[Where my parents live in a little village just north of Cambridge, and where as I travel around so much I am still registered to vote, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is our local MP. Here is a letter I wrote to him this morning.]
Dear Mr Lansley,
I’ve never met you myself but you opened the new pavilion on our village recreation ground and you were, by all accounts, thoughtful and engaged and, according to my parents at least, ‘a very nice man’. I am willing to believe that you think you are doing the right thing as regards the National Health Service. I’m sure there are very good reasons why the NHS needs some measure of reform, though on the numerous occasions when I have needed to make use of it I have always found it to be remarkable. The NHS has saved my life on at least one occasion. I think there is little point at this stage rehearsing the strong opposition that has been made to your bill, but for reference this article from the British Medical Journal is a useful demonstration of the argument that what you are doing is making things that are now free, no longer free; as such you are fundamentally dismantling the core principal of the NHS.
When he went to war in Iraq, Tony Blair too had absolute conviction that he was doing the right thing. What condemned him in the end (and a decade on from that decision we can already see the degree to which it will be his damning legacy) was not that conviction but his decision that it justified the subversion of the democratic process.
Your actions throughout this process have demonstrated a similar contempt for the democratic process. This bill, despite public opinion, has been carried through without a mandate by a fragile coalition that did not mention any great reforms of the NHS in either of its manifestos. Your excuses for failing to publish the risk register are facile. Creating an emergency summit on the bill and only inviting those medical organisations that support you is embarrassingly pathetic. Your stage-managed wanders around public hospitals in recent months have become so ridiculous I would be laughing if I wasn’t so angry.
This behaviour will be your legacy, just as the ‘dodgy dossier’ is Tony Blair’s, and both those who believe as fervently as I do in the NHS and the minority who might have supported your reforms will remember the way in which you have gone about forcing this much-derided bill through parliament. That, however, will be little comfort for those many, many people less wealthy than yourself and your cabinet colleagues whose health is being put at risk by your flawed ideological experiment.