Andrew Lansley has Stephen Dorrell breathing down his neck – which one is a more plausible Health Secretary?

I am told that the top echelons of the Conservative Party and large numbers of Tory backbenchers think that Andrew Lansley has “gone native” in his time as Shadow Health Secretary.  He is regarded as having got “too close” to the NHS and is not seen as the man who would deliver the sort of root-and-branch “reforms”surgery that the Conservatives really want to embark upon should they become the Government after the next General Election.

Now the Health Service Journal reports that Stephen Dorrell, who was the last Conservative to hold the post of Secretary of State for Health, has attacked Lansley’s vision for NHS “reform” and implying that Lansley would be too timid in making changes to the way in which the NHS works.  Dorrell’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference failed to include the usual ritualistic praise for the relevant Shadow Minister and he didn’t once mention Lansley by name.  Only afterwards – when questioned – did he mouth that Andrew Lansley had his “full support”.  Then, when asked about Lansley’s “vision”, he damned it with faint praise saying “We want to see not so much a new idea but a clear view” and that it needed “filling out”.  Finally, he played right into the speculation about Lansley being too close to the NHS saying:

“The guy has done it for six years; he does understand the service. Andrew is respected in the service, he does know what he’s talking about and he has a clear idea of what he is trying to do.  But right across the public services, what we’ve got to have is a bit of sunlight.”

With friends like that Lansley should feel nervous.

Allegedly, David Cameron “will not hear” of moving Lansley out of the health brief.  Not hearing advice to do something, doesn’t 0f course mean that you won’t do it.  If he offers Lansley 1000% support, I guess we know that Dorrell’s got a new job …..

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