The NHS is a lightning rod issue….
In the course of any government you get issues that act as a lightning rod for wider discontent. Look at Iraq; yes, people were agitated by the issue but it was also symptom of a wider discontent with Blair’s style of government. The complete fabrication over Weapons of Mass Destruction was the epitome of the spin over substance that slowly hollowed-out Labour in government out from the inside-out. This is why it finished Blair, to be brutal.
So it is with the NHS and this government. It’s quite right that people are concerned and lacking trust when it comes to the governments handling of what many across the political spectrum regard as a national treasure, it’s also symptomatic of wider discontent over the cuts. The real problem for Clegg and Cameron is that even if major concessions do now follow, given this, its likely to the beginning of serious and widespread resistance to their whole economic program. In other words, it could become the significant victory that is needed to give the anti-cuts movement momentum and much wider traction.
Norman Lamb’s concern that the changes are too ‘risky’ and too much too soon pretty much sums up what people feel about the governments economic strategy. As the bad data keeps rolling-in and people become increasingly more desperate this will move from being jitters to open rebellion. So, if Clegg did authorise his outburst then, yet again, this is a fantastically short-sighted gambit by somebody whose political myopia seems to know no bounds. In fact, it’s another example of his visceral opportunism; not of genuine conviction. Clegg’s bible, the Orange Book, actually goes much further than these proposals so how he can justifiably claim he is against them is totally beyond me. Obviously, he thinks it will benefit the Liberal Democrats electorally in the short-term, on May 5th, but the chances are it wont and in the longer-term it will lead to the rolling back of the governments entire strategy.
Normally, the level of individual rebellion by prominent figures we are seeing in this government would be associated with the decaying; fag-end stages of a government which has been in office for a good deal longer than this one has. I hope these proposals are stopped, not just because they are wrong, but if they are it will hasten the end of this governments entire economic strategy.