Friday, 13 June 2014

Socialist hypocrite of the week

As reported in the Independent, Alan Bennett has been giving a speech at Cambridge University...

Bennett, who was treated for colon cancer in 1997, said: “Without the state I would not be standing here today. I have no time for the ideology masquerading as pragmatism that would strip the state of its benevolent functions and make them occasions for profit.

“And why roll back the state only to be rolled over by the corporate entities that have been allowed, nay encouraged, to take its place? I am uneasy when prisons are run for profit or health services either. The rewards of probation and the alleviation of suffering are human profits and nothing to do with balance sheets.”

Firstly, it is arrogant and wrong to assume that Britain's healthcare reforms are due to "ideology masquerading as pragmatism" whereas the opinions of this playwright are based on a cool assessment of the facts. As Jonah Goldberg notes in his excellent book The Tyranny of Clichés, it is a common tactic of the Left to portray themselves as pragmatists while their opponents are mere ideologues. Although Bennett claims that he has never been "particularly left-wing", his politics—which include making it a crime to have anyone but the state educate your child—are as ideological as they come.

Secondly, is it really true that Bennett would not "be standing here today" were it not for the wonderful National Health Service? He is, I assume, a wealthy individual who would be able to pay for best cancer treatment available.

And that, of course, is exactly what he did—as he explained in a 2005 interview...

"if there was a queue, I jumped it. There is no gainsaying that. Someone else may have died as a result. I didn't because I could pay, and this showed me up to myself".

When his own life was at stake, Bennett suddenly became much less "uneasy" about health services being run for profit. He says that the experience of paying to get to the front of the queue "showed me up to myself", but this is only a mild rebuke to himself. It was not enough for him to change any of his flat-pack left-wing views about the glory of socialised healthcare. It was not enough to shake his ideology (which he does not recognise as an ideology).

Yes, "someone else may have died as a result", but the champion of the workers can't expect to suffer the same indignities as those of us who have no choice but to give the government our money and hope for the best, can he?


hyperCRYPTICal said...

Well observed and a sound write. I know many a socialist hypocrite...Do as I say (not as I do) often springs to mind...
Anna :o]

Frank J said...

What's new? We can go back to Denis Healey who's wife, as Bennett, was treated privately (and who walked out on a TV interview when this was brought up) and McMahon who sent his daughter to private school as, apparently, the local state schools didn't 'do' music. We could also bring up Marcia Falkender and her slag heap in Wigan - which she bought, obtained planning permission for and sold on at a massive profit, this at a time when property 'speculators' were Satan himself!

Twas ever thus and bare faced hypocrisy doesn't describe it.

Christopher Snowdon said...

Plus the many Labour MPs who oppose private schools but send their children to them (Harriot Harman, Diane Abbot et al.)

Bennett went to a state grammar school but I'm not sure if he has the same view of grammar schools as other socialists (ie. that they should be closed down).

Robert said...

If Bennett paid to be treated privately, then surely NHS resources were freed up to treat someone else?
Not that that makes him less of a hypocrite, but it does make his guilt ('someone else may have died as a result') rather foolish.