OH David Lammy, what is to be done with you? In this odd period when the Spurs moon is in a rare ascendency, while the Arsenal star certainly misses its gleam, the MP for Tottenham ‘takes to Twitter’ at every opportunity – anybody who is in the news doesn’t just go on Twitter, they take to Twitter – and can’t resist telling everybody how much he supports the Lilywhites. It reached a nauseating peak last Sunday when Tottenham won the north London derby and Lammy was there making comparisons with Tottenham’s turning of the tables with words from a famous old American protest song, Gil Scott-Heron’s heroic The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Steady on, son. In this week’s New Journal, I’ve had to point out his foolishness. (See right)
And yet Lammy is a curious chap to watch in action if you can ignore his blind love for the Hotspur just for a moment. He represents a constituency full of disadvantage with the care and understanding of a local… and a finished accent of a pitch rarely heard on the High Road. He complains that Tottenham has no local newspaper, then tweets how he has written an exclusive article for the Tottenham Journal.
Most striking is his ability to deliver great crescendos in his speeches. On the First Whittington March in 2010, I was struck by the most explosive speech he gave against the threatened closure of the A&E department. He vowed that ‘a black man would be chained to the doors’ if the plan went ahead, demanding that ‘Arsenal fans stood with Tottenham fans across north London to fight the closure’.
That may have been a bit of crowd-pleasing tub-thumping, but ahead of the Second Whittington March, now just eight days away, Lammy still remains a politician whose critical question, key to the whole debate, has been left unanswered.
At a public meeting a couple of weeks ago, he warned that if the hospital was reduced in size, then it could be on the path to a wider closure. He suggested smaller hospitals would be ripe for closure or mergers with private operators, hinting at a back door dismantling. It’s a scenario which isn’t so hard to imagine, but a little nuanced for the wider debate over whether something should simply stay open or closed. As the Whittington’s Board promise improved services and investment in the maternity unit in its refit, swaying a few back in its favour without really dealing with the issue as to whether improvements to the NHS should be paid for by government investment rather than auctioning a hospital’s buildings and assets, Lammy is right to wonder what the next steps for the reorganised Whittington Hospital could be. Not necessarily now, but in two years time. He is surely right to wonder how the Whittington will be able to hold its own in the future if it is pared down and left to effectively compete with the Royal Free and the UCLH in a smaller state. It is essentially the great unknown of this whole debate. Have a brief listen below, it’s an interesting point: