Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Former Labour MP and Cabinet Minister Tony Benn on Health Care and Afghanistan

On Health Care:
"And, you see, I suppose it’s really basically a question of, do you regard the health of the nation as a national interest? Now, in the United States, taxpayers pay for the education of children. Does that make it socialized education? The police are paid for by the taxpayers. Does that make it a socialized police force? The fire services are public services. Does that mean they are socialized fire services? You see, this is just the language of very, very rich people who don’t want to make a contribution for the healthcare of others."

"I’m afraid it’s getting an end of it, the whole argument. And the member of Parliament you quoted is being denounced by his own leader. And Mrs. Thatcher said the “Health Service is safe in our hands. And when she said that—and she was the most right-wing leader we’ve had in Britain for many years—when she said that about the Health Service, that gives you the clearest recommendation I can think of for a right-wing American audience."

"We took the view that a government had a responsibility to focus on the needs of a nation in peacetime in the way in which it does in wartime. And if that principle is followed, then all the ideological language can be set aside. You’ve got to judge a country by whether its needs are met and not just by whether some people make a profit. I’ve never met Mr. Dow Jones, and I’m sure he works very, very hard with his averages. We get them every hour. But I don’t think the happiness of a nation is decided by the share values in Wall Street."

On Afghanistan:
"But, you see, I think you have to understand the history of this. Britain invaded Afghanistan in 1839, captured Kabul, and was defeated the following year, and 15,000 British troops were killed in the retreat. Britain invaded Afghanistan in 1879. Britain was in Afghanistan in 1919. The Russians were in Afghanistan."



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