It was a hot summers day in the Highlands. Our patrol, the Snipes, had set up camp next to a bog. That week we were forming a lasting and intimate relationship with the Highland Midge, and many of his little friends. It was a relief to be getting away for a hike up into the hills.
During a rest, a rather handsome striped fly lit on the back of my hand. Seized by a treacherous, self conscious attack of the Gerald Durrells, I watched it. Yowch!! A nasty little nip, swelling into a stinging itch that stayed with me for days.
That was 40 years ago, but ever since that day I have loathed and distrusted the bumptious clegg.
British readers will know where I’m going with this.
The loathsome Clegg, Grymer Wormtongue to David Cameron’s fallen Saruman, asks us to believe that he has saved the National Health Service. That his wise woman and her coven have scried out all that is evil in the NHS Bill. That they have woven a web of counterspells that will protect this jewel at the heart of the matter of modern Britain. I fear that all too late we will see this for the fairy tale that it is.
But he speaks the truth when he admits that he erred in not setting out clearly what problem this bill is trying to fix.
So it is difficult to judge by anything other than the likely effect on delivery. Roy Lilley has put it much better than I can. Please, please read this intelligent, punchy analysis. Eight key intentions for the bill, none delivered.
I don’t particularly care about the politics. If some creative, hard working entrepreneurs earn their honest crusts providing a world class service, that’s fine with me. I might even be ready to make modest payments for some non-essential services.
But this is looking like a train wreck. Anyone with eyes and a brain will see disturbing parallels, appropriately enough, to the other massive, artificial, false market of the last 30 years: the privatisation of British Rail.