dorrellStephen Dorrell, the Conservative MP for Charnwood in Leicestershire, has announced he is to stand down at the General Election. He had a majority in 2010 of 15,029 over a Liberal Democrat.

Mr Dorrell has accepted a job as a health policy consultant with accountancy firm KPMG. He was the Health Secretary in Sir John Major’s Government. Mr Dorrell has also served as Financial secretary to the Treasury and Secretary of State for National Heritage.

The BBC this afternoon described Mr Dorrell as on the “centre left” of the Conservative Party. In one sense this is true. He is a Patron of the Tory Reform Group and a firm supporter of the UK’s membership of the European Union. After his own abortive Tory leadership campaign in 1997 was he supported Ken Clarke.

However Mr Dorrell is also a good example of why the terms Left and Right are increasingly unsatisfactory. In the past the Tory Left would have a policy on the NHS that more money should be spent on it and that was all there was to be said on the matter – suggestions of reform or applying market mechanisms were viewed as suspiciously ideological. Yet Mr Dorrell is a brave advocate of innovation in the health service.

Writing for the think tank Reform this year he said:

“We remind ourselves that “the NHS is a public service” and convince ourselves this means that our general experience of the benefits of variety and choice don’t apply to healthcare.”

No doubt Mr Dorrell (or Lord Dorrell?) will continue to contribute to the debate over the future of our health service as well as on other matters.