The analogy given on the Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2 in response to a long list of, so called, Tory U-turns, was that of a Formula One racing team. I feel this is the wrong analogy. A more appropriate one would be a Muhammad Ali boxing match, when he was in his prime. The man was a past master in predicting when he was going to knock his opponent out. But Ali was a shrewd fighter too, not a man to short-change his fans or the legion of paying customers who wanted to see him get beaten.
Round one, he would come out all guns blazing and knock seven barrels out of his opponent but, just as the crowd were feeling robbed he would slow the pace down and let the inevitable loser back into the fight.
In our case, the Tories went straight into round one with a flurry of punches that would knock the wind out of any adversary. Tuition fees, tax hikes and an assault on public services that even Thatcher herself would have been proud of. Unlike Ali, the Tories know that their opponent is the crowd and even they know you can’t knock all 60 million out at once. Round one knocked a good few out, but there’s still more to come. They know that if they get their opponent too angry he might hit them with a howitzer of a punch and knock them into unelectability for a generation.
So onto Round two.
Round two Ali comes out and jabs a bit, a few deft digs to the body, just enough to wind a little and sap a some energy from his foe. Then he would perform a rearguard action and lean on the ropes to allow his newly invigoured opposition the naive belief he was back in the fight. Unbeknown to him, Ali was allowing the man to exert some much needed energy, energy he would need for later rounds.
We are now in round two. The Tories came out with some truly vile ideas: reductions in housing benefits for the poor, a right dig to the ribs with the obliteration of invalidity benefits, a loosening of employment legislation, (shown be the employment in Birmingham of Indian contractors in the IT department of the council, bearing in mind there is more than enough skilled individuals for the positions here) an all out assault on the perceived middle-class. Like Ali, or more unlike Ali, for he only fought one at a time and they are attacking the majority of the population, they start to perform a rearguard action.
Health reforms, weekly bin collections, selling off our forests all seem to have been put out of action by the assault of indignity by the British populace. But the Tories know better. While we’re punching at them they’re sitting back and absorbing the punches. In truth it’s we that are tiring. In our minds we feel victory is ours, this weakens us significantly. For, like Ali, they haven’t really tired and aren’t on the defensive. The predicted knock out was round three and that is yet to come. The body punches of ‘NHS reform’, seem innocuous now, but the damage was already done to our weakened body and mind.
The so called concessions made over the NHS are just that, so called. In reality nothing has changed. The Secretary of State for Health has kept his responsibility, be he would have any way. Has anyone ever heard of a politician that didn’t crave power? No! They never relinquish it without a fight yet Lansley’s policy was to rid himself of a job. Complete balderdash. Of course he needed to stay in control, there is no other way he could have brought his pals into the NHS otherwise; and like the newly invigorated fighter, we believe we have the upper hand. His intention was always to be there, he just wanted us to give him the mandate for the changes to come. (Some of the most violent Tory lead changes the country has ever experienced).
As for there being no chance of the NHS now being privatised, don’t be so naive! The private sector is still in there and now with a nod and wink from the doctors themselves. A mark of genius by this government.
Round three is yet to come, let’s see what punches we get in that one and whether we can get lucky with a desperate flailing blow!