Leeds Central UKIP candidate Bill Palfreman has expressed his support for privatising the NHS at a hustings organised by Open Rights Group, Amnesty International, and Global Justice Now.
Speaking first to the public in relation to cyber security and attacks on the NHS, Palfreman said “I don’t know if anyone remembers Lada cars, those weren’t very good either. The NHS is a fundamentally Soviet system […] it’s almost inevitable that an NHS style system will have those sorts of IT problems, it’s not a question of funding”.
When asked by student journalists after the hustings, Palfreman elaborated on his remarks “I support an insurance based model. I support each hospital being wholly independent [and] out of state control.
“It’s one of the things that really keeps people in line, it’s one of the hooks that true state power has”.
As a replacement, he argued people were generally healthy, and would have the support of friends and family: “most people spend their whole lives being healthy, they have a short period when they are little, and then they have the last two years of their life. Most of the time, they’re mostly fine, that’s why the NHS works.
[People] don’t think they’d be able to afford it [healthcare]. They don’t believe their friends would help them, even though they probably would”.
“I think it’s a very unfortunate development that the NHS has become a kind of replacement for religion in this country”.
Though he outlined his views were his own and not party policy, his speech was in stark contrast with the official policy of UKIP to increase NHS funding, and introduce means tested removal of fees for medical students. Palfreman’s remarks will do nothing to ease the longstanding suspicions over UKIP’s views towards the NHS.
UKIP leader Paul Nuttal told a hustings in 2011 that the NHS was “a monolithic hangover of days gone by”. His website also states: “as long as the NHS is the ‘sacred cow’ of British politics, the longer the British people will suffer second rate health service”.
In America in 2015, then UKIP General Secretary Matthew Richardson said the NHS was part of a network of “wasteful socialist programmes. At the heart of this, the Reichstag bunker of socialism, is the NHS”.
UKIP’s desire to distance themselves from such remarks is unsurprising. YouGov polling in May revealed 84% of Brits support public healthcare. It will likely not help UKIP’s campaign, which has seen a collapse in support since the EU referendum, with the latest polling indicating their share of the vote is at 4%, down from 13% at the 2015 election.
(Image: The Commentator)