The “bright future” that the UK’s current political elite have so very much longed for remains little more than an elusive dream for now. Yes, the United Kingdom has gained its independence from the EU, and is now “free” to embark on an uncertain future, free to buzz about like a mosquito looking for someone else’s blood to suck, i.e. subsidies from Washington in new deals with the United States. However, according to the statement from the European Commission, even London’s Brexit trade talks to negotiate its partnership with the European Union going forward have been called off for the foreseeable future, “Given the latest Covid-19 developments”.
Meanwhile, the general social situation in the United Kingdom is deteriorating. However, the British press are not allowed to write about this in the current environment, given the new strain of “British democracy” that has taken hold in recent years. It is therefore no wonder that the South African media outlets were the ones to forfeit the approval of London’s censors, not the British press, and decided to bring the following fact to the attention of the international community: “The British national press has consistently portrayed the UK as a supporter of noble ideas such as human rights and democracy. However, new statistical surveys from the Declassified UK project show how misguided the public is about its foreign and military policies.”
Amid this intensified silence surrounding the truth about Britain, the usual tricks are unlikely to be of any use, tricks like creating a special unit designed to combat “Russian disinformation about the novel coronavirus”, which is rapidly spreading throughout the UK. Meanwhile (and this is not what London’s official line would like to brand as “Russian propaganda”), over 220 British scientists signed an open letter to the government, in which they claim that the coronavirus outbreak “will affect millions of people” in the next few weeks if the UK authorities fail to take urgent measures. By March 14, when the letter was sent, the total number of confirmed cases in the UK has reached 1,140, and 21 people had already died!
How convenient it would be for Britain’s current Russophobic political establishment if they could just blame the shameless Russians for all the problems that are arising with the rapid spread of the coronavirus and for all the problems the NHS (National Health Service) is dealing with! However, it is not that simple.
Even the British Telegraph has carried out a series of investigations which have shown that the current British government have managed to bring the NHS to its knees, which is underfunded and mired in structural problems. It is the patients who suffer the negative impact all of this is having, who have to wait days for a hospital bed. The slow death the NHS is dying is a clear example of how the state welfare Britain built in the twentieth century is falling apart at the seams, a system which people thought they no longer needed with the dawn of oligarchic capitalism.
Let’s not forget that England’s free healthcare system was rightly considered one of the best in the world in the second half of the twentieth century, second only to that of the Soviet Union, but today the NHS is descending into an irreversible crisis, and even multi-billion-dollar budgetary funding will not be enough to lift the NHS out of it.
Experts have estimated that mortality rates in NHS hospitals are rising every weekend at a rapid pace. In total, there are 11,000 of these “weekend deaths” every year. Hospitals are understaffed and nurses do not have enough time to take care of all the patients on beds, so relatives are strongly encouraged to either hire a private nurse for their loved ones, or sit by their bedside and take care of the patients themselves. Bringing food into the hospital is also recommended (because the hospital food is of poor quality) and extra warm clothing (because the hospitals are poorly heated). The lives of patients are put in serious risk if they cannot afford to hire private nurse. British journalists have estimated that at least two patients die each day of thirst or starvation in NHS hospitals. This means that nurses simply do not have enough time or energy to give bedridden patients food and water! Even according to the official figures, 12,000 annual patient deaths in NHS hospitals are preventable.
With the collapse of the National Health Service, the British government has consequently been cutting the number of UK hospital beds. Before Margaret Thatcher came to power, there were 350,000 beds in state-funded hospitals. However, as a result of “healthcare optimization”, which the Iron Lady and subsequent governments actively rolled out across the country, there are now only 127 thousand hospital beds left – almost a third of the number there had been back in the late 1970s. Although everyone knows that Britain needs far more hospital beds due to the influx of migrants and Britain’s aging population. However, no one is in any rush to build new hospitals or extend existing ones, as Britain’s current political elite views the National Health Service as some a kind of twentieth-century dinosaur that the working class fought for (along with the social welfare system) in the class wars of an already distant past.
This is why many diseases have now become a huge problem for the British. Take sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as an example, which even underdeveloped countries have learned to treat a long time ago. The age group most severely affected by STIs are young people under the age of 25. Two of Britain’s largest organizations dedicated to providing sexual health services across the nation are sounding the alarm. According to the Terrence Higgins Trust and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, the number of people diagnosed with gonorrhea in Britain has increased by 249% over the past ten years, and syphilis diagnoses have gone up 165%. Their report found that an STI is diagnosed every 70 seconds in England, and although almost half of those diagnosed are under 25, pensioners and the elderly are also increasingly testing positive.
British youth are in a sorry state. According to the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, the number of children living below the poverty line in the UK has increased. There has been a rise in mental health problems, as well as an increase in violence, drug use and infant mortality. On infant mortality (children under one), the UK is fifth from bottom among 27 European countries. Throughout the world, the number of babies dying in their first year has been falling, infant mortality rates in the UK have stalled, and in England they actually got worse between 2016 and 2017. “For a high-income nation such as ours, that should be a major wakeup call,” say British doctors.
The shameful scale of the homeless crisis and the number of people sleeping rough on Britain’s streets is another indication that the UK’s social policy is falling apart. Although the government is doing its best to cover up the true scale of this crisis, information leaked to the media revealed that five times more people are forced to sleep on the streets in the UK than the official figure the government is willing to admit. According to the research available, more than 28,000 people in the UK were recorded sleeping rough last year.
For many thousands of Britons living in these conditions under today’s political elite, it seems unlikely that they will live to see a “bright future”.
Vladimir Odintsov, expert politologist, exclusively for the online magazine ‘New Eastern Outlook’.