Hunt the health row

One of the odd things is how much media power Labour still has. This week my phone has been hot with journalists acting as unpaid Labour researchers, wanting the low down on the great Tory health row that never was.

I tell each one the same thing. There is no row, debate or discussion going on amongst Tory MPs on the issue of health reform. If there were I would know. Fellow Conservative MPs often ring me up to discuss party policy. No-one has been trying to get through to talk about changing our health policy in recent weeks, even allowing for the difficulty in doing so for all the journalists on the phone.

Despite all the efforts expended to get a quote, to create tension against David Cameron, and to enlist support for Dan Hannan, they have failed to do so. You would have heard all about it if they had. There would be lurid headlines now about Tory splits, about Tory evil intents, and lies of how a Tory government would cut free health care at the point of need and make health more the preserve of those with health insurance.

One allegedely serious newspaper not only put their reporter on to me, but the Deputy Editor rang when he had failed to get anything they could use. I explained I had given the paper many good quotes about the real health story – how Labour was up to its usualy dirty tricks to damage the Conservatives and how it intended to close down all serious debate by going on another of its MCarthyite purges of improper thoughts towards the NHS. The Deputy Editor did not seem to think that was an acceptable viewpoint. I explained again it was my view, and as they thought my view so important they should report it. The parting shot was to ask if I had myself taken out private health insurance. That question confirmed what they are trying to do. Let me stress here to all who are thinking of going that route to follow Mandelson’s bidding that I do not have private health insurance. Nor do most Conservative MPs and voters. So stop lying about us. Conservatives use the NHS and are fed up with Labour lies.

It is even more curious that against a poll background where Labour is consistently 10-15% behind the Conservatives there is only one Conservative supporting newspaper, the Express. You would have thought these newspapers would start to ask themselves how good their Conservative sources are in case the Conservatives win the next election. They might start looking at what the Consertvative stories are, as well as the Labour crude spin. I explained patiently to them all who rang that our main story is the run away deficit and the need to take action to limit the build up of debt. The leadership thinks this is the main issue, as do I. I listen in vain in the morning in the hope that the BBC will start to take this seriously. Doesn’t it rate as many mentions as global warming and the health “row” that never was? Those journalists who want to understand what Conservatives are talking about and thinking about should read this website and Conservative Home. Maybe then they will ring us and talk about something we are talking about and wanting to change, instead of trying yet again again to place us in one of Labour’s pathetic and predictable traps.

I look forward to some phone calls to expalin Conservative views on the economy – or even on the surveillance society. I am not expecting the phone to be red hot on those. Such remains the power of Labour’s distorting media operation.

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19 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    At least they are still ringing you John.

    Time to worry is when they think you have nothing important to say.

  2. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I wonder how many journalists and media bosses have private health insurance. Quite a large number I should expect and paid for by their companies i.e. their customers, not by them. I am pleased to read that the main issue for your party is “the run away deficit and the need to take action to limit the build up of debt”. I was concerned when David Cameron suggested that the NHS was the number one priority. Perhaps that is why you have been hounded by journalists. Surely Mandelson can’t be that influential with the media pack can he? Or is it because he is in hospital? I thought he would have been too busy following his meeting with Gaddafi’s son in Corfu. Investigating that would be an interesting and valuable assignment for a good journalist.

  3. A.Sedgwick
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    My guess is that you are being approached as one of the clear thinkers in politics and newspapers cannot believe that you do not think that the NHS needs radical change basically to survive in the long term. No high profile politician needs health insurance, preference and service are guaranteed. Just as with the EU, reducing the cost of the state, immigration, law and order, Afghanistan, education, unemployment, welfare the current leadership of the two main parties are frightened to tell it as it is until events prove the case conclusively.

  4. Peter Turner
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Labour is destroying our economy. If it continues to destroy our economy it will destroy everything – the NHS, the Welfare State, our legal system, our armed forces, our pension provisions and so on. We will become a Third World Country. The NHS cannot be the major story. Simples.

  5. vervet
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    And so the question arises … what plans do the party have for addressing this media bias ?
    The people of this country are not stupid, but the relentless media distortion does inevitably colour their views to a degree.
    Just why should millions of natural conservative voters be forced to pay a tax to fund a broadcaster that has long lost any vestige of impartiality. If it’s not ‘pink’ or ‘populist’ they just ignore. They are the biggest single influence – for all our sakes, when you are in power, reform the BBC and HOLD THEM TO THEIR CHARTER.

  6. Acorn
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    At least we have the Internet JR. Unfortunately there are not enough of our citizens (voters), that have the desire to search out the other side of the story. The vast majority don’t understand what is going on or have any desire to find out. I blame it on the education system. Why, because it is always someone else’s fault, not mine, I am a victim of the system; nothing to do with me.

    I look forward to JR doing audio pod-casts. We are desperately short of old style “commentators” of all colours, in the UK. You may be familiar with the likes of Jon Stewart and his Daily Show (C4), or maybe Dan Carlin for instance, all US based. They all have their own brand of cynicism but they can make you think about alternative view points. I can’t find their equivalents in the UK; perhaps you may know some?

    Carswell said recently on his blog that the BBC was the broadcast version of the Guardian, I can agree with that. Some might say the Guardian is a wholly owned subsidiary of NuLabour. I only read newspapers on line nowadays, and then usually through an aggregate site. This is a point that Dan Carlin picked up on recently in “show 151”, I recommend “show 157” as well, see link following.

    Those insomniacs with an Internet radio at your bedside, can get it on that platform as well (podcast>genre>talk>commentary).

    http://www.wifiradio-frontier.com/setupapp/fs/asp/BrowseStations/BrowseEpisodes.asp?sBrowseType=Episode&ShowN=Common Sense with Dan Carlin&ShowF=Commentary&ShowS=MP3&showid=P8846&showstatic=

  7. Stuart Fairney
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    The generation of journalists spoon fed stories by Campbell, Mandy et al may soon find themsleves unemployed and are in a kind of collective desperate denial. How awful it must be to be wrenched from the teat of easy propaganda unquestioningly repeated. Could actual journalism be due for a return?

  8. Man in a Shed
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Surely a group of Conservative MPs should get together and record all contacts with the media and their topics over a week and publish the results online.

    It would make interesting reading.

  9. no one
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    im more interested in how lord mandys operation was scheduled so precisely to fit between his holidays and other commitments, when the rest of us have to turn up when we are told or lump it

    theres a real health scandal there

    nhs is ok if youre a vip, or mp who can make a fuss people will listen to you

    john with the best will in the world you relying on the nhs is a lot less risky than the rest of us, we all know mps get favourable treatment, you only have to look at the beast of bolsover and his heart op, the last speaker and his heart op, prescott and his feet which were looked at immediately, blair and the amazing consultant on the back of a motorbike service from the other side of london, and yes mandy able to call out lord darzi to shuffle along his treatment for gall stones and precise operation schedules

    the fact that you can as an mp rely on the nhs is a scandal precisely because the rest of us cannot

  10. The Economic Voice
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    We look forward to the Sun swinging back behind the Conservatives, as publicly as they left you for Tony.

  11. Mike Stallard
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    You are so right!
    Allow me to contradict you on one thing: the Telegraph shows a very intelligent support for conservatism. So does the Spectator. The Mail, too, was never corrupted by Labour and stood firm throughout on reporting the salacious truth. That is why trendy BBC comedians (yuk!) take such pleasure in sneering at it. Do you remember when the Telegraph was never read out at the end of Newsnight at all?
    Meanwhile, do I hear the Guardian/Observer is going broke?

    And one of the very dirtiest, snidiest and pathetic Labour gimmicks of all has been the silence over the release of the bomber to Lybia. To think that simple, idiotic voters will be fooled into blaming the SNP for something that Lord Mandelson did not fix and which Tony Blair had nothing at all in any way to do with beggars belief!

  12. Steve Tierney
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    It even extends to local newspapers, in my experience. It would be nice, just once, to find a media outlet that wasn’t in bed with the left.

  13. Bazman
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    It’s like a nasty relative that never changes. Are the Tories still the nasty party? They are seen as his. Huh? Anyone who votes has a long memory and are probably over forty. If you are over forty then you are conservative not Rock and Roll..

    Reply: NO , not the nasty party. Try meeting more epople and hearing what they have to say these days about Labour

  14. james harries
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    “There is no row, debate or discussion going on among tory MPs” on the subject of health care reform.
    Shame on you!
    Start thinking NOW.
    Call it what you will – a row, a debate, a discussion, a congress, a frank exchange of views or a split – to simply ignore the future of the largest consumer of taxpayers’ money and the third largest employer in the world is unbelievably irresponsible.

  15. Bazman
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    epople. Just being nasty.

  16. Beacon
    Posted August 22, 2009 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    The NUJ control the media. Has anyone never noticed how the BBC and Sky run the same programming. I often wonder why they don’t save costs and just use the same team!

    No-one noticed how the press is censored? Maybe a quick read through the NUJ ADM 2009 Preliminary Agenda is enough to open your eyes.

  17. Will Rees
    Posted August 23, 2009 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Really should avoid intern after pub FINAL:

    The problem is, as I see it according to http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8278a416-5f74-11de-93d1-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1, as well as now being second to what the FT terms social protection, no other area of government expenditure has the same year on year increased growth in expenditure. A stat that to my eyes makes it more likely to absorb cuts than areas that have had leaner provision. For the leader of the opposition to be saying the world’s 3rd largest organisation is ring fenced from cuts makes him:
    (a) a liar
    (b)not up to the job he aspires to
    (c)both(most likely.)
    Fortunately for the Tories, governments lose elections, oppositions rarely win them

  18. Adam Collyer
    Posted August 23, 2009 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    With Lord Mandelson at the helm, I’m sure that “Labour’s distorting media operation” will get even worse as the election approaches.

  19. Adrian Peirson
    Posted August 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Just like the US Federal Reserve is not Federal and the Bank of England is Not the Bank of England, so the UK’s National Health Service is not about Health but about Eugenics.
    It’s even starting to show in the Media, look at the no of articles on Euthenasia, almost all one sided.
    Rarely showing people enjoying life despite illness or adversity.

    The Entirity of western civilisation is under attack.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk12THeU5eA

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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