When he returns, I doubt the NHS row will have cost him much of his confidence and chutzpah. Of course, he doesn't necessarily win every policy argument. But he is pretty sure he wins many more arguments than he loses.
I was amused to see this blog post from last month sets out Dan Hannan's confident claim that he is having an enormous influence on the Tory manifesto, without the hassle of leading the party.
What’s better than leading a political party? Getting to determine its manifesto without any of the hassle of actually, you know, leading it. I’ve observed before that, line by line, chapter by chapter, The Plan: Twelve months to renew Britain is becoming official Tory policy. My friend and co-author Douglas Carswell is miffed at the lack of acknowledgement, and you can see his point: David Cameron’s policy wallah, Steve Hilton, has cut and pasted bits of our text with neither alteration nor attribution.
All the more reason for taking Hannanism seriously.