12 May 2008

Too much information

Privacy and politics do not make for easy bedfellows. From David Cameron's claims on his "private past" to Tony Blair's almost pathological obsession with protecting his children's privacy from media invasion. In 2002 Blair took a stand against media questions about whether his youngest son, Leo, had had the MMR vaccine injection on the basis of the principle of privacy: that we were no more entitled to know than we were entitled to know anything else about Leo's medical records. Presumably it reflected the consensus of Mrs Blair too, as she followed this domestic policy to the letter.

Until today, when, in exchange for a large amount of Rupert Murdoch's money, she was prepared to tell us, in, frankly, unnecessary detail, how Leo was conceived at Balmoral. As you try to remove from your mind that image of Tony and Cherie bumping uglies together in the highlands, instead reflect on what a difference to MMR take-up it might have made to have the Prime Minister publicly endorse its use. In parts of the UK, vaccination levels are as low as 70%, putting all children at risk, both inoculated and non-inoculated.

Is that Tony Blair's fault? Of course not. But, funny as it might seem now, in those days he was a sort of role model. Maybe Cherie was aware of the meaning of 'Politics' as defined by Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary: "(n.) Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles."

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