Angry Cameron

1,474 shares, 1,612 likes and 773 tweets later, suffice it to say that Scrapbook’s article on David Cameron’s conference references to his disabled son hit something of a nerve last week.

Having been fiercely attacked for tweeting the piece, Alex Salmond’s top aide in the Scottish Parliament even issued a statement defending it as “a robust and well argued piece of journalism”.

But it took until yesterday for a national newspaper columnist journalist to brave an allusion to the appropriateness — or otherwise — of Cameron’s angry “how dare they” refrain. The Observer’s chief political commentator Andrew Rawnsley wrote of the “whiff of panic” evident in his address:

“When Mr Cameron got personal about the NHS, it was possible to be moved as he talked about the care given to his disabled son and at the same time to note that it says something about the depths of voter distrust for the Tories that their leader felt it necessary to invoke his family’s tragedy to try to establish his credentials as a trustworthy steward of the NHS.”

The nettle was originally grasped by New Statesman writer Alex Andreou back in 2012, who re-tweeted his original blog in the wake of the speech:

Andreou says:

“I have every sympathy for David Cameron as a parent. I also have a right to demand the highest standards of him as a Prime Minister. The two concepts are not incompatible. It should not be taboo to say so.

“Each time, the spectre of that poor child is raised like an invincible shield by his own father, each time his memory is drop-kicked into a political minefield – knowing that nobody will dare touch it – debate is silenced and legitimate questions about these reforms go unanswered.

“It is not only inappropriate. It is distasteful and immoral.

You can’t cut provision for disabled children for four years and then invoke a disabled family member in an attempt to shut down debate.

Have another look at the video. The meaning of David Cameron’s words is surely not in question:

‘My tragic personal experience under state healthcare means that your criticism of my NHS reforms is improper.’

  1. Rabih Chaaban says:

    It was a Bizarre comparison from the Prime minister to proudly telling us, as he poses to the Cameras, that forgetting his daughter was much easier than ‘forgetting to mention the deficit!!

  2. I can understand that the Tories in general get riled by some of the attacks over NHS funding, which, as a Labour historian I find quite unfair. However, the way to put an end to this is to put the NHS beyond the reach of private companies and to ring-fence its public funding.

    I have a disabled son, and whilst I wouldn’t wish to refer to his disability in a political battle for votes, I would think that it is right to refer to it in the context of policy-making within a political party. However, I think the clearest way to avoid a confusion of motives is to campaign for disability rights and services through charities, and raise issues that they raise within the political arena.

  3. David Cameron will probably never get over the tragic loss of his son but I think it is morally very wrong to use his memory to as a political pawn.

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