Friday 5 June 2020

Bed blocking independence.

I live with my mother. She is 87. One of her knees has bad arthritis so her mobility isn’t what it was. When she had stomach problems a little while ago, we switched to eating mainly vegetables. Quorn is surprisingly pleasant and almost indistinguishable from meat. Her mind is pretty good, but she struggles to recall names and sometimes has the odd lapse. Her life matters in the same way that every person’s life matters. It is unique and the only one she has. I have a sure and certain hope that life goes on, but it is faith and not knowledge.

The people most devastated by Covid have been the elderly. I have been very careful indeed when I have gone outside the house. I am not especially worried about catching Covid myself. The odds for me would be good, but if an elderly person catches it they face quite a high chance of dying.

We have learned throughout the course of th
is crisis that elderly people can still contribute a lot to society. Captain Sir Tom Moore has raised more money in the past months than he earned in the previous 100 years. The Queen at 94 can still raise the morale of the nation.

But there has been a tendency in recent years to resent older people. One of the reasons I hate referendums is that in the aftermath losers say such hateful things.

On 21st September 2014 The Telegraph reported that:

The First Minister appeared to blame elderly Scots, who were most hostile to leaving the UK, for holding back younger generations and argued that independence is inevitable after they die off.

 This was not an isolated statement. A quick search finds Tommy Sheppard “suggesting the separatist campaign would be bolstered as elderly No voters die.”

Brian Cox joined in earlier this year. The prospects of independence were better he suggested because “a lot of that [older] generation is gone and a lot of new young people are coming through, so we’ll see.”

But it has not just been Scottish nationalists who have disgraced themselves by looking forward to the deaths of their opponents. So too after Remain lost the EU referendum, any number of Remainers began to hope that older people would hurry up and die.

John Snow suggested there should be a second EU referendum in 2019 because so many old people had dies since 2016

 The “Independent” had a headline “Leave voters dying and Remainers reaching voting age means majority will soon oppose Brexit, study finds”

 Well these people have got their wish. Tens of thousands of people have died most of them elderly and there will be more to come. No doubt the people who said these things will be rubbing their hands with glee.

More importantly however is what these commonplace attitudes told us about how people view the elderly.

Why is it that so many elderly people live alone or live in care homes? It is because their sons and daughters are too busy or can’t be bothered to look after them.

Why is the death rate so high in care homes? It is because Governments and ordinary people have treated them as out of sight and out of mind.

The biggest scandal is that elderly people in hospitals who had Covid were sent back to care homes to make room for the younger generations. This happened too often everywhere in the UK, but it happened particularly often in Scotland.

Would any other age group have been chucked out of hospital without a thought as to whether they would infect anyone else? Would babies or teenagers have been treated in this way? No.

I don’t know whether Nicola Sturgeon agreed with Alex Salmond in 2014. I have never heard her publicly disagree with those Scottish nationalists looking forward to the death of older “No voters”, but whether she agreed or disagreed the result could hardly have been more in keeping with the professed wishes of both independence supporters and Remainers.

Everyone’s life matters. It doesn’t matter if it is coming to the end or if it has only just started. We all deserve the same level of love and respect, because we are all equally human beings. I thank God each day that my mother is safe at home with me and that I didn’t send her to a care home to vegetate and then die early because her life didn’t matter to an SNP that thinks older people are bed blocking independence.