16 August 2009

Let us hope the NHS debate is about policy

Having reflected on Brown’s open letter on the NHS and the overnight polls, it is clear that Brown is going to vigorously attack the Tories over the NHS.  He has little option.  Time is running out for him to turn the polls around and his cupboard is bare of policies.  He will do whatever he can to deflect the argument away from the economy (unless we come out of recession), unemployment and the state of the public finances. 

The debate itself may well become a very personal and emotive battleground between the two leaders.  Both have lost children who were treated by the NHS.  Brown has a very short fuse and is easily rattled under pressure.  Remember, the shaking hand in the Commons at the time of the non-election.  Cameron, on the other hand, has always showed a calmness and determination under stress.  Witness how he dealt with the lead up to the non-election.

Obviously, we must hope that any debate on the NHS is over policy.  However, there is a danger that personal factors will come into play.  I am not suggesting it will happen but it could.  The stakes are very high for both Brown and Cameron.  Brown is heading for humiliation at the polls and Cameron has yet to ‘seal the deal’ with the electorate.

Brown will have this NHS debate, as he has already stated, no matter what.  How Cameron responds could well be the defining moment in the lead up to the election.

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  1. I agree that there will be a debate, come hell or high water, and that the question is about on what terms the debate will occur. I suspect strongly that Brown is just intending to charge around the country, from hospital to hospital, between now and the general election, demanding to know whether or not Cameron 'supports' the NHS, and whether he is planning on abolishing it. That will be incredibly tedious. And he won't get any political capital out of it, either, because Cameron has at least persuaded the electorate that he doesn't want to set a match to the NHS if he is elected. The debate Cameron doesn't want to have is the one on what reforms are needed. He's deliberately stayed off the topic of reform, because he knows that it'll draw out the Hannans in the party (of whom we may find there are a surprising number). And, as I've said on my own blog, that's precisely the reason Brown ought to now shift the focus onto reform. He won't, though, because he's a political incompetent. So we will have a 'who lives the NHS more' debate. And Labour won't make any headway from it at all. *sigh*

  2. Interesting comment and I broadly agree. As you say, given half the chance, Brown will cock the whole thing up.

    I like your blog and will add you to my list