Praise to those who deserve it?

How sincere is our praise and thanks to the workers of the NHS, transport, food shops and other ‘essential’ services? We should not forget those who have accepted job loss and pay cuts nor those who will have to pick up the tab in the potential future financial crisis.


If we genuinely want to give thanks then actions speak louder than words!

I am by far the oldest member of the Christians on the Left National Executive.  I am a revolting 18 year old who, as my recent birthday cake reveals, has another 62 years of experience.  It is older people and those with significant ‘pre-existing conditions’ that are the primary beneficiaries of the astronomically expensive measures being taken by our government.

Personally, I am in excellent health, but so many of my family and friends are in need of all the help they can get.  If that were not available, many would be at extreme risk and unlikely to survive if they contracted the virus.


We can lament that our NHS was not better prepared for the ‘next pandemic’.  It is easy to rail at the Government but perhaps we need to look deeper.

I have reason to look to Germany, and suggest consideration of why their health service has coped well.  The reason is that the German electorate is willing to pay for it to the extent they have overcapacity!  Our German son-in-law pays 13% of his income tax towards healthcare.

I found out the painful way just how good the service is and how much things cost.  In Munich I fell up the hotel steps and cracked my head on the door. Blood was everywhere.  Reception called an ambulance which arrived within 5 minutes.  They checked me out, cleaned and bandaged me up before calling my wife from the hotel room.  They then checked local hospitals to ensure there would be no long wait.  Then after further formalities they drove to a hospital half a mile away where I had immediate attention.

The examination and treatment were thorough and then they insisted that a brain scan was necessary.  I rather reluctantly agreed.  The result came back within another hour and they declared there was ‘absolutely nothing inside’!  All that remained was for me to come back in a couple of days to have the dressing changed. We then went out for a rather late meal.

I did not need shock treatment for the injury.  I did for what followed.  The wound had healed well, and hardly needed further treatment, but I walked to the hospital and presented my E111.  It turned out to be out of date and to change the dressing would cost 600 Euros. (We did it ourselves). I was later to find the ambulance trip cost 635 Euros.  What the brain scan would have cost, I will never know, as after we got back to UK the Deptartment of Work and Pensions backdated my new E111 so I did not lose out any further on medical costs.


Our Daughter living in Germany also recently needed hospital treatment and having had it, was pressured to stay over a weekend so that the hospital could claim the money from the government. Oh to have the spare capacity to do so! What a contrast to here where sick people are sometimes discharged only to be re-admitted as emergencies.


Praise and thanks to the sacrifices of staff are empty gestures, unless we face up to the cost. Those of us who have comfortable lifestyles should think about the cost, and ‘who pays’ if we want a properly financed health service and recovery from the economic damage.

There are some in our country who need every penny they earn; many on benefits and basic pensions cannot afford to sacrifice more, but people with adequate income could consider additional income tax as a way of ‘giving thanks’.  Is it too radical to suggest that there are many luxuries and ‘comfort’ expenditures that could be sacrificed?  Rather than look to schemes to reduce or eliminate inheritance tax, acknowledge it is a means of redistributing wealth.  Those with index linked pensions should note that these are paid in full whilst those furloughed have only 80% of their previous income.


What is needed is a paradigm shift of attitude.  Giving thanks, especially those who may feel their lives and lives of ‘loved ones’ may have been saved by the draconian actions of Government, might take the form of ‘paying back in cash’ through a fairer tax system administered by a Government that invests in ‘the future’.  This would give recognition that those ‘in work’ are probably also those who have to pay the price of these draconian actions.

We need to work tirelessly for a Labour Government which will have as its priority the environment, and the social policies which will capture the imagination of the electorate so that we will all be willing to ‘pay the price’.

In the meantime, we can seek to influence Labour Policy.  A policy which is careful what it promises, but commits itself to dealing resolutely with the threats to the future.  The future, not just our country, but the whole world over climate change and pollution


When I was at school a certain prayer was popular in assemblies:

Teach us, good Lord,
To serve thee as thou deservest;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil and not to seek for rest;
To labour and not to ask for any reward
Save that of knowing that we do thy will.


This is the spirit of those ‘at work’ to get us through this crisis.  However, the time is coming, and indeed is already here, when the cost is being counted.  Who do we expect to pay?

At the moment it will be the worst hit financially who have to ‘pay the price’.


Perhaps now is the time for reform of the tax system and an end of huge differentials between highest and lowest paid.


Our true praise and thanks then, should be expressed not just by a round of applause once a week, but by us all being willing (at very least) to ‘Give and not try by every means possible to avoid paying a fair share of the cost’.



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published this page in Articles 2020-04-17 00:00:22 +0100