Saturday, April 09, 2011


What a Difference a Year Makes

The Coalition has come a long way since May last year but I suspect is not in quite the place its progenitors might have hoped when they exchanged rings in Number Ten's garden. I thought John Sergeant spoke for the whole nation on Any Questions today on the topic of the NHS when he described the policy as a 'complete mess'. He pointed out that Cameron had promised to 'ring fence' NHS spending and not to undertake any major restructuring. However a series of 4% annual savings are being imposed together with the most ambitious structural reform since 1948. Moreover, the NHS currently enjoys its highest ever satisfaction ratings so nobody really knows what the real critique is which justifies such gratuitous turbulence and harm. 'No wonder the policy has not won support' said the BBC man to storms of applause.

Kenneth Clarke has now now criticised Cameron for usurping his Health secretary's role as leader of the NHS reform package and it has been noted that Cameron is gaining a reputation for 'abandoning' ministers with difficult policies and briefing against them when they struggle. Clarke's own opposition to Cameron's plan to jail anyone caught in possession of a knife; Caroline Spelman's disastrous forest sales is another; and Lady Warsi's contention in January that Islamophobia had 'passed the dining-table test' of acceptability.

In her piece today Polly Toynbee notes that:

After the "budget for growth", Ipsos Mori's poll shows attitudes shifting: 45% say Osborne is not doing a good job, only 36% satisfied. Labour is catching up on who has the best economic polices, at 28% compared with the Tories' 31%. Balls level-pegs as best chancellor at 36% to Osborne's 35%. Few think the private sector will make up for public job losses. Few think "we're all in this together", with 71% saying the poorest are hardest hit. A majority now think such deep cuts are too high a price for paying off the deficit – 48% to 41%, while 70% say the cuts are too fast. This is a rapid turnaround.

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