14 June 2011 9:07 AM


A Tory MP met someone well placed in the Cameron machine who told him privately that there were two reasons for the multiple climbdowns on the NHS reforms.

His source said the first reason was that the Health and Social Care Bill was in real danger of failing to get through the Lords, where Lib Dem peers were waiting in ambush.

The second alleged reason was more controversial.  "We have to give the Lib Dems more concessions so that they do not block the new boundary changes."

Ouch! That is a far cry from David Cameron's assurance to Tory MPs yesterday (and in the Mail article today) that he just wanted to improve a Bill because "some of the details were wrong".

If the well-places source is right then there is some pretty tough horse-trading going on.  If the source is wrong, it still suggests that Tory-Lib Dem relations are entering an ice age.

My Tory MP chum is furious.  "Knowing the Lib Dems as we now do, it is highly likely they will screw us over on the boundary changes, even though we have given them so many concessions on the health service," he charges.

The boundary changes - making seats the same size and cutting the number of MPs to 600 - might be worth a dozen or more seats to the Tories (although a recent study said such gains were a pipedream).  Although the boundary shake-up was in the Coalition Agreement, there has to be a parliamentary vote in 2013 to approve the new map which will be drawn up over the next two years.  It is not hard to imagine a last-minute bit of bargaining for it to go through.


Joe Murphy


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From the performance yesterday in the surgical ward at St Guy's Hospital, it might seem to some that no genuine concern was shown for the health of NHS patients by politicians, hangers on, lobbyists and journos - only for their own immediate agenda. Indeed, it seemed that the senior Consultant was treated with contempt.

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