Labour wants the next election to be about the NHS, one of their strongest issues. Party strategists have been struck by how it has been rising up voters’ list of concerns and now want to keep it there.
Ed Miliband’s pledge today that Labour will ensure that people who fear they have cancer are seen and tested for within a week is astute politics. It keeps the NHS near the top of the political agenda. It is also paid for by a levy on the tobacco companies, which have few friends and little public sympathy. Meanwhile Labour can claim that this is a prudent use of £150 million as cancer becomes more difficult and expensive to treat the longer it is left.
But I suspect that Labour will not be able to win in 2015 on the NHS alone. It will also have to pass a competence test on the economy and shows voters that it gets it on immigration. These two will prove far more challenging than playing to the party’s strengths on the NHS.