Liberal Democrat leadership U turn to support NHS?

I mentioned the Liberal Democrats and their potentially Faustian Pact with the Tories last week. This weekend saw the Liberal Democrats spring conference. One of the motions carried was about the proposed reforms to the NHS in England. The Liberal Democrat rank and file seem very concerned about effects of the possible changes. The motion carried included this part:

Conference welcomes our Coalition Government’s commitment to the founding principles of the NHS: available to all, free at the point of use, and based on need, not the ability to pay.

In many ways this can be seen as the LDs worrying about part privatisation of the NHS which they rightly or wrongly feel is the direction of travel the reforms are signalling. Clegg denied that he was at odds with his party over the issue and stated: “Yes to reform of the NHS – but no to the privatisation of the NHS,”

Although that might be Clegg’s position it seems that the Orange Book of which Clegg was one of the authors took a different position. In it David Laws (very briefly Chief Secretary to the Treasury before having to resign over his expenses) argued for a health system based on a national health insurance scheme. Although Clegg was not an author of that part of the book it seems that some in the Liberal Democrats at least used to be less committed to the NHS than they (or the Tories) now claim to be.

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  • More credible than the interpretation of Turgon’s headline is that the LibDem “leadership” had to be frog-marched into this vote.

    The gap between “leadership” and the great “unled” yawns wider with each concession to rank Toryism. The “leadership” will be trying to escape from Sheffield alive, and then serially ignore votes like this. All the way to the enormo-comeuppance of the AV referendum.

    Lansley has made himself the epicentre of considerable potential disruption, by no means all of it LibDem. The success of Labour and the Left is to force the ConDems into close support of what is turning into the biggest political disaster for a long, long time.

  • JAH

    The Libs Conferences always have had votes against the leadership which are routinely ignored. The Libs never stage manage conferences as well as the other two, but they in turn have so emasculated their rank and file that they don’t exist anymore. Whereas the Libs still have lots of supporters on the ground. They will be equally rare soon.

  • andnowwhat

    I spend an unhealthy amount of time on the Guardian site and this could really be the make or break.

    Go check for yourselves. There are endless posts by LD’s who are furious about Clegg and his boys. It is more than apparent that Glegg’s actions have burried AV in a deep dust and are turning now to ending the coalition.

    Check out yesterday’s blog on the conference. Posters, LD’s, tell tales of being told to get stuffed by their LD ministers. Oh, enjoy the obvious posts by employees of tory central office. Guardian readers/posters have them well sussed

  • Cynic2

    I listened to the outrage of one LibDem activist yesterday arguing that the Leadership had to do what HE wanted. That mis-understands the relationship in any party. All he did was demonstrate that the LDs are the natural home of an anarchistic and narcissistic bunch who just dont do Government – they want to be protesters – the Colonel Blimps of the left “intelligentsia” sipping their biodynamic yogurt as they scream ‘something must be done’.

    Furthermore the NHS has been ring fenced financially in E&W. The screams of protest are because vested interests really fear a Government trying to make it more efficient.

    Again, we had a hospital Doctor on Radio 4 arguing that local GPs should not be allowed to control the money because the would do more work in their surgeries and he would have to demonstrate to them that the work of his Department was up to scratch clinically and efficient.

    Apparently these trained and professional Doctors ‘do not understand’ and are ‘misinterpreting the data on what his hospital actually does’ and just aren’t up to it. Now there’s a surprise. The thought of having to account to them and sell his services to them almost made him ill.

  • apollo293867

    Cynic 2

    I think the issue that is upsetting most doctors as I understand the introduction of private providers who will cherry pick contracts and packed full of consultant and political advisors, cream off more money. Think Stephen norris on the buses and tory privatisations ad nauseum. The NHS has remained immune to the creeping privatisations and long may that continue.