Is Spelman one of the NHS three?
A fantastic game of Cluedo is going on after three Cabinet ministers rang the "alarm bell" over the Andrew Lansley's NHS reforms.
Various names and denials are flying around Westminster, and among them an interesting line has emerged from Caroline Spelman.
Asked whether the Environment Secretary was one of the three, her spokeswoman replied: "Caroline supports the policy."
I've asked repeatedly for a categorical denial that Mrs Spelman - who was forced into a u-turn over her own controversial forest sell-off proposal - was one of the three, but have been met with radio silence.
Note the language in the short line I was given: Caroline supports the policy. Not Caroline supports the Bill. A lot of Conservatives support the policy, of giving GPs more control over the NHS, while being dismayed about the reforms in the Health and Social Care Bill itself. In fact, Labour is also broadly supportive of GP-led commissioning though the party is less keen on increased private sector involvement.
You could certainly understand if Spelman felt bruised at being hung out to dry over forests, while Lansley has so far been allowed to get on with his NHS shake-up. She may also feel that she has little to lose in terms of job prospects.
According to Conservative Home, of the three ministers: "One was insistent the Bill must be dropped. Another said Andrew Lansley must be replaced. Another likened the NHS reforms to the poll tax." While the second seems unlikely to be Spelman (it would surely be a tacit admission she should have been replaced too), you can make a case for her saying either of the others.
Until we get a categorical reply on whether Spelman is one of the NHS three, I guess we'll never know for sure...
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