Monday, 10 March 2008

An Alternative View

Yesterday I was at a Christening in Chester le Street and was unable to post on or read the Sunday papers. However, I did notice that the wicked witch of the South was grabbing the headlines once again. Poor old Margaret Thatcher, she hasn’t been feeling to well of late, and in an attempt to make themselves feel better, the media have had a post Thatcher frenzy. Maggie has now retired to her palatial palace, sorry home, in London, to be tended no doubt by a private nurse etc.

Last week I delivered a series of ward leaflets to flats in Western Approach, Laygate. The flats are owned and maintained by South Tyneside Homes, but that’s about as far as the description goes. I wouldn’t kennel a dog in them, such is the state of degradation. More than that though, it is the aura of despair, worthlessness and deprivation which sets them apart. In the foyers of each block STH have a notice promising to clean stair wells etc, once a week – but you can’t wash away desperation. To gain entrance I randomly pressed a flat buzzer; the front door was always released and I plied my trade. However, for one block an old lady came to the main door to let me in. Well into her 80’s I must be honest about her appearance – she was filthy, dressed in clothes a second hand shop wouldn’t touch and she clearly hadn’t been washed for some time. I take no pleasure in writing this. I thanked her for letting me in and walked her back to her flat (she had a frame). Her door was open, the interior being a reflection of her own condition. She asked if I was from social services. I told her I was not, and was informed that she had not had a visit this week due to staff shortages. The door closed, the despair remained. I delivered my leaflets and moved.

The privatisation of social service provisions, care services, housing stocks, old people’s homes and the overall provision for the elderly are one of the many dreadful the results of Thatcher’s legacy. The only difference is that when the old lady from Layagte goes into hospital, no body will be that bothered. If she actually does come out, there will be no body to meet her at her flat – that’s if it hasn’t been broken into and ransacked. Yet these people deserve their dignity as much as any politician or ex PM – in fact they deserve it more!

Britain’s greatest post war prime minister – I think not. With an under class of elderly people who have been stripped of hope and dignity, the supporters of Thatcher’s regime should hang their heads in shame.

As to the best PM since the war – the candidate is yet to hold the position. In fact looking at the members of the House of Commons, I suspect he or she hasn’t even been elected yet!

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