The deepening financial crisis is changing how we look at everything now. For instance, aren't NHS finance directors glad they didn't have surpluses to invest unwisely during the years when Patricia Hewitt's stiletto was on their necks?

And the old "nanny state" routine? Did you spot weekend efforts to foment anger at the Home Office and Department of Health's latest draft code for the drinks industry? Tougher than before, it is designed to curb what The Sunday Times solemnly called "the link between drink and sexual, financial and social success".

No more free alcohol for women. Changes like that seem sensible to me, though you might be amazed how many women bloggers will protest at infringements of their liberty.

That is surely not the main point though. It is that our lax tolerance of excess - let alone admiration for the link between city traders and£1,000 bottles of wine - is likely to disappear in a recession where puritanism will return, presided over by Puritan Brown and a nanny-ish state.

Brown's second chance

As has been widely noted, the crisis has given him a second chance, a chance to bury his own financial mistakes too. What price now, all that silly chatter about giving Brown the heave-ho? What price "shrinking the nanny state" today?

We will cling to nanny in the bad times, though belt-tightening in the public sector - still not officially admitted - will require more austerity. Yet again, "the party's over".

You can catch a foretaste of this in last week's report by the public accounts committee on GPs' pay and the way in which committee MPs on both sides bullied NHS chief executive David Nicholson and his team.

Who called the way GPs had taken most of the extra millions - in terms of pay and profits - at the expense of their staff "sheer, unadulterated, naked greed"? Labour's Ian Davidson, as it happens, though it could have been the chair, Tory Edward Leigh, who was also scornful of the deal.

Wonderful hindsight

As chancellor Alistair Darling sensibly tells interviewers these days, "hindsight is a wonderful thing". In vain did Mr Nicholson keep saying that the GP contract cost£400m more than expected, not the£1.8bn set out in a National Audit Office report.

Why? Because£1.4bn was already being paid, it is just that ministers didn't realise - "a miscalculation", he said. By freezing payments since 2006 they seem to be saying "we are getting the£400m back".

The fact is that GP contractors (not staff GPs) got 58 per cent from 2002-06, from an average£73,000 to£114,000. Lucky for them that patients don't see them as bankers in white coats, especially since they are also working fewer hours.

Personally, I have some sympathy with officials protesting that the MPs' conclusion that GP productivity is 2.5 per cent down instead of 1.5 per cent per year up. It is very hard to measure. But clearly they set the performance bar too low and GPs had little difficulty in meeting it and hoovering up the extra cash.

More worrying, of course, is that progress is poor in getting more GPs into under-doctored areas: the poor are always with us.

Musical chairs

But I promised to report back on Brown's reshuffle and the DH where Ivan Lewis was replaced as social care minister by Phil Hope.

It is now clear that, with the oldsters green paper and much else looming, Mr Lewis hoped not to be moved. But he was sort of grateful to have a sideways move (he is now aid minister for Africa) after a series of cheeky speeches telling Mr Brown his government must do better.

He could have been fired as a warning (several others were). Instead a kindly Brown - the bit we don't often see - rang him late at night to tell young Ivan he would still have a job and Brown didn't want him to lose sleep about it.

One theory is that he was saved by that nasty leak to a tabloid about his private life, the one about his text messages to a civil servant. Mr Brown now realises such rough tactics offend allies and are wrong: so Ivan Lewis was owed one.

As for his "good mate" Phil Hope, he has spent all his adult life in the third sector and was also a county councillor. He has also been through the mill of lymphatic cancer and, in full remission, is keen to learn.

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