Politically Weaponised NHS Has Been Disarmed

Ed Miliband wanted to weaponise the NHS to defeat the Tories. For half-a-century Labour has used the natural Tory reluctance to pour unlimited amounts of money into the NHS as a means of scaring voters into their camp. David Cameron decided in opposition that it was time for the Tories to embrace the NHS as fervently as the voters; this was a key part of his modernisation agenda. Jeremy Hunt has been tasked with getting value for all the money, not saving money.

In the last 20 years the public’s satisfaction level with the NHS has risen from around 40% to 60%. More importantly, dissatisfaction has halved from 40% to 20%. This gives the public an NHS net satisfaction level of 40%. Three times as many people are satisfied with the NHS as are dissatisfied. Labour can argue that the improvement happened on their watch, the fact of the satisfaction however is ongoing, this presents a strategic problem for Labour. By the time of the 2015 general election Cameron was more trusted than Miliband on the NHS by 22% to 20%. Survation (and other pollsters) find May is more trusted than Corbyn by 35% to 24%, Corbyn is actually distrusted on the NHS by 45% to 31%. The NHS is now a negative for the Labour leader.

Last week Labour sent out leaflets claiming “babies will die” if Copeland votes Tory, testing the the old Labour fear-mongering NHS claims to destruction. In fact, their opponents now throw the Mid-Staffs scandal and poorly negotiated PFI contracts back in their face when they focus on the NHS. Voters don’t believe Labour’s scares any more, the NHS has been disarmed as a political weapon…


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