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Wednesday 18th May 2011 | 09:55
In his speech to the King's Fund, Andrew Lansley has just come up with an immortal line that:
"This is not Henry V on St Crispin's Day - a one man on horseback approach".
His point was that there isn't just one man - ie himself - in charge of the NHS reforms. He was arguing that the health professionals - from managers to clinicians - are the ones who should be driving the change.
Of course, the other key players are the PM and DPM. Personally I can't help thinking that Clegg's address to his MPs last night was part of a synchronised (and Downing Street-authorised?) climbdown on the Lansley reforms and that Lansley himself will have accept the Monitor suggestion.
That doesn't meant to say that any of this is easy for the Health Secretary.
While he may not be Henry V, it was only a few months ago that Lansley's allies were claiming that he and his tiny band of reformers in the Department of Health were like the Spartans at Thermopylae.
The swagger and daggers are now long gone. It looks more like Hitler's retreat from Stalingrad - a decisive moment that signalled the beginning of the end.
Clegg's attacks on Monitor look like an identical copy of Prof Steve Field's criticisms last weekend. Given that Field clearly has the ear of the PM, his claim that the Lansley reforms were "unworkable" in their current form will have hit home.
But there is one other group of key 'stakeholders' who may not go along with the coordinated climbdown: Tory backbenchers.
I hear that Lansley will finally appear before the 1922 Committee tonight and he will be given a strong show of support from the party's Right.
(Lansley had been due to appear last week but the Committee decided they didn't want a 'duet' between him and the PM).
Although the new intake of Tories are nervous about some bits of the reform, the older guard believe the PM can't abandon his Health Secretary and should defend reform against the Clegg attacks.
I wonder if any backbenchers will tonight "Cry God for Lansley, NHS and Reform!"
UPDATE: Lansley was pretty defiant about the fact that the Monitor is in the Coalition Agreement.
His entire speech is now out (see our invaluable PolHome transcripts section HERE). The full Henry V section was:
"Leadership in the Health Service cannot be about one person at the very top. The leadership style of Henry V on St Crispin’s day – the man on horseback- as dramatic and inspiring as it is, just isn’t appropriate for something as vast, as complex or as subtle as the NHS.
"The Health Service needs far more than that. It needs leaders at every level, in every institution and in every profession. And the people that I believe, first and foremost, should be leading the NHS are clinicians. GPs, hospital doctors, nurses, pharmacists, allied health professionals, scientists. We need people in every area to step up to the plate and lead."
EVENING UPDATE: Nick Watt has reported that the '22 has indeed cheered Lansley to the rafters. Tim Montgomerie adds that the '22 was determined to defeat the 'yellow bastards' of the Lib Dems opposed to reform.
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