So today Scotland’s deciding whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or to become an independent country. I’m not about to wade into the political debate about the referendum myself, but unsurprisingly my tics are quite happy to:
“Run while you can Scotland.”
“Scotland, will you stay if we dress Cameron as a kangaroo and put him in the boot?”
“Scotland, would you like the Beast of Bodmin as a leaving present?”
“Nunhead, it’s your turn next.”
“Scotland, please call every weekend.”
“Scotland decides … to dress like an octopus.”
What’s interested me most about the run-up to today’s vote, and the reason I’m writing this, is the importance that’s been given in the campaign to protecting the NHS.
It seems that the people of Scotland have realised something that many people in other parts of the UK are rashly ignoring, which is that the current government (who nobody voted in) is systematically running into the ground one of the most humane and precious health care services in the world.
I’ve written a number of times in the last few years about the terrifying impact of government cuts and policies on the NHS, a service to which I owe my independence and wellbeing.
The NHS is being privatised by stealth. Health Minister Jane Ellison let the cat out of the bag when she was recorded saying, “I don’t know how much any of you realise that with the Lansley act we pretty much gave away control of the NHS.” It’s been done so secretively that it’s gone under the radar of many people, especially as it’s been accompanied by a sustained smear campaign against the whole of our health care system.
That’s why it’s so interesting that the NHS has been such a key issue in the Scottish debate. Scottish First Minister and leader of the Yes Campaign Alex Salmond has promised constitutional protection for the NHS in the event of a winning ‘yes’ vote. He’s repeatedly pointed out the “privatisation being forced on the NHS in England” and warned that the principle of a publicly-owned healthcare system driven by clinical need, and delivered freely and equally to everyone is under threat. This is a message we should all take heed of wherever we live in the UK.
Whatever your feelings are on Scottish independence, I think it’s very revealing that one of the critical issues in the debate has turned out to be something that isn’t an issue just for Scotland, but one for us all. If we’re to avoid what Alex Salmond is predicting, we all need to make sure that safeguarding the NHS remains at the top of the agenda during next year’s general election campaign.
Good luck Scotland, whatever you decide.