I'm ashamed to say that I had never heard of the White Rose until the recent 70th anniversary. For those who may still not know, the White Rose was a non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. Four medical students, Hans Scholl, Christoph Probst, Alex Schmorell and Willi Graf formed its core. Scholl, his sister Sophie and Probst were beheaded on 22nd February 1943. Graf and Schmorell suffered the same fate some months later. Their crime was to produce leaflets criticising the Nazis. You can listen to the story here.
My parents took the view that the Germans are easily led. I take the same view. But I differ in that I think we are all easily led. Humans are built to be led. It's what enables us to operate in societies instead of just squabbling with each other for scarce resources.
Since the time of Hitler, the way we are controlled has changed. We are told there's a democracy. And many of us may believe that. But the reality is that we have very limited choice at election time and the main political parties have a stranglehold on the process. In parliament your MP is told strictly how to vote. He's not his own man. Only rarely can a well-meaning independent reach the Commons.
But it's worse than this. The policies of the main parties are not really determined by the wishes of the electorate. We all know of the strong support for the NHS. But the Coalition has changed the basis of the NHS without any public support. And before them Labour was intent on heading the same way.
It might not be so bad if our masters were acting in our best interests but they are not. They are acting in the best interests of themselves and their paymasters. At least when Hitler was in charge there was a visible unequivocal villain. Now the corridors of power are controlled by a more insidious evil of which few of us are much aware. That evil takes the form of the lobbying industry. Ironically this scandal-in-the-waiting was recognised by the prime minister himself. Judge for yourself whether he has met his promise to stop the lobbyists from influencing government policy.
The effects of the lobbying industry on our lives is all pervasive. Examples are legion. Here I mention only the NHS. I do not know of anybody who does not take the view that, in the NHS, we have had the most cost-effective healthcare system in the world. It may not be the best. But it has been the cheapest. Yet we are told we can no longer afford it. Labour, LibDem or Tory the message is the same. It's the same message because it originates from the same people: the lobbying industry.
The message that so many believe - that healthcare is unaffordable - has to be wrong. But few question it. You cannot, in a civilised society, just leave people to die. You have to look after them. There is no choice. That's why the British people love the NHS so much. There is something uniquely good about ensuring that all one's fellow beings get looked after. And, if you accept that people have to be looked after, it follows, if money is short, that you need to look after them as cheaply as possible. We are not talking about giving everybody everything they might wish for. But we are talking about giving everybody the key care that they really need.
So there is an unequivocal, but largely unvoiced, argument to keep the NHS as it is in order to keep the costs of healthcare down. What though have our governments been doing? They have been increasing the costs of healthcare by introducing markets into the NHS. They have, of course, duped people into thinking the NHS is inefficient - despite all the evidence to the contrary - and, on this basis, have been paying hospitals per item of service instead of en bloc. What's wrong with that, I hear you ask. The problem is that it encourages more work which costs more and not less work which costs less. You see, in health care, not all work that could be done needs to be done.
So how have we got here? We got here because of the lobbying industry. What interest do the lobbying industry have in a government service like the NHS? The answer is none while the NHS is a publicly-provided service. What the outsiders want is to profit from a slice of the money provided by the taxpayer and they want the service run down so that people have to buy health care themselves privately. And that is why the NHS is being privatised and why we are losing hospital beds.
So where does all this fit in with the White Rose? The answer is that there are still malign influences around today and we, the British people, have been duped into being led in the wrong direction just as the people of Germany were. Worst of all, the British people have largely acquiesced in all of this. There is no excuse. We won't be executed for putting the case for the NHS to the people of Eastleigh. But I bet there won't be many people there tomorrow when I plan to lend a hand to the National Health Action Party. I hope I'm wrong.