March 14 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Londoner of the Day goes to Tooting pensioner June Hautot, who delivered a verbal bashing in the street to the Rt Hon Andrew Lansley - over controversial plans for NHS reform drawn up by the Health secretary.
What made the scene outside Downing Street yesterday so delicious, was the way in which awkward Mr Lansley, an influential member of the government, visibly squirmed under June Hautot’s stream of ire – managing to retort only with a strangulated yelp about waiting times, while searching frantically for a route past her.
The episode recalled a similar experience endured by ex-PM Tony Blair a decade ago when he came face to face with the electorate in uncontrolled surroundings.
The then PM had to stand outside a Birmingham hospital while Sharon Storer berated him about – that’s right; the NHS.
Perhaps because Mr Lansley spent so many years in Opposition absorbed in the technical detail of the National Health Service, he has been left with a reputation as something of a technocrat who struggles to speak human. One criticism of the current reforms is the poor way in which people were informed.
Yesterday however, the health secretary was left in no doubt. But his discomfort was not inflicted by a political naïf. Mrs Hautot, of Tooting, used to be a union rep for that monolith of leftwing politics; Unison.
The sight of a clearly furious Mrs Hautot in full flow, upbraiding the Health secretary under the full glare of the media - while impeding his escape to the comfortable confines of indoors; helped fire up a debate in which it is increasing hard to see the wood for the trees.
Whether you agree or not with her trenchant position on planned NHS reforms, Mrs Hautot was tapping into a rich seam of protest when she gave health secretary, Andrew Lansley, an earful.
For continuing a long and boisterous tradition, Mrs Hautot is Londoner of the Day.