Fraser Nelson

Has Lansley seen the light?

Has Lansley seen the light?
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I wouldn't have put it past Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to side with the unions in today's great health debate - and ConservativeHome wasn't sure he wouldn't either. But for once he is (the next words are hard for me to type) doing the right thing and backing Brussels. "What is the government so frightened about? Are they afraid of choice?," he asks. Mind you, the same could be asked of him. What didn't he like about IDS/Howard patient passport system? Is he afraid of choice?

 

If Lansley isn't being entirely opportunistic, there is a welcome shift of principle here. In the early Cameron days, he said giving NHS cash to people to attend non-NHS healthcare constituted "opting out of the NHS". It was bizarre, sectarian language that even Labour dropped in the Dobson era. The passport system was imperfect, but the supply-side principle was - and is - the only way to stop Brits queuing for hospital treatment in the way that Russians once queued for bread. Today, Lansley takes the view that if the NHS pays for the treatment that's all a Tory government should care about. Quite right. Cameron also dumped parents' passports on education, only to adopt an even better more muscular supply-side reform agenda with the Swedish voucher system. So if the penny dropped in education, might it do so in health?

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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