Saturday, February 28, 2009
Like a lot of people this week, I found out about Ivan Cameron passing away when I was at work. I think the news broke around 9am, by which time I had long been out of the house due to my somewhat lengthy commute. I was sitting at my desk reading an e-mail when my manager came in the room and said "David Cameron's disabled son died this morning."
"Holy shit... Ivan died!" That was my first thought - Ivan. I knew the boy's name, but I didn't know him personally, and my past exposure to David Cameron consists of twice walking past him in a Westminster corridor. And yet I knew the boy's name. I know the names of his siblings. I know what music his father likes, and what his mother does for a living. I know where the family last went on holiday and various other little bits of information like that.
I didn't know any of this because I'm some sort of weird obsessive; I knew it because, perhaps more than for any politician before him, we know what makes David Cameron tick. Some have been both concerned and appalled by the access the media have had to his family and his private life. Some have welcomed it of course, but this openness remains controversial. However, whether you agree with it or not, the fact is that it is something very different. Cameron has opened himself up, both as a politician and a human being, believing that the two are connected in the strongest sense.
This, I think, is why the public reception to Ivan's death has been so overwhelming. Let's remind ourselves that David Cameron is a politician, and politicians are generally regarded by the public as being just above a stool sample on a list of things they'd like to spend time with. I'm not saying people were ever going to be cruel; what I am saying is that the messages, letters, flowers and donations that - according to a source at Westminster - have been absolutely flowing in, are nothing short of amazing.
When Ivan died, it was a shock to anyone who has heard what Cameron has said over the last three years or so. His emphasis on families, his admiration of the NHS; all these things are part of him and his politics, and they are part of him and his politics largely because of Ivan. It was like a big part of what made David Cameron the politician he is suddenly got a massive jolt. That's not to say he'll change those priorities; all the evidence points towards him being a tough cookie, and if anything he'll more than likely come through this difficult period even more resolute about what he wants to do if elected Prime Minister. But for those of us who follow politics closely - particularly those of us who admire Cameron - and even for those who don't, this tragedy resonated in the surprisingly strong way that it did not because we knew Ivan, but because we knew what meant to his father and his family.
This mood was reflected in the House of Commons. I'm sure it would have been possible for Hague and Brown to have a few jabs at each other, but it's very clear that they really didn't want to. For PMQs to be cancelled in the way that it was was surprising - and the first instance since John Smith died in 1994 - but completely understandable in the circumstances.
David, Samantha and the rest of the Cameron family have a hard time ahead of them. I read an article in the paper by the parent of a disabled child who had died, which said the Camerons were "joining the worst club in the entire world". I'm sure that's how they feel in some respects. However, I'm also sure that they'll never forget the good times they had with Ivan, and the positive impact he had on their lives. I really do wish them the very best at this time.
That's the last I'll say on this subject. It's a difficult thing to write about, but I found myself sitting here wondering why Ivan's death was still lingering in my mind. And I realised that it wasn't simply the case that a child had died - which is a huge tragedy in itself. It was because a child died who had been a much bigger part of the public and political consciousness than most people ever knew.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
In many ways it comes as no surprise that Slaughter has been caught doing this. Labour MP for Lewisham East Bridget Prentice was reprimanded by Standards Chief John Lyon for doing a very similar thing last year. So Labour have history here. But it's also pretty well known that Slaughter is likely to be destroyed in the new seat by the young and talented Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey. I wonder if John Lyon would like to know just how little regard Andrew Slaughter has for Parliament's rules?
I would also like to say thank you and 'good show' to Gordon Brown. His statement to the Commons was respectful, kindly and very sincere. As someone who has struggled in the past to sound all of these things, it was a real and welcome contrast. I'm sure that the sad death of his infant daughter Jennifer back in 2002 also puts him in a better position than most to understand what the Camerons are going through. So fair play to him as well.
Monday, February 23, 2009
And the second thing is that this recession has nothing to do with Gordon Brown:
I personally think this website is absolutely taking the piss. It's spending your money on telling us that the government is right. I'm not done with this one, but it suffices to say for now that I have felt compelled to make a 'Labour Lies' label as a result of this site being created.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
We often have a good laugh about just how much the BBC sucks up to Labour, but this is just taking the piss. The news that 'The One' is meeting 'The Dour One' is not news at all; it's a press release on behalf of the Labour party in an attempt to soak up some of Obama's messianic juices for Gordon to guzzle down. The second story in the list - regarding the protests in Ireland - is far more important, not least because Gordon Brown is apparently going to attempt to do here what caused the protests over there.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that Brown had Boris Johnson moved at a memorial service so that Harriet Harman could take his place. This was despite the fact that Johnson was one of the speakers - alongside Brown himself and David Cameron - while Harman wasn't. So Brown got rid of Boris and used Harman as a buffer so he wouldn't have to talk to Cameron.
And tonight we see this story in the Telegraph. As part of Brown's strange attempt to suck up to Tories, he is planning a special dinner at No.10 to unveil a painting of Margaret Thatcher. Apparently, when Thatcher's office suggested that it would be a good idea for the current leader of the Conservative Party to attend - and why wouldn't such a suggestion be made? - there were serious attempts to have Cameron removed from the list.
As fewer and fewer people buy in to Gordon's economic ego trip, stories like this only go to show that not only is he the wrong man for the job, but the old habits that shaped him from his early days in politics are still there. Do you really want to trust the economy to a man who has a hissy fit about a dinner party?
This should have been the big story today, and it will remain a headline for most of the weekend I would imagine. It's how the deal Gordon Brown brokered between HBOS and Lloyds has been a disaster, and how the group will lose some £11 billion this year.
But what was dominating the headlines until recently - and which may do again - is this guff. News that Gordon Brown is considering, maybe, possibly doing something about final salary pensions - particularly those of MPs. All he has actually done is called for an investigation - his usual buck-passing technique. But for a couple of hours at least, this 'man of the people' story stole the limelight from his familiar economic incompetence.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Much has been made in the press about the delicious Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's use of expenses. The comments and allegations flying around are most serious, but I think it is important that we ignore them because she is so lovely. I have never met her, but I think it's fantastic that we now have a Home Secretary with such large breasts.
Jacqui Smith is also an excellent cook and a loving mother, and therefore she should be entitled to claim £116,000 under less than ethical circumstances. The witch-hunt surrounding this incident is clearly being spun from Conservative Central Office; how typical from a party of sexists toffs who object to a woman being in Jacqui Smith's position. Yes, that's right; she should be immune from all criticism because she's a woman, and lovely, and I'm not married to her at all.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Two things here. First of all, for Labour to derride any other party for appearing to preside over the loss of private data is a bit like Gordon Brown complaining that nobody answers his questions. And secondly, why on earth are they trying to make political capital out of this? The nature of the missing information makes this more interesting from a procedural point of view, rather than a confidentiality one. Remember these aren't records of how people voted - just whether they voted. And there's no suggestion anywhere that these records have been lost somewhere in the public arena; they could just be sitting at the back of an office.
And then Labour gets even more loopy:
"Lindsay Roy won the by-election because of the incompetence of the SNP locally and nationally. The ballot papers were counted fair and square in front of the eyes of the world."
Doesn't this have a 'move along, nothing to see here' air about it? Jumping straight in with 'we won and it was fair' does nothing but create suspicion that they didn't and are now trying to hide something. Whether impropriety has taken place is not something I particularly want to speculate on, but denying accusations that haven't actually been put to you yet is an astoundingly bad political strategy, whichever way you look at it.
Monday, February 02, 2009
I think it's daft that every time we get a couple of inches of snow in this country the whole place grinds to a halt. But it happens every single time, and it seems no amount of preparation actually does a thing to stop it. I have simply come to accept it as something of a national quirk. So imagine my complete lack of surprise that just about every lefty within reach of a microphone is blaming both the transport problems and often the weather itself on Boris Johnson. I'd love to know how their brains can fathom the idea that Boris Johnson can make it snow, but seem completely unable to form a connection between Gordon Brown being Chancellor for 10 years and the current recession.