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Will Lansley swap jobs with Hammond?

Michael Crick | 19:22 UK time, Wednesday, 27 April 2011

My understanding is that David Cameron doesn't want to do a ministerial reshuffle this spring or summer. He values continuity, and would like to leave his first big reshuffle until the spring of 2012. That would mean that every minister had been given two years to show his worth, and therefore less humiliation for those who are sacked.

The big, big problem, though, is health. Especially if Andrew Lansley has to make big changes to his reorganisation of the NHS. And if the polls still suggest the Tories are in huge trouble on the issue.

One idea being mooted among Conservative MPs today, and perhaps being considered in Downing Street, is a simple straight swap - between Lansley and the Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

Hammond is considered a safe pair or hands, good on TV (as his should be after his numerous appearances in the past), and likely to master the technical detail and economics of NHS reorganisation. And moving Lansley to Transport would avoid humiliation for a colleague for whom David Cameron has had huge respect since they worked together in the Conservative Research Department twenty years ago.

Such a swap could be presented as part of a new, fresh approach to health.

It would also avoid the kind of extensive reshuffle which will be quite difficult in a Coalition, and which Cameron wants to avoid for now.

But would it be a good idea to out the somewhat discredited Lansley in charge of another hot potato, the High Speed Rail Link.

Another possibility for the Health Secretary is simple to replace Lansley with the Culture Secretary. "Jeremy's got very little to do these days, except swanning around at sporting and cultural events," says a senior government source. "He's made the big decisions now, on the BBC and Sky. Give him health, and then we'll really see what he's made of."


  • Comment number 1.

    All this is meaningless Crick . If you want meaning take a look at the price of gold right now.

  • Comment number 2.

    I can't see Lansley on Top Gear somehow?

  • Comment number 3.


    NHS: Nursing Horror Stories. Money poured in; endless tinkering by ill-informed ministers; Project 2000 'nurses'. Another triumph of the Westminster Ethos to put with wars, schooling, policing/prison etc.


  • Comment number 4.

    Hammond is the best transport man we have had for decades, Landley is probably useless whatever department they put him in. It would appear that he is like a child with a new dinky toy, pulls off all the tyres and loses them down the back of the sofa, thus rendering a perfectly good model into junk !

  • Comment number 5.


    OH joy Bro! The image is burned into my virtual retina.

  • Comment number 6.

    @1 Here we go again. Gold Gold Gold. Is it relevant here? You sound as though you are selling the stuff, or talking up your own investment.

    The TRUE worth of a currency should not be gold, or any other useless commodity, but the productive capacity of the economy it represents.

    As I've argued many times before, I'd rather base a currency on manure than on gold: at least manure has a genune economic function:

    On an isolated island, iron would be valuable, and so would manure, but gold would not help feed or clothe anyone!

  • Comment number 7.

    PS Also, gold mining pollutes* and kills - and for what? To divert investment from going to something useful!

    *with mercury and cyanide

  • Comment number 8.


    I have seen the future world currency - the MANURO - and it works!

    But it is rumoured that the Flanian Pobble Bead and the Triganic Pu are surging.

  • Comment number 9.

    #6 - its isnt about gold - that name is just the canary in the coal mine of the $

  • Comment number 10.

    'Hammond is considered a safe pair or hands, good on TV (as his should be after his numerous appearances in the past)'

    Good as in his stellar comedy duo outing with Mr. Darling recently?

    If his grasp of matters health is as good as transport or education, it might be a good idea not to fall sick.

  • Comment number 11.

    Andrew Lansley is a True Believer in the "magic of the market" - he honestly believes the stuff he comes out with and thinks anything else is heresy.

    The problem he faces is that the British public don't share his fundamentalist zeal and when you apply it to the NHS, the marketisation of health via GPs "bulk buying" for patients, it rapidly becomes clear from votes of no confidence by nurses to the groundswell of opinion against his reforms that people are not convinced that we can reconcile socialised medicine of the existing NHS with doctrinaire commercialisation Andrew Lansley proposes.

    The NHS cannot operate both methods of allocating resources at the same time and if it tries to, we fear that we will see another massive bureaucratic, unaccountable waste and a return to postcode lottery as the way to decide who gets what - or not.

    Sending him to transport will simply compound the contradiction of the railways as they now stand after a massively botched privatisation followed by partial renationalisation by the back door after RailTrack collapsed and had to be replaced by Network Rail. The cost of operating the railways in the UK is far too high compared to other European networks and fares are ridiculous - the reason is that yet again we have a ludicrous mishmash of socialised provision mixed up with a cocktail of private companies making money and government retreating from its support for the "social railway".

    The problem isn't Andrew Lansley - the problem is the ideology and the policies that flow from the Coalition, which sees their job to be quite simply a genteel version of the anarchist slogan, "Smash the State" - Andrew Lansley may wear pinstripes and have gone to a good school, but in essence his key objective is to roll back the state, cut its spending and "set free enterprise free" to sell to its customers whatever they can afford, then cut the taxes of the better off people whose interests he represents.

    The fact that there simply isn't anything approaching a majority for this point of view let alone an electoral mandate for the sorts of policies Andrew Lansley espouses is the real problem David Cameron faces, so if he does shift Lansley he's simply shooting the messenger who brings a clear message about what we think of the politics of the Coalition.

    Cameron banged on that "the NHS is safe with us" - he even put a commitment not to do another top-down reform of the NHS in his manifesto - then he sets Andrew Lansley on doing the exact opposite - to claim that the anger that followed was simply because Andrew Lansley "failed to communicate" is churlish and piles on insult to injury for the doctors and nurses who reject the whole policy.

  • Comment number 12.

    how embarrassing for Lansley at PMQ's when a Labour MP asked Cameron if he was to be sacked...'there he is over there' and Lansley was skulking in the side pews and not on the front bench, not next to his leader, the Prime Minister but the runes say he is the next re-shuffle...

  • Comment number 13.

    Isn't Lansley supposed to be the Health expert? Hasn't he been beavering away on this for ages in some think tank basement? It's his mess and he should clear it up, regardless of what the 'Hulture' Secretary says.

  • Comment number 14.

    Very interesting stuff Mr Crick. I am expecting a reshuffle - but more because I thought they were desperate to get David Laws back in the cabinet after serving his 'time'? I was wondering whether they might be tempted to put him into health as he is a radical on health reform (see his contribution to the Orange Book)


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