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Reid's "health tourism" ride

After all manner of xenophobic attacks on migrants, including overseas airport screening of UK-bound ‘foreigners’, removing benefit money, cutting access to legal aid, and threats to kidnap children of “failed asylum seekers” who refuse to leave Britain “voluntarily”, comes the latest Nazi-style Labour assault - withholding NHS treatment from those marked with the 6-pointed yellow star stamped “Health tourist”.

The estimate of a £200m expense for so-called “health tourism” turned out to be unsupportable, and the real cost is probably far less. Most desperately poor and sick people capable of scraping together the cost of reaching Britain would spend this trying to get well close to home. And with a NHS budget of almost £70bn, the true cost of transnational healthcare pay-avoidance must be comparatively trivial. However, responding to electorate-influencing racist tabloids, three months of “public consultation” and a need to cut back on capitalist-funded state expenditure, from April 2004 the government wants hospital staff to provide health care according to a “legitimate” entitlement and ability to pay, rather than need.

Health secretary John Reid says: “If there are bona fide tourists dropping ill in the street, of course we will do what we have to do, but we are not mugs. There is a difference between being civilised and being taken for a ride.” Which means that Labour wants anyone who doesn’t appear to be “British” to be viewed not as a potential patient, but as a potential “cheat”. Someone may have a dislocated shoulder, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica or angina, but if these or any of numerous other painful or debilitating ailments are deemed to require what Reid calls “routine treatment”, and not be “matters of life and death”, and the health police aren’t happy with your immigration status or ability to pay, then Blair, the christian, wants NHS staff to refuse them help.

Anyone who doesn’t look or speak “right” will receive pre-treatment interrogation by health cops demanding to see proof of identity or a fat wad of banknotes. This vileness conjures up a scenario as in The Great Escape film, where a would-be patient having successfully passed himself off might be wished “Good luck!” in Czech by a member of the health Gestapo, and then seized from his hospital bed when he answers “Thank you!” in the same language.

An example the government gave where unpaid-for NHS treatment would be denied, was “heavily pregnant wives” of “foreign” nationals living in the UK visiting “just to give birth”. Is this portrayal any different to the white racists who stir up fear and hatred by accusing immigrants of “breeding like rabbits”?

People from other parts of the world aren’t stealing treatment from those in this part if they don’t pay for it. They are, in fact, taking part of British capitalism’s profits. The proportion of employees’ taxes going to the NHS has to be paid to them by employers in the first place. If politicians were able to prevent all “health tourism”, the savings in taxes would mean less pressure on capitalists to raise wages, salaries and benefits for workers, pensioners and unemployed.

This government policy, like many others, requires the subordinate majority to be Reid’s “mugs”, and swallow the deceit that working class “foreigners” are different from working class “nationals”. That Britain is “ours”, not “theirs”, when in reality it is neither.

Reid doesnt know workers have no countryPresumably John Reid's"communist" days ended before he learned that "workers have no country"

NHS managers, compelled to ensure they don’t “waste” capitalist money, will be expected to put their jobs and salaries before the health needs of those Labour see as “undeserving”. Caring doctors and nurses who might not happily do likewise will be spared such dirty work by money-driven administrators identifying those not “bona fide”.

Excluding treatment from “foreigners” is a consequence of living in a world with competing groups of capitalists, each having precedence within their bordered regions, i.e., countries. The majority of people in most countries can only afford what they need to live by directly or indirectly selling themselves to those capitalists in charge, or subsist on state handouts (if they exist).

One country’s capitalists don’t want to unprofitably expend money on the human assets of another country’s capitalists. That means a loss by the former and savings for the latter. And so politicians worldwide, hand in glove with different groups owning the means of production and distribution, spread divisive lies, categorise humankind and make rules about who is entitled to what.

Politicians are rewarded for their management of capitalism, and the media, who succeed or fail according to their profitability, generally accept all this, with some sections repeatedly fomenting anger and loathing amongst the working class majority in order to keep cashing in with their nasty antisocial “news” , views and distractive screws.

The real “undeserving” are the exploitative capitalist minority who take profit from the unpaid labour of the majority, and devious politicians like Reid and Blair given votes for lying, incitement and treachery.

MAX HESS