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Editor’s blog Monday 4 October 2010: Chancellor George Osborne's speech - the health bits

Restoration-faced Chancellor George Osborne's speech to the Conservative Party conference this morning got possibly the shortest standing ovation I've ever seen from a major cabinet figure.

I've filleted the health-relevant stuff below. Channel 4 News economics correspondent Faisal Islam rightly tweeted that "Osborne pins maintaining the NHS budget on David Cameron".

Osborne keeps up the simplistic 'Labour governments always run out of money' rhetoric, but then (describing has plan to keep the tax on banks) bashed them for their part in the "mess they helped to create". Does he believe six impossible things before breakfast, like the White Queen in Alice In Wonderland, do you think?

Oh, and he's not a Marxist-collectivist, in case you were wondering. He told the conference that he believes in capitalism and entrepreneurialism. It's a funny old Conservative party when he has to say that out loud.

Extracts from Osborne's speech follow.

"We are already paying £120m of interest every single day thanks to the last Labour government. Millions of pounds every day that goes to the foreign governments we owe so they can build the schools and hospitals for their own citizens that we aren't able to afford for ours. How dare Labour call that protecting the poor?"


"Our opponents say I've got an ideological plan; that this whole exercise reflects a particular view of the state. I have to tell you: they're right. I do have a particular view of the state.

"I believe in public services. That modern government exists not just to provide resolute security at home and abroad, but also to provide the best in education and healthcare, and support for the Big Society. This is at the heart of my one nation conservatism. And I believe in fairness. That our country is stronger when there is opportunity for all, when effort is rewarded, help is given to those in need; that poverty scars us all and that the vulnerable deserve our protection.

"I also believe that all this is only possible in an aspirational economy. An entrepreneurial economy ... a capitalist economy. Public Services. Fairness. Aspiration. These values will run through everything we do.

"But if we are going to succeed in living by these values, we need to understand some straightforward truths. The first truth is that unless we reform our public services, they will decline. We saw over the last ten years that more money without reform was a recipe for failure. Less money without reform would be worse.

"That is why we've embarked on major improvements to education, health and policing. Changing the way these services work is no longer a luxury - it has become a necessity. Across the public sector, we will squeeze every last penny we can find out of waste and bureaucracy. Ministers have taken a salary cut, and the number of MPs will be reduced. Every Department will cut its admin costs by over a third. And as for the pointless quangos, the poorly negotiated PFI deals, the target chasing, the peace pods and the contemplation suites.
All that Labour nonsense will go.

"But I have to tell you this: even if we manage to become the most efficient government in history, it won't be enough. Because our public services were designed for the 1950s, controlled from the centre, delivered only by government, with no choice for the families who use them. Unreformed, they simply cannot respond to the needs and expectations of today. There are millions of hard working, talented and creative people who have dedicated their careers to our public services. We must liberate them to be all that they can be.

"That's the thinking behind Michael Gove's free schools programme. It lies behind Theresa May's reforms to the police; and behind Andrew Lansley's reforms of the NHS.

"Let me take on this argument about the NHS that I sometimes hear. Some people say I was wrong to protect the budget of the NHS from spending cuts. Others say protect the budget of the NHS; just don't reform it. But at a time of an ageing population and when the cost of medicine is rising, we know that without both reform and resources the heath service will get worse. And I didn't come into politics to see that happen.

"David Cameron stood on a platform like this four years ago and said to the British people that his priorities could be summed up in three letters: NHS. We will deliver on his promise".


"We've been working together on the biggest reform of the welfare system since that great liberal William Beveridge".


"We will give priority to spending that supports growth in our economy. That means investment in the transport schemes, the medical research and the communications networks that deliver the greatest economic benefit".