If the NHS is Labour’s religion, the immanent, unknowable reality that nurtures its people, Ed Miliband is its holy warrior. It’s an old-fashioned, unreformed religion based on medieval inspiration and badly in need of a reformation but it still has a mystical grip on the people.
It is a bit of a sect, and its jumping jihadist is described – even by his supporters – as something of a cult, but the current crusade is to honour the teachings of the donkey-jacketed prophet Michael Foot.
Like any jihadist, he doesn’t quite match up to the inspiration.
As an ideological warrior, he’s driven by power rather than holiness. He’ll do any damage to his beliefs, as long as it damages his enemies more. He talks in such sectarian language there’s no conversation possible. He’s totalitarian in his edicts. He surrounds himself with a palace guard or he’d be torn to pieces by the wider following. And he lacks a beard. No beard! With teeth like his you need a beard.
The transcendental nitwit stood up at the despatch box and accused the Tories of manifold wickedness. They must have been blind. Are they still blind? Maybe that can be arranged. Branded and blinded for their filthy blasphemies against the holy of holies.
The PM responded. He may not be a true believer from birth in the religion but he makes a plausible convert. More officiates, more daily services, greater congregations at A&E. He counter-denounced his opponent. Miliband’s jihad includes the desire to to “weaponise the NHS”.
Whether this means Miliband wants to arm the doctors, the nurses or the management isn’t clear. It’s fairly certain he isn’t going to arm the patients. But it all needs planning. Consultation. Regional funding. Weighted allocation of resources. (The cost of drones these days!)
All in the hope that come May 8th he can cry out: “Michael Foot is avenged!”
The Tories should be pleased. They see Labour promising to outspend the Scots Nats on health (whatever the Scots Nats spend they will spend more) and will fund it from a mansion tax in London and the south east. So much for One Nation politics.
He is following an ancestral strategy practiced by the Lib Dems. More Tory than Tories in Tory seats and more Labour than Labour in Labour seats. It’s a formula that works pretty well – as long as you don’t get into government. Then you’re done for a generation.
Still, Ed won’t mind. Martyrdom has its attractions. He’ll be in heaven with a thousand virgins (that is, tenure at Harvard).