Monday, 29th April, 2024

[Day 1505]

Today was the scheduled day when Meg and I were due to receive our COVID booster jabs. As this was just before midday, it rather messed up what we intended to do. So Meg and I spent a quiet morning, listening to some Beethoven piano sonatas in the kitchen whilst I prepared the vegetables for the midday meal. Earlier I had sent some messages (answering machine and then a text) to our social worker who, as she is newly allocated, we have not actually met asking if we can have a bit more assistance from carers in the middle of the day on account of Meg’s reduced mobility. Earlier this morning, we were delighted to see back again a carer who we had not seen for weeks) as she had had a bad car crash, writing off the car and not being able yet to afford another one. But she was very, very good with Meg and was so kindly and supportive so I was delighted to see her once again. Once we had spent most of the morning quietly at home, it was time for us to go down to the doctor’s surgery to receive our COVID booster jabs – I must admit, I was not looking forward to the four transitions of getting Meg into and out of the car, once to go down to the surgery and once to come back. In practice, the journey down proved to be not too problematic and we both received our jabs, completely on time and such that we could scarcely feel the jab so fine are the needles these days. On the way back home, we needed to dive into Waitrose to pick up our daily newspaper and as the visit to the store should only take a couple of minutes, I pop inside without bothering to get a car parking ticket. Today, though, I notice a couple of enforcement officers so thought I had better get a ticket which I did. On my way into the store, I notice one young woman with child who are arguing against her fine as she had the wheels of her car over the line designating the parking space – to be fair, quite a way over. On the way back into the car, I noticed another person being booked and photographed so, for once, I was really pleased to have made myself ‘legal’ as it were. Getting Meg out of the car was proving to be a bit problematic but very fortunately, our son was working in the office he has retained in this house and, seeing my plight, could come to our assistance. After that, we had a lunch of beef, fine beans, jacket potato and baked tomato although I think Meg’s appetite is not as healthy as it was a week or so ago. After lunch, Meg had a good doze as did I and we both felt the better for it, with (so far) no adverse consequences from our booster jabs.

Scottish politics does not normally absorb much of our attention span but today is an exception. The SNP party leader and First Minister, Humza Yousaf, has been forced into a resignation since he threw the Greens out of the coalition that was supporting the SNP in power – if they had only two more seats, they would have had a majority in the Scottish Assembly. Yousaf had lost so much of the trust of the Greens and the one representative of the Alba party that to carry on in government alone was now impossible so a resignation was the only way out for him. Having said that, his resignation statement was, to my mind, dignified and appropriate. In his statement, he did point out that with all of the first ministers of England, Scotland and Wales were from ethnic minority backgrounds, this bodes well for the future of equal opportunities in our political system writ large. But it has been evident for a day or so that Yousaf would lose a vote of confidence in himself as First Minister and it is thought that Yousaf had made a massive miscalculation for which he has had to pay the ultimate political price. The Labour party in Scotland must be rubbing their hands in glee because if the SNP were to lose a lot of the support they have had over the years, then the Labour party in Scotland could be the ultimate beneficiaries. And, of course, if Labour does well in Scotland, this might add to the overall majority of any forthcoming Labour government. And the collapse of the Labour vote in Scotland has helped to sustain a Conservative party in power in Westminster.

Today, the government is introducing what is called a Disability and Welfare reform bill. The BBC website is reporting that disabled people could face major changes to how the personal independence payments (PIP) benefit works, as the government tries to tackle the rising number of claimants with a mental health condition. Reforms to PIP could include stopping regular cash payments, and instead offering claimants one-off grants for things like home adaptations. The number of people claiming PIP in relation to anxiety and depression has soared in recent years, leading Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to say on Monday: ‘We need to do something about that.’ The disability charity Scope described the plans as a ‘reckless assault on disabled people’.The plans are subject to a 12-week consultation, ending on 23 July. I watched the first few minutes of the announcement made to the House of Commons by the relevant minister and the phrase that was used first and repeated ‘ad nauseam’ was that the government had to ensure that the taxpayer received value for money. On a similar theme, I read an account recently that indicated that Tory MPs were resisting any payments being made to those who had been made ill or even lost their lives following the administration of contaminated blood products (to counteract haemophilia) in past decades. The view of the Tory MPs was that the more Treasury money that was spent on compensation would reduce the amount available for distribution as a tax cut. When one considers the morality of all of this – that tax cuts that would disproportionately put money into the pockets of the already wealthy at the expense of those made ill (or even losing their lives) as a result of past government attempts to cut costs – one has to wonder whether morality has completely disappeared from British politics.