By the way, as we say here in Glasgow, I’ve been told my reference to David Cameron’s late son Ivan has provoked the social conscience of some readers to outrage. There is a view that I am using Ivan’s death to make a political point. Well, of course I am. That, for me is exactly the purpose. Let me explain.
As a father I was moved by the family tragedy of the Camerons and felt my heart go out to them way beyond any political misgivings I have about Tory policies and – yes – about Old Etonian sons of millionaire bankers running the country. It was a straightforward human emotion to a family tragedy which I thought Cameron handled as well as any public figure could be expected to…with quiet dignity.
When I heard him speak of his respect for the NHS in the light of his loss and how it was one of the great institutions we should never lose and it was safe in his hands, I cried. I thought, at last, someone in power in the Tory Party who gets it. And one of the most important organisations in my life would be spared any of the usual Tory divide-and-rule policies to make their business pals rich at taxpayers’ expense.
I held that thought until it became impossible to ignore the truth of the systematic re-organisation, marketization and privatisation of the service in England. It is at that moment you realise you have been had…lied to…your emotions misused by another Tony Blair salesman.
In my eyes, it was Cameron who used his son for political ends and misled me and the country into believing him.
Since I hold dear the principle of a free NHS and believe it to be something worth fighting for in a political sense, and as it is a beacon of civilisation in our society, I am furious with Cameron for betraying that principle, as are millions of English people. I repeat: It was his use of Ivan and his subsequent betrayal of what appeared to be his intended legacy that is the moral crime here.
If that still isn’t enough for those with a social conscience, they may recall Cameron speaking at the 65th anniversary of the NHS just over two months ago when he gave another – presumably not intentionally ironic – eulogy to the health service and praised the hospital where Ivan was looked after…again bringing his son into the public domain. This time I don’t blame him, but it does rather demonstrate his capacity to make what is a political point (in the light of the controversy over his NHS reforms) by using his son’s name.
In other words, even for those with a social conscience, it is clear that he is prepared to put Ivan and his death in the public domain, so why not any citizen who feels aggrieved at being let down by Cameron having taken at face value his promises in the light of Ivan’s experience?
Also, is it necessary, do you think, to point out that this is a blog not a mainstream media outlet? A blog is for the expression of personal views, unrestrained by questions of editorial guidelines or artificial corporate attitudes to public taste of the kind imposed by media managements on journalists and contributors. (Although constrained, I hope, by standards of legality as in libel laws.) That is what a blog is for.
I appreciate some readers will know me from the BBC and expect institutional even-handedness, but if anyone thinks what BBC journalists say on air represents their personal politics or opinions, they need their head examined – on both sides of the independence debate. I probably sound outspoken because people expect the opposite after years of hearing me do my job. In fact, it’s probably being tied into producer guidelines for over 20 years that makes me want to speak out now. Isn’t that what you want?
On day one of this blog I was honest. I said I wouldn’t hold back. I wanted at last to be free to speak my mind and I intend to continue. If you don’t like, don’t read. If you want the usual humdrum, say-nothing witterings of MSM commentators who seem incapable of breaking out of the uniform mould of an outdated and dying media sector, buy the rags.
OK, I admit I have three papers on the ipad and check the Scotsman on line every day! But I can tell you that of those, I can think of three writers on Scottish affairs I never miss. The rest I may or may not read, some I positively avoid. But three out of all those pages – and all that cash – is a poor return. I find my brain is engaged much more easily and I am stimulated more fully by browsing the online sites which we all know. I think the debate should be owned by the people and it is online where that is happening, not in the contrived uniformity of the broadcasters and the newspapers.