There’s been a lot of coverage of the changes to the NHS reforms announced today. In particular, the media have focused on the notion that it is “yet another U-turn” by the government in a long list of changed policies.
The government won’t say it as it would look stroppy, but I suspect a lot of them are thinking the following:
You said you wanted changes, and we made them. Now you’re attacking us for making changes. What do you want us to do?
It’s a fair point. Most pieces of legislation under any government which are attacked by the other side are deemed “controversial”. The difference here is that rather than ploughing ahead (which would have been politically difficult) the government announced a “listening exercise” consulting medical personnel, and then followed the suggestions.
I don’t think a U-turn is a bad thing in many scenarios, particularly where there has been extended debate. I’d go as far as to say that in certain circumstances parties should be praised for U-turns – recognising faults in policies and doing something about it. But is it any wonder that other policies will be battered through even if they’re unpopular when we attack people for doing the opposite? Does anyone recall ID cards – a hugely unpopular scheme which was floated for years before it was scrapped? By all means attack attempts to smash unwanted legislation through, and if they do change their minds feel free to remind the public how long it took.
But government response to public demand should be celebrated, not attacked.