How One Man, Jeremy Corbyn, May Have Doomed The U.K. National Health Service

It’s hard to know what to make of the man pictured above. In case anyone has doubts it’s the leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

Prior to the E.U. referendum and ‘Brexit’ result, Corbyn was supposed to be in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union. Despite this he did very little before the event to persuade anyone of his views, whether for or against. Now, it seems, he’s decided to support the Conservative government and has come down heavily on the side of ‘Brexit’. So much so that in the recent parliamentary debate, forced on the Tories by the law of the land after a failed appeal by them of an earlier ruling, he ordered his Labour MPs to support the Tories by issuing a ‘Three-Line Whip’. It basically means if you don’t follow orders you’re fired.

Corbyn’s excuse is that the Labour Party must respect the will of the British people, even though almost half of them voted to remain in the E.U..

A recent BBC report featuring the latest data figures states:

The data confirms previous indications that local results were strongly associated with the educational attainment of voters – populations with lower qualifications were significantly more likely to vote Leave.
The level of education had a higher correlation with the voting pattern than any other major demographic measure from the census
The age of voters was also important, with older electorates more likely to choose Leave…[1]

So it seems the more intelligent Brits voted to remain in the E.U. while the oldies and the thickies wanted out. It’s these latter folks that the government and the opposition Labour leadership seem to favour.

Has the whole ‘Brexit’ disaster then just become no more than a vote-getter? Has Corbyn thrown his principles to the wind because many of the ‘Brexit strongholds’ in the country are also Labour strongholds? And did Theresa May cast aside her original convictions on the E.U. for personal power and the opportunity to woo some of those Labour voters away from her political competitor?

Or does it go deeper than that? The Guardian writer George Monbiot, one of Britain’s best investigative journalists, thinks it does. He outlines the dark side of the U.S.-U.K. ‘special relationship’, and it all hinges around a man who is now the most powerful member of Theresa May’s government. That man is Liam Fox.

To understand the workings of Liam Fox and his involvement with U.S. corporate interests at the highest level it’s necessary to read (or, hopefully, re-read!) the Sparrow Chat post from September 12th 2016, entitled, “Atlantic Bridge – Dead Or Merely Undercover?”

It details Fox’s involvement with a fake charity, The Atlantic Bridge, set up ostensibly to “…bring people together who have common interests.” Those ‘common interests’ turned out to be a very short list indeed. In fact, Atlantic Bridge and its U.S. twin of the same name, was allied to a powerful, right-wing, conservative think tank, the American Legislative Council (ALEC), financed by the tobacco industry, big oil, big drugs, and the billionaire Koch brothers.

Running the U.S. branch of Atlantic Bridge was ALEC’s director of international relations, Catherine Bray. She’d worked for Daniel Hannan, a prominent far-right, British Tory Member of the European Parliament (MEP) who has long advocated an amalgamation of the Tory Party with the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

Hannan was one of the principle activists of the ‘Brexit’ campaign. He’s also been a vocal critic of the British National Health Service, calling it “…a sixty year mistake.” His comments were backed by fellow Tory MEP Roger Helmer, who told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme:

“I think Dan has done us a service by raising these issues which need to be looked at. If 80% of Americans are getting better health care than we are in the UK then we ought to ask why, and we ought to ask how are we going to deliver equally good results.”[2]

Catherine Bray had also been closely allied to two other British Members of the European Parliament, Richard Ashworth (who was later deselected), and the aforementioned Roger Helmer, a Tory who later defected to UKIP.

From this it becomes obvious that UKIP is dedicated to privatising the NHS, and it’s easier to understand the high profile of UKIP, both in the Brexit campaign, and Nigel Farage’s swift trip to Trump Tower following the result. He was, of course, primarily trying to cement a nice little position for himself as British Ambassador to the U.S., hoping to utilise Trump’s influence with Theresa May. Sadly for him, neither Trump nor May considered him sufficiently useful to them and he was sent home with his tail between his legs.

But another reason for Farage’s U.S. trip was UKIP’s involvement in the privatization of the British National Health service. To American Big Business, this is the jewel in the crown of Brexit. Having carefully engineered Brexit (and make no mistake, it was engineered) U.S. corporate interests are poised to move in on the NHS as soon as Liam Fox and Co. can hand it to them.

It’s a known fact that David Cameron never wanted to hold a referendum on Europe. The Tory Party forced it on him. The Tories have been anti-Europe for years, seeing the future for Britain as nestling in the welcoming arms of American business, rather than that of the Europeans. Once in a while politicians trot out the phrase, ‘Special Relationship’, just to remind us.

Unfortunately for Cameron he eventually ran out of excuses to avoid holding the referendum while keeping the Party wolves off his back. As Ken Clarke, pro-European and old-timer of the Tory front benches, succinctly remarked on this issue:

“If you want to go feeding crocodiles then you’d better not run out of buns.”

The pressure mounted both from his Tory colleagues and, no doubt surreptitiously, their U.S. counterparts, until the British prime minister was forced to cave. Big money and the Tory/UKIP machine moved into gear, formulating a slick advertising campaign with little concern for truth or lie, while Cameron had so few true supporters among the party faithful that his Remain campaign hardly managed to get off the ground.

It’s a known fact that when politicians determine to do something the public may not like, the first thing they do is deny emphatically they’re going to do it. As the Guardian reported recently, Liam Fox is doing just that with the NHS:

Fears of an American takeover of the NHS are an urban myth “on a par with alligators in sewers”, Liam Fox has said as he revealed that US trade talks will begin within days. “It’s not been part of our approach to go into these agreements and sacrifice the right for government to regulate public services,” Fox said when asked about the perceived [NHS] threat during a Commons select committee hearing on Wednesday.

Pressed by the Labour MP Shabana Mahmood to guarantee that the NHS would remain “off limits”, Fox added: “As the person who will be negotiating [a US trade deal], I can say it would be not be happening on my watch.” [3]

Fox’s remark that “It’s not been part of our approach to go into these agreements and sacrifice the right for government to regulate public services” bears scrutiny. In America, Donald Trump’s new administration certainly hasn’t sacrificed any right to regulate public services, it’s simply been taken over by a corporate management team hellbent on deregulation. Most of these new ‘members’ of the U.S. government were, and still are, close business pals of Liam Fox through his Atlantic Bridge/ALEC connections. If they don’t intend to allow an American takeover of the NHS, why are so many in the British government trying to make a case for it?

Of course, it’s not just the NHS that corporate America is after. George Monbiot, in his Guardian article, “Dark Arts,”, writes:

The trade treaties that Fox is charged with developing set the limits of sovereignty. US food and environmental standards tend to be lower than ours, and they will become lower still if Trump gets his way. Any trade treaty we strike will create a common set of standards for products and services. Trump’s administration will demand that ours are adjusted downwards, so that US corporations can penetrate our markets without having to modify their practices. All the cards, following the Brexit vote, are in US hands: if the UK resists, there will be no treaty. What May needed – even before Trump became president – was a person prepared to strike such a deal.

As the Financial Times reports, “the election of Donald Trump has transformed the fortunes of Liam Fox”. He is now “an indispensable member of Theresa May’s front bench team”. The shadow diplomatic mission he developed through The Atlantic Bridge plugs him straight into the Trump administration…

This is part of what Brexit is about: European laws protecting the public interest were portrayed by Conservative Eurosceptics as intolerable intrusions on corporate freedom. Taking back control from Europe means closer integration with the US. The transatlantic special relationship is a special relationship between political and corporate power. [4]

At the beginning of this post I suggested it was hard to know what to make of the present British Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn. A left-leaning politician, he’d set out to re-instill in his party the values it had stood for, until Blair came along in the 1990s and adopted neoliberal policies more in line with those of Thatcher and Reagan.

Now, it seems Corbyn is slipping away from those values. He’s a parliamentary outsider. As such he’s allowed himself to be seen as something of a comic figure by those around him, on both sides of the ‘House’. Labour needed to oppose Brexit, if only to force Theresa May into a concessionary position. Corbyn did the opposite. He actively prevented his MPs from voting according to their consciences. By so doing, he handed Theresa May, Liam Fox, and their American corporate cronies, Brexit on a plate.

By so doing he may well have sealed the fate of Britain’s National Health Service.

[1] ” Local voting figures shed new light on EU referendum” BBC, February 6th 2017.

[2] “NHS attack by MEP ‘unpatriotic'” BBC, August 14th 2009

[3] “Liam Fox dismisses NHS takeover fears ahead of US trade talks” Guardian, February 1st 2017

[4] “Dark Arts Monbiot, February 4th 2017 (also published in “The Guardian” as “How corporate dark money is taking power on both sides of the Atlantic” Guardian, February 2nd 2017 (a must-read!)