The rumour mill of the Westminster Village has it that the terms of this full coalition mean that there will be a Liberal Democrat minister in every department.
So will Norman Lamb get a post at health? He is the logical choice. He has been a good messenger for his party’s health policy, and understands the issues.
He should get a post. The interesting next question will be to see what portfolio is given to a Lib Dem health minister.
Lamb to the slaughter?
You could construct a nasty little one, full of renegotiating the GP contract, NHS IT, reconfiguration – leaving cuddlier work for the Tory junior ministers.
You could … but it would be unwise. If this coalition is to hold together (and there are left-leaning Liberal Democrats who will not want it to – Lamb is not among them, on past form), it will require genuine partnership in pain.
The sounds like a membership society for masochists (a mutual, of course) – which is exactly what the government is going to have to be if there is a realistic chance of getting deficit reduction.
John Kay pens a characteristically thoughtful piece in today’s FT. Kay concludes (as we at Health Policy Insight have done since launching in 2008) that tax will have to rise, if the lack of popular appetite for reductions in public services remains.
Tax rises clearly lie ahead once the books are opened and everything is discovered to be much, much worse than feared. What remains unclear is whether this coalition will have the confidence to sit down with the big public sector trades unions and say, ‘right, chaps – job cuts or wage cuts?’ UPDATE: It's getting closer to home again: Ireland started pay pain last year; now Spain is at it.
And in the light of our new interview with Cabinet Office comms maestro Matt Tee, the real pink paper’s splendid Nick Timmins reports on the crucial role for the Cabinet Office in midwifery to the coalition.
The future isn’t what it used to be.
We shall see whether this is a new politics or a shotgun marriage of convenience, once the honeymoon ends.
And as honeymoons go, the Lib-Con coalition’s is going to seem more like a weekend break than three weeks in Paradise
Have a good day.