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Saturday 11 April 2015

Tories Caught NHS Double Counting

Announcing the same policy, or spending pledge, more than once. Ah, memories. It was one of the most notorious aspects of the New Labour project: every time something was announced, hacks had to check before filing their copy. Had it been announced before? Was it just a retread, or something totally new? Or, as sometimes happened, was it a bit of both? Tone and his spinners have a lot to answer for on that front.
Look cheps, an £8 billion flying pig over thyah! Jolly good sheow!!

But that was then, and this is now: we no longer have Blair - well, not in power, anyway - but instead, the Tories are led by the self-confessed “Heir to Blair”. Young Dave memorably stood before the Commons and taunted Tone that “he was the future once”. Oh, how they laughed! Jolly good sheow! What might not have been expected is that the culture of multiple policy announcements would creep back in.

You think I jest? The Guardian - not where you might expect the Tories to place their allegedly good news - has told “Conservative party pledges extra £8bn a year for NHS …Exclusive: George Osborne makes ‘absolute commitment’ to meet £30bn a year funding gap for public health service through added funds and extra savings”. Ooh look, we’re in 1960s TV ad-land - “Added Funds”. And what, pray, does that mean?
Ah well. That, folks, means either the Government goes and shakes the Magic Money Tree (tm) that they claimed did not exist, or someone else is subjected to more of those “efficiency savings”, or, as users of plain English like to call them, cuts. And given that NHS productivity is now suffering, those “savings” will have to verge on a cross between the heroic and the straightforwardly eye-watering.

Nevertheless, Cameron has dutifully confirmed the pledge to the BBC: “David Cameron will confirm an extra £8bn a year for the NHS in England by 2020 if he wins the election …He will claim it makes his party the first to promise to fund a five-year plan for the health service, drawn up by its boss Simon Stevens last year”. Yes, one of those five-year plans that was the stuff of Tory mockery when Pa Broon was doing them.
And then a further problem enters: the Guardian may think it has been given an exclusive, but this is not a new commitment. Readers who are not yet as cynical as myself are referred to the front page of the Sunday Times from last weekend. There it is, announced to counter Mil The Younger’s perceived success in the previous Thursday’s TV leaders debate: “Cameron fights back with £8bn pledge on NHS”.

Caught bang to rights, Dave: the “Heir to Blair” and his sidekick, the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, brought rather more of the Blair baggage to their party than they admitted. This is not only an apparently unfunded pledge, but it’s also the kind of repeat which Dave’s press friends would be only too eager to condemn if it was the hated Beeb doing it.

Someone in this campaign is getting desperate. And it looks like the Tories.


rob said...

Two and two are five
Four and four are nine
That's all you have on your business-like mind
Two and two are five
Four and four are nine
How can you be so blind?

Tory worm, Tories squirm
Measuring the NHS funds
They and their arithmetic
Have gone so far astray

Tory worm, Tories squirm
Measuring the NHS funds
Seems to me, you'd stop and see
The crumbling sad decay

Unknown said...

There new slogan for this General Election campaign is 'The long term unfunded plan'.