Why does the phrase "stupid prat" come to mind when Labour Minister Ivan Lewis says something ?

Ivan Lewis attempted today to through mud at Nick Clegg's excellent announcement of minimum health and care guarantees for the elderly, which would become part of the Lib Dems focus on health issues. But like any other thick yob, he highlights his own stupidity and his own government's shortcomings in doing so. Some might say Mr Lewis has made himself look a right stupid prat in speaking out before he has actually thought about what he means to say.

Under the Lib Dem plans announced today there would be

1) A £2bn care guarantee for the elderly, based on need rather than ability to pay
2) Patient Contracts guaranteeing access to a high standard of healthcare within maximum waiting times
3) Directly elected local health boards instead of unelected primary care trusts
4) Direct payments and individual budgets for people with chronic, long term conditions, for mental health services and support for those with learning disabilities
5) Independent "advocates" for cancer patients

These are excellent policies which most sane people would find hard to disagree with. And as with all Lib Dem policies, they are fully costed promises.

So labour's response was to get Ivan Lewis, a Minister of no repute who is short on brains, who then said

"Health Minister Ivan Lewis said Mr Clegg's care guarantee for the elderly was "not worth the paper it is written on".

"Under the cover of a new policy he has cynically ditched the Lib Dem manifesto commitment to free personal care for all elderly people."

But hang on. Isn't Mr Lewis a part of the same labour government who promised in their manifesto to have a referendum on the new Euro Constitution, a promise they then ditched ? And isn't Mr Lewis a Minister in the same party who promised in their manifesto to "legislate to prevent tuition fees", and then they actually legislated to introduce them ?

And Mr Lewis seems to have only a vague understanding of what a manifesto is. Surely a manifesto is a plan for government, if you are elected. When you are not elected you are not bound by a manifesto that you were not elected on. Manifesto pledges are expected to be worked on and carried through by parties in power, but in opposition, and if Mr Lewis hadn't noticed (he probably hasn't to be fair), the Lib Dems have changed their party leader twice since the last election and the new leader is not constrained by the manifesto from two leaders before.

It could be me, but it seems Mr Lewis has said something that has highlighted his main weakness. this being his general lack of intelligence.

The problem for Ivan Lewis is that despite his carping, and drawing attention to his lack of any political nous, he didn't realise that the Lib Dems proposals would come in for such fulsome praise by all those charities and issue groups that have a direct interest in this policy area.

As the BBC website goes on to quote;

"Niall Dickson, chief executive of the King's Fund think tank, said: "We welcome the strong emphasis the Liberal Democrats have today placed on reforming a deeply unpopular system - one that has for so long not only damaged thousands of lives, but also wasted resources by failing to help people live independently without the need for more expensive support."

Paul Cann, of Help the Aged, said: "This Lib Dem policy package on social care is very attractive. Care is not cheap - and will become more expensive. Ensuring we have a fair and sustainable funding settlement is crucial to transforming our ailing social care system."

Age Concern director general Gordon Lishman said: "We support the people-centred vision outlined by the Liberal Democrats today. "This represents an important contribution to the debate about how to remedy the scandalous failure of the current social care system in England."

So a message to Ivan Lewis. Engage brain before opening your mouth in future. Remember the old adage Ivan "It is better to keep you mouth shut and let people think you are an idiot rather than open it and confirm their view"
At least if he loses his seat in the future, a job as a Peter Kay lookalike beckons.


Quiet_Man said...

I believe the Lib Dems were also promising a referendum on the new Euro Constitution. But I'm not going to hold my breath on Clegg honouring that manifesto promise and joining with the Tories to force that one through along with the Labour rebels.

The word prat springs to mind whenever I hear the word politician ;-)

Norfolk Blogger said...

I support a referendum, although the Lib Dem leadership does not.

An interesting point though was made today by Nick Clegg when he asked Cameron what he would do if a referendum vote was "no". It appears Clegg has tried to smoke Cameron out over this, and Cameron (surprise surprise) has no policy.