I suppose that it is something we should expect from a Government that brought us the Goats (Government Of All the Talents) – some of whom are decidedly more gruff than others.

The concept of the Goats still appears to be something of a work in progress, but it doesn’t stop Labour from appointing even more “ambassadors” and “tsars” to conduct reviews, head up studies and generally act as the public face of a particular issue.

From drugs tsars to homelessness tsars and Dr Tanya Byron’s mission to help us forget she helped to spawn a gaggle of horrendous and damaging reality TV shows by heading up an inquiry into nasty video games, it seems that these days an issue simply isn’t worth raising unless you have a star name or eminent expert on board.

The latest is godfather of the TV chat shows (sic), now retired, Sir Michael Parkinson – or Parky to everyone who ever caught his incisive interviews.

As newly-appointed Dignity Ambassador, Parky is heading off on a whirlwind promotional tour for a Government-backed campaign to encourage greater respect for older people in care.

It is a sensitive and worthy issue and Parky spoke eloquently about the subject and his new role this morning when he appeared on the BBC’s info-tainment magazine programme Breakfast.

He joined government officials at the launch of a National Dignity Tour and said he wanted to “make a real difference” to dignity in NHS care.

I have no reason to doubt him, his intentions or his qualifications for the role. He is already the public face of a campaign to encourage the over-50s to think more carefully about how they will look after themselves once they retire into old age.

But do we need such high-profile and esteemed ambassadors and tsars? Surely these issues stand up in their own right as worthy of our attention?

Apparently not. The cult of celebrity is now so strong that it seems unless there is a star name attached to it, people simply won’t be interested enough to care.

So we can probably expect a few more Goats, ambassadors, tsars, the odd supremo and and maybe even a head honcho in the future to help spur us on to care, just a little, about all those things that used to come so easily to us.

There was a time when caring was second nature to us, now we need to have it endorsed by someone famous before we’re prepared to give it a second thought.


2 responses »

  1. Ursula says:

    Paul, I have to declare an interest here: I like goats – of the mountain climbing variety.

    If it takes “names” to bring attention to issues so be it. Sad, I know; and I am the first one to go beserk over some sanctimonious shit being sent via airwaves into gullibe ill informed homes.

    The real worry being: Just because something is endorsed by a well known person does not necessarily mean that correct information is conveyed at all times. It isn’t.


  2. Paul Groves says:

    Ursula: I found a really lovely photo of a goat. I knew I should have used it instead of Dr Byron and Parky.

    There was a study out a few months back about celebs talking about science in order to promote products and programmes and invariably getting it badly wrong. But we still listen to them coz they’re on telly.

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