Anyone in the UK political Twitter’n’blogland can hardly have missed today’s #WeLoveTheNhs trend – prompted by Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan’s latest broadcasts on US Television pouring scorn again on the “60 year mistake” which he believes the NHS to be.
Lots of people will be dissecting this on their own blogs – one of the best and quickest off the mark was Grace Fletcher-Hackwood Our doctors and nurses: an electoral bloc, says Hannan , and possibly the best known is John Prescott on his GoFourth site “Progressive, Don’t make me laugh !”
So I won’t go over that ground again – save to say that #ILoveTheNHS !
What will be the longer term political implications of this episode though ?
Today clearly it demonstrates the very different & extreme agenda that right wing Conservatives can adopt. I think the less politically attuned may well be shocked. They may well also miss it though, and by the time they pick up tomorrow’s Mails and Expresses it will all have spun in a slightly different direction.
We’ll inevitably be treated tomorrow to the woes of people with horrendous stories about their experiences with the NHS – then we’ll get a few days of the traditional Labour/Tory exchanges on health. This is just midfield tussle though – no knockout blows (if I’m not mixing my sporting metaphors too much). This is just going over old ground.
That would change though if Daniel Hannan decided to weigh in again – because he clearly believes what he says. He wants to get rid of the NHS.
The British public though – and I think I can confidently say this – do not. They may moan about it, complain about it, wish it were better – but do they want to get rid of our National Health Service ? Absolutely not !
David Cameron knows that. The core of the Conservative leadership know that. So sometime over the next few days we may well get a feel for what kind of leader David Cameron really is.
In the run up to an election he won’t want particularly to go round “disciplining” dissident voices, and risking division in the party. On the other hand unless he slaps down the likes of Hannan, he’ll be increasingly vulnerable to accusations that the Conservatives are a bunch of right wing extremists – a view that he’s trying hard to dispel.
Daniel Hannan has his supporters amongst the Tories – but it’s by no means universal. I would say that he and his “Plan” tendency are as dangerous to the Conservatives as Derek Hatton and Militant were to Labour.
In some ways I hope that David Cameron bottles this one – because Hannan won’t, he’ll come back again and again. I don’t want the Tories elected and I don’t believe the British public would elect a party that promises to dismantle the National Health Service – but I do think they’d vote for a party led by a man who did what he should do and withdrew the whip from Daniel Hannan.
Which is better for Labour ? Which is better for the country ? I’m still not sure !
Update : I’m sort of grateful to the author of this blog http://fit-healthrumors.blogspot.com/2009/08/daniel-hannans-outpourings-on-nhs-will.html who has placed this entire article on his/her own blog. It would have been nice to mention it to me – I’d have had no objections. Still at least he placed a link back
Latest Update (9:30 Thursday 13th August)
It would appear that David Cameron has responded to this little episode with a blog of his own We are proud of the NHS saying how proud he is of the NHS – he makes no mention of Hannan however, nor does he discuss any irony in linking directly to Twitter and saying ” look at all the support “, and how wonderful it is that there are so many supporting messages – So perhaps too many twits don’t make a twat eh Mr Cameron ? He did however refrain from abusive language this time so he is obviously taking heed of my blog ! I think it’s clever to swear ! (well David Cameron does anyway) (July 31st 2009)
Doesn’t appear to be publishing my comments on his blog though last time I looked. UPDATE !! : 23:55 Yes he is – and lots of others – blimey he’s got a can of worms to deal with there !