Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Exciting Alan Milburn blog developments

This morning I visited Alan Milburn's constituency offce, having been invited by one of his constituency workers; I promised not to blog anything about the meeting in advance, which is why this is the first mention here. (I was contacted by email within 30 minutes of providing an address - a hint for all proxy-bloggers: provide a private way of communicating with you...)

We had a nice chat about how blogging could help Alan communicate with his constituents (and they with him), Alan's busy schedule and possible future developments. His staff were very interested in blogging, and Alan himself is keen to meet me.

I'm going to continue with this blog for the time being; his office were supportive of it, and asked how they could help me.

Stay tuned.

3 Comments:

Blogger robd said...

Hope this works out! For Alan, For you and, more importantly, all of your Fellow Constituants!

Let's see if Sarah Teather's office get in touch with me...

3:26 pm  
Blogger Phelpe said...

If WWW.TheyWorkForYou.com is to be believed, Alan Milburn doesnt; work for us that is. In fact, he is one of the worst MP's in the country.
He spoke in 3 debates last year (594 out of 659MP's)
He attended 50% of votes (574 out of 658 MP's)
The little toady never rebels against his party 617th out of 650 MP's
In not doing this work he seems to consume more than average in the way of expenses, coming 32nd out of 657 MP's.
According to his own newly found Thatcherite principles he should be replaced with a private sector MP!
Perhaps he was spending more time with his family. Only if his family includes Bridgepoint Capital, part owners of Alliance Medical from whom he received £30,000 last year. Purely by coincidence, Alliance Medical were rewarded with a lucrative NHS contract and from my experience are offering a pretty poor MRI scanning service.
Still, Alan has never had a proper job and is something of a quitter, leaving his history PhD and post as Secretary of State for Health. I suppose he will need to salt away some money ready for when he loses his seat as he will have no marketable skills. Poor thing.

11:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a similar vein I found this article written by Stephen Pollard. The daily mail isn't normally my cup of tea and it's alittle out of date but I don't suppose lan Milburn has changed his spots.


Transforming the NHS would tax the skills of a political giant. But Mr Millburn's career so far suggests he is merely, as he was once described to me, "a careerist timeserver who swings with the political wind...Milburn will do anything, say anything and shaft anyone to get on". Yet it is on Alan Milburn's shoulders that Gordon Brown's reputation for sound economic judgement rests, as well Labour's hopes of winning back the public's belief in its ability to reform public services.
Mr Milburn's life before entering the Commons hardly marks him out for the most challenging ministerial brief of the next decade. He has never really run anything. He gave up writing a Doctorate at Newcastle University, and ended up working, like so many of his colleagues, for trades unions, at the same time as he was active in CND.
But he does possess in abundance the greatest single skill any politician can have: being in the right place at the right time. He took over from Frank Dobson as Health Secretary in 1999 at a time when Labour was barely giving the NHS a second thought. Health was considered one of the toughest jobs in government as Labour did almost nothing to meet the public's demands for a better service. He could easily have been damaged goods within a couple of years, running out of excuses for ever greater failures. But his arrival at Health co-incided with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown deciding that the NHS should become the government's number one priority. Within six months of Mr Milburn taking over, the Prime Minister made his stunning commitment to lift spending on health by a third, to EU levels. Instead of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Alan Milburn was in charge of a department that was about to be stuffed full of cash.
His behaviour since then has shown just how easily he shifts position when he has to. He took over, remember, from Frank Dobson, who could barely bring himself to spit out the word 'private', and seemed to think that anyone involved with private healthcare was in some way degenerate. Although he had a reputation as a 'moderniser', Mr Milburn's initial behaviour was
indistinguishable from Mr Dobson's. In December 1999, just days before Mr Blair promised the new spending, Mr Milburn, who today proclaims his commitment to radical reform and bringing the private sector into the heart of the NHS, said that 'an expanded private sector can only mean a contraction of the public sector'. That was a rather different message to his vigorous nods of support last year when, at the launch of Labour's election manifesto, Tony Blair spoke of there being 'no ideological bar' to expansion of the role of private companies in the NHS.
Such a change of view is not unusual for Mr Milburn. Like many of his
colleagues, he began on the left of the Labour Party, and only moved to the
centre when it became fashionable within Labour. He famously worked in a
Marxist bookshop in Newcastle formally called Days of Hope, but which was known to everyone as Haze of Dope. Privately, some Blairites are scathing about his transition. When Labour won power in 1997, almost all the commentators pointed to Mr Milburn as a 'Blairite to watch'. They were
right. But as one of Mr Blair's former advisers put it to me: 'If Labour
had won in 1997 by being loony left, you can guarantee that Milburn would
be the great white hope of the loony lefties. He's got no principles. He
saw that the modernisers were the way ahead, and jumped aboard. But I don't trust him an inch'.
Having spent the past five years as a Blairite minister, even Mr Milburn
couldn't change his spots again, you might think. But a key Blairite said to me yesterday that 'Alan is the only human being on the planet who would be
able to make the shift from fully paid up Blairite to Brownite lackey. Mark
my words: if Gordon takes over from Tony, Alan will be claiming to have
been a Brownite from the beginning.'
Today, the man who was once a left wing firebrand and who just over two years ago was attacking the private sector, has turned himself into the champion of co-operation with private health providers. In October 2000 he signed the Concordat which contracted work out to the private sector, and he proselytizes for the Private Finance Initiative which brings private sector involvement into key areas of the NHS.
There was a second irony yesterday. Whatever one thinks of the merits or
otherwise of the Budget, there is no doubt that Gordon Brown is a political
giant of the first order. He fully expects to succeed Tony Blair as of
right. But it is no exaggeration to say that his entire future
is in Alan Milburn's hands. Mr Milburn is charged with proving over the years before the next election that he has spent the extra billions of taxpayers' money wisely, and has transformed the NHS. Failure means the end not just of his own career, but also of the reputation of the supposed Iron Chancellor, who is responsible for writing the blank cheque to the NHS.
But it is a task in which he cannot succeed. Not only is the NHS fundamentally incapable of delivering such improvements, nothing Mr Milburn has done in his near four years as Health Secretary suggests he understands the real problems, or has any sort of solution.




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