Tuesday 18 November 2003

Another day, another tax demand

Melanie Reid is on of the Glasgow Herald's regular commentators. In other words, she is a leftist. So it's no surprise that when she writes about the NHS today she calls for yet more spending:
Having paid once, through taxes, we are being asked to pay again on an arbitrary and emotional basis; and how much better it would be, by far, to pay more in tax and avoid such inconsistency.
The "paying again" bit refers to spending on medical research by charities. In Melanie's world it's much better to forcibly make people pay tax than let them contribute voluntarily. None of this is very surprising in the Herald.

On second thoughts though it's only 47 miles from Glasgow to Edinburgh. One would have thought that Herald commentators might have heard of The Scotsman. Perhaps they may take a sly peek at their rival now and again. If so, surely they can't have missed the regular articles on the Scottish NHS by Fraser Nelson, the political editor of the Edinburgh paper.

Mr Nelson has written about the NHS in the current issue of The Spectator:

Imagine a British National Health Service flowing with French or German levels of funding. This dream, we are promised, will soon be delivered in return for higher taxes. But for the impatient, there is a solution: visit Scotland.

For some time now, NHS Scotland has been living in Tony Blair’s promised land, enjoying European levels of health spending. Its NHS budget of £1,300 per head is a full 21 per cent higher than England’s. But instead of being an alluring example of what lies ahead, Scotland warns of disaster. Next year, it will claim two records: for Europe’s highest state health-spending and its lowest life expectancy. It is living proof that the NHS system does not work.

Not that this means anything to Scotland's governing clique:
At every criticism of their health policy, Labour MSPs in the Scottish Parliament point to this extra money, as if this was an end in itself. Labour, they say, has brought more doctors, nurses and investment. This is indeed true — but the staggering truth is that NHS Scotland has not improved as a result.
This is not a new message from Mr Nelson. He has been writing about Scotland's "European" levels of health spending for quite a long time now and has consistently exposed the lack of return from all that money. Now it seems that English NHS expenditure has also reached the promised targets and there is no reason to think that things will turn out any better down south than in Scotland. Fraser Nelson understands that the NHS itself is the problem, not a lack of resources. Melanie Reid hasn't even heard that this debate is going on, never mind coming up with any new contribution.