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GPhC and PDA lambast Guido Fawkes blog on pharmacist MP Taiwo Owatemi

Taiwo Owatemi is a member of the APPG. Pic credit: UK Parliament

The GPhC, PDA and the RPS have criticised a satirical article on the political blogsite Guido Fawkes, which portrays MP and pharmacist Taiwo Owatemi as a drug dealer.

In an article published on right-wing website Guido Fawkes last week (June 18), the publication referred to Ms Owatemi’s declaration of employment and earnings as of June 14.

Ms Owatemi – Labour MP for Coventry North West and a member of both the Health and Social Care Committee and the all-party pharmacy group (APPG) – declared that she had been working as a locum pharmacist “on an ad hoc basis, as required” for a Tesco in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, since June 5.

The Guido Fawkes team portrayed Ms Owatemi’s “side hustle”, picturing her as a character from Breaking Bad – an award-winning TV series about a chemistry teacher who manufactures and sells crystal meth.

In the article, the blogsite wrote that Ms Owatemi “admitted to actively selling drugs”.

“Not funny”

The Guido Fawkes article and related tweet attracted several comments on social media, including from the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).

The PDA said the article is “neither clever or funny” and praised Ms Owatemi for continuing to work as a pharmacist “while also serving her constituents”.

In response, the GPhC said: “We also agree that this type of tweet isn’t funny”.

Meanwhile, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said the article is “nonsense”.

A spokesperson for Guido Fawkes told C+D today (June 21): “Whingers on Twitter should get a life. It was a humorous reference to the unusual situation of a serving MP working as a part-time pharmacist. Anyone with an IQ above a cabbage would understand that.”

PDA's open letter to media organisations

Referring also to a comment in the Times describing Ms Owatemi working as a locum alongside her parliamentary work as the “equivalent of a Saturday job in a supermarket”, the PDA has written an open letter to address “the tone” of the articles.

The articles have “demonstrated what appears to be a lack of knowledge of our profession and what we do”, the PDA said.

“There are multiple examples of doctors that become MPs continuing to practice, including some who have served in cabinet, and quite rightly as health professionals they will also have a requirement to keep their practice current,” it stressed.

“However, we cannot recall any of those MPs being criticized for doing so in any form, let alone in the way some of the attacks on Ms Owatemi have been phrased. That an MP should continue to practice and care for patients in the middle of a pandemic should be praised, not condemned,” the PDA noted in the open letter.

C+D has approached Ms Owatemi’s constituency for comments.

25 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of the media reports about Ms Owatemi?

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Who here hasn't had several patients come in over time and say they've "Come for their drugs" (wink, wink) like a) it's the funniest thing in the world and b) they're the first person to think of it. Is this 'Guido Fawkes' page funny? No, not really. Is it clever? Again, no. Is it racist? Well, it does play to the idea that most drug dealers (the illicit kind) are of black or ethnic minority background. But (and this is the big thing) it's on a satirical website. If you are concerned that people will take it at face value and believe it is true (i.e. the person sells class A drugs illegally) ,then our society has bigger problems. This story only has 'legs' because of the 'oxygen' everyone is giving it

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Very true Adam, I sometimes read that blog and he can be quite amusing. He rips the p1$$ out of all politcians of both sides, even if he is alt-right.  He's just discovered the very,very, old joke about us all, and made a story of it. 

 

Then we have ALL of the (enraged) organisations of the profession responding rather harshly! Maybe they shoud focus some of that ire on what is happening WITHIN the profession, like the rather harsh conditions and pay levels in community pharmacy?  Alas, as the Americans say........."crickets" !   

Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist

And that's the problem with our society today. That quite often people who have no chance in hell of relating to the day to day challenges faced by people of colour ironically are the loudest in their defence of issues they know nothing about and often twist and blow things out of proportion. It's satire and that's all it meant to be . There's nothing else there 

Dave Downham, Manager

You know, it's funny that the people defending this "satire" seem to be quite Anglo-Saxon based on their ids. Altogether now, "One Nation, One Britain" (repeat x 4).

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

With a name like 'Dave' you hardly sound like you got off a plane from a far-flung foreign land yourself! 

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Oh shut up Dave and go polish your halo then b00g off to the Guardian. But wait...... they hardly allow any comments. Hahaha. I wonder why ?!?!

Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist

Ain't we missing something here  ? I think this moment is quite epic. The GHPC just spoke up in defence of a pharmacist! Whao ! Am so glad am alive to witness this . 

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

If she tries to charge 30£ an hour due to her status they would soon shut up. What exactly does Dunc do all-day ???? Answers on the back of a stamp.

Mark Boland, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I am sure Taiwo Owatemi has got more important things to do than worry about some bigot with a blog. Well done for getting elected as an MP. 

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Advisor to nothing ! And he'll get many more views than you Mark. !

Mark Boland, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I am sure he will, but it doesnt change the fact that his blog is full of bigoted drivel.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

"Arrant nonsense"

To quote the great Margaret Thatcher, Marky-boi! 

"Arrant nonsense" you speak .

Mark Boland, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The country has moved on from 1980s (thankfully). The more we see of people of the calibre of Taiwo Owatemi, the better our politics will become.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Cagney and Lacey, CATS eyes with Jill Gascoigne, Annie Walker in the Rovers, Number ten: Maggie's den! Noele Gordon briefly running Crossroads motel until Bonfire night 1981, Juliet Bravo, the short lived soap Albion market with a multiracial cast, Victoria Wood, Brookside with black female nurse Kate, EastEnders with Kelvin and the first black soap family,
Yes women sure we're oppressed in the 80s. Then America: Alexis, Sue-Ellen and her bottle of scotch, The mainly black daytime characters in daytime soap opera, Generations.

And ......no toxic social media, no mobiles or smart phones, no Fakebook or Twitter [email protected],no [email protected] or £hit tock ! Yes the 80s were wonderful. Good TV and good music. Me, a good few sizes smaller.

And please don't come back harping on about 3 million unemployed. That was squeezing 25% inflation out of the economy. Plus Globalisation had started to occur.
The 80s were good. I bet you miss or even missed them totally.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Dave, it's called satire. It's like 'Private Eye' ripping the p!$$ out of the Conservatives for nearly 20 years in the 80s and 90s. Perhaps pick up a copy. You would probably enjoy it. 

I think everyone needs to calm down a little bit and all the under 40s sat down and made to watch a few series of 'Rising Damp',  'Are you being served?', 'It ain't half hot Mum', and 'On the Buses' to show how far we have come from the [email protected], sexist, homophobic, misogynistic dark days of the 1970s, nearly 50 years ago, and how much better society as a whole treats each other now. 

The article refers to a rather, very old joke about pharmacists; rather like the one about all GPs swinging golf clubs on Wednesday afternoons and then knocking back half a dozen gin and tonics at the 19th hole! It used to be called having a sense of humour and laughing at oneselves. Trying to turn it into this whole new war of woke and culture is just rather silly. 

As one of the pharmacy students told me once....."Take a chill pill and Chillax!"  (Whatever that means?!) 

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Well I'll play Devil's advocate here and ask "Does no one understand or do humour anymore?" I'm betting there's quite a few pharmacists with the mug that has something along the lines of 'I'm a drug dealer' printed on it.

Perhaps this is why Anne Robinson is in the papers this morning saying she wouldn't be allowed to make 'The weakest link' these days, because of the harsh words she used. Or Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley saying a few weeks back that there is no way they would get 'Ab-fab' made these days. Even 'Friends' has been criticised, when it was introduced to a streaming site, by today's youngsters as every kind of - phobic, they could think of.
The blog that it appeared on is a well known satirical site in political circles and knocks all politicians. I'm sure he intended no malice. Another example of the world, and pharmacists as well in this case, taking everything in life far too seriously.

Getting Shorter, Community pharmacist

Really? This is a standard joke (albeit a weak one, but pickings are slim for pharmacy) that we use ourselves. A joke website made the only joke they could think of... much like the comedian who picked on me in the front row once... pharmacy just isn't very funny.

Although my mother (also a pharmacist) had a T-shirt which said "I'm just a social drinker" in big letters, and underneath in small ones: "but I do drugs like a professional." ;)

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

The best thing one of our esteemed fellow pharmacists can do is represent their community in both capacities if practical and possible - and disregard this garbage. The so-called political landscape these days is lamentable.

It is just another example of the profound ignorance that will see community pharmacies run into the ground financially. We have a so-called health secretary with no such qualifications other than calamity.

Dave Downham, Manager

Utterly disgraceful. Would they have done the same to a white male?

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Yes, he would.

Oliver Staunton, Information Technology

I think that by bringing race into this, you're perpetrating a hurtful and racist stereotype of (illicit) drug dealers. I don't find the original article to be funny, and I would applaud Ms Owatemi for continuing to practice as a pharmacist to help serve her local community and maintain her CPD.

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

Why are you playing the race card? This was an opportunity for all PHARMACISTS to support a fellow professional, stop trying to divide and virtue signal. 

Pharmacists should support all Pharmacists when there is an unpleasent attack on their professional work. 

Dave Downham, Manager

Ok, let me put it another way - would Guido Fawkes the well known alt-right, lefty baiting, sun shines from the backside of Johnson and his motley crew of incompetents supporting organisation have made the same humourless attempt at comedy about a white male conservative?

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

So Dave, I'm guessing you're an under 35 Corbynista;). ?!?

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

Probably.

 

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