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If only the BBC were run like a surgery


AS YOU read this, I will be taking a fitness test in Fulham Road. Not for the sort of fixture I’m used to, though. There will be no subsequent pitch inspection, and nobody will want to have a look at my studs or have a feel of the match ball.

It does involve a funny old game: I’m talking about the political football that is the NHS.

The original ambitious plan was a sort of tag team effort. The young surgeon minding me was to come and have a go at the five lesions on my liver. Then another of my surgical heroes – Mr Colo from Croydon – would tackle the tumour that started the trouble, then stitch up my bowels and redirect them away from my colostomy bag. I was ecstatic at the prospect of getting my life back in 16 weeks. OK, it might be at the risk of losing it, but I’m so bored now I’m up for it.

However, that’s now been deemed too risky. Still, the fitness test is a go-er.

Eventually I’m going to be eternally indebted to them all for all the time and effort (not to mention the taxpayer’s money) they’ve spent on me. I feel a bit guilty and will try to pay back my debt somehow. (Or at least make a start!)

It’s fantastic that they exercise so much caution. I’m so desperate to get rid of this bag that if it was down to me I’d say, ‘abscission and be damned’. So I’m grateful to the doctors who have stayed calm under pressure.

If only all publicly funded bodies were run with such diligence.

Wouldn’t it be great if, say, the BBC were to give a fitness test to everyone who was given a position of responsibility. Such as appearing on its programmes. That is an honour that should not be taken lightly – but it is. The BBC allows a lot of wilful muckrakers, affray-causers and troublemakers on its shows.

Does anyone remember Rufus Hound, an alleged comedian, appearing on TV with his ‘campaign to save the NHS’? Scaremongering – as if the NHS were under immediate threat of closure – is a dreadfully selfish way of drawing attention to yourself. At least the boy who cried wolf was only a kid.

Hound’s ‘passionate’ defence of the NHS didn’t last long either. He’s a studio-light socialist – he stops performing as soon as the cameras are switched off. He made some nasty personal attacks on David Cameron too. Being vain and vacuous are bookable offences (especially to a celebrity booker at the BBC) but vicious attacks deserve a red card.

I wish BBC News would exercise more caution. They could have a fitness test for guests, based on what the police used to call the Attitude Test. Anyone who mentions anything to do with World War II, or who uses terms like ‘normalising’ to spread hatred for everything they can’t tolerate, would be instantly failed. That might restore some sanity and maturity to the debates.

Instead they let endless rabble-rousers come on and make the most unpleasant provocative claims. They keep pushing the lie that ‘The Far Right’ is on the rise. They allow the likes of Owen Jones to make sweeping generalisations and unsupported accusations against millions of people. It shows an incredible lack of maturity. They don’t seem to have the emotional intelligence to realise that constantly goading people will create a counter-reaction.

These days showbiz seems to be politics for lazy people. Who elected Benedict Cumberbatch? He should shut up, hit his marks and learn his lines. Then go and do some charity work. He hasn’t earned the right to be taken seriously.

Say what you like about MPs, but at least the people who are elected to Parliament have a surgery and spend time with their constituents, helping them with their problems. Having a surgery seems to be the hallmark of maturity and taking responsibility. If you haven’t got a surgery, then you have to pass a Fitness test and an Attitude Test.

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Nick Booth
Nick Booth
Nick Booth is a freelance writer.

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