All in This Together?

Who can forget David Cameron's line about our situation in view of the economic meltdown of 2008. Times were going to be tough. There was going to have to be a new era of austerity. The whole country, apparently, was going to have to unite in this harsh economic environment. The rich, the poor, all of us. After all, Cameron said, "we're all in this together".
So, fast forward a few years and what has really happened. Going by our own local mental health services it does indeed seem that many of us are having to cope with cut-backs. At a consultation meeting on 14th June at our local resource centre in Shelton, we were told that the Trust's "preferred option" would be to actually close the Bennett Centre which I had attended for treatment throughout my illness. Together with the loss of 24 community beds, the closing of the centre aroused fears that suicide rates would increase and leave many with no option other than to be treated at home or on an acute ward at the local Harplands Hospital. Service users and carers alike were worried that taking away these resources would leave them stranded. The view was expressed by many at the meeting that they did not want to go into the Harplands Hospital, and that often problems can actually be exacerbated by their own home environment. The closing of the resource centre and the loss of the beds was then seen as a massive blow. One carer even went so far as to say that the centre had, quite literally, saved his and his wife's life, and without it he seriously doubted whether they would be here today. Some even warned that they would rather commit suicide than stay at the Harplands, such is the terrible reputation of the place amongst service users. This was met with a somewhat dismissive response from the commissioners at the meeting, with them saying that they had had positive feedback from people who had stayed at the Harplands. I can only say that this view was not held by those at the meeting, and neither does it seem to be one held by many at the Pathways Group, which I attend.
Speaking of which, our group now has to be held at a local library, and not at the resource centre. We were expecting new inductees to attend the group this year, but they have, quite simply, not turned up, and it is thought that perhaps this is because some do not feel safe enough yet to return to a community setting. We also now have to run the group, for the time being, ourselves, without the help of professional staff, the result being that the group has simply become a social gathering, whereas before there was a more structured and educational element which was specifically aimed at aiding people's recovery.
Suffice it to say, then, that we are definitely feeling the pinch. But, go to the other end of the economic spectrum, and it appears that Cameron's little saying may not exactly be an accurate description of what is having to be done. The recent revealing of comedian Jimmy Carr's legal, but, even according to Cameron, morally questionable, tax affairs opened the whole issue of tax evasion by the very wealthy in this country. Just why Carr was singled out might also be cause for speculation, given that many others of celebrity status seem to be doing the same thing, not to mention the many corporations who use tax loopholes to avoid paying out their fair share. In fact, I heard only this morning that such shameless manipulation of the tax system might account for around a trillion Euros within the Eurozone alone.
Add to this that the bankers who brought about our economic collapse still appear to be awarding themselves huge salaries and bonuses. And now it even seems they have been fraudulently manipulating interest rates. This has led Liberal Vince Cable to describe the culture within the banking system as a "moral quagmire" where corruption was "endemic". Only, I think, Barclays have so far owned up to what has been going on, but again on the news this morning it emerged that it is not only they who were involved, but that this may again be a truly global phenomenon. Even so, Bob Diamond, the CEO of Barclays, has said that there really is no need for him to resign, blaming everything on his minions. Of course, he was totally unaware, your honour, that anything was going on, despite the fact that he is in charge of everything. So, another public enquiry, alongside Leveson (which itself has revealed just how cosy relations have been between politicians and various arms of the media), awaits. Personally, I would prefer prosecutions to a public enquiry. After all, what has happened is fraud, plain and simple, and if there are no prosecutions then I think that signals just about the end of any ounce of decency which might have been left in the affairs of our glorious nation.
So, it seems, going by all this, there is one rule for some, and another rule for the many. Again David Cameron, after the tax evasion scandals emerged, tried to swing attention away from the rich tax dodgers by declaring that the benefits system created a "something for nothing" culture, where many are choosing to accept benfits instead of working, and so he suggested cutting housing benefit for the under 25s. So, once more those on benefits were demonised. To such thinking, the Archbishop of Canterbury countered that the state was abrogating its responsibilites to the most poor and vulnerable in our country. Hurrah for him! And, with these new banking revelations, even "Dave" may have to do something about the massive unfairness and inequalities in Britain. Hopefully, the public will not stand for this sort of thing anymore, and something will change. Indeed, when I listen to Cameron, I almost feel that I live on a different planet to him. Never have I known myself to be so annoyed at a government, a government which clearly protects the interests of the wealthy while simultaneously scapegoating some of the most vulnerable in our society. So, if you were thinking that we're all in this together, frankly, I think you'll believe anything.    


klahanie said…
Dear David,
I have read this emotive posting of yours with much seething resentment at the outrageous actions of this government who, once again, are clear demonstration of protecting the interests of the wealthy few and targeting the most vulnerable in society. An abhorrent disgrace. And that's putting it mildly.
All in this together? Your article speaks otherwise. Well said, David.
With very kind wishes, Gary
bazza said…
Hello David. I think you have succinctly put the case on behalf of very many people in this country, even many traditional Conservatives.
The hypocrisy and double-standards of this government have been exposed and I think the Liberals should break from them and bring them down before they too are 'lost'.
Do you know what I think will happen David?
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’
Dixie said…
Hi David.
As I read your post I realized how much Britain was sounding like America, with all the fraud, and hypocrisy. Even the 'stretched' comment of Cameron's, "We're all in this together," has been heard here too... too many times. Over here to voice one's opinion or carry a sign stating otherwise is considered disruptive behavior. Of course free speech was never really free.

I watch this same scenario go global and wonder if any will survive. You see, I think even the wealthy will end up trashed too. By the time they realize what's happening they will have believed the same lie. The difference being that they've had the money and power to fight the injustice but are choosing not to. (Maybe?)

Your post expressed some of the very same feelings I've had about my own country. It's frustrating seeing governments turning away from their citizens, and what are they gaining?

I do wish you and your country positive actions that uplift it's citizens. The loss of the community centre sounds awful; I hope that gets to remain. It's done so much good for so long..."if it's not broken, don't fix it."

Most sincerely, D
David said…
Dear Gary,
Thanks for your comments. I thought you might be outraged by what is going on, and I think you are right to be, my hairy pal. But don't get too angry, or should I say, keep your hair on!
Very Best Wishes,
David said…
Dear bazza,
I agree that very many people seem to feel the same as I do. I think what is happening offends our own British sense of fairness and decency, although, as you say, perhaps not much will actually be done about it. Of course, now both Bob Diamond and the chairman of Barclays have resigned, but will this bring about a change in the culture of investment banking? Will there be new legislation to regulate the banks' behaviour? Will there be any prosecutions? We wait with bated breath.
Thanks bazza and All the Best,
David said…
Dear Dixie,
Yes, both our countries seem to share the same political and economic philosophy that has got us into this mess. And, this morning, I heard that American banking giants JP Morgan are being investigated for allegedly manipulating energy prices in the Midwest. Toshiba, also, are being investigated for allegedly keeping prices of electrical goods articficially high. How low can you go and when will it end? Who knows, Dixie, but as long as we have governments that allow this sort of thing to happen, we won't change it.
Also, thanks for your concern over the closing of our local community centre. Unfortunately, it seems that the commissioners have made up their minds, and the closure will be going ahead. We have protested and raised our concerns, but what else can we do?
Very Best Wishes, your way,

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