Senior Tory loses it on air when confronted with his own plans to sell the NHS

Nick Robinson and Dominic Raab
Kerry-anne Mendoza

During an interview for the Today programme, BBC host Nick Robinson confronted Conservative foreign secretary Dominic Raab about plans to sell the NHS. The foreign secretary’s denial fell apart when Robinson pulled quotes from the 2011 pamphlet After the Coalition, in which Raab and other now-senior Tories laid out their plans for selling the NHS. And that’s when he lost it.

The privatisation of the NHS

In 2011, several Conservatives who are now in senior cabinet positions wrote After the Coalition. Aside from Raab, authors included home secretary Priti Patel, international trade secretary Liz Truss, and business minister Kwasi Kwarteng. The pamphlet pushed for a hard-right takeover of Conservative policy, akin to US-style unfettered capitalism. This included privatising the NHS.

But when Robinson asked Raab if he was in favour of selling the NHS, the foreign secretary dismissed it as “a ludicrous assertion”.

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Unfortunately for Raab, he’d declared his real views in a very permanent way. Here’s how Raab and his co-authors described their plans for the NHS in 2011:

The current monolith should be broken up. Hospitals should be given their independence, extending the Foundation Hospital model – initially controversial but now almost universally accepted. New non-profit and private operators should be allowed into the service, and indeed should compete on price.

When faced with these quotes, Raab lost it.

Raab tried to claim he’d been referring to coffee shops and newsagents in hospitals. But Robinson pulled a quote that specified hospitals, to which Raab shrugged angrily and reiterated his denials.

But we already know Raab stands behind these plans, because he and his fellow authors doubled down on them in 2012.

Britannia Unchained

The year after the pamphlet, the same group of Tories published Britannia Unchained. It’s central argument? Thatcherism was too left-wing. The authors laid out their plans to replace it with a more brutal, capitalist free-for-all. This is how the book describes the British working class:

The British are among the worst idlers in the world. We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor. Whereas Indian children aspire to be doctors or businessmen, the British are more interested in football and pop music.

The book was a plea to tear up the social contract and let business reign supreme. As Labour’s John Cruddas put it:

It seeks a planning free-for-all; it celebrates chaos. It would dismantle valued national institutions – in broadcasting, policing, transport and health. … It threatens the “national-popular” foundations of the Thatcher revolution; it is a brutal and destructive creed at odds with national interest as she understood it.

The authors advocated for privatising the NHS, along with basically everything else. It would shrink the state to the point of its power to raise an army, with almost everything else in the hands of big business.

Former BBC Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason summed up the group’s ideology as a:

more radical version of neoliberalism, where we’re basically, finally, told: ‘The race to the bottom, to be like China, is on, and we’re all going to do it. So your wages will meet the Chinese somewhere, and so will your social conditions … abolish minimum wages, abolish social protection.

The future

Raab and his co-authors were all members of the hard-right Free Enterprise Group. This group of Tory MPs advocated for the policies of Britannia Unchained, and current health secretary Matt Hancock was a member.

Boris Johnson has chosen to promote these Britannia Unchained Tories to the most senior positions in his cabinet. And that tells us exactly what we can expect if UK voters elect this government on 12 December.

Featured image via Twitter

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  • Show Comments
    1. I sense the Tories are aware their plans for the NHS are going down badly and that’s why they lie about it through every breath. They’re no longer promoting what they want but instead are denying what they’ve said. I think they’re finding out on the doorsteps they’re in trouble over it.

      And talk of the last Labour government is disingenuous at best. It was New Labour, who had little to do with the historic Labour Party and if they’d been honest (pfft!) they’d have called themselves New Tory.

    2. Britain can thank Tony B’liar’s success at occupying the political center with his “New Labour” strategy. He might still be in power had he not stupidly adopted the role of Bush’s poodle and endorsed war in Iraq.

      That temporary success has only encouraged the right to move further to the right politically. Their inane adoption of extreme unbridled Capitalism will be the downfall of Britain should they succeed. Britain must never allow the US style of corrupt governance by business interests to happen here.

      Benito Mussolini said that Facism was really better described as Corporatism, where corporations rule government. Do Briton’s really want that? I doubt it.

    3. Am I not correct in thinking that the Germans and Dutch – contributors to those two famously failing economies – work much shorter hours than anyone else in Europe; including the British? And do the Germans not include – and indeed welcome – worker participation on all their corporate boards? The irony being that it is a form of economic collaboration advocated by British economic advisers at the end of WWII, yet oddly never adopted by companies in the UK.

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