David Cameron has become the latest in a long list of people to adopt the phrase ‘We can’t go on like this’. Through the past few decades it has been used in a variety of contexts to refer to political battles, immigration, the economy, war, the environment, and of course the growing strain on the health and social care services.
Yet Britain inevitably does continue to ‘go on like this’.
Cameron promises targeted health funding for those areas most in need. Labour retorts this is already happening. The Copenhagen Summit closed with no clear direction on global climate change; whilst evidence continues that the world’s climate is in some state of disarray!
Most recently I heard the phrase at my local Co-op, which I trudged through the snow to in the vain hope of getting a pint of milk. ‘We can’t go on like this!’ exclaimed the Manager as I entered, waving his hands around at the empty shelves.
Every year when we have snow, the country comes to a standstill, as we fail to cope with what other countries would see as a minor inconvenience. Today, as a dutiful parent, I faced a one and a half hour trek through snow and ice to get my kids to school. Accident and emergency departments across the country gear themselves up for a sharp increase in sprains and fractures as people, like me and my family, take to the un-safe streets to resume our normal lives.
On the trudge home I wondered why Britain is so apparently unable to cope with some very simple things; things like gritting our roads to allow deliveries through; like coping with a few more inches of snow each winter; like making our poorest areas healthier. I know Sweden never had all the answers for social welfare, but at least the snow never stops them trying. As a child in Sweden I remember skiing to school in the winter and my parents skiing to work. Now that would solve a whole range of problems in Britain – reduce accidents on the roads, improve fitness and get us all safely back to school and work…
Because really, we can’t go on like this.