Despite what the political commentators might tell you to the contrary, the 2019 UK general election is a war being waged on two issues and two issues alone: Brexit and the NHS.
At the point, it is unlikely that the populace will be swayed on Brexit. People have made their minds up on Leave or Remain, and there’s no amount of bluster from a rich politician that is going to change that.
But the NHS remains the hot potato that the main parties have been passing between them of late, until incredible revelations – unfounded at this stage – from Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party about the Conservatives’ intentions for our healthcare system in a post-Brexit world.
Strap yourself in: this is a big one.
The Big NHS Sell Off?
Normally at this stage of the election campaign trail, the party leaders are espousing what they can do for the country while throwing some catty shade at the opposition.
It’s rare that a monumental moment occurs this close to polling day.
But when Jeremy Corbyn took to the lectern at a Labour rally, he produced something astonishing: namely, a 451-page dossier that he claims proves the Conservatives are looking to sell parts of the NHS to Donald Trump as part of a trade deal with the US.
The secret talks they tried to hide. pic.twitter.com/kb9xMxPE5X
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 27, 2019
While he stopped short of saying much more than that, and so far only parts of the report have been published, Corbyn has been supported by other left-leaning parties.
The SNP published their own manifesto this week, and contained within it were motions for a new NHS Protection Act, which would stop the healthcare system being used as a bargaining chip in trade talks with the USA and other countries.
Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats’ shadow Brexit secretary, Tom Brake, said voters should be ‘horrified by what looks like a deal cooked up between the Tories and Donald Trump’.
The documents that Labour have obtained contain uncensored transcripts of formal trade talks between UK and US officials, which took place in six different sittings between 2017-19.
They are said to show that the US wants to discuss the pricing of medicines, with one aim being to stop patients being able to access cheaper drugs by extending the patents of pharmaceutical providers.
Shady tactics? You bet.
Boris in a State of Denial
Until the reports are published in their full, unadulterated glory, it is hard to give them total credence – this could just be Jeremy Corbyn waving a bunch of papers about in an attempt to panic voters.
That’s an assertion that Boris Johnson has made anyway, who has claimed that the revelations from the Labour party are ‘nonsense’, reiterating his previous assertion that the NHS is not for sale.
In his manifesto, the Prime Minister wrote that that the NHS has never and never will be on the table, and neither is the price that patients have to pay for medicines.
“This is continually brought up by the Labour Party as a diversionary tactic from the difficulties they are encountering,” Johnson said, referencing the latest anti-Semitic storm gripping Labour.
As a sense of balance, Mark Dayan – the head of public affairs at the Nuffield Trust – has said he believes that the NHS won’t be ‘flogged off’, in the sense that US companies will take over the healthcare system in an act of privatisation, but he suggests there is some truth to the possibility that the Tories will conspire with Trump in getting people to pay more for their medicines.
Bookies Not Buying It
You might think that such wild revelations might have some kind of impact on the general election betting markets, but the odds-makers believe that – for better or worse – we are sleepwalking towards a Conservative majority.
The latest YouGov poll suggests that the Tories will win the region of 359 seats, which would give them a majority of 68 seats in a disastrous day at the polls for Labour.
There is still some way to go of course, although it would take a discovery of epic proportions from Corbyn and co to halt the blue brigade bringing their ‘unique’ brand of austere politics to the masses for four more years.
It’s all backed up by the betting odds, with the Conservatives now a 4/11 chance to win a majority – in from around 8/13 a month or so ago, with the Most Seats market a foregone conclusion at 1/25 in the Tories’ favour.