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Editorial Sunday 16 October 2016: The Incredible Shrinking Imperial Phase and "the NHS's own plans for itself"

The Imperial Phase in 10 Downing Street just keeps getting shorter.

Tony Blair's lasted just over a Parliament (though he won another general election after the Iraq war).

Gordon Brown had a honeymoon period, which ended when he bottled the mooted early general election in 2007 (ironically, Theresa May accused him of running scared), and after the global financial crisis - which he handled well - he lost the overspending narrative to George Osborne and David Cameron.

David Cameron successfully (if wrongly) made the charge of overspending stick on Gordon Brown and Labour - yet failed to win a majority against him in 2010.

When Mr Cameron did win his majority in May 2015, his imperial period lasted just a year - until the EU advisory referendum.

Looking at that acceleration, it seems as if government borrowing in the wake of the global financial crisis warded off an economic depression, but caused a political depression instead.

Politics has always moved fast, but it was interesting to see the experienced and informed Conservative commentator Bruce Anderson writing for Iain Martin's new Reaction website on Mrs May's deficiencies.

Tellingly, given yesterday's HPI piece, Anderson writes of Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill "rudeness from senior spads (to ministers) is not only an unaesthetic way to run a government; it is a foolish one. It adds to strain, as if government were not stressful enough already. It also builds up resentments. That leads to leaks and disaffection."

Even more interesting is to see the Political Betting website outlining Mrs May's lack of a Willie (as in Whitelaw, the essential emollience grise to Mrs Thatcher).

Mrs May has now been Prime Minister for three months.

I reflected yesterday on what I think are Simon Stevens' hearty hints about major service change in our last interview.

Mrs May's reshuffle and conference speech were at pains to put clear and perhaps Blue water between the Cameron Era and hers. There is one striking continuity of phrase, though: she has kept to the Cameron/Osborne line about the Five-Year Forward View being "the NHS's own plans for itself".

The fictional extra £10 billion funding
The Sustainability and Transformation Plans currently being finalised, with comms reference to NHS England, follow directly from "the NHS' own plans for itself", which the Government is funding with "an extra £10 billion" whichisn'treally £10 billion.

Imagine the Government's potential discomfort if STPs start To Mean Things for NHS services in their marginal constituencies.

The 2012 Health And Social Care Act disestablished and denationalised the NHS: now it makes plans for itself, such as STPs. We will soon see whether Mrs May and her party like what they legislated.