Saturday, 4 April 2015

Leader's Debate

I didn't watch it. Apparantly Nicola Sturgeon did well, though, no doubt promising the Scots a pony for all based on some inflated numbers on oil prices, but something that stuck out was what Farage said.:-

Nigel Farage was rounded on by other party leaders on ITV’s Thursday night debate after he complained about foreigners with HIV costing the health service up to £25,000 per year per patient.

The Ukip leader steered the debate on to the topic of health tourism when he was given the opportunity to talk about the NHS.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood tackled him on the subject during the seven-way discussion, saying it was scaremongering and that he should be ashamed of himself.

...

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon responded saying: “One of the things we’ve learned is there’s nothing Farage wouldn’t blame on foreigners.”

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Having not intervened during the debate, Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted afterwards that Farage’s comments were “disgusting”, adding: “He should be ashamed. The fact he isn’t says so much.”

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Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg also took to Twitter to condemn the remarks, saying: “Farage’s comments about foreign people with HIV were simply vile and desperate. Politics of the lowest form.”

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David Cameron remained silent, but when asked to comment, chancellor George Osborne said he would not dignify them with a response. Later, on the BBC’s Newsnight, he refused once again to rule out the idea of a post-electoral pact with Ukip.

I think this sums up a problem we have in this country, that our political class have contempt towards the public.

I wouldn't mind if Cameron, Clegg or Miliband had challenged Farage to show his numbers (which it turns out are about right).

But what they're really saying is that it's beyond the pale to even discuss something that the government spends money on. Now, I know the game that Farage is playing, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't dignify a response. This is public money being spent. Maybe not as much as Guido reports, but based on House of Lords numbers, it's around £500m/year for England. Personally, I'm not at all happy if some Africans are coming over here just to get treatment for a disease (if we're saying it's OK, should we therefore be treating all Africans)?

And I'm not against people arguing that this is morally OK. I'm not against a politician saying that it's morally wrong to screen people coming to the UK, or that it's not worth it, but to just say that something costing half a billion of public money is off-limits for discussion is contemptible and shows the political class at its worst.

10 comments:

Steven_L said...

It's not PC to mention HIV full stop these days. The ONS statistics on it are actually quite alarming.

One in eight 'men who have sex with other men' in London are HIV positive.

That's not good odds.

Bayard said...

BBC's More or Less showed that Nigel F was pretty wide of the mark on this one, as is Guido, who uses the well known "if we do this (unlikely thing) then the cost will be (some large number)" formula, as well as totally ignoring the fact that a large proportion of people "of African origin" are British citizens, British residents and British taxpayers and have just as much right to use the NHS as the rest of us.
However, I don't know why either of them bothered to exaggerate, as the accurate figure for health tourism is still pretty alarming.
I suppose what Cameron and Co are worried about is that Nigel isn't playing the game and, if elected, won't sign up to the IBM pact.

Mark Wadsworth said...

I certainly didn't watch it, and out of all the garbage that Farage comes out with, he's right about this one and his figure is.

But that £500 m is still less than half a per cent of the NHS budget, it would be great if we could save it, but it's not a game changer.

Dinero said...
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The Stigler said...

Steven_L,
Yup

Bayard,
The percentage of HIV cases involving Africans is a lot higher than the percentage of the population that came from Africa. Which suggests health tourism.

Mark,
Sure, it's not a huge amount, but a politician should be able to defend it.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Although one of the commenters on Guido inadvertently made a good point.

Health tourism is a kind of third world aid, so perhaps we should consider diverting the aid budget into providing medical care in Africa? Save them the bother of coming over here and hopefully reducing our costs?

Seeing as our government is obsessed with spending at least £10 billion a year on third world aid, spending some of that in healthcare in Africa (instead of subsidising the Indian space travel programme) is not the worst way of spending it.

Dinero said...
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Random said...

"obsessed with spending at least £10 billion a year on third world aid"
It is a subsidy to exporters, not out of kindness. Because the aid is given in pounds and you can't spend pounds in third world countries. You have to spend GBP in the UK and you can't make it disappear.
They can exchange it for other currencies, but then someone else has the pounds or the exchange rate goes down until it stabilises and someone else has the pounds.
Very sneaky, not what you think.

The Stigler said...

Mark,

It'd make a lot more sense, especially as the costs are lower in Africa.

Henry Kaye said...

You mention that the political class have contempt for the public and I am reminded of a conversation I had with a Conservative MP who I thought was a cut above his colleagues of any political hue. The conversation took place about 12 years ago and we were talking about one of his colleagues and his position on the Eu. The MP I was talking to said of his colleague that "he had nothing but contempt for the public".
I think this has been so for a number of years \bout too many of our political representatives!