare. Little was made of that. Single people on Medicare with income under 85K are paying the going rate, over pay more. For married people it is double that. Social security is checking with the IRS to find out what income people have when the tax is filed. Meanwhile demand that everyone get on Health Insurance.

    Now couldn’t Congress pass its bill while quietly opening the government plan with supplement from the taxes for the low income people? Eva

    Monday, August 17, 2009 at 7:02 am | Permalink
  2. Daniel Habtemariam wrote:

    @Eva. I couldn’t agree with you more, but what you’re talking about is opening up Medicare to more of the general public, and I don’t believe it would be possible to do that (quietly) without the GOP raising an uproar about it. It’s more or less what Ted Kennedy’s proposed bill would do, and it would mean the private health insurance industry taking a hit. A lot was made of that in 1965 (Johnson), in 1993 (Clinton), and now in 2009 (Obama).

    What it comes down to is that the conservative party in the United States likes to talk big about the benefits of conservatism (lower taxes) but is nowhere to be found when discussions turn to the downsides of conservatism (diminished social programs, such as healtchare). It’s the same fight the Republicans waged on Social Security and Medicare; they used rumors, myths, fear-mongering, and misinformation to try to keep it from becoming law. But once it became law, and it was well received by the public, they did a 180 and vowed to protect it. It’s completely disingenuous, but it works.

    @Iron Knee. Your point about the British system being, at once, so popular in Britain and so much further than anything Obama (or any other Democrat in Washington) is proposing is itself a tragic instance of irony. The President (and the Democrats) went out of their way to propose (from the beginning) a moderate/centrist set of proposals, and they’ve been met with totally far-right alternatives from the GOP. Far too many Americans, however, has been painted a picture that Obama and the Democrats are proposing ideas equally as left-wing as the GOP’s ideas have been right-wing. It’s a false equivalence, one of too many to count these days…

    Monday, August 17, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Permalink
  3. The cons in the US don’t give a rats ass about who they have to burn to preserve the profits of their corporate masters at home.

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 7:05 am | Permalink
  4. Dan wrote:

    As an outsider living in the US, one must simultaneously be impressed by the wide-ranging concerns introduced into the discussion, and the meticulousness of some people on the one hand, and be horrified at the naked tribalism and unashamed ignorance and hypocrisy on the other hand.

    “Only in America”, where I can laugh and cry at the same time. I love what the USA stands for and sincerely hope it does not self-combust.

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 10:16 am | Permalink

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  1. Political Irony › Right Wrongs Rights on Monday, August 24, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    […]  Is it a right only once you pass a certain age? Or is this like the situation in the UK, where even the most conservative politicians support their nationalized health care system, because it is so popular?  Maybe since Obama is about “change”, conservatives have […]