Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 16th August 2017

Gandhi said that a nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members. It could equally be said that we’re judged by how we treat our young, sick, disabled and elderly. By that measure, on every count, the Conservatives are diminishing the greatness of our nation.

For the last seven years we’ve watched the collapse of our care system, recent research by the BBC has revealed that by the end of next year 3,000 senior citizens in need of care will have nowhere to go.

How did it come to this? The generation which won WWII gave us a welfare system which would take care of us from the cradle to the grave. Yet, over the years which followed, bit-by-bit, so slowly we barely noticed, we’ve allowed that safety net to be stolen from us, so that now our loved ones are left without a place to go when they need care or else are faced with financial ruin in paying for it. Is that what we wanted for our elderly, is this the England we’ve been building together?

When we allow others to suffer what does that say about us? Even if we never rely upon those services ourselves, every citizen pays a price for creating a country where suffering is considered acceptable.

We’ve allowed others to persuade us that there is no alternative. Yet, things weren’t always this way and other countries still manage to care for their elderly. Is England different, is there some unique obstacle preventing us from caring for people? No, there’s always an alternative.

At the election, Labour’s fully-costed manifesto showed how we can fix social care. We can follow the footsteps of the Greatest Generation and build a National Care Service, with an extra £8bn invested in care by the end of the Parliament, with proper funding for carers, a cap on personal contributions, free end of life care extended and visits that last longer than 15 minutes. We can restore our nation’s greatness, but for that to happen we must restore a state which cares for all of its members.

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