Tory MPs revolt over Cameron's NHS plans

Majority of backbenchers oppose leader's proposal to exempt hospitals from cuts

David Cameron faces a revolt by his own MPs over his flagship policy to raise National Health Service spending by a level above inflation each year.

Two-thirds of Tory backbenchers oppose his plan to exempt healthcare from any spending cuts that an incoming Conservative Government would make to tackle the "black hole" in the public finances. Mr Cameron could come under pressure to rethink his strategy if he becomes prime minister, a poll by ComRes suggests.

Asked whether the NHS should receive guaranteed spending increases in real terms during the course of the next Parliament, 29 per cent of Tory MPs agreed and 62 per cent disagreed. Only 33 per cent believed the current NHS model, funded from general taxation and free at the point of delivery, was sustainable for the next 60 years, while 62 per cent did not.

The poll will fuel the debate within the Conservative ranks about Mr Cameron's decision to spare health from the squeeze that other major Whitehall departments would face.

Tory MPs want him to make a stronger commitment to reforming the NHS, but he also faces pressure to reassure voters that the system would be safe in his hands, after Daniel Hannan, the outspoken Tory MEP for South-East England, described the NHS as a "60-year mistake".

One Tory MP said last night: "The hope is that we would be more radical on health in office than we say now, that he [Mr Cameron] is anxious not to frighten the horses. But there are concerns about cutting other areas and allowing the health budget to carry on rising regardless. It cannot be exempt from financial pressure or reform."

Writing in The Independent today, Tim Montgomerie, the editor of the ConservativeHome website, warns that the Tory pledge to outspend Labour on the NHS will require more painful cuts in other budgets such as defence, transport and welfare. He urges Mr Cameron to spell out where the axe would fall, saying: "Without a clear mandate there is going to be little defence against the wave of hostility that will greet the toughest of public spending settlements."

Warning that Mr Cameron's support is "wide but not necessarily deep", Mr Montgomerie adds: "A clear and positive vision for getting Britain out of Labour's mess will give him the strength of support that he will need for the very tough years that lie ahead."

Labour will try to exploit the Tory turmoil by running an autumn campaign exposing the "two faces" it claims the Conservatives present to the public on health and other issues. Labour sources claim the party's private polls show that voters are wary of Mr Cameron's promises to protect the NHS at a time when he plans to cut other budgets – a fear echoed privately by some Tory MPs.

There could be more trouble for the Tories on the issue at their party conference in October. The right-wing Freedom Association, which has backed Mr Hannan's controversial remarks, is staging an event that will include the Progressive Vision group, which has set up a "NoNHS" campaign. The association has accused the Tories of trying to stifle debate on health.

Cameron allies insist it is his views, not Mr Hannan's, which will determine Tory policy and say he is confident of winning public support for his stance. They won a boost yesterday when a separate ComRes poll for The Independent On Sunday found that 47 per cent of people disgreed with the proposition that the NHS would be safer under Labour than the Tories, while 39 per cent agreed.

The survey, conducted for BMI Hospitals, suggests that older MPs in all parties are much more attached to the NHS than the younger generation in Parliament. Some 72 per cent of MPs born before 1950 believe the current NHS model is sustainable but only 42 per cent of those born after 1960 agree. There is a similar generational split over the use of the private sector to treat NHS patients.

Tory MPs support the introduction of tax breaks for private healthcare fees, by a margin of 55 to 31 per cent. But the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, said: "Tax breaks for private healthcare would take money away from the health service and undo the real progress we have made with the NHS over the last 12 years. After a torrid two weeks, David Cameron can no longer hide the two faces of his party on the NHS – this poll shows where the heart of the Tory party lies."

Andrew Hawkins, of ComRes, said: "These results show that Conservatives and younger MPs are more sympathetic to the role private sector companies can play in the NHS than their older, non-Tory counterparts.

"Given that we can expect a relatively high turnover of MPs at the next general election, perhaps more than a third of the House, we should expect that the direction of travel for the House is towards more support for private sector involvement in the health service."

Suggested Topics
News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
musicReview: 1989's songs attempt to encapsulate dramatic emotional change in a few striking lines
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
I'm not worried about United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Arts and Entertainment
Saw point: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Serena’
filmReview: Serena is a strangely dour and downbeat affair
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Computer Science Teacher required

£7200 - £36000 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently recr...

Teaching Assistant Plymouth

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: TEACHING ASSISTANTS NEEDED FOR PLYMOU...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Nursery Assistant/Nurse all cheshire areas

£7 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: We are a large and successful recrui...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker