Monday, August 17, 2009

Cameron woe deepens over NHS dissent.

Cameron's new Tory party, who have apparently stopped being "the nasty party" we all remember from the eighties, are now beginning to show signs of split.

It all began when one of their nuttiest MEP's, Daniel Hannan, appeared on Fox News to attack the NHS.

Cameron has been falling over himself to pledge that the NHS is safe under any incoming Tory administration, but there are actually only about a third of Tory MP's who agree with Cameron's position.

A survey of Tory candidates likely to win seats at the next general election found that only one-third supported Mr Cameron's decision to make the NHS the "most immune" from cuts. The survey, carried out by the ConservativeHome website last month, included the responses of 144 Tory candidates standing in the party's top 220 target seats. And Mr Cameron was hit by revelations that a sitting Tory MP had authored a report arguing that the NHS "would not be out of place in Stalin's Russia".
Cameron's party, despite his best efforts to paint them as new, are revealing themselves as just as nasty as the Tory party of old. I mean, the beliefs of some of his MP's are unbelievably radical and right wing, and the public reaction to that over the weekend has caused some of them to urgently regroup:

Mr Cameron has so far been unable to end speculation that he and his party were split over the NHS, which began when the Tory MEP, Daniel Hannan, appeared on US television to say that he would "not wish [the NHS] on anyone".

One of Mr Cameron's closest allies was forced on to the defensive over the issue yesterday. Michael Gove, the shadow Schools secretary, said he "emphatically disagreed" with Mr Hannan, after he was listed alongside the MEP as a co-author of a book highly critical of the NHS. The book argues that the health service "fails to meet public expectations" and is "no longer relevant in the 21st century". Mr Gove admitted that "one or two" of his colleagues did not back Mr Cameron's policy on the NHS, but dismissed suggestions that he was not behind his leader as "complete nonsense".

Last night, the Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, wrote to the Tory leader, calling on him to withdraw the whip from Mr Hannan and to force members of his shadow government to resign from the Cornerstone Group.

"On Friday you claimed that the Conservatives are the party of the NHS. I found that surprising," he wrote. "I understand why you want to make this claim to show your party has changed – but people will still have doubts. Therefore, to put some substance behind your claims, will you take formal action against those who do not endorse your views on the NHS?" Norman Lamb, the health spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said the Tory "commitments" to the NHS were "crumbling before our eyes".

The Tories have a major problem here. If they are not seen as committed to protecting the NHS then they will seriously undermine public trust in them to adequately run such a national institution.

Cameron is the acceptable face of British conservatism. But, if one looks beneath the surface, the same views which led them to be loathed are still there.

There is a real danger that our country is sleepwalking towards a Tory government, believing that change is what we need, without even asking what kind of change Cameron is offering.

Cameron would have us believe that Hannan represents an "eccentric" view withing the Tory party. But, this recent survey indicates that Hannan's views are much more popular amongst the Tories than Cameron would have us believe.

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