To me, the Prime Minister’s speech was pure electioneering, currying favour in selected quarters to raise his stock. Throughout the speech, I was amazed, in the current financial climate, at the number of references to rising expenditure in so many categories, including foreign aid, In addition he talked about full employment, when professionals and tradesmen are being laid off, because of the credit crunch. In one report I believe he said that he would find additional finance by improving government efficiency. If after 10 years of Labour control this has only now been discovered, need I say more. Some proposals are only going to cost a few million, but I take exception to them on social grounds.
Gordon Brown’s edict concerning providing childminding for two-year-olds, is at the top of the list. Once upon a time, before television, or even radio, people took extended families for granted. Relatives gave the young parents the opportunity to socialise, and get a change of perspective at least once a week. Women didn’t go out to work months if not weeks after a child was born. They nurtured the child and the later children, played with them, trained them and loved them consistently for about seven to ten years. If both parents are working, the logistics inevitably become more complicated and more difficult. In the old days big shopping expeditions were a treat, there wasn’t the choice, usually you nipped round the corner to buy what you needed in no time at all. Today cleaning house, shopping, socialising and the time taken to go to and from work, while at the same time having to care for the children, or earn the extra hundreds of pounds to pay for care, even if it is subsidised, is going to truncate both the socialising of the family, and more importantly the bonding with the children. By introducing subsidised or free nursery care for the poorer parents in our society for two-year-olds and presumably upwards, the PM, is not only condoning, but abetting young women to abandon their children to strangers at the age of two, a time when the bonding, the training, and in truth a most wonderful period in the development of the child, could be lost. It seems to me to send all the wrong signals, and yet might further encourage young women to become single-parent mothers.
Gordon Brown’s proposition to provide free laptops to some families, I find equally ill considered, because the children of today, for a number of reasons, don’t socialise anything like we did as children, when our pleasure was mainly in taking part in scratch games on the local commons and village greens and the cinema on Saturdays. There are too many houses where the bedroom windows in the dark of the evening shine blue from the reflection of the screens of TVs or laptops. With single-parent families, the loss of the extended family, and the current fear, which walks our streets, children are isolated now more than they ever were. Instead of providing high quality play facilities, open fields for scratch games, paying for the provision of evening supervised interests, this proposition will lock up more hundreds of thousands of kids, surfing the net, with parents without IT experience, who won’t have a clue what the kids are finding or are looking for. A few free theatre tickets have absolutely no bearing on the case.
One other thing in the same speech was free medicine for cancer patients. I have had skin cancer, and Sophie has had breast cancer, my mother died of cancer, but when this occurred all of us were pensioners. I haven’t access to the true figures, but I strongly suspect that at least half of the cases of cancer reported, especially those that required severe treatment, have been suffered by pensioners. Pensioners receive free treatment already, so it would seem that the cost of the scheme would not appear to be so shattering, but, as someone pointed out to me, the scheme will open a different can of worms. Some of the treatments for cancer are highly expensive, even up to thousands of pounds, to such an extent that there will certainly be a postcode lottery as to whether you qualify or not, even as a pensioner. It would therefore seem that Mr Brown has allowed his script writers once again to dig another elephant trap for him.