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Obama, Orwell and the NHS

Why the American right gets it wrong on two counts

George Orwell

Attempts by the American right to undermine Barack Obama's proposed health-care reforms by circulating bizarre statistical inaccuracies about the National Health Service have been roundly condemned. But it's not just the conservative campaigners' facts that miss the mark; their rhetoric, which denounces the NHS as an "Orwellian" piece of state machinery, is also suspect. Here is a feature from last week's Times Literary Supplement about the uses and abuses of the term. Hardly a day passes, writes Richard Vinen, "when some politician or journalist does not denounce something or other as 'Orwellian', a word that Orwell would have hated".