Burnham asks if Cameron really wants Lansley “taken out and shot”

7th February, 2012 1:41 pm

Responding to today’s Clarkson-esque briefing against Andrew Lansley from Downing Street, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has asked the PM to confirm or deny the briefing:

“David Cameron must make an urgent statement and clarify whether these remarks come from a rogue source, or reflect his own and majority opinion in 10 Downing Street.

“A campaign is clearly underway to scapegoat Andrew Lansley. But it is David Cameron who has put the NHS on a knife edge and it can’t afford to have a lame-duck Secretary of State in charge who does not have authority and the personal support of the Prime Minister. Rather than looking for someone else to blame, he must now take responsibility for breaking his personal promises to NHS staff.

“The PM promised to listen and only proceed with this re-organisation if he had the support of staff. They are telling him loudly and clearly that he is putting patient care at risk by pressing on with this discredited Health Bill.

“This is the Prime Minister that promised to protect the NHS. People will never forgive him if he puts his political pride before what’s right for the NHS. He must show leadership, grasp the nettle and drop the Bill.”

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  • Anonymous

    Real politik. Andy should be careful, it’s not always been his forte in the past.

    • Dave Postles


      It seems that no one supports the ‘reforms’ now, except for those who will obtain posts on the ‘new’ NHA NCB.  The problem is, as Alan clarifies above, it’s impossible to put it into reverse because the present system (PCTs) has already been dissolved.  It’s a disaster.

      • Anonymous

        But it’s a problem   it seems now labour has fasten onto hardly anything is coming from Labour about this at all. It’s like slow motion Labour, shall we say something will the public care, whoops we had better say something.

        But of course it’s not  country wide it’s in England, in Wales they have let it be known the NHS will stay as it is.

      • Anonymous

        “”If we put the same ingredients into the mix, the likelihood is that we
        shall deliver the same inefficient environment and outcomes. This is
        insupportable in an economy of tight financial restraint.””

        That’s the most damning quote from the doctors concerned, the rest is editorial and Andy Burnham. Not exactly a shining endorsement of the current situation, or a cry of outrage at a system being dismantled.

        I watched this today, it confirmed a lot things I’ve suspected for a while. I recommend anyone who considers the Left or Right wing to be either their enemy or morally inferior to do the same.


        • Dave Postles

           My point was that previous supporters of Lansley seem to have deserted him, so that there is dissatisfaction on all sides.

          I’ll have a look at the Ted lecture.  Political philosophy of all kinds has had a moral basis in the past depending on the conception of human nature – negative or positive.  Warrender argued for Hobbes as a moral philosopher.  The pragmatic approach perhaps began in the US with people like Dewey and has been continued persistently – with much antipathy – by Rorty – but pragmatism is not the same as realism in terms of philosophy.  The problem comes when you encounter Sen on ‘justice’ – his pragmatic approach to ‘justice’ doesn’t seem to work in complex western societies.  So, whilst you exhort us to listen to Haidt, I’d encourage people to return to Rawls.

          • Anonymous

            I think Rawls actually does manage to step outside of the political matrix, he’s received criticism from both sides, normally a good sign.

            The problem I have is that the veil of ignorance is as far as I can see impossible to practically implement. It’s an elegant theory, though.

            i think Haidt’s approach of looking for common biological building blocks for morality is much more useful in terms of practical application.

  • Anonymous

    Well, yes AB is right (he was on Any Questions last Friday – still available on the Radio 4 Listen Again service till Saturday 11th): what was more disturbing was the number of medical professionals who replied in Saturdays “Any Answers” (again on Listen Again till Saturday) and several made the point that Lansley/Cameron’s “reforms” are already being carried out BEFORE the legislation is passed by Parliament.

    I have always felt, however that Lansley was the wrong man in the job because he had financial and personal interests in the private health sector, so he was never going to look neutral.

    It is time that Lansley went, though I don’t want him totally banished. I am sure, like Liam Byrne, he could be moved somewhere where he couldn’t do as much damage – I’ve always thought the Ministry of Sport is the ideal place for the less competent ministers.  Lansley is certainly a better communicator than, say, Gove, who always reminds me of “Archie Andrews” (for those as old as me they will recall a programme called Educating Archie)

    • Anonymous

      I’m not sure I want to get into a discussion of the relative merits and de-merits of Tory ministers , save to say that I suspect there are people in this government who are even more rabid than Lansley?  Gove anyone?  Still, I get you point, Alan.

      I would actually banish Liam Byrne as I think he’s one of the ‘shiny suit’ clown brigade who lose us support every time he pops up.  Also, while I agree that Burnham is right to go with this story, it simply HAS to be part of a wider, assault founded principally on a dissection of their ;policy and an explanation of what we would be doing instead.  It saddens me that the Labour ‘tactics box’ in Parliament only seems to allow for spontaneous, almost opportunistic, manoeuvring against personalities and what they may or may not have said, just to gain a bit of “media advantage”?

      • Anonymous

        Assault bloody heck if this is labour assault then god help the English NHS

        • Anonymous

          I couldn’t agree more.  When Thatcher and Major were in, Labour headed and co-ordinated the oppostion to what they were doing.  Labour politicians in Westminster today just sit back and wait to see what fist the unions and various protest groups can make of an issue, have a look at a snapshot of “public reaction” to that and then decide whether they’re going to say anything.  The Labour response to Gove’s academies and free schools shenanigans has been a disgrace.  I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard the whine, “It’s inevitable… we can’t do anything.”  Well, it will be inevitable if you choose to do nothing!

          Our problem is that too many in the Party have lost the ability to fight and concertedly argue on the basis of “principle”.  I wonder what other people’s experience of Party meetings is these days?!

          • Anonymous

            Looking at labour it looks tired, it looks scared, and it looks like the leader is not sure any more, I suspect he spends more time looking at the media then he does listening to people.

            We look like the Party when Thatcher took over, poor second rate and living in the dam past, New labour was born to destroy the Tories it did not happen now they seem hopeless and lost, in a bath of self pity.

            Time to get off your knees and start attacking , use socialism and you  may not win the next election but it will be a dam sight closser then where you going to be. And if the new labour brigade do not like it well sadly they can walk across the floor.

            We need more Red Ed and less of the poor Ed.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t think it even needs to be characterised in terms of us taking a position that we know will be or will likely to be unpopular.  There’s a furore at the moment about greed and profiteering, but that hasn’t yet extended to academies and free schools… that just defies logic.

            Sadly, I think Philip Gould and his obsession with focus group polling has a lot to do with it.  It’s the all-pervading culture in politics now, but it’s hurting us most as we’re not in power.  Gould’s philosophy seems to be the one “idea” that the old Blairite rump actually believe in.

    • Anonymous

      Now Cameron has c0me out to back  Lansley publicly, and of course we have to respond, if this was the hated 1980’s which labour believe Labour had to change we would have a million people marching  through cities demanding the NHS be saved,

      Anyone see anything expect the nurses talking about it being bad, just talking, society has changed and if the NHS does end up a two tier which it is now really, if you have the money you can jump the waiting list, Then sadly we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

      Labour response is pathetic to this, we see  lip service to the changes but I do not think Labour care enough, but of course that may well be due to Scotland and Wales who tend to be the one who send out the largest groups are not changing

      • Anonymous

        I certainly think Mr. Burnham has his work cut out for him, thanks to the actions of some of his Labour predecessors – most notably Alan Milburn and Mrs Hewitt.

        If I heard him correctly on Any Questions (I don’t want to do him an injustice but I really haven’t got the patience to listen to the recording again) Andy seems fairly relaxed about privatisation just so long as it is “free at the point of delivery”. My problem with that stance is that it doesn’t show 100% commitment to the NHS as we have known it over six decades. Also, of course rules can be changed – especially when you have the CBI, PHI and other financial interests pleading a special case. That said, he speaks with more passion and interest in his brief than some of the more glib shadow ministers.

        As I said further down in response to Jo,  the awkward thing for Labour is that – just as in welfare reform – it was New Labour and their right wing policies which made the coalitions work so very much easier for them,  because they started it, and, on welfare in particular, a lot of what Liam Byrne says sounds fake.

        • Anonymous

          I have to say I’ve never seen such a poor labour party they are shocking, and yes he did say that on TV.

          Problem for Labour the people we have elected are here because of New Labour not because they have a socialist bone in them, when they won they did not say we will now change society, they said well cushy few years love nice wages and pension to boot, no wonder people like Darling run to the back benches.

          Come on Labour find some socialism get some of the real people in to the party few on here who write well with a Labour and socialist soul.

          I’m sick and tired of seeing mini dam New labour hacks if you like.

  • Anonymous

    The problem with all these  double posting of the same thing it’s boring.
    Has anyone found out who said it, was it the Cleaner or was it the postman, you have to find the source to know if it carries any weight.

  • derek

    I can remember when the Blair government brought in the NHS foundation hospital scheme and tied it in with PFI, we didn’t need to re-organise the internal structure then? and many people remarked at that time that it would be a foot opening for the private sector and any future tory government to further dismantling the NHS.

    I’m afraid we’re not innocent in these crazy changes and many of us did warn those modernisers what the likely outcome would be?

    • Anonymous

      Only too true Derek. New Labour was complicit in all this – as in welfare reform – so it makes it harder for some of the same people to appear to be so “outraged” now. As far as I am concerned with Andy, the jury is out – he talks with passion and a degree of understanding, but I am not so certain he is as anti-privatisation as he would like to suggest he is. I don’t mean to imply bad faith, but in some ways he seems relaxed about private healthcare companies meddling in the NHS

      • derek

        @Alan, I don’t think that a week goes by at PMQ’s without Cameron referring to a sitting labour minister or an ex-labour minister now Lord, who agree with the governments reform policies. I believe Andy does speak with passion but has some very dubious form as a former Health minister in government.I thought the re-founding labour initiative was a good idea, I believed it was based on the labour party re-connecting with it’s grass roots and recognising that it had made some serious mistakes as a party in government.Now, I’m not sure what the re-founding initiative was all about? it seems to have gone pear-shaped and the party is really struggling with an alternative.I think it really is a damning indictment of the labour party organisation, when in opposition, to have the PM throw back any questions on health and welfare reform with Hutton, Fields and co as supporters of the said changes. 

        • Anonymous

          It’s a miserable and disgusting situation when you realise that Frank Field gets on better with Duncan-Smith than many of his own colleagues. I remember many years ago FF was head of the Child Poverty Action Group he turned up each year on the BBC Budget day programmes – and he sounded more like a Labour M.P then than he does now. And, as you say, Derek, Cameron can justifiably  point at “Labour” figures who do endorse his “reforms” – the fact that both Labour and Conservative parties have been to bed (politically) with David Freud says an awful lot.

          A point about Field, has anyone else noticed that almost menacing way he talks about benefit claimants – this isn’t a bizarre joke, but when I heard him a couple of years ago on Radio 4’s “Week In Westminster” talking about “putting some salt on the tails” of unemployed people, he reminded me of the way Enoch Powell used to talk about immigration – it was done in a calm, almost too calm tone of voice, but with an almost tangible air of distaste, as if he were a judge sentencing a pervert.

          I really don’t know what to make of Andy. It would be nice to think he had seen the light, but, I remember at his leadership campaign, he had the most “home-made” website of the contestants, which seemed to make a statement that he was plain and direct, but could that have been a marketing ploy, a bit like supermarkets “own brand” goods where they have a white label with one colour printing.  I don’t know – as a man I find him quite likeable , and you want to believe in him, but, despite the sound and fury last week on AQ I had the uncomfortable feeling that, were he the minister, he would also plough on his own way regardless of what professionals told him. I want to be able to believe in Ed Miliband, too, because the alternatives seem worse, but while he has Liam Byrne etc in his cabinet it is hard to believe he really wants to learn from the past. I wanted to believe in Gordon, but I am afraid the day he bought Mandelson back in full pomp as a Lord, after all he had done, I virtually lost all confidence in him.

          I really despair at Labour, TBH at the moment “Blue” or is it “Purple” Labour, which in the long run just means they want to keep Labour as a Tory substitute (a bit like Methadone in relation to Heroin , almost, but not quite,  so dangerous). My advice to them would be to stop the colour scheming and the wordy lectures from D Miliband and just revert to plain Labour, remembering that most people need help in their day to day lives to get through life’s problems and that they are not helped by a dissertation from “Polonious Miliband”

  • AmberStar

    Is it a huge coincidence that opposition to this bill has really started to gather pace & gain attention since Andy Burnham got the health brief back.

    David Cameron meanwhile is saying that Lansley has his total support & the Coalition will force the bill through parliament. Which is good news: Because such statements from Cameron are generally made right before he does a screeching U-turn. And I really hope he does so.

    Politically speaking, if he does force it through & it’s a disaster, Cameron’s own fingerprints will be all over it. There’s no way he can make Lansley the fall guy after the event, having issued very supportive statements before forcing the bill through.

  • Anonymous

    I thought the description ‘taken out and shot’ was vulgar and quite inappropriate for the primeministers office.

    • Hugh

       I know. What ever happened to the days of diligent public service befitting the office under Campbell and McBride?

      • Anonymous

        Ha ha, true. I’m probably being oversensitive but I believe it to be barbaric language. Jeremy Clarkson is a rubbish comedian and his use of it was appropriate. However such language should not be coming out of a UK government office.

  • Anonymous

    “An urgent statement” Andy Burnham is increasingly becoming more and more melodramatic, and I thought that he couldn’t become more OTT.  
    Wonders never cease!


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