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Editor’s blog Monday 4 October 2010: Conservative activists put Liberatin' Lansley at Number 10

According to this poll by Conservative Home website, reported in The Independent, 1,727 Conservative Party members' net satisfaction with the performance of Health Secretary Andrew 'The Liberator' Lansley is at 54%, putting him at Number 10 among Cabinet Ministers.

The good news is that this is an improvement from his ranking in May, when the same kind of polling put him sixteenth.

Lansley and his plan will be under greater scrutiny this week, as more responses to the White Paper emerge. The doctors have scarcely given resounding support for the White Paper, with particular unenthusiasm from GPs who must make it work.

Which just might be a problem.

The Royal College of Nursing's response is equivocal, stating that while members welcome "focus on outcomes, choice, patient involvement, professional freedom and removal of unnecessary bureaucracy. In a survey of its members the overwhelming majority agree with the principles of patient-centred care (85 per cent) and greater freedoms to staff (79 per cent) in the White Paper. However, just one in five (20 per cent) agreed the White Paper proposals will result in better care for patients". It also warns that the proposals are untested, and risk fragmenting services. Oh, and predictably, there was criticism because it didn't mention nursing.

In a richly-illuminated psalter of Things That Are Not Surprising, Unison think the White Paper is all a bit of a disaster. The BBC reports that the union also calls its proposals "untested", destabilising (which is the point, chaps) and reiterates that the changes were not in the manifestos - Conservatives specifically promised no top-down reorganisation. I'd link to Unison's response, but it's not online that I can find.

Unison are, of course, currently moving ahead with their legal challenge to the White Paper on the grounds of lack of public consultation. The hearing is set for 13 and 14 October.

Their chances of success seem slim. They do have a point about the lack of public consultation; but the government has a mandate and will argue that the White Paper constituted a consultation. (If anyone can prove the rumoured two-week period for the government response to White Paper responses is true, that would strengthen Unison's case). More to the point, it seems unlikely that judges will want to pick a fight with so new a government.

Not impossible, mind you. Just unlikely.