Richard Ingrams' Week: This hypocritical campaign to preserve our freedoms


As the Prime Minister arrived at Parliament on Monday to hear the Queen read out his latest anti-terrorism regulations, a small scene was enacted to illustrate the kind of thing such measures already involve.

A nurse, Peter Murray, who saw Blair whizzing past in his bullet-proof chauffeur-driven car shouted out "boo, boo".

There are probably thousands of people, including myself, who if given the opportunity to shout "boo" at Mr Blair would do the same. Some might even go so far as to throw the odd egg or rotten tomato.

The aim would be to register in a small way our feelings of displeasure, or even disgust, towards this vain, deceitful man who has brought shame on this country and who is directly responsible for the continuing deaths of British servicemen and women in Iraq. But Mr Murray soon learned what happens nowadays to someone who dares to shout "boo" at the Prime Minister.

Two burly policemen approached, searched him and took down his address and telephone number. They were acting, they said, in accordance with Section 44 of the Terrorism Act of 2000.

Such measures, Blair tells us, are necessary to defend our freedoms against the evil terrorists. But then one of the freedoms we thought we had, unlike the poor Iraqis under Saddam Hussein, was the freedom to shout "boo" at our political leaders.

Not any longer. Under the Blair regulations, anyone who does so will be marked down as a potential terrorist threat on the police computer. All in the campaign to preserve our precious freedom.

Another day, another bad diagnosis

Last year Professor David Southall, a prominent paediatrician, walked away from the High Court having avoided being struck off by the General Medical Council for professional misconduct.

The professor, described by his lawyers as "an eminent and highly respected doctor", had garnered a certain amount of disrespect when it was revealed that he had given evidence that a young father, Stephen Clark, had killed his two baby children. The professor's evidence was that he had once seen Mr Clark being interviewed on TV and decided there and then that he was a child murderer.

Professor Southall, a believer, like Professor Sir Roy Meadow, in a bizarre medical theory called Munchausen's syndrome by proxy, now finds himself charged, inter alia, with yet another faulty diagnosis, this time involving a mother whom he accused of hanging her young son and then falsely claiming that he had committed suicide.

This time the medical authorities may find it harder to exonerate the professor. Following the example of Lady Bracknell they may conclude that to make one crazy diagnosis may be accounted a misfortune, to make two - or possibly even more - looks like carelessness.

Even so there will be renewed tut-tutting in medical circles about a distinguished professor being condemned by the GMC and how it will make other experts reluctant in future to give evidence in such cases in case they too are accused of lunatic incompetence and struck off the register.

* I am finding it harder than ever to distinguish Prince Charles from David Cameron. Both are rich and privileged, but both are keen to show that they are unstuffy and classless. Both men have the slightly condescending air of toffs visiting a youth club with an air of concern and commitment towards those less fortunate than themselves. Cameron even seeks to demonstrate his classlessness by not wearing a tie.

The greatest similarity comes with their apparent concern for the environment. Cameron is photographed cycling round London, and now Charles has given instructions that his staff are to use bicycles whenever possible. Meanwhile he himself, we may be sure, will continue to be driven around in gas-guzzling limousines. And the same will be true of Cameron. Both men, if pressed, will say that this is done "for security reasons" - that all-purpose excuse for so many of the inconveniences we encounter in today's Britain.

Perhaps Prince Charles does have some sincere wish to preserve the planet. Cameron, I suspect, is merely responding to what he has been told by market researchers claiming to have discovered the uppermost concerns of voters.

The environment will score a great many points, as will the NHS. This, in turn, explains Cameron's emphasis on health. He is simply reacting to a survey. This is the modern approach in most fields, politics included. Find out what people want and then give it to them. The trouble is, the world doesn't work like that.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

Read Next

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage

If I were Prime Minister: I would create a government that actually reflects its people

Kaliya Franklin
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower