Looking back at events of March - April 2009
Calls for a public Inquiry
We can I think make the assumption that Bill Cash, who was by this time calling for a Public Inquiry will have had discussions with the communications team, and that this will have been instrumental in bringing Andrew Lansley and David Cameron to Stafford, as part of the astonishing stream of VIPs who came to Julie Baileys café.
The call for a Public Inquiry is of course a well established method used by oppositions to cause embarrassment to a government.
The Government will not have wanted it because they would rightly see it at expensive, distracting for the hospital, unlikely to reveal significant new information, punitive and potentially embarrassing. The opposition wanted it because it was potentially embarrassing, and it would ensure that the story continued to attract maximum press attention for the maximum amount of time. It was clearly also a way of satisfying the demands of a pressure group and ensuring their support for the forthcoming elections, and the combination of the graphic stories and the excess death figures meant that it appeared to be the ideal way of proving that the Health service under Labour was broken and needed fixing.
We do not know how much Andrew Lansely or David Cameron knew about the complex circumstances surrounding the story, but the evidence from Bill Cash shows us clearly that he knew remarkably little. It is one of the less edifying facts about political life that politicians may not always wish to check the accuracy of a potentially powerful story. Greener
What we do know is that David Cameron is someone who understands very well the importance of symbols and the powerful nature of NHS stories in political campaigning. David Cameron and the Tale of Jennifer's Ear
There is always the danger that the short term benefits from a sensational story may turn sour if the story is not as well based as it might be.