Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Tony Blair's ad man "wants him to get Alzheimer's"

Peter Souter is an ad man. He is chairman of the agency TBWA and worked for Tony Blair and the Labour Party in 1997, 2001 and 2005. He is used to crafting his words to have the best possible effect. So you would think he would understand that saying that the best thing to happen to someone is that they get Alzheimer's is hugely offensive.

Here is a link to a recording.

I help to care for a relative who has Alzheimer's. I can tell you that it is not a joking matter. She is someone who was always full of boundless enthusiasm and huge talent. She brought up two children single handed and carved a great reputation as an artist. For as long as I knew her before she developed her condition, she was caring and understanding and encouraging. Then all that got taken away from her and she is a shadow of the person she was.

But Peter Souter thinks that it is ok to make jokes about this condition.

I don't think this sort of thing can be excused by the context, but here it is anyway. Mr Souter was speaking at a Fabian Society event about Mr Blair. Mr Souter appears to be trying to say that he wishes he could preserve Blair's reputation simply as someone who won three elections. He compares Blair to Margaret Thatcher who became ill and could not speak about politics any more. He says that this is the state he wishes Blair was in and he specifically suggests that it would be good if Blair got early onset Alzheimer's.

However much I disagreed with what Blair did in office, just as I disagreed with Thatcher before him, I could never wish ill health on them or any political opponent. And in particular I could not wish them to live with a condition so debilitating as Alzheimer's.

I hope that Mr Souter realises his mistake and apologises. It might be a good idea if he recognises the work being done by Alzheimer's Research UK to find treatments and a cure for the condition.

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