Operation Overlord was the code name for D-Day, the largest invasion force in history, on 6th June 1944. It brought together diverse cultures, working to a common goal, the culmination of a world war, that confronted an axis of countries whose ideas were based, to a large part, on discrimination and human rights abuses.
It was to be a time, an opportunity, to learn from the the war and confine the old world order to history, building a new, fairer, inclusive world. the reality was to be very different.
The operation was the culmination of two years of planning and there were around 9,000,000 tonnes of supplies and 2,000,000 allied troops stationed in Britain before the invasion.
On D-Day, an armada of up to 5,000 naval vessels departed English ports with up to 160,000 troops aboard. Over 800 aircraft flew up to 30,000 men into occupied territory from midnight on 6th June 1944.
Also in 1944, the then Minister of Health, Henry Willink, proposed the formation of a National Health Service.
All of this culminated, 11 months later in peace being declared in Europe and the Pacific in 1945, with the hope that lessons would finally be learned and that a vision of a “Fairer Society” would become a reality.
In July 1945 Labour won the General Election in Britain, starting the rebuilding process and in October that year the United Nations was established. The post war settlement was touted as a new dawn for a civilised fairer society, the reality has become somewhat different, with politics by Consensus.
By 1948, following the Beveridge report, the NHS began to much fanfare but this served to paper over the cracks of the “Fairer Society”. The Windrush generation began arriving in Britain, being one of Attlee’s Government of 1945 – 1951, failings, to give them British citizenship, an unfair mistake that still rancour’s today.
During the 50’s and 60’s, slum clearances and road building amongst other schemes, papered over the cracks of social and disability inequality. In 1957, Harold Macmillan said “most of our people have never had it so good”, which you could interpret reader, from the use of the word “most”, that during this time, governments were aware of inequalities and if things were that good during this time, successive governments failed to improve the funding model for the NHS. During the 1960’s things changed.
During the 70’s came financial crisis and strikes, it became apparent that society wasn’t fair and equal leading to the arrival of Thatcherism of the 80’s and 90’s, the riots, miners strike and the introduction of “Care in the Community” a supposed end to the warehousing of the disabled prevalent for hundreds of years, which again papered over the cracks with inadequate funding, support and services.
Then came New Labour, with their theme song “Things can only get better”, the dubious Iraq war and the failure to Control the banks and we also had the PR wonder called the Minimum Wage and Tax Credits.
Instead of controlling the inflated wages of some, prices, increasing company profits in part paid for by increased prices, tax avoidance and introducing a statutory living wage, we had the minimum wage and tax credits trumpeted as a fairer Britain, more papering over the cracks.
Following the General Election of 2010, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer found a note from his predecessor “There is No Money”, in fact New Labour had turned a budget surplus into a deficit of £1.6 trillion pounds which enabled Austerity and the draconian measures that followed.
With Austerity have come the cuts, the rich keep getting richer, recently it was claimed that 99% of the worlds money is owned by 1% of the worlds population, indeed George Soros recently received a pay settlement of £70 million, who needs that much. He is also a Hungarian born, American citizen, meddling in British politics.
Following the General Election in 2015 and the subsequent Referendum leading to “Brexit”, may be reader, leaving the European Union provides an opportunity to build a “Fairer Society” free from Legislation and interference from Brussels. May be politicians should spend less time arguing over a Referendum, which it was made clear by David Cameron in the General Election campaign of 2005, was a one time vote with no second Referendum.
With the advent of Social Media, we seem to have moved on from papering over the cracks to “rule by division” and the “blame game”, dividing opinion by
blaming one part of society for ills of another,
while playing political football with peoples lives.
Austerity has also led to the out sourcing of benefit assessments undertaken by people unqualified to assess specific conditions, cuts to benefit payments and a lack of funding, services and support for disabilities that a “Fair Society” would surely provide.
There is still no universal access to post diagnosis support for people living with Dementia or other disabilities and their carers, including activities and sufficient signposting to taking part in research.
The abuse of our rights with Dementia and disabilities continues including prescription charges if you are diagnosed under 60 years old and access to transport and the failure to enforce the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, also inclusion, engagement and equality in decision making and services.
The vision of the 1942 Beveridge Report which proposed widespread reform of the system of social welfare to address the five “Giant Evils” in society at that time; squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease, seems to have been lost in a media run era of self interest, where the newsworthy get the lions share of attention.
It seems to me reader that, far from moving toward to a “Fair Society”, we are moving back past Thatcherism to the sectioning and warehousing of people with Dementia. In Britain it is reported that currently 70% of care home residents have Dementia, what are the figures for Heart Failure and Cancer, the 2nd and 3rd biggest killers in the UK, 2017?
Lately, the blame game has moved on to the increased cost to society of Disabilities. The post war hope of a “Fairer Society” has faded and you may conclude reader, that we seem to be going back to a society that hasn’t learned from the Great Depression of the 1920’s and the subsequent 1930’s, where blaming parts of society for the ills of others and where disengagement and discrimination became the norm and after 8 years of minority Government, the opposition isn’t blameless.
There is too much talk and not enough action by those that can make a difference.
Do Politicians always tell the truth at elections anyway reader, how many times have we heard this or that will change, during an election campaign, nationally or locally, for nothing to change anyway.
They could undertake a social revolution, working together to build an inclusive fairer society, without the influence of big business and self interest, with fair wages and prices, services inclusive of disabilities as the norm.
It could also include making voting in elections compulsory as in Australia, as my Father used to say, “If you don’t vote, you cannot complain” and the NHS becoming proactive rather than reactive.
If the NHS and society were more proactive with appropriate integrated support and services, may be I and many others could lead a longer better life within our disabilities and may be other conditions like my COPD and their co-morbidities will take us before we enter the final stage of our Dementia’s or other disabilities, saving us from the indignities and the suffering of our families that that final stage brings.
I can hear them now chocking on their Lunches in both houses of Parliament and the Lobbyist’s rushing to their phones, David Cameron used to harp on about “The Big Conversation”, well maybe it’s time for it to really happen however, my own experiences of starting a conversation have been on the whole negative.
Whilst the World Cup is on Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Vince Cable, stop playing political football with peoples lives, have a big conversation together, end the Austerity caused by the £1.6 trillion deficit, improve NHS funding, improve support and services for people with disabilities and end the Barbaric systems we have in this country.
I write these articles in my blog as a record of my journey through Dementia, to comment and hopefully raise some awareness about life with a Dementia. Sadly, the people that have the power to bring change are still unwilling to engage and fail to respect the rights of people with disabilities.
Whilst I write about my experiences in Dementia, which is relevant to my life at this time, it is important to remember that there are many other disabilities and their carers experiencing the same barriers and discrimination as the Dementia community. It is surely time for government and organisations to put aside self interest to build a fairer society, indeed according to Oxfam
As I look into the distance, across the long road of Dementia, where my journey is but a few years old, I search for the sunrise through the somewhat gloomy sky, hoping action will bring the sun to our world of Dementia and other misrepresented disabilities and our carers.