A Rant for Today

Posted Mar 06, 2013

A Rant for Today!

I’m sick of this cruel Tory and Lib Dem Government! I’m sick of reading newspaper headlines like, “UK ‘lagging in European Health League….”  and …Phillip Hammond, the Secretary of State for Defence declares we must resist further cuts in the defence budget and take more from the Welfare Budget!! The chancellor declared he needed a further £10 billion from welfare!

The disabled live in fear of the changes that threaten them – the ceasing of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and the introduction of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is experienced by most recipients of the former as a threat to them. They often don’t understand the change and how it applies to them, but they do know, if they know anything at all, that the essential purpose of the change is to SAVE money and that means CUTS to their benefits. We all know that everything this millionaire government does is to save money and/or pass public responsibility into private hands!  It seems every day more and more cuts are to be imposed upon the weakest, the poorest, the most vulnerable people in our society. Where is the Labour Party? Where are the public voices challenging these decisions, opposing these policies? Why isn’t the Labour Party declaring it would repeal the worst of these policies?

To state that all must take their share of cuts is monstrous! The weakest, the defenceless, the disabled, the poorest should not have any cuts at all imposed upon them. To demand they bear cuts to their life support welfare system is like asking the starving to eat less! It is intolerable.  I tend to share Mr Rabbi Burns’ view that many politicians are “a parcel of rogues” but I used to think that Labour politicians were at least OUR “parcel of rogues!”  I seriously doubt I can still claim this to be so! 

This ideologically driven austerity programme and Tory led Coalition, is rapidly dismantling the whole of the public sector and handing the services over to the private sector. Mr Cameron is achieving more than Mrs Thatcher could have dreamed of! That many Tory backbenchers accuse their leader of not adhering to Tory values are failing to comprehend what is actually happening ‘on the ground.” The greatest humanitarian public policy act anywhere in the world that is the National Health Service, is being dismantled before our eyes. Millions of us have benefited from this Public Service, yet we say little and do less to challenge the process. Our school system, as free public education is equally under attack from the increasing number of private Academies, thereby dismantling Local Authorities. This is a further nail in the coffin of local and publicly accountable institutions.  

 The 19th century was ‘rule through the wallet’ … money bought favour and policy. The 20th century saw ‘rule through the ballot’. Voting by the whole community won favour and policies. We are rapidly turning full circle where the wallet will once again rule supreme!  Make no mistake, we are on the road to the past as surely as acorns become oak trees!  My problem is that I am a child of the 20th century, born in 1935, died …in the 21st century. I believe in the concept of Public Service. I don’t claim to have spent all my working life in it but I was a teacher of nearly thirty years before my heart let me down and I was forced to take early retirement.

 All those who voted to introduce and then increase university student fees received their higher education (if they had any) free of charge. Indeed, they could even claim a contribution towards their living costs in the form of Maintenance Grants. I was raised in a culture where public service and the public sector employment of nursing, of teaching were considered ‘vocations’. The measure of the activity was in terms of quality of service. Money was not the sole measure of value or worth.  As the public sector is dismantled by this Tory led Government, so the very concept of Service is devalued. Charities are not a substitute. Do we really want to re-introduce Lady Bountiful distributing tracts to the poor!? Soon, if not already, the only measure of worth will be in terms of money.  If an ‘out of hours’ medical service is provided by a private institution that depends on its ability to maintain the “service” according to its capacity to ‘make it pay’ namely, generate a profit, then there will inevitably be occasions when some ‘service’ is simply not worth offering! We’ve already seen this happen to local bus services and to rail services. It is not unreasonable to assume that there will come a time when our child or our ageing parent or indeed our husband, wife – ourself even, is ill and we must consider whether we can afford to call a doctor?  

How I hate this Government and everything it represents and indeed, undertakes. To return to my opening sentences, what kind of society is it that seeks no further cuts in our means of death and destruction yet urges cutting deeper into the welfare budget? The country’s most senior judge has raised the spectre of people taking the law into their own hands since the government has taken the law away from them by the stringent cuts to legal aid. We might soon be asking is this a society we want to defend with the lives of our children and grandchildren?

I know you know all this … I just needed to say it! I have spent more than 50 years singing this story, so to conclude (for the moment!) I am reminded of the words of a song written by my friend Jim Woodland, Ghost Story, written nearly thirty years ago:

 

“….   I have walked back over the water just to take a look around

I can see that nothing’s altered since the day that I went down

The old are not defended and the young don’t get a start

The rich get richer and richer, it’s enough to break your heart

 

I have slammed the doors in Downing Street enough to raise the dead

Well, if I really died in vain, then something should be said

One night I raised the living, she told me why I died

She scared me so I had to go I couldn’t sleep that night


Cos the things I died defending, are the things I value least

Tell me am I a ghost of war, am I a ghost of peace?

And when you fight for freedom, be careful and be sure

Did I die defending freedom? Did I die defending war?……”

 

Roy Bailey

March 6th  2013