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Anorak | Hospital Pass

Hospital Pass

by | 19th, November 2003

‘WHEN Lord Nelson was ordered to halt bombardment of the Danish fleet in the middle of the Battle of Copenhagen, he deliberately put his eyeglass to his blind eye and thereby claimed never to have seen the command.

CENSORED

Had Sports Minister Richard Caborn had a deaf ear, he would have been well advised to have put the phone to it and feigned ignorance of a command from Labour whips to return home from Australia for tonight’s Commons vote on foundation hospitals and so forfeit his seat at this weekend’s Rugby World Cup final.

Instead, the blunt Yorkshireman ”flew into a rage”, according to the Telegraph, and expressed his displeasure in what is normally referred to as Anglo-Saxon language.

His spokesman refused to reveal the exact nature of his tirade, saying: ”I can’t tell you. It’s before the watershed.”

However, there is a more serious side to the story as the Guardian notes, suggesting for a start that it shows how worried the Government is about tonight’s vote.

Downing Street concedes that it will be close, despite the fact that Labour has a 164-seat majority in the House of Commons.

”It is an important issue for the Government,” a spokesman says, ”and people want to be seen to be supporting it.”

We think he will find that people want to be seen supporting Martin Johnson and his team on Saturday rather more than they want to support the policy of foundation hospitals.

Indeed, culture secretary Tessa Jowell is jumping on a plane for Sydney right after the vote and Mr Caborn has been told that he is welcome to join her.

However, one wonders how much all these comings and goings are costing the British taxpayer, with only first-class seats available for the 12,000-mile round trip.

Julie Kirkbride, shadow culture secretary, accused the Government of wasting money and of jeopardising London’s bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

She has a point – surely it would have been cheaper to fly one Tory front-bencher out to Australia and so equal out the voting in the Commons tonight. Eh, Julie?’



Posted: 19th, November 2003 | In: Broadsheets Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink