Thursday, 6 June 2013

Let Down - Honour, Duty, Obligation, Conscience & Gratitude?

Before making one's comments, it would be useful to remind the reader of the words: honour duty, obligation, conscience and gratitude since each of these either singly or as a group relate to matters the Writer considers pertinent or relevant.

What do the Gurkhas, Wounded Service men, Merchant Seamen, Bomber Command and Air-raid Wardens, besides many others not mentioned here, have in common? You know the answer without having to refer to reference books, newspapers, magazine articles and the like. They all had to fight, or have people fight on their behalf, for decent national recognition in the form of reward or monument.

As a nation we go around preaching to the world about justice and fair play, supposedly marked attributes of this country. Yet when it comes to our own people, there is a disgraceful disregard of the fortunes, plights and well-being of those who have given their all in defence or personal aid to the people of this realm. It's all very well, having military tattoos, remembrance day marches or other general flag-waving when what our Government and others in responsible positions, should be doing is making sure that those who have lost limbs, given up valuable time or taken great risks on our behalf, are justly and wholly rewarded. It is a question of honour, integrity, conscience and last but certainly not least the little matter of gratitude.

I am a pacifist by inclination but I recognise that if someone has gone out on a limb because he is persuaded that we as a nation are at risk and puts his life and literally, his limbs on the line then should I not recognise his sacrifice, his endeavour? I am sure most of the readers will agree that I should, but flag waving will not help a wounded man looking for work or too traumatised to hold a job or lead a normal life.

So when I read of a man who has lost his right arm (or his left for that matter), having to go to the Benefits Department or the Jobs Agency, and reply to stupid questions such as “are you right or left handed?” I see red. I am ashamed that I am British. When ex-service men have now to fight the authorities to accept that they have a genuine problem, it makes a mockery of Remembrance Day and all the other related ceremonies. It is a disgrace that there had to be a campaign for a monument to be erected to mark the bravery that Bomber Command exhibited particularly at a time when this country was on its knees. What is even more reprehensible is that those serving in those operations have now passed on before they could enjoy the honour belatedly bestowed on them. What does that say about our conscience, gratitude, obligations?

Similarly those brave souls on the Arctic Conveys, notwithstanding they did get medals (my own Uncle had about 4), had to wait a long time before they were earmarked as special veterans. Merchant Seamen had a struggle to get decent treatment for once they lost their ship, their pay stopped. Even though they may have been involved in heavy bombardment and were sitting ducks if the destroyers and frigates were unable to come to their aid in time.

The list goes on: miners, wardens all had to wait before they were given any meaningful recognition.
“Blow, blow thou winter wind, thou are not so unkind as man's ingratitude”! 
Now many get the plaudits and laurels they so richly deserve but the dishonour comes with the wait many of them had to endure before an official pat on the back, practical help and acknowledgement of their bravery.

Medals and flags won't do when your wound is hurting because you are freezing cold and cannot hold a job. When you are blind or deaf. Thank goodness we don't shoot so-called traumatised cowards any more. We don't just let them down, we let ourselves down. “Play up, play up and play the game”, they did.

Joan Grant

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Universal Benefits?

You don't get something for nothing and this is never more true than the promise of a pension across the board worth £144 per week.

The first hangup is that by the time it is actual fact £144 will probably be worth £90 per week if that. You don't get something for nothing! Governments of any colour have used this ruse so many times, except perhaps the one voted in in 1945.  They really did try to put into effect promises they made on time.

Secondly what does “Universal Benefits” mean.  The fact is this is probably a clever way of demolishing many existing benefits to save the Exchequer a few billion here and there. Anyone with a ha'p'orth of sense knows that doing away with certain benefits means just that.  They will not be replaced by generous replacements.

So many will find themselves without help when and where it is most needed. If you don't qualify for certain welfare reforms then it will probably be goodbye to assistance you have relied upon for years.

No Government now, particularly in this time of austerity, is going to throw money around ad lib. So cutting out many benefits and replacing them with a universal benefit is a massive con. You don't get something for nothing. The idea put forth is that it will save time and money to coordinate the benefit system into one efficient whole. It will indeed save lots of administrative fees but lets not kid ourselves, saving working costs is the publicity gimmick; what it will really do and this is the real intent, is cut out many benefits to the disabled, those in need of social care and the unemployed and wait for it, pensioners.

Of course, Tax Credits have been a sleazy way of not raising the pension and kidding the hard up pensioners that they are in effect getting a rise. Of course they weren't, aren't and never will. All that was required was a decent rise in the State Pension; cheaper to administer and ethical but if one can shut up a few by claiming that those on low pensions can claim Tax Credits, its much cheaper in the long run than doing the decent thing and making sure the elderly get what they were promised all their working lives.

So £144 it is and by 2014, you can bet your bottom dollar (if you can afford it) that this magnificent £144 won't be worth £90.

The trouble is many decent honest folk are being taken in by this. This clever ploy has shut up the strident voices calling for a rise and obviates the necessity to keep up the argument.

This is a massive con trick and the Government know it and so would a Labour Government. The fact is the elderly, thanks to sly innuendo, are now regarded as an unworthy burden on society so there won't be a lot fighting our corner.

One can observe similar attitudes relating to our ex-service men. Those with deep and shocking injuries are now having to prove to a commercial company that they are unable to get or find work.

This unscrupulous attitude extends to the civil sector also. The Independent of 25th March 2013 reports of:

an amputee who cannot walk, struggles to talk and is brain damaged has been passed “fit for work” and had his benefits cut under government reforms. His incapacity benefits were cut by £440 a month and [he] has been left with £220 to pay his monthly rent, bills and food. The 50-year-old had received incapacity benefits, now known as employment and support allowances since 1993 when he had a brain tumour. He also had his left leg amputated below the knee in 2004 after contracting deep vein thrombosis.

Notice the change of description of benefit and what is worse, all this was monitored by ATOS, the firm the Government has used to monitor and control benefits.

You didn't vote for ATOS, neither did you vote for Group 4 another Government appointed agency but there they are having a huge influence on our lives concerning matters of need and handicap. These firms are probably “jobs for the boys”- nice little earners. What is even worse than these schemes and plots, for this is what they are, is that they insult our intelligence and that is really unforgivable.

Joan Grant

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Liverpool Care Pathway

It has come to the Writer's notice of a rumour that the NHS has given £30m to the NHS to practice this method of nursing and care. On making enquiries whether this rumour is true, it transpires that this may only be a misunderstanding of the facts.

However it is a fact that the Government has awarded a certain amount to Hospices for palliative care. This is to alleviate the suffering and pain experienced by terminally ill patients. Now the worry is that there is a very fine line between rendering palliative care and practising the Liverpool Care Pathway which requires the withholding of food and water and indeed painkillers where it is deemed that the patient will not, in any case survive.

Palliative care should be rendered to those suffering terminal diseases but this does not mean that those with cancer and similar diseases should be denied food and water and dignified comfort. The Liverpool Care Pathway is it seems, a euphemism for euthanasia which is still a crime, illegal in this country. It leaves patients at the mercy of hospital staff and family. Many suggest that this is O.K. on condition that the family have been informed. This is most unacceptable and dangerous. Many families, it is sad to say, would welcome the enforced departure of their elderly members and the State should recognise this and behave in an ethical and protective way.

The elderly are most vulnerable and The Liverpool Care Pathway is not the way to deal with the problems of the terminally ill elderly who, if we are not careful, will fall victim to the unscrupulous many of whom regard the elderly as an unwelcome burden on society.

More financial attacks to come on pensioners?

The 'Fabian' attack in the Daily Express
THE FABIANS "STRIP OAPS of benefits" According to a report in the Daily Express on the 22nd April 2013 and further comments in the Independent of today (23.4.013) Better Off Pensioners could be taxed and/or means tested on benefits such as Bus Passes and Fuel Allowance and so save the Government millions, the so-called Think Tank of the Fabian Society suggests.

We suggest that there wasn't much thought given to this dangerous idea. Who decides who the "Better Off Pensioners" are and where should the line between the better off and poorer pensioners be drawn?

The Independent following the debate today uses phrases like those on Tax Credits would be deemed the poorer section. Well the Writer does not qualify for Tax Credit or any other supplement to her pension, yet remains struggling to meet fuel bills and Council Tax.

A prime example of misguided designated line is that of the PDSA who will not treat animals belonging to pensioners who do not receive Housing or Council Tax Benefit. There are many people existing just above these mistakenly placed demarcation lines but who are certainly not better off. Someone receiving just over £10,000 per annum cannot be classed as "Better Off" but this silly idea will attack them just the same.

The State Pension in Britain is the lowest in Europe so these "perks" are much needed by the majority of pensioners, most of whom are certainly not "Better Off". The Fabian "Think Tank" had better think again.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Peoples Assembly Against Austerity

On 22nd June this year, there is a People's Assembly to be held at Central Hall Westminster. The theme is against Austerity and the cuts, particularly attacks on benefits, and it is hoped all organisations who are campaigning against cuts will come along and contribute, with comments, suggestions and support in general.

We hope to make this meeting a resounding success with as many people as possible coming along. We welcome students, nurses and service workers, i.e. firemen, postal workers and teachers. The is a great opportunity to speak out and make our voices heard and, more importantly, listened to.

Annual General Meeting Saturday 20th April 2013

To be held at the Somers Town Community Centre, 150 Ossulston Street, Kings Cross NW1 1EE

All are welcome but if you are not affiliated, you will not be able to vote nor propose a motion or resolution nor nominate, you will however, be welcome to raise questions and make suggestions. We welcome ideas and support.

Hope to see you there. The meeting commences at 10.30 with registration at 10.00 a.m.