Monday, 5 March 2012

All thro' the House..

It's always slightly worrying when one finds oneself agreeing with Charles Moore, but his article in yesterday's Daily Telegraph does have a point: the NHS really isn't very good, is it?

It's not the worst of the public services - the police clearly have that position sewn up - but, despite all the ritual praise from politicians and broadcasters, for whom it can do no wrong, it's not 'fantastic' at all. Given a choice, I'd rather fall ill in Germany or in France than in England.

Whether the government's reforms will make any difference, I have no idea (nor, indeed, much faith). What I do know is that unquestioningly to defend the status quo means accepting a health service that isn't as good as it should be. It is also an act of political cowardice. And it's the position the Labour Party appears to be adopting.

In this case, it's even more cowardly, of course, because it's obvious that, were there a Labour government, it would itself be busily reforming away. So Ed Miliband keeps quiet about his own opinions, and instead spends his time every week at prime minister's questions delivering a list of professional bodies who don't agree with the government.

Those bodies can speak for themselves, and do frequently. It's not Miliband's job to act simply as the mouthpiece for GPs. It is his job, as leader of the Labour Party, to convince the country that he has some thoughts of his own. Preferably Labour ones.

The benefit of silence is that it allows voters to read into your lack of expressed intention whatever they want. At the moment, this means that Miliband sounds like he's shares the public mood: sentimental loyalty to a system that no other country seems to be rushing to copy. But at some point, he needs to come up with something more substantial.

Doesn't seem very likely, though. It's political opportunism gone mad, I tell you.

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