It is hard to believe David Cameron’s claim that his description of heckling in parliament by shadow chancellor Ed Balls was like sitting opposite someone with Tourette’s syndrome was an off-the-cuff remark.
Hard because the comment was originally made during an interview with The Sunday Telegraph. Did the prime minister of this country really go into an interview with a major national newspaper and just shoot from the lip?
But then how else do you explain such a quip from a man who sadly lost a disabled son of his own? Mr Cameron’s own personal experience means he has no need of lectures from us on what it is like to live with someone with a disability.
What it perhaps shows is that if someone like Mr Cameron can make such a remark because he thinks it a funny way to score a political point, then people with Tourette’s in this country still have a long way to go before there is widespread acceptance that what they need is even more of our help, support and empathy – not cheap political jibes.
Among those disheartened by the prime minister’s comment was John Davidson. It was the broadcasting of a television documentary in 1989 about John that really thrust Tourette’s into the national limelight.
Ever since, this Galashiels resident has grown in stature and accomplishment as a most articulate and passionate champion on behalf of those others like himself who struggle to forge a life while coping with this difficult condition.
While expressing his dismay and anger over Mr Cameron’s comment, John is to be commended for his mature call that the debate be moved forward in a constructive fashion to tackle further the still clearly held view by some in power that it remains acceptable to make fun of what is a distressing disability for many.
We hope the invitation being extended to Mr Cameron by John and others with Tourette’s to meet with them and learn first-hand what life is like for the 300,000 UK citizens with the condition and their families will be successful.