Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Clegg/Huhne: NHS Strategy

One nice post about Mr. Clegg calls, I think, for a more measured one. So:

John Dixon is quite right to ask questions about Clegg's views of the NHS. I am always pretty wary of people who say things like "You can have a free of charge health service, which is funded but not produced by the public sector", as an anonymous commenter has done under that post. Surely that is a recipe for private companies to simply try and hoover up as much public money for their own profit as possible?

I was going to say something about the trains being an example, but my "inner swivel-eyed free-marketeer" pointed out that that is not an example of a perfect market, since the area franchises are a poor approximation to a genuinely free marketplace. See, liberal purist bloggers? I'm learning! Nevertheless, I remain suspicious. It is undeniably the case that any corporation is legally bound to maximise profits, and so on, and that health is not a perfect marketplace either, because at the end of the day, people want a local hospital. Hence, at least some degree of price gouging, no?

More locally accountable management of the NHS seems like a rather better emphasis to me, at any rate.

So how come I support Nick? Well, because as a democratic party, it's not up to Nick what our policy on this is. If he and FPC put something I find odious before conference, then it is up to me and others like me to make the argument against it and have it rejected. As a party, we have nothing to fear from the particular ideological bent of our leader. We have everything to fear from a leader who can't make our policy, whatever it is, make sense for the electorate.

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