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Or, without the "Faux News" angle, the Conservative Party leader in the UK and Prime Minister, David Cameron had an unscheduled addition to his family today.

Tuesday morning his wife Samantha started feeling contractions. The couple had expected the birth to be next month in London and are on holiday in Cornwall, West England. They went to the local National Health Service hospital in Truro and their new daughter was delivered by caesarean section this afternoon (UK time). She is the second child to be born to a sitting British PM since 1848. Cameron will take a period of paternity leave although it is currently unclear when.

Nothing exceptional of course unless you look at it through the perspective of the teabaggers in the USA who no doubt could not understand why a true Conservative would use a socialist system. Rather more, Cameron is surprisingly a staunch supporter of the NHS and, despite government cuts of 25% or more the NHS budget has been protected.

Cameron summed up his position on the NHS last year when he described it as representing a:

simple, practical, common sense, human understanding of a fantastic and precious fact of British life...That the moment you’re injured or fall ill, the moment something happens to someone you love, you know that whoever you are, wherever you are from, whatever’s wrong, however much you’ve got in the bank, there’s a place you can go where people will look after you and do their best to make things right again.

"That’s why we are committed to the NHS and the principle of a healthcare system that is free at the point of use, based on need and not the ability to pay."

Cameron is not short of a bob or two (ie stinking rich) but, like everybody in the country, sees the NHS as his prime healthcare provider, certainly for emergencies. Actually it it quite likely that they had made arrangements to pay for private rooms, special "hotel services" or even care to ensure security etc in their intended hospital in London. In view of the privacy and security considerations, this is probably fair enough and likely their present hospital has made arrangements for a private single room regardless of any arrangements. To be honest, the details of their arrangements are of little interest as Cameron has very good reasons to be a staunch supporter of the NHS.

In February last year his six year old son, Ivan died in St Mary's (NHS) Hospital in Paddington, London. Ivan had severe cerebal palsy and epilepsy. He had needed round-the-clock care - provided by the NHS. In 2006 he told the Conservative Party Conference:

My family is so often in the hands of the NHS. And I want them to be safe there. Tony Blair once explained his priority in three words: education, education, education. I can do it in three letters - NHS

The BBC background piece written just after Ivan's death which quoted him goes on to explain:

But as well as the praise for those at the sharp end of the NHS - the nurses, doctors and carers, there is sometimes an anger as well - anger at what David Cameron sees as the bureaucracy which exists in the system - but also anger at its failures to provide the services which families in a far worse position than his own require.

Should David Cameron win the next election, his experience of life with Ivan won't necessarily make him a good prime minister. But it will inform his views - and behind nearly every decision he makes, whatever happens in his political life, a little bit of Ivan will be there.

This analysis was accurate as in the first 100 days of the coalition government, the emergency Budget announcement included the cash protection of the NHS budget in England (the health services are devolved powers in the other nations)  Plans are also afoot to disband several layers of bureaucracy.

Now Cameron has another reason to be grateful to the National Health Service but what the whole shows is that in the UK a "socialist" health system is simply seen as the norm. British tourists to the USA are always mildly shocked to be advised to take out at least £5 million in health insurance as part of their travel arrangements to pay for any catastrophic emergencies and repatriation. 60 years of the NHS have made the concept of vast bills or bankruptcy resulting from a serious illness a completely alien concept.  

Originally posted to Lib Dem FoP on Tue Aug 24, 2010 at 12:38 PM PDT.

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