David Cameron slaps down Tory MEP Daniel Hannan over NHS attack

David Cameron today slapped down a Tory MEP who went on American television to attack the National Health Service, dismissing his views as "eccentric"





The Conservative leader said the NHS was a "great national institution" and that it was his party's "number one mission" to improve it.

"The Conservative Party stands four square behind the NHS," he told reporters in his Oxfordshire constituency.

"We are the party of the NHS, we back it, we are going to expand it, we have ring-fenced it and said that it will get more money under a Conservative government, and it is our number one mission to improve it."

Mr Cameron brushed aside an attack on the NHS's record by Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, who told American television viewers that he "wouldn't wish it on anybody".

"He does have some quite eccentric views about some things, and political parties always include some people who don't toe the party line on one issue or another issue," the Tory leader said.





However, Labour was quick to exploit Mr Hannan's remarks, with Business Secretary Lord Mandelson claiming that they had exposed the "two faces" of the Conservative Party.

"I think people will find it shocking that a Conservative parliamentarian should go to the US in order to slag off the NHS, which is one of our great achievements in this country," he told Sky News.

"What we see is the two faces of the Conservative Party - the one David Cameron wants to everyone to see and believe, and the other one presented by the Conservative parliamentarian."

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said Mr Hannan's intervention was Mr Cameron's "worst nightmare".

"What has happened within the last 48 hours is what Cameron has feared most because it lays bare the Tories' deep ambivalence towards the NHS," he said.

"Their election strategy is not to talk about the NHS. Cameron knows there is deep hostility towards it within his ranks. Hannan is not the only one - many senior Tory MPs would privately agree with his comments."







The latest controversy has been sparked by President Barack Obama's plans to reform the the American healthcare system.

Republican critics have used the example of the NHS to attack the president's proposals, branding them as "Orwellian" and "evil".

That in turn has prompted a backlash in Britain, with thousands of people, including Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, sighing up to an online Twitter campaign to defend the NHS.











Speaking at a press announcement at aircraft manufacturer Airbus's plant in Filton, Bristol, Lord Mandelson defended the NHS.

The Business Secretary said: "I think people will be shocked by the attacks being launched on the NHS in the US - which now, we hear, are being supported by some in the British Conservative Party as well.

"This is a Conservative Party that says it is committed to the NHS, and produces fine words to support that.

"But then, when you look at the facts, you see the Conservatives are not committed, for example, to our opening up of GPs' facilities and wider access, they're not committed to our lower waiting times for cancer treatment, and they don't support the new personal patient entitlements that the Government is introducing.

"Their attitudes and beliefs to the NHS seem to be rather different."







Mr Hannan has made a series of high-profile appearances on Fox News in the United States this year attacking the NHS.

This week he said the cost of the NHS had left the British economy close to collapse, like that of Zimbabwe.

He said: "We're maybe a couple of years behind Zimbabwe, a few years ahead of you.

"I mean, it's - we have - the healthcare system we have is kind of a relic of an era in Britain when the State was considered all-powerful and benign and when we had rationing and when we had ID cards and when we had mass nationalisation.

"And we're still stuck with it because, once you get a system like that, it's almost impossible to get rid of.

"How amazing to me that a free people, you know, citizens of a country founded on the principle of independence, independence for the citizen as well as independence for the state, should be contemplating, in peacetime, burdening themselves with a system like this, which puts the power of life and death in a state bureaucracy."

He added: "People are left in pain, in positions where they can't work, where they're losing income at the back of the queue, waiting for permission to get treatment.

"And there's nothing you can do about it."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
science
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Developer - London - £45k

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Application Support & Development ...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003