Guardian article 28/4/05

“Are you thinking what we’re thinking?” That’s the question that the Conservatives are rather hopefully asking on a thousand billboards country-wide. It conjures up the image of all Tories sharing one collective brain, like the Borg in Star Trek, but more evil and not interested in assimilating immigrants.
One of the things all Conservatives are thinking is, “I mean, how hard is it to keep a hospital clean?” An email currently doing the rounds shows a photo of the poster with the graffitied addition, “Well, considering hospitals are full of people carrying highly infectious viruses…”
ItÂ’s a shame Michael Howard hadnÂ’t checked his inbox on Tuesday, when on a visit to LondonÂ’s National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery he neglected to clean his grubby mitts between shaking hands with two patients. In this Iraq-dodging election campaign it is ten times worse to have germs on your hands, than blood. It wouldnÂ’t matter if Tony Blair forgot to wash his hands - everyone is refusing to shake them anyway.
Even though Howard actually cleaned up with alcohol three times during the visit, this momentary lapse seems destined to give him the reputation, in toilet terms, of being a walker not a washer.
But is he really any different to any other bloke? Check out any menÂ’s public lavatory in the land: the only surface not coated in dirt and effluent will be the wash-basin. Although the toilet roll has probably run out, the soap dispenser is miraculously ever full.
I believe that even when male doctors scrub up pre-operation they pull that sarcastic face which indicates that they wouldnÂ’t be doing this if their mums werenÂ’t forcing them to.
As kids it was drummed into us to go through this routine before and after every conceivable activity, lest we were floored by some bizarre mixture of dysentery and the Black Death. Yet we quickly discovered there were no such repercussions and just ran the tap for a while to appease our eavesdropping mothers. Even though it wouldnÂ’t have taken any effort to stick our hands under. Is it any wonder when the only hand washing role model we had was Pontius Pilate?
I anticipate the next poster in the campaign: “Are you thinking what we’re thinking? It’s actually the cleanliness in hospitals that’s causing MRSA.” The money saved on antiseptic wipes alone would be enough to fund all Tory tax cuts.