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The Campaign Trail

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Well that was an interesting couple of days!

What was intended to be a flying visit to the Scottish Parliament to deliver the petition in opposition to proposed cuts to Highland Rheumatology Services turned into something altogether meatier.

The meeting with Nicola Sturgeon itself went fine. The points the HRU 5 (as I have taken to calling them) raised were all listened to but of particular and unconcealed interest to the overlord of the Scottish NHS were the two vital aspects that a) claims of consultation with the patients and wider community had most of their basis in myth and whimsy and b) the figures quoted to support the necessity of cuts were fundamentally incorrect as a result of either incompetence or dishonesty.

Form your preconception now, I shall not influence you either way.

The whole experience was not unpleasant and rather interesting and didn’t feel a million miles away from The Thick Of It, although with the apparent abundance of American born assistants and staff there was a vague sense we had stumbled into a slightly shit spin off of The West Wing.

MSP Dave Thompson, who had arranged this meeting for us, has certainly proved himself in my eyes with his fierce and unshakeable support for this campaign. I salute you sir, if I can stomach my distaste for seperatist scottish nationalism I might even consider encouraging people to vote for you. Government needs impassioned public servants who are willing to fight for the little guy, regardless of party politics.

It seems only right to lay some praise upon Dave’s gloriously enthusiastic and helpful assistant Hayley. She proved her worth admirably when she heard the news we had been stranded in Edinburgh overnight thanks to the bad weather, leaping into action to arrange a hotel for 2 of our number, the remainder being given refuge by the redoubtable Sam and Baker.

I doff my cap to these fellows for their lack of hesitation in offering 3 wayward souls a bed for the night and sharing their bread and beer. I feel additional praise should be heaped on the lovely Emma on the pharmacy counter in the Princes Street branch of Boots who arranged some emergency medication for those who had been caught short by our predicament and to the gentlemen in the Carphone Warehouse who charged up our phones on Friday morning.

Ali, I’m sorry I ruined your day off by not getting to work on Friday. Believe it or not this was the most upsetting thing about being stranded down south.

Come Friday the weather had alleviated a touch and so we were able to return home via the scenic route – a six and a half hour train ride via Aberdeen. As usual in a moment of (admittedly quite trivial) adversity, the silver lining of human decency and community spirit shone through. Even my faith in politics and politicians is beginning to grow. Almost makes it all worthwhile.

Oh yeah, we also got Lorraine Kelly to sign the petition. Top that.

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