The National Health Service is, we are currently told by too many of its workers to be just scare-mongering, splitting at its seams. It is one of the finest institutions this country has, and we would all be far poorer for its loss. I for one will almost certainly be considering it as one of the foremost issues to be considered when the time comes for me to cast my vote in the general election in May. My Great Aunt Mary had lived almost sixty years before the National Health Service and the Welfare State were fully in place for the protection of all British citizens. I was often amused as a young boy when she expressed her darkest fear of ending up in the workhouse - it seemed preposterous to me then; workhouses belonged to the world of Oliver Twist and Charles Dickens! Actually, the workhouse system was only abolished in 1930. But the kind of poverty experienced by the working classes of the past isn’t possible today, is it? Again, I am reminded of Food Banks and the 900,000 British people forced to resort to them last year.
In 2004 Aneurin Bevan was voted No 1 by the people of Wales in a poll to name 100 great Welsh men and women. After my recent visit to Wales, and seeing as it’s customary for this blog to present to its readers a Good Welshman or Welshwoman on St David’s Day - I give you Nye Bevan: “The National Health service and the Welfare State have come to be used as interchangeable terms, and in the mouths of some people as terms of reproach. Why this is so it is not difficult to understand, if you view everything from the angle of a strictly individualistic competitive society. A free health service is pure Socialism and as such it is opposed to the hedonism of capitalist society.”