Sincerity in the face of adversity (Mr Cameron, take note)

Shiny and insincere: Maybe. But Bob Monkhouse spoke from the heart about the loss of his son, something that seems beyond David Cameron's abilities.

Shiny and insincere: Maybe. But Bob Monkhouse spoke from the heart about the loss of his son, something that seems beyond David Cameron’s abilities.

Do you ever have moments when you think you’ve said something the best way you can, and then someone else comes along and does it better? In this case, the words come from an unexpected source – and from beyond the grave.

Last week this blog ran a couple of articles attacking the way David Cameron, in his speech to the Conservative Party conference, used the memory of his late son Ivan to attack the Labour Party’s stance on the National Health Service.

Some readers took exception, and it is to these that the following is addressed.

In a Mail on Sunday interview back in January, Cameron himself expressed his displeasure with people who said he would eventually find a way to take something positive from his loss: “Even though Ivan was very disabled and very ill, it was all just a total shock. We had no idea he was going to suddenly die in the way he did,’ he said.

“But the person who says to you, ‘There’s a silver lining to all this,’ or ‘Some good will come of all this,’ you actually want to thump. It’s the most annoying thing anybody can possibly say.”

It seems Cameron did find a way to make something of his son’s death, though – by attacking Labour. Here’s the Daily Telegraph‘s coverage of this part of his speech last week: “In the most emotional passage of his keynote address, Mr Cameron expressed outrage that Labour was trying to position itself as the party of the NHS and undermine the Conservatives’ record.

“‘They were spreading complete and utter lies – and I just think, how dare you! It was the Labour party that gave us the scandal of Mid-Staffs, elderly people begging for water.’*

“He added: ‘For me this is personal. I know what it’s like to have a sick child in hospital and know that when I get there are people who will care for it like it was their own child.

“’How dare they suggest I would ever put that risk for other people’s children? How dare they frighten those who rely on our National Health Service.'”

In both the remarks quoted above, Mr Cameron’s son hardly gets a mention. He’s there as a device for Cameron to talk about himself or Labour.

This is something that was brought home to Yr Obdt Srvt in the most unexpected place over the weekend, when BBC Four ran a documentary about, of all people, the late Bob Monkhouse.

During his life, Bob gained a reputation for being shiny and insincere – all gloss and no substance. It’s a reputation that may be partly deserved. He also shared two important characteristics with Cameron – he was a Conservative (or at least a Conservative supporter, back in the 1980s), and he had a son with Cerebral Palsy who died young (although considerably older than Cameron’s son).

And there was nothing insincere about Bob when he said this about his son Gary: “I think most parents of a grossly handicapped child will see [it] not as their tragedy, but as their child’s tragedy. And then, as in the case of my son, you begin to learn from the child.

“He was such a – a straight arrow. He was a source of great inspiration to me and, and I think of him every day, and if I grieve – as I do – I grieve not for his death but for his life, which was a very difficult fight for him.”

The difference between Bob’s words and Cameron’s should be clear. If so, then there is nothing to add.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. really? October 7, 2014 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    Do he say “it”? “…people who will care for it like it was their own child.” How about “him” and “he”?

    • Mike Sivier October 7, 2014 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      That could be a transcription error by the Telegraph (although it just as easily might not be). The speech – as written – runs as follows: “… knowing that when you get there, you have people who will care for that child and love that child like their own.”
      No “him” because it might just as easily be a “her”.

      • really? October 7, 2014 at 10:53 pm - Reply

        Indeed. I said “he” in reference to Cameron’s little one. Let’s hope it was just a transcription error on his behalf…

  2. Nick October 7, 2014 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    I myself have the same oddity as bob in that we were both recordists from the seventies and although we never met i always found he came across as sincere

    Cameron has never come across as sincere how could he when he has made life a living hell not only for the likes of myself the sick and disabled but also for the parents of children who had the same conditions as his son before he died

    Cameron’s style will always fail for that very reason he is insincere and by being insincere lives are lost not only here in the uk but also overseas

    can you imagine how our oversees armed forces must feel when they know that back home the likes of Cameron are running the country? it must feel absolutely dreadful to even come back home i know if it were me i would stay away

    bob overall was a decent man and was popular with those he worked with here at home and to the many barbarian friends he had in Barbados where he had his second home

  3. Deborah Edwards October 7, 2014 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    Mr Cameron in this speech shows no affinity with the needs of the children in general he only as the concept of self loss & anger towards others who know no better than to say in diff ways “hey Mr C’ you’ll get over it” anger being a major part of grieving over the loss of his son and within his family as it was his son he lost. It is personal to both of them but personal means just that, Mr C’ should have counselling to chanel his aggression, though i do not believe that should be aimed at the general public. They too have their own sh*te going on.
    Bob oozes affinity in every word of his speech there is a belonging to the need of what his child was suffering. Bob’s was an emotional outcry of inner turmoil whereas Mr Cameron’s words appear to shut the rest of the world out and close his pain unto his family no affinity with loss of others. I can’t say to Mr Cameron that there is a silver lining just that sh*te happens to all of us. Grief takes many forms and many diff ways and we all need times to heal, when this happens.

  4. victedy October 8, 2014 at 7:32 am - Reply

    good to see you back after your brief sabbatical, I have missed your posts in my email box

    • Mike Sivier October 8, 2014 at 9:06 am - Reply

      I’ve been posting quite regularly, I thought.

  5. Jeffrey Davies October 8, 2014 at 10:24 am - Reply

    grief we all different in our approach to it but cameron had a disabled child did he learn anything from this yes he did he learnt he thought it was to easy to claim dla so set about how to take it away from those who need it but he must feel his loss but then greedie people have a different agenda than the poor it seems love is all around but not to those greedie beggers jeff3

  6. Barry Davies October 8, 2014 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    I see that despite the truth coming out that no one ever drank from vases and that the person crawling along the floor to try to get a drink was actually from UHNS the hospital deemed fit to take over the very good Stafford Hospital this lying worm who incidentally was parachuted into what was considered a safe seat in Stafford and lost it, continues to smear our excellent hospital. We are all too aware of the tories’ record with the NHS and all of it is bad and based on the idea of privatising it so that the same people IDS is attacking – the poor, the sick, the incapacitated and disabled – will be prevented from gaining access to any healthcare at all.

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