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Editor’s blog Thursday 9 September 2010: Is Lansley to be Supreme Liberator for life (of the Coalition)?

Today’s Independent leaks Deputy PM Nick Clegg’s speech today to the Institute For Government, in which the Lib Dems’ romantic lead is to promise to give ministers “time to develop”.

Don’t you love reporting on the future? It’s like doing the horoscope.

Clegg thus raises the fascinating question of whether the NHS is in for four more years of Liberator Lansley (based on the assumption that the Coalition holds together following the probable loss of the Lib Dem-supported AV referendum next year).

Some want to see this happen. Health Service Journal editor Alastair MacLellan called for such an eventuality to be guaranteed in this editorial in May.

The best guess as to Liberatin’ Lansley’s likely tenure is obvious: as the White paper goes, so goes he. UNISON’s attempt at judicial review of the White Paper’s proposals is a bold challenge, but on the balance of probability, the courts may struggle to justify halting the plans of a coalition of democraticvally elected politicians that has formed a government.

Politics is always the art of the unexpected: Harold Wilson’s dictum that a week is a long time in politics remains a truism. Lansley’s mastery of detail is the mark of the civil servant he started as, becoming Norman Tebbit’s PPS (Lansley told the BBC in 2001 that Tebbit is his political hero).

His gaffes before and during office (blurting out the end of NHS Direct just the latest) amplify the sense given around the late launch of his White Paper that as a politician, he’s woinderfully good on detail and smart on operational matters.

He’s simply not very good at politics.