Sunday, 6 November 2016

To Keep Such Stories In The Forefront

Liam Young writes: 

This week, the Prime Minister assured the public that “a clear message is going out from this house” on the issue of whether or not England and Scotland players will wear the poppy in their clash at Wembley next week. 

Theresa May was visibly furious as she branded Fifa’s decision to reject the appeal as “utterly outrageous”. 

She went on to argue, “Our football players want to recognise and respect those who have given their lives for our safety and security… I think it is absolutely right that they should be able to do so.”

One would presume that the Prime Minister is therefore an ardent supporter of recognising and respecting those who have either lost their lives or risked their lives in the pursuit of keeping Britain safe.

But this government falls short when it comes to respecting the lives of our brave veterans who have returned from war. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn drew light on one such example, that of David Clapson. 

Clapson had served in Belfast at the height of the Troubles in the Seventies but died in 2014 unable to afford food and electricity after having his Jobseeker’s Allowance axed under the change to benefit rules at the time. 

And his is not an isolated case. 

In 2012, Lucy Aldridge went on hunger strike after the government decided to cut her benefits after her son William was killed in a Taliban ambush in 2009. 

William had insisted that any insurance money be held in trust for his brothers if he died, but the government ruled that the compensation should be classed as savings, thus pushing his mother over the benefit threshold. 

Marine veteran Gordon Lang died from cancer after the state stripped his benefits and told him to find a job despite being terminally ill. 

A friend stated at the time that Lang was “an amputee with severely restricted mobility”. 

Despite his battle with the Department of Work and Pensions, Lang died in April last year. 

And just last December, the government announced a freeze on pensions for retired servicemen and women, leaving them £270 out of pocket. 

In June, the case of Joe Lewis – a 90-year-old second world war RAF veteran – was highlighted in the UK press. 

Having moved to Canada with his first wife, Lewis now faces the prospect of either selling his house to pay the bills or returning to the UK so that he can claim a full pension. 

To do so, he would have to leave his seriously ill wife behind.  

As homelessness continues to rise under Tory rule, there seems to be disproportionate impact on those who have served overseas. 

A Sunday Mirror investigation in 2013 found that “ex-service personnel account for one in 10 rough sleepers across the UK” and that up to 9,000 ex-service personnel were living on the streets. 

The ‘Homeless Veterans’ appeal led by the Independent last year highlighted the true extent of this problem. 

Whether it be the case of 90-year-old Greta Casperson – who had to decide whether to use the last vestiges of her life savings to buy a new boiler or endure a freezing winter – or the account of “Joe” from Glasgow, who found himself on the street, it seems that charities and the generous people who give to them have been left to alleviate ex-servicepeople’s struggles as the government walks by on the other side.

As we head towards this sombre time of remembrance, it is important to keep such stories in the forefront of your mind.

This month all too often ends up becoming a politically motivated season dominated by Tory attempts to show that they are the party of national security.

No comments:

Post a Comment