The previous post argues that to stop the rot in the quality of our government and lives and achieve the modest competence worthy of a rich developed nation we need to ditch our arrogant delusions of exceptionalism and subject our institutions to root and branch examination and fundamental reform.
Should there be any doubt as to the reality of our exit from the list of leading nations some figures cited by an Edinburgh GP, Gavin Francis, in a “Long Read” in last Thursday’s Guardian (24th August) provide the dismal evidence.
In 1950 the UK was in the top six countries for life expectancy worldwide.
By 2015 the UK had slipped to 21st.
By 2019 it had fallen to 29th.
Francis then cites an international study of NHS finance which shows that we are paying a lot less towards health than other comparable countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the US)) and suggests that to argue that we cannot match the healthcare spends of such countries means that “the UK is now "too poor to have a 21st century European standard of healthcare."
Or, I would add, too mean, or too deluded by the economic legacy of what we have come to call Thatcherism
To halt our decline we must recognise the flawed nature of that doctrine, which can be summed up as:
Restrictions on collective action by trade unions
These were supposed to release the energies of our entrepreneurs and the resulting prosperity would trickle down to the benefit of everyone.
None of the assumptions are verifiable.
Taxation levels are much higher in many of the countries now much more productive than we are.
Regulations are necessary to protect us from fraudsters, opportunists and charlatans
The private sector is not automatically more efficient, however that is defined, than the public sector.
Restrictions on TU activities have not led to harmony in the workplace. Quite the reverse. Significant Employee Representation on boards and where appropriate, profit sharing, are more likely to do the trick. .
Yet the Tories still think the solution is tax cuts.
As well as a root and branch reform of our systems of government (see previous post), we also need to ditch this failed economic dogma which has now dominated our thinking for nearly half a century, and be prepared to pay for the quality of life and society of which we are capable.