By Ray Fleming

POLITICIANS never learn, do they? Conservatives and Labour -- and Lib Dems too, probably, if they are ever really in power. They don't ever learn about the dangers of dragging ordinary people into their campaigns to prove some point they are making about health or pensions or education or social services. Not an election goes by without a row over whether the facts quoted about the individual concerned were right or fair.

This week Mr Cameron has fallen into the trap by saying that his brother-in-law, a doctor, had reservations about the government's National Health Service reforms -- whereas it turns out that Dr Brookes of Basingstoke, a consultant cardiologist, supports the proposed reforms. It might be argued that the prime minister comes out of this confusion quite well because it seemed so honest of him to admit there was opposition in his family.

What Mr Cameron should be concentrating on, however, is the overwhelming opposition to his NHS proposals by representative professional bodies such as the Royal College of GPs which yesterday reported that a poll of 1'800 doctors had shown sixty per cent of them believing that the reforms will not improve patient care. And yesterday the editor of The Lancet identified five “myths” in the government's proposals and warned that “it is not satisfactory to base the future health of our nation on such an ill-informed and ideological plan.”