Sunday, 21 June 2009

The finished result

Well, I thought it was quite the best bit (all seven or eight minutes) of 'The Politics Show' - technically, I mean. Good photography, and nicely put together. The cut and thrust of debate was a bit blunted by my slow speech, but the producer succeeded in pulling out salient points, and making the pictures speak a thousand words. If you want to watch just the bit with Debbie and me, and Jane and Omar, you can find it on : , and then fast forward to 25 minutes in. I'm told Jane and I made a photogenic pair!

The beginning of the show was sad, with the news of the death of two of the Baghdad hostages. We had been hoping for good news. Death is always tragic.


  1. Dear Michael.
    It was very moving to watch. I felt it was excellent that you and Debbie were shown to be getting on, rather than, as so often these days, being set up by producers to start a fight.
    I actually felt your measured delivery (and the subtitles) were very helpful in enabling viewers to take in your points.

    Clearly, Debbie feels very strongly that there is a case for a change in the law, however, my understanding of law is that often it is there to stop people doing things, rather than to punishe them after the event. So her affirmation that those who exploit the vulnerable or who force someoen to end their life will face the full weight of the law is a bit like shutting the door after the horse has bolted. (that's my 2d worth, anyway)

    BTW, do you know about this chap?

    Mikie was a friend from Wiltshire days. He is the only person I know whose memorial service was available as an HTB teaching tape! He had MND, but it was not recognised for years because he was paralysed from the waist down after a riding accident.

  2. Thanks, Tim. We were pleased not to be confrontational too.

    I think Debbie's issue was whether the DPP's discretion not to prosecute is in sufficiently safe hands. Personally I think it is and as the appeal court said there is also the safeguard of the courts in case his decision to prosecute was 'against the public interest.'

    I've not come across Mikie, but will follow the link.

  3. Hi Uncle M,

    I'm so pleased that you have got involved in the debate about assisted suicide. It is a very important issue and a debate in which your voice, although physically weak, has power as a sufferer of MND - particularly when voices like yours tend to be arguing on the other side of the debate.

    I was interested to watch the politics show clip - I felt you were at an unfair disadvantage in the discussion with Debby because of your difficulties with speech. Nevertheless, two questions occurred to me from Debby's argument:

    1. Can one ever adequately protect the vulnerable if assisted suicide is made legal? It was suggested that there might be middle route between protecting the vulnerable and 'protecting' those who assist a (consenting) terminally ill person to die. Having seen serious abuses of power on hospital wards on a daily basis, I do not think it is possible to put into place adequate external safe guards to protect the vulnerable, particularly where the consequences of abuse are so serious (i.e death). But even if it were possible, the very fact of legalising assisted suicide would create a new choice that, I am sure, would make some vulnerable people feel compelled to commit suicide for the sake of their families. You can never guard against such internal compulsion by external regulation and this is terrible 'choice' that would increase the anguish of some in terminal illness.

    2. Even if one could provide absolute protection for the vulnerable, would it then be right to allow assisted suicide? I imagine your concern as a Christian is not just utilitarian but also one of principal: that suicide is wrong. Of course, no Christian would condemn someone who did commit suicide and this is a complex issue; but the bottom line is that assisted suicide is a form of murder and God forbids murder. The principal that murder is wrong, and the utilitarian argument that the vulnerable should be protected, is an out-working of the principal that all humans are valuable as bearers of God's image (even those who are terribly ill), and so they should not be killed. I thought you illustrated this principal very well in your book when you talked about the love of your family towards you in incapacity; you discovered that their love was not dependant on your actions. This had the effect of increasing your sense of value, and their love simply reflected God love for us. Assisted suicide actually decreases human value by making it dependent on health or lack of suffering.

    I imagine you made similar points in your interview which fell by the way in the cutting room. I look forward to reading the Independent article in due course.

    Love Al & Ad

  4. Hi Uncle Michael,

    Having read your post of Saturday 27th June (‘Al & Ad’s animadversions’) , I can see that it might seem contradictory to state both that ‘suicide is wrong’ and that Christians would not ‘condemn’ those who commit suicide. I used the word ‘condemn’ in a narrow sense, meaning that true Christians would not personally seek to punish those who tried or succeeded in committing suicide (bearing in mind that it is possible to ‘punish’ those who are dead by denying them burial or inheritance rights, for example). One can say without contradiction that it is wrong to personally punish those who commit suicide and, at the same time, to state that suicide is wrong and accept that governing institutions should apply sanctions to prevent suicide and protect people, particularly the vulnerable. I hope that is a bit clearer.

    You are quite right that my post was informed in part by my experience of work within hospitals. I regularly saw serious abuses of power by doctors, some of which were due to ignorance of the rules but a lot of which were due to indifference to these rules and because it was easier for staff (working in a stressful environment) not to comply. My role was to help patients in such situations and, although patients had a right to see us, often they were denied access to representation and we did not find out about abuse until after it had happen. These stories did not reach the newspapers; we dealt with cases every day. If people were aware of the regularity with which power was abused within certain sectors of our hospital system, they would be very frightened by the idea of legalising assisted suicide. We cannot bring back to life those who have been assisted to die and right wrong.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Love Al