Today the passing of the Health Bill through the House of Commons has brought out another version of that insult - a version introduced by the original bigoted Welsh windbag:
No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.
Well down here with the rats, life is good. At long last we are seeing the great monoliths of British socialism - a sclerotic health system, a school system that fails the poor and a planning system that favours the rich - gradually moved aside in favour of the patient, the parent and the worker.
You see Nye Bevan was wrong. Comprehensively wrong about almost everything. But this did not matter as this man could wallow in ignorance and bigotry, could opt for the insult above the evidence and could paint his opponents as evil. And his Party loved him for it. Loved him for his insults, for his uncompromising hatred of not just the Conservative Party but of Conservatives.
Men like Bevan set the tone for the manner in which Socialists debate - not just the 'lower then vermin' gibe but the genesis for "Tory scum, here we come". All this ferocious insult mixed in with hyperbolic predictions of gloom and despondency - or what the layman might term "outright lies".
The Health Bill is taking a small step - putting the tiniest of tippy-toes into the waters of freedom. Moving us a small way - not enough but a start - towards a public health service that actually serves the public well. A service that isn't hung up on the financial interests of doctors, that doesn't prosecute a New Puritan 'nanny knows best' approach and which focuses on the basic care and medical support that the public want.
And, yes, that might mean some competition. It might mean that GPs no longer had a local monopoly but must compete a little with eachother. It might mean that some treatments, operations and interventions are provided by the private sector (as an aside it seems odd that the left are so supportive of private sector abortions while steadfastly opposing private sector hernia operations). And it might mean that the numbing, duplicating, obsessive and incompetent bureaucracy that is the dominant feature of "Our NHS" begins to go. Replaced, I hope, with some customer service and maybe, just maybe, a smile or two.
I sat in a meeting at which the health reforms were discussed. Not one person there mentioned how to improve the patient experience - instead it was the same old discussion about who was chair of this and chief executive of that, how to manage and organise the process so as to sustain the same old faces round the same old tables. I came away profoundly depressed - this is the NHS that the Labour Party (and the truly awful Dr Evan Harris) want to "save". A place of favours and fixes, of discussions in closed rooms and of make-believe boards with no real power that discuss matters of no real moment.
If I'm 'lower than vermin' for wanting a public health service that responds quickly to patient needs, that presents choice where choice is right, that is accessible and flexible and that stretches the value from that inevitably limited public purse as far as it will go, then so be it. I'll get down with the rats and make sure ordinary people stand a fighting chance of getting an accountable, efficient and effective NHS.
The changes that might be coming - there's a while to go yet before they're law - aren't enough. But they are a welcome start. And I hope we will start now calling for it really to be "Our NHS" not an NHS owned and controlled by the bureaucrats and the medical mafia (including their big pals in the drugs industry).
Lower than vermin I might be. But it's good down here where real people live real lives and want a decent health service from the government they pay so richly from their meagre earnings.