BORIS JOHNSON used his first visit to Yorkshire as Prime Minister to reaffirm his desire to build a cross-party consensus on social care.
Good. Now he must get on with it and make the most of the unexpected opportunity created by the delay to the next public spending review.
The background is this. The Government was due to complete its Comprehensive Spending Review later this year – a process that is due to clarify the amount of money available for key services like the NHS, care, education and policing for the next three years.
Yet, because Brexit remains the biggest imponderable of all, it has been put back until next year when the Government – who knows who will be in charge in 12 months’ time? – might be better placed to make some longer-term judgments on the economy. And given that social care reform is crucial to the future funding of both local government – and the NHS – it is even more important that Mr Johnson injects some much-needed urgency into this policy debate.
As such, the onus is on him to reveal – by the time Parliament resumes next month – exactly how he intends to proceed and how he wishes the Government to work with rival parties as well as care professionals and experts. A clear timetable is also needed to provide focus.
With 1.4 million elderly and vulnerable people said not to be receiving the quality of care that is commensurate with their health needs, this number will only grow if the PM allows the dither and drift of previous governments to fester any longer.
To paraphrase Mr Johnson’s political hero Winston Churchill: “Action this day.”
IT would be wrong to blame Grant Shapps for the 2.8 per cent hike in rail fares that was announced this week – he’s only been Transport Secretary for three weeks.
But I do welcome – for now – his tone. He says he does not welcome the increase as an individual who says he uses six trains a day travelling to and from work. And it appears that he is beginning to recognise the need for a clearer link between increases in ticket prices and improvements to performance – and customer service – on the network.
“As first priority, I’ve ordered data on why train punctuality has declined for seven years,” confirmed Mr Shapps.“I want trains to be reliable and punctual with delays minimised. More on this issue soon!” Let’s hope so.
THERE are three plausible reasons why Boris Johnson is spending so much time touring the country.
First, his chief of staff Dominic Cummings is the real PM – and he wants Johnson out of the way.
Second, Johnson trusts his Cabinet and inner circle to get on with the job and deliver Brexit by October 31.
Third, a general election is very imminent.
TALKING of Dominic Cummings, he has been described as “a self-styled revolutionary menace” by Betty Boothroyd, the former Speaker, and Tory grandee Michael Heseltine this week.
Philip Hammond, the former Chancellor, also did not hold back, taking aim at the “unelected people” pulling the strings of the Government. Yet this could have been avoided.
After all, I wrote on June 8 that Tory leadership candidates should have been forced to reveal their proposed top team – and also key policy aides – at the outset of their campaigns so their merits could be judged. Now will anyone take note?
I TOTALLY agree with Sky News political editor Beth Rigby – why do so many members of the media and commentariat think it is acceptable to simply refer to the Prime Minister as ‘‘Boris’’?
As she said, all other senior politicians are all addressed by surnames and it creates the “impression of a certain clubbiness afforded to him and perhaps not others”.
STILL the political elite’s favourite postman, Alan Johnson maintains that he did not have the skills needed to become Prime Minister in succession to Tony Blair.”Why do a job you don’t think you can do?” he said. Yet, speaking on Radio Four’s Reflections series, the former Hull MP said tackling health inequalities would have been his defining mission because life expectancy rates differ so sharply in neighbouring communities. He also said progress can only me made on such agendas if the Prime Minister leads from the front. An interesting insight.
MY call last week for a new approach to flood prevention, in the wake of the Whaley Bridge near-disaster, is further justified by reports this week that 48 reservoirs pose a risk to human life unless urgent repairs are undertaken. Let’s hope the Government – and myriad agencies – act before it is too late.
FORMER football manager Graeme Souness complained this week that a local football journalist was out to get him the sack from the day he became the manager of Newcastle United. A regular reader then put it to me: “Just like you and your friend Chris Grayling.”
Wrong. The former Transport Secretary was never any friend of mine – or the North – and The Yorkshire Post gave him a year before becoming the first newspaper in the country to expose his mismanagement of the railways.
TALKING of football, good luck to Beverley-born wing wizard Daniel James who scored a goal on his Premier League debate for Manchester United. He looks to be a rarity – a young tyro plays for the love of the game who does not complain when fouled. Long may his example light up the league.