Sunday, March 02, 2008

Straitjacket for Mr Redwood

And the other Tory taxcutters as well. And if someone could stop Gideon from hyperventilating, that would be great.

Andrew Lansley, the shadow health spokesman (at time of going to press) has committed the Tories to increasing spending on the NHS – even as some Tories slate the government for additional spending. He’s promised up to £28 billion to get spending up to 11% of GDP. As Hopi Sen puts it – there’s nothing like testing your leader’s pledge of job security to destruction, is there?

Unfortunately, he doesn’t explain how this will be funded – not his problem. Squaring that particular circle – feeding the red meat of tax cuts and state reduction to the Tory loyalists like Redwood, while delivering this proposal looks ludicrous. Even maintaining Labour’s spending promises wouldn’t cover the cost. All this means is that either Gideon has to start axing things on a wholesale basis, borrow more or tax more. None of those are attractive options for a politician, but I can’t see Osborne doing either of the last two.

While this is clearly a calculated attempt to fill the yawning gulf between Labour and the Tories over the NHS, Mr Lansley has just declared open season on Gorgeous George Osborne. Every promise or comment he makes for the next few years will be measured against this commitment and he’ll be asked how he proposes to afford it.

Of course, this could just be another of those headline-grabbing gimmicks that won’t be borne out by their next manifesto.

The new-found Conservative love for the NHS wasn’t borne out by Lord Mancroft, who swiftly rose to his feet and used parliamentary privilege to slam the nurses who had treated him in the Royal United Hospital in Bath, simultaneously destroying Lansley's work earlier in the week,
"The nurses who looked after me were mostly grubby - we are talking about dirty fingernails and hair - and were slipshod and lazy. Worst of all, they were drunken and promiscuous.”
I don’t have rose-tinted glasses and I accept that not every nurse rises to the highest professional standards, but this is a gross generalisation about nurses - or perhaps he spends too much time watching telly. Of course, the noble Lord has lived a life of purity and ascetism. Curiously, the Telegraph profile and his Wikipedia page both fail to mention his time spent as a drug addict and the time he spent in the US getting clean. While I would commend m'lord Mancroft for taking the opportunity to sort his life out, he would do well to remember that not everyone has his privilege or opportunity. The nurses I know are normal human beings with normal failings, but they do their best at work.

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