Thursday, 15 March 2012


Lord help me, quoting Simon Carr twice in two days. What is to become of me? Nevertheless, the Independent's somewhat fuzzy commentator reports on PMQs with Nick Clegg yesterday and notes the following:

'The most revealing exchange suggested that Labour may be losing the argument on the Health Bill. Clegg gave her three bite-sized facts to chew on: 1) Labour was wanting to spend less on the NHS than the Coalition. 2) Sweetheart deals with the private sector were now illegal. 3) There was a new statutory duty to reduce health inequalities.'

Absolutely, Simon. Labour is utterly exposed on the NHS Bill for all these reasons and more, including the simple fact that they did more than any other government to bring private enterprise into the NHS, normally at the expense of existing services. Sadly no one has yet gone in with the proverbial stiletto to finish them off. Add to that the fact that Lib Dem histrionics on this Bill are neither helping the coalition nor the party and you've got a clear field currently being left for Labour which we should own as the party which has played with a straight bat on this throughout.

Carr ends by speculating that the coalition may be more solid than people think and may persist after 2015. That's a big claim to make on the back of a single PMQs and it will strike terror into the hearts of both Tories and Lib Dems. For Lib Dems with a knowledge of our history, memories of the post-1918 coalition governments may cause them to shudder a little [Google it if you want to know more: if I attempt a summary here I will be hauled up for getting the building in which a deal was struck or the pen used wrong].

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


Simon Carr in the Independent is a bit too frothy for my liking but his commentary on the NHS debate yesterday contains one telling paragraph:

'Labour was castigated, though probably not chastised. Oh, the things they did in government. The practice-based commissioning. The private treatment centres. The £67 billion of private money debt. The £12bn private IT system. And the franchising out of a hospital that Lansley is being vilified for. "The only secret Tory plan they find is a Labour plan," he yelled. For all the fury, maybe there is a secret consensus underneath it all.'

I know this is just a light-hearted dig at politicians in general but it nicely encapsulates the double standards of the Labour Party, which introduced GP commissioning and greater competition into the NHS, often at the expense of existing NHS providers. I wonder what Andy Burnham would say to this. You get the feeling he would cheerfully blame the Tories for the Iraq War if he was asked to.

Saturday, 10 March 2012


There is an excellent article from Tim Farron in the Grauniad in which he defends our record in government and calls on Lib Dems to have a bit more pride in our achievements. The fact that we are delivering on lowering tax for the lowest paid, putting more money into schools and - something which has been forgotten - 'kicking the decision on Trident into the long grass' is mentioned by Farron. He also mentions the little fact of the disastrous war in Iraq which any Labour politician in government at the time must wear like an albatross around their neck.

The bit that matters most is the attack on Labour's Andy Burnham for his dishonest attacks on the NHS Bill on the basis that he opposes 'NHS privatisation'. Putting aside the fact that the bill is not privatisation, Tim Farron comments on Labour's 2006 NHS Act which, er, introduced private competition and, as Farron points out, led directly to the privatisation of two practices in his constituency. As I've said before, shame on Labour for this attack.

Andrew Grice in the Independent says today that we are still in the game, which is nice given that he has been one of many seeking to dismiss us in the past. He also reports a lovely moment: following an attack on the Lib Dems by rabid Tory Nadine Dorries, someone at LD HQ sent her flowers to thank her for helping differentiate us from them.

If you're in two minds about the Lib Dems or if you have simply decided to follow the headlines and damn us for being in government, can I urge you to pause and reflect on articles like this one. As Tim Farron says, we have achieved more in the last 2 years than we did in the last 60. Your taxes are lower thanks to us; the replacement of an obsolete nuclear weapon with another obsolete nuclear weapon is less likely; proposals for reforms to the NHS to save everyone money and improve care have been decontaminated by us; the poorest schoolchildren have got more funding from government to help them to succeed; the Tories have been reined in by a muscular approach to coalition from the LDs.

And we haven't invaded any Middle Eastern countries for oil.

I will always dislike the Tories but the coalition was and remains the right choice and I respect our MPs for their forbearance in the face of horrible pressure.