My mission statement

The times we are working in now need a great deal of accelerated change and there must be no negotiating that down. So my mission statement for this part of my consultancy career is to be clear that there needs to be and will be a lot of change from the work that I do with individuals and organisations and if organisations don’t want that, then it is probably best to go somewhere else.

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One way of getting the Bill passed – or why politics is so unfair.

Filed Under (Health and Social Care Bill) by Paul on 24-01-2012

One of the more interesting possibilities that writing this blog offers is to try and bring together very different parts of the very different worlds that impact upon the NHS. At this moment all of the major medical organisations within the NHS are concentrating on the Bill and its passage through the House of Lords, which is an important issue for NHS policy since it now looks as if every organisation in the NHS is against it. Many expect the Bill to be defeated.

But the Government seems eerily confident of getting the Bill passed when it returns to the Lords for 6 days between February and March.

They can’t both be right.

Let me offer an explanation for how the politics of protest could be defeated by the politics of raw power.

At some time this week there will be a summit to discuss tactics and strategies that NHS organisations may use to either change or stop the Bill. Last week we saw the royal nursing colleges come out against the Bill and call for it to be stopped.

Organisations will be looking for ways of gaining enough votes to beat the Government – either in a series of crucial votes on amendments – or finishing off the Bill completely. This will involve some of the most modern tactics and strategy of lobbying with members of the Lords receiving carefully tailored letters arguing for them to vote against the Bill.

NHS organisations opposed to the Bill will be looking at some of last week’s victories in the House of Lords on welfare benefits. They will be thinking that all they have to do is get the same numbers who have been voting against the welfare measures to vote against the Government Health and Social Care Bill and it will be defeated.

All of which looks quite logical.

But the real raw politics of power has another logic which changes these terms of political trade.

The Government has the right to increase the number of people in the House of Lords whenever it chooses.

Everyone knows that lists of new peers are announced at New Year and in June for the Queen’s Birthday honours.

But the Government can nominate new peers at any time – and it is up to them who they nominate.

So let’s pretend that this week the Government is anxious about getting the Bill passed. One piece of naked power that the Government could use is to create 50 new peers – this week. Now of course it would have to create more than just Tory peers. One way to determine how many of each there should be would be to look at the proportion of votes at the last election and divide up the new peers in that way.

But the Government doesn’t have to be fair at all. If it is worried about its legislation it could create – for example – 50 new peers. That fifty could be split between 30 Conservative 15 Lib Dem and 5 Labour. This would – in one day – increase the Government’s majority in the House of Lords by 40.

Of course if the Government were to do this it would be extremely unfair on all those NHS organisations who were lobbying against the Bill. It would make their task almost impossible. NHS staff would be very angry. They would feel that this was extremely unfair.

They would be right.

But it would get the Bill through.

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