COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell of Ely says nobody is safe from ‘blame culture’

COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell asks ‘are we really in the Christmas spirit this year?’

COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell asks ‘are we really in the Christmas spirit this year?’ - Credit: Archant

We like to think that we live in a fair and open society, but do we? In this day and age of ‘blame culture’, nobody is safe from being targeted as the cause of the ills of our society.

In the NHS, we are told that the crisis has come about because the elderly are bed blocking, the managers are making medical staff work too hard for too little and ambulances are not turning up in time to save lives. Little is mentioned of the draconian, self-serving orders from above that have really caused these problems.

Council websites, ones that you think would be there to help the citizens with information and offers of assistance, seem to be there to cajole us into giving them money or to get on with the job of doing everything for ourselves. A local even had a letter from a council that said it had made a mistake but it was the local’s fault.

The ever-increasing small print on pages of conditions in our insurance forms or banking arrangements make sure that it is our fault if something goes wrong. A small point, interpreted in a way suits the company, makes sure that we are guilty of some misdemeanor that means the insurance company or bank will not have to pay up when we wish to claim.

Education is free, we are told, yet there are so many parents who have to go without themselves to pay for extras such as uniforms, school dinners and trips. Parents are often told that the trips are purely voluntary, yet would you, as a parent deny your child the opportunity?

Would you allow your child the humiliation of admitting that they come from a poor family? When the family has to admit it cannot afford the extras, it is seen as the parents’ fault, not the school’s or the decision makers’.

The public bodies that are supposed to serve us send us reams of paper when only one or two pages would suffice. If we do not understand their jargon or gobbledygook, it is our fault we are told.

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The ‘Freedom of Information Act’ allows us to have access to information that public bodies hold. This sounds like good news and surely proves the transparency of our society.

However, there is a catch. Sometimes we have to pay for the work involved in producing the information. A local once asked to see a relative’s medical notes.

She was immediately told she would have to pay for it, even though it was obvious that all that needed doing was opening a file.

It is time that those who actually produce the services stopped blaming us and blamed themselves when things go wrong.