One of the most memorable quotes from the play Steel Magnolias – at least for me; your middle-class pretentions may vary – is when Shelby Eatenton Latcherie (played by Julia Roberts in the 1989 film adaptation, if memory Wikipedia serves me correctly) describes her dream of growing old:
“My dream is to get old, and sit on the back porch, covered with grandchildren, and I’ll say: ‘No!’ and ‘Stop that!’”
Rejoice, Shelby! There is now another reason to welcome being covered with grandchildren: you can heckle the prime minister with impunity.
David Cameron did not receive an easy ride from vested venerables at the Age UK conference this past Tuesday as the increasingly petulant pensioners took him to task about staffing and funding of the NHS. Stuck between the rock of ‘PM heckled by pensioners at Age UK rally’ and the potential hard place of ‘PM tells pensioners to sit down and be quiet at Age UK rally’, Cameron opted for the lesser of two PR nightmares.
Mr Cameron is put through a lot of grief – indeed, he experiences all five stages of grief: first, denial (“I am answering the question!”), then anger (“Well, some, erm, w-w-whatever – what we have is a Chief Inspector of Hospitals now…”), followed by bargaining (“Can we do a deal? No booing, no jeering?”), depression (“Really? It’s not their meeting?”), and finally acceptance (“Do you want to, erm, okay…erm…all right, all right sir…”).
All of which is quite removed from the well-behaved delegates of last week’s Homes for Britain rally. No heckling was the rule – quite literally, as ruminated upon by Sasha Deepwell – and even noxious blights such as Nigel Farage received polite applause.
Applause!? Wash your hands.
The Homes for Britain rally has prompted a degree of internal back-slapping within the #UKHousing sector which has now, apparently, found its voice…but, to mangle a classic conundrum: if a sector demands the supply of more housing, and the final budget before a General Election has no real supply measures, did the sector really make a sound?
The pensioners at the Age UK rally did; I suspect Mr Cameron is more likely to remember their voice than ours.
Budget 2015: new measures insufficient to meet housing shortfall, expert says, Out-Law, Online: http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2015/march/budget-2015-new-measures-insufficient-to-meet-housing-shortfall-expert-says/, Available: March 2014
David Cameron heckled by pensioners at Age UK rally , The Telegraph, Online: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/11492100/David-Cameron-heckled-by-pensioners-at-Age-UK-rally.html?x, Available: March 2014
Pensioners mock David Cameron at Age UK conference, The Guardian, Online: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/24/pensioners-mock-david-cameron-at-age-uk-conference-nhs, Available: March 2014
Reflections on the Homes For Britain Rally – Finding Our Voice?, 24Dash, Online: http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2015-03-23-Reflections-on-the-Homes-For-Britain-Rally-Finding-Our-Voice, Available: March 2014
Art (ahem…) copyright of Neil Jackson, 26/03/2015; caricature of David Cameron inspired by / based on work of Christian Adams.