Although the Blair Government had great achievements in healthcare and education, few would disagree with Chris Skidmore that it did not solve the growing problem of long term care for older people. However the Coalition Government has done nothing to take this forward in two years and the forthcoming White Paper on Social Care will kick it into the long grass until beyond 2015.
Mr Skidmore completely ignores the situation three years ago when Labour's Andy Burnham (Secretary of State for Health) sought party consensus on the way forward and met discretely with Andrew Lansley, then Shadow Secretary of State and Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat spokesman in the weeks around the turn of the year 2009/10. They thrashed out areas of agreement and disagreement, and drafted a joint statement of "clearly shared principles" to form the basis for a one-year process of finding consensus. There was agreement about many of the most important principles.
However the election was approaching and David Cameron drove a wrecking ball through the agreement for party political reasons and the talks came to an abrupt end. Cameron authorised a despicable poster campaign with the slogan "Now Gordon wants £20,000 when you die – don't vote for Labour's death tax" which was completely untrue. Lamb accused Lansley of not being straight over the row as they had all agreed that both compulsory and voluntary options which he had included in his own draft statement of principles.
Chris Skidmore's paper is completely partisan and distorted. His questions in Parliament usually ask the Minister to agree with his criticisism of the Labour Party. His constituents deserve better. He's a member of the Health Select Committee and we have a Conservative-led Government so let's hear some practical proposals for dealing with this serious problem.