Thirty years ago I was doing Economics 'A' Level. Thirty years! A good few lessons were devoted to ‘the ageing population’ and the looming pension, health and social care crisis in the UK. I remember being shown predictions for, well, about now actually. I remember thinking 'my own parents will be retired'.
Let’s just say that again. Thirty years ago students were being taught about a well-documented and researched certain future event - our working population would not be able to provide for the increasing number of aged people. This was not hearsay or a teacher cutting an article out (remember that?!) from the press. It was part of our syllabus.
A couple of years later I found myself in a British Politics lecture at university. One of the main themes was the excellent continuity our civil service provides. The whole ‘Yes Minister’ culture of gently steering whichever party happened to be in government.
But where have we been steered to? Thatcher fell during my first year at Uni (oh the hangover after that) and huge damage had been done in terms of council housing, benefits, etc. But there was still time for someone influential to say hang on, we are teaching about a looming crisis. How are we doing to deal with said crisis? Sad to say, after John Major's floundering, Blair’s New Labour seem to have made little dent on social care, council housing, the NHS. They went for private finance initiatives. And then the banks had their own crisis.
To say nothing of the feeble coalition years and the recent Tory disasters. Simplified version? Yes. But the fact remains that this was expected to happen yet still we have hospital beds clogged with elderly people who desperately need full-time care. In the midst of what may well turn out to be the worst winter in seventy years of the now teetering NHS.
Thousands of people still have no real idea how they will fund their retirement. Many probably don't realise how bad things are going to be. Retirement ages have been increased but there have been decades of mismanagement.
We are in 2018. With a broken social care system, a breaking NHS and pension problems a go-go. All predicted. At least six Prime Ministers and thirty years ago. Something has gone badly wrong with our system of government.