Does Dave need better rhetoric on the Lansley plan?
A sure sign that you are losing an argument is when, like Cameron did at PMQs today, you accuse your opponent of “being opportunistic”.
After recent successes raising the NHS reforms it was clear that Ed Miliband was going to do the same today. The problem is that Cameron hasn’t found a way of dealing with it in a manner that resonates. He needs much more refined rhetoric.
Whenever the issue if the Tories and the NHS comes up I am reminded of David Herdson’s excellent PB post from last May in which he wrote:-
“..Gaining tentative public trust here (on the NHS) was a key part of the Toriesâ€™ detoxification strategy. As such, simply running it for five years without controversy would have firmed up public confidence, albeit at the cost of accepting Labourâ€™s structures and plans.
Reform was therefore something the Conservatives chose to try, rather than was forced into doing. That was a significant gamble, not just because the reforms themselves might not prove successful but because the political capital placed on it would be lost even if the reforms never made it to the statute book…”
The problem is, of course, that there’s so much suspicion on the part of many voters about the Conservative commitment to the NHS that almost inevitably the party won’t be given the benefit of the doubt. As David says “running it for five years without controversy would have firmed up public confidence”.
It also inevitable that Ed is going to continue pressing on this and the signs are that he’s on the right side of public opinion.
Looking forward Labour are almost certainly going to make the NHS a key general election issue and whatever goes wrong in the next three and a quarter years will be blamed on the Lansley reform plan.
The Tories need to do something and fast.