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Mrs Bottomley and the London lynch mob

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6985.962a (Published 15 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:962

Virginia Bottomley, the health secretary, now knows what it's like to fall victim to a parliamentary lynch mob. It does not happen often but when it does it is ugly and unpredictable. Sometimes the lynched minister survives, sometimes not. Michael Heseltine did, over pit closures. Edwina Currie did not, over what she said about salmonella in eggs.

Mrs Bottomley's fate remains uncertain. Her crime in the eyes of the mob was the classic offence of failing to appreciate the politics of the situation—namely, the future of London hospitals such as St Bartholomew's.

The moral is clear: do not tamper with ancient hospitals and ancient Torys at the same time. The leader of the lynch mob on this occasion was a Tory grandee and former party chairman, Mr Peter …

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