James Forsyth James Forsyth

Lansley faces the music alone

A weary-looking Andrew Lansley has just finished answering MPs’ questions following his statement announcing a delay to the coalition’s NHS reforms.

The statement left us none the wiser as to what is up for review in the listening exercise the coalition is about to undertake. What it did demonstrate was both Lansley’s encyclopedic knowledge of the NHS: he seemed to know the GP who was leading the consortium in the area of every MP who questioned him: and his inability to clearly explain the purpose of his reforms. Indeed, if it had not been for a question from John Redwood the point that these reforms are meant to free up more money for patient care would have been lost.

There’s little doubt that the Health Secretary has been shabbily treated in the last few days. This has continued today with an absence of high-profile support for him on the front bench as he spoke. One could understand why his voice shook when, in the face of mockery from the Labour benches, he declared ‘I spend my time’ trying to make this the best bill it can be.

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