This paper shows that the 1930s were the last time the population of Britain was as polarised in terms of their health as we are today. It was not simply the introduction of the NHS that halved inequalities in health in Britain between the 1930s and early 1950s. The overall improvement in living standards brought about by the introduction of the welfare state had a significant impact. When it comes to providing a health service, it is harder to provide a good health service in a more economically unequal country. This paper suggests that policies 'in place of fear' need not be costly but they need to present a genuine commitment to tackling inequality.
Proponents of the argument that tax-financed or ‘free’ health care is a privilege we can no longer afford are unable to explain why universal health care was instituted when the world’s economy was very much smaller than it is today. This paper asks - if the UK could create an NHS when the country was literally bankrupt, why in England (but not in Scotland or Wales) can the government not sustain the NHS today? They suggest the answer is political and not financial and that the response of the left must be political too.
Universalism is once again edging up the political agenda. This underlying principle behind the welfare state has always been reviled by those who wish to see it dismantled, but more immediately concerning is a growing acceptance that in order to protect vital public services the ideal of universal coverage should be abandoned in favour of selectivity. Due to these concerns, this paper puts forward the case for universalism by examining its effects on society; the economy; taxation, redistribution and equality; and political philosophy, whilst debating, in contrast, the problems that come with selectivity.