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].