Who could forget when last year PM Theresa May told an NHS nurse, in response to being asked why she hadn’t had a payrise for years despite rising living costs, responded with the kind of smug condescension that can only come from the kind of people that have ruled over us for decades: “There is no magic money tree.” Months later, the mythical magic money tree showed itself in a billion pound deal that secured her place in government, for at least as long as the people will let her, and perhaps even shorter a time as her own party breaks over Brexit.
Last week the country celebrated 70 years of the National Health Service, a service world-renowned for not only its quality, but as a beacon of hope that we can live in a world where health is a universal right, not a privilege or insurance lottery, usually reserved for the rulers and the rich. As most of us know though, especially as our experiences of it change over recent years, it is under attack! But at least some of the workers got some cake last week…
There is no magic money tree they say, but they will put money in. They hope us plebs don’t know about how it’s probably not going to be enough in real terms to cover the massive gaps already which have been worrying executives for years. They wear their little badges in parliament to show off their pride in a service that wouldn’t exist had the decision been solely up to them. They covertly privatise services by simply contracting them out to private companies and getting the NHS to foot the bill.
Indeed, the NHS is under attack and the reasons are obvious- it gets in the way of profits. Profits which are produced by labour and the great masses of working people in Britain and abroad. Especially now, as world progress towards international solidarity declines, and we move towards trade wars, economic protectionism in which the workers of the world are pitted against each other for the sake of the interests of nations, the NHS, like social care, is seen as a burden to the ruling class and its ideologues.
There is no magic money tree, there is the budget of the ruling class with its concessions that were hard fought for by the working class movement which has been in retreat for some time. The same movement that fought for the 8 hour working day and the prohibition of child labour.
Ironically, the short-sighted dismantling of the NHS can only lead to the resurgence of the labour movement and cause the workers to remember their collective power. The reality of life without one of our most basic, thus taken for granted, needs will be the pinch needed to take us out of our comfortable somnambulance.
And perhaps when the workers come again, they will look back upon this time, when the rulers had on their badges, paid their cronies for power, told the lowly nurses that there is no magic money tree, they will also remember the cakes sent around last week to different NHS services and think about the old legend of Mary Antoinette:
“There is no magic money tree”, PM May said, and in her actions she said “let them eat cake!”
Long live the NHS. Some day let us hope for an international version.
A pre-emptive note for those useful idiots that might want to imply I am disparaging those in the images of the NHS 70 cakes above, as though they are silly for taking what I’m arguing here is nothing but a pittance compared to the real gratitude that all should believe they are owed. I am sure many of them truly appreciated, and I agree they deserve, a thanks of cake but my point is that they deserve more and I doubt that many of these hardworking beacons of human compassion would disagree. Also, have you never worked somewhere where the boss feels so great about getting her/his workers to smile for photos with their social remuneration, as though it could make up for the shit wages and/or conditions, yet as soon as they are gone, it’s back to moaning about said things? These are just pictures which illustrate my harkening back to the legend of Antoinette- the NHS needs money but instead it got cake. Maybe it’s not an insult on the level of “there is no magic money tree”, but they deserve so so much more.