During the past week our Prime Minister has declared his intention to progress a series of massive reforms regarding a group of people in our society that has (in his opinion) suffered neglect and is in need of a total root and branch review. These people, he claims, are forgotten and overlooked by the rest of us as we go about our lives. We remain oblivious to their plight and unless we change the way we attend to their needs and offer them some sort of hope and the means to achieve a fulfilling existence we, by default, condemn them to the endless revolving door of the institutionalised world of the state. He wants to see huge investments in the structures and processes that we employ to deal with these people because he believes (as do many others) that the way a society deals with its underdogs and underclasses is a reflection of its claim to be a civilised society. I think we’d all agree with that!
So, it is with a certain amount of ire that I have to report that David Cameron’s hugely pompous and portentous speech was about the way we house and care for our criminals. Or at least the ones the police and the Crown Prosecution Service have managed to catch and bang up anyway! Yes folks, Mr Cameron’s heartfelt concern was for the ‘low-lifes’ swirling around in the margins of society. I’m talking about the oiks creeping about with a screwdriver in your back garden in the middle of the night and the people filching money from your online bank account ….the list goes on.
I’m entirely happy to agree that the dregs of our community need help but probably I’m more concerned that their time incarcerated is so memorably awful that their inclination to return to the cosy world of three square meals a day is minimised.
On the other hand, we do have a marginalised group in our daily lives that are, in my book, definitely in need of greater help and support and respect and I’d have been far happier to hear our PM thumping his lectern and getting all pink and indignant about the elderly and the way we care for them. It is obvious that our old folk are regarded as a low priority area for our social services and with health service budgets at the point of collapse it is hard to see where the money will come from to improve the lives of people who seem to be effectively imprisoned in these ‘so-called’ retirement homes with no chance of parole. Once you’re there…it’s a life sentence for many.
If this country has money to invest in nuclear submarines, money to re-build war ships that break down regularly and cash to spend on upgrading facilities for criminals I think we ought to be able to provide more for the underclass of frail and vulnerable people who’ve paid for it with their taxes…….our old folk! Anyone disagree?