As a 66 year old bloke, a post war baby boomer, it is incredible to witness that the NHS and the welfare state aren’t even going to make it through the life cycle of one whole generation.
Out of the debt and destruction of war came the greatest revolution in social care that this country has ever seen and I am watching it be destroyed.
Remember houses for heroes, the greatest house building programme this country has ever seen, built by the survivors of war, in which I am part of the first and only succeeding generation to experience that monumental achievement in social housing. House building peaked in the 1960’s at 400,000 homes a year.
The post war consensus was not a harmonious meeting of political minds so much as an uneasy alliance in which the Tories gave grudging agreement and yet, in reality, were bitterly opposed to it. It lasted until Thatcher came to power, 1979 marked the beginning of the end and by the time she was defeated by the treachery of her own party it was dead.
Since 2010 the velvet glove of oppression has been entirely abandoned, every penny spent on the working and jobseeking ‘stock’ is a penny wasted. It was ever thus, but now is exposed in all its brutality and includes children, the elderly and sick and disabled people.
We are in a catastrophic housing crisis, and scarcity, as we know with jobs, is just another means to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich via unrestrained market forces. Councils are now prevented from building houses and it was just over a year ago that the Tories voted down an amendment to the housing bill to force landlords to make rented homes fit for human habitation.
Those who have contributed all their lives to universal health care and the safety net of social security are now being scorned for being too old and a burden on the state by whipper snappers who demand to know why they should pay for us? How dare they? We contributed and helped build a system of care that could and should have lasted generations, indeed we contributed in good faith in the knowledge that generations to come would enjoy the benefits of our labour. And now we are scorned.
The wealth of the nation is being siphoned into the hands of the banks, financial markets and corporations who enjoy tax breaks and financial incentives, though never called welfare. Welfare is only for the scrounging poor who are to a body a drain on the nations resources. COE pay goes through the roof and bankers still enjoy their excessive bonuses, whilst workers are yet to be granted a true living wage as the minimum exchange for their labour.
Blaming baby boomers for getting old and living too long is an outrage for which poverty and the denial of health care are a sure cure. Let’s go back to the days that Harry Lesley Smith remembers only too well, who recently wrote in the Guardian, “Neither the midwife nor my mother would have expected me to live to almost 100 because my ancestors had lived in poverty for as long as there was recorded history in Yorkshire.”
That is the world the Tories long for, that is where they are so avidly driving us, but this old man, like Harry, will not slip silently into my coffin nor spend my last days in Tory driven misery. I have more to offer now in old age than at any time in my life and long years of experience on which to draw. I will not be silent nor be dictated to by ignorant children who have never known want or the terror of poverty and yet see themselves as political movers and shakers with the right to dictate misery for millions.
Every suicide hurts me, every sanction is an affront to human dignity, every cut for the poor and tax break for the rich is an outrage which I take personally and every lie coming from the mouths of thieves must be countered with the truth.
I look back at the revolution of youth in my teens with great love, which inspires me to this day, and today’s young ones deserve no less. The dismal Victorian workhouse ethic of the Tories must die, it is not a matter of if, only when. I may not even see that day, but that doesn’t matter, all that matters is the desire to fight and keep on fighting for a better world than this dismal neoliberal nightmare.
KOG. 26 February 2017