Thursday, 26 February 2009

Good Grief

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.


Bill said...

Well put.

lilith said...

You are right. Beautiful as Ivan was, it was not right to stop beyond acknowledgement and a moment.

electro-kevin said...

Dare I say it - there must be some relief (therefore guilt) there too.

Tragic, but totally overplayed as you say.

William Gruff said...

I like the new look Idle.

idle said...

Wm Gruff - the new look idle remains stubbornly at 14 stones, nearly 8 weeks into his resolution.

Did I give up the full English for no better reason than stable weight? And I barely drink ale nowadays, though Guinness still gets consumed in welcome quantity on Six Nations days.

Or did you mean the blog?

Nomad said...

Agreed; my thoughts entirely. The mawkishness evident chez Guido yesterday was sick-making. This is undoubtedly a great personal (though probably not unexpected) tragedy for the Camerons. But the world does not stop turning, and while we all silently offer our condolences, Mr C should merely have taken some compassionate leave and instructed Hague or whoever to substitute in the Commons. I am sure a couple of minutes of consultations could easily have produced half a dozen awkward questions for the session.

Brown (or more likely one of his quicker witted advisers) seized the initiative by "offering" not to have PMQs, a request that should have been politely refused. This shower of a government need to be held to account on every possible occasion, especially with the unprecedented economic/ financial events unfolding this week.

William Gruff said...

I like the new look blog (pause) Idle.

I suspect that I may soon have to consider a very serious reduction in my liquid intake. Two and a half bottles of rum last weekend left me feeling quite groggy on Monday and a mere eight bottles of various strong dark ales on Wednesday has given me a fierce headache and worrying pains in the area of my liver and pancreas since then. It's a dreadful thought but a diet of lager and white wine might (quelle horreur) reduce the risk of suffering the debilitating effects of the demon drink and is preferable to a life without alcohol.

A decent breakfast is one thing I will never give up.

The Refuser said...

Well said sir.

Anonymous said...

I never knew we had so many tossers such as those who post such negative comments about a boys death on this website. I hope you never have to go throug the loss that a parent goes through when they see their child die so young. But the one above always strike when you are not expecting!

idle said...

Anon @ 1844 - You have missed the point by a wide margin. I have neither written, nor read any "negative comments about a boys death".

But you are welcome to your point of view, however confused and ungrammatical.