James Forsyth

Coalition’s NHS battle turns personal

Coalition's NHS battle turns personal
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David Cameron’s ‘love for the NHS’ is a critical part of his political persona. It is, his advisers believe, what proves that he is a different kind of Tory. So it is remarkable that Nick Clegg is questioning it in semi-public.

In a speech to Lib Dem MPs and peers last night — that Clegg would have known was bound to leak, he criticised politicians — eg, the Prime Minister — who express their love for the NHS but take advice from people who see NHS reform as a chance for private companies to make big profits. What makes this intervention all the more remarkable is that Downing Street has been on a full court press to deny the Observer’s piece which set this story running.

Clegg also stressed that he will not accept Monitor, the NHS regulator, promoting competition. If the Lib Dem leader gets his way on this, it’ll remove the key stone of the Lansley plan.