Twitter has a lot to say about the NHS

17Aug09

The latter half of last week proved to the world Twitter’s power regarding civillian debate.

I am talking, of course, about the Hannan, NHS, Republican, Fox News controversy that has been sweeping the airwaves and broadband of the Atlantic.

I tuned in to Channel 4 news every evening last week where the Tweets of Sarah Brown and David Cameron were being showcased alongside the Tweets of average Joe Public on the matter. What a revolution. Far cry from the ineloquent and wooden voxpops we see on news programmes, Twitter has revolutionised the way the media can guage the public reaction, and it can select the soundbite-long political statements like pic n’ mix.

One prolific Twitterer, Graham Linehan, or Glinner, appeared as a talking head about the “media hysteria” sweeping the  social networking tool regarding the NHS debate in the US. Not David Milliband, not Hilary Clinton, not the ancestors of Anuerin Bevan – the writer of Father Ted.

It is a strange commodity which leads the media to record such diverse aspects of what really is nearing an internaional relations issue.

Being an avid Twitterer myself, I took to the iBook and began scrolling through the Tweets bearing the NHS and welovetheNHS hashtags.

There I found examples of overwhelming praise for the NHS including snippets of peoples’ own family stories where the NHS helped save or prolong a life. Of course, everybody has their axe to grind about our health service, waiting lists, superbugs, over-worked staff, cleanliness and of course the food however, for once the British people decided not to whinge but to wax optimistic about our beloved NHS.

The US side of the debate, for the most part was either in agreement with the UK (perhaps after watching Michael Moore’s “Sicko” or after a bad experience of the US health system) or they were asking questions… there was a parcentage who hadn’t the foggiest what was going on as with some clueless Brits also, but they are outside the venn diagram of this particular debate.

I was shocked to see, albeit in the minority, the damning comments about the NHS by certain American Twitterers backed up with links to news items and blogs on the subject. I saw one girl describe the NHS as run by Death Czars and compared the system to Nazi Germany. A lot of fear of old Eastern European communism and socialism was repeated as well as a fear for raised taxes and little return.

I was even more astounded when I flicked over to Fox News that the self-congratulatory item about socialist medicine was being repeated with gusto by Fox’s “journalists” – although it is hardly journalism if the item is entirely one-sided, now is it?

Be that as it may, although it has its faults and its leaks and it drives us all mad at some point, the principal of the NHS is what I am proud of. Free health care from the cradle to the grave is not something to be sniffed at. Alright its not free, its paid for in taxes (the blood of the country after all) however the fear of socialism and communism which seems to be the sole argument coming from our American cousins is baffeling to me. Its immaterial, surely?

Fox News, run by News Corporation, prides itself on being “fair and balanced” and denies biased reporting however how balanced is it to squak about one side of a valid debate? You can see the effects of biased reporting reflected on those who were quoting Murdoch’s baby on Twitter last week and it wasn’t pretty.

If you are interested at all in what I have to say when I’m not blogging then by all means follow me on Twitter as Rosebiscuit.

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