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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

That Lansley-Clegg Axis

With the cheers of the 1922 Committee still ringing in his ears, Andrew Lansley today has more of a spring* in his step than usual.

He's due to attend yet another 'listening' exercise on the NHS at lunchtime. The topic is much safer ground than usual, with charities such as Rethink Mental Illness hosting the event. Lansley insists that he wants his reforms to recognise the key role charities can play as "qualified providers of care".

But the guest list for the event is, I understand, now slightly amended. Although David Cameron will appear alongside his Health Secretary, there will be no Nick Clegg.

The DPM has "diary issues", I hear (great euphemism that one), which mean he won't be there. Of course, after the '22's desk banging and description of the Lib Dems as "yellow bastards" last night, that will spark speculation that Clegg is frit.

I'm told that he decided to pull out of the event earlier in the week, however, before Lansley's rousing from the Right. Yet I still suspect that Clegg's own attack on the role of Monitor on Tuesday must have had a part in his decision to gently opt out of today's session with patients and charities.

The Lib Dems are still fighting hard to water down the Lansley Bill, although as I said yesterday it's sometimes difficult to work out if the main changes have all been agreed and we're just witnessing some synchronised 'dissent'.

Vince Cable claimed this morning that the Lansley reforms were "not part" of the Coalition Agreement and that it was "healthy" (no pun intended) for the Coalition to express their disagreements on the issue.

It may be a temporary reprieve, but at least Lansley won't have the DPM breathing down his neck today...

 

FOOTNOTE:* New stats on waiting times and mixed sex wards are due today and could provide much-needed 'good news' for the Health Sec.

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