Monday, January 19, 2009

Grandstanding for the Ummah

MSP Bashir Ahmad applauded for campaign to help Gaza victims, screams The Glaswegian, the free paper on my mat last Friday night. My fellow West of Scotland blogger, Martin Kelly is not a fan of Mr Ahmad, and when I read this I understand why.

Glasgow helping Gazans -who but the most curmudgeonly could disagree? Well, let's look at it rationally, shall we? Where should those Gazans go? Well Gaza looks pretty flattened, as far as I can see, so they might need specialist help elsewhere. But wait. Hold on. Surely there must be facilities closer to hand?

How about Cairo - a mere 215 miles away? There's the Kasr El Aini Teaching Hospital - with 1200 beds: lots of appropraite facilities. But wait, closer still there's Beirut - loads of hospitals there and only 170 miles away. But that's daft. Amman is a mere 77 miles away and Jordan has more world-class hospitals than you can shake a stick at. Let's not forget the hospitals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which deserve a mention as the citizens of that country dig deep when it comes to paying for Qassam rockets.

No, let's bring these injured Gazans 2177 miles to Glasgow for treatment. There are so many Arabic speakers on the staff of the Western, the Southern, Yorkhill and the GRI, of course. Oh, silly me, no. We'll need lots of translators, too. All this just at the point when we're facing a winter bed crisis.

This is all the more telling given the experience of someone I met earlier this year. She had been treated in Gaza for a serious illness when working there as a volunteer teacher. Having been reluctantly treated by a doctor who, she said, had stated that he really would rather not treat a "Western slut" (try getting that one past the GMC) she had nothing but praise for the hospitals there and indeed used the chance to compare Glasgow hospitals rather unfavourably with the facilities in Gaza.

But that's by the by. Mr Ahmad knows his proposal isn't going to happen. The SNP knows it isn't going to happen - nor should it happen for good clinical reasons (it might not be a good idea to drag recovering injured patients 2177 miles for treatment) as well as the obvious one - we don't have the capacity.

No this was about as cynical a call as ever I have heard from the mouth of a politician. Google Mr Ahmad - please do, he's been in Scottish political life for a while now. Google for his calls to treat the victims of Darfur or Chad or Rwanda in Glasgow hospitals. All you will get is tumbleweed and the distant tolling of a bell. You see, there's something about them, they're the wrong type of victim. Can you think why he might think Gazans more deserving, despite the fact that the idea is clinically unsafe and practically impossible?

It is for local consumption. Pollockshields? Nah. Mr Bashir Ahmad - MSP for Faisalabad Central.

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