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Useful but over-friendly account of the coalition
on 14 April 2015
This is an extremely well-informed account of the coalition. Unsurprisingly, given that d’Ancona is a political columnist for the Sunday Telegraph and the Evening Standard, this book puts all the coalition’s acts in the best possible light.
He notes that the coalition’s Programme for Government pledged to ‘stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS’. It also pledged to hire fewer spin doctors. The coalition broke both these pledges and many others too.
In 2006 David Cameron told the Conservative party conference, “Tony Blair explained his priorities in three words: education, education, education. I can do it in three letters: NHS.” But come 2015’s election campaign, the NHS was not even one of his party’s top six priorities.
Cameron had appointed Jeremy Hunt Health Secretary: before Hunt was appointed, he had written, “Our ambition [is] in effect denationalising health care in Britain” and that the NHS was ‘a 60-year-old mistake’ and ‘a fundamentally broken machine’.
The facts refute Hunt’s claims. In 2014 the Commonwealth Fund ranked the NHS the best of eleven health services, better than those of the USA, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
But governments still underfunded our NHS. We had fewer hospital beds per 1,000 people: 2.8, as against Germany’s 8.3, France’s 6.3, Italy’s 3.4 and Spain’s 3. We also had fewer doctors per 1,000 people: 2.8, as against Germany’s 4, Italy’s 3.9, Spain’s 3.8, France’s 3.3 and Australia’s 3.3.
d’Ancona notes that the Conservatives and the LibDems face a huge dilemma: if there is no recovery, their coalition has failed; if they claim that there is a recovery, then their coalition is not needed.