Andrew Lansley has gone native already. Just a few months with the ascetic fanatics at the Department of Health and they already feel comfortable with bringing out the whole panoply of Nanny measures that have been kept in the draw since the Coalition came to power. Once you let these joyless ninnies take an inch they'll grab an ell, and Lansley now gets to introduce a White Paper that contains possibly the most risibly pointless collection of compulsory health measures since the Reich banned smoking in cinemas during bombing raids.
The White Paper will propose that the State will fix card readers - or more probably RFIDs or card writers - to millions of lamp columns, pillar boxes, litter bins and other items of public street furniture, that every schoolchild in the country will be issued with a card containing a chip that will register the RFIDs to which it has been presented. A card with a 'full house' of RFIDs can then be exchanged for shopping vouchers or cinema tickets. Yes, really. They seriously think this will get children walking to school. There's some gormless moron at the heart of the DoH patiently explaining to an also none-too-bright Lansley that this is called 'nudge' and it's the next big thing.
Except of course it's nothing of the sort. It's just the same old central Statism, the same old Nannying, the same old 'we know better and we'll spend your tax money proving it'. And the idea itself is so patently absurd, so lunatic, so disconnected to any reality that it shows they've learned nothing at all.
At a time when Pickles is removing the most pointless of the obligations that Whitehall has required local councils to administer, Lansley and his lunatics at the DoH are thinking up new ones. So it will be the cash-strapped councils who will have to install thousands of RFIDs on their lamp posts and give out Nintendo vouchers to the thugs and bullies who will 'accumulate' full cards, and hard-pressed parents will end up swiping their kids' cards whilst walking the dog. It will also be councils who will be given the new Harman-Lansley duty to 'reduce health inequalities' and a whole new raft of reasons to re-employ all those drinking cessation outreach workers who have just been made redundant.
How utterly, wholly stupid. How pointless. How retrograde. Lansley has not only lost the plot, he's failed even to take control of his own mandarins. Cameron should replace him at the DoH at the earliest opportunity with a minister with a modicum of intellectual ability and strength of will.