From now on I will be running two blogs: this one with the simple title of "Chris Whiteside's Blog" and a second with the title "Support West Cumbria's Hospital Services"
I am setting up a separate blog on health issues for two reasons.
First, with the threat to hospital services in West Cumbria posed by the "Whole Systems Review" which the local NHS trusts in North and West Cumbria are conducting, support for our hospital services is such a critical issue that it deserves special attention.
Second, the health issue is far more important than party politics and it is one where the whole community must stand together. The "Support West Cumbria's Hospital Services" blog will concentrate entirely on campaigning to defend our services in a non-partisan manner, and I will seek to keep party-political comments to an absolute minimum on that site.
However, for democracy to work there has to be debate, and there are some instances when political criticism of someone is fully justified. For example, the one sour note at the otherwise excellent march and rally yesterday was a truly terrible speech by the local MP, Jamie Reed.
Sadly, our local MP has form in talking nonsense on health. During the 2005 election he suggested that there was no threat whatsoever to West Cumberland hospital; then a year ago he ruined what would otherwise have been a quite good speech in the House of Commons about Community Hospitals by including a partisan and dishonest attack on my 2005 election campaign which would have been irrelevant even if it had been accurate.
At the conclusion of the rally yesterday, the Rector of Whitehaven, the Rev John Bannister, told Jamie Reed and Elaine Woodburn that they must fight effectively for the community in defending our hospitals and "we will hold you to account." That has to be right, and it must be possible to make criticisms. When I think that such criticisms, expecially if they are political, are called for I will make them here on "Chris Whiteside's Blog" to keeping them away from my "Support West Cumbria'a Hospital Services" blog, which as far as possible will be a non-partisan campaigning blog.
The URL for my hospital campaign blog will be