The courageous parents of little Alfie, Tom Ward and Kate James, have discovered the totalitarian fact that their child belongs first to the State.
Silly us. We thought that we all live in a democracy where the government and its minsters (note the word: to minister means ‘to support’, ‘to help’ or ‘to care for’) are elected by the people for the people; where public servants are employed to, er, serve the public; and where the publicly-funded State institutions like the Armed Services and the National Health Service are there to – well, the name is on the tin.
But no longer: in 2018 Britain the idiots run the asylum and the servants are now the masters.
It’s been a long time coming. Since WW2 the tentacles of the State have spread ever wider and deeper so that now, whatever the problem, the knee-jerk response is to call on the government to solve it and pay for it.
So when Labour MP Carolyn Harris tragically lost her eight year old son and found the burial expenses too demanding for her domestic budget, she naturally turned to the prime minister for help. Mrs May, being a compassionate if childless woman, opened her bottomless purse of public money to set up the Children’s Funeral Fund (CFF). Now no grieving parents – no matter how wealthy – will ever again have to pay to bury their child.
“In the raw pain of immediate loss, it cannot be right that grieving parents should have to worry about how to meet the funeral costs for a child they hoped to see grow into adulthood,” explained Tory Mrs May empathetically.
“This is a simple piece of dignity for bereaved families across the country,” agreed Jeremy Corbyn for Labour, offering equivalent words of care and compassion.
As a result the State further increases its involvement in the most unifying and private areas of family life. Whereas in an earlier age a wider circle of grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins would have rallied round, made sacrifices and together fulfilled family responsibilities towards the grieving parents, they no longer have to.
The government has taken over a natural function of the family, the fairy godmother in Downing Street has given away more tax-payers’ funds, and Uncle Bill and Aunt Mavis are free to put down the deposit on their flyaway holiday or new car.
But State generosity with our cash comes at a democratic price – and here’s the rub. State involvement invariably brings with it the power to regulate our decisions and control our lives. To qualify for the CFF grant, grieving parents are required to use only permitted funeral directors and proper places and forms of burial or cremation.
It cannot be otherwise; it is good government to direct and hold to account those who receive public funds.
But, at £10 million pay-out a year, the CFF is merely a gnat bite to both government and society.
The National Health Service is a different being and on a different planet. Although born through the same spirit of compassion and service – Lord Soper called the 1946 formation of the NHS “the noblest domestic act of government in the 20th century and one of the most transparently Christian political acts in British history”- and with the same need to demonstrate good government, it has now grown into a massive £125 billion a year State behemoth whose reach extends into all areas of society.
And as a result bureaucracy has taken over from compassion, efficiency of management has replaced vocation of service, and through the NHS there has been dramatic expansion in the State’s power to regulate our personal decisions and control our family lives.
Which is what baby Alfie’s dad and mum, Tom Ward and Kate James, discovered when they passed their sick baby into the arms of the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital & NHS Foundation Trust. The hospital management decided they knew what was best for the little boy – to let him die – so they closed ranks, exercised their court-backed authority and refused to release the child back to his desperate parents.
The private affair became a public battle as Tom, Kate and their legal advisers faced up to the full power of the State – the legal system as well as the hospital authorities – in front of local supporters and global media alike.
The Pope appealed on their behalf, the Italian government granted citizenship to Alfie, and a fully-equipped air ambulance was on stand-by to fly the lad to reputable hospitals in Rome or Genoa.
But the servants are the masters now. The hospital management morphed into a monster, refused under any circumstances to grant the parents’ wishes and did not consider themselves obliged to publicly explain their reasons further than claiming a vague “best interests of the child”.
Alfie manifestly belonged to the State.
In the end a crushed and defeated Tom and Kate threw in the towel. They appealed for supporters outside the hospital to go home and said they would instead work with the hospital team “to provide our boy with the dignity and comfort he needs”.
Tragically, Alfie has now passed away. Our hearts go out to Tom and Kate as they grieve their loss in private.
Ironically, to add insult to injury, the State will now give them cash for their baby’s burial by way of the newly-created Children’s Funeral Fund.
A few days ago former Steven Woolfe MEP launched an ‘Alfie’s Law’ initiative through which parents like Tom and Kate will be able to choose an independent qualified advocate to act on their behalf in order to correct the power imbalance between themselves and the State.
I understand too that, in the light of the similar Ashya King and Charlie Gard cases, Lord Alton is working on a comparable initiative in the House of Lords.
Tom and Kate have lost their battle with the authorities, but their heroic action must serve as a wake-up call to parents and to democrats everywhere.
It’s time to grab back our rights from an increasingly totalitarian State, and UKIP must be at the front of the fight.