There is something genuinely stirring about the way that Britain’s online community is rallying to the defence of the NHS, in the face of criticism from our cousins across the pond.
The NHS – much like the BBC – falls into the category of institutions that we grumble about all the time, but only because we love them so much. David Cameron realised this early on in his leadership of the Conservatives, preposterously trying to brand the Tories as "the party of the NHS". But the vast majority of articles, speeches and anecdotes on our health service tend to be more critical than celebratory.
Which is why it is very heartening to see proud British citizens sticking a virtual two-fingers up to the right-wing Americans who, as part of their own mangled debate on the US health care system, characterise the NHS as everything that is wrong with socialised medicine. Gordon and Sarah Brown have been twittering away on this today, and the volume of UK Twitter users brandishing their virtual pitchforks and torches across the Atlantic even managed to crash the networking site yesterday afternoon.
So it’s great that so many people are speaking up for the NHS – an institution that is certainly flawed, but which represents all that is good about modern British history and society.
And now we know that all we need to foster a bit of social cohesion, and that ephemeral Britishness that Gordon Brown has been grasping at, is to get a few American politicians to slag off one of our institutions. If only Gordon had realised this earlier. Now he just needs to get the French to start dissing the Royal Family.