Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Coe’

The right Labour attack on Lansley’s health bill

20/02/2012, 07:00:41 AM

by Jonathan Todd

“The trick is to keep doing outrageous things. There’s no point passing some scandalous piece of legislation and then giving everyone time to get worked up about it. You have to get right in there and top it off with something worse, before the public have had the chance to work out what’s hit them. The thing about the British conscience, you see, is that it really has no more capacity than … a primitive home computer, if you like. It can only hold two or three things in its memory at a time.”

Thus spoke Henry Wilshire, cut-out evil 1980s Tory of Jonathan Coe’s What a Carve Up. And Wilshire was half right. But only when certain conditions hold.

The conditions are that the central principle of the reform enjoys both popular mandate and sympathy.

This brings to mind, not for the first time, the contrasting fortunes of Iain Duncan Smith and Andrew Lansley. The first is at the peak of his career, the second fights for his.

The latter is taking forward legislation that voters did not vote for, while the former is doing broadly what the last Conservative manifesto promised. If we wish the next Labour government to be transformative, our manifesto must, to borrow a supposed Cameroon maxim, seemingly forgotten by Lansley, roll its pitch.

Pitch rolling should connect proposed policy programmes with popular values. Duncan Smith’s core argument is that work should pay more than welfare. This resonates so strongly with popular values that he has reduced much of the public to Wilshire’s 1980s’ home computers.


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