Last night saw the first meeting of a new season of Barnet Council. I couldn't make it. We have cut our budget and we only have one car now, and my beloved was out playing with her band. So I missed all of the fun. For those of you who are interested, here is a little sample of what you missed
I bet you are gutted aren't you. You'll be pleased to know that I was kept fully appraised of the situation wth a stream of tweets, texts and telephone calls. All of my Labour supporting friends were in a state of apoplexy at the stunt the Tories pulled. They moved a council meeting to the date of the Labour conference. It is a convention that the parties avoid such dates. It is the one time a year they can all go off and commune with people who think they are marvellous. The Tories have deliberately slung a large spanner in this for Labour and clearly think it's jolly funny.
I am more than familiar with this behaviour. I have a couple of pet dogs. Up the road one of our neighbours also has a dog. Whenever I take mine for a walk, he takes great pleasure in doing a pee on the tree outside this other dogs house. The other mutt goes mental, hurling himself impotently at the window and barking madly as Bruno happily tells him who is boss in this territory. This is what the Tories did. They exercised power, purely for the hell of it, because they could. It won't make any difference to anything. The public doesn't care, but for them, boy did it feel good.
Now I often wonder how many of our local politicians play poker. I'd love a game with them. You see to win big at poker you have to have a strategy. You have to plan ahead. You have to try and work out what cards your opponent has and how they might play them. If you take this into account, you'll realise the Tories played a really bum hand. You see, they have a majority of one in Barnet. many of their councillors are elderly. Some are young and ambitious. They only need to lose one and then they will suddenly find they are not running the council anymore. Then what? Well they've set a rather charmless precedent of sticking the boot in.
That is the thing about politics. Nothing lasts forever and when the tide turns all the sins you've inflicted on everyone else comes back to haunt you.
But it doesn't just stop with petty wind ups in the council chamber. You see the Barnet Tories have taken an axe to adult social care. Given the advancing age of many of them, it is not going to be long before a few of them have to lie in the bed they've made. Sheltered wardens? They've gone. Care budgets? Slashed? Skilled committed cares? Replaced with agency staff on minimum wage.
I've seen what happens. Back in 2000, my mum was alive and well and cruising up the Amazon river with her boyfriend. My Father in Law was working and singing in the Memory Lane singing group. My mother in law was looking after are kids when we worked and socialised. At the end of the year my mum had a stroke and needed care for the last 8 years of her life. She was dependent on us. She relied on the Council for meals on wheels and we saw at first hand the terrible effects of the outsurcing of this. No food some days, cold food other days. Poor quality when it came. My father in law went senile. He required carers to attend to him twice a day. In 2008 he passed away. My mother in law was misdiagnosed and died of lung Cancer in 2009. It is amazing just how quickly fortunes can change and people can transform from being proud, independent and self sufficient to being totally reliant on others. I don't wihs such things on anyone, but none of us can beat the passage of time.
So I ask all of the elderly Tory Councillors this. Do your realise that the pain you are inflicting on those less able to cope than yourself, will come back to bite you one day. Every care package you cut, is a cut nearer to making the autumn days of your own life even more awful than they would otherwise be. Every care home we see exposed on telly is just the tip of an iceberg. When my mum had a stroke, she was left in her own faeces and urine for hours on several occasions. Because she had family to visit her in hospital, we raised hell and they stopped the neglect. Sadly the old dears with no visitors in adjacent beds, with no one to care had a different experience. Our family had eight years of caring for my mum on a daily basis. It was a huge strain. Many people give up. On one visit to Barnet General with my mum, a nurse told me families often dump people like my mum there at Xmas with no ID, so they can get some peace and quiet. I was shocked. How could anyone be so heartless I mused. Then I realised that our Borough is actually run by a few people who are pretty heartless. I wondered whether they'd passed such values on?
If you want to see your future, just go and walk around a geriatric ward. Or even the unkempt mess that Hendon cemetery has become since Capita got the contract from Barnet Council to maintain it.
The world is full of people who end up crying "why me?" Sometimes, sadly the answer is "because you deserve it". Whether that will be said to a mundane incident like missing the Tory conference due to a rescheduled council meeting, or being buried in an overgrown unkempt grave or being left in your own urine for hours, who knows. But there is an old saying, "as you sow, so shall you reap"