Let us examine the political thesis put forward by Lucy from Lymington who, commenting at Mail Online upon the latest anti-Cameron eruption from Mount Heffer, said that the prime minister should spend less time thinking about Syria and more about the people of Britain. The question this raises is whether Mr Cameron has really been more exercised this week by the appalling violence in Homs or whether it is the carnage closer to home that has been on his mind. One refers, of course, to the various threats of death and decapitation aimed in the direction of Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health. Regrettably, unrestrained by censure from either Russia or China, some of the shelling has emanated from Downing Street itself.
It is true that, ever since Russia and China put the kibosh on the UN's attempts to wag the internationalist finger at Damascus, Mr Hague, the foreign secretary, has been fretting about the situation in Syria. This, however, is not unusual in a foreign secretary. One might almost say that it defines Britain's place in the modern world. Some countries (eg Russia, Israel) seeing a problem on their doorstep they don't much like, sort it out. Some countries (eg Belgium, Italy) quit worrying about things they can't do anything to change long ago. Britain falls into neither of these camps. We have one of the largest fret to capability ratios in the world. And, to the extent that Mr Hague did have a plan - which, after sending William to the Falklands and Harry to Afghanistan, probably involved deploying Princess Eugenie in support of the rebel forces - it has now been stymied by the Security Council, giving us even more to get exercised about. Lucy from Lymington should stop trying to row against the tide of history, and rest assured that the Government still does have its eye on the ball. Or, returning to the topic of Mr Lansley and the health reforms, on the man rather than the ball.
The ad hominem attacks on Mr Lansley, from the prime minister's circle in the middle of the week and latterly from three anonymous Cabinet ministers, have been nasty and brutish. Downing Street wants him shot; the Cabinet trio appeared across the horizon presented by the website Conservative Home rather as a set of knights who would be prepared to hike down to Whitehall and hack the health secretary to death besides his departmental water cooler. At least Conservative Home itself, the voice of moderation, only wanted to kill his Bill, thus lining itself up with fellow-travellers like the BMA and the Labour Party.
To attack the man rather than his ideas is at least explicable by the fact that the Secretary of State is a vaguely identifiable entity. The same cannot be said of his reforms which are concealed among deep thickets of jargon and surrounded by a permanent fog of incomprehensibility. This, it turns out, is the good news for Mr Lansley. To the extent that the progenitor of these mysterious reforming ideas is revealed in human form, the appearance is not at all to the Health Secretary's benefit with his Conservative colleagues. The problem is, and it became all the more evident as the week progressed, that they do not see him as one of them.
Everywhere one looks, the Conservative Party is becoming less tolerant of those - Liberal Democrats, other Conservatives, the prime minister - who do not conform to their cultural stereotype. The Health Secretary does not help himself in this regard. His dubious claim to be a Conservative is all too evident from those photographs that appear from time to time of him touring hospitals with his neckware tucked scruffily and priggishly inside his shirt. Enter the technocrat. The (worst insult possible) "health expert". A true Tory, one feels, would dangle the bacillus-infested end of his regimental tie into the suppurating wounds of the bed-ridden poor. Mr Lansley is plainly not cut from that granite. And his tie probably comes from Tie Rack.
No doubt there are regulations at work here in a health service struggling to distinguish itself against the not overly-impressive metric of trying to save more people than it kills. The Conservative Party, though occasionally parading itself beneath the mantle of the law and order party, does not like its ministers to bow too willingly before regulations. This tendency was very evident on Tuesday, for example, as various backbenchers berated the Home Secretary for her dreadfully modish insistence that the Government would explore all "legal options" for dealing with the poisonous and dangerous cleric Abu Qatada. This panysing about with the law wasn't what at all any of them wanted. They demanded action. Mrs May should have been putting Abu Qatada on the first plane out, they argued, and returning him to Jordan, preferably without benefit of the aircraft landing.
From this raw Conservative perspective, the week just went from bad to worse. The Chancellor George Osborne made some vague attempts to reverse the tide of anti-business rhetoric in a speech to small businessmen on Wednesday (that is businessmen whose enterprises are small; Mr Osborne was not addressing a convention of entrepreneurial dwarfs), but it was too little and too late. The week even finished up with the prime minister declaring that he is going to hold a "summit" on racism in football - the epitomy of Blairite gesture politics
What is the prime minister playing at? The failure of Liverpool and Manchester United to get past L'Affaire Suarez may be regrettable, but does it really tell us anything about racism in football? Doesn't Mr Cameron realise how deep these ancient tribal hatreds run? Yet one would hardly expect Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish to get together to organise a conference on good relations between the coalition parties. Mr Dalglish is a morose and monoglot Scotsman, famous for communicating his views in incomprehensible grunts. He would represent a step forward on Andrew Lansley to explain the health reforms,
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