The damp squib that was Ukip’s supposed political earthquake in the recent council elections has served the right-wing media and their political wing, the Tory Party well. It has served not only to portray the winners, Labour, as losers, but to conceal huge Tory losses in council elections less than a year before the general election.
However it goes way beyond this; the right-wing media has also been able to conceal from us the consequences of the government’s policy in the most important area, the one that will lose them the most votes; the NHS.
NHS privatisation is continuing apace, our health service is being privatised at breakneck speed as the wealthy make huge profits from services that used to be provided by the state. This extraction of public money from the NHS is probably the principal reason why it has deteriorated so rapidly since the Tories have taken power (and let us be clear here, their Lib Dem allies could have prevented this from happening but chose not to).
The companies buying up huge slices of the NHS are, in effect raking in taxpayers cash at little or no risk to themselves. Capitalism has always been presented by its cheerleaders as the entrepreneurial spirit; courageous risk-taking venturers risking all to make a success of their business, to benefit society from their proactive, frontier-spirit inventiveness. The reality of neoliberal capitalism is entirely different however. Today there is nothing entrepreneurial about capitalism..
What we are seeing is a new type of capitalism, probably best described as arse-capitalism; people with money invest it in low-risk or risk-free businesses and then sit on their arses and watch the cash roll in. About as entrepreneurial as a steaming pile of manure. This is not capitalism as risk, this new neoliberal model of capitalism is one of exploitation or tax. Neoliberal capitalism of the sort now exploiting our health service for profit needs to be viewed for what it really is; as tax on health paid only to the rich. The rich buy up already profitable and successful elements of the NHS, make no changes other than reducing efficiency (and thereby lengthening waiting lists) and ensuring that they can take out a regular income to assist them in their primary project; that of sitting on their fat arses and doing as little as possible. Of course it helps when you own a government that is prepared to sell it to you cheaply as well, that increases your profits and means you can tax the sick even more.
Yet all this taxation of the poor, the middle and the sick is projected as entrepreneurial spirit. Neoliberalism is an ideology that is designed to utilise the myth of the ingenious, entrepreneurial capitalist to justify a regime of capitalism that is little more than a Sheriff of Nottingham-style taxation of the work of doctors, nurses and NHS staff and the health needs of patients. The capitalists of the current era are simply middle-men (they are usually men) taking their cut out of essential services that were built up as a result of public investment by all of us. In essence privatisation is the ultimate non-entrepreneurial taxation of by the 1% of the rest of us at no risk to themselves. The ideology of neoliberalism provides cover for this.