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Monday 13th June 2011 | 11:43
In one of those nice televisual charades that Whitehall loves, the David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Andrew Lansley are currently taking receipt at Downing Street of the NHS Future Forum's final report.
But well before the publication of the 'independent' report, it looks like the Lib Dems already have seen a version (and I'm not just referring to their 'score card')
I've just got hold of an email from Charles West, a Lib Dem councillor (and former PPC) who worked with Evan Harris on their spring conference motion calling for radical changes to the NHS Bill.
The email, which has gone to several Lib Dem councillors, makes clear he's talked to Nick Clegg. It states:
On Friday evening Graham, Evan and I spent an hour and a half on the phone to Nick.
He outlined the changes he had agreed with DC and related them to our Sheffield motion.
On the face of it he has managed to get almost everything we had explicitly asked for in our amendment. There are one or two areas where there is a mis-match, and on these one might argue that the same objective had been served in a different way.
There are, of course, things that we did not include in our motion to Sheffield either because they have cropped up in discussions since, or because they were outside the terms of the Burstow motion that we were trying to amend. One or two of those Nick seems to have managed to negotiate, but clearly there are still plenty of things that we would like to see.
Since then I have managed to have a brief look at the full statement, but like all of you I shall need to examine the wording in full before I/we can give full support.
I think that we shall see some of our objectives clearly and explicitly accepted but some are expressed in terms that are not as strong as we would have wished.
Even if the statement is pretty good/amazingly good, we clearly need to watch very carefully how the details are dealt with when, as we assume, the Bill goes back through the committee stage, and even beyond that into the implementation.
So, I agree with all those who have written expressing an element of caution and the need to continue to watch, be vigilant and keep the pressure up (some Tories will not like what they see).
I also agree that we should engage in a wider debate about the direction of travel for the NHS and think about a further motion to conference this autumn and into the future.
However, we should not be too downbeat. I believe that we shall find that we have genuinely detoxified Lansley's proposals and even rolled back on some of the Labour privatisation from the last few years. What we have on the table now, would not have allowed some of the things that Labour did.
So, guys, give yourselves a pat on the back, I think that we need to thank Nick, Norman and particularly Andrew and John P. BUT we need to continue to be vigilant throughout the committee stage and in the Lords.
The email refers to 'the statement'. Could this be Andrew Lansley's expected Oral Statement, set to be delivered tomorrow afternooon in the House? Or is it a Nick Clegg statement to his party?
Either way, a neat insight into Lib Dem thinking...
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