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At some point or other, we’ve all thrown our hands up in disbelief and cried, “What’s happening to this country?!” or “The world’s gone mad.” A lot of British people have just given up trying to follow what’s happening to Britain anymore. People can barely keep track of where we were as a country last month, let alone 2 years ago; how on earth we ended up with this law or that reform; why every few weeks or so, we wake up in a different society governed by different rules. Over the last 5 years, change has happened to Britain fast; in dramatic leaps, and over a very short space of time. There has been nothing gradual about the last 5 years and frankly, it’s been exhausting to watch. It’s no wonder the British have become numb to politics.

The problem is this. Being disinterested in politics doesn’t make you stupid. Being disinterested in politics does make you underinformed and ill-equipped for disaster. Ask any British person what’s happening to their country and the simple response from your average joe is, “Everything’s changed so quickly.” Ask where Britain is going and you’ll get either a roll of the eyes, a resigned sigh or a shrug. The apathy has set in deeply and many are immovable from it.

There are just 10 days to go til the next UK General Election. A lot of people are sick to the back teeth with party political propaganda all over the TV and can’t wait til it’s all over. And so for some, my enthusiasm for voting is over the top. They couldn’t be more wrong. If ever Britain needed a hardcore election it’s now.

There have been two televised debates between Brown (Labour), Cameron (Tory) and Clegg (Lib Dem) covering domestic policy and international affairs; the last will be on economy and taxes. This is something we’ve never done before and taking prime advantage of the public’s political apathy, are the tabloids. The media are delirious with opportunity as the work comes easy; sensationalist headlines, spoof campaigns, repetitive soundbites and salacious stories of corruption pour out, emotionally whipping people up into a sudden frenzy of divisive opinion. The clock is ticking and thus far, opinion polls have fluctuated erratically across Britain like a rollercoaster. While the media have everything to gain from swaying the public, once the election is over, the media will be onto their next catch while the public are lumped with the consequences of a bad choice. So how does a tired, languid and fed-up Britain know what the right choice really is?

The truth is that this comes down to the lesser of three evils.

As current PM, Gordon Brown represents the vote to increase ‘free’ handouts for the ‘unfortunate’ public, ‘free’ benefits to keep people smiling and happy (even though everyone knows there’s no such thing as a completely ‘free’ benefit), with a general greater reliance on widespread government control over everything. Essentially speaking, Brown’s manifesto will keep Britain as a slave to tax increases (which, by the way, is how Labour pays for all your ‘freedom’ passes and ‘free’ this and that). His idea is to reinforce a nanny state which is completely dependent on the government for absolutely everything. (That’ll work for the politically lazy who can’t be bothered with reading the small print, “so long as Big Brother doesn’t do anything nasty” like, deny the public a right to fight a reform before it becomes a law–which, of course, Big Brother will.) Lest we forget–Brown never actually wanted the role of PM when he was forced into the position by default of Blair’s resignation in 2007. In following his Labour advisors, he frankly hasn’t the foggiest idea of why he’s made the promises he has, nor how on earth he will execute them, financially nor strategically. Despite appearances and his talk of us hoping in the ‘experienced party’, Brown knows deep down how his last 3 years of service has reviled many. His plea for the public to vote Labour smacks of, “I know I screwed up, I’m sorry, I promise I won’t do it again.” Anyone with a rebellious child knows there’s only so many times you can believe that line as gospel.

Despite appearing to be the ‘refreshingly different’ speaker of the three, Nick Clegg is the opportunist of the traditional ‘conflict’ between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. His appeal is less of a strategic one and more of an emotional one, whispering to the listener, “You don’t have to watch these two fight it out for another age–pick me. I’m someone else altogether and after all, isn’t it “different” that you’ve been looking for all along?” Clegg’s approach is an unveiled, intentional play on the public’s distrust in previous Tory/Labour governments; an assistant to the aforementioned media circus. If you’ve been won over by his Mr. Straight Talker speeches, read the Liberal Democrat manifesto first. For the first plan of his inexperienced party, Clegg wants to “fix” the problem of Britain’s 900,000 illegal immigrants by ‘forgiving’ them for breaking the law with an amnesty to “stay in the country, work without being a criminal and we’ll reward you with citizenship.” What’s terribly wrong with that? Oh, only the consequences. Only a nice and easy, brand spanking new loophole for the next wave of illegal immigrants to make a fresh attempt on Britain’s borders. And apparently our citizenship is no sacred thing to Clegg, since he wants to give it away to any old Tom for practically nothing. If “Politically Correct Britain” is driving you up the wall, Clegg isn’t your man for that either: the Liberal Democrats’ central goal of making Britain more EU-centric will further weaken our economy, our say in what Brussels can lord over us and their ‘environmentally friendly’ banner smacks of more restrictive rules about good old carbon emissions and crying over polar bears, that have left us the laughing stock of the world driving revolting electric cars.

The Conservative Party are no angels either. The Thatcher years have such a bad reputation in Britain; a synonym for ideological betrayal. Cameron’s identification with Thatcher’s views have made him a target for criticism, largely because of Thatcher’s allegiance with liberalism in the face of traditional Tory politics. The current Conservative Party were involved in the Parliamentary Expenses Scandal of 2009 which damaged their appeal as a ‘clean politics’ party. Cameron has echoed Obama’s winning formula with the headline “Vote For Change”, producing further skepticism from traditional Tory supporters who take issue with what that represents, given the consequences America is facing having voted for a liberal president under such a slogan. In a modern multi-cultural Britain where the idea of social class has become more and more fragmented, the current public have less of an affinity with the traditional British class structure, which have been a fundamental skeleton to previous Tory politics. Cameron’s manifesto is Eurosceptic which could easily cause internal conflict through Britain’s membership in the EU and the huge number of Europeans living in Britain. Cameron has not guaranteed that taxes will be lowered which the public views as a grey area.

What the British public need to realise over the next 10 days is that the direction Britain has been going in has not been working up until now. This popularity contest will get us nowhere: we need facts and facts can only be found in party manifestos. Comparing manifestos only, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are only walking us in that direction faster; under the guise that this direction is the only way, any other way is “backwards” and your only choice is simply who you want to walk with. This is completely untrue and a giant deception. With this to mind, the Conservative Party are the lesser of the three evils. Currently this is the only party which has a focus on managing the country’s current problems whilst minimizing the side effects that could create future problems. Having a cap on immigration is one such policy. The consequences of this reform are minimal compared with Clegg and Brown’s solutions which would quickly compound the problem. Exacting a punishable consequence for residents and citizens who are able to work but don’t want to is another. This hardline on benefits will inject vigour into a reluctant nation that’s been used to getting freebies for over a decade; a far cry from the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ attitude Labour and the Lib Dems exude. Cameron’s idea of putting 16-yr old British boys back into mandatory National Service is a champion idea; it’s a hard line but a vision with a long term benefit. Whether or not Cameron will deliver on his promises, only time will tell. But any fool will tell you that when a country loses it’s identity and roots, it loses it’s way. Let’s hope The Conservative Party’s promise to bring our identity back is worth voting for.

“America just caught up with the rest of the world. Now everyone gets free healthcare! Why are they so angry?”

“I thought you were supposed to provide for the poor. Why are people against the Bill?”

“Wait–I’m confused. Didn’t Obama just do a good thing?”

The British can’t see what the fuss is all about and it’s really not their fault–America’s non-stop party squabbling is not helping. Barack Obama signed the US healthcare bill as law, the entire country went into a rage and if you’re not American, you probably don’t understand why…

BECAUSE nobody is explaining ANY of it properly.

Let’s break this down, nice and simple.

The United States government has never paid for health care. Never–in it’s entire life. Why? Because it’s not in The U.S Constitution, the foundational legal doc for America’s existence. In the name of freedom and independence, The Constitution encourages taking total personal responsibility for oneself (health care and all). Well, the first people to take advantage of that freedom were health insurance companies–the ‘shops’ of healthcare, if you like. Americans ‘shop’ for the best doctor or dentist, they always have; they’ve never known any other way. Gradually, health insurance companies became competitive. If someone couldn’t afford to shop, the government wouldn’t pay for you but they’d help you try to get ‘discounts’, so you wouldn’t stop trying to afford shopping.

This sounds sadistic to the British. Why? Because the British government cut out all this ‘shopping’ business: it promised to pay for health care–no shopping or competition involved. In Britain there’s only government-funded hospitals, government doctor’s surgeries (offices) and government ambulances. (Unless you’ve chosen to pay private insurance.) Nobody in Britain remembers life before the NHS because the ‘pay-for-a-doctor-or-die-in-the-street’-method, was considered primitive and inhumane. Since 1946 the NHS is how it’s ‘always’ been. The biggest disadvantage of the NHS is that you can’t buy a ‘better’ doctor–you just take what you’re given. But if everyone else in the country is also at that disadvantage then, none of us will ever know or want any different, right?

From day one, Britain and America’s models have been as different as chalk and cheese. This is the first difference between our countries that nobody bothers to explain.

The only universal healthcare America has, is what the British would consider ‘discount’ schemes. These are Medicaid, which covers low income families and Medicare, for over 65’s and the disabled. Medicare is 100% federally-funded/managed; Medicaid is 50% state-funded, 50% federally-funded and 100% state-managed. Medicare is an automatic entitlement (i.e you grow old, you claim it), Medicaid is determined by eligibility (i.e show proof of income, we’ll decide if you pay all/part of the fee). Both are in trouble. Why? Because the Health Insurance companies are getting more expensive. Medicare is claimed by fewer people these days, but it is also bankrupt because insurance companies are expensive ; approximately 4 people’s taxes pay for 1 person’s Medicare. Medicaid is also increasingly expensive because states charge high premiums for revenue, making it inaccessible anyway. Neither work.

Still with me at this point?

So what do you think happened? There are an estimated 308 million Americans to provide for. They’re all fed up with the greedy health insurance companies. The government’s ‘help’ programs are failing. Everything’s been badly managed and has spiralled out of control. Then along came Barack Obama.

Of all the changes Obama promised to make during his presidential campaign, healthcare reform was the biggest. To quote: “I’ll make our government open and transparent…No more secrecy, that’s the commitment I’ll make to you as president. And when there’s a bill that ends up on my desk as president, you the public, will have 5 days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it, so that you know what your government’s doing…and you can decide whether your representative’s actually representing you.” Now that sounded like change we could all believe in. Inspirational stuff.

Except when he became president, he did the exact opposite of all these things.

Last year a healthcare reform bill 1500 pages long was written, in obscure legal jargon, which an average man cannot read nor understand. In November 2009, this bill was hurried through the House of Representatives without the public getting to read it. On Sunday 21st March 2010, the House voted 219-212 and Obama signed the bill as law. The public were only given 36 hours to read it online.

The American public, even some of Obama’s staunch supporters, were furious. Every step of the way.

To pay for the new reform, the Obama administration says it is taking $500 million from Medicare. Hold on, isn’t Medicare bankrupt? That’s right–it’s a hollow wall. As a result of this bill, health insurance companies are raising their rates and collecting federal funding at the same time. Hold on, aren’t health insurance companies already rich from overcharging people? That’s right–they’re still the controllers of health care. The reform doesn’t take effect for 3 years. The total predicted spending costs are currently at $2.5 trillion. Hold on, didn’t Obama say he would cut people’s taxes to help recover from the recession? Yes, that’s what he said. America’s national debt is already past $700 million and the country is still in a recession.  This can only mean one thing: the American people would have to pay for it…all.

As a friend of mine said, “…He put out a bill that most people can’t stomach in this economic climate…He tried to do too much all in one go.”

To think that the health care reform bill has created one problem, is wrong. It creates several separate problems. The country has gone berserk and torn itself down the middle because many Americans are fiercely against any sort of government dependency. Many believe that a move like this bill, is an enormous and dangerous step backwards. America’s emancipation from British rule was to abolish government dependency, establishing an American government which would represent and preside over the people, not provide. Because once upon a time, a British government once said it would provide for it’s American colony…it robbed them instead. America never forgot that.

And that dear friends, is what all the fuss, is all about.