The most pressing concern isn’t the cabinet re-shuffle but the social ones: this government is attempting to re-define us socially in most ways. New demonizations stigmas and discriminations. To this end of course much of the previous protective legilsation, some post-1997, some even enshrined so fast that Thatcher herself didn’t care to remove it, is being jettisoned. An American abandonment of the sick and poor is pervading this country. We know of those from the Conservative party who have specially travelled to infect the U. S. Republicans with dissimulation and downright lies about the NHS, to fuel arguments against Obama-care as it’s stigmatised again over there.
We should watch this closely and applaud what a clever pincer movement this is. If Conservative MPs thus engaged enjoy some success, they can watch gleefully as the reneged post-Obama-care culture is re-imported back here with a vengeance. Vengeance sweet to all those who believe, as I believe, that the final solution for many in the government’s eyes, is that work will set you free.
Most importantly for our sector, we are being asked to witness the dismantlng of safeguards as well as budgets, responsibilities as well as strategies. This has as we know resulted in the deaths of many extremely vulnerable people – which takes them off the register. But our distracted times of course will add many more.
Andew Lansley’s successor has little to recommend him but in his person – a less Rotweiler, more weaseled, Jeremy Hunt. In our Janus-facing Arts and Mental Health world, we’ve drawn the Hunt straw twice. But we’ve lost Lansley, and gained Maria Miller, an unknown fresh-faced Tory of 2005 vintage though I suspect Thatcherite hue – she joined the party in 1983 at 19 and has an LSE background. Cameron, not known for enlightened employment of women (he’s dismissed more in this re-shuffle than he’s appointed, a worrying trend even for Tory women), made her Shadow Minister for the Family; a rather cliched moment of stereotyping. Miller was then moved to the DWP, ditto, as Minister for the Disabled where she received some flack in demonstrations recently. It’s piquant that she changes horses, or vault-horses, half-way through the Paralympics. One of those shows of sensitivity and engagement we’ve come to relish in this government. But she’s at least versed in some of our issues from the other side. Scant comfort but equally there’s less room for the Minister to hide any ignorance.
Astonishingly Hunt has sailed through (like his Admiral father) unscathed and on to the long-promised Health portfolio as if the scandals of previous months never barnacled his draught. Officially of course they didn’t. Irony remains breathless at such times, as Tom Lehrer might have put it, but will catch its breath. Happily he’ll prove no match for the Chairman of the BMA, Mark Porter. Milller is less tried than some, and it’s clear that the government wish to mop up with a fuller apprenticeship for Miller before she moves to more congenial pastures, probably brownfield ones. Business has always been a male preserve, so it’ll be fascinating to see how a busineswoman is rewarded with further steroetypical portfolios, or graduates to what – it’s alleged – she’s good at.