Labour must not let Lansley get away with burying good news on the NHS – and other media double standards
Posted on 20 March 2011 | 12:03pm
It’s fascinating to watch liberal commentators say how blindingly obvious it is that military action should be taken to deal with a fascist dictator killing his own people (aka Gaddafi) … in many instances the same liberal commentators who remain so angry at the action taken to deal with a fascist dictator who had been killing his own people, and threatening many more, for far longer, and to a far greater scale, than Gaddafi has been, aka Saddam Hussein.
But it is another double standard I wish to point out today, namely the difference between the full-blown furore unleashed by a Labour spin doctor who foolishly emailed round her department to say September 11 was a ‘good day to bury bad news’, and the mild cough of concern over the Tory government doing something of a reverse of this, namely burying good news in case it gets in the way of their ideological crusade to change the NHS into a healthcare version of the Royal Bank of Scotland.
I have pointed out before that in addition to the NHS reforms being pushed through without a mandate for either governing party, or in the coalition agreement between them, they are also being pushed through at a time of record satisfaction with the service provided. That explains why it barely figured as an issue at the last election.
The Observer reports today that the government has in its possession polling date by Ipsos MORI which confirms that satisfaction with the NHS has never been higher than when they surveyed opinion last autumn. But of course that does not fit with the Tories’ vision of the NHS as a failing service in dire need of the reforms Andrew Lansley has been dreaming up for the last decade or two.
I assume Freedom of Information requests will be going in to have this polling published, and that the Public Accounts Committee will take a look not just at the cost-effectiveness but also the ethics of spending public money to assess public opinion, but then refusing to publish it when the public opinion fails to conform to the opinion David Cameron and Andrew Lansley wanted the public to have.
The afore-mentioned Labour spin doctor eventually paid with her job and her political career. She did so because of a foolish thought and a foolish action – the sending of her email, still remembered by many almost a decade on. This despite the fact there is no evidence that any wrongdoing followed. Yet in withholding information relevant to the formulation of a policy that nobody has been asking for, that there is no mandate for, and which virtually all of the professional bodies involved in the NHS do not want, Lansley is being not just sneaky, but dishonest in his portrayal of the need for these reforms.