Centreground Political Communications

Prime Minister’s Questions, 8 February

Written by on February 8th, 2012
English: NHS logo

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Predictably Labour leader Ed Miliband chose to pressure the Prime Minister on health, writes Adrian McMenamin. Equally predictably the PM avoided answering any of Miliband’s questions – generally about how health professionals have turned their backs on the government’s health and social care bill – directly.

It was not a good outing for David Cameron. Labour feel they have the public on their side and some incontinence in briefing on the government side – with one No 10 source saying the health secretary should be “taken out and shot” – suggests that they think that too.

But Labour’s confidence that it is winning the argument risks turning to hubris. This morning the shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, sought to rewrite history by claiming, on the Today Programme, Labour had improved the NHS in office by adopting co-operation and eschewing competition, and Cameron did have a point this afternoon when he repeatedly reminded Ed Miliband of Labour’s record in introducing choice and competition to the NHS.

Miliband did not make Burnham’s mistake and instead focused on the gap between the Prime Minister’s promise of “no more top down reorganisations” in the NHS whilst in opposition, and the reality of just such a proposal.

But Cameron has been caught out by promising health professionals – who generally are always likely to oppose reform – what they wanted to hear when in opposition and then deciding that things had to be different in government.

If and when Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister in 2015 he will not want to fall into the same trap.

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