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Editor's blog Wednesday 2 March 2011: Liberation theology hits science; resistible force, meet immovable object

The U-turn that could mirror the U-bend for Our Saviour And Liberator Lansley's political career has just been executed.

There is not going to be any maximum price-setting to facilitiate price competition. The Health And Social Care Bill will be amended.

It is fitting that a clear confirmation comes from the best health journalist in the business, Nick Timmins of the Financial Times. I make it a point of principle not ever to agree with marketing slogans; but even I would have to accept that we are indeed living in financial times.

At least we are no longer living in politically insane times, as regards this key aspect of health policy.

This will of course never be presented by Our Saviour's minders and PRs as a U-turn.

But it is; it is a significant and welcome U-turn.

So. What did Our Saviour And Liberator tell Timmins that those people who realised that a maximum price-setting plus official competophilia meant price competition?

You guessed it: we were "simply wrong ... these amendments will put our intentions beyond doubt".

SOS Lansley reportedly told a meeting today, “There are individual circumstances where we would vary from tariff for good reasons, but ... (I want to see) regulated prices in the NHS, rather than prices determined by competition”.

This will create interesting dynamic tensions with a regulator who (sometimes) thinks the NHS is just another pre-privatisation utlility and a Prime Minister who professes competition doctrine as an absolute.

These dynamic tensions will cause problems. There will be push-and-pull across the Coalition.

And Mr Lansley is amending a key aspect of his own Bill.

SOS Lansley's opening concept was Liberation Ltd. Today, it's looking more like liberation, limited.

Grammar and punctuation matter a lot, but politics matter more. This represents a significant political defeat.