We’ll try to get the video later, but, for now, a transcript of Norman Lamb’s appearance on the Politics Show will have to do (UPDATE: video added above). Here we had a very
unusual political moment: an assistant whip, and adviser to Nick Clegg, not only calling for changes to government policy, but also threatening to resign should they not happen. His main argument
was that the NHS reforms should be dealt with more slowly:
"I think it would be a crying shame if that really important principle [giving GPs more power and responsibility] was lost because we rushed the reform process and got it wrong.
My real concern is the financial risk of doing it too quickly because then you lose services, patient care suffers… Most of all for those of us who care about the NHS, and I think the
whole Government does, we want to make sure it works, we’ve got to get this right."
And here’s the threat that followed:
"I’ve said that if it’s impossible for me to carry on in my position I will step down. I don’t want to cause embarrassment but I feel very strongly about this issue and I think it’s in
the Government’s interest to get it right the way that I’ve suggested.
We’re experimenting with Coalition Government, the first one since the Second World War. I hope that this period for reflection should allow mature debate about how we get these reforms
right and that it should be possible for me to speak out and say what I think should happen — evolution not revolution — and in that way I think the Government can get itself off
the hook that it’s on at the moment. It can get a lot of professionals back on board and most of all it can reduce the financial risk."
Which will no doubt bolster the idea that the Lib Dems are making this a real area of divergence between themselves and the Tories. After all, it’s not only Lamb. Nick Clegg may have
agreed to the NHS reforms in the past, but
now both he and Danny Alexander are using the word "substantive" when it comes to the sorts of changes they would have made. In public, at least, they’re meeting that "http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/6772603/clegg-ushers-in-the-next-phase-of-the-coalition.thtml">pledge to be more assertive with some ease.
Hat-tip for the transcript: ConHome’s "http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2011/04/government-whip-publicly-cautions-against-rushing-nhs-reforms-and-calls-for-the-health-bill-to-be-am.html">Jonathan IsabyTags: Andrew Lansley, Coalition, Conservatives, Danny Alexander, Health, Liberal Democrats, NHS, Nick Clegg, Norman Lamb, UK politics