Had I been brave enough, I would have posted this yesterday. Guido's instinct was initially sound, but he then spoiled it by recanting after listening to the sombre announcements that took the place of PMQs. Now that Matthew Parris has put his head above the parapet, I can say what I wanted to say yesterday.
The world has come to a pretty pass indeed if the death of Ivan Cameron is deemed to be worthy of over a third of the news content at 6pm and 10pm. Apart from the celebriddy aspect - his Dad's famous, so it's a human interest story, otherwise we wouldn't bother - it spawned some bio pieces on Cameron himself (he sees the NHS through the prism of Ivan's life and death, otherwise he's too much of a toff to have noticed what really happens in the NHS, yadda yadda, this is Nick Robinson for BBC News. "Thanks Nick; that was our political editor Nick Robinson" namecheck namecheck). Further, it spawned some pieces on cerebral palsy and epilepsy, which were not in any way news items, more 'background' to support the central theme of the news.
Of course my heart bleeds for the Camerons, who anyone can see are normal loving parents for whom this is a complete tragedy. As normal parents would, they'll be hating every minute of the media circus. We knew about Ivan's disability only because of Cameron's position as Leader of the Opposition. Lesser MPs would have avoided the requirement to be 'open with the public' about it. Perhaps Cameron's openness was all the more because he was proud of his son and didn't want to be seen as reticent about his condition. But he didn't do any more parading of his children than any other party leader. I saw a piece from 1970 on the web this week which had a teenage mid-Harrow Mark sweeping out the empty Thatcher swimming pool in Kent.
Parris is right; we shouldn't have stopped the show for Ivan. Cameron's absence notwithstanding, PMQs should have taken place with Hague substituting. The death of Ivan Cameron was not in itself of any relevance. He deserved no more, nor less than the dignity and respect that we afford the soldiers who lose their lives defending the interests of this country.
Our politicians might behave like Z-List celebrities quite often, or even turn into Z-Listers (stand up Galloway, Paddick, Currie!). But the current leaders of our main parties are in the business of politics, and nothing more. The political wheel keeps turning, regardless of infant mortality, and PMQs, in its (weak) role as a means of holding the Government to account, should not be stopped for a display of mawkishness. Single sentences of dignified regret and respect was all that was called for.
For Ivan, this is a merciful release. RIP.