Chris Lancelot on...Arrival of Gordon Brown PM

So now we know - Tony's going and it's Gordon for PM. While many are glad that Blair is about to leave, taking with him his spin and his failed policies, there is a growing sense of apprehension over what the Brown era may bring.

Perhaps apprehension is the wrong word: we actually don't know what his intentions are because he's never published a formal prime ministerial manifesto. So what might we expect?

We know already that Gordon Brown is a son of the manse, with more obviously socialist principles than Blair. He has a passion for equality and a heart for the underprivileged.

He's been the Iron Chancellor (though many would say he's been devious), has a mastery of data which he spews out at the drop of a hat, a reputation within Whitehall as being something of a bully with all the charisma of a brick.

The first benefit from his premiership will almost certainly be a change at the top of the DoH. As a dedicated Blairite, Patricia Hewitt is likely to be ousted as secretary of state for health, and about time too.

She is by far the worst health secretary I can remember. I can't think of a single thing she has done during her period in office that has benefited the NHS, healthcare workers or patients.

Viewed almost universally within the profession as arrogant and patronising, she seems never to answer any important question properly - or maybe she evades them.

Ms Hewitt will go unsung to her political grave, with her infamous sound bite ('The best year ever for the NHS') ringing in her ears, said of a time during which departments were closing, nurses were being laid off, the NHS was £700 million in the red and MMC was beginning to come apart at the seams.

Quite who will become secretary of state is by no means certain but the main thing is, it won't be Patsy. Instead, we can expect someone who fits the more left-wing Brownian image.

We can only hope that Gordon and his new ministers will be less insular, more ready to listen and have more joined-up policies than the previous arrogant and insensitive lot.

Many fear that Brown will be even worse than Blair - but then again, he might just be a whole lot better.

Dr Lancelot is a GP from Lancashire. Email him at

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