Special Needs parents outraged at use of Sam Cam’s bereavement as election tool

The article on Samantha Cameron that appeared in The Daily Telegraph on Monday has caused a storm of outrage among Special Needs Jungle readers on our Facebook page.

In an article entitled, "Samantha Cameron: pain of son Ivan’s death will never go - Prime Minister’s wife shares agony of losing profoundly disabled child for first time", The Telegraph quoted from an interview in The Mail On Sunday with Sam Cam in which she said,

“Looking after a disabled child pushes you to the limits of what you can cope with … physically, emotionally,” Mrs Cameron said. “It’s because there’s this baby, this child that you love more than you can possibly imagine, in some way more than a normal child because you worry about them 24 hours a day. But at the same time you are so, so proud of them.

“He was very beautiful, one of the great gifts in our lives. A day when you haven’t been to hospital, a day when he smiled, or a day when you haven’t cried, becomes the most amazing day. You get pride and joy out of the tiniest little kind of triumph. Ivan gave us that every day."

Her words are clearly heart-felt and any mother of a disabled child would be able to empathise with the Cameron's experience. Losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to any parent, whoever you are.

But for  commenters on our Facebook page. where we shared the article yesterday, that's where the sympathy ended.

Almost 100 comments and replies (and growing) were left by parents, some expressing disgust and anger at the fact that her first interview about Ivan since his tragic death has appeared just as election campaigning swings into high gear.

Sam Cam Comments

A small sample is below and we've embedded the post at the end so you can click through and read them yourself.

Was the article Samantha Cameron's idea or was she pushed into it by Tory election managers? It cannot have been a comfortable decision for her as a bereaved parent, knowing - and she must have known - that the accusations of a cynical attempt to exploit the tragedy for political purposes would surely follow.

In a time of austerity where deep cuts have been made to welfare and when George Osbourne is planning more should they get back in, anyone with an ounce of common sense could have predicted this response from the special needs and disability community. Perhaps the Conservative election strategists don't consider people like us to be crucial to securing a May victory.

Perhaps this was to shore up their support with Daily Mail readers who may be veering off towards voting for UKIP, for whom a reminder of a deeply emotional personal trauma such as the loss of a child can bring them back into the fold. It might be called crude campaigning, but that would, of course, depend on a view that people vote on sympathy rather than politics.

Sam Cam comments

So, over to you... was it the right thing to do? How does it affect your opinion? Let us know in the comments in this post.

"We must be close to a general election. They are playing the disabled child card again in a feeble attempt to show that the NHS and other public services are safe in their hands. Let's hope people aren't stupid enough to believe it!"

"I knew this would be used sorry for their loss but using his memory to gain votes makes me sick to the bottom of my stomach after all that has been distorted for our children under this government"

"I have great sympathy but bet they never had to beg for a probe to check their child's oxygen as he used too many that month! Or fought for a nurse to give one nights respite in 2 years, just give your husband a tap on shoulder and say stop picking on the weakest that's bullying and bullies always get their comeuppance."

"Perhaps she might like to ask her husband why he is willingly and enthusiastically presiding over a Government that is doing so much to inflct wholesale pain and suffering on so many sick and disabled adults and also children, many just like her son, as a result of their savage cuts to vital welfare support and sustained attacks on our NHS?"

Tania Tirraoro
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Tania Tirraoro

Founder, CEO at Special Needs Jungle
Founder of Special Needs Jungle. Parent of two sons with Asperger Syndrome.
Journalist & author of two novels and a guide to SEN statementing. PR & social media expert. Rare Disease & chronic pain patient advocate.
Tania Tirraoro
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  • gavin elliott

    If the article had been months before the election or even after it. Or shortly after the child’s tragic death then whatever the person’s politics we as a community would have had the greatest sympathy and empathy with the family’s circumstances.

    Yet this can be seen as nothing other than a cynical attempt to use personal family grief and circumstances to garner political favour with the voters for her husband. Why else would this interview appear now if it wasn’t for this purpose.

    The hypocrisy shown in these actions, in that the political career of her husband is worth so much than the precious private memory of her son and that memory is worth publicly degrading for a cheap political stunt is beyond even the most cynical of us.

    We are battle hardened, weary but stoical parents who have the most appalling things thrown at us and yet none of us would stoop to selling our soul for politics. Local actions and not the words of politicians are what makes our lives tolerable and fulfilling.

    Yes politicians pass laws but it is our army of parents who hold the authorities to account when they flout acts of parliament.

    So all I say to Mrs Cameron is how dare you and shame on you for such a crass act in which the disabled child had no say….. yet again.

  • Jane

    I say leave her alone, her kid had profound disabilities and then died. It is unimaginable pain. Also, the interview was about her whole life, not just Ivan. It is what politician’s wives do before elections. What was she to do – not mention Ivan at all?