James Osben Parliamentary
Candidate for Newton Abbot
On the death of Philip Mountbatten-Windsor – husband to Elizabeth.
As a human being I have the capacity for compassion and empathy, especially having experienced the loss of near relatives myself. As a nurse I have comforted people in their final days and supported families when their loved ones have passed. I know grief. I know loss. I know emotional pain. I have lived it. I will always have compassion and understanding for anybody experiencing the loss of a loved one and the grief that comes with it.
The reality is that the majority of people work hard all of their lives to provide for themselves and their families, living in servitude to a system that rarely rewards them or thanks them. Millions of people work in essential public services for decades until they retire. Many often continue working after retirement. NHS workers save lives, day in and day out, usually with little reward or recognition. They don’t ask for it and they do the work for reward or recognition but they do deserve better pay. I support a 15% increase which is backed by the unions.
Many people have been failed by the system and are trapped in poverty. Some people end up homeless and living and dying on the streets. Others have lost their benefits because they missed an appointment due to being too unwell. People have died on the streets in the UK and some in their own homes have starved to death.
The man in the first picture is Steven Smith. He is a man that died emaciated and alone because, despite being in an appalling state of health he was denied ESA and told he was fit to work. He died weighing less than 6 stone and the DWP repeatedly ignored medical advice on the severity of his condition as a direct result of the Conservatives being intent on slashing the welfare bill at any cost.
The second picture is Errol Graham. He was a man with serious mental health issues. After failing to attend an appointment, instead of putting enquiries into Errol's welfare the DWP, as part of the punitive sanction scheme installed by the Conservative party, simply cut his benefits off and left him to starve to death. He was reclusive, had anxiety, and a history of self harm and suicidal thoughts. He weighed just 28kg when he died.
The third man is David Clapson. He is yet another victim of the DWP's punitive sanctions scheme, a man that had his benefits stopped after missing a single appointment. He couldn't keep his electricity topped up and as a result could not refrigerate his insulin, leading him to die of diabetic ketoacidosis. He was found dead with a pile of CVs next to his body.
The fourth person is Kane Walker, a homeless man who cried as he said: "I can't do this anymore" in a heart breaking video just months before he was found dead in freezing temperatures on the streets of Birmingham. Kane, was found in cardiac arrest earlier this week as temperatures plunged to -2C. Paramedics battled to save his life but he was pronounced dead at the scene. He started living rough following the loss of his parents and his grandmother and refused help from family members and friends.
The fifth picture is of some of the 900+ NHS workers who have died during the pandemic. People who put their own lives at risk to save the lives of others. They do not receive special treatment when they die. The 900+ health and social care staff who have died of Covid-19 have not received special recognition and we have not entered a period of national mourning for them. They are no less worthy than the royal family. You can see the names of those NHS workers who died of Covid-19 here: https://rcni.com/nursing-standard/features/covid-19-remembering-nursing-staff-who-have-lost-their-lives-160011
All of these people have equal worth to each other. As human beings we all have equal worth but it is the system that decides otherwise. It is the system that favours the rich and punishes the poor. The UN report on poverty and the Marmot review into health equity in England, both reveal that people living in more deprived areas are at higher risk of illness and early death. Life expectancy is worse for poorer people. In some parts of the UK life expectancy has halted and even lowered in some of the most deprived areas. This same system places royalty above all others. It creates a class system where some human beings inherently have more worth than others. The Royals are no more worthy than hard working NHS staff. They are no more worthy than any essential worker. They are no more worthy than Steven Smith, Errol Graham, David Clapson, Kane Walker or the 900+ health and social care staff mentioned above.
I extend my condolences to Elizabeth for the death of her husband Philip. As one human being to another, I have compassion and empathy. I do not revere Philip or hold him in any higher regard than any other human being who has died. Philip got to live a full and active life. His family can take comfort in that. Many other families have not been so fortunate, particularly with 10 years of austerity and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen 127,000+ people die before their time. None of these people or their families have any less worth than the royal family.
The same system, that granted Philip a long active and healthy life, has condemned many others to poverty, illness and early death. (See the UN report on poverty and the Marmot report – links at the bottom of this post) These people go unnoticed and are forgotten. They have no national recognition or mourning, yet they have equal value and worth as human beings. The trouble is that within the system we live, they are deemed less worthy and as ‘lower class’. This is wrong and needs to change.
In a true democracy we should not worship unelected figure heads. We should not place any unelected individual on a pedestal and postpone the normal functioning of society when they die. We didn’t do it for Steven, Errol, David, Kane or any of the 900+ health and social care staff who died of Covid19. We didn’t do it for the 127,000+ people who died of Covid19. We can have sympathy for Elizabeth and her family. We can show compassion and empathy. The same as we do for the family and friends of any other person who has passed away. We don’t pause our democratic process for the people I have mentioned and we should not pause it for Philip either.
UN report on poverty in the UK:
Marmot report on health equity in England: