Editor's blog Friday 23 October 2009: Lansley in the firing line - of his own guns, as Tory discontent goes public
Hello. Son and heir's birthday today, so this is a quickie and the full report from yesterday's engaging NHS Confederation seminar will have to wait.
But this feature by Conservative MP Michael Fallon in today's Telegraph requires brief comment. It is a standard and silly recapping of the idea that the NHS doesn't really need management and that clinicians should be given £110 billion of public money a year to spend as they wish, under the guise of asking what SHAs are for (when the really interesting question would be 'what are SHAs against?'). Most of it is not interesting.
What is interesting is his pay-off line: "The real questions are for the Conservative shadow health secretary: Andrew Lansley, are you listening?".
This comes off the back of very widespread mutterings from many on the Conservative benches during the recent party conference. Jeremy Hunt's name was being mentioned as "a good chap for health".
Fallon's constituency is Sevenoaks in Kent, where the Tory vote is not so much counted as weighed. He was previously MP for Darlington, until Alan 'Milly' Milburn took the seat in 1992. He is on the right of the Party, and a member of executive of the 1922 Committee. You can find out about his voting record here.
W B Yeats' poem 'The Second Coming'
I've already written before about how Lansley won't be the next health secretary. Some of it was faceitious, but increasingly, the 'worries' about Lansley's various unguarded comments are seeming to gain traction.
Lansley is not the Conservative Party's problem when it comes to the NHS. The problem is that Cameron (through personal experience) and his Cameroons have become what seems to be genuinely committed to a tax-funded, free-at-point-of-need NHS. Yet a significant part of his party does not share his conviction.
Can the Conservative centre hold its line on the NHS as pressure ratchets up with the general election no real distance away?
'The Second Coming' W B Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?