Wednesday, 2 June 2010

New Politics? For some MPs, not really...

So here we are, coalition government in place, Queen's speech delivered, Dave's first PMQs negotiated - and with plenty of Liberal Democrat policies at the forefront of the government's programme, the era of New Politics (TM) is upon us, right?

Err, in some quarters, not so much - and no, this post will not attempt a deconstruction of the David Laws' departure from the Cabinet, other than to ask whether it's valid to place his admittedly ill-advised expenses claims under such intense public scrutiny given his motivation to maintain privacy over his sexuality. No, this post concerns quite another character in the soap opera that is Westminster politics, and his steadfast determination to stick to the politics of old.

I refer to none other than David Tredinnick MP (Bosworth) - a politician of some repute amongst teh skeptikul blogosfeer - he has enough of a reputation, indeed, that no sooner had @gimpyblog Tweeted a link to this story on ePolitix, he'd blogged on the very same - Quacks for Questions really is one of the best posts on that alwaysxcellent blog.

It's my opinion that for the electorate to truly believe that a new era of politics is upon us, Parliamentarians must be seen to depart from the discredited tactics of the past - not least the dogmatic, ideology-driven approach to policy-making that has given us the likes of homeopathy on the NHS, the sacking of David Nutt and the like. But rather than break with his credulous worldview - a worldview that once prompted Mr. Tredinnick to claim for software that claims to show a link between astrology and healthcare on expenses - the Leicestershire MP appears to have stepped up his pro-woo campaigning, and in doing so takes a sideswipe at his Parliamentary nemesis, former Oxford West and Abingdon MP Dr. Evan Harris.

In his ePolitix piece, Tredinnick insists that the enduring popularity of a
healthcare model that allows doctors to refer to other therapists such as herbalists, acupuncturists, homeopaths and aromatherapists
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is reason enough to sanction State-funded 'integrated healthcare,' by which one assumes Tredinnick means the integration of the likes of these disciplines into routine NHS treatment. Fine, say I - as long as these disciplines can prove, to the same standards expected of all so-called conventional medicine, that they are effective, that they have some discernible impact on patients' health - beyond the placebo effect.

In singling out Dr. Harris for criticism, Tredinnick raises an interesting issue whilst at the same time exposing his own twisted logic; the interesting issue being that Harris' defeat leaves Parliament desperately short of rationalist, scientific thinking (honourable exceptions aside...); his mention of EDM 908 reminds us of quite how flawed his thinking on alternative medicine really is, as Le Canard Noir eloquently wrote.

At a time when the public purse is under such strain, we need lawmakers who are willing and able to recognise that an evidence-based approach is indispensable, that sound values must underpin our public discourse. These are values that were fought for hundreds of years ago as part of the Enlightenment - unless the legislature adopts a more credible stance on such issues as taxpayer subsidies for magical ointments and tinctures, there is a risk that the New Coalition will go the way of the Old Guard - sliding down the scale of legitimacy into farce, with MPs such as David Tredinnick leading us down the path to endarkenment.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention.

To be honest, Tredinnick is more a figure of fun than concern. Even in my wildest socialist nightmares I cannot see a call up for the man in even the most junior ministerial position.

Hopefully he will be a lightning rod for the attentions of those disinclined to consider evidence and keep them well away from more credible politicians.

However, I would not be surprised if one or two, either in control of certain pursestrings or policies affecting science and health, succumb to the infectious lunacy of quackery. Peter Hain was a particular disappointment of the last government, I wonder who will be similarly inclined in this one?

teekblog said...

heh - I agree that Tredinnick is less of a threat than he is a, well, I won't say - but the point is that even one lone voice like this, when it comes from an MP, lends legitimacy to others who may share such views but remain quiet.

One could argue that Nadine Dorries plays something of a similar role, flagging beliefs that many consider to be a little eccentric but providing cover for others to follow suit...

Neill said...

Having been suspended over cash for question (20 days) he has no chance of reaching the front benches. Unfortunately he's my MP, and watching him perform at the hustings in Hinckley against Dr Michael Brooks was just an embarrassment.