Cameron’s email is bare-faced cheek at the end of a good week for Labour and a terrible week for his Tories
That was the week that was, when silly season came to a serious end and the general election campaigns started in earnest.
It wasn’t a good week for the Tories. On the contrary, it was one in which George Osborne’s “progressive conservatism” was immediately and forever unravelled by the noisy right arm of his many unreconstructed colleagues.
Roger Helmer said “homophobia doesn’t exist” except as a “word created by the militant gay rights lobby”.
Alan Duncan, who once mocked his own expense abuses as part of a “fabulous system” was caught bemoaning the “nationalisation” of MPs, who have to live on “rations” and are “treated like shit”. The Tory grassroots have expunged themselves of this loathsome individual; not so Mr Cameron, who refuses to rid his shadow cabinet of Duncan.
And then there was the self-important, self-appointed international spokesperson on British healthcare Daniel Hannan, em-barking on a relentless vanity tour of high-ratings US networks to join a bitter, hard-right campaign of slurs and derision against our most treasured national institution, the NHS.
In one Fox News interview, from the rotunda of the Capitol Building no less, Hannan called the NHS “a bad system” that he wouldn’t “wish on anybody”. In another, he said the only reason the NHS is sustained is because its staff are an “electoral bloc“. All this just three months after Hannan’s earlier flirtations with Fox, in which he said the NHS is a “terrible mistake we’ve lived through for 60 years…it has made people iller” and compared public healthcare bodies in Britain to a “satanic conspiracy”.
Of course, the British people wouldn’t, and didn’t, stand for it. Activists came out in support of the NHS on Twitter with enough common voice to hit the top two global trending topics and bring the social networking site down. I’m told Gordon Brown has been keeping abreast of the Twitter trends all week, and that he is immensely proud.
Meanwhile, in David Cameron’s latest email to Tory supporters, he has the temerity, the bare-faced cheek, to say “how proud we are in Britain of the NHS.” But no word of his colleague Mr Hannan, who provoked the national defence of the NHS and outpouring of affection and who some have called a “national disgrace” this week. The first comment on that email on the Conservative website nails it: “this feels like a forced response due to Dan Hannan on the Glenn Beck show earlier this week.” A number of other comments ask “if this really is your belief, what are you going to do about Hannan?”
Other grassroots Tories are also questioning leading Tories on this matter. One commenter on ConservativeHome referred to “damage limitation…too little, too late…where does the Conservative party actually stand on the NHS?
It is hard to tell. Tim Montgomerie says Hannan has zero-impact on Tory health policy, and yet the MEP’s book The Plan, with its substantial sections on healthcare, is one of the most influential in Conservative circles. And after all, this is the Tory poster boy who was invited to speak at a recent Conservative party conference.
The debate on the NHS has given us all something to rally around and be proud of. It is by coincidence that the story has blown up in the same week that Labour launched its excellent, hyper-positive Change We See campaign, in which people are invited to take pictures of the schools, hospitals and Sure Start centres that are the result of 12 years of Labour government and share them with others by the wonder of the same new technologies which allow us to see Daniel Hannan’s spitting disregard for the NHS.
With the Tory mask slipping and Labour engaging in exciting, positive campaigns, I’m fired up again. Where are those leaflets?