by the way…

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.

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23 thoughts on “by the way…

  1. Personally, no matter the circumstances, I would never have brought up the child’s death, but you make your point as to why you did absolutely brilliantly. I love that you are beyond being bothered about causing offence. This blog is brightening my days currently.

    • You know, it never even occurred to me that Derek had said anything that could be regarded as outrageous, as regards Ivan. He didn’t mention Ivan’s name. He didn’t actually refer to any of the detail of what happened at all. The line was merely that Cameron had used “an appalling personal tragedy” for what turned out to be duplicitous political ends. If the reader didn’t already know, there was no hint even that a child was involved.

      And I entirely agree that as we now see the larger picture, it was indeed Cameron who used Ivan’s death for political purposes. One might even think, quite cynically. If, after doing that, Cameron is now to be given a free pass because some bleeding hearts think it’s not quite nice to mention it, he’s won twice over.

      • Had you been the one to bring up Cameron’s deceased son in a world where there had been no prior mention of the lad and his health problems by the PM, then maybe the complainers would have a legitimate gripe. However, as we know, the wee soul was used as a political pawn both before and after his demise.
        Thanks for being a voice of reason in an ocean full of illogical fearmongering.

  2. I remember, back in 2010, realising that the Tories were likely to win, but being immensely reassured as regards the NHS by what Cameron said then about Ivan. I think I may have been crying too. (That’s OK, I’m a girl, I’m allowed.) I remember saying, then, what a tragedy Ivan’s short life had been, but if that experience had moved his dad to understand the treasure we have in the NHS and keep it safe from Tory ideology, perhaps that wasn’t such a bad legacy for one wee boy.

    What a betrayal. It seems we can trust the childless Alex Salmond to “get” the NHS, far more than we can the crocodile tears of a multimillionaire Tory who was probably just sorry that the best treatment for his son was to be found in the NHS, forcing him to rub shoulders with the hoi polloi.

  3. cynicalHighlander

    A lot of people don’t like to say truthful things because it might offend someone somewhere which is why the UK is in so much of a mess democratically. Integrity is earned by telling the truth at all times no matter who it might offend so more power to your keyboard.

  4. tips hat

  5. I didn’t think the use of Cameron’s personal life was in bad taste. He paraded his son in front of the camera at every opportunity, and mentioned him frequently to indicate his support for the NHS. This has turned out to be far more cynical than any of us would have imagined possible at the time.

    Derek, I am truly enjoying both of your blogs, the satirical and the straightforward. Your writing is excellent, and your articulation of your opinions is a treat to read. More power to you!

  6. I’m enjoying your blogs very much. I’m a sensitive soul. I’m not offended by your anger or your sarcasm or your journalistic licence. Tories do offend me. Carry on it’s brilliant.

  7. In the interests of democracy, anything a politician uses to colour the view the electorate have of them and their policies, enhancing the possibility of their election, even if it deals with personal tragedy, which is then shown to be contra to their actions once elected, is fair game for comment.

    Cameron’s use of his sons tragic circumstance and subsequent legislation regarding the NHS in England shows him to be the worst type of political opportunist – say anything, use any situation to gain electoral advantage/ power.

    Those who are outraged by your words, might be better examining the motives of the man who chose to use his son’s illness and short life to deceive the electorate.

    By the way Derek, love your blogs.

  8. Thank you, Derek, for your honesty and integrity, which are a shining example of what is currently lacking in the main stream media.

  9. Derek you say what many of us also think, you ain’t ploughing a lone furrow, but you say it well; you understand the ‘ rules’, so I would expect, with decency.

    I’m also sure politics is a dirty game and equally think it’s more than an outside chance that Cameron, Brown and Blair, wouldn’t bat an eyelid over behaviour that the rest of us would consider to be appalling, so, where are their lines of decency? Remember Brown’s ‘moral compass’, Blair’s lying to Parliament over wmd and Iraq? Now Cameron’s faux care and concern for the NHS while he’s pulling the rug from under it.

    What you write is a tonic to many and I’m sure a dose of salts to others, keep on trucking Derek.

  10. Keep up the honest direct opinion Derek, it is so refreshing. It doesn’t matter if some disagree or feel offended, as you say they don’t need to read. Nothing you have said has been remotely comparable to the vicious and thoroughly offensive opinions offered daily by the msm, and you also have the intelligence to explain your views rather than simply spouting them at others. Your writing in these blogs is a wonderful breath of fresh air, thought provoking, amusing, stimulating and just what has been lacking in the media for several decades. Keep going and don’t let the ignorant wear you down!

  11. Your blog is part of my daily diet of online reads. It’s a treat. More power to your keyboard, Derek.

  12. Loving the sense of freedom that yer blog imparts Derek. That ye feel free to shoot from the hip is perhaps indicative of the nascent re-wakening across the country. People are standing up stronger for things – mostly unrelated and not necessarily to do with the referendum. But there is a swell that, hopefully, will become a tidal wave next September.

  13. Keep it up Derek, good reasoned arguement. I’m really enjoying your blog.

  14. Both your blogs are now on my ‘read every day’ list! I thought what you said about Ivan Cameron was extremely restrained and I share your sense of betrayal.

    BTW, Ian Macwhirter, Ian Bell, Gerry Hassan?

  15. keep on keeping on

  16. Derek – you’re a breath of fresh air! Really, you are. Especially amongst the toxic fumes which emanate on a daily basis from the Scottish press corps. By the way, my money’s on Bell, sometimes McWhirter and Lesley Riddoch and, of course, the legendary Tom Shields.

  17. What you are writing and expressing is certainly what I want to read, all power to you.

  18. Well said!!!

  19. You’ve hit the nail on the head again, Derek. Forget the contrived, faux outrage of the opposition. The outrage bus is the only conveyance they know after years of reading the Daily Mail and Express.

    Both your blogs are a breath of fresh air and required daily reading for me.

  20. It was quite clear what you were saying when you referred to Cameron using a personal tragedy for his own ends. You were absolutely correct then, and you’re absolutely correct now.

    The obsession some people have with scouring blogs looking for things to feign outrage over is tiresome. These people have no interest in participating in a mature debate, only in creating background noise and obfuscation. They should be ignored. Actually no, they shouldn’t be ignored – they should be condemned. Loudly!

  21. What you said was undoubtedly appalling and hurtful. But that doesn’t make it wrong to say: on the contrary, sometimes it is necessary.

    “I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.”

    – William Lloyd Golding, “To the Public”, No. 1 (1 January 1831)

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