Aspiring mechanic, 16, died after surgeon pierced his vein using wrong instrument in due to ‘great pressures over delays’
A teenager died during a routine operation when a surgeon allegedly pierced a major vein after using the wrong instrument, an inquest heard.
Ryan Senior, 16, suffered multiple organ failure during what was supposed to be a ‘low-risk’ 40-minute procedure at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
An inquest jury was told the Redditch teenager died after a surgeon allegedly used a sharp surgical instrument called a trochar instead of a blunt one, during minor keyhole surgery.
A trochar is a medical instrument with a sharply pointed end used to introduce devices such as drains and tubes inside the abdomen.
The jury heard the details of the fateful day from a report read out by Birmingham and Solihull coroner Aidan Cotter.
The report comprised minutes of a meeting between the hospital and Ryan’s relatives, following an investigation by the hospital.
The jury heard how the trochar pierced a major vein which led to a fatal gas embolism.
This occurs when air bubbles block blood flow in a major artery, causing massive blood loss and cardiac arrest, the court heard.
Ryan’s mother Sarah was given the devastating news her only son had died as she waited by his bedside. She was later sent home with his bagged-up clothes and bereavement leaflets.
The teenager, who dreamed of being a mechanic, had been suffering from an undisclosed minor health complaint and was otherwise healthy when he went into the hospital on February 16, 2010.
He was due to undergo a laparoscopy, a low-risk procedure that allows a surgeon to access the inside of the abdomen and pelvis with a tiny camera. Pictures are then flashed back to medics as carbon dioxide gas is pumped into the stomach to increase space.
But a hospital report after Ryan’s death is said to have claimed the operation took a tragic twist when Dr Harish Chandran allegedly used a sharp trochar instead of a blunter implement.
A tear was made in a major vein and gas escaped into the blood stream, resulting in an embolism which led to cardiac arrest and organ failure.
The jury inquest, sitting at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall, was told medics battled for more than two hours to resuscitate Ryan, administering 31 pints of blood in a bid to stem the bleeding.
The operation was led by Dr Chandran, the hospital’s clinical director for surgery, and assisted by Dr Harriet Corbett.
Giving evidence today, Dr Chandran claimed he performed the surgery with a piece of equipment he was not comfortable with due to ‘great pressure’ put on him to to reduce delays at the hospital. He also admitted to the hearing that he made the fatal incision, which killed Ryan.
Dr Chandran told the jury: ‘Before the surgery I was informed that the reusable blunt trocar I had requested was not available but that a disposable plastic blunt trocar was.
‘There is great pressure to reduce delays at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and I felt under pressure not to delay the operation so said I would go ahead as long as they made sure it was a blunt trocar rather than a sharp one.’
Choking back tears, Dr Chandran went on to describe the moment Ryan died on the operating table.
He added: ‘I noticed after I had inserted the trocar that it was not blunt so I removed it and continued with surgery. On inspection there was no sign of blood so we continued.
‘But on inserting the camera I realised not enough CO2 had gone in – so the pressure was increased.
‘On extracting the equipment blood came out. I packed the area with gauze to stop the bleeding and Dr Tim Jones, a cardiac specialist was called.’
Dr Chandran told the inquest that Dr Jones had succeeded in stopping the bleeding using a special treatment that involved cooling the body to 35 degrees.
But after two hours and 20 minutes of trying to save Ryan he was pronounced dead.
Ryan’s aunt Tracy Hunt had driven him and his mother Sarah to the hospital. They sensed something was wrong when they were still waiting beside his bed after an hour and 20 minutes.
‘A man in a suit and a nurse came out and closed the curtains around the cubicle and told us they had been fighting to save his life for the last hour,’ Mrs Hunt said in a statement.
The sisters were later taken into a room and given the heartbreaking news that Ryan had died. Tracy said her devastated sister was handed some leaflets on bereavement along with a carrier bag with her son’s clothes inside.
She added: ‘We loved Ryan dearly and cannot express the pain we have suffered since his death.
‘Sarah’s world was turned upside down when he died. He was her only son and her best friend. ‘She has left his room untouched since he died and goes in twice a day to say good morning and good night.’
The jury was told a post-mortem examination conducted by Dr Adrian Warfield also revealed an unexplained second small wound, near Ryan’s belly button and where the first incision had been made.
The inquest also heard yesterday from several nurses, including Anna Fitzgerald, who phoned Dr Chandran before the operation to say there was a problem with the equipment.
The camera that he preferred to use was not available, she said. The doctor was later shown three separate boxes of equipment and she said he said he did not mind which one he used.
The one selected for use contained the sharp trochar. When it was pulled from his body, he started bleeding, which was not expected.
New NHS phone line left my wife in intensive care: Husband’s anger after it took 14 HOURS to respond to elderly diabetic
A furious husband has criticised the new NHS 111 phone service after his wife was left for 14 hours awaiting medical help – and is now fighting for her life in intensive care.
Geoffrey Peace, 80, rang the new phone service at 8am on March 31 when his wife Sheila fell ill, and was told that a doctor could be with him within four hours.
But it wasn’t until 10pm that night that a doctor finally turned up – calling an ambulance and rushing 78-year-old Mrs Peace to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, where she was put on dialysis suffering from kidney failure.
Mr Peace has now hit out at the new service, telling how he rang four times between his first call at 8am and the doctor’s arrival – only to be infuriated by a machine message telling him his call was in a queue.
Retired building inspector Geoffrey, of Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, said: ‘I was very worried about Sheila but every time I rang this new service it was a machine talking at you, you couldn’t say anything back.
The grandfather-of-six added: ‘It told me I was in a queue of ten callers, so I wasn’t going to wait around because I could have been on the phone for hours.
‘You put your trust in the medical profession, so you don’t want to argue against them, but I think this new system is flawed.
‘My wife was very ill when she got to hospital. When I went to see her, I thought she was gone. It was heartbreaking.’
The new 111 advice line is designed to be a cheaper replacement for NHS Direct – with non-emergency callers with health problems being giving guidance on whether they should visit their GP or attend a hospital.
The idea is the new service combines the long-running NHS Direct helpline with local emergency out-of-hours services.
NHS bosses believe that dismantling it and merging it with out-of-hours telephone services for GP surgeries will make it easier for patients to get medical help particularly at evenings and weekends.
Mr Peace explained he had originally been told that a doctor could be with him within four hours – and if no-one had appeared, he was to phone back.
Despite repeated attempts, he could not get through, nor could his daughter.
He said: ‘We were obviously getting more and more concerned throughout the day. I could have called an ambulance myself but I thought the doctors knew best, and I thought we’d be stuck waiting in A&E for hours.
‘At about 10pm the doctor turned up, he examined Sheila and told me he would stabilise her but then told me her blood sugar level was low so he called an ambulance to rush her to hospital.
Mrs Peace, a retired van driver, suffers from diabetes. She is said to be improving but is still attached to drips.
Mr Peace added: ‘It makes people very unsure about what’s the best thing to do. It’s very frustrating and I think they really ought to change things back to the old system. ‘I know Sheila’s not the first person to be left like this for hours.’
Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney said he had written to the NHS after receiving other complaints about the service. He said: “It’s unacceptable – I’ve been through it myself when calling [the previous system] NHS Direct for my own children and it’s terribly worrying. ‘It’s clear there’s been problems with the number of calls coming in and patients deserve better.’
A spokeswoman for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, which runs 111 in partnership with Local Care Direct, said: ‘We would like to apologise for the distress caused to Mrs Peace and her family following their call to NHS 111.’
‘I had no idea my wife was on the Liverpool Care Pathway’: Husband only learned of wife’s treatment after overhearing staff discussing her
A furious husband has told how he only discovered his wife had been put on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway when he overheard staff talking about her.
Josephine Dunn, 73, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, was taken to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham on March 30 with a urinary tract infection.
Her husband Stuart, 68, rushed to the hospital to be with his wife but claims he was told by doctors that she had ‘no chance’ of surviving.
Mrs Dunn came around later that day – but her husband only became aware she had been put on the end-of-life plan when he overheard a doctor talking to a nurse.
Despite doctors ruling she qualified for the Liverpool Care Pathway, Mrs Dunn, a retired cleaner, was discharged from hospital on April 2. She was taken back to Peacemills Care Home in Nottingham and where she is recovering.
The NHS Trust responsible for the hospital has apologised for a ‘breakdown in communication’ with Mr Dunn.
But today the retired WHSmith worker slammed the hospital for leaving his wife-of-40 years ‘to die’.
Mr Dunn, from Nottingham, fumed: ‘I got a call saying you had better get to the hospital. She was in a holding bay off A&E and then she was put in a side ward. ‘The doctor came to me and said no chance at all that she is going to pull through.
‘She came around Saturday lunchtime and I gave her some water and some yoghurt. I never saw another doctor until the Sunday.
‘On Sunday I just happened to hear a doctor saying to a nurse “I’ll have to take her off the Pathway”.
When he asked a nurse to clarify the situation, she said: ‘Yes, I thought you knew.’
Mr Dunn said: ‘An apology isn’t good enough. I first overheard Josephine was on the pathway from hearing doctors and nurses talking.
‘I wouldn’t have known had I not heard them gossiping. No one told me directly. I was angry because I know what the Liverpool Care Pathway is.’
The pathway gives doctors the opportunity to review whether further tests or medication are helpful, to consider how to keep the patient as comfortable as possible and to decide whether fluids and food should still be given.
It was initially developed for the care of dying cancer patients. But last year the NHS was accused of using it as a way of prematurely ending elderly people’s lives.
Mr Dunn said: ‘As soon as I realised what was going on, I asked for her to be taken off it and the mood immediately changed.
‘If she had died Saturday morning, I wouldn’t have known she was on Pathway. I had to tell my daughter and she had to bring the grandkids up to say goodbye to her.
‘In my mind, once you reach that certain age, they don’t seem to care, you’re just a number. To me, it’s wrong, they just decided that’s it, she has no chance.’
Mrs Dunn started developing dementia ten years ago and five years ago moved to a care home when her round-the-clock care needs became too much for her husband to cope with on his own. Mrs Dunn, who has one daughter Cara, 33, and two grandchildren, is recovering at the care home.
Mr Dunn said: ‘I don’t want people to go through what I had to, they should at least be informed. ‘I suppose it’s a good thing if you’re terminally ill but not when they give someone no chance to recover when they can.
‘Seven days since she left hospital, she is sat in the care home and is happy.
‘An apology doesn’t make things right – they left her to die.’
Dr Stephen Fowlie, Medical Director at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘We have apologised to Mr Dunn for the breakdown in communication in his wife’s care.
‘The Liverpool Care Pathway is used at NUH as established best practice for guiding the treatment of patients at the end of their life.
‘However this decision should not have been enacted without discussion with Mr Dunn, who arrived at the hospital a short time after his wife.’
As Education Secretary and then PM, Margaret Thatcher battled resistance from university leaders every step of the way
Margaret Thatcher’s legacy to the universities was revolutionary. Her legacy to the schools, though, was mixed. And it is was as Prime Minister rather than in her earlier role as Secretary of State for Education and Science (1970-74) that she exercised her greatest influence.
Margaret Thatcher’s views on education were driven in large part by her personal experiences as a student; she was, in the main, satisfied with the school education she received in Grantham, but she was dissatisfied with some aspects of Oxford. In particular she felt that the universities were complacent because they were over-protected from the market. She therefore introduced them to greater accountability and to market forces.
Her first major step to galvanise the universities was to introduce fees for international students: before 1981, international students were educated effectively for free. When the fees were introduced, they were denounced by the leadership of the British universities which, with one voice, predicted no international student would apply to a British university again.
The leadership of British universities often being wrong on important issues, it was no surprise that Mrs Thatcher’s policy was a success. After a transient dip in international student numbers, they have soared ever since, to provide a vast influx of funding and the beginnings of a market to British universities.
Margaret Thatcher’s next step was to cut infrastructural support monies for research to the university sector: she felt that some universities were not using their research monies well. When the cuts were introduced, they were denounced by the leadership of the British universities which, with one voice, predicted that they would be a disaster from which the British economy in general and British universities in particular, would never recover.
The leadership of British universities often being wrong on important issues, it was no surprise that Mrs Thatcher’s policy was a success. By introducing accountability for research – a policy that became known as the Research Assessment Exercise – Margaret Thatcher so galvanised the British universities that they now come second only to America’s in every international league table.
And Margaret Thatcher left a lasting legacy: when Tony Blair and then David Cameron came to power, they each continued her privatisation policies, in particular by introducing top-up fees for home undergraduates. When the fees were introduced, they were denounced by the leadership of the British universities which, with one voice, predicted that they would be a disaster from which the British economy in general and British universities in particular, would never recover.
The leadership of British universities often being wrong on important issues, it was no surprise that fees have been a success. The later fee hikes having been so recently introduced, we are currently witnessing a dip in some numbers, but on past form they will recover, to leave the universities better funded and more receptive to student needs than before.
Margaret Thatcher’s schools record is mixed. She wanted to protect the grammar schools from comprehensivisation, she wanted to increase parents’ choice over which schools to send their children, and she wanted to free schools to have more say over their own admissions and educational policies. But on all these points she was thwarted by the Department of Education and Science and by the local authorities – indeed, as Secretary of State she presided over the destruction of more grammar schools than any other Secretary of State – and she never privatised the schools the way we are now seeing the universities being privatised.
Yet even those failures bore good fruit because they increased her resolve, when Prime Minister, not to fail again at the hands of the Civil Service or of local authorities. Nonetheless, state education in Britain today has had to look to Thatcher’s disciples such as Michael Gove rather than to the lady herself for improvements.
But at least she left us her disciples. She will be missed.
Fracking causes as much seismic activity as ‘jumping off a ladder’: Controversial method for extracting gas is ‘extremely unlikely to trigger an earthquake we would feel’
A controversial process used to extract shale gas causes tremors equivalent to someone ‘jumping off a ladder’.
Fracking, which involves blasting underground rock deposits with water and chemicals to release trapped pockets of gas, has been blamed for triggering earthquakes.
But a study has concluded ‘it is extremely unlikely that any of us will ever be able to feel an earthquake caused by fracking’.
After examining hundreds of thousands of gas extraction operations, the scientists found only three instances where resulting shocks could be detected by residents above ground.
In contrast, they found other man-made activities, such as mining and waste-disposal, are much more likely to trigger noticeable seismic activity.
Lead researcher Professor Richard Davies from Durham University’s Energy Institute, said the risk of fracking resulting in seismic activity that could be felt on the surface is ‘not significant’.
‘In almost all cases, the seismic events caused by hydraulic fracturing have been undetectable other than by geoscientists. It is also low compared to other man-made triggers,’ he said.
‘By comparison, most fracking-related events release a negligible amount of energy roughly equivalent to or even less than someone jumping off a ladder onto the floor.’
He added: ‘It is extremely unlikely that any of us will ever be able to feel an earthquake caused by fracking.’
A forthcoming report by the British Geological Survey is expected to announce that shale gas deposits are far larger than previously predicted. Industry experts say we could be sitting on enough gas reserves to supply the nation for more than a century.
David Cameron wants to see Britain at the heart of the ‘shale gas revolution’, and Chancellor George Osborne has pledged to offer lucrative tax breaks and a simplified regulatory regime to the industry in a bid to promote investment.
Fracking was temporarily halted at Britain’s only test drill site in 2011, after two small earthquakes woke some residents in Blackpool – they were 2.3 in magnitude.
Operations were allowed to resume in December after Energy Secretary Ed Davey announced greater restrictions aimed at limiting the likelihood of tremors.
Critics say any shale gas energy boom will scar the countryside and pollute water supplies. Lawrence Carter of Greenpeace said: ‘People’s apprehensions about fracking go well beyond earth tremors. ‘Communities are concerned about industrialisation of the English countryside, including noise, increased traffic, falling house prices and environmental damage.’
The Durham team compared data from all earthquakes resulting from human industrial activity since 1929. They found the largest fracking tremor was at Horn River Basin in Canada in 2011 and had a magnitude of 3.8 on the Richter scale.
‘A tremor of 3.8 would feel like a little shudder to most people, like a lorry going down the road or someone jumping off a ladder,’ said Professor Davies.
He added: ‘Earthquakes caused by mining can range from a magnitude of 1.6 to 5.6, reservoir-filling from 2.0 to 7.9 and waste disposal from 2.0 to 5.7.’
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: ‘An independent panel of experts commissioned by DECC concluded there was a small risk that fracking could cause relatively minor seismic activity.
‘As a result, the Government has set out that any fracking must be carefully monitored and will be stopped at the first sign of seismic activity.’
Weaned on the Beeb’s hatred, no wonder the young rejoice at her death
Because the BBC had a series of run-ins with Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, and is hardly well disposed towards the Tory-led Coalition, I had expected it to pour buckets of cold water over the memory of the Iron Lady.
To begin with, I was pleasantly surprised. The tone of BBC News 24 on Monday afternoon was slightly awed, even reverential, as is befitting when any great figure dies. Some of the newscasters even wore a black tie. A picture of Margaret Thatcher was shown as silence was observed.
Of course, as was only right and proper, lots of people who did not at all admire Lady Thatcher were interviewed, such as Labour leader Ed Miliband and former Labour deputy leader Roy Hattersley, but they were almost always measured, respectful and reasonable.
Thank God for the BBC, I began to murmur to myself. For all its faults, the Corporation knows how to behave on these occasions. It is capable of setting aside its prejudices, and rising above party politics.
But as the evening wore on, and the new day dawned, I began to change my mind. In many of the television and radio news bulletins, it seemed that Margaret Thatcher was on trial, and the case for the prosecution was subtly gathering force.
Again and again we were shown the same footage of 1990 poll tax riots, and familiar pictures of police grappling with miners during the 1984-85 miners’ strike. The clear message was: This is how it was under Thatcherism. Words such as ‘divisive’, ‘polarised’ and ‘out of touch’ began to be bandied about freely by BBC journalists describing the events of the 1980s. Charges were made against her which weren’t explained or placed in context.
For example, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was interviewed stating that Lady Thatcher had inflicted ‘great hurt’ on Northern Ireland. Now that Mr Adams represents himself as a democratic politician it is right he should have his say. But shouldn’t the BBC have mentioned that at the time of the Brighton bombing in 1984, which very nearly killed Margaret Thatcher, and did kill five others, the judgmental and seemingly virtuous Mr Adams was leader of the IRA’s Army Council?
Equally, Lady Thatcher’s opposition to sanctions against ‘apartheid South Africa’ was repeatedly cited by BBC television news, and her isolation among Commonwealth countries over the issue dwelt on.
What was not mentioned, at any rate while I was watching, is that she opposed sanctions largely because she believed they would harm black people most, though the BBC did grudgingly concede that she wasn’t in favour of apartheid.
Nor did the Corporation recall that after he was let out of prison in 1990, Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress, visited No 10 to thank Margaret Thatcher for her part in securing his release. These caveats should have been entered. Why weren’t they? I suggest the reason is that they do not accord with the Corporation’s historically distorted depiction of her as an inflexible extremist.
And then, of course, there were countless interviews of people who claimed they or their families had been victims of Lady Thatcher’s allegedly draconian economic policies which supposedly ‘decimated’ British manufacturing. The similar (or sometimes worse) experiences of other advanced economies were not mentioned.
I don’t deny she was a ‘divisive’ figure – not in the sense of intending to divide people, and deliberately setting them against one another, but because she sometimes had this effect. It is therefore perfectly reasonable to interview people who believe they suffered as a result.
But on such a massive scale so soon after her death? It was when I was listening to the BBC World Service in the early hours of yesterday morning, and heard a disgruntled Welshman having a swipe at her over the Falklands War, that I decided I’d had enough, and the BBC was being unfair.
If anything, radio was worse than television, despite the repeated use of TV footage implying that the 1980s were one continuous riot. On Radio Five yesterday, I heard a young woman being interviewed who had taken part in a celebration of Margaret Thatcher’s death in Brixton.
Although she admitted she knew virtually nothing about Lady Thatcher’s record as Prime Minister, and was relying almost wholly on what her Liverpudlian parents had told her, this ridiculous person was taken seriously.
Perhaps the nadir of radio coverage came yesterday evening when the BBC World Service unearthed someone called Mark, who had been promoting a song, Ding, Dong, The Witch Is Dead, taken from the film Wizard Of Oz. This was not simply unfair. It was in appallingly bad taste to give airtime to someone capable of pushing such a song about a woman who had died the previous day. Let him sing it in his bath, if he must, but this poison should have been kept off the airwaves.
God knows what foreign listeners to the often admirable BBC World Service will have thought when they heard a just deceased great stateswoman being referred to in this way. I don’t suppose it could happen in any other country on earth.
Nor can I remember any major political figure being so treated by the BBC so soon after his or her demise.
You may say Margaret Thatcher was unusual in being so divisive, and so is bound to be dealt with in an unusual way. But every statesman who has ever lived made lots of mistakes.
When Winston Churchill died, the BBC could have chosen to make much of his many cock-ups, and the evidence of his extremism: his controversial involvement in the bloody Sidney Street siege in 1911; the disastrous Gallipoli expedition, which he proposed in the First World War; his return to the Gold Standard when Chancellor; and his reactionary opposition to Indian Home Rule in the 1930s.
But the BBC rightly dwelt on his wartime achievement (itself not without blemishes) and left it to historians to write about his failings. That is the natural, humane and sensible thing to do when a great figure dies. So it should have been with Margaret Thatcher.
For all her faults and errors, it is widely agreed, even by people such as Tony Blair, that she managed to save Britain from economic calamity. That is a wonderful thing to have done.
She would not have received such treatment from the BBC had she been of the Left. No, the shortcomings of Leftists are usually indulged. On a much smaller scale, when the ex-Marxist historian and former sympathiser of Stalin, Eric Hobsbawm, died, the BBC kindly drew a curtain over his support for a totalitarian regime.
My submission is that an intelligent young person knowing little or nothing about the 1980s, who watched and listened to as much BBC coverage as I have, would come away with the false impression that she was a destructive leader who did more harm than good.
I would like to tell this young person that she won three elections, two of them with very large majorities, and that she achieved some great things, not least of which were liberating many working-class people in Britain, and helping to destroy Soviet communism. This democratically elected leader was not such a divisive and polarising person as the BBC pretends.
But that is how it often represented her when she was Prime Minister. The BBC hated her in life. The evidence of the past couple of days is that it still hates her in death.
British Labour Party eminence shoots at a footballing fascist – and scores an own goal
By Peter Hitchens
I should have thought fascism had a lot in common with football. Both like huge mass rallies in ugly, grandiose buildings, in which the enraptured mob chants gormless, unpleasant slogans and sings unpleasant songs.
Both have personality cults. Both involve the worship of strutting, violent, dishonest and selfish people. Both are almost wholly masculine in a boozy, sweaty, muscle-bound way that sometimes makes me wonder if Germaine Greer doesn’t have a point about men.
The enthusiasts of both are, among other things, very boring conversationalists, if you don’t happen to share their passion.
Common goals: A recent football match between West Ham and Chelsea where West Ham fans threw a Hot Dog thrown at Chelsea’s John Terry
Common goals: A recent football match between West Ham and Chelsea where West Ham fans threw a Hot Dog thrown at Chelsea’s John Terry
Both demand the adulation of youth and strength, and both require a great deal of very bad acting, shouting, posturing, eye-rolling and fake injuries or at least fake grievances. Both are based on an angry intolerance of rivals and both spill rapidly into serious violence, given half a chance.
So the only surprise about the revelation that Paolo Di Canio once said he was a fascist is the honesty involved. Mind you, why did it take so long for it to come out? Wasn’t poor old Swindon important enough for anyone to care that its football team was run by a man who liked giving straight-arm salutes?
But here comes the really funny bit: the resignation of the supposed political giant David Miliband from his posts at Sunderland Football Club, because he couldn’t bear to be linked with this totalitarian monster.
Now, I know from personal experience that the supposedly brilliant Mr Miliband isn’t that clued up about life (he survived some years as Foreign Secretary without even knowing that this country had conferred a knighthood on Robert Mugabe). But there’s something else here that needs to be remembered. In October 2012, a man called Eric Hobsbawm died. Professor Hobsbawm was at least as fine a historian as Mr Di Canio is a footballer.
But, alas, he was a lifelong supporter of communism, an unapologetic defender of the Soviet Union in the days of purges, mass murder and the slave camps of the Gulag. I’ve no doubt he gave the occasional clenched fist salute in his time, but I’ve seen no pictures.
Soon after his death, the other Miliband issued a statement saying that Hobsbawm was ‘a man passionate about his politics and a great friend of my family’. So did the young David Miliband stalk righteously from the room when this grisly old Stalinist apologist came round for comradely tea and buns, as I believe he did quite often?
Of course not. Mr Miliband only objects to one sort of violent, murderous political creed. The other sort is fine by him. The British Left-wing elite has hopeless double standards about dictators, and for some reason always gets away with it.
What do you think would happen if the Nazi Horst Wessel Song were sung at the funeral of a Tory politician? Yet the Internationale, the anthem of world communism, was sung at the Edinburgh funeral of Labour’s Robin Cook in 2005, and nobody fussed. It was played at the memorial service of Tony Benn’s wife Caroline in 2001 (and one very senior Labour apparatchik was heard to sigh: ‘Great to hear language we aren’t allowed to use any longer’).
The same suspect song was played at the Glasgow obsequies of another Labour Minister, Donald Dewar, in 2000, and the congregation joined in. They knew the words.
The excuse was offered: ‘It’s a grand tune, whatever you think of the politics.’ The Hitlerite Horst Wessel Song also has a fine tune, but I doubt the Edinburgh or Glasgow mourners would have stood by and let it be sung.
As far as I am concerned, anyone who is prepared to apologise for either fascism or communism should be a pariah, in football, politics or anywhere else. But you cannot scorn the one and be soft on the other.