The Guardian published a resignation letter from crossbencher Lord Bob Kerslake who has stepped down as Chair of King’s College Hospital Trust in protest at “dire NHS funding problems”. The paper described him as follows:
“Bob Kerslake was chairman of King’s College hospital, London. He is a member of the House of Lords, president of the Local Government Association and former head of the civil service and permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government.”
Yeah, sort of. What the Guardian – and subsequently BBC Breakfast and other outlets – have omitted to mention is that Kerslake has been undertaking work for John McDonnell’s Shadow Treasury Team for more than two years. At conference McDonnell boasted about commissioning Kerslake to write a series of “implementation manuals” for the Labour manifesto, meaning Kerslake is effectively drafting the details of Labour’s proposed legislative programme. McDonnell said:
“We’re taking each policy and we’re developing an implementation manual… We’re looking at what legislation is needed, so we will have draft legislation ready to go, we’re bringing civil servants like Lord Bob Kerslake to train our teams on how you implement these policies and we’re taking advice from past ministers as well.”
Labour has also held Shadow Cabinet training days with Kerslake. McDonnell said in June:
“We’re trying to do a training exercise where we’re bringing in people like Bob Kerslake, the head of the civil service, to work with them on things like what it would be like to be a minister, what their first day will be like, what their first 100 days will be like. So they feel confident about that as well.”
It doesn’t stop there. Kerslake led an independent review into the Treasury for McDonnell, announced in September 2015. McDonnell said at the time:
“Labour asked Sir Bob Kerslake to head up a review into the Treasury because we needed to have a serious and thorough examination of one of the most important pillars of government, and the cornerstone of economic policy making in our country… I would also like thank Sir Bob Kerslake for his time, energy and expertise in producing this report for Labour.”
McDonnell’s spokesman insisted Kerslake is “independent”:
It’s also worth remembering that his work is as an independent.
— James Mills (@JamesMills1984) 11 December 2017
You can decide for yourself…
UPDATE: Sky News reports that Kerslake was asked to consider his position by NHS Improvement Chairwoman Baroness Harding on Friday.