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Stephen Hawking Versus NHS Asset Strippers

05/12/2013 11:45 GMT | Updated 03/02/2014 10:59 GMT

Recently some on the British right have been playing with fire by equating intelligence with what they believe to be success in life. First we had Michael Gove's special adviser, Dominic Cummings, claiming that less privileged children do worse at school due to 'inferior genes'. Then a flustered Boris Johnson had to back-pedal furiously after suggesting that rich people are rich because they have "high IQs".

Given the way in which wealth enables people to consolidate familial power by buying unfair advantages for their offspring, these arguments are extremely weak - not to mention pompous and fascinatingly revealing.

Furthermore, Mr Johnson's semi-coherent narrative is completely flawed as it supposes that the most important thing a person can do with their life is make money - and that all any highly intelligent person wishes to do is acquire expensive shiny objects. One just has to look at the cars of academics to know this is patently not the case. Bright people learn because they get pleasure from finding things out - and history is full of geniuses who had as little interest in money as Boris Johnson does in string theory.

It is ironic then that, as some on the right flounder around ignorantly in debates about intelligence, a man regarded as one of the cleverest living Brits breezes into the political arena to strongly criticise the privatisation of the NHS.

It is as though the Tory Party and their wealthy friends were divvying up of the NHS over a game of poker when in through the swing doors rolled Stephen Hawking, who quickly annihilated them and left them in their Y-fronts and socks. In the space of a few minutes the cosmologist dominated the table and left aspiring NHS asset strippers with red faces.

In a short programme after the Channel 4 News on December 4th, which could have been called 'A Non-Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of the NHS and the People of Britain', Professor Hawking said: "51 years ago I was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given 2-3 years to live. The NHS is the reason I have survived so long. It is Britain's finest public service and must be preserved from commercial interests who want to privatise it.

"During the debate on Obama's bill to reform America's health care system, a right wing source said 'If Stephen Hawking was British and had to rely on the NHS he would be dead by now'. I replied 'I am British and am proud of it'.

"Only last summer I caught pneumonia and would have died but for NHS hospital care. We must retain this critical public service and prevent the establishment of a two-tier system, with the best medicine for the wealthy and an inferior service for the rest."

Given that the Tory Party has not won an election for 22 years - and the current coalition is straining at the seams - one would expect most current ministers to be forgotten quite quickly. On the other hand, Professor Hawking will be remembered for centuries to come - as a well-loved British Einstein figure. It would be a tragic irony, therefore, if a weak coalition - driven by unelected corporate puppeteers - manages to allow the NHS to be ruined while one of the geniuses of our age is ignored.