I am a professor of medicine who has worked as a doctor with no private medical practice in the NHS for 34 years. I was born and educated in Essex and have been closely connected with the coast since I was born.
Today we vote on whether to remain a part of the European Union or to leave it. You decide if and what you will vote. But I want to give you my take and persuade you to vote.
The Brexit campaign has dishonestly argued that migration threatens the NHS. This is just not true. The current queues, pressure and waiting times are not being driven by migrants creating demands on the NHS. They are being driven the ageing population on the one hand and by the [i]current Government who are privatising the NHS by selling off estate and services to their chums in big corporations on the other. If they are allowed to continue there will be no NHS for us, our children or our grandchildren in 10 years. They are also selling off and privatising the education system. The Brexit campaign is largely being driven by the Right who are the very people destroying the NHS in their own interests. As ex Tory Prime minister John Major said recently: “The NHS is about as safe with them (Brexiters) as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python”. The same Right are also responsible for the real fall of 10% in our incomes which has occurred since the first decade of this century. Further the Right are supported by a privately owned media which feeds people’s anxieties with distorted and dishonest narratives about the issues at stake. The Murdoch press’s employees’s criminal activities in relation to the News of the World seem to have been forgotten while the Sun peddles its mindless “Little England” nonsense on the back of its gossip and football coverage.
The only UK MP, Douglas Carswell is quoted in the the Mail as saying “Why is life getting better for most people? Because we have become ever more interdependent. Instead of each family, village or country trying to do everything for itself, we have learnt how to do things for each other. As a consequence, there is more for everyone[ii].
This is exactly what the EU is about. Europe has experienced continual war since the dawn of history right up to 1945, with 20 million dead in the current Europe in the last century alone. There is a false assumption in Britain that it was the Yanks and Churchill and the Brits who won WWII. Together we lost 700k military vs 10 million military lost in USSR. The press and broadcast reporting (distorted and often clearly dishonest) plays up anxiety about migration in the EU and the “Proud to be British” narrative to drive support for exit. We need to remember what the EU has achieved in science, social justice, protection of workers and the economy. We need to remember how the experience of the war led Brits to get rid of Churchill and the Tories and to support setting up the NHS, the education system and the welfare state in the UK. We need to stop the Right taking all this apart in the interest of its own profit. We need a longer sense of history.
Europe is a garden and we need a European-wide gardener to develop cooperative relationships between the different organisms which live in it. Sure there is a lot of over funded unelected bureaucracy in the EU. But we need to join forces within to produce a surge of democracy which can revive hope, silence the lying toxic populism which the leave campaign has promoted, dissolve governmental authoritarianism, and create the foundations of a future worth fighting for. We need to do this inside the EU. Individual nations can’t solve global political problems any more. At the same time we need to reform the control of the media so that people’s information it is no longer dominated by the self interested distortions of the super rich.
Voting leave will seriously damage our economic wellbeing, particularly for the less well off and that for our children, speed up the current destruction of the NHS and education system, and increase the power of the rich to undo all of the social and economic progress our parents drove at the end of the war.