Matthew Norman on Monday: Cameron may be on to something with his Tourette's analogy

 

In the matter of Ed Balls and Tourette's, David Cameron clearly spoke without thinking. I refer not to his description of frontbench life as being "like having someone with Tourette's permanently sitting opposite you", but to yesterday's hurried apology. Exhaustive research, conducted over almost two minutes, suggests the PM may have been right. According to Luc de Nil, a speech defect academic at Toronto University, there may be a link between Tourette's and stammering of the sort Mr Balls eventually mastered, with possibly one in three sufferers also stuttering in childhood.

A more widely recognised symptom is exaggerated blinking, meanwhile, and I need hardly remind you that, until he overcame this with a heroic act of will, Mr Balls was fondly known as Blinky. Factor in the involuntary gestures (that "flatlining" hand movement, for instance) and repetitive blurting of phrases, and the anecdotal evidence stacks up.

"Misconceptions about this tic disorder are customary," observes Dr Samuel H Zinner, a Washington University paediatrician of the belief that all Tourette's sufferers swear like Malcolm Tucker. In fact, "it often goes un- or misdiagnosed". The PM should withdraw his apology pending further investigations.

Balls made cuts, too

If and when the diagnosis is confirmed, Ed Miliband will have to cease persecuting his shadow Chancellor. "Look," he declared of Mr Balls last week, "Ed is the guy who invented the spending freeze, 1997-98."

This is half true. Ken Clarke, as Chancellor, jokily "invented" a freeze he had no intention of observing himself, purely as a trap. Mr Balls, as Gordon Brown's best little helper, blundered into it. In defiance of the alternative suggested by a booming economy, the NHS was starved of cash for New Labour's first two years, with thousands unnecessarily dying for the lack of heart surgery, cancer treatment and organ transplants.

Why Milibandroid the Younger wishes to remind us that Mr Balls is morally guilty of mass manslaughter is beyond me. And just when the boys seemed to be playing so nicely.

Murdoch vindictive? Surely not

As for Little Ed's typo upon Bob Holness's passing, The Sun and The Times did well to treat "Blackbusters" as a major story. Neither paper will have guessed that party leaders tend to delegate tweeting to junior officials, while it goes without saying that their glee had nothing to do with vengefulness occasioned by Little Ed's anti-Murdochian stance of last summer. It has never been the Murdoch titles' way to "work to the Führer" by prosecuting his personal feuds, as Anne Diamond would happily confirm.

Just the man to sort Tony's tax

How sad to see the unhealthy fixation with Mr Tony Blair's financial arrangements survive the change of year. The Sunday Telegraph has examined accounts filed by one of his élite stable of 39,272,307 companies and partnerships and discovered he is paying tax at an almost Vodafonic rate.

On earnings of about £12m, of which £8m is unaccounted for, his Windrush Ventures paid only £315,000. The only way to end all this mischievous speculation is a full audit of his concerns, under the aegis of someone especially au fait with the complexities of corporate taxation. Perhaps Gordon could carve the time from his schedule of parliamentary duties?

* Sincere sympathies to Steve McNamara, spokesman for the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, over Diane Abbott's attack. She had the gall to suggest some drivers still struggle to notice when hailed by black people. The thought of it. On behalf of his members, Mr McNamara countercharges Ms Abbott with racism, and not a soul was reminded of the conventional confusion of kitchen utensils as to their own pigmentation.

* I am alarmed to find Jeremy Clarkson in trouble again, for using his reliably Wildean Sun column to jape about the Chinese cockle-pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay. Some will wonder if this racist hilarity is a tic hinting at a neurological disorder. At the next Chipping Norton Set reunion, Mr Cameron might lavish his diagnostic genius on his pal.

m.norman@independent.co.uk

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape