Saturday, 15 August 2009

Tory eccentrics

Hearing Cameron dismiss one of his MEPs as 'eccentric' had echoes of John Major's comment that whenever the names of certain of his own backbenchers were mentioned, he heard 'the flapping of white coats'. Cameron, like Major, has been seriously embarrassed by comments made by someone on his own side. I suspect that, again like Major, he will have difficulty in controlling the individual concerned.

He's worked hard to try and give the impression that the NHS would be safe in his hands, but lingering doubts remain in the minds of many of us. Not so much because of what Cameron himself actually says, but because of two other factors.

Firstly, history - what they are saying officially now is at odds with what they've said and done in the past. They did after all attempt to get the NHS to run on the basis of an internal market, a change which Edwina Hart is only now, belatedly, starting to unravel in Wales, and which remains in operation in England.

The second is probably more important - it's always been clear that there is a sizeable group of people within the Conservative Party who simply do not accept the principle of the NHS. They haven't gone away under Cameron; they've merely been persuaded to bite their tongues - until now.

Of course Cameron wants to give the impression that Hannan is a maverick, an eccentric - it's a natural reaction when he sees his carefully laid strategy being very publicly unpicked. But Hannan has merely expressed publicly, and in graphic terms, what I suspect a number of his party colleagues also think. The unanswered question is how many of them think like Hannan - and how much influence would that school of thought have on a Cameron government?


Anonymous said...

I don't like this tactic by Cameron of calling Hannan eccentric or maverick. Plaid did this during the Cymuned busines since 2001 and it's not nice and I believe rude.

There is nothing maverick nor eccentric in Hannan pronouncements. They're just a different political view. That's all Cameron need to do is say that Hannan's view is a minority view not the party's.

I undestand Cameron's predicament but although I don't agree with Hannan I don't either believe that the NHS is beyond criticism. Do we always have to fall into this trap that any view contrary to Labour dogma on the NHS is heretical? There is a debate to be had - which the most thoughtful in Labour understand. The NHS suffers too much from being an 'icon' 'national treasure' 'best in the world'. It's just a health service, its job is to make people healthier. That's all. It's a service and we control that service. It's right then that people can suggest ways of improving it.

Massive questions face the NHS because of availability of information, treatment abroad, demography and cash. Don't fall into the Labour trap of believing that the NHS is beyond approach.

I don't agree with Hannan and I believe his comments belie a person from a more privelleged background who knows, if push came to shove he could get a private service somewhere or somehow - that's not an option to most. But he's not a maverick nor eccentric nor anything else. He's someone with a different point of view and at least is willing to say that.

Plaid go on about the need for honest politicians. But when people were honest during the Simon Glyn affair Plaid slandered them, called them 'silly', 'mavericks, extremist etc. It wasn't nice. It belittled politics.

John Dixon said...

I wouldn't argue that the NHS is beyond reproach or criticism. However, what people like Hannan are criticising isn't the delivery of services, nor the bureaucracy / management / target culture of the organisation, nor whether it's providing the right services in the right way in the right locations. What they are attacking is the fundamental principle of health care being available without payment at the point of need.

Anonymous said...

you're right John, but that's not Maverick nor eccentric, it's just a valid point of view (albeit a minority one).

John Dixon said...

Fair comment. But it wasn't me who said that he was maverick or eccentric - that's the way Cameron has tried to portray him. I suspect he's closer to the real heart of his party than is Cameron.