When David Cameron says “That’s Rubbish!” it may be time to reach for your pen.
I remember the first time I was aware of David Cameron saying “that’s rubbish!” because it deeply offended me.
I live in Stafford, where we have just endured a pretty torrid few months of media frenzy over the hospital. From the start of this I recognised the serious causes for concern, all of which are being dealt with. I also recognised that we were dealing with pretty serious mis-information, what has later been described by Sir David Colin Thome, author of one of the three definitive reports on events at the Hospital as
“much ill informed speculation on the number of supposed excess deaths”.
I cannot say if the media knew it was mis-information, but they certainly were in no mood to let the facts get in the way of a good story. I am sure that some members of his party advised David Cameron that this was the big story of the moment and it would be a great idea for him to come to Stafford.
I was surprised that he agreed to do this for two reasons, firstly because he probably feels a little sensitive about Stafford, the scene of his election defeat in 1997, and secondly because he must have known that coming back to Stafford at this particular time, would certainly be seen as a piece of political opportunism.
I have not had an opportunity to see how David Cameron and my MP, David Kidney get on together, but I would imagine that they would normally treat each other with a studied courtesy.
I know that a visit from David Cameron at that time was really the last thing that we wanted or needed in Stafford. Feelings were running high, people were being pitched against each other by the press, and nothing that raised the temperature further was welcome. But he was coming. I saw the very carefully worded and diplomatic press release that David Kidney put out. This welcomed David Cameron, stressed the importance of working together to deal with the problems that had been identified, but also pointed out that the hospital mattered a great deal too much to be used as a political football.
Two of the three local papers prominently reported David Cameron’s response of “that’s rubbish”. This shocked me, because I had assumed he was normally a well mannered man, and upset me, because I know that David Kidney is the kindest and most courteous man in the world. He had handled what most of his colleagues knew to be an impossibly stressful couple of weeks with great dignity. He was simply speaking the truth, and he certainly did not deserve a response like this.
Since then I have learned rather more about the way in which some members of David Cameron’s party were actively using the hospital for party political purposes and encouraging the media to behave as they did. David Cameron may already have had his suspicions about this.
I think I have heard some more instances of David Cameron saying “That’s rubbish” but the one that made it all click into place was reading this interview “who is David Cameron,” Times on line
The interviewer says
“We had been talking about his bewilderment about the depth of dislike that some people in the Labour party have towards the Conservatives: David Cameron says “Where I think Conservatives tend to feel Labour are misguided and wrong, there are some people in the Labour Party who just think the Tories are awful and evil, which is ridiculous and wrong.”
In my attempt to explain why they might have these feelings I mention the four houses: David Cameron responds “The four properties thing is rubbish”.
David Cameron then went on to try and clarify how many houses he had, and found he could not remember. The interviewer was sensitive to his anxiety about this, and David Cameron is recorded as saying
“Do not make me sound like a prat for not knowing how many houses I’ve got.”
I read this article before questions began to be asked about David Cameron’s choices on his mortgage arrangements, but it made sense of the “rubbish” even then.
“That’s rubbish” is a defence mechanism. Its real meaning is “I am pretty uncomfortable about what you are asking. You would not dream of being so discourteous as to press the matter further”.
I am not an unkind person, and I do not wish to cause discomfort to anyone, but as a voter I really do need to know quite a lot about the things that make David Cameron uncomfortable. I hope that any journalists who might spot this, will know that if David Cameron says “that’s rubbish” it is time to reach for your pen.