Thursday, 31 December 2009

Underground Medecin

Another story that hasn't really got the attention it deserves is the news that David Cameron recently had a private meeting with Nurses for Reform, who, despite their cuddly sounding name don't actually appear to be nurses* or 'for reform' unless by reforming the NHS you mean completely dismantling it. But then "libertarians and public affairs consultants/healthcare companies for wholesale privatisation of the NHS" doesn't have quite the same voter-appeal, does it?

As Cameron says, he has meetings with many groups, but if he's meeting a group like this then there are only a couple of likely explanations. Either someone (one of the shadow Health team?) has already met them, liked what they heard and lobbied to get them a meeting with the party leader. Or they've been sought out by Cameron's team because what they're saying adds a bit of "healthcare expert" credibility to what the Tories want to say, in a particularly voter-friendly way, being nurses and all that. Or there are personal connections in play, i.e. a friend of a friend. Whatever the explanation is, we ought to be taking this as a very serious sign of where Cameron's sympathies lie.

*Their media spokesperson is an ex-nurse. This is her Twitter feed. I will leave you with a quote: "the only way forward is for less Government regulation and more market forces and self-regulation"... [for hospitals].

Actually no, I won't leave you with that. I will insist you read her blog for the Adam Smith Institute, with recommendations for the 'micropolitics of the hospital privatisation, starting with the suggestion that "in the post-bureaucratic age" the Secretary of State for Health should no longer have any say in when or where hospitals are built, opened or closed. (NB the Secretary of State is not a bureaucrat. He's a democratically-elected politician. Who has been elected, inter alia, to protect and preserve our National Health Service). The stuff on locally-negotiated pay (for which read a race to the bottom on pay, terms and conditions, and training) is dynamite too. Cameron should publicly move to dissociate himself from this agenda now.


Byrnetofferings said...

Complete scaremongering tosh.

MTPT said...

Let's take this step by step.

You offer a couple of selected routes to a meeting with a party leader (any party leader, if you're honest) then editorialise that:

"Whatever the explanation is, we ought to be taking this as a very serious sign of where Cameron's sympathies lie."

If David Cameron meets with a trade unionist, should we take that as a sign of his sympathies? Or a foreigner? Or someone from a non-Christian faith? On your logic, if Cameron takes a meeting with a prominent French trade union leader who is a Muslim, the leader of HM Opposition is planning a change in political orientation, followed by emigration and conversion.

Brings a whole new dimension to the "Non-dom" issue.

If you've something other than assertion to back up the claims, I suspect it would have been published elsewhere before now.

Next we're asked to get very excited that Nurses for Reform would like to take the politicians out of the equation.

Let's skip over the trite observations that elected politicians generally get very excited when anyone suggests they aren't the best people for the job, and that if we happened to be any of the many non-Westminster-style representative democracies, the "... democratically-elected politician" would not be in that position to start with; an appointed bureaucrat would be

Since Cameron has already said he wants to depoliticize the NHS, and balloons have been floated about a BBC Governors/Trust style arrangement, it's a little late to be asking people to get excited about the views of a group Cameron took a meeting with.