I wonder what the lefties are doing

We are still a low-tax party, says Health Secretary Sajid Javid. A laudable sentiment, that. It’s only that I’m not sure Mr Javid has chosen the best moment for expressing it.

“It pains me to have to tell you this…”

For his boss, Boris Johnson, has just announced a 1.25 per cent tax hike supposedly required to plug the more gaping holes in the NHS. That raises our tax burden to a level unseen for half a century.

Now I’m not going to repeat what I’ve been writing about the NHS for decades, along the lines of Britain being the only first-world country cursed with a third-world health service. I am, however, going to refer you to the first article I’ve ever seen saying all the same things in a mainstream publication.

If the definition of a great thinker is someone who agrees with me, then Christopher Snowdon is as great as they come: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-9967433/NHS-delusion-Cure-radical-surgery-not-cash-asks-CHRISTOPHER-SNOWDON-brave-enough.html

What interests me today is the way our successive Tory governments go about changing their reputation. I often call the Tories Labour Lite, but Messrs Cameron, Johnson et al. have been doing their best to lose the Lite modifier.

All their policies, social, cultural, constitutional and fiscal, inevitably raise the question in the headline above. For it’s not immediately obvious how different Labour governments would be.

In fact, I’m not convinced that, however willing their spirit might have been, they would have been able to get away with the level of cultural vandalism and economic irresponsibility routinely practised by the misnamed Conservative Party.

The problem isn’t parochially British. For modernity reaches out tropistically for the bright sun of uniformity. While paying lip service to individualism, it applies the same stencil to everything and takes scissors to anything sticking out.

Thus all modern Western governments pull in roughly the same direction. The odd exception here or there is invariably of the kind that proves the rule.

The direction is vectored towards expanding their own power at the expense of individual sovereignty and self-sufficiency. And extortionate taxation is a tactic they all use.

The modern state sees every loose coin in a citizen’s pocket as either loot or challenge or personal insult. That stands to reason for economic independence is a factor of independence tout court.

Anyone blessed with the knowledge of basic arithmetic can figure out what kind of pension and medical care he could procure for himself had he kept over a lifetime the cash the state extorts from him to provide the same services. And anyone blessed with common sense will realise that a giant socialist bureaucracy like the NHS will always use an ever-increasing proportion of its budget to sustain its burgeoning staff of administrative parasites.

But the state doesn’t want the people to be independent of its power. Of which the NHS is an extension.

It’s not just the modern state that’s congenitally committed to increasing its power. The servants of the state, government members, want to remain in control of the levers for as long as they can conceivably hang on to them.

That’s why they can’t afford to be too blatant about things like adding thousands of pounds to the tax burden on the voting middle classes (and who these days isn’t middle class?). They need to wrap each new outrage into a warm, fluffy blanket of dire necessity.

That’s why major disasters, like wars or epidemics, mean such different things to the state and the people. For the latter, they are tragedies. For the former, they are godsends.

A war, an epidemic or a natural disaster provides a useful pretext for the state to increase its might at the people’s expense. The state can claim emergency powers, promising they are only temporary. And some of them usually are. But the state never relinquishes every power it has grabbed. Some have a way of sticking to its fingers.

You can find this thought developed in my book How the West Was Lost, written more than 20 years ago. Since then, successive Western governments have been falling over themselves trying to prove me right.

Since we all like to win an argument, in some warped way I’m almost grateful to them. And Boris Johnson deserves as much gratitude as any of his colleagues.

His whole demeanour communicates deep regret over the unfortunate duty to extort even more money from us. But a duty, alas, it is.

You see, the NHS is trying to rise, Phoenix-like, from the ashes left behind by the wildfire of Covid. We all love the NHS, don’t we? Of course we do. We are proud of it, the best healthcare system known to man.

The NHS is God, the state is its church, and Mr Johnson is the chap taking a collection plate through the aisles. You wouldn’t mind dropping a fiver in, would you? Well, this extra 1.25 per cent is that same fiver, appropriately multiplied.

Now the NHS can return to its unmatched pre-Covid standards – and I’ll again refer you to Christopher Snowdon’s article (or my own writings on the same subject) to find out just how unmatched those standards had been.

This morning I talked to an Israeli friend of mine, who had caught Covid a few weeks ago. He had to spend four days in hospital, and then went into quarantine at home.

After his discharge, the hospital set up an oxygen machine at his place. And he has been receiving daily visits from a doctor and a nurse, checking on him and running all the essential tests. If you happen to live in Britain, I can just see you turning green with envy.

Israel, like most European countries, has a system of compulsory social insurance, not a giant state Leviathan into whose bottomless gullet the people keep pumping their tax money. I wonder if they are as envious of our dear NHS as its champions claim.

This isn’t to say that those other governments are fundamentally different from ours in their core aspirations. It’s just that they use different mechanisms for increasing their power. Perhaps they haven’t yet discovered the clockwork excellence of fully nationalised healthcare in pursuing that objective.

Say the magic word, NHS, and the Sesame of people’s pockets opens gaping wide with nary a demur to be heard. Just ask Boris.

5 thoughts on “I wonder what the lefties are doing”

  1. Think of the welfare state as Molech in the Bible. The god who can never can be satisfied. Sacrifice to Molech never enough. Molech never happy. Molech always wanted more and more. And the more and more you gave, the more Molech wanted. And got.

  2. I’m starting to suspect that a return to Labour governance might be for the best. What with the law of unintended consequences and all.

    1. You may be right. Just look at the electoral reaction to the four years of Trump. The pendulum swung all the way to the left, didn’t it? A few years of someone like Corbyn, and we just might get a conservative government for a change. A remote possibility of course, but this way we have none at all.

      1. To say nothing of the cultural reaction to Trump. His victory in 2016 was a godsend for the Woke. The ultimate WASP bogeyman to unite their various grievance mongers.

      2. Your Johnson and our Morrison are interchangeable – both representing Conservative govts, yet ticking all the labor/left boxes and in Scomo’s case, still hated by the left and media!

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