Two days after suffering a terrible performance in the local elections, and losing the Alternative Vote referendum, Nick Clegg is showing us he cares about the NHS. Really cares. Enough to play the veto card, which he must have misplaced as he reneged on his promise over tuition fees. Frankly, I’m embarrassed for him. No one likes a politician who is so transparent you can see straight through them.
Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show this morning the Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime Minister said that he will veto the Government’s planned NHS reforms, put forward by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, unless there are “substantial, significant changes”. If those are not forth coming he will tell his depressed band of Liberal Democrat MPs and peers to vote them down.
“”This is a not a cosmetic exercise. There will be substantial and significant changes to the legislation. As far as government legislation is concerned, no bill is better than a bad one and I want to get that right.
“Protecting the NHS, rather than undermining it, is now my number one priority. I am not going to ask Liberal Democrat MPs and peers to proceed with legislation on something as precious and cherished – particularly for Liberal Democrats – as the NHS unless I personally am satisfied that what these changes do is an evolutionary change in the NHS and not a disruptive revolution.
“A lot of people have said to me – and I basically think they’re right – ‘You’re going too fast, you’re trying to meet artificial deadlines, you’re forcing GPs to take on commissioning roles when they don’t want to or aren’t able to.'”
He thinks they are basically right? Of course, as we all know Clegg signed the NHS White Paper. And now he has reservations. Yes Mr Clegg we can still see through you.
It is amazing how the loss of of more than 700 English councillors and most of your support in Scotland will help you find your voice. Clegg admitted “there were lessons to be learnt” and showing himself to be master of understatement said that he accepted “that there is real pressure on us to explain to our traditional voters why we are doing this and why it is good for the country”. Good luck with that.
It isn’t only Clegg Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes told the BBC Politics Show there should be “no privatisation at all” of the NHS. And before you can say coalition partner up pops Defence Secretary Liam Fox. He said what Hughes said was “as wrong as [saying] all provision should be in the private sector”.
There is a complete disconnect here. Clegg & Co are now saying one thing and the Tories another. The fundamental problem seems fairly clear. They simply don’t agree. How do you solve a problem like that?