Posts Tagged ‘CRISIS’
As we tidied up after this morning’s encounter with the hordes of squabbling hens we suddenly realised that the time has come for our charity effort. Each year we try to raise cash for ‘Crisis’, the charity devoted to providing succour for the homeless. ‘Crisis’ estimates that there are tens of thousands of hidden homeless people in the UK. These people never show up on government statistics and exist in hostels, squats and squalid bed and breakfasts. They often lead miserable, isolated lives and often suffer from debilitating mental and physical health problems.
Appalling though that is, it is not new. What is new, and equally appalling, is the plight of vast numbers of the housebound elderly and frail. When the coalition enforced huge cuts in local authority funding it did ‘ring-fence’ the money allocated for social care. However, it did niothing to enforce this and right across the country councils have slashed the amounts allocated for what is laughably described as home-care. The result is that many councils now have reduced the time allowed for a home visit to 15 minutes and axed travel expenses. The result is that paid carers – doing tough and unpleasant work – rush from one house to another, can’t cope, and many are giving up in despair.
A report due this week by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (ERHC) will put flesh on the anecdotal evidence so far available. It will report on evidence of elderly people being left in filthy nightwear and bedding, of being left without a wash for several weeks, of being put to bed at 5.00pm and not helped to get up until 10.00am the next day. The picture that emerges is straight from the darkest episodes of Dickens.
Someone being supposedly cared for, and without family help, can lie for hours in their own mess, cold and frightened. They can be confused and haven’t taken their pills. They feel ashamed. They feel angry. It could be many hours before someone lets themselves in and washes them. The victim – for that is what they are – hopes for conversation but a carer with just 15 minutes to spare is hard pushed to even complete the basics. As quickly as they entered, they are gone. Silence, despair, all hope gone in an age where even the neighbours are often unknown.
Without doubt there is now a huge social problem, yet we hear little of it. These people can’t go out on the streets to march in protest, or camp outside a cathedral, or strike on November 30th. They are rarely mentioned on television, or interviewed on the Today programme. Anyone in a position of authority is much younger, has children at school and is desperately worried about their own job-security and financial survival. Frail old people are not even good vote-winning material. No one cares. Yet even if only for financial prudence they should, because inevitably this new hidden crisis is resulting in more and more elderly and neglected people being admitted to hospital, there to stay at high cost unless a beleagured social worker can find a solution that the meagre budget will facilitate.
I noticed a small paragraph in one of today’s newspapers. It describes how a pensioner spent two nights trapped in a cold garden shed after a fall. he had ventured that far in search of fuel. It was two days before anyone heard his cries for help and ambulance staff said that Ron Rogers from Rednal, Birmingham, was close to death after succumbing to hypothermia. Proud to be British? I think not.
Of course, now that the disgraceful situation has come under a spotlight the political blame game is underway. Paul Burstow, the care services minister and a LIb Dem MP, is demanding to know why councils are failing to pass on the funding allocated for the care of the frail and elderly. They are, he says, “clearly failing to act in the best interests of their residents”. They must, he thundered, “be held to account”. Indeed, two councils already have been. Sefton (Merseyside) and the Isle of Wight lost High Court cases to cut back on care for elderly and disabled adults. But should we really leave our hidden sufferers to the mercy of the Courts and posturing politicians.
At the last election the then Labour Party leadership demanded, during the televised debates, cross-party talks aimed at protecting the vulnerable from austerity measures. They saw the danger in this becoming an exercise in point-scoring. Andrew Lansley and David Cameron refused this. Now Labour is repeating the appeal and it must be heeded.
How can a society that once prided itself on care and compassion continue to spend huge sums on debatable projects, such as high-speed rail, whilst leaving vast numbers of those who, through no fault of their own, now lie forgotten and ignored?
We codgers realise that promoting the welfare of old ‘uns is not a popular activity. We realise too that some old folk can be difficult, and that there are many other vital priorities. But now the situation has been allowed to spiral out of control, and we are all unwittingly allowing suffering on a scale that has not happened in these islands for almost a century.
The only punch-line we can offer to the politicians is don’t just talk, for mercies sake do something!
The world of cricket has been plunged into one of its worst crises of all time. Shortly after the close of yesterday’s play in the final Test match between England and Pakistan news broke of an investigation by the News of the World which appears to show that members of the Pakistan team have been involved in match-fixing during the game. Video footage of a meeting between Mazhar Majeed, a 35 year old business man, and a reporter posing as part of an Asian gambling syndicate shows the 35 year old accepting money and promising that three ‘no-balls’ had been organised with the Pakistan team.
He specified when the no-balls would be bowled and that is exactly what happened. As he had promised, Amir bowled no-balls as the first ball of the third over on Thursday and third over on Friday, Asif did likewise with the sixth ball of the tenth over on Thursday. Replays of these deliveries on today’s Sky coverage showed that on all three occasions the bowlers overstepped the crease by a significant margin. In the video Majeed also claimed that the forthcoming one-day series of matches too had been earmarked for rigging.
Last night a 35 year-old man was arrested by police on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers and the cricket authorities announced their own investigations. Meanwhile there was televison coverage of police taking material from the hotel occupied by the Pakistan team. We must of course remember that no one is guilty unitl proven so but the evidence appears irrefutable. The implications for cricket are absolutely horrendous!
There are of course many unanswered questions. Were other players involved? To what extent did the magnificent innings of both Trott and Broad reflect deliberate lack of effort by the bowlers? Were any of the previous matches, in which Pakistan performed unbelievably badly, quite what they seemed? How can the forthcoming one-day series take place and, if it does, will the paying public be able to believe in what they see? The list goes on and on.
A huge amount of betting on cricket takes place on the sub-continent. A great deal of it is based on what is known as micro-betting. Cricket is uniquely vunerable to fraud in this way for any bowler can specify in advance deliveries that will constitute no-balls ( his front foot over the line) and any batsmen can specify how and when he will be out. There are no equivalents in soccer where even total match fixing would require the involvement of the entire team. None of this once mattered because the name of cricket, above all others, was a euphemism for honesty and fair play. No more!
Pakistan have been at the centre of match-fixing claims before, most notably in 2000 when former captain Saleem Malik and bowler Ata-ur-Rehman were both found guilty and banned for life. However, Rehman was made available for selection in 2006 and Malik’s ban was overturned in 2008. The most infamous instance of match-fixing was former South African captain Hansie Cronje receiving money from bookmakers in return for match information. Cronje was also banned for life but was sadly killed in a subsequent air accident.
The International Cricket Council does employ regional security officers who attend every international match. Their remit is to keep an eye on dressing rooms and CCTV pictures and to ensure that players and coaches do not use mobile phones during play. But the task is a near inpossible one especially if there is free access to the players as happened at Edgbaston. Temporary dressing-rooms were in use there and a corridor was open to any hospitality guest. It is understood that a key figure in the News of the World’s allegations had access to this corridor.
Anyone involved in international cricket knows that for some time there have been unsubstantiated rumours that all is not as it seems to the paying public. A near paranoia has developed around any unusual trend in any match. The most innocent no-ball, run-out or rash stroke has provoked speculation and the vast majority of honest players have understandably resented questions. The reality is that any corruption involving individuals and negotiated away from the dressing room or ground is almost impossible to detect. Until the guilty are weeded out all are damned.
The future of cricket hangs in the balance. If found guilty the individuals in question must be banned for life and if it should be found that other members of the team -as alleged during the video – are implicated they should be banned also. There should be no later reprieval, life must mean life. Depending on what emerges over the next few days it may be necessary for the forthcoming one-day series to be cancelled
There can be havering on this whatever the financial implications. Cricket is a much-loved sport and belongs to the millions that delight in it’s symbolic decency in a troubled world. No team, country or player is bigger than the game, the purge must be absolute.
It is impossible to feel other than great sympathy for the nation of Pakistan. It is experiencing appalling misfortunes and the players, after their victory in the third Test, made play of the fact that they performed for their country. How tragic then that it now appears that some of them at least may have performed for themselves!
THERE IS NO SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP!
The revelation that George W Bush and Tony Blair conspired against Gordon Brown should come as no surprise to those of self understanding. It followed a meeting held by the then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Mr Brown as a result of which she reported misgivings to the President. Even then it was common knowledge that Brown resented the seemingly cosy realtiuonship between the President and British Prime Minister, on ewhich led to Blair agreeing to join the USA in the invasion of Iraq. Claerly America did not need our armed power but they did need a ‘second party’ to give the impression of an international venture.
After Mr Bush had told Blair that he had “grave doubts” about Brown’s willingness to toe the line the britsh Prime Minister announced that he intended to stay on at No 10, a plan that was thwarted when supporters of the Chnacellor stgaed their now famous ‘coup’.
When david cameron visited Washington he caused uproar by remarking that we were a junior partner to America in 1940. it was an appalling exmaple of his lack of historcal knowledge but ironically he used the right phrase albeit in the worng context. the Uk has always been the junior partner and my studies using such sources as Churchills own war diaries and the work of Max Hastings show clearly the extent to which ant-Britiosh sentiments prevailed during and after the second World War.
Indeed there is substantial evidence that had Japan attacked only British forces the United States would have remained largely neutral. I shall return to this theme on another ccasion but for now I wanted to at least use today’s media stories of Bush and Blair to restate my conviction, and that of many historians that, the flirtation between Margaret Thatcher and Ronal Reagan apart, there has never been the place in American hearts for Britain implied by the well-worn phrase of special relationship.
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Cambodia 2. Abuja
TODAY’S QUESTIONS: 1. What did Snow Knight win in 1974? 2.What happened at Lixborough in that year?