Ahead of today’s budget, MSP’s on the Finance Committee were advised by ‘experts’ speaking to them in Holyrood: I thought I should take a look at who these experts were.
Colin Mair, chief executive of the private company limited by guarantee known as “Improvement Services” was easy enough to find. He has spent 25 years steeped in the lore of local government. Learning the language of those who reduce human beings and their lives to impenetrable management speak. How glibly the phrases roll off the tongue after 25 years, rewarded by a directorship of a company entirely funded by millions of pounds of tax payers money, set up to advise local governments how to spend tax payers money.
What advice is the Scottish parliament being given on ‘best practice’ in spending tax payers money? They are being warned that there is likely to be ‘inter-generational conflict’ ahead. That the younger generation will seriously resent those ‘with generous pensions’ (Yes, Mr Mair is the one and only person in his company with a Defined Benefit Pension, paid for by the tax payer, I did check the accounts).
Apparently, having to pay student fees, eventually, slowly, out of future earnings, means that pressure will be brought on future local governments to stop giving pensioners free bus travel or caring for them in their old age. Caring for them? In his next breath, Mr Mair proposes a solution.
Health professionals might have to consider “how protracted we wish to make people’s deaths”.
Protracted death? What a wonderful phrase. Our entire lives are protracted death. Mr Mair thinks that the final solution is the final solution. Bring death forward. Best practice advice for the local council! Best take it – you paid for it.
It is of course the perfect solution. As soon as the older generation become economically inactive, bump ‘em off and the young can inherit their house. Spreadsheet savings across all 32 local government offices.
It is gaining currency this notion that the younger generation are having it harder than previous generations. They forget that the generation which brought them up inherited the economic chaos after World War 11. Did we advocate bumping off the older generation, e’en as we started work paying the new national insurance tax to give them a pension?
At the risk of sounding like Victor Meldrew – ‘Cardboard box were it? You wuz lucky’ – do you ever wonder what the elderly sitting on their park benches are thinking as they watch the younger generation? Do you think they hark back to the days when they woke up with ice on the inside of the window and it was no use yelling from the shower “Mum the hot waters finished”. Do you think they remember the outside toilets; the long trek to the phone box and the wait in the cold until someone else had finished their weekly conversation with a husband working down south? Do you think they remember the weekly tussle with the mangle and the boiler, or even the proverbial orange boxes they started married life with?
Do you think they ever look at the younger generation with their cars and mobile phones and iPods and 100 quid trainers, and think, blimey you’ve got a soft life. Yes, the older generation had free education, but they paid dearly in lots of other ways for the soft life that the young enjoy now.
‘Compressed morbidity’ used to be a phrase that struck a chill in me – but that at least means keeping us healthy for as long as possible. A ‘less protracted death’ really does frighten me to death, as we listen to Ian Duncan-smith telling Scotland that an independent Scotland couldn’t afford the level of benefits it awards itself now, and the ‘experts’ are advising MSP’s as to ‘best practice’ on how to solve the problem…
I’m glad I’m not a Scottish pensioner.