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FERGUS EWING: Let's do what we can to tackle 'silent killer' that is pancreatic cancer


By Fergus Ewing

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Fergus Ewing.
Fergus Ewing.

As we delve into Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, I can’t help but reflect on the poignant words shared by my colleague, Willie Coffey, during the recent parliamentary debate.

Willie’s moving speech struck a chord with me, as he spoke not only as a passionate advocate for awareness but also as someone who has felt the personal sting of pancreatic cancer. His mother, who succumbed to this cruel disease in 1985, left an indelible mark on his life, as did the countless others who have faced this formidable adversary.

Pancreatic cancer remains a silent threat and, as Willie emphasized, time is of the essence. In the spirit of awareness, it is crucial to recognize the signs: persistent back pain, indigestion, abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss. If you or someone you know experiences one or more of these symptoms for more than four weeks, it is imperative to speak to your general practitioner. Additionally, jaundice should be addressed promptly by heading straight to A&E.

I recently delivered the Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture at The Glasgow Academy, emphasizing his fairness and reason as the first First Minister in 1999. His significant achievement, the Scotland Act 1998, clarified devolved and reserved powers. Despite diverse political views, the Act remains a testament to clarity and rationality.

Donald Dewar
Donald Dewar

However, today’s decisions often prioritise politics, exemplified by flawed initiatives like the Deposit Return Scheme and Highly Protected Marine Areas. These ideas, while appealing, lack clarity, consultation, and consideration of real impacts. The absence of evidence-taking and the policy-making team’s detached “group think” signal irrationality, something Donald Dewar would not have approved.

Known for his wit, an anecdote involves Dewar humorously admitting guilt when caught speeding at 38mph on Great Western Road in Glasgow. In this brief tribute, I hope I did him justice.

As we reflect on Dewar’s principles, it’s crucial to cultivate a political landscape where reasoned decision-making prevails over mere virtue signalling. Navigating the complexities of today’s issues demands a return to evidence-based policy, involving those directly affected. Let Dewar’s legacy inspire a renewed commitment to thoughtful governance, ensuring that decisions serve the public interest with clarity and rationality, just as he envisioned.


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