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NHS propaganda

No rainbow-painting child could possibly understand the relative performance, good or bad, of the NHS

This article is taken from the December 2020 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering three issue for just £5.


Arriving at a station in London recently, I noticed on the ground feet-shaped stickers suggesting that I (and everyone else, of course) kept two metres away from one another. It was not difficult to comply because, during the second lockdown, there was hardly anyone in the station.

The reason given for people to keep their distance was that they should “protect their NHS”. This seemed to me a little like asking parents to encourage their children to behave in school to “protect their Ministry of Education”.

The NHS in Britain is, from the point of view of propaganda, the equivalent of Kim Il-Sung in North Korea. Emerging from the station, I saw that there were two walls given over to thanking and praising the NHS. I do not, of course, deny that many in the NHS — doctors, nurses and others — did and do their very best for people, but this is not thanks to the NHS: there are no countries in the world where the same could not be said of doctors and nurses. 

What was peculiarly appalling about all this propaganda was that very young schoolchildren had been encouraged to draw coloured pictures in praise of the NHS, with rainbows, daisies and all the other sickening tropes of a kind also to be seen in North Korea. No child could possibly have any understanding of the relative performance, good or bad, of the NHS, yet children were clearly being indoctrinated into thinking that the NHS was a verray parfit gentil organisation, sans peur et sans reproche. 

The NHS has long been mediocre at best, and was never successful in its egalitarian ambitions — even if you accept those ambitions as legitimate or praiseworthy in themselves. Hence we are indoctrinating our children ideologically to a lifetime of acceptance of the mediocre or even of the third-rate: which, as a result, will undoubtedly be their inheritance. 

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