'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ask yourself this. Why isn't Nick Clegg framing the health debate as Paul Burstow vs. Andy Burnham?

I can't pretend I'm not bitterly disappointed that we're not debating the kill the bill motion at conference. As someone pointed out earlier, there is a certain irony that the rebel motion won on the first preferences but lost on the transfer votes - stuffed by AV again!

But we do still have a health debate to vote on - and as a party we should defeat the motion and demonstrate just what we, the grass roots members really feel about this bill. There are many reasons to vote against the leadership's motion.

The one I'm most fed up about is personalisation

Nick has asked us to decide who we are supporting - Shirley Williams or Andy Burnham. What nonsense. The question is do we believe this bill will leave the NHS better off if it is passed. Personality has nothing to do with it.

But regardless of that, 2 other factors should give us pause for thought. Firstly, Shirley William's herself has said this evening that she doesn't like this bill. The NHS is too important for us to be making the 'best of a bad job'. 

And secondly, if it's so wonderful - why isn't this being framed as Paul Burstow (our Minister in the Department of Health) or indeed Nick Clegg vs. Andy Burnham? Because the leadership know they'd lose. Which tells you an awful lot about the contents of the bill and the leadership - that with their name attached to it, it gets defeated.

Next - I'm also fed up with being told I don't understand the bill. Shirley again has said today about the bill and its amendments...

'to please bear them in mind when you are told to vote on motions which are based, to a very great extent, on people being unaware of the firescale of changes made [to the bill], literally in the last few weeks."

Well, I think I do understand the changes, thank you very much.I think many of them have made an enormous difference, and yet I still think this is a bad bill that will lead to chaos and end up being detrimental to patient care. As I heard someone say at the rally last week "I do understand this bill - that's why I oppose it.'

Thirdly, passing this bill is another step towards political oblivion. Please read Mark Thompson's excellent blog post about this from earlier today. He makes the case most eloquently.

I'm not saying the NHS is perfect. I think it needs lots of reforming. But this bill isn't it.

Please vote against the motion in the morning.

Thank you.

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