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Guy Walters @guywalters
, 16 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
The Alfie Evans case is so upsetting, primarily of course, because of the impending death of a young child. But I'm also so upset by the ignorance of the separation of powers, and the belief that parents necessarily act in their child's best interests.
Every professional in this case has shown enormous compassion, professionalism, and a sense of duty to do the right thing for Alfie. You only have to read evidence in the judgement to realise quite how lucky we are, and how deeply we have institutionalised compassion in the UK.
And yet you set this against the behaviour of those who wish to 'set Alfie free'. They too, are motivated by compassion. They feel that their voices are not being heard. They feel that the British state is murdering a child. They equate it to Nazi Germany's involuntary euthanasia
And so, unsurprisingly, they feel angry. Some feel angrier still, because they perceive this a life-or-death scenario. But it isn't a life-or-death scenario. It's a question of managing a single scenario – death.
That's a horribly bald thing to write, but as ALL medical opinion states, poor Alfie has no chance of survival. Even his father cannot bear to look at the most recent MRI scan of Alfie's brain, knowing what it represents.
Managing death is something that happens in hospitals in every country in the world every single day. Mercifully, it's a decision most often made about the elderly, whose time, we acknowledge, as a society, 'has come'.
If Alfie were 96 years old, and showing similar symptoms, and with similar imaging of his brain, then there would no public outcry if medical opinion overwhelming suggested palliative care was the way to go.
But Alfie is young, and his parents are vocal, and a combination of understandable upset of the death of someone so young and an ignorance of the processes of the medicine, and the judiciary has created a noxious cocktail.
If you mix into this mob rule – and which then results in the necessary intervention of the Police – you then increase the toxicity of the situation. And that sense of 'them and us' is magnified. And so is the sense of Alfie's victimhood.
I would mention Catholicism at this point, but let's not go there.
In essence, poor Alfie has been politicised. In a way, it's like Grenfell. Politicised by a breakdown of trust and understanding. Both sides are at fault.
The empowered are at fault, because they've allowed ignorance about citizenship, the separation of powers, the very mechanics of the state and our relationship with it, to grow unchecked.
And some members of the public are at fault, because they are wilfully seeing this as 'them vs us'. They are capable of looking at evidence. They know how to look things up online. But they're not interested, because they rather like kicking against those they perceive as pricks.
It fits into their narrative that the powerful don't care. It explains their own shortcomings. It's human nature, I get it. It's easier to blame people stronger than yourself if things go wrong.
And what Mr Evans has done is to – unwittingly, I suggest – tap into that sense of 'two nations'. Of course the powerful should be accountable, of course they should be sacked if they're crap in any way.
What we've seen with the treatment of Alfie Evans is the successful integration of compassion into the three pillars of state. I don't know how to make people who don't understand that, understand that.
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