THE BLOG

'No Country for Sick Men (or Women)' - But Great for First-Time Buyers!

23/03/2015 12:12 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:59 BST

Bill Shankly once famously commented that football was more important than life or death. I was reminded of that statement listening to the budget on Wednesday afternoon.

I want to start by making one thing absolutely clear. I am neither a politician nor an economist, I'm just the guy on the Clapham Omnibus who has a laptop and a wide range of opinions all of which are my own.

I am also a cancer sufferer and have been since 2009.

I never expect any help from budgets and so am never disappointed but I do tend to look at them from an apolitical point of view. The budget before an election is of course a promise not a fait accompli. It's a bribe - an 'if we get back into power this is what we will do for you' type of budget that already Labour has come out and said they won't make many changes to, thus enabling them to take the credit if by some huge fluke all sense of reason departs this country and on May 7th Mr Milliband (the man I regard as even more unelectable than even Neil Kinnock) becomes Prime Minister.

Pre-election promises can of course be broken. In the build-up to the last election Mr Cameron made a promise to cancer sufferers that he has subsequently broken. I have campaigned, as have others, to stop the changes to the Cancer Drugs Fund but it seems that our campaigns are doomed to failure with the result that as many as 8,000 cancer sufferers will die prematurely each year.

Also of major worry to cancer sufferers, and other suffering from debilitating or terminal diseases, Mr Osborne's 'please re-elect me' give away is going to cost the welfare system £12 billion. He has refused to divulge how or where this cash will be raised but best estimates appear to be that he will raid the disability benefits and other payments currently made to the disabled and terminally ill, which of course includes cancer sufferers. Perhaps in these circumstances the cuts to the CDF are win-win?

The drug (Avastin) that saved my life has been delisted as have 18 other treatments, treatments that save and extend lives. The cost to provide these is about £40M a year. What is £40M a year to save 8,000 lives? Throwing money at first time buyers and savers is all very well but at the cost of lives? Sorry it just doesn't add up except in the ballot boxes no doubt!

I have to say I don't really understand the infatuation with the first time buyer that most governments seems to contract within days of being elected, if not in the build-up. No one has a divine right to own a house, in the same way that no one has a divine right to own a Ferrari or even a Mondeo for that matter. Despite this the government propose to throw millions at first time buyers at a time when the NHS is failing and whilst consigning 8,000 cancer patients to a premature death each year.

Imagine the scenario - a first time buyer has the choice between help with their deposit or a stricken relative getting a life-extending drug. Which would they choose?

My wife tells me I come across as being anti-Tory but that isn't true. I get on well with my local MP who is a Tory and who has done his best to help my campaign. I am even helping him on election day in some shape or form. I am however very suspicious of politicians who I regard basically as brilliant sales people who I am sure will give me many good reasons why it is so important to help first-time buyers.

So my apolitical view review of the budget is that thanks to Mr Osborne and Mr Cameron, the people of this country are more likely in future to die of cancer prematurely but at least when they die they are more likely to die in their own home unless of course the paucity of their disability benefit has forced them out of their home ownership.

Bill Shankly was of course wrong, football is not more important than life and death but then home-ownership shouldn't be either.

Important links:

My campaign - #Keep Your Promise

Jeremy Laurance - The Independent

Short Meridian Film

Sneak preview of Proteus (the first 80 pages)

Where to buy Proteus (£1 for every book sold is donated to Beating Bowel Cancer)