Friday, 29 January 2016

Jackie Baillie and my granny

In 2005, my grandmother was diagnosed with throat cancer. She'd just turned seventy, and in many other countries, it would have been considered bad luck, and untreatable. After a few weeks, she'd have slipped off to the other place, and we'd have mourned her and raised a glass to a life well lived. 

The dedication and humanity of the surgeons and nurses in our NHS meant that they spent their time and resources to save her life. She emerged from the Victoria Infirmary able to live a full life, and was with us for another ten years before passing, very peacefully, in her sleep. She was able to visit her local pub with my grandfather every Friday right up until she died.

The fantastic work of our NHS staff meant my gran died when I was 31, not 21. That extra ten years enriched my life beyond belief. I was able to spend time with her as an adult, to spend time with her socially, rather than as a child. I consider myself extraordinary fortunate to have not only met my grandmother - as many people in Glasgow don't - but to have had her in my life for such a long time; right into my adulthood. My abiding memory of her is the look of pure joy on her face when I would walk into the pub to see my grandparents on my way to a night out in Glasgow city centre. The love your granny has for you is different from any other sort of love. 

When she died, we all spoke in our small family of how enriching the "bonus" ten years we had were. How we had her guiding hand for a decade longer than we really had any right to. How she loved having the - second - chance to watch her grandchildren grow into adulthood, and how fortunate we were to enjoy her presence as a person. 

The people responsible for giving us that extra decade were NHS doctors and nurses who dedicate their lives to giving families across Scotland those "bonus" years. Who do their best to save lives, or - when that is impossible - to provide palliative care to those who aren't able to survive their illness. 

And that's why, today, I was disgusted beyond words by the behaviour of the Daily Mail, and by Scottish Labour's health spokesperson Jackie Baillie. 

Phillipa Whitford is an absolute hero. She spent the first part of her life studying for many years to learn all she could about human frailty and fragility, to do all she could to battle the scourge of cancer, to save the lives of those afflicted by it. She has dedicated her life to ensuring families like mine enjoy more years with those we love. 

The Daily Mail attacked Dr Whitford today for stepping into an administrative and medical emergency where cancer surgeons were in short supply over Christmas in her local hospital. Dr Whitford performed operations which would have otherwise been cancelled for shortages of staff. And for this, she received £500 per day, before tax. (As a higher-rate taxpayer, Dr Whitford would probably have taken just over £200 per day, net, for her service). 

Dr Whitford gave up her Christmas holidays to give families those "bonus" years. And for this, she was traduced by a Hitler-supporting rag, written by fascists for scum. And who was jumping up and down to help them traduce her?

Jackie Baillie, the Scottish Labour rent-a-quote. Up popped Baillie, honking furiously that it was a disgrace that Dr Whitford was "moonlighting" by saving lives to the tune of £200 per day. 

Jackie Baillie gets £58.097 per annum in salary for being a member of the Scottish parliament. The Scottish parliament sits for three days per week. Jackie Baillie, as a member of the Scottish parliament, draws £372 per sitting day  (it's substantially more than that, as I've excluded recess days). 

I know who's more valuable to Scotland's society in terms of value for money. And, deputy Baillie, I'm sorry, it's not you.

Ms Baillie has spent a great deal of energy condemning postponed operations in Scottish hospitals. It is difficult not to draw the conclusion, given her attacks on Dr Whitford for saving and extending the lives of cancer patients, that Ms Baillie would much rather have had these operations postponed so that she could then complain about the postponements and make political gain from them. 

And damn the health implications for the patients, and damn the joy that the families gain from receiving extra time with their loved ones which they would not otherwise have had. 

When one looks at Dr Whitford saving lives and enriching families, and Ms Baillie sniping, carping and honking at her for doing so, hoping to get some class of political gain from it, one can understand why Dr Whitford has a majority of more than 13.000 while Ms Baillie is hoping, in May, to remain suckling from the trough of public money as an MSP on a technicality. 

Jackie Baillie, not for the first time, is an embarrassment, a disgrace, and is not fit to represent the people of Scotland in our national parliament. 

She should have the good grace to stand down in May, and in the interim, Kezia Dugdale  might show the slightest modicum of leadership and remove her from the Scottish Labour front bench.


  1. You had me in tears but you have said everything honest people are thinking thank you. xx

  2. An honest and moving smackdown of the vicious people who tried to smear Dr Whitford. Thank you.

  3. Jackie Baillie's former colleague, the late Sam Galbraith worked during the recess in his capacity as a neurosurgeon and was well respected for doing so. Jackie Baillie never needs to worry about being well respected and as much as I find her despicable I genuinely and sincerely hope her health or that of her friends and family never declines to the point where her ill chosen remarks come back to haunt.

  4. Great blog, Tommy. So glad that people are standing up for the good human being and skilled surgeon that is Phillipa Whitford.

  5. Well said indeed, sir! You speak for every decent citizen of Scotland.

    1. Simply...a breath of fresh air, to read what every is thinking about, when that odious person opens her hole.

  6. As I said elsewhere, if Jackie Bailey contracted a cancer and saw that it was Dr. Whitford to perform the operation, would Bailey refuse? I don't think so!

  7. I loved your Grannie Tommy. And everybody else's for that matter. Life is precious. Those who help us extend it are to be applauded, not attacked. THANKS.

  8. Yes. The bold Jackie has form. At the end of 2011 she also accused the SNP administration’s health record thus;
    “Being the superbug capital of Europe is an accolade no country wants” when in actual fact the statistics were collected during – you’ve guessed it, the previous Lab/Lib! Term in office! Well done for reminding us that under Labour, Scotland was indeed Superbug Capital of Europe. That’s political acumen at its best.
    Still, its nice to see she is supporting the SNP on this occasion!

  9. Your granny, my mother and me - all had lives prolonged by the dedication of the medical teams in the NHS. My mother is still with us 12 years later at a ripe old age of 88. It's a joy to have her. She has seen her grandchildren become adults and they in turn take her out now and spoil her, such is their love for her. Eight years ago my life was prolonged by a bone marrow transplant. The joy I have is seeing my children become adults, was able to take care of my elderly parents and with mum on her own now take care of her. My husband was spared brining up a family on his own. My whole family have all benefited from the dedication of people like Dr Whitford and nothing can express how grateful we are. I recall 8 years ago near deaths door on Xmas day. I was seriously ill, scared, beyond frightened for my family and my cancer consultant who had the day off appeared in the afternoon with his children to make sure I was Ok. The man actually interrupted his Xmas day walk to pop in and see me with his kids in tow - no matter how long I live, I will never forget his kindness and dedication. You cannot put a cost on life and £200 net doesn't buy you a nano second of life - Ms Baillie is shameful

  10. Very well said Tommy; Baillie is a disgrace and needs to go - surely even Slab can see what a liability she is.

  11. Thank you for this.

    Ms Baillie is without conscience it would seem in her quest for power and the maintenance of the corrupt, class warfare based, Unionist status quo.

    Shame on her and shame on the rest of her gang of extremists for the dung they are throwing about at Dr Whitford and others in the National Party at the moment.

    Trust Holyrood and the following council elections will see them consigned to the tumbrels en route to political oblivion.