Health, Wealth and Wisdom. STRONGER TOGETHER: THE BRAINS OF BRITAIN; United We Built NHS and Welfare State - Beacons to All the World

The Mirror (London, England), September 17, 2014 | Go to article overview

Health, Wealth and Wisdom. STRONGER TOGETHER: THE BRAINS OF BRITAIN; United We Built NHS and Welfare State - Beacons to All the World


Byline: LORD REID Former Health Secretary & Secretary of State for Scotland

THE NHS and welfare state of which we are all justly proud are great examples of how we have gained as much as we have given by being part of Britain.

Scotland produced many medical pioneers, including penicillin inventor Alexander Fleming, who did much of his work in London, while Essex-born Joseph Lister promoted sterile surgery in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

But it was a great Welshman, Nye Bevan, who allowed ordinary Scots to access the full benefits of their innovation free of charge through the health service.

Scottish creativity helped to transform modern medicine, but it took the collective strength of a British government to ensure that those gains were open to all.

It was an Indian-born Englishman, William Beveridge, whose war on the "giant evils" of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness led to the welfare state that still prevails across Britain.

And it was a Scot, John Reith, who founded the BBC, which has been informing, educating and entertaining Britain and the world for nearly a century.

His legacy lies not only in the UK-wide TV and radio channels, but in the distinctive contribution of BBC Scotland and BBC Alba.

In other spheres, Charles Darwin challenged the views on creation after being influenced by Scottish geologist Charles Lyell.

The enormous gains we have made in Scotland are no product of narrow nationalism.

They are the fruits of a UK-wide partnership of nations which has helped improve all of our lives.

Let's be under no illusions about the power of that partnership.

My parents were born into a nation without the NHS and welfare state. In their youth, too many children died of preventable diseases and too many of their grandparents ended their days in the poor house.

Scotland also gave Britain that great son of Lanarkshire, Keir Hardie, the first leader of the Labour Party.

The advances won by successive British Labour governments not only mean that people today can live longer in retirement. They also benefit from the mutual fund of 60 million Britons whose taxes pay for the NHS and their pensions. …

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