But Andrew went on the Today programme and was refreshingly honest / unwittingly candid / a bonehead (pick any one from three), and blurted out some home truths about spending. The cat, if it was a cat, was let out of the bag, had it ever been in one. What it did, however, was to let Ed start frothing about CUTS!! (always, in labourspeak, said loudly in capital letters and followed by exclamation marks).
I'm all for them, of course. I have always considered most government spending to be, logically, half as efficient as private spending, and the more of the latter we can do, at the expense of the former, the better. Small efficient government is a worthy ambition not just in the current circumstances, but all circumstances.
So George had to say something. And he has. There will be commentary about truthfulness and bravery, all of which will be guff. Any conservative worth his salt should always be able to articulate this argument, and should not be overly sensitive about his timing.
All this new found good sense comes with a catch, of course. Or two catches, much the bigger of which is the NHS (the smaller being Overseas Aid, or Post Empire White Guilt - a topic for another day). It seems as though we should look forward, at least for the next six years, to an even bigger NHS, consuming yet more money, employing yet more people. There will be suggestions that the middlest of the middle managers might be downsized, or shed, like so much cellulite as the patient's fitness regime takes hold. I doubt it. I would say that we need to have a debate about this, but of course it will result in the Holy Cow remaining Holy. Holier, even, than thou.
So what should happen instead is that the Tories must kick the habit, and do the hard work of coming up with a sensible alternative to our current arrangements. It may be ironic that it could happen at the same time that Obama is motoring towards the British Solution, with all the expense and socialism which is implied, but so be it.
Mark Steyn, a man who would have an opinion on the breeding of goldfinches in Slovenia, if you asked him, certainly can get a head of steam up over something like this, and here he goes:
When President Barack Obama tells you he's "reforming" health care to "control costs," the point to remember is that the only way to "control costs" in health care is to have less of it. In a government system, the doctor, the nurse, the janitor and the Assistant Deputy Associate Director of Cost-Control System Management all have to be paid every Friday, so the sole means of "controlling costs" is to restrict the patient's access to treatment. In the Province of Quebec, patients with severe incontinence – i.e., they're in the bathroom 12 times a night – wait three years for a simple 30-minute procedure. True, Quebeckers have a year or two on Americans in the life expectancy hit parade, but, if you're making 12 trips a night to the john 365 times a year for three years, in terms of life-spent-outside-the-bathroom expectancy, an uninsured Vermonter may actually come out ahead.
I get a lot of mail each week arguing that, when folks see the price tag attached to Obama's plans, they'll get angry. Maybe. But, if Europe's a guide, at least as many people will retreat into apathy. Once big government's in place, it's very hard to go back.
Here's the whole thing. I'm afraid that he, like me, is short of a sensible alternative immediately to hand, and just wants to vent his spleen, but hey, that's blogging.