Posts Tagged ‘NHS bill’

In reality, the Lansley “reforms” have not been paused

09/05/2011, 05:00:40 PM

by Jonathan Todd

Pause, listen, reflect and improve”. That’s what David Cameron and Nick Clegg said they were going to do on the NHS bill. Most people know what these words mean. Cameron and Clegg don’t seem to, though.

The only thing that Clegg now reflects upon is how he can shore up his position as Liberal Democrat leader. With Chris Huhne and Tim Farron, two would-be assassins, both playing to his party’s gallery, he has reason to be worried. He sees the NHS as he now sees everything else: through the prism of his anxiety. For the NHS to relieve this, he needs to come to be seen as the man who saved it. The restorer of sanity subsequent to the Andrew Lansley-induced madness.

He wants “substantial, significant changes” to Lansley’s proposals. But the extraction of compromises is the least of the barriers standing in the way of him being re-born as Mr. NHS. He needs to explain away no Liberal Democrat MP voting against the bill at either first or second reading. Perhaps his MPs followed their whip because they thought the whole thing a Liberal Democrat idea. After all, that’s what Clegg argued not so long ago and, as John Redwood reminded Today listeners, the proposals are consistent with the Liberal Democrat manifesto.

Having broken promises on tuition fees and the depth and speed of cuts, Clegg’s attempt to reposition himself on the NHS bill is supremely opportunistic. Labour needs to expose this manoeuvre for the shallow gesture that it is. Only we have consistently opposed this bill and advocated workable reform in the NHS. The Liberal Democrats must not be allowed to steal our clothes.


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