38 Degrees get it badly wrong on Lib Dem funding for NHS – but don’t do nearly enough to put it right

Everyone makes mistakes. That’s a fact of life. However, when you do, you need to properly acknowledge it and make amends.

One of the key Liberal Democrat priorities for this election is that we would fund the £8 billion that the NHS in England needs. In fact, we’re spending more than that on health because  there are Barnett consequentials giving about another billion to Scotland and Wales. It’s not difficult to understand.

Last Thursday, campaign organisation 38 Degrees put up a graphic on its Facebook page which compared party’s pledges against what the NHS needed. The figure cited for the Liberal Democrats was just £2 billion, a mere quarter of what we intend to spend.  This has now been shared by over 1400 people and has been seen by many, many more.

Many people have pointed out the glaring error in their graphic. To each comment, the organisation has made an individual reply:

38 Degrees apology over NHS


The many people who shared that graphic will have to go looking for that apology. Have they amended the graph? Nope. Have they deleted the post? Nope. Is there anything on their website to say that they got it so wrong? Nope.

People are still sharing that powerful and wrong graphic. It’s time for 38 Degrees to state explicitly that only the Liberal Democrats have pledged to fully fund what the NHS says it needs by the end of the next Parliament.

As for the rest of their campaign, their poster claiming that politicians have “privatised huge parts of the NHS” is complete nonsense. The decision making is in publicly owned hands. A very small amount of private services are used. We’re talking around 6% here. That’s not “huge” by anyone’s standards. We also need to take into consideration that Labour wasted a fortune on deals with the private sector and the coalition has put a stop to that.

This is not the first time that the credibility of 38 Degrees  has been called into question. People should treat what they say with a very large pinch of salt and verify their claims from independent sources. This is all the more important when they don’t properly acknowledge when they get it wrong.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in News.


  • Sadie Smith 31st Mar '15 - 9:38am

    I have stopped replying to 38 Degrees. They seem to take the straight Labour line too often. Lobbying?

  • At least they gave an apology…Having listened to Cameron on R4 being challenged on Grant Shapps admission that, he ‘made up’ the £3000 tax rise by Labour, Cameron said he stood by the figure…..

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 31st Mar '15 - 9:56am

    @expat: There’s no point in making an apology if people have to go searching for it. They should say something in the substantive part of the post.

  • Caron,
    Sadly, that’s the way it works…Had been a newspaper it would’ve been on page 17 underneath an advert. for haemorrhoid cream…

  • Simon,
    No one and no organisation is truly ‘independent’……However, many of their campaigns were on issues in our 2010 manifesto (sacking MPs who break rules, environmental issues, etc)

  • Yesterday I got a personal apology from 38 degrees… Which is a start… Let’s hope a fact checking policy is developed by 38 degrees

  • Simon McGrath 31st Mar '15 - 10:32am

    38 degrees are a Labour front – surely everyone knows that ?

  • 38 degrees irrationally hate corporations and can be ignored as timewasters.

  • Frank Bowles 31st Mar '15 - 10:46am

    38 Degrees are actively campaigning in East Dunbartonshire implying that Jo Swinson won’t rule the NHS out of TTIP; which is of course complete nonsense. Its hard not to conclude that 38 degrees has now been infiltrated by those seeking to do down the Lib Dems…

  • Frank Bowles 31st Mar ’15 – 10:46am……. Its hard not to conclude that 38 degrees has now been infiltrated by those seeking to do down the Lib Dems…

    Which, in Scotland, narrows the “list of suspects” down to about 99% of the population…

  • The NHS should be privatised and TTIP welcomed. Nationalisation and aversion to free trade are profoundly dangerous ideas, which are fundamental to socialism or nationalism.

    38 degrees wants to take us back to the 1970s. They will soon regret it when the real face of the Labour Party has power, rough working class striking union men who hate corporations, who hate globalisation and want a flag waving socialist Britain with horrible patriotic overtones. There would be no hipsters pouring them flat whites in the RMT’s Britain…

  • 38 Degrees became a front organisation for the hard left of Labour (and the Green Party) some years ago, and are now swinging into action for the election just as always planned. They will be utterly discredited after this election, but by then they will have done their job so it wont matter to them.

  • John Barrett 31st Mar '15 - 11:24am

    Will someone please explain clearly where the £8 billion is coming from?

    The answers given by Nick and Sal have only covered a small part of the total and if we are not raising taxes or cutting spending, like the other parties, we must have a better answer than just saying it will come from a growing economy.

  • Philip Thomas 31st Mar '15 - 11:32am

    @John Barrett
    We are raising taxes and cutting spending.
    IIRC about £8bn supposedly comes from anti-tax avoidance measures- we’re raising some more by a mansion tax-like change in council tax, and so on. As for spending cuts, we’re pledged to cut less than the Tories, but we are still cutting- where exactly I don’t know.

  • @Simon McGrath

    “38 degrees are a Labour front – surely everyone knows that ?”

    While I don’t particularly like everything they do, they are about as much a ‘Labour front’ as Simon McGrath is.

  • Stephen Campbell 31st Mar '15 - 11:46am

    @Simon McGrath: “38 degrees are a Labour front – surely everyone knows that ?”

    The LibDems are now seen by most of the electorate as a Tory front. Surely everyone knows that?

    “38 degrees irrationally hate corporations and can be ignored as timewasters.”

    A very liberal and democratic position to take. Instead of debate and engagement with people who are now involved in politics (as the LibDems used to say they wanted), people in this party now just dismiss groups they don’t agree with.

    “The NHS should be privatised”

    That’s the cute thing about you free-market fundamentalists: much like the Communists of old, you always put your grubby little ideology (and money) before everything, including peoples’ lives.

    Still, at 8% in the polls your strategy is obviously working, eh?

  • Stephen Campbell. I’d always assumed Stimpson was someone on the left’s sock puppet.

  • Simon McGrath 31st Mar '15 - 12:07pm

    – virtually everything they do is aimed at attacking the tories and lib dems and parroting labour lies. The main exception is about the TTIP where they have a fresh set of lies of their own.

  • I suppose it is hopeless to ask for a degree of balance in this manic period of electioneering. 38 Degrees is an organisation that raises petitions on issues that concern any member of the public – anyone! If they start a petition it does require the necessary signatures to be collected to give that petition any chance of being considered by the government.

    They have taken exceptional action on TTIP for they realise that this trade agreement [remember the EU was initially put to we Brits as a trade agreement!] has far wider ramifications than was suspected – and the reason details had been kept secret until 38 Degrees managed to flush them out. The main problem is that US corporations are likely to have wide ranging powers to sue governments for not using their services, rather than public services, and for a whole number of other government actions seen to have reduced these corporations profits – any disputes would be decided by a group of corporate lawyers. In short a corporatists dream.

    So before you condemn 38 Degrees – be certain that you want the giant global corporations controlling all trade both here and worldwide.

    These are the latest developments in their campaign to at least minimise the impact of the deal – with links. Please take the time to read what is the case on TTIP before you allow electioneering mania infect you too!

    “Great news. It looks like the EU is wavering on TTIP – the dodgy EU-US trade deal. Jean-Claude Juncker, who’s due to start a new job as the new EU Commission President, is hinting that ISDS could be removed. That’s the bit of the deal that allows corporations like McDonald’s or Marlboro to sue our government. [1]

    This is one of the worst parts of TTIP – getting rid of it could help us see off the whole deal. But there’s a problem: our government is lobbying to keep it in. [2]

    Right now, we need to show that the UK government isn’t speaking for us, the people of the UK. Thousands of us have already written to the EU to tell them that ISDS should be dropped. And it looks like it’s finally sinking in – so let’s not let our government undo our hard work.

    If enough of us email Juncker directly, we can make sure TTIP is impossible to ignore. He won’t be used to this many ordinary people getting in touch! Can you email him today?

    The deal was locked behind closed doors – only politicians and big businesses were supposed to hear about it. Together, we’ve changed that. We’ve signed petitions, we’ve spread the word about TTIP in our communities and we’ve put it firmly on the agenda of our MEPs. [3] And its paying off.

    As Juncker takes office as the new EU Commission President, we can show him that he can stop hinting – we’ll support him removing ISDS from the deal. If we flood his inbox now, he’ll be left in no doubt that the idea of McDonald’s or Marlboro suing our government is a no go area.

    Please can you email Jean-Claude Juncker right now? There’s already some suggested words, so it’ll only take a minute or two:

    Thanks for being involved,

    India, Nat, Blanche & the 38 Degrees team

    [1] Jean Claude Juncker speech to the European Parliament:
    International Business Times: TTIP and ISDS: The obscure trade clause threatening to tear European politics apart:
    [2] Financial Times: EU States tell Juncker not to water down trade deal:
    [3] TTIP Days of action on Youtube:

  • The Conservative lie of ‘£3000 on tax’ as was shredded comprehensively by the IFS yesterday is more important.

    In the context of The General Election attacking 38 Degrees is a bit like attacking the SNP. It ain’t gonna get most Liberal Democrat candidates anywhere.

    Exposing the CONSERVATIVE LIES on tax could bring Liberal Democrat candidates some votes.

  • An 2 minute example of Corporatism:

  • JohnTilley 31st Mar ’15 – 12:16pm ……The Conservative lie of ‘£3000 on tax’ as was shredded comprehensively by the IFS yesterday is more important……

    I raised that on this thread at 9.51..However, it seems, as with most LDV articles, we don’t mention the Tories.

  • Philip Thomas 31st Mar '15 - 12:55pm

    If 38 degrees are attacking the Tories they must be doing something right.
    OXWAB, Solihull, Watford. The leadership understands we have to fight the Tories at this election. So lets fight the Tories!

  • Philip Thomas 31st Mar '15 - 12:55pm

    (38 degrees are doing something right, not the Tories).

  • Clearly 38 Degrees are the opponent rather than the Tories to at least some of the party.

    “The NHS should be privatised and TTIP welcomed.”

  • George Potter 31st Mar '15 - 1:35pm

    I unsubscribed from 38 Degrees long ago – because their campaigns are so fact free and based on distortions that they could teach the Daily Mail a thing or two.

    This is especially the case on NHS “privatisation” and TTIP.

  • @Bolano – What on earth makes you think poster “Stimpson” is a genuine party member? He/she/it clearly isnt.

  • George Potter 31st Mar '15 - 1:41pm

    And since the same people keep on bringing up the claim that the NHS is threatened by TTIP, here’s the regular reminder that it’s not as all publicy funded healthcare is excluded from TTIP, including any ISDS mechanism:


    And, even if it somehow did become included, then that would be obvious when the final draft of the treaty is published and we could all lobby our MEPs to veto the treaty (as they’ve vetoed previous treaties) based on an actual, confirmed threat rather than an imagined one.

  • George Potter 31st Mar '15 - 1:47pm

    Although, let’s be fair to 38 Degrees, they’re not a Labour front.

    They are, however, apparently dominated by a clique of a very specific type of conspiracy theorist lefties who are the equivalent of their climate change denying right wing counterparts in terms of their willingness to disregard facts in favour of a narrative that reinforces their world view.

    That means that they spend a lot of time criticising the government and both parties in it – some of this is justified and some of it is not. This also means that they’re heavily supported by Labour supporters and that Labour will happily plug their petitions for them, etc.

    But if it was a Labour government they’d undoubtedly criticise them as well though probably in different ways for different things.

    As far as I can tell, 38 Degrees is not dissimilar in mindset to the Daily Mail only from a different perspective.

    Though anyone who thinks that swamping inboxes with thousands of identical emails is a good way to persuade anyone to change their mind is going to find themselves sadly disappointed.

  • expats 31st Mar ’15 – 12:43pm
    ” …….JohnTilley 31st Mar ’15 – 12:16pm ……The Conservative lie of ‘£3000 on tax’ as was shredded comprehensively by the IFS yesterday is more important……
    I raised that on this thread at 9.51..However, it seems, as with most LDV articles, we don’t mention the Tories. ”

    You raised it, but others, for whatever reason, chose to look the other way.
    Is it not interesting that the same people who extol the virtues of coalition in LDV seem incapable or recognising that a group like 38 Degrees might not agree with us on everything but are clearly on our side with many policies?

    Perhaps “anchored in the middle” means stuck with Cameron ?
    If so they should admit that is what they want and stop pretending to be “in the centre”.

  • @MBoy

    I would sincerely hope he/she/it isn’t – but I don’t have any evidence.

  • And since the same people keep on bringing up the claim that the NHS is not threatened by TTIP…

    1) The proof is link is to a media report of leaked document.
    2) The leaked document is not an agreement but a position.
    3) The document does not provide specific protection for the NHS but only for certain kinds of healthcare as determined by their current funding position.
    4) That there is absolutely no proof than the final agreement might honour any healthcare protection.

    and further what is the specific mechanism that will democratically ensure that the British public will be able to decide to protect their NHS?

  • John Roffey 31st Mar '15 - 2:19pm

    George Potter 31st Mar ’15 – 1:41pm

    Thanks for the link George which includes:

    But Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has called for the NHS to be specifically excluded from the deal.
    ‘Real risks’
    She said: “I think this issue has to be put beyond any doubt.
    “Our NHS is not for sale and TTIP must have a clear and explicit exclusion for the National Health Service.”
    The trade union Unite said “real risks” remained because of the dispute resolution mechanism TTIP is expected to include. {resolution disputes resolved by corporate lawyers]
    The union’s Scottish regional secretary, Pat Rafferty said: “Last week Lord Livingston tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the Scottish people.
    “Now this leaked document has confirmed Unite’s expert legal advice, that NHS services in Scotland and the rest of the UK do fall within the scope of the TTIP.

    George can I ask how you are able to state with such certainty the opinions you hold? Are you a member of the group within the EU working on the agreement?

  • Tony Dawson 31st Mar '15 - 6:32pm

    @JohnTilley :

    “The Conservative lie of ‘£3000 on tax’ as was shredded comprehensively by the IFS yesterday is more important.
    ……Exposing the CONSERVATIVE LIES on tax could bring Liberal Democrat candidates some votes.”

    I was dismayed to see some artwork for a leaflet which someone in Lib Dem HQ is trying to ‘sell’ to Lib Dem campaigners up and down the country. Though good in parts, it attacks Labour and does not mention the Conservatives. Bear in mind that most of the seats where they want to ‘sell’ this leaflet are contests between Lib Dems and Tories. The leaflet is available, apparently, from Marat Sade publications.

  • Tony Dawson 31st Mar '15 - 9:00pm

    I have asked 38 Degrees why it has taken them 5 days, so far, to correct the obviously wrong artwork on their Facebook page. Don’t hold your breath?

  • SIMON BANKS 1st Apr '15 - 5:02pm

    The party’s publicity on the £8 billion has been confusing. As I understand it, the pledge is “rising to £8 billion” (annually) “by 2020”, which fits with £2 billion extra in the first year, but it has been quoted as £8 billion annually. A couple of days ago we were finalising leaflet text and had to seek clarification on this.

    38 degrees, though, is clearly behaving like a Labour-supporting newspaper.

  • Chris Burden 1st Apr '15 - 5:45pm

    Does anyone remember the 38 degrees attack on Stephen Williams MP; Bristol West, a couple of weeks ago?
    Calculated lies about his actions re. Tory plans to sell-off of public woodlands, a year or two back, were intended to gee up Labour and Green supporters, and which they duly did.
    I was shocked. I have never before seen such blatant lies, and especially from 38 degrees which I had formerly respected. There was uproar, of course, as people complained about the Whoppers, and 38 degrees grudgingly apologised. It now seems they’ve been pulling the same stunt all over the country.

  • I’m amazed that 38 Degrees have managed to be so busy, because they said that the Lobbying Act would ban them from campaigning. Strangely, it appears to have had little effect on their campaigning. Who could have imagined that they might have been misleading on that?

  • @Chris Burden
    “38 degrees grudgingly apologised”

    You’re right about the “grudgingly” bit; it appears their (partial) apology came after Williams set his lawyers on them.

    However, 38 degrees are still adamant that the leaflets in question were “misleading”, and are still running their petition even though said lawyers have demanded it be taken down.


    Here on LDV a couple of weeks ago, WIlliams claimed that it was Nick Clegg who nixed the sell-off plans, though reports at the time gave all the credit to David Cameron and never even mentioned the Lib Dems. No wonder voters can’t tell who to believe.

  • @Caron Lindsay
    “Everyone makes mistakes. That’s a fact of life. However, when you do, you need to properly acknowledge it and make amends.”

    Have the Lib Dems ever apologised for a dodgy infographic? Such as the one rubbished by C4 FactCheck here :-


    (This was the memorably ludicrous occasion when Nick Clegg plucked the two words “dead weight” from a Labour report and made it sound like Labour had been using it as a pejorative phrase to insult young apprentices, when in fact it is a completely neutral technical term used by economists. I don’t suppose the Lib Dems ever apologised for that, either.)

  • I always thought 38 degrees represented the number of university degrees George Osborne should be required to sit before being allowed to be Chancellor.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Ruth Bright
    What a wonderful idea to show this film for such a cause. It is an unsparing watch....
  • Joe Bourke
    Strictly speaking Inflation relates to an economic situation where an inflated money supply circulating in the economy is chasing a relatively fixed or declinin...
  • Michael BG
    James Fowler, Indeed if the Bank of England held the Bank Rate at 1%, inflation would increase to a higher rate than if they increased it to 2.5%, about 2% h...
  • Mick Taylor
    We really have to get away from the idea that a party that decides not to stand a candidate automatically gifts its party's voters en bloc to other party. Frank...
  • Roland
    @Michael BG >How would the government ensure different prices are charged for energy from different sources? Simply by changing the market rules s...