The NHS is – famously – our best-loved institution. When BritainThinks run focus groups, people up and down the country tell us that the NHS is in ‘the marrow of our bones’, that it is the UK’s ‘crown jewel’ and that it represents the best of what it is to be British.
Public concern about the NHS is rising. Participants are describing difficulties getting an appointment with GPs, their hospital appointments are being pushed back, and there is worry that hard-pressed NHS staff no longer seem to have the time to care. This is backed up by national-level polling; in Ipsos MORI’s April Issues Index, 48% of respondents identified the NHS as one of the top three issues facing Britain today. This is on a par with Brexit and an eight-point increase since December 2016.
In terms of its mouth-to-trousers ratio, you'd expect the media to be long on the mouth aspect: it is, after all, the business of communication.
As for the trousers bit, the first pertinent question is who wears them and why. The majority of the UK media is in right-of-centre ownership and indeed editorship, as the MP for Tatton's recent career move shows.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the NHS (which is the bit of socialism the British people like and think effective, judging by its iconic status in repeated opinion polls of reasons people are proud to be British) is politically and philosophically not an evident fit with right-of-centre values.