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The Tories, Jingoism and The NHS

“Over the next three years, we must look at that NHS and what is left of our welfare state , and ensure it comes out of this nightmare stronger.”

I loathe the propaganda around WW2. It really should be a subject of study. When did it start? I remember the 50th Anniversary. It was at the end of my first year of uni. A German friend came over to Northern Ireland – he wanted me to give him a tour. He arrived on VE day… I was watching the 50th anniversary “celebrations.” He couldn’t get over it. The whole pageantry of it. The pride and (Lets face it) love of martyrdom.

I used to love reading about WW2 as a young person… War comics, books about the war, posters etc. But it was something that generation who fought it, really didn’t want to discuss. It happened. It was awful (they lost family, friends, freedom etc).

The generation after them decided it was something heroic-quite rightly to begin with. Defeating the forces of Nazi-ism… The genocidal antisemitism, racism, homophobia, eugenics etc.

But it has become something more now. A racism. A celebration of war against Europe. A celebration of the kind of othering that generation fought against and said should never happen again. One they recognised in the empiricist, Upper class Churchill to the point of getting rid of him and the Tories as soon as they could, and instead voting for the equality that led to a welfare state and NHS that recognised the sanctity of all life. Institutions that Churchill and subsequent Tory governments set out to chip away and ultimately destroy.

The current covid-19 crisis, and the Tories ideologically allowing our stockpile of emergency PPE to rot  leading to the actual life sacrifice of our medical staff; those people who are the best symbol of what that generation fought for -the carers, nurses, doctors; those people  who were tasked by the war generation to look after us; shows how meaningless a Tory minister for culture praising that generation or Boris clapping the carers really is.

That legacy that the war generation left us is now at the point where the vulnerable and poor are dying, scared in their homes and nurses, carers and doctors are dying for lack of protective wear while ventilating and comforting many thousands of the generation who sacrificed themselves to help build a more caring society.

The present VE day has become a drunken display of red white and blue. A “patriotic” display as meaningless and xenophobic and self flagellating as the celebration of Brexit Day… Tied into the exceptionalism of an English culture that has been hijacked by propagandists protecting their rightful place at the helm of a safe haven for their profits made on the disasters they create. Disasters that hit the waged, the unwaged and the vulnerable more than any. If I was English I’d be angry.

This rich, selfish, estate owning class have captured  England, and have turned it into a confused mess-so confused that it celebrates aspects of the war, that the war generation wanted gone forever.

Am I thankful to the war generation? Yes. Because even though those who are now in power have done all to wreck what they, the British ordinary people left us, it is still being celebrated… The legacy that in three years time will hit its 75th anniversary, battered and bruised by successive greedy selfish Tories.

Our NHS. The envy of the world. A legacy of war that said, “no more.”

Over the next three years, we must look at that NHS and what is left of our welfare state , and ensure it comes out of this nightmare stronger. Do not give the Tories any excuse to smash it further. We need to #BuildBackBetter.

By Neil Scott
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