NHS reform: Miliband proposes alliance with Lib Dem Lords

Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham are unlikely to stop the NHS reform bill, but they can inflict major political damage on the coalition.
Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham are unlikely to stop the NHS reform bill, but they can inflict major political damage on the coalition.

By Ian Dunt

Liberal Democrat peers should team-up with Labour to defeat the government's NHS reforms this week, Ed Miliband has said.

The Labour leader used an article in the Daily Mirror to demand Lords "hole David Cameron’s health plans below the water line".

The article comes ahead of a pivotal week for the bill, when Liberal Democrat opposition in the Lords will show whether it is willing to scupper the bill if sections on competition are not removed.


"[The] plans can still be defeated. But this week is the time for ¬everybody to stand up and be counted," Mr Miliband wrote.

"The House of Lords has the chance to puncture the arrogance of an out-of-touch Prime Minister who thinks he knows better than patients, nurses and doctors and persuade him to drop this bill.

"If they do not the betrayal by the Lib Dems in allowing this bill through will be bigger than the row over ¬university tuition fees."

The focus on the Liberal Democrats typifies Labour's attempt to separate the coalition partners from each other.

Last week, the opposition used a debate on the publication of a risk register to try to convince freedom of information campaigners on the Lib Dem benches to rebel.

The extraordinary criticism of the NHS reform package is creating severe tensions within the coalition.

Baroness Williams, who leads Lib Dem opposition in the second chamber, has said that all sections of the bill concerning competition should be scrapped, putting her close to the Labour position.
 

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