By David Seymour
The swift and partially successful revolution in Tunisia was started by an out-of-work graduate who set himself on fire. Now others under the yoke in despotic regimes are doing the same.
Self-immolation has repelled me since I saw the pictures of Buddhist monks on fire in Vietnam but I have to admit that it has an impact which no other form of protest does. Not that I am volunteering to lead the revolution.
But the impact of what has happened in Tunisia does make me wonder what we have to do to get the British people to realise what is going on in this country.
I am baffled by the Tories, particularly David Cameron. I have no doubt that he genuinely believes in and treasures the National Health Service. He has personal experience of it which few Labour MPs have. When you spend a night a week sleeping on a hospital floor by the bedside of your severely disabled child, you see too clearly the magnificence of NHS staff.
So why is he introducing “reforms” which will destroy the health service? It doesn’t make sense. Even if he has been suckered into believing the nonsense propaganda of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, he can’t be so stupid that he doesn’t understand what the ultimate effect of Lansley’s changes will be.
I have already written about the revolution in higher education (destruction of), schools (reformed so they are only fit for an elite) and welfare benefits (back to the poor house). Deep down, Cameron doesn’t believe in any of that, does he?
Unless the Lib Dems wake up and pull out of the coalition – highly unlikely – this government will run for the full five years. Four more years to wreck the services we hold dear.
This is the most destructive administration since Pol Pot. It isn’t killing professionals and the middle classes, but it is so damaging their lives and the chances of their children that it’s the British equivalent to wholesale slaughter.
And what are we doing? Apart from mutterings from the unions and some demos from students – and even they seem to have given up – we do no more than write angry blogs.
Even before New Labour, the vast majority of people didn’t care who owned services, from the railways through gas and electricity to health. What they mind about is how good the service is and how much they are charged for it.
So the danger is that, apart from the professionals who are going to be directly affected, most people won’t think that what the government is doing will affect them. It will.
Cameron’s greatest skill is in dropping truths in with the big lie. However much we don’t like it, it is true that our health service is second rate compared with those in most other developed countries. But why? That is what needs to be asked. Saying that it is all due to an overblown management so let’s flog it off to public companies is ludicrous.
Similarly with schools. Both Labour and Conservative have played “it’s all the teachers’ fault” for a long time, to which the Tories have added “and education authorities”. It’s just not true. Yet there is clearly something wrong with our education system.
Britain is awash with think tanks but none seem to be doing thinking that goes to the root of the problems.
Revolution is not the answer, with or without self-immolation. That is what the Tories are trying and it is going to end in tears. Not for them – they and their kind are insulated against the coming disasters – but for the British people.
The immolation that is going to happen here is of our services.
David Seymour has written more newspaper leader columns than anyone in history. He is a doyen. He blogs here.