With Nigel Farage reigniting controversy on UKIP’s health policies by claiming that privatisation of the NHS was “a debate that we’re all going to have to return to”, UKIP’s health spokesman Louise Bours MEP bleated earlier today:
“As he has said before, he raised the idea for discussion a while ago, the party discussed it and rejected it.
Internal UKIP documents leaked exclusively to Political Scrapbook reveal members of the party’s ruling NEC deriding the NHS as “likely to bankrupt the state” and compared it to the beleaguered Euro — before voting on a policy which would instruct civil servants to draw up plans to privatise it.
With a video of Nigel Farage repeatedly calling for an insurance-based health system emerging last November, spinners were able to dismiss criticism by claiming that he has merely changed his mind. It won’t be so easy this time, however, with top brass approving a pro-privatisation policy by nine votes to zero at a meeting in October 2012.
While committing a UKIP government to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of a privatised insurance system, one member of the NEC complains that “we cannot change it wholesale because the public love it”, a sentiment repeated in the policy document itself. The following appears under the heading “Acceptable to the electorate”:
“The NHS is highly valued by the British people, despite its problems and limitations. Therefore, unless or until the British people give a strong sign that they wish their government to consider an alternative, the NHS will remain under a UKIP government.
The minutes of the meeting make it as clear as day that the party’s top brass are ideologically opposed to the very concept of nationalised state healthcare — and that their current policy is merely a staging post for more “radical” change:
One NEC member “feels that the NHS will either be bureaucratic of business-orientated. We can focus on stopping health tourism; we do not have to commit ourselves much further. In the longer term we want a radical approach but we cannot do that in this time frame.”
Another says “we cannot change [the NHS] wholesale because the public love it. When the sky does not fall in from the current changes, we will be able to come up with a radical policy.“
The libertarian right — defenders of the NHS!