Attacking the last resting place of the dead – one act for which the word “desecration” is absolutely appropriate – is bang out of order. And that statement comes without any ifs, buts or asterisks. It doesn’t matter whether you loved or loathed the person, their memory, or their relatives. Sadly, that has happened to a campaigner and business owner in Stafford.
Julie Bailey’s mother Bella died at Stafford Hospital. Whether or not her death was avoidable I do not know, but this spurred Ms Bailey to start a group called Cure The NHS. Later, standards of poor care on some of the Hospital’s wards were exposed. The Francis Report followed. Stafford Hospital is now vastly improved, but is threatened with run-down or, indeed, total closure.
The closure threat has contributed to tempers running high in the debate about Stafford Hospital, which in turn has led to Ms Bailey being used by the NHS-bashing tendency of the Fourth Estate. It is too late for anyone to point out to her that she should never have gone anywhere near the Daily Mail, which is now pretending that Stafford as a whole has “driven” her from her home.
What may not occur to the average Daily Mail reader is that Stafford is not Royston Vasey, but a large town of over 120,000 inhabitants. They did not all meet in secret and devise a dastardly plan to drive Ms Bailey out of town. And no campaigner – the Mail, as is its wont, reserves most of the nudge-nudgery for the Labour Party – can achieve that kind of leverage on his or her own.
Most of the heat that has been generated over Stafford Hospital has come from out of town, and the Daily Mail has been the unquestioned cheerleader, this being another opportunity to demonise the NHS. One of Paul Dacre’s obsessions is to seek out stories showing the organisation in the worst light (recent examples HERE, HERE and HERE). Dacre goes private. He wants his readers to do the same.
The Dacre attack doggies have also massaged the numbers to keep up the attack on both the NHS and the population of Stafford: readers are told of “the horrific neglect at Stafford Hospital which cost up to 1,400 lives” (“think of a number” territory there) while the Save Stafford Hospital march, where more than 40,000 took part, is downgraded to 30,000 to make it look less relevant.
And one thing is certain: when the Mail talks of Julie Bailey having to sell up and leave her business, going to live in a static caravan somewhere, they won’t be around to pay the bills. There is only one winner when folks go to the Daily Mail. Everyone else loses: apart from Ms Bailey, the town of Stafford gets its reputation trashed, along with that of all of its NHS workers.
But the Daily Mail makes the mugs buy their papers, so that’s all right, then.