UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has appeared to suggest that people who refuse to get the vaccine may be banned from using the National Health Service.
This is excellent news for at least two good reasons.
First, it reassuringly demonstrates that just occasionally in his life Prime Minister Boris Johnson is capable of telling the truth. We now know with absolute certainty that Johnson was entirely honest and accurate in his assertion, in an old text message leaked by former Special Adviser Dominic Cummings, that Hancock is ‘totally fucking hopeless’.
Second, it might possibly make so-called vaccine ‘refuseniks’ a lot healthier, safer and richer.
But presumably, none of this was the intention when Hancock made his sinister suggestion in response to questions from fellow Conservative MPs Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox. On the contrary, the exchange sounded very much like a pre-arranged stunt designed to frighten rather than reassure.
The exchange was prompted by a question from Fox about the vaccine status of those currently being treated in hospital for Covid.
I think there is a material difference between the state’s responsibility to offer the vaccine to all adults… and the duty that we have when somebody has not been offered the vaccine is greater than the duty we have had when we have offered the vaccine but somebody has chosen not to take it up.
This mealy-mouthed statement is clear as mud. Which is perhaps why Leadsom intervened to press him on what he actually meant.
Can I take it one step further? If I choose not to, say, not to have a yellow fever jab when I am going to a place that suffers yellow fever, the government of the United Kingdom takes no interest whatsoever in [ie is not responsible for] my illness state. So when my Right Honourable friend says that he has less of a duty surely what he means is that he has no duty at all. It is for people to take up the vaccine.
Up to a point and the point is should you take that as an absolute principle, then there is a challenge, should there be an overwhelming demand on the NHS that would impact on others. And of course with a communicable disease there is an impact on others in terms of spreading the disease so we do have to have an eye to that.
That’s why I phrased it as I did. But in terms of the argument that my Right Honourable friend is putting, I think she and I concur in the broad thrust of the case being made.
What’s clear from this exchange is that Hancock is an imbecile barely capable of management-speak let alone the Queen’s English. But there’s no doubting the barely-veiled threat in that last line: ‘I concur in the broad thrust of the case being made.’
Hancock is trying to say it while simultaneously he is trying not to say it because he knows how badly it will come across if anyone realises what he is actually saying.
But he IS saying it. And both his fellow MPs — probably Fox and certainly Leadsom — agree with him: if the NHS is overwhelmed with Covid cases, then the government will feel perfectly within its rights to deny treatment to the voluntarily unvaccinated because, as Leadsom puts it in that stilted, obfuscatory, legalistic way of hers, the government has ‘no duty at all’ to them.
What these three Tory stooges are suggesting here is, of course, outrageous. The point of the NHS — if it has a point at all anymore — is to serve the whole nation, regardless of whether its users have actually contributed anything to its upkeep in tax or whether or not they’ve brought about their own health problems.
The NHS treats smokers, drinkers, the morbidly obese, intravenous drug users and so on without fear or favour. It is free at the point of use for everyone.
But if the Conservatives want to change that arrangement in yet another of their endless, increasingly desperate attempts to bully everyone into taking Covid jabs, then I think I speak for most of us refuseniks when I say: Be my guest!
Put it this way, I’m a lot, lot more scared of the NHS than I am of Covid.
I’m scared of the incredibly long waiting times; of the mix of brusqueness and sanctimoniousness you quite often get in a socialised healthcare system which views you as a supplicant and a nuisance rather than a valued paying customer; of iatrogenesis (being killed rather than cured as a result of your medical procedures); of being bullied to wear a mask or of being forced to take a vaccine.
What scares me most of all about the NHS, though, is the obscene amount I pay every year in taxes to prop up this corrupt, mendacious, decaying, inefficient moribund relic of wartime socialism.
So if Hancock and co want us vaccine ‘refuseniks’ to stop using the NHS, I’m sure we’ll cope. Especially if, as is only fair, we get a tax rebate which we can spend on private medical insurance instead.