Question Time last night on BBC1 assembled a panel sure to cause fireworks, and fireworks there were, on a military scale. Lansley spent much of the programme looking like a barrage balloon about to explode, Sarah Sands explained to anyone willing to listen why she should be the next editor of the Daily Mail, and Mark Littlewood previewed the bilateral cauliflower ears that all Lib-Dems will sport, once the electorate give them the boxing about the ears that they so sorely deserve at the next election. But the best and most striking bit was the visceral anger of the audience. At one point, they almost rose up as one, as if to tear Lansley limb from limb. Dr No, pacifist that he is, almost wished they had. At least we would have been spared further sight of that blasted barrage balloon.
When he wasn’t looking bloated, Andrew looked disappointed, like a parent let down by unruly offspring. I have done my best for you, these last eight years, the look said, and this is how you repay me. Goaded intolerably at one point by a miscreant Phil Hammond, who had had the cheek to run a word count on the Testament According To Lansley without actually reading it, the wounded patriarch mask all but slipped, with corporal punishment for miscreants back on the menu. But it was not to be. It was Dimber’s turn to look disappointed. A bust up on QT would have done wonders for the ratings.
The take home message was, or rather appeared to be, that, like his boss Cameron, Lansley simply just doesn’t get it. Daily he stares in the face overwhelming public and professional opposition to his reforms, and yet he sees nothing, nor hears a word. It is quite extraordinary, and Dr No can only think of two possible explanations. Either it is denial on a delusional scale – Lansley really does live in La La Land – or – surely not – it is the deliberate steam-rollering of ideological dogma over the expressed will of the people.
Regretfully, Dr No rather fears the latter. Call him a conspiracy theorist, but he can’t help wondering why the CQC’s latest dossier of despair, which Lansley ordered, was released yesterday, the day after the Lords’ second reading of the Bill. More grist to the no-change-in-not-an-option mill? Another hose with which to sprinkle water on dissident reactionary fireworks? Of course, Dr No can’t be sure – but he does wonder.